Hiking, Colmar & Mulhouse

Last minute decisions are sometimes the best ones. Join Kaitlyn as she hikes around Metz, visits the fairytale city, Colmar, and takes a brief stop in Mulhouse!

Thursday, February 25th, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

FRIDAY

Mont Saint Quentin Views

As an avid fan of hiking and the outdoors, I was looking for places to hike in and around Metz long before I arrived. This past weekend I finally had a chance to venture to the nearby natural wonders with some friends. Gone were the characteristic limestone buildings of downtown Metz and the hullabaloo of the city center; and even though we were still technically in Metz, it felt like we were much farther away.

I got a picture where it *almost* looks like I’m actually doing a pull-up

We peeled ourselves away from the narrow cobblestone streets and toward a dirt path that lead us into the hiking trail system of Mont Saint Quentin. The trails even took us along an exercise course, where we had fun trying to figure out how to use the miscellaneous gym equipment.

SATURDAY

The town of Colmar

I’ve come to realize that I’m a sucker for quite a few things and small, picturesque towns in Europe are quickly earning their place in that list – alongside other things close to my heart, like Krispy Kreme donuts. This past weekend I fell absolutely in love with the town of Colmar, France; a city, funnily enough, my group didn’t even originally plan to visit. A last minute decision led to us hopping off of our train a few stops early in Colmar on our way to our originally planned destination, the town of Mulhouse.

This turned out to be the best decision to make. We spent three hours walking around the “Little Venice” area of the town, appreciating the unique architecture and ducking in and out of open shops. Colmar is nicknamed as “a fairytale village”, and it is often said that it was the inspiration for the setting of The Beauty and The Beast. Walking through the streets certainly felt like I was traversing the pages of a storybook. 

Just your average brunch date in Colmar!

 

We passed by a cafe with the doors wide open. The scrumptious smell wafting through the air was the first thing to capture our attention, but the second was, upon closer inspection, we realized that the seats in the cafe were filled entirely by teddy bears. They ranged in size, color, and age. Seeing teddy bears propped up at the seats of the cafe as if they were on Valentine’s dates just further cemented the whimsical setting of Colmar, and was a bear-y good opportunity for some puns. 

The town of Mulhouse

Feeling content with the delightful scenes we had seen in Colmar, my friends and I returned to the train station to set off to our intended destination, Mulhouse. Mulhouse had a much more industrial vibe than the whimsical streets of Colmar. The main square of Mulhouse was as colorful and picturesque and the streets were teeming with fashionable shoppers walking in and out of the multitude of clothing stores. We did some window shopping until the clock struck 5:30PM, which was our cue to head to the train station to return home. On our ride back to Metz, I was surprised with a small treat: a view of the sun dipping below the mountains with hardly a cloud in sight.

Things to Do in Metz

Metz may be known for being in the heart of Europe, where it is easy to travel between many countries, but the city itself is a fantastic place to visit! Join Kaitlyn as she catalogues some suggestions of things to do in Metz while visiting Georgia Tech-Lorraine in her latest blog.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

While at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, you’ll probably find yourself on one of the following extremes at some point in your semester: either fervently researching far-away places to get away to, or longing for a weekend where you don’t have to worry about traveling after a chaotic school week. This post is for the times when you feel like having a calm weekend, or just for when you find yourself with extra time on your hands. Below is a list of things to do and places to go, all in the amazing city Metz that I hope you enjoy!

Hiking Mont Saint Quentin

Views from Mont Saint Quentin

Any observer looking northwest from downtown Metz will see a mountain sticking out like a sore thumb among the flat plains that surround it. This is Mont Saint Quentin, and it has an abundance of trail networks all over it. To get there, my hiking buddies and I took the C15 bus to the Plappeville bus station, which drops you off 5 minutes from one of the entrances to the trail system. I recommend walking around the neighborhood a little before you begin your hike; the quaint streets and views of Metz below are worth seeing. The mountain itself has even better views of the city!

Strolling Around Downtown Metz

A view of the Moselle River

Even though I’ve been here just over a month, every time I head downtown I find myself pleasantly surprised by a new discovery. Metz is such a charming city and is rich with history that practically oozes from the architecture seen downtown.

