Visiting Van Houten

Where in the world is Van Houten? Or, where in the world was Harry this past weekend? Check out his thoughts on this mysterious city, its waterways, its museums, and its delicious food.

Photo courtesy of

(Photo courtesy of

I’m going to throw us back to 2012 and 2014, where the book The Fault In Our Stars and the movie came out, respectively. In the story, the main character, Hazel, is a fan of a book authored by Peter Van Houten, who resides in Amsterdam. And if you couldn’t already guess, she ends up taking a trip to Amsterdam to go visit him. Thus, this is where I got the inspiration for the title of this blog post! (Even though I actually did not go visit Van Houten, sorry to disappoint.)

I’ve got to admit; Amsterdam has got to be one of the most aesthetically beautiful cities I’ve visited so far. The first and foremost reasons is the water in the city. If you walk less than 10 minutes in any direction, you’ll stumble upon one of the numerous canals lined up in the city. Sometimes there will even be boats that float by, with people enjoying the luxuries of life on the inside. I even actually got to take a public boat to get to the hostel my friends and I stayed at, crossing from Amsterdam Centrum to Amsterdam Noord and back.

Another point of beauty are the museums in the city. I’m usually not a person to seek out museums, but I actually went to both the Vincent Van Gogh museum and the Rijkmuseum (pictured right past the “Iamsterdam” sign in the photo above). Wow, was I blown away by both of these exhibits. I was transported to the 1800’s in the Van Gogh museum, and was pretty much scattered across the world in all sorts of eras at the Rijkmuseum. I’d even go on a limb and say it was up to par with the Louvre in Paris! That’s how much I enjoyed it.

Photo courtesy of Luke Zeme.

Other than that, just walking up and down the streets is breathtaking. The interior of all the stores are all so elegantly and creatively designed; the food on display looks as good as it tastes; and the jingle of bicycle bells becomes your little hymn as you wander. It’s truly a marvelous city with a charm that I haven’t really found anywhere else. Oh Amsterdam, Oh Amsterdam. For now we part, but only to see each other again in the near future!

A Little Rewind to Fall Break: Eat-aly and Some

No need to send a postcard – Harry’s parents were his travel buddies over fall break! Read his quick recap of traversing Italy – plus a little bit of Switzerland, too!

Posted by Harry.

This past weekend, I stayed in Metz. You can thank 3 exams and a paper for that, but also a short weekend of only the regular Saturday and Sunday (class was canceled on Tuesday due to a French national holiday, La Toussaint or All Saints’ Day, and rescheduled on Friday). So, since I’ve done really nothing of interest this weekend besides seeing the movie Doctor Strange (excellent movie by the way), I’ll throw it back a little to Fall Break, where I explored “Eat”-aly and some.

The Trevi Fountain!

Italy is the perfect blend of great sights and wonderful food. I had the great pleasure of traveling there with my parents, which was great for three reasons: I got to spend some quality time with them after being gone for so long, I rarely had to pull out my own wallet, and it was a nice change of pace from traveling with college kids every weekend.

The Colosseum

It was a much more relaxed trip as we made our way from Rome up to Florence, Venice, Milan; up to Zurich in Switzerland through some scenic routes and finally back here for some time in Metz.

img_3573I have to say, my favorite place was definitely Venice. I’m an avid fan of the outdoors and being on water, so just being able to walk around and be surrounded by it and have the opportunity to take boats around the city on water was a surreal experience for me. Otherwise that that, it was just enjoying the views that Italy brought and quality time with family that wrapped up a real chill fall break.


Check back in the next few weeks for an article about all of the planning and coordination it took to plan a trip with my parents!

The Walking Career Center: Alumni and Corporate Relations Manager John Fritsch

Meet John Fritsch, Georgia Tech-Lorraine’s Alumni and Corporate Relations Manager. He’s French, so be sure to stop by to ask him why his name is “John” and not “Jean.”

(Photo courtesy of John Fritsch)

Name: John Fritsch

Position: Alumni and Corporate Relations

Years at GTL: 10

Interests/Hobbies: Photography, trail running, music and guitar.

One line to describe GTL: “It feels like the world here. There are many nationalities converging to one point”.

Piece of advice for students: “Understand what you need to do when you are going into the job market. Be mature on how you approach and work with people. Have a vision on what you need to and mold it around your personality. And as an engineer, it’s more than just the technical side, you need interpersonal skills, too. That could make a huge difference in a job.”

Baguette or Croissant? Croissant.

