A Final Reflection

Written by Serena Khan

As I sit down to write this final reflection for my blog, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and a bit of disbelief. Studying abroad through Georgia Tech-Europe has, without a doubt, been the best decision of my college career. This journey has most definitely been a deep dive into personal growth and cultural immersion. I can now leave knowing I have made lifelong friends whom I can truly call family.

**Academic and Personal Growth**

This semester abroad challenged me academically in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I took five courses, four of which, though not directly contributing to my major, enriched my knowledge profoundly. From learning how to document my travels in a Creative Writing class to understanding the fundamentals of building a startup in the Startup Lab, each class pushed the boundaries of my usual curriculum back home.

Among these, my favorite class was French 1001 with Professor Sonia Serafin. Professor Serafin is an eccentric and caring teacher who goes beyond the textbook to engage with her students. She strives to ensure that everyone not only learns French but also enjoys the learning process. Her class was instrumental in helping us master the basics needed for getting around in French-speaking regions, and she was always willing to help students achieve good grades, as long as they showed effort and care.

Despite these enriching experiences, one area I struggled with was time management. Balancing coursework, blog writing, and travel proved more challenging than expected. This struggle has taught me valuable lessons about prioritizing and managing my time—a skill I aim to hone as I move forward from this experience.

**Navigating Social Dynamics**

Traveling with peers from various backgrounds tested and strengthened my interpersonal skills, particularly patience. Learning to travel with people whom I might not always agree with taught me the importance of compromise and flexibility. These situations, where it was easy to become frustrated, instead taught me to remain optimistic and seek solutions collaboratively.

**Cultural and Social Insights**

Traveling without the security of my family taught me to be more vigilant and resourceful, and it pushed me out of my comfort zone on numerous occasions (like when I lost my phone in Munich…). The ability to navigate foreign cities, deal with unexpected situations, and communicate across language barriers has given me a new level of independence and confidence.

The people I met have turned into lifelong friends who now feel more like family. These relationships have been one of the most rewarding aspects of my study abroad experience. Whether sharing a meal, exploring a new city, or simply studying together, these moments of connection have made my study abroad journey that much more special.

Some of my favorite places from this semester were Amsterdam, Lisbon, Capri, Rome, and Madrid. Each place gave me unique experiences and beautiful scenery. One of my most cherished memories was a pasta-making class in Rome. This unforgettable four-hour session taught us how to craft pasta from scratch and prepare tiramisu. It brought me so much closer to my friends, and the joy and laughter we shared during this experience will stay with me forever. Another memorable moment occurred when I accompanied my friends to a local piercer in Rome. It was a day filled with excitement and a bit of nervous anticipation as one friend decided to get a nose piercing, and another opted for his ears to be pierced. Sharing in their experience and seeing their reactions was so exciting and also emblematic of the adventurous spirit that defined our time together abroad.

**Lisbon and Lifelong Friendships**

A pivotal moment in my journey was an early trip to Lisbon with two friends, who I now call my sisters <3. This trip was one of our first experiences just as a trio, and it cemented our bond together. From then on, we were nearly inseparable on every group trip, always the closest and gravitating towards each other. The laughs we shared and the memories we created in Lisbon and beyond are irreplaceable. I consider these friends family now, and I am eternally grateful for their presence in my life.

**Balancing Academics and Adventures**

Most of my coursework was completed during long train rides across Europe which is a demonstration of the unique challenges of balancing academics with exploration.

These moments, spent writing papers with scenic landscapes whisking by, were unexpectedly beautiful and vastly productive. They taught me that the beauty of study abroad lies in the integration of learning with living.

One of the best pieces of advice I can offer future students is to focus on time management. Even though I was fortunate to have less rigorous classes, I know that students in engineering or computer science face more challenging coursework. Using travel time, like long train rides, for studying or completing assignments was a tactic many of my friends employed successfully. Additionally, forming study groups helps hold each other accountable and allows for shared learning. Everyone wants to enjoy their travels without the heavy weight of schoolwork hanging over them, so staying on top of assignments is crucial.

