Prague, take two!

Revisiting a place you’ve been before can often be more relaxing than the first time around.

Last weekend when I sat down to figure out where I would go, I decided to revisit Prague. The city itself is amazingly beautiful and full of historical sites and attractions. While on the one hand I would like to travel to a new place every weekend, there were just too many places that I didn’t get to see during my last short visit. I also had a group of friends who were going to Prague that same weekend as well.

In my last blog post about Prague, I described how every place I traveled to in the city there were musicians. This hadn’t changed, and while last time I spent a lot of time wandering around the city, this time I had a plan and a list of places to visit.

On the top of my list was to visit the Clementinum which houses the National Library of the Czech Republic. It was also used as an astrological tower.


The library features bookcases from celling to floor, and a flat celling that is painted in such a way that it appears as if it is a vaulted ceiling.

I also got the opportunity to go to the chocolate museum and finally got a change to peruse the bohemian crystal shops and open markets in Prague.

I got many souvenirs for my family back home, and I really enjoyed shopping with friends while taking in the views of Prague.

Overall it was a relaxing weekend, without the rush that comes with squeezing in as many things into a single weekend. I truly recommend it, I needed a break but I didn’t want to sit in the dorms and this was a perfect way to have the best of both worlds.


RA Profile: Jonathan Gosyne

RA, Jonathan Gosyne, advises future RA’s to make the effort to build rapport with students.

Posted by Lindsay

Jonathan Gosyne
Jonathan Gosyne

Name: Jonathan Gosyne

Major/Field of Study: ME

Year in undergraduate: 4th year

Other Universities: Presentation College, Chaguanas, in Trinidad & Tobago, where he completed the equivalent of an associates degree


Favorite Quote: “As each has been given a gift, use it to serve one another”

Favorite Song: “New York, New York” – Frank Sinatra

Interests and Hobbies: Learning and playing musical instruments and how they can express different cultures, as well as taking road trips and traveling

Why GTL?: GTL had all the courses that he needed to take for the summer, and it had the added bonus of being abroad.

Favorite Part of GTL: The company – the students here are fun to talk to and travel with

What dorm do RA for?: RA for Lafayette

RA Experience: Was an RA for two years at Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus at Crecine. Also was a prefect (similar to a daytime RA) at his old university

Recommendations to other RA’s coming to GTL: Understand that you don’t know the culture and don’t be afraid to ask for help from the SA’s because they know the culture. Build rapport with the students. Be polite and manage your time well.

Recommendations to future GTL students: Know that your plans will change and fall through, and don’t let this bother you too much. Do non-touristy things as well as the major tourist attractions and be open to suggestions. Try to make an effort to learn some phrases in the native language of the countries that you are visiting.

Any places that you didn’t visit, that you would like to visit in the future?: Ireland and Scandinavia

Will you do another study abroad?: Maybe one of the master’s program study abroads in South England

What’s Next?: Firming up plans about completing a masters. He has two more semesters before he graduates in May 2017


Faculty Profile: Nico Declercq

Dr. Nico Declercq has taught at Georgia Tech’s Atlanta and Lorraine campuses.

Professor Nico Declercq
Professor Nico Declercq

Name: Dr. Nico Declercq

Position: Tenured Associate Professor

Favorite Color: Green

Favorite Food: He doesn’t have one but he recommends that the GTL students try food from the south of France.

Interests/Hobbies: Spending time with his family

Educational Institutions:  Ghent University, Belgium, 2005 – PhD in Engineering Physics; Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, 2000- Master’s in Astrophysics; Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, 1996- Bachelors in Astrophysics

Dr. Declercq teaches thermodynamics this semester at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. He has taught at both the Lorraine campus and the Atlanta Campus teaching dynamics courses. Dr. Declercq is also doing research into ultrasonic nondestructive evaluation of materials and acoustics here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. During the weekends he travels back to Brussels to be with his family.

Some advice imparted by Dr. Declercq was that GTL students should travel but they should also make studying a priority as well.

Places to Relax Around Georgia Tech-Lorraine

The same places that our bloggers have already recommended for studying, can also be great places to relax.

Posted by Lindsay

The mixture of traveling every weekend, and studying all week can be tiring. But there are some awesome places around campus to relax and take a break.