View from the Rue des Murs

 

A great place to see an example of this is Avenue Foch, where you can walk through a park in the middle of the street, surrounded by buildings on either side. As I learned in my INTA class, the  the architecture on Avenue Foch is so drastically different from the rest of the city due to the area being constructed during the German annexation of the city. Another incredible view of the city can be obtained along Rue des Murs (which I also discovered through our INTA class – shoutout to Professor Serafin for writing the guided tour!). From the street, you’re able to gaze above the rooftops of Metz.

Plan d’eau and Other Parks

The plan d’eau

Metz has been praised as one of the greenest cities in France, and for good reason. There is an abundance of parks and green spaces located within Metz that are perfect for a stroll or a picnic. Some of these are the Plan D’eau (you can see the cathedral from here), the Esplanade and surrounding gardens, and the Parc de la Seille. Each of these offer a welcome escape from the busier aspects of the city.

Biking Metz

During the first week of classes, a local bike rental company visits GTL with a special discounted rate for students to rent their bikes for three months. I believe any students with even just a slight interest in this should take advantage of it, just because it’s so inexpensive and opens up possibilities for trips around Metz. A friend recently rode his bike to Pagny-sur-Moselle, where he was able to tour the town. He recounted how immersed he felt in the small village, as opposed to the more touristy cities he’s traveled to so far. He recommends checking out other small towns around Metz by bike to get a better feel for the French way of life.

Meet the Bureau des Étudiants!

The Bureau des Étudiants (BDE) is the student organization on Georgia Tech-Lorriane’s campus responsible for planning student socials! Meet a few members of this semester’s Bureau des Étudiants (BDE) as Kaitlyn reports on their hopes for the rest of the semester in her latest blog.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

This past week, students at GTL cast their vote for the Bureau des Étudiants, nicknamed the BDE. Despite certain restrictions we might be facing this semester, its officers are off to a great start on planning exciting activities for the students at GTL. Read on to see what three BDE officers have in mind for this semester!

Pranav Sreedhar (Treasurer)

PranavPranav is a first-year electrical engineering major originally from India, but currently living in Paris. As treasurer of the BDE, he plays a major role in allocating funds towards student events. 

 

 

What do you hope to accomplish in your position as treasurer?

With the budget in mind, I hope I can prioritize the events the majority of the student body wants. I hope to also create an efficient system of managing funds and keeping track of invoices. Hopefully, my fellow students feel comfortable coming up to me and sharing ideas on making this a semester to remember!

Any events you might want to make sure Bureau des Étudiants does?

Given the current pandemic, it has been hard for students to meet others, so as a BDE member I would like to organize events where people come together, enjoy and meet new people while keeping in mind the current regulations to keep everyone safe. The first of those events that we plan to organize is a ping pong tournament, and we really hope that people participate and use this opportunity to meet people. We hope to organize more events such as escape rooms and chocolate tasting as the situation improves!

Tell me a bit more about yourself!

I love to play sports, especially tennis and ping pong, so you’ll probably see me playing ping pong in the student lounge.  With the quarantine, I have been binge watching A LOT of shows. It’s hard to say what my all-time favorite show is but some that I really enjoyed were Better Call Saul, Friends, Jane the Virgin, and Attack on Titan. I love listening to music. You’ll probably see me vibing to some Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Juice WRLD, or The Kid Laroi, or relaxing to some classics or Bollywood. As an EE major you’d probably expect this, but I love working on robotics or coding in my free time too.  I also have a twin brother, Vignesh Sreedhar, who is also at Tech and a member of the BDE. I hope to get to know all of you and have a great semester despite the current pandemic!

Amanda Wang (Secretary)

Amanda is a second-year civil engineering major from Lilburn, GA. She is excited to fulfill her role as secretary for BDE by ensuring smooth communication between the board and the student body. 

 

What do you hope to accomplish in your position as secretary?

I want to make sure communication about events flows smoothly to keep students informed about any activities that we might plan. I’m also hoping to create meeting agendas that will keep the BDE organized. 

Any events you might want to make sure BDE does?