Another valuable piece of advice is to remain flexible and adaptable. Things won’t always go as planned, whether in academics or travel, but keeping a positive outlook and going with the flow can turn potential disappointments into unexpected adventures.

**Overcoming Comparison**

An important lesson I learned was how comparison can steal joy. Not every trip or experience could be shared with everyone, and sometimes I had to make sacrifices due to family commitments or time-constraints. It was crucial to remember not to let these missed opportunities overshadow the wonderful experiences I did have. Gratitude was key in maintaining a positive outlook and fully appreciating my own unique journey, without comparing it to others’.

**Future Aspirations and Gratitude**

This isn’t the last time I’ll be abroad. The experiences here have ignited a passion for international travel and work that I’m eager to explore further. I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity—every challenge, every new friend, every unexpected adventure has contributed to a semester of immense growth and gratitude.

**Conclusion**

Though I initially regretted that this semester would extend my college career, I no longer view it as a setback but as a unique opportunity that has broadened my perspectives and enhanced my academic journey. As I look ahead, I’m excited to continue my writing and apply the invaluable lessons I’ve learned.

To everyone who has followed this blog, thank you for sharing this journey with me. If anyone reading ever has any questions about study abroad or college in general, feel free to ask me at skhan408@nullgatech.edu!

Mamie M’a Dit to try French Food

Written by Serena

Mamie M’a Dit was nothing short of the true French dining experience. From the moment I stepped foot into this quaint restaurant in downtown Metz, I was consumed by the excitement of indulging in a feast of gastronomic authenticity.

The walls were painted red, adorned with black and white photos. The space was decorated with wooden furniture and illuminated with dimmed, soft lights, giving the restaurant a warm, comforting glow. As I sat down, a sense of sleepiness loomed over me due to the cozy ambiance, but that had to be ignored when I was handed the menu. First, I glossed over it, a bit overwhelmed that everything was in French (of course). I attempted to make out certain words that I recognized, like ‘escargot,’ ‘crème brûlée,’ and ‘poulet.’ Not many others stuck out to me unfortunately. The attempt ran short before I humbly requested the English version.

My knowledge of French dinner foods was limited, but I did know a staple of the cuisine was escargot so my decision for the entree was immediate. Given that this was a classy dinner with a 40-euro budget per person, my good friend and I decided to merge our funds. This strategy allowed us to share our two entrees and enjoy a single dessert together, optimizing our dining experience. For her entree, she chose the salmon tartare. As we waited for the server to take our orders, we pondered over what we wanted for our mains and dessert.

Almost everything on the menu looked delectable, but the two items that stuck out to me were the veal and duck breast with Mirabelle plums. Since we made the executive decision to combine funds, I ordered the veal while my friend asked for the duck, each of us agreeing to try each other’s meals so that we wouldn’t miss out. We finally placed our orders after what seemed like forever, our hunger escalating as the evening progressed. Good thing there was unlimited bread!

As the wait for our meals stretched longer, our hunger transformed from mere anticipation to a gnawing sensation. Finally, the entrees arrived and the warm aroma immediately flooded my nostrils. I was eager to devour the food swiftly, but I stopped myself, as I wanted to enjoy every bite and analyze the flavors of this delicacy I had been anticipating for so long. The dish looked elegant; the escargot was enrobed in a lush, white creamy sauce. The history of escargot is a fascinating journey. Initially, escargot was consumed by the lower classes and regarded as an easily accessible protein source. Over time, it transformed into a symbol of sophistication and wealth, especially in French cuisine, where its preparation and presentation became a true art form.

I picked up a spoonful, examining the looks of it before taking the first bite. The dish overall reminded me of clam chowder but without the oyster crackers. It offered a texture that was satisfyingly chewy and flavor rich of garlic, marrying the comforting, bountiful flavors of the sauce with the snail’s unique tenderness. My friend had previously tried escargot in Paris, and I asked her to compare her thoughts on the two. She deemed that her time trying it in Paris offered a more genuine experience because it was served in the actual shells instead of in a sauce. It was still delicious to her; however she appreciated the authenticity of extracting the meat herself, which made me envious of this phenomenon. After the first taste, I could not stop myself from scarfing the rest of the dish down.