The Student Lounge

The student lounge in the Georgia Tech-Lorraine building isn’t just for studying. The lounge has a ping pong table where students can play for free. There is also a small lending library where students can borrow books and just return them when they are done reading them. The lounge also has nice comfortable chairs which are great to read in, as I can attest. This is also where most of the BDE events, like game night and trivia, are held.


The Lake


Across the street from the Georgia Tech-Lorraine building there is a small lake with a track around it. There are several benches around the lake to sit and enjoy the scenery. There are also ducks that are found at the lake, as well as swans. It is always nice to sit in the sun and watch the ducks swim.



Paul’s is located in between the GTL building and the Lafayette dorms. They have indoor and outdoor seating where you can order a coffee and sweets and enjoy the weather. There aren’t many Starbucks located around GTL, so Paul’s is the next best thing, with the added benefits of freshly made sweets and bread.


The Dorms

If all else fails, the dorms offer a lounge where students can relax as well as study. It is also not unusual to walk down the hallways of the dorms and see all the doors open and students chatting in the hallway. This open and welcoming community of students is a great way to make new friends. There are also usually pickup games of soccer or Ultimate Frisbee happening around the dorms.


Off the Beaten Track

You may be surprised by what you find when you deviate from the tried and true tourist trail.

This past weekend was the first four day weekend of the summer, and traveling to Barcelona, Spain was the plan. Barcelona was very busy this past weekend, and my friend, Izzi, and I couldn’t find a room in Barcelona for the first night. Instead we decided to take an additional train to Tarragona, which is about an hour train ride from Barcelona.

Tarragona is known for the Roman ruins of Tarraco that can be found there.

As Izzi and I walked to our hostel, we didn’t have high expectations for our day in Tarragona. It was a small town compared to Barcelona, and it was a holiday so most shops were closed.

The first thing that we wanted to do after traveling for 19 hours was head to the beach. After a quick 20 minute walk we reached the beach and we were in for a surprise. The beach wasn’t crowded at all, and it lacked shops, peddlers, and a lot of other tourists.

This was a completely different experience compared to the beaches that awaited us in Barcelona.

We sat out at the beach for a couple hours listening to the waves without interruptions.

While it was a holiday, there were still restaurants open for the evening. Izzi and I wandered down to the main square in the old town Tarragona and found it filled with people awaiting some form of entertainment. After waiting a couple of minutes we started to see people rising from the crowd while standing on others shoulders.

Come to find out these people were building a castell, or a human tower.

This tradition originated near Tarragona, though now it is a popular tradition practiced through Catalunya. These castellers build a human tower with no safety equipment aside from a helmet for the youngest castellers. The Castell is created on cobblestone in the main square and any mistakes can be fatal. The top of the tower is made by the youngest castellers, who are 6 years old.

This was such an unexpected delight to see this tradition. Afterward we sat in the square and had a dinner, which was delicious and also a great price!

We spent the rest of the evening walking around Tarragona and enjoying the sights that Tarragona had to offer.

The next day we were off to Barcelona. While Barcelona was a wonderful city full of tourists attractions, Tarragona was by far my favorite part of the weekend. The city was gorgeous, and the quiet calm was a nice reprieve from the constant buzz of typical tourist cities.

Traveling to Tarragona was delightful, and even though most people didn’t travel there, or won’t travel there, it provided not only a great experience and tourist sites, but it came without the tourist feel. Traveling off the beaten track can be fun and rewarding.


Taking Paris by Storm!

Find out what a solo trip to Paris was like for one GTL blogger.

This semester has given me many opportunities, including traveling alone. The second weekend I took Paris by storm on my own!

There are quite a few benefits to traveling alone including just being able to see whichever attractions you want. The first thing that I wanted to see was the Eiffel Tower. On the way there my phone died, and I lost all my maps and navigation. I took this opportunity to wander around Paris making my way closer to the Eiffel Tower that I could see in the sky.

Using the Eiffel Tower to navigate
Using the Eiffel Tower to navigate

As I made my way to the Eiffel Tower I got to see different architecture around Paris, taste some delicious pastries, and got to see some street art as well.





Uncharted discoveries on the way to the Eiffel Tower

Finally Made it to the Eiffel Tower!
Finally Made it to the Eiffel Tower!

After finally making it to the Eiffel Tower, I sat in the park in front of it and just enjoyed my lunch and the perfect view. Another benefit of traveling alone was being able to do things on my own schedule. Just relaxing and taking my time with lunch was a blessing after walking all morning.



