A Chill Weekend in Metz

Sometimes the best weekends are those spent at home! This may sound strange, as Harry is a student who is currently studying abroad at GTL, but he’s in on the secret that you can make your own adventures – and get some homework done in between.

Posted by Harry

This past weekend, I didn’t travel at all. I guess some contributing factors were some of my friend’ s parents were in town so they were gone, but also the gloomy fact that I had 3 exams the following week. Here’s a breakdown of what happened:

Thursday, September 29th

Spent the afternoon volunteering at Fort Queuleu! It was nice to meet some locals and put in some work for a local historical landmark. The fort was used by Germans as a detention center for members of the French Resistance during World War II. We just cleaned up some of local overgrowth in the area. If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity, it’s available every Sunday at 9am and every Thursday at 2pm.

Harry and a friend volunteering at Metz’s Fort Queuleu.

Friday, September 30th

Made the most of the empty GTL building and pretty much studied all day. This day put the “study” in study abroad. Spent some of the night shopping at CORA and had the time to make myself a nice dinner, and then a movie night.

Saturday, October 1st

Whoa! It’s October! Where did all the time go? I went on a bike ride all around town, making whatever random turns and twists the road took me. Riding around, you could really see fall settling in. The leaves were beginning to turn colors and the air was turning a bit chilly. At night, I went to the FC Metz vs. AS Monaco soccer game. My first soccer game in Europe, and it was really enjoyable! The stands were packed…but not for long. FC Metz lost 7-0, welp…

Photo courtesy of ASM.com

Sunday 10/2

Another pretty relaxing day. Got some more studying and cooking done.

As we can all see, a weekend in Metz is much needed some time to catch up on sleep, work, or general relaxation purposes. It makes for a nice break between all the heavy travel weekends we’ve been doing.

GTL Represent!

Four GTL students showed off their athletic prowess and competed with others from high schools, universities, and companies in the Metz Technopole – and came out victorious! Read the quick article on the talented students and fun experience!

Posted by Harry

Recently, the Jeux de Metz Technopôle (Metz Technopôle Games) happened. With over 150 participants from local high schools, colleges, and companies, you can say it was pretty hopping. Among all the competition, 4 GTL students emerged victorious and claimed the overall first prize. Congrats to Team Petit Fromage (a.k.a. Little Cheese): Jordan Peasant, Chris Molthrop, Jon Gillespie, and Edwin Bodge!

For the competition, it included of multiple volleyball matches, a rowing machine race, and jump rope. The theme was glow in the dark, and all competitors were given a white T-shirt and got splattered with glow-in-the-dark paint.

Jonathon stated this: “We all enjoyed the games very much. It will be one of my best memories for the year. ”

Congrats again guys!

Getting a Haircut in France: A Guide

Sometimes the simplest things are the most difficult in a foreign place. Harry just went to “le coiffeur,” and he has some tips to make yours easier!

Recently, I got my first haircut here. It was a good experience. I’d just like to share it and some helpful information too.


harry-w8-p1-p1 harry-w8-p1p-2

Luckily for us, there’s two places conveniently located in CORA (another reason why CORA is probably my favorite place in Metz) so you can knock out two birds with one stone. There’s Saint James, which I went to on GTL Deputy Dean of Students Karen Pierce’s recommendation; and Diagonal, which is like a Great Clips, also according to Karen. Haircut places are called “coiffeurs.”

What To Do:

So I walked in, and the nice ladies in the front directed me to this comfortable seat as I waited my turn. By the way, they don’t speak English at Saint James (or Diagonal) so I was pretty much winging it all on basic French and non-verbal communication. When my turn came up, they shampooed it before-hand. After reading up on it, I think it’s a necessary thing in France to do because of hygienic reasons. Following the shampoo, I got into the barber’s seat and I told the barber two things: 1) “dégradé” (fade) and pointed to the sides and back of my head and 2) “mi-longs” (medium) and pointed to the top of my head. She looked a little confused. Luckily, she pulled out a book with a bunch of different hairstyles and I was able to point out a fade on one the pictures and we were good to go from there. My hair up top got cut a little shorter than I wanted it to, but it’ll grow back. It was a solid, refreshing haircut which was much needed at the top. I said my “Merci beaucoup” after leaving, didn’t get an after shampoo and just biked back to the dorm and shampooed there.