Next, came the salmon tartare. It came accompanied by four pieces of bread, an element that enhanced the dish’s appeal with a crispy texture that contrasted with the softness of the salmon. The pairing of the bread and salmon evoked a sense of home and nostalgia; it echoed the popular combination of a bagel and salmon lox. Though it was a delightful reminder of my usual breakfast at home, it lacked the flavorful sensation that I initially anticipated. The freshness of the salmon was undeniably present yet demanded a zestful enhancement, perhaps a twinge of lemon juice, to elevate its mild, but agreeable taste.

The meal starters most definitely did not disappoint, leaving me satisfied but only for a fleeting moment. My stomach shortly beckoned for more food. After an almost fulfilling first course, each passing moment of waiting for the main dishes seemed to heighten our expectations further. The immense apprehension of the forthcoming meal was not just the usual wait for food that I am used to, but an awaited event that promised relief and satisfaction. The desire to feast intensified as the wait went on, and my hunger continued to deepen making my stomach growl ever more fiercely. As my friend and I shared our escalating hunger and the joyful bliss of tasting our dinners, we got lost in deep conversation in order to distract ourselves. Around us, the restaurant’s atmosphere gave us a cozy haven of friendly chatter and laughter amongst us and our fellow classmates. The soft lighting cast a warm glow over the tables, enriching the ambiance with a golden hue as the evening went on, transforming our dinner into an intimate experience.

Alas, the main courses made their way towards us, and we reveled in the excitement of finally indulging in the long-awaited cuisine. In my dish, the veal was submerged in a sauce of Muenster cheese that promised richness but delivered an aroma that unfortunately clashed with my expectations. The scent was aggressively pungent and evoked the unpleasant image of decay, specifically bringing to my mind the idea of rotting mushrooms. My friend was curious about my dish and tasted the veal. She found the smell less daunting than I did. Though she enjoyed it more than I did, she avoided ordering it for ethical purposes regarding the preparation of veal. Veal is often prepared from young calves not raised to maturity, resulting in tender meat. The controversy surrounding veal lies in the methods of rearing these calves, which many argue are restrictive and unethical. The discord between the veal’s savory taste and its off-putting smell created a sensory clash, making it ever so difficult to appreciate the dish to its fullest. The cheese’s potent fragrance lingered, overshadowing the veal’s innate qualities, and making each attempt to enjoy the meal a struggle against my senses.

In contrast, my friend’s duck was a symphony of delectable sensations. The meat was not just tender but juicy, each bite releasing flavors that carried the mouthwatering aroma of a well-crafted meal. This delightful scent and taste were entirely captivating and completely different from the almost offensive notes that blemished my dish. The duck was paired with the sweet tartness of Mirabelle plums, mainly cultivated in the Lorraine region of France, which offered a flavorful harmony that elevated the dish to a different level. The plums’ subtle acidity and natural sweetness intertwined with the duck’s richness enhanced its flavor, leaving me with a sense of envy. I wrestled with my veal as the duck stood as a taunting reminder of what could have been, a flavorful heaven, deepening my regret over my choice and my discomfort over the uneaten, wasted portion sitting in front of me.

It was time to close our course with one final touch: crème brûlée. As our crème brûlée was served, the anticipation for its classic sweetness was evident among my friend and me. The expectation of its timeless flavors is nuanced with its rich history. This traditional dessert originates back to 17th century France and is known for its strong custard base that contrasts with its caramelized sugar top. It has delighted the palates of many people over centuries, symbolizing culinary elegance. Its flavor has depth yet carries simplicity, and it is a dessert enjoyed by many across the world. After my battle with dinner, I needed the taste of something familiar yet delicious. However, the initial bite brought forth a surprising citrus note, different from its traditional flavor, that sparked a blend of both curiosity and disappointment in me. My friend, initially intrigued by the twist, ultimately shared my thoughts in feeling that the dessert strayed from its usual, appreciated simplicity. This unexpected flavor prompted a reflection that resulted in us leaning toward a preference for the iconic taste of crème brûlée we’ve come to love.