The next sight that I needed to see was the Louvre. After a quick metro ride I entered the Louvre and saw the quintessential inverted glass pyramid.

I.M. Pei pyramid at the Louvre
I.M. Pei pyramid at the Louvre

I spent hours wandering the halls of the Louvre walking from exhibit to exhibit. My favorite exhibit by far was the Ancient Egyptian exhibit. This was my first time seeing Ancient Egyptian stonework and ceramics. The craftsmanship that went into these pieces and the fact that they have lasted throughout the centuries stunned me.

Exhibits at the Louvre

This weekend I got the chance to travel on my own. I found out that I can make it around a foreign city alone if need be. It also gave me the opportunity to meet new people at my hostel. I quickly made new friends and we ended up spending the next day at the Musée d’Orsay together.


With new friends on the way to the Musée d’Orsay


Where to Eat Near Georgia Tech-Lorraine

Places to eat within walking distance of GTL.

Unlike at the Georgia campus, dinner is not included in any of the meal plans for the GTL student. This means that every evening each GTL student needs to fend for themselves. No need to worry though as there are several options for dinner. There is the obvious option to cook dinner in the dorms, but for those times when you’re too busy to cook here are your options:


Image source:
Image source:

Paul is located about halfway between Lafayette and the GTL building. Paul has several options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Throughout the day they have fresh baked bread, pastries, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. Each day they have a slightly different selection, making sure that you don’t get bored eating the same thing every day.



CROUS dining hall
CROUS dining hall

While dinner isn’t included in the meal plan, lunch at Crous is included. That being said for 3€ dinner at Crous can be purchased. Dinner at Crous typically includes a choice of two entrees, one seafood option and one non-seafood meat options. Some of the options included so far this semester were chicken fingers, ham and grilled cheese, pork and macaroni, among others. They have a variety of cold sides each night including oranges, apples, watermelon, a variety of cheeses, yogurt, and mousse. One or two hot sides are available each night as well such as scalloped potatoes, green beans, and pasta.


La Boite à Pizza

Image source:
Image source:

La Boite à Pizza is the local pizza place that is located next to Paul, and is within walking distance from GTL. Let me tell you La Boite à Pizza is not your typical pizza place. They have a selection of gourmet and traditional pizzas made with fresh ingredients. They even have deals every Monday and Thursday for any medium pizza for 6€50!

These are the options available within walking distance of GTL, but there are always the restaurants in Metz if you get tired of these.


Visiting the Doctor While at GTL

What do you do when you’re not feeling well at GTL? Call the doctor, but don’t try to make an appointment…


What do you do when you get sick abroad? Everyone gets sick occasionally, especially when we travel as much as we do. Last week, I caught the common cold, and just like at the Georgia campus if you are too sick to go to class you have to go to the doctor. There are a few English-speaking doctors near GTL – the one I visited is located right off the Mettis bus line, and is the GTL-recommended physician.

After getting sick, I headed to the doctor with the cost of the visit in cash. This doctor doesn’t accept credit cards and it is advised to bring exact change; 23€. Just make sure to keep your receipt as the GTL insurance will reimburse you later. Seeing the doctor here was different than visiting one in the US though. The doctor’s office is located in the back of a large apartment complex right next to the bus station.

After walking into the building I was expecting to see a reception desk or a hallway which lead to an office with a reception desk. That was not the case; when you walk into the building there are a few chairs and this is where you wait for the doctor to come and ask you into his office. Once this happens, you go in and tell him what is wrong. There is a difference in the office setting as well; while in the US you would typically talk to the doctor in an examination room whereas at this doctor’s office, you talk to him in his office.

Unlike in the US where you can make an appointment with a general physician, in France the doctor has open hours where you go to wait to see him. This makes it slightly difficult to get in to see the doctor. Be sure to make it to the open hours early to try to limit the time that you spend waiting to see the doctor when you are sick.

Overall, while the experience was new, the entire visit was quick and effective. I walked out of the office with a prescription for some cold medicine and an excused absence note for my professors.

Making a Train Reservation in French

“Parlez-vous français?” — Here’s how to make a train reservation like a local.

Traveling can be difficult, especially in a country where you don’t speak the language. Here are a few tips that should help you when you get to the train station.

LM3_1Before you go to the train station you should have a few things ironed out. You should have the trains that you want to make reservations for already, and a backup itinerary in case those trains are booked. That means that you should know the train ID number and the time that it is departing and from which station. It is also important to note that all trains don’t require a reservation, and if you have a Eurail pass you just need to get on the train.