I think painting would be a fun activity for students to participate in. We are also currently planning on getting some food trucks to come to the GTL building, which I think would be a great way for us to learn more about French cuisine while getting to experience it first-hand. Other than that, I am looking forward to planning the ping-pong tournament. 

Vignesh Sreedhar (Sports Coordinator)

Vignesh is a first year majoring in computer science. Like his twin brother, Pranav, he’s originally from India but is living in Paris at the moment.

 

 

 

What do you hope to accomplish in your position as sports coordinator?

The BDE didn’t get to plan much in terms of sports last semester due to the lockdown about a month and a half after the start of the semester, but hopefully we can accomplish a lot more this semester. We have lots of options for any sports events, especially with the ping pong table in the student lounge, and all the lawn space we have. I’m hoping to get students excited for any events we host! 

Any events you might want to make sure BDE does?

As sports coordinator, I’m working on planning a ping pong tournament. We have some fun ideas for it, like doing a competition between the Lafayette and ALOES dorms. Some other ideas I have are ultimate frisbee, escape rooms, trivia nights, and treasure/scavenger hunts around Metz. We have a pretty good budget for these things so we have a lot of possibilities.

À Paris

Join Kaitlyn on her journey through Paris from panoramic views from Sacré-Cœur to cozy bookshops and of course, the Eiffel Tower. It wouldn’t be Paris without visiting the Eiffel tower, right? Read her tale as she describes her visits to both tourist destinations and some lesser-known spots in Paris in her latest blog!

Thursday, February 11th, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

On Thursday, we arrived in Paris from Metz right before the 6:00 pm curfew so we only had time to grab some dinner before rushing to our Airbnb. One thing you should know about me is that I’m a huge Chipotle fan, so my excitement upon learning that there are multiple Chipotle locations in Paris, and that my travel companions and I are very like-minded when it comes to this restaurant chain was unparalleled. Some may judge us for not jumping at the opportunity to try French food in Paris, but to me, there are few things better in life than taking a bite out of a Chipotle chicken burrito. 

cut out photo in paris
Ah, a cutout photo, a CLASSIC.

On Friday we got up early to do a “speed-run” of Paris. It was a rare sunny day, so we had to take advantage of it by seeing all of the sights. We started off by taking the very steep climb up to the Sacré-Cœur where we took in the view of the basilica towering over the city. Of course, we took photos and selfies that included a lovely cut-out of me as a painting, and my friend as a painter that I just had to take a photo with. We continued to walk around the neighborhood of Montmatre, which is best known for once serving as the home of famed artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso. To top off exploring Monmartre, we stumbled upon an open crepe shop where mouth-watering scents permeated the air. I never would have thought that something as simple as lemon juice and a crepe could be so delicious, but I was proven wrong. We also visited “The Love Wall”, a mural where the words “I love you” are written in every language. 

The Love wall
The obligatory Paris Eiffel Tower picture
The obligatory Paris Eiffel Tower picture

Our speed run of Paris continued with taking the metro to the Arc de Triomphe, walking down the extremely “boujee” Champs Elysees, then, of course, the Eiffel Tower. While taking goofy photos at the Eiffel Tower, the classic shifted-perspective ones where you make it seem like you’re holding the tower, or leaning up against it, a man selling souvenirs came up to us. He saw us struggling and wanted to help us take some better photos. He had us line up and jump up at the same time, which he recorded in slow motion, and then screenshotted at the exact moment we were all in the air.  I was pretty impressed with his photography abilities, and grateful he offered to help us.  

an image of costco
Costco, an essential Paris bucket list item

We ended the day with the only thing in Paris that might be better than the Eiffel Tower — French Costco. It’s hard to explain how comforting it felt to walk in and feel completely at home with things like the layout of the store and the familiar smell of Costco muffins.  To quote my friend, “You know you’re a dedicated patron when you make the pilgrimage to French Costco”.

an image of the front door of the bookshop
The Abbey Bookshop, a famed english book shop in Paris

 

 