As the evening concluded, I reflected on my experience of the French essence. There was a high of beautiful, delectable flavors combined with a low of unexpected tastes and aromas. After my indulgence, I felt a mixture of satisfaction intertwined with curiosity.

This establishment is one that highlights the beauty and mastery of the renowned French chefs. Each dish tells a story from the pungent Muenster cheese that originates from the Alsace region of France to the rich history of escargot. To me, Mamie M’a dit is the epitome of French cuisine. To anyone who wants a sophisticated, elegant dining experience that immerses them into a whirlwind of fanciful, French flavors, Mamie M’a Dit is definitely the place.

I Went to Munich… Twice!

Written by Serena Khan

Before coming to GTE, I got all sorts of advice and warnings about coming to Europe. The most echoed warning was the vigilance required for personal belongings due to the rife pickpocketing. My response was often a dismissive ‘duh,’ confidently assuring myself of my ability to safeguard my essentials. After all, while traveling throughout Paris, Lisbon, Luxembourg, and Metz, all my valuables — phone, wallet, and passport too — had remained secured. My confidence in my vigilance was rock solid… until Munich happened.

I made so many good memories in Munich. From exploring the city with my friends to seeing the BMW museum, everything was going so smoothly. I thought Munich was such a cool city, and my trip was filled with so much joy and laughter, the kind of laughter where you can’t even breathe and you’re growing an instant 6-pack. The vibes were so positive. On our last day, we decided to explore the city at night. As we walked through Munich, the old, German-style architecture was illuminated by street lights, casting a warm glow on the cobblestone streets. Passing by lively restaurants and bars, the vibrant energy of the city was evident.

We were all enamored by the vivacity of the place when we suddenly came across an explosion of strobe lights and loud singing. The allure of the atmosphere from inside was irresistible, drawing us in. As we approached the source of the commotion, the energy of the night seemed to concentrate at this one spot. It was a karaoke disco. The atmosphere was electric inside with a vibrant mix of melodies, laughter, and joyous singing. The music was a blend of familiar hits and local beats that resonated with us. It created a sense of connection despite the language barriers. With all the singing and and endless laughter, it was easy to lose track of time, and even easier to overlook the safety of our belongings. The night was promising, and we were all too eager to dive in, completely captivated by the vibrancy that had originally drawn us in. This moment that was so full of life and energy, would later deflate like a balloon to the realization of my lost phone — a humbling reminder of my carelessness.

The journey back to Munich was filled with dread and faint hope. Losing my phone was a wake-up call from the euphoria I had been experiencing. Despite the warnings about pickpockets in Europe, I was so confident in my ability to keep my things safe, but I was wrong. The thought of losing my phone, with all its precious memories and important information, was devastating. My confidence and excitement from the trip were replaced by a sinking feeling of regret. I always thought I was vigilant enough to at least keep my phone safe… yet here I was, facing the consequences of a momentary lapse in attention.

The process of trying to retrieve my phone felt like a long shot. Filling out the lost and found form on the disco’s website felt like grasping at straws. It just felt like a formality that I doubted would even be helpful. The stress of useless waiting and managing my daily routine without my phone was overwhelming. Every task, from waking up on time for class to communicating with friends and family, became a hurdle. The constant worry about explaining the situation to my parents loomed over me. However one day, an unexpected email notification informing me that my phone had been found was a moment of sheer relief. Yet, the realization that getting my phone back would require a seven-hour train journey to Munich, with a narrow window of opportunity, added a new layer of anxiety. The fear of traveling alone coupled with the logistical challenges of missing classes weighed heavily on me. I somehow convinced one of my friends to accompany me on this journey, and I am eternally grateful to her because without her, I would have never even considered going to Munich to get my phone alone.

The frantic race against time to reach the karaoke disco before my chance closed and the relief of finally holding my phone again was a rollercoaster of emotions. This experience of losing and finding my phone was a lesson in humility and the unpredictability of life. As I reflect on this adventure, I am reminded of the value of staying grounded and re-evaluating my sense of responsibility. To my parents, who are learning of this ordeal for the first time through this blog post, I am so
sorry!