My hair isn’t too hard to do so I only had two requests but if you’re looking for something fancy, you can always show a picture or here’s a list of basic French haircut vocab if you need it! (from expatica.com)

Basic hairdressing services in French: Prestations de base proposees
Haircut: une coupe de cheveux
Shampoo: le shampooing
Colouring and highlights: les couleurs et mèches
Set or styling: la mise en pli
Perm: la permanente
Haircare and treatments: les soins et traitements
A blow-dry or straightening: le brushing
Top salon: un coiffeur haut de gamme
Local salon: coiffeur de quartier
Basic French hair terms
Your hair: vos cheveux (always masculine, plural)
Fine: fins
Thick: épais
Oily: gras
Dry: secs
Mixed: mixtes
Normal: normaux
Curly: bouclés
Frizzy: frisés
Smooth: lisses
Damaged: abîmés
Dyed: colorés
Permed: permanentés
Dandruff: pellicules
Cowlick: un épi
A lock of hair: une mèche
French terms for getting a haircut
Short or long: la coupe courte ou longue
Layered: en dégradé
Blunt cut: au carré
Clean cut/well-defined: bien dégagée
Asymmetrical: asymétrique
Square tapered: style carré effilé
Layered on top: dégradé sur le dessus
Short, layered look: une coupe courte tout en dégradé
Short ‘windblown’ layered look: dégradé déstructuré
‘Just out of bed’ look: indiscipliné
Highlights or streaks: les mèches
Hair weaving or foiling: balayage
Bangs: une frange
Hair part: une raie
Hair ends: les pointes

If you want to see more haircut vocab, check out Expatica.com (where the above is from) and FrenchLearner.com.

The Italian Man…: Graduate Student Giuseppe Mariconda

Sometimes taking a leap into uncharted waters can lead to great things…like GTL! Meet Giuseppe, a graduate student from Italy who just may surprise you…

Posted by Harry

Name: Giuseppe Mariconda

Major/Field of Study: Mechanical Engineering

Year in Grad School: 2nd year

Undergraduate Institution: Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan)

Interests/Hobbies: Outdoorsy and sporty. Loves basketball and soccer.

One piece of advice for graduate students: “Not having regrets” ⇐ YOLO?!

Baguette or Croissant? “Baguette. Salty food over sweets any day.”

Disclaimer: The full title of this blog post (which was much too long and why I put “The Italian Man” and then an ellipsis) is: The Italian Man that I Didn’t Think was Italian at First since He had No Accent and It was Really Surprised Me that He was Italian. And that’s why the ellipsis was there. This “skill” is something that he practiced and something he can turn on and off at will, because when asking him to speak with an Italian accent he easily could as well.

When we’re talking about Georgia Tech Lorraine as a “worldwide institution,” I really began to see it with Giuseppe. The first week, I was able to interview graduate student Taha, who was Tunisian. Giuseppe is full Italian, and midway through this interview, he introduced me to his friend, Claire, who was Australian. Pair that up with the French graduate students around, and you’ve got yourself a pretty diverse set of people. Being an undergrad here, which is made up of three American institutions doesn’t really give us that global perspective that GTL actually is.

So, a little bit more on Giuseppe. He’s currently studying Mechanical Engineering, with a focus in acoustics and materials science. He’s full Italian, and is actually here on a sort of “2 year triple-school” program that I found really interesting. He spends a year at an Italian university, the Sapienza Università di Roma, 6 months at GTL, and then 6 months at the Georgia Tech-Atlanta campus. He’s into the latter half of the degree is looking forward to spending time in America! That’s something that all the graduate students I’ve talked to are the most excited about in their respective programs. I can definitely see where it comes from, as I was extremely excited to come to GTL from the other side!

The coolest thing about Giuseppe is his attitude on life. As you can see from his life advice, he’s not afraid of taking risks and making the most of any situation that he’s in. After he graduated from college, he moved to Rome, having no idea what he was going to do. He didn’t know if he was going to work, keep doing school, or anything in between before he just stumbled upon this program. He took a shot in the dark and applied, and soon enough, he was on the train to go to GTL! It’s a very fresh outlook that we can all take away, as sometimes, we should just take leaps of faith and have a positive attitude that it’ll all work out. This attitude carries over as after he completes his degree program he still has no clue what he’s going to do, but he figures that he’ll be alright no matter where he is.

Good luck Giuseppe! I’m sure you’ll be doing great things!

Trekking (A Lot) More Than Usual

Do you like adventures? Pretty views? Then do we have a blog for you! Check out the gorgeous sights and fun times in the Calanques, as cataloged by Harry. The south of France never looked so good!

Posted by Harry.

Being broke college kids who don’t necessarily want to spend money on public transportation (excluding trains, because they’re kind of a necessity), we’ve all probably done a fair amount of walking around wherever we’ve been visiting. I’d say on average; we probably log a solid 10 miles (?) a day on the weekends. Usually a lot of walking is done in cities because, hey, it takes time to get from place to place. This past weekend however, instead of walking around in a city or cities, I took a little hike from one city to another. Notably, this route was a part of the GR 98-51 trail that connects Cassis to Marseilles through a beautiful mountain range known as “The Calanques.”

Photo courtesy of gr-infos.com.

