September 12, 2022
Written by Lillian
1. GTL shuttle
When you first arrive in Paris, at the Charles De Gaulle Airport, your first task is to locate the GTL shuttle. I highly recommend getting into contact with other GTL students prior to entering Paris in order to make this experience better, since finding the shuttle is very chaotic and hard to locate in the midst of being in a foreign country and finding your luggage. Thankfully, I was able to text other students in a GTL group chat to ask for more specific directions to the shuttle.
That afternoon and night offers students time to unpack their things and unwind from the day of traveling. Free pizza will be offered during a dorm building party for dinner. Some students will also take this time to shop for food and personal belongings. I would hold off on making large purchases during this time because students will get the opportunity to pick large items like trash cans and fans for free on Monday, when old GTL students dorm supplies are available to new GTL students.
2. CORA tour
The next morning, students have the option of signing up for a tour of CORA: the local supermarket, which is more like a superstore in Metz. During this tour, you will learn where everything is located, and some helpful hints to make your shopping experience better. For example, in order to use a shopping cart, you need to insert a coin into the cart to unlock it. You will get that coin back when you return the cart. You also need to plastic wrap all large backpacks (purses and handbags excluded) when you enter the store to prevent theft. CORA, like many other French grocery stores, has a large bakery and cheese section.
3. Downtown Metz Tour
That afternoon, we headed into downtown Metz on a GTL supplied bus. We got an audio tour of the city while riding a small train-like shuttle. Once that was over, the student assistants freed us to explore the town ourselves. During this time, I went with a group of students to get cellular data plans at Free Mobile. One student spoke French so we were able to rely on him to make sure we got the plans we needed.
View of Downtown Metz. Imagine living in one of those apartments that look out onto the waterfront!
Monday morning brings orientation! While there are no classes on Monday, students are required to attend orientation early that morning where we learn about building safety precautions, research abroad, and general GTL programs. Since there are no classes on Monday, this first week will have classes on Friday, so your first week’s travel plans will be impacted.
5. Campus Tour
On the Monday of your first week of classes, you will be given a tour of the GTL building as well as safety information about the building. Your class will be split into different tour groups to walk through the building at different times. While waiting for your group to start, you can rent a bike with Velomet for €15 who will visit GTL during that time. In order to rent a bike, you must bring a €200 deposit that you will receive when you turn your bike back in. Velomet only accepts cash deposits, so if you are in need of a bike, make sure to bring it to your orientation on Monday. GTL will also invite a local food truck that you can purchase lunch from.
6. Garage Sale
In the middle of your tour, you will have access to the Garage Sale, a room full of free items to grab from previous GTL students. Items include fans, brooms and mops, clothes bins and drying racks, trash cans, hangers, etc. Students have limited time and limited number of items that they can select during the garage sale in order to make it fair to all students; however, students in earlier tour groups will receive an advantage since they will choose their items first. Even though I was in the last group to choose items, I still was able to pick up a fan, cutting board, trash can, and clothes bin, so do not worry if you are in the same situation.
I was one of the last students that was able to go to the garage sale, and this is how much was still remaining
7. Grad Orientation
If you are a Masters or PHD student, you are required to attend a major specific orientation detailing your program at GTL. During this time, you learn about research and courses for your degree, and you can ask more grad school specific questions.
8. Dorm Tours
Students will also receive a tour of their dorm building after the tour of campus and learn about laundry facilities and trash separation. The washing machines in my building, Lafayette, include their own detergent. Fabric softeners and other scented products are not included.
9. Leonardo Program
During orientation, you will learn about the Leonardo Program: a program headed by French teacher Sonia Seravan to explore the arts. This program has events that are free for students such as drawing classes with a local artist and speed dating events to meet your fellow Georgia Tech travelers.