On Saturday, the weather wasn’t as cooperative as we would have liked, but we made the most of it by exploring the Latin Quarter. We checked out two famous English bookshops: the Abbey Bookshop and Shakespeare & Company.  Walking up to these bookshops, with their weather-beaten outdoor bookcases and faded signage felt like entering a different Paris – an older, quieter one. Inside Shakespeare & Co., I wandered to the second floor where I encountered a very disgruntled looking cat. I sat down next to it, and the next thing I knew, she had crawled into my lap. She gave off strong grumpy cat vibes but I loved her for it.

aggie the cat
Aggie the bookshop cat looking very annoyed by me and my camera

Paris surprised me, and I found myself charmed by the many places to visit a little off the beaten track. When I return, I’ll be sure to do some more exploring around lesser-known neighborhoods, and of course, I’ll make a visit to see my new feline friend.

Chamonix & Lyon

Join Kaitlyn as she slips and slides her way through the snow in the city of Chamonix, nestled in the French Alps. The second part of her weekend journey carries her from the snowy alps to the metropolitan Lyon to explore all the city has to offer. Read on about her adventures in this blog you won’t want to miss.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

DAY ONE

an image of the alps from a train
One view of many from one of the many trains we took

Despite the weather forecast telling us that there was a one-hundred percent chance of snow (in addition to the two feet currently on the ground) my friends and I took a chance and ventured to Chamonix, a small town in the French Alps. Chamonix might not be the most easily accessible place, but is definitely a beautiful one. We transferred trains eight times to get to our final destination; each train with views prettier than the next, with our final train feeling more like a ski lift than a train. We were rewarded for our train hopping with breathtaking panoramic views of ice capped peaks and dreamy small villages blanketed in several feet of snow.

a view at a a snowy village
A lovely view of the snowy village from our Airbnb

One we were off the train, we quickly learned why shoveling sidewalks is commonplace in the United States after it snows. The walkways were iced over and it was pretty impossible to avoid slipping. So, we slipped, skidded, slid – all of the verbs that begin with “s” – our way around the downtown area. We grabbed some groceries from the local supermarket (in particular, ingredients for pasta, the hungry college student’s best friend and one of my best dishes) and ordered some sugar and Nutella crêpes from a makeshift crêpe stand on the side of the road. With the crepes warming our hands, we headed to our home for the night.

DAY TWO

After eating an extremely hearty breakfast of leftover bread, we set off to go for a hike. I know you may be thinking,“Hiking… In winter? With three feet of snow on the ground?” Those thoughts were the very ones running through my head at the beginning of our very steep, uphill hike. We felt mildly insane, as the only sign that someone or something else had been on the trail recently were some tracks left by a deer. At first, we were worried about getting our feet wet, but we quickly realized with snow  up to our knees, our feet would inevitably be soaked through. By the end of the hike we had fully embraced the experience and just had fun plowing through the snow. The views were gorgeous, and we felt very fortunate that there was a break in the snowfall that let us see the mountains and take some photos.

an image of Kaitlyn in the Alps
I can now say that I’ve hiked the Alps!

 

DAY THREE

stairs in Lyon, France
Exploring Lyon, France

The second and final leg of our trip took us to the city of Lyon, France. We met up with a few other Georgia Tech-Lorraine students and spent the day exploring the city. Our first stop was at a park that had an outdoor zoo. It was quite jarring to be taking a walk in the park and then run into a zebra enclosure a second later, but after a bit of a laugh I found the experience quite enjoyable. The city of Lyon had lots of other things to offer, and we tried to take as much advantage of this as we could. We stopped at a delicious bakery where we ordered its famous meringue and at the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière, which required a very steep climb up many staircases to reach. Even as I huffed and puffed when we reached the top of the stairs, I couldn’t help but gape at the panoramic view of Lyon and its iconic red rooftops.

a view of Lyon

What I’ve Made in Metz So Far: My Dishes Ranked

Join Kaitlyn as she ranks her culinary creations while living in Metz with her newfound cooking skills.

Thursday, February 4th, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

As my family and friends know well, I am not the most… skilled at cooking. When I am feeling generous, I would rate my culinary skills as solid 4/10. Though this semester in Metz has taken some adjustment, a large part of that adjustment has not been living in a foreign country,  but rather learning to feed myself without the safety net of a meal plan or my mom’s cooking. So, I thought, in the spirit of my new found culinary skills, I would rank a select few of the dishes I’ve made in my dorm thus far, from worst to best.