According to my pal Morgan, she said this hike was an estimated 17 miles looking at the map. The people that I was with and I were like “Aight, that’s totally chill! We can just make it in a day,” and we planned to do the hike from early Friday morning to Friday evening. Unfortunately, the weather was forecasted to be raining and thunder storming throughout Friday, so we were a little bummed. Fortunately, the weather in actuality was perfect and sunny so we got to go on our way.

Photo courtesy of Morgan Ringel.

The trail we took isn’t just for the hardcore hikers who want to walk 17 miles from city to city, but had many trails of varying length for any skill level in between. The most famous trail is the one that leads to the Cave-En-Vau, which is this beautiful inlet beach you see above. That was only about 1.5 miles in, so if you have the time, check it out! It’s definitely got a spot on my “Places to re-visit when I’m older” list.

Along the way, we ended up climbing up a big mountain and caught some gorgeous views of the Calanques as a whole. Near the end, we got to hike into a stunning view of the sunset. Aside: probably the funniest-yet-disheartening part of the hike was when we checked our GPS as it said 2.1 miles until the restaurant where we weregoing to grab dinner at, hiked 30 minutes in the correct direction of the restaurant, and then it said 2.3 miles until our destination (LOL).

When we finally got to the restaurant, never has a moment that was happier than to sit down and get off our feet for a while. We all made bets on how many miles we actually hiked, since it felt much longer than 17…and it ended up being around 23-24 miles! A huge sense of accomplishment fell over our group as we devoured our delicious food (food tastes better after hiking 24 miles) and then Uber-ed (not walked) our way to the taxi because hey, I thought it was well deserved. If there was a shirt that said “I conquered the Calanques,” I totally would have bought one. All in all, it was great experience and I would recommend for those of you who are outdoorsy and/or adventurous to check it out.

Everything School: Academic Manager Vanessa Nau

GTL has some fantastic people working behind the scenes, and now it’s time to pull back the curtain. Meet Vanessa Nau, the fabulous Academic Manager at GTL.

Meet Vanessa Nau!Name: Vanessa Nau

Position: Academic Manager

Years at GTL: 2 years

Interests/Hobbies: Learning different languages; theatre

One line to describe GTL: “There’s only one Georgia Tech Lorraine.”

Piece of advice for students: “Make sure to keep a steady balance between work and travel.”

Say hello to Vanessa Nau, the Academic Manager for Georgia Tech Lorraine. This is her second year working at GTL and she loves it. The first year was a little crazy, she describes, as she had to learn the ins and outs of the job, interact with Americans, and deal with the culture shock that comes along with it. For her job, Vanessa does a ton. She’s the one that creates all the class and final schedules, helps with the visa process for European graduate students who continue their studies abroad in the United States, and everything in between. With the graduate students, she often describes herself as the role of “mother.” From dealing with renting apartments to overall American culture, she provides plenty of support to ease their transition.

Another term I could use to describe Vanessa is “linguistics enthusiast.” Not only does she know French and English, but she is well-versed in German, Italian, and Spanish! In fact, she worked in Germany the four years before she came to GTL. Vanessa also is a fond actor, being an actor for eight years. Combining these hobbies brings up an interesting note: in Germany, the acting group she was a part of performed in French and Spanish! Taking these passions to the next level, she hopes to teach French as a Second Language (FSL) in the near future.

If you ever have any academic issues, want to talk about languages and theatre, or just want to get to know this amazing lady, don’t be afraid to peek into Vanessa’s office!

Fixing Your Technological Issues: IT Manager Jean Jacques

Georgia Tech Lorraine would be nothing without the “Tech!” Meet Jean-Jacques, who fixes any and all problems that arise with the technology of the program.

Name: Jean Jacques Michel

Position: Information Technology

Years at GTL: 11 years

Interests/Hobbies: Working with computers and electronics.

One line to describe GTL: “An interesting opportunity to work in a different system in relationship with Atlanta and with American people”

Piece of advice for students: Go out and explore!

In an urban Metz folk tale, it spoke of a man who has been roaming the halls of the Georgia Tech-Lorraine building for many years. It’s the guy pictured above. Jean Jacques Michel, our resident information technology manager, has actually worked in the GTL building for the past 21 years! Georgia Tech-Lorraine used to sublet space to an electronics company and Jean-Jacques worked for that company in the beginning. So it’s safe to say he’s seen his fair share of progress of this institution throughout the years. He’s been here almost from the beginning, and watched the number of students grow and grow, each and every year.

Due to the small size of GTL, it seems like every administration member I meet is a do-everything superhero in their own department. Mr. Michel’s sector is technology. From plugs in the wall, the audio-visual projectors in the classroom, and even the printing, he handles and fixes every little bug that comes across our way. He truly loves his work, as his favorite feeling comes when solving a problem that arises.