Making Friends

Written by Serena Khan

Diving into Georgia Tech-Europe was like stepping onto a rollercoaster blindfolded with not a single clue who’d be riding with me. I began my journey of finding my people by joining a GroupMe chat ahead of time, trying to see if I could make some connections before actually getting to Metz. Nonetheless, it still felt like I would be walking into a party where everyone’s already paired off into their cliques. I assumed everyone had already found their people which was nerve-racking to say the least.

In a last-minute “what have I got to lose” moment, I started DMing girls on GroupMe who seemed like they’d be down to earth. When I got to the airport to catch the shuttle to Metz, catching sight of other students made me realize most of us were going through the same thing — all of us bound for the same adventure. Bonding happened in the blink of an eye with a couple of girls on our way to Metz, making me feel like maybe I wasn’t in this totally solo. It was just the start, but that spark of hope felt really good.

These past few weeks in Metz have been nothing short of a blast. I now have myself an amazing group of friends that’s all about those uncontrollable laughs and making memories that’ll stick around way longer than any souvenir. This journey without them wouldn’t be the same. The time with them is flying by way too fast, and I’m here trying to live it up as much as I can.

To anyone even half-thinking about studying abroad: just dive in. Once you land, throw yourself into every single event GTE throws your way. Welcome bash, art classes, you name it—each one is a golden ticket to stepping out of that comfort zone and really soaking in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while you’re not spending your weekends traveling.

Feeling jittery about finding your people? I get it. But, surprise, surprise—it turns out connecting with others in a new setting isn’t as tough as it seems. Keeping an open mind and saying ‘yes’ a lot can make a world of difference. Before you know it, the globe feels just a tad smaller, and you’ve found a new family. As my own chapter here is already flying by, I’m just super thankful for the friendships and bonds I have already created. They’ve turned every day and every memory into something monumental.

First Blog of the Semester!!

Written by Serena Khan

It has been a season of new beginnings for me, and little did I know, another one would be just around the corner.

This semester marked a significant new beginning for me as I had just transferred to Georgia Tech. It was a challenge adjusting to a new school, new faces, and a different academic landscape after two years at another college, but it was also an opportunity to grow and adapt. However, another new chapter awaited me in France.

I’ve always romanticized studying abroad and everything about Europe, but I was quickly met with a reality check. My first few weeks in Metz were not without their challenges.

The extreme weather in Metz was definitely unforeseen. I’m usually accustomed to Georgia’s bipolar weather that bounces back and forth between temperatures of all four seasons in just the short span of one week. I found myself in a constant state of the coldest weather I had ever experienced during my first two weeks here. This unanticipated cold, combined with a sense of overwhelming nerves and homesickness, led me to miss orientation, and it was just a mere one-minute Uber ride away, which I hadn’t realized. The gray, depressing atmosphere of the area around our dorm and campus initially dampened my spirits, and I just wanted to be in the comfort of my room back home.

Although the start of this trip abroad was intimidating and honestly anxiety-ridden, I began making friends and exploring beyond the campus. Things started to look up. Even though I knew my study abroad would eventually turn out to be everything I imagined and more, I needed a sign of hope that would erase the negative feelings. My first night exploring Metz with a group of people I had just met turned out to be that sign. It was the first time it actually hit me that I was in Europe. Taking in all the intricacies of the architecture, the lively streets, and just navigating through a new city without any familiarities was a surreal feeling. For the first time, I am managing all aspects of travel planning without my parents, who always organized every detail of our family trips. This independence is both new and intimidating, but it’s a challenge I’m learning to embrace.

Now, here’s the pièce de résistance: I have an extra-special reason to be excited to be here. My 14-year-old brother, a budding soccer star, is on the path to making his dreams come true, as he takes his first steps towards greatness playing for the Ja Drancy soccer club in France. From January to June, you’ll find me cheering on the sidelines, with all the enthusiasm of a proud sibling. It’s more than just a soccer game; it’s a testament to diligence, hard work, and chasing after your dreams.

The main factor that influenced my decision to study in Metz is the proximity to my dad and brother living in Drancy. Having the chance to be there for my brother’s soccer journey is something that fills me with so much joy and pride.