Meet our resident Alumni and Corporate Relations Manager, John Fritsch. Or, as I like to think of him, the walking career center. His job is two-sided, linking students to both corporations and alumni. On the corporation side, it’s connecting students to companies through internships and jobs. On the alumni side, it’s simply introducing alumni to the students and managing the Georgia Tech-Lorraine alumni database. We all know the importance of getting an internship, but the graduate program here at GTL actually has an internship built in! Mr. Fritsch here is the catalyst by not only connecting the companies with GTL students, but also by hosting a graduate seminar that presents companies and all their current challenges to make better matches. “Mission First Job” hosts loads of companies – and is a bit like most career fairs. (Check out the details of the last session this  past spring, and prep for the next one!)

Outside of classes, John enjoys photography. Specifically, he’s experimenting with time lapses and night shots at the moment. He also enjoys trail-running, and has actually run in Yosemite when he was in the United States! Finally, you might find him playing guitar. An interesting note is that he has played guitar with a professor at GTL here once before.

Keep making the magic happen, John!

A Tribute to Kebabs

As the way of life of a college student merges with a study abroad in Europe, one thing remains constant: the eats. For any occasion – whether a late night snack or a quick lunch before hopping on the train – what does a GTL student reach for? Read Harry’s insight into the delicacy that is kebabs.

Posted by Harry

A typical kebab shop. Photo courtesy of Wien Bellaria Kebab Pizza.

“This past weekend, kebabs accounted for 6 of my 9 meals.”

“Yo man, I literally had the best kebab EVER in Nice!”

“Do you prefer Doner or Durum Kebabs? I have to say, I’m much more of a Doner fellow.”

-overheard at the GTL Lounge after a weekend.

Okay, you caught me red-handed. I completely made these quotes up. However (!), and I believe anyone who currently attends or has attended GTL in the past, can back me up that these quotes are completely valid in the sense that these could be real quotes; it’s just that no one has said them yet until now.

So why this craze over kebabs? Well for one, they’re extremely cost efficient in terms of both price and value. Around Europe, you can probably swing a kebab around for about 5 euros, and it’s usually only 2 more euros for fries and a drink. That makes for a full Georgia Tech-Lorraine student and a happy wallet. These kebabs are also massive! Like, they stuff them full with meat and veggies. Also, another quick benefit I’d like to throw in is that it’s very quick and convenient! You can find multiple kebab shops in any town, and they usually make it fresh and in a jiffy right there for you. The fellow GTL-ers and I have definitely had our good share of kebabs, and to that we praise:

“Kebabs are not a way of life; the way of life are kebabs.”

I Want a BMW

BMW & Georgia Tech: two heavyweights in their respective fields. You’ve already heard about how GTL’s HTS 2100 class’s exciting visit came to be…now take a peek inside! Read Harry’s insider perspective on the trip to BMW.

Posted by Harry

Photo courtesy of BMW.

(Harry’s personal view on the “A VIP Experience of German Engineering” piece)

Sometime down the line in our future, we will be faced with a decision of buying a car. Now I don’t know about you, I find this really exciting, yet nerve-racking at the same time. We need to find one that fits both our needs and price. For me, that’s probably going to be anywhere between a Lamborghni and Ferrari (jokes). In addition, I think we’d all like a luxury car at some point. I didn’t know what I want, but I think after this class field trip to the BMW Headquarters, the choice is a little clearer.

I’m enrolled in a class called Society and Technology in a Modern World: Regions of Europe (a.k.a. HTS 2100). This class gives me a little break from all those engineering courses I’m enrolled in and takes me and others to cool site visits of particular industries. This past field trip was to the BMW headquarters in Munich, as part of the automobile industry. We started with an introduction to industrial engineering and technological innovations at BMW: they’re not only coming up with new designs and concepts to make their products better, but also making the process more efficient and safer for the workers. After a nice lunch that consisted of a couscous salad, sautéed vegetables, pan-seared duck and noodles, and dessert (the details of the lunch are critical to the story), we headed off to take a tour of the plant.

Now unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside of the plant due to privacy but what I saw in there pretty much blew my mind. A lot of work is done by robots, and these robots were big, powerful, and extremely precise. Some of the small, detail oriented work you’d expect a human to do was actually done by some of these amazing robots. Our tour guide also gave us some neat information, such as:

• About 1000 cars are produced in the Munich plant PER DAY
• Of those cars produced, two-thirds are actually custom ordered and the last third is sent off to standard dealers.
• To make another statement on the individuality of cars, it’s highly unlikely that out of all the cars that the Munich plant produces in a year, two cars will be alike just due to the sheer combination and consumer needs.
• A lot of other cool information.

Another unfortunate fact is that we were unable to go to test out some of these sweet rides because the test track was somewhere else. Still, to see the process from beginning to end where a big heap of materials turns into a luxurious vehicle was incredible. There’s just something about seeing a product being made and the work that goes into it makes it that much more attractive.