After gathering this information it is time for you to head to the train station.


Introductory Formalities

<<Bonjour>> or <<Bonsoir>>: The attendants at the desk will greet you with one of these greetings typically. Bonjour is a greeting used before the evening where Bonsoir will be used later in the day. You should repeat the greeting back to them.

Requesting Your Reservation

<<Je voudrais réserver un billet de train . . .>>

This is the start of your statement saying the you would like to make a reservation for a train. After this you need to provide the information about your journey.

<< . . . Pour [Insert Departing Station] le [Insert Date – first the day, then the month] et arrivée de [Insert Arriving Station] sur le [Insert Date – first the day, then the month] s’il vous plaît>>

The only other thing that should be in French will be the dates and times of the trains. In French, they list the day first and then the month. Below is a table with the months and days in French.

January – Janvier

February – Février

March – Mars

April – Avril

May – Mai

June – Juin

July – Juillet

August – Août

September – Septembre

October – Octobre

November – Novembre

December – Décembre

0 zéro
1 un
2 deux
3 trois
4 quatre
5 cinq
6 six
7 sept
8 huit
9 neuf
10 dix
11 onze
12 douze
13 treize
14 quatorze
15 quinze
16 seize
17 dix-sept
18 dix-huit
19 dix-neuf
20 vingt
21 vingt et un
22 vingt-deux
23 vingt-trois
24 vingt-quatre
25 vingt-cinq
26 vingt-six
27 vingt-sept
28 vingt-huit
29 vingt-neuf
30 trente
31 Trente et un

One last thing to note is that you should always check the times and dates on your reservation before you buy them, because depending on the situation they might not be exchangeable or refundable. Typically the attendant will show you your ticket before you purchase it, so make sure to check the dates, times, and stations.


A Field Trip to Verdun

World War I history comes alive for GTL students while visiting the sites of the Battle of Verdun.

This past week GTL students took our first field trip of the semester. During this field trip we traveled to Verdun in northeastern France to the location of the Battle of Verdun.

For those of us not well versed in major battles that occurred during the First World War, the battle of Verdun was one of the largest battles during WWI. The battle was fought between the French and Germans from February 21 to until December 20, 1916. By the end of this battle the casualties and losses totaled nearly 500,000 on the French side and 400,000 on the German side.

One of the Verdun cemeteries outside of the Douaumont Ossuary
One of the Verdun cemeteries outside of the Douaumont Ossuary

One of our first stops was Fort Douaumont, one of the largest forts that surround the city. The majority of the fort is located underground and as we walked further into the fort the living conditions of the solders could be seen immediately. It happened to be pouring down rain the day that we visited and the rain water had sunk into the fort covering the walls and floor and lowering the temperatures.

As the tour through the fort continued the guide mentioned that this was the place where the soldiers rested for a short time before they were expected to go back out to the front lines. At each new discovery it became apparent how dedicated the soldiers were to their cause and how much they sacrificed for that cause.

After leaving the fort we drove to the Douaumont Ossuary. Throughout the ride the countryside could be seen and it still bore the results of the war. Everywhere we looked there were huge divots in the ground where shells had hit during the war. Even after a century the changes and effects of the war could still be seen on the land.

The Douaumont Ossuary is the site of the final resting place of many of the unidentified soldiers from the war. We were told about the rooms where 130,000 unidentified soldiers from both the German and French side that were located right below our feet. This Ossuary was built by Charles Ginisty, the Bishop of Verdun, from donations that he gathered to create a cemetery for the bones of the fallen, and a place for families of MIA soldiers to come mourn their loss.

At the end of this day all the GTL students walked away with a different understanding of what the war meant. Viewing the living conditions of the soldiers, the battlefields, and the cemeteries makes WWI more tangible to us. It is far different to read about the numbers and events of WWI in a textbook compared to seeing firsthand the life of a foot solider.

Shell blast holes in the countryside
Shell blast holes in the countryside

One of my fellow students put the feeling that we were all feeling, but didn’t know quite how to express, into words:

“There is nothing quite like climbing out of the damp darkness, stepping into the sun that is just breaking through the clouds that have been hanging over it since morning, and scaling steep steps up the side of the fort. Standing atop the highest point in the countryside with the wind in your hair ….and realizing you’re standing on the bones of thousands of men that never made it out.”