I know that during my time here, I’ve never ran into any technological issues thus far and it’s thanks to this guy. If you’re having a smooth time with the technology here and manage to catch this guy around, thank him for all that he does because it’s truly something we should appreciate!

Making the Most of the “B” in Belgium

Harry is buzzin’ around Belgium and boasting about beautiful buildings and…”bwaffles?” Learn more in his blog post about his travels in Belgium!

Posted by Harry

There are a lot of terms closely associated with Belgium that begins with the letter “B.” Some, namely, are Brussels, Bruges, and Bwaffles (if you didn’t already know, the “B” is silent).


The Grand Place at night.

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is a very modern city. It’s filled with people and has a huge industrial buildings scattered throughout the city. However, it’s most notably known for the Grote Markt/Grand Place at its heart. Oh my, oh my, how beautiful it was. The neat thing is you’re surrounded by gorgeous structures on all four sides if you stand in the middle. This place used to the hub for all the different guild’s that fostered the economy of Belgium long ago and is filled with rich history.


The Markt of Bruges.

Bruges is a quaint little town about an hour north of Brussels. On the map, it looks fairly tiny. When you get there however, you find that there’s just so many things to do! I didn’t set my expectations too high when visiting but after a day there, I was pleasantly satisfied and more. Bruges also has a Markt area in the center of town where you’re also surrounded by magnificent architecture all around. As you head out in any cardinal direction from there, you’ll find parks, river tours, windmills, museums, and all sorts of random things to see/explore.


If you went to Belgium and didn’t get a “Bwaffle,” did you really go to Belgium?

The answer is, yes, I did, and here was my yummy Belgium waffle that I had in the Grand Place.

The Student Lounge

Georgia Tech Lorraine is the “Gateway to Europe,” but what is the heart of GTL? The student lounge of course! Get almost as familiar with the student lounge as the students who study and play here.

Posted by Harry

Panorama of the student lounge.

One of my favorite places to be is the student lounge. If I had to find the “heart” of Georgia Tech Lorraine, it’d be here. This is where all the students (both undergrad and graduate) come to do a variety of things. GTL has always been known to be a “community,” and this is a huge contributing factor. From morning until night, this place is always bustling with people.
Located conveniently on the first floor (in France, this is actually the 0th floor, known as rez-de-chaussée) right past the front door, it’s easily accessible to all. Here, you can meet all the wonderful cohorts that are on this adventure together. Whether it’s talking about what happened the past weekend or what you’re going to do the next weekend, no one is a stranger here. Sharing and hearing experiences of others has been very fulfilling and rewarding and gives me a place to add to my bucket list!
There’s also quite the academic side to this room as well. There’s a plethora of desks and chairs on wheels to (1) make a custom desk set-up (2) move to a custom location of choice (3) super tables for group work sessions (4) any other fun things you wish to do with desks and and chairs on wheels. Computers with various software are also made to accommodate our academic needs.
Finally, my personal favorite aspect is the ping pong table and pool table. It’s a wonderful way to let some competitive energy out and take a nice break from the hard work that we put in during the day.
Come one, come all! There’s a place at the student lounge for everyone!

Shopping at CORA

Ah, the fantastical wonder that is the CORA: I’m a life source for students at GTL, and a bit of a walk as well. What am I? Read Harry’s blog to figure it out!

I’d like to compare the CORA sign to Eyes of T.J. Eckleburg in “The Great Gatsby,” because CORA is always watching.

I’d like to introduce you to CORA. A nickname I call CORA is “The Provider”, since it contains everything you could possibly need to survive a semester (and more!) at Georgia Tech Lorraine. Its American twin would be Super Wal-Mart.

Upon my first visit to CORA, I was a little lost. I had to get my backpack plastic wrapped by security, the signs were all in French, and I had no idea what I needed to get for my dorm room. So I did the only logical thing: walk up and down CORA’s (estimated) 50 aisles to see what I needed. I spent much more time than I should have, but through this process I got everything I needed in the moment, saw things I would need in the future, and made a mental map of this grocery labyrinth.

Some general tips and tricks I have:

1) Bring your own shopping bags and backpacks. No bags are provided so one must carry it all the way back with their own bags. As I mentioned from an earlier blog, travel backpacks are excellent for this.
2) Bring a 1€ coin. This is the deposit needed to get a shopping cart, much like Aldi’s in America. There are these blue rolling shopping baskets, but the cart comes in clutch for both keeping your backpacks and bags in and also for the large amount of groceries one trip has.
3) Eggs and milk are stored refrigerated…so wander about aimlessly in the refrigerated aisle for 10 minutes as someone did…
4) Be open to trying new foods! We’re in France, so there are many things that don’t normally get eaten in the US that are wonderful.

And lastly, be good to CORA, and CORA will be good to you. 🙂