The time I burned water. I never would have thought this was possible, but you learn something new every day, right? This shocking incident occurred when I heated up my empty frying pan and suddenly, smelled the unmistakable scent of something burning. Turns out, there was a little bit of soapy water leftover from when I had previously washed the pan and it burnt when it hit the hot stovetop.

A very crispy quesadilla. I was in the middle of video calling a friend back home while attempting to make a quesadilla, my fatal mistake.

very burnt quesadilla
I hope you like your quesadillas very, VERY, crispy.

Imagine my surprise when my very pale tortilla began to smoke. Confused, I flipped the seemingly underdone quesadilla over to discover a disconcertingly dark underside. “Ah,” I thought to myself, “that might be the cause of the billowing smoke.” I panicked for approximately four seconds, then realized I should probably do something to avoid setting off the smoke alarm. How mad would everyone be if the alarm went off and they had to trudge out of their rooms into the cold at 9PM? It could have been an opportunity to learn some new french curses, but I decided it would be best to just remedy the issue. I cracked my window open and held my pan outside to let the smoke blow into the night. Later, after recounting the night’s events to my friend across the hall from me, she only chuckled and said “Oh yeah, I keep smelling stuff burning from your room”.

A nice warm bowl of chili… or not. On one of the many cold, rainy days we have had in Metz, the idea to make a large, comforting pot of chili to warm myself up popped into my head. Naively, I thought to myself, “How hard could it be? I just need to throw a few things in a pot, right?” As I now know, there is much more involved in making chili than simply just throwing things in a pot.  Most of the recipes that I read online called either for using a slow cooker, which I unfortunately do not have, or for a few hours of cooking chili, which I also did not have. This was news to me, but apparently, throwing some canned tomato puree in a pot along with meat and vegetables isn’t quite enough to taste good. I was still determined to get my chili though, so the next time I went grocery shopping I settled for purchasing an already prepared can.

Pasta. Pasta, in any form is a truly classic meal. It is relatively difficult to mess up, but with my track record I am rating my rendition relatively high – both for not having burned it and for having completed it. The only thing I haven’t liked about my pasta dishes is the frozen meatballs I’ve gotten from Cora, finally something I can vindicate myself from blame for. Hopefully, a trip to an Ikea (maybe even the original Ikea in Sweden?) for some Swedish meatballs will be able to elevate my spaghetti and meatballs dish. For now, my specialty will remain pesto pasta.

Pretty successful pad thai! At last, a successful dinner.

an image of Kaitlyn's pad thai
Successful pad thai? I’ll let you be the judge of that… at the very least it looks delicious.

A friend and I pooled together the odds and ends from our fridges to make some pad thai. Thanks to the magic of pad thai sauce and some fancy garnishing with lemons, we were pleasantly surprised at our creation. In hindsight, maybe the key to making it taste good was covering the dish in sriracha, which, given my previous cooking experiences, seems highly likely.

Summits above Switzerland

Join Kaitlyn as she visits a place she’s dreamt of – Switzerland. Read her story– one filled with chocolate, chess, and snow capped mountains– in her latest blog post!

 

Thursday, January 28th, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

From the Appalachians to the Sierra Nevadas, my favorite family trips growing up were always the ones we took to visit the great mountains of the United States. As I spent my time staring at and summiting peaks, I’ve always dreamt of being surrounded by the majesty of the alps. This weekend my travel companions and I journeyed to Luzern and Zurich, Switzerland to make what was once a distant dream, reality. 