The BWM i8. Photo courtesy of BMW.

If you’re ever in Munich, I would highly recommend checking out the headquarters as you can not only tour the plant, but also visit the BMW Museum and the “Welt”. Otherwise than that, I would also recommend taking the HTS 2100 class for future GTL-ers if you’re interested in taking visits to some awesome sites such as this one.

From One Hemisphere to the Other: Graduate Student Claire Hardgrove

At GTL, the question isn’t what can you do, but what can’t you do! Take graduate student Claire for example – she’s using her computer science research this semester to tackle environmental science problems. Meet this focused and driven Australian making waves at GTL!

harry-w12-p1-p1Name: Claire Hardgrove

Major/Field of Study: Computer Science

Year in Grad School: 1st year

Undergraduate Institution: University of Sydney

Interests/Hobbies: Playing the trumpet and learning more about computer science.

One piece of advice for students: “Set up your environment well so you can focus on studying. Eliminate all secondary distractions so you can focus on the task at hand.”

Baguette or Croissant? Croissant.

‘Ello, mate! I introduce to you to graduate student Claire Hardgrove, a woman who has traveled pretty far from Sydney, Australia to be here at Georgia Tech Lorraine. Once again, GTL strikes with its diversity as a global institution. Claire is currently studying computer science here, with an interesting background that may surprise some.

Before coming to GTL, Claire studied geoscience as an undergraduate student at the University of Sydney. You’re probably wondering the same thing I am (namely, how did you go from geoscience to computer science?). Well, it’s really very neat: she’s actually studying the robotics side of computer science and using computer vision and perception to tackle environmental science problems. It’s not the first time I’ve met someone combining computer science with another discipline to solve issues today (go check out the post on Shane Griffith).
Another thing Claire noted was that even with the language barrier, it’s been nice to be in a little “bubble” of English speakers to help her adjust. After her time here, she plans on hopping to another continent, and maybe even going to San Francisco! Best wishes to your studies Claire!

We Are Family: Academic Assistant Corinne Guyot

Meet Corinne Guyot, GTL’s Academic Assistant and resident hiking adviser. She helps out with a bunch of different facets of student life and embodies the “family-like” environment at GTL. Read more in Harry’s blog post.

Posted by Harry

harry-w10-p2-p1Name: Corinne Guyot

Position: Academic Assistant

Years at GTL: 4 years

Interests/Hobbies: Hiking

One line to describe GTL: “A school with familial relationships.”

Piece of advice for students: “To make the most of our time in France because it is a beautiful country”.

Meet Corinne Guyot, our resident Academic Assistant here at Georgia Tech Lorraine. When she described GTL (see quote above), she said it was very “family-like” with how close the students and faculty interact. Even without her telling me this, I could definitely see that she feels this way about the community here by how sweet she was and the way she interacted with me and other administration members. It’s also a common theme I’ve heard around the office, as many of the other staff members I’ve interviewed has noted about how closely knit the people at GTL are.

Some of Mrs. Guyot’s duties are to arrange housing for both undergraduates and graduate students, communicate with partner French schools, and help graduate students out with application files. If we’re still talking family, we might even stretch a bit and call her “Mom” for all the things she helps us students with!

Outside of GTL, she really enjoys hiking. Her favorite places include the Alps, Vosges, and Sierck Les Bains. Her kindness struck once again when I asked her about some good hikes around/close to Metz. She didn’t just list of some locations, but instead pulled out a map of France and pointed out all the areas of interest.

Don’t be afraid to swing by Mrs. Guyot’s office in the administration building, it will definitely be worth your time!

Being a Resident at the Residence Lafayette (We’re Certainly Not in a Dorm Anymore)

The everyday living situation isn’t exactly like a GT, or even Duke or Vanderbilt, so check out Harry’s blog to learn a little more about your new home while at GTL – Residence Lafayette!

Posted by Harry


Welcome to Residence Lafayette, where the current members of the Fall 2016 Georgia Tech Lorraine all live. It’s definitely been a bit of an adjustment, and some of that has to do with the lifestyle change of living in our own little studio vs. the dorms we have back at GT/Duke/Vanderbilt. Here’s a quick rundown of the similarities and differences:

1) Obtaining and Eating Food

This is probably the biggest adjustment that most of had to make. In our studio rooms, we all get our own kitchens, stocked with supplies of the previous resident. It has a mini-fridge, two hot plates, microwave, and sink for all our cooking needs. There are some local places (Paul, CROUS, La Boite a Pizza) that one can get food at, but I’d say most of us have gotten into the habit and routine of cooking for ourselves with a few visits to CORA.