But what I’m anticipating the most is traveling across Europe with my newfound friends. As I travel from country to country via train, I welcome every hurdle and obstacle with open arms. Italy, Spain, Prague, and more await me, each with its own unique charm and stories to be uncovered. These trips will broaden my lens on the world, offering me fresh perspectives and a chance to create unforgettable memories.

So, here’s to embracing the adventure, to campus life in Metz, to experiencing the true essence of France, to cheering on my little brother as he chases his dreams, and to welcoming these new beginnings with open arms. Together, we’ll explore the heart of Europe, one train ride at a time, and create a unique blend of stories and experiences to cherish forever.

Meet Serena! – Spring 2024 Blogger!

Written by Serena Khan, Spring 2024 GTE Blogger

Hey there! My name is Serena Khan. I am a recent transfer student from Georgia State University. My major is Business Administration with a concentration in IT management at the Scheller College of Business. I am currently navigating my academic journey while also attempting to pursue my passions!

Fashion is my playground! I thoroughly enjoy curating outfits and love to play around and change up my style whenever I get the chance. When I’m not doing schoolwork, you’ll also find me immersed in various types of cinema, ranging from classics to the latest releases. Recently, my brother and I have been bonding over the animated gems of Studio Ghibli, including Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.

As I make my way to France, I eagerly anticipate watching my younger brother, (my favorite person ever), showcase his soccer skills in Drancy, France. This adventure also opens up the opportunity to delve into the rich fashion culture of France as well as other fashion capitals like Milan, Italy. Another destination I can’t wait to travel to is Amsterdam. As a nightlife enthusiast, it’ll be exciting to see what Amsterdam has to offer.

Join me as I share my adventures, from soccer matches in Drancy to fashion explorations in Italy, and the electric nightlife of Amsterdam!

Closing Words

Written by Valerie Rosas

As I reflect on my semester abroad from the comfort of my own home, I think back to where I started. Everything has a beginning, and, as you know, mine began with a postcard. I hope to have inspired someone just as much, if not more, than that postcard inspired me. If a spark was not created through my words, then it may have been through my photographs.  

It has been an honor to be this semester’s Georgia Tech-Europe blogger. I was gifted with the ability to influence a diverse community, whether it be a second-year mechanical engineering major or a young girl in high school eagerly hoping and dreaming to be able to call herself a Yellow Jacket one day. It has truly been a privilege to be in this position and share my story on this platform. Even though my “story” in question only consists of the last four months of my life, it encompasses so much more than that. Under the surface, you can hear the voice of a grandfather telling his granddaughter that she has now seen and done more than any other member of their family or watch the tears roll down an immigrant mother’s face as she reassures her sacrifice was not done in vain. A low-income, first-generation Latina made it to France and back. This blog is her testimony. 

Since I have been back home, so many people have asked me how my experience was. I find myself struggling to find an answer every time. How does one answer such a grand question with a simple response about a four-month-long roller coaster of an experience? The answer is you can’t. I always end up going on a tangent whether I choose to focus on what my greatest takeaway was or what my favorite city was. However, the best way for me to properly portray how I feel about the experience is through the depiction of light.  

Light has many symbolic meanings dating back to ancient times. It has been thought to symbolize life, understanding, intelligence, etc. “Light is one of the oldest and most meaningful symbols, found in cultures and religions worldwide…… in Hinduism, light has a special significance, especially during Diwali or the ‘Festival of Lights’ when the triumph of light over darkness is celebrated,” according to The National Gallery in London. On the other hand, darkness is thought to symbolize things like emptiness, ignorance, sorrow, and death. As my time at Georgia Tech-Europe went along, it was like the brightness scale on my life went up. I saw things more clearly, in technicolor, and brighter. The personal growth I experienced in my life is being portrayed by light. The symbolic representation of the gradual increase in light and color slowly reveals how I have developed as an individual. 

I can’t stress enough how rich in value this experience was. I discovered what truly makes me happy, what I cherish the most as a constant in my life. Similarly, I noticed what I took for granted and the size of the void it would create. I learned how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Living abroad forced me to be more independent than I had ever been before, but