Day 1

My group and I left Thursday morning to start our multi-train journey towards Luzern. Our travel went relatively smoothly… except for one of our transfers in Basel. We only had a few minutes to change trains and ended up sprinting to catch our next one before it departed. The nine of us running at full speed through a small train station must have been quite a sight to the other travelers.  While I was sprinting, I looked to my right to see a small Swiss boy take one glance at us, then start sprinting in the same direction. I was so focused on catching my train, I never glanced back to see if he realized there was no reason for him to run.

swan in a lake Once we caught our breath (safely on our train) we were able to fully take in the scenery as we rode closer to Luzern. In the span of just four hours, we had gone from viewing the lush green countryside of France to staring, awestruck, at the snow capped mountains of the Alps. We arrived in Luzern in the mid-afternoon, and had a few hours to kill before we could check into our Airbnb. So, we did as one would do upon arriving in a foreign city: we explored. It was a beautiful, partly sunny day (something that is hard to come by this time of year in Metz) and we took full advantage of it. We came across an urban park where two old men were playing giant chess. I’ve never played a game of chess, but I watched Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, so that must count for something right? Lack of chess knowledge notwithstanding, it was enjoyable to observe the men amicably argue back and forth in German. Our last activity for the day was hiking up to the top of a very tall hill. Standing on the top, I came to the conclusion Luzern has a sort of indescribable charm I could never aptly write about as I took in the view of the lights of the city.

Day 2

church in luzern Luzern still had plenty more to offer, so we spent our second day continuing to explore the city. A friend and I split off from our group and wandered around with no specific destination in mind. We walked into a stunning cathedral which reminded me more of a Disney princess’ castle than the typical gothic European cathedral. The ornate details of the architecture took my breath away upon our arrival. Instead of being made of stone and stained glass, it was covered in white and pink plaster and embellished with perfectly placed gold accents. chocolates, yum!After our time in the cathedral, we checked off a Swiss must-do: eating delicious Swiss chocolate. It might have been expensive, as everything in Switzerland is, but I can say with confidence that it was worth every Franc.

Day 3

zurich street photo Luzern treated us well, but we wanted to see more of what Switzerland has to offer, so we took a day trip to Zurich (only a 50 minute train ride from Luzern). One of our first stops was to grab lunch from a kebab restaurant. I have a feeling that this might be a recurring destination throughout my time traveling in Europe, as we also ate kebabs the previous day. It’s filling, delicious, and relatively cheap which is all a college student could ever ask for. After exploring the streets of the city, we hopped on a bus to Uetliberg, which is affectionately nicknamed the top of Zurich. To anyone who visits Zurich, I highly recommend you visit Uetliberg. We climbed the mountain to the summit, where we saw the entirety of Zurich below us, and the Alps above us in the distance. It was a fantastic way to end our last day in Switzerland and a truly breathtaking experience, mostly from the beautiful views, but partially from the steep uphill climb.top of zurich picture

Un Sac, S’il Vous Plaît & More First Moments in Metz

Join Kaitlyn as she details her first few days of living in Metz and the insights she’s gained from her new experiences.

Friday, January 22nd, 2020 | Written by Kaitlyn

Hello, all! As I sit at my desk in my dorm room, I believe I’m just starting to take in the fact that I’m in France, about as far away from home as I could be. Gone are the days of enjoying the comfort and security of home cooked meals and only ever leaving my house to walk my dog around the neighborhood (thanks, pandemic!). In their place are days full of adventurous attempts at cooking for myself and thrilling strolls around Metz and all it has to offer. It’s certainly a pretty intense shift from the past nine months of small-town America, but I know I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I feel so fortunate to be embarking on this journey. 

Flying into Paris with the moon overhead.

In the past ten days, I’ve learned so much about the French lifestyle, met so many incredible people, and seen so many beautiful sights, that it is all a bit overwhelming – but, I think that I can summarize my experience so far into a few key learning experiences and observations. Let’s jump right into it.

French customs agents? Anything but intimidating. When packing for this trip, one of the most important things we needed to bring was a plethora of documents. Documents showing proof of residence, negative COVID-19 test results, visas, insurance – you name it, we needed it. However, when we stumbled off the plane upon landing at Charles De Gaulle, and lined up to go through customs, we had a much easier process than expected. Maybe it’s because we are innocuous American college students? Either way, I was more than happy for the straightforward procedure.

Me, when I realized that I would actually need to speak French to get by while living in France.

Come physically and mentally prepared to Cora. After arriving at our dorms, a group of us decided to head to Cora, or as I choose to call it, French Super Walmart. When I and a couple others went to go check out, we realized that unlike most places in America, there were no grocery bags available; all the locals we saw around us had brought their own. Upon seeing this, I’ll admit I started to get a little nervous. How was I going to ask for a bag from the cashier? There wasn’t enough time to frantically Google “How to ask for a bag in French,” so I stuffed my newly purchased goods into my backpack (tragically crushing my chocolate croissants in the process), and resigned to hugging my bundle of paper towels against my chest on the walk back. My goal for my next trip to Cora will be to ask the cashier, “Je peux avoir un sac, s’il vous plaît?”

GTL couldn’t have been put in a better location. On Saturday we were given a tour of downtown Metz. I was instantly enchanted by the cobblestone streets lined with bakeries and shops, the cheerfully yellow buildings, and the general infectious liveliness of the city. We stopped at the most notable areas and buildings, then were left on our own to wander around. My group and I headed toward the Moselle river. We were greeted with a breathtaking view of Temple Neuf, lit up with its reflection shining in the water, and the cathedral glowing warmly in the distance.

Colors dancing on the walls of the cathedral.

The next day, we headed back downtown. It was a bit of a struggle catching a bus – we were about ten feet from making it to the bus stop when the bus we intended to hop onto blew right by us and the bus stop, not even slowing down for just a second. However, I am happy to report that we did eventually catch a bus and arrive downtown. We walked around the quiet streets (most places are closed on Sundays), taking in the sights with no specific direction in mind. A few of my favorite things I saw included: the Cathedral of Saint Stephen, where the sunlight shined vibrantly through the stained glass, a pair of ambitious swans looking for food along the river, and last but certainly not least, a delicious crepe that I consumed within seconds. 

Make the most of our time here. As a very wise person once said: “YOLO”. I like to think that this applies to studying abroad. Even just after a few days of living in a new country, I’ve had so much fun from figuring things out, experiencing French culture, and exploring Metz. Though it may be slightly more difficult to abide by this saying with certain restrictions in place such as a curfew, I like to think that there’s still so much at our fingertips while here in the heart of Europe. I’m very excited to see what’s coming up in these next four months, and I can’t wait to continue documenting it all here on the blog.

From College At Home to Studying Abroad!

A new semester brings a new Georgia Tech-Lorraine blogger! Meet Kaitlyn, the GTL blogger for this spring as she introduces herself and her anticipation to study abroad in Metz!

Friday, January 5, 2020 | Written by Kaitlyn

Bonjour à tous!

According to Google Translate, that means “hello everyone!” en Français. Unfortunately, my only experience with the French language is half a year of classes… from middle school. The irony in the fact I chose to study Spanish for four years, but am studying abroad in France, is not lost on me.

Anyways, hello! My name is Kaitlyn. I’m a second-year industrial engineering major, who like most of the other students enrolled at Georgia Tech-Lorriane this semester, has been looking forward to this opportunity for as long as I can remember. Since my older sister studied abroad in Italy two years ago, I’ve been dead set on studying abroad as well. When I was searching for colleges to apply to for my undergraduate degree, an outstanding study abroad program was a must. Luckily for me, Georgia Tech has exactly that.

Under normal circumstances, this upcoming semester would be remarkable. I feel that this year, with unusual circumstances, is going to be, although quite different, especially remarkable. This past semester, I chose to stay home and take my classes remotely. While I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the comforts of the at-home life (where I can attend classes in my pajamas), it has overall been… interesting. Plus, being at home all of the time has just made me that much more excited to have the opportunity to get out there and travel this semester.

Me and the classic French baguette, age 11.

When I was younger, my thoughts on France were very stereotypical; i.e, believing Paris was the only city and thinking that all France had to offer was baguettes and berets. This line of thinking was also perpetuated by an actual visit to Paris that my family took when I was 11 years old.

Being so young, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the places my parents took me to, and instead fixated on simple things like seeing pretty buildings and eating good food (not to say that I won’t still appreciate those things when I go there this time).

Wearing a Paris sweatshirt in Paris. Who could have possibly spotted me as a tourist?

 

This time around, I am looking forward to discovering the places in France 11-year-old me didn’t know existed, particularly Metz. While I’m sure I will still be drawn to the “touristy” places, I am excited to spend my four months in Metz exploring and seeing all that the small city has to offer. I am a firm believer in taking the road less traveled, and I plan on implementing that belief during my time abroad.