2) Sleeping

All the rooms here are singles, so hooray! No roommate! The lights go off when you want them to and you can now peacefully wake up at 10am for your 11am class instead of 7am because your roommate had an 8am. Or you’re the one with an 8am and you don’t have to feel guilty about waking up your roommate so early.

3) Going to the Bathroom / Showering

All the rooms also include their own bathroom and shower (fist pump). However, that does mean we have to keep the bathroom tidy ourselves. It’s not a bad trade off!

4) Neighbors

Some of the other residents in Lafayette are other students while some are not. It’s important to understand that they live there too so we must respect the quiet hours. To throw in a side note, they’re very friendly, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

5) Laundry + Sheets

Laundry is pretty much the same here, although the washing machines do have detergent built in so you do not need to bring any. The sheets here are cleaned by management (clutch!) and the exchange is every two weeks.

It’s definitely a bit of a change then what we’re used to, a little bit more independent I’d say. Either way, it’s a nice little change of pace from what we’re used to and another experience that makes this study abroad program unique.

A High Place

Sometimes there are significant, but subtle recurring themes to a trip – and it seems like Harry found one this weekend! Where in the world was he? Read his blog to find out.

This past weekend, I traveled to Switzerland. Specifically, Interlaken. When I’m talking about how “high” this place is, I’m not just talking about the tall Swiss Alp mountains that you can climb or that you can take a cable car to Jungfrau (which is often called “The Top of Europe”), I’m talking about EVERYTHING: high altitude, high prices for food/watches/anything, high quality of chocolate, etc.

Let’s first talk about the views. They’re absolutely stunning. 99.9999% of our lives, the clouds are above us. The other 0.0001% is when we’re in Switzerland and we’re on top of a mountain.

harry-w10-p1-p1 harry-w10-p1-p2

The picture on the left is when my crew and I climbed the Schlithorn, which was roughly 3000m (10000 ft) above sea level. When we were hiking up to the top of the mountain, we were basically trapped in a cloud and couldn’t see past 20 feet in front of us. Luckily when we got to the top, some of it cleared up and we got a great view of the other beautiful peaks the Alps has to offer.

The picture on the right is on top of Schynige-Platte, which is mountain range right over Interlaken and you can get a great view of the two lakes and the town in between (haha get it? Interlaken literally means between two lakes!)

Other things that were pretty high were the cost of food. I’ll definitely be writing a blog on some survival tips later on in the future, and it will include kebabs. Kebabs are basically your best friends when backpacking around Europe, but the cost of a kebab in Switzerland is about double the price of kebabs you’ll find elsewhere. Finally, the quality of chocolate here is superb. Find a picture below.
Couldn’t find it? Oh, I’m sorry! I ate the whole bar that I bought before being able to take a picture of it. If that doesn’t tell you how good it is, I don’t know.

Visit Switzerland y’all!! You definitely will not regret it!

The “Real” Behind Artificial Intelligence: Graduate Student Shane Griffith

Technology is taking over the world! That is, students of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Meet Shane, a graduate student who is pursuing his passions of artificial intelligence at Georgia Tech-Lorraine.

Posted by Harry

harry-w9-p3-p1Name: Shane Griffith

Major/Field of Study: Computer Science

Year in Grad School: 8th year

Undergraduate Institution: Iowa State

Interests/Hobbies: Weightlifting

One piece of advice for students: “Find something you’re passionate about, and stick with it.”

Baguette or Croissant? Croissant

Are you a fan of the movie The Matrix or iRobot? Have you ever thought about how artificial intelligence could possibly take over the world? Go no further because we have a current graduate resident at Georgia Tech-Lorraine who studies up on that next-level science fiction stuff! His name is Shane Griffith.
Out of all the graduate students I’ve interviewed so far, Shane has by far been in school the longest. After graduating with a BS in Computer Engineering from Iowa State in 2008, he went to grad school there for three and a half years before enrolling in the Georgia Tech/GTL dual degree program. He was in Atlanta for two years, and has been at GTL ever since 2013. The research he does, which is looking at algorithms to help integrate robotics and artificial intelligence, is beyond your typical run-of-the-mill computer science. In fact, Shane makes it an interdisciplinary study by looking at these AI problems using not only CS, but psychology and biology as well. Looking at these problems using knowledge from different fields has brought success to Shane, as he recently had a paper that was published and orally presented at a conference.
Outside of class, you can find Shane lifting at Fitness Park in Metz or just doing more research because as his advice says, we should all look for something we’re passionate about and stick with it. Best of luck to you Shane as you wrap up your graduate studies and move us towards an artificially intelligent future!