Thursday, February 23, 2022 | Written by Claire
Coming to GTL has been an astounding experience for me so far. Having switched study abroad programs last minute, I had my suspicions for how GTL would turn out; however, after living in France for over a month and having traveled to over 15 cities within the past few weekends, GTL has been life changing and I could not be more grateful for this special opportunity. While traveling every weekend is fun, GTL is definitely for an acquired taste. Occasionally, I still have my lingering upset about not going to the other program, but in the long run, I’m confident that I’ve made the right decision, and it proves true every time I travel somewhere new and exciting.
So, for those prospective students looking to come to GTL in the following semesters, here are some important aspects and culture of the program that you should consider before clicking the submit button on Atlas:
Major related classes
As a second-year Industrial Engineering student, I, quite frankly, do not have many classes I can really take for my major. Having satisfied all humanities and social sciences, I have found some Engineering Electives that I can round out my schedule with such as Physics and Wind Engineering. Most of the classes at GTL during the academic year are tailored for Electrical or Mechanical Engineers, with most of the classes 3000 and above. For those looking for research opportunities in robotics or other type of circuit-related labs, GTL has many opportunities and connections with teachers from Tech and outside of Tech.
For those looking to fulfill humanities, there are countless history, international affairs, and economics classes that can count towards your core curricula, regardless of major or year. Specifically, Politics of the EU (INTA), Ethics (INTA), and History, Science, and Technology of Modern Europe (HTS) have GT faculty-led field trips across France and into neighboring countries. These trips are perfect for those looking for a set travel group and a good way to explore the transportation methods across Europe during the first two weeks of the semester.
Overall, from personal experience and feedback from other students in higher level engineering classes, the courses at GTL are more relaxed and have an easier flowing content distribution. Although the pace might be faster to cover all the material, GTL only has a four-day week system, so there will be much more free time to travel and do homework outside of class.
Located in Metz, GTL is perfectly situated on the NE border of France and Germany, in just the right spot for reaching many high speeds train lines using the Eurail pass. For many weekends, I’ve been able to travel to Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Berlin, and even cities in Austria such as Hallstatt for free on overnight trains. It is also a good area to get to Belgium and Luxemburg on day trips due to frequent train lines in the region such as TGV. With four-day weeks and the campus being very small and situated away from downtown Metz, Georgia Tech Lorraine campus itself is actually quite mundane. On the weekdays when I’m not traveling, I’m mostly finishing my work, getting groceries, or doing my laundry in anticipation for the next trip during the weekend.
If you’re not the type of person to travel and explore places outside your comfort zone, GTL is not the place for you. There will be many times when travel plans may get changed, cancelled, or delayed, and relying heavily on public transportation always comes with its downsides, so it’s typical to expect such bumps on the road when adjusting to life at GTL. If you’re easily stressed in these situations and don’t have the patience to plan out routes and schedules, it may be more of a hassle to come to GTL than not.
When first arriving here, I was eager to meet a bunch of new friends and form lasting, bonding relationships with travel buddies and various friend groups. However, I was struck by the existing culture that traveled over to GTL from the main campus. As this is a second year and above oriented program, many people already come with designated friend groups from home. Often, they tend to stick together in travel groups during the weekend and are reluctant to branch out, even on campus. I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few solid friends at GTL through mutuals so far, but every weekend, I find myself traveling with new people and even eventually ending contact with them during the weekday.
There are several sport complexes that are open for those to play soccer and basketball, but all of those usually come with extra fees. There are rarely any clubs besides the average Student Government Association for students to get involved with GTL administration. Other than that, students tend to plan their own activities when not in class.
GTL has a dining hall for cheap: Crous. Its an inexpensive way to eat, with typical European style food options-bread, cheese, meat. I’m not a huge fan of the meals they provide there, so I usually take a quick run to Cora or Auchan, the neighboring mega-grocery stores right by the campus to get all of my cooking necessities I need to make meals for 4 days during the week. Food here is not cheap; in fact, it might actually be more expensive than the groceries I get at home, but it does offer you a chance for a balanced diet. Other than buying food to feed yourself, there are many Kebabs and even Asian restaurants for your enjoyment in downtown Metz that you can get to by tram, bus, or walking. Make sure to buy the month Le Metz pass for the best bang for your buck.