Whether it be through making new friends, exploring an unknown city thousands of miles away from home, or attempting to communicate with locals, I am beyond excited to use this time to further my global perspective. I will be far away from the comforts of home, and it is only given that I will experience personal growth and make progress on discovering my niche in the world. It’s amazing to think that soon I’ll be somewhere so different from home. Until then, don’t worry — I’ll be practicing my French.

Roaming Around Rome

Join Kaela as she makes her way around the grand city of Rome during her fall break at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. Read on to hear about her experiences at landmarks she’s been dreaming of visiting as long as she could remember!

Monday, November 16, 2020 | Written by Kaela

ROME, ITALY

Italy was everything I had ever dreamed of and more. When planning my trips before attending Georgia Tech-Lorraine, Rome was one of the cities I looked most forward to seeing, so we set aside more than enough days to enjoy this beautiful city as well as the Vatican.

DAY 1:

Santa Maria Maggiore
Santa Maria Maggiore

Since we arrived in Rome around midday, our itinerary was short. First, we headed to Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, one of Rome’s four major basilicas. From floor to ceiling, it is adorned with mosaics, illustrations, engravings, figures, and looks like the whole basilica was dipped in gold.  Adornments filled every inch of the building. I could spend days admiring each and every detail, each one as beautifully crafted as the next. While at the beginning of my travels I spent time comparing all of the cathedrals, basilicas, and churches I have been fortunate enough to visit, I have come to realize they are all dazzling in their own ways – whether it be expansive displays of stained glass like the Cathédrale de Metz  or the gilded details of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore – and I simply cannot choose a favorite.

Enjoying the sunset at the Spanish StepsOur next stops were two famous tourist attractions: the Trevi Fountain and Spanish steps. One of the girls traveling with me had visited these locations before and showed us pictures she took which were filled with hordes of tourists taking their own snapshots. Without the typical swarm of people, we had the opportunity to view every angle of each of the attractions. As the sun set over the Spanish Steps, I couldn’t help but pinch myself to test I was really awake.

DAY 2:
We began our second day  in Rome at Mercato Centrale Roma. The delicious smells of fresh herbs wafted through the air, leaving our mouths watering. We all wandered amongst the many vendors until I finally decided to purchase truffle pasta that was to die for.
After we all finished enjoying our plates of heaven, we headed straight to the Colosseum.

QUICK TIP: Travel with all sorts of different people. It opens your perspective and you will learn a lot along the way.

Our group turned out to be the perfect team at the Colosseum. We all had knowledge in different areas which we could share with one another: one girl studied Latin and could translate various Roman texts, another knew a lot about Roman history, another is really knowledgeable about art and I have some knowledge of architectural history. It was sort of like having my own personal guides while traveling through Italy. It is more enjoyable to do more than just “sightseeing” and actually learn about what you are looking at. Which leads to my second–

QUICK TIP: I recommend doing a little bit of research before you visit somewhere, and take the extra time to read all of the informational signs. This will make your experience so more valuable.

We then walked through the Roman Forum and enjoyed the view from Palatine Hill. I found myself imagining the area filled with people and what it must have looked like when it was first built. We then walked to the Pantheon, enjoying the great weather and strolling along the cobblestone streets. At the top of the
dome of the Pantheon is a 9 meter (~30 feet) hole. which serves as the church’s main source of light. At first I was confused, isn’t the point of a roof to keep out the rain? I learned that rain does come through it but the floor is slightly sloped and has well
hidden drainage holes, which only left me even more in awe of the Pantheon than when staring at the 30 ft hole above my head.

We stopped for dinner nearby for a cheap four course meal at Taverna del Seminario. After having a tiramisu once or twice a day everyday while in Italy, I now consider myself a pseudo tiramisu aficionado. My rating is that the one from Taverna del Seminario was by far the best. In major cities, with the pandemic, many businesses close early, so we’ve gotten in the habit of heading back early to wherever we are staying to catch up on schoolwork. On the way to our airbnb, we stopped at Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola and a couple souvenir shops, making the perfect end to a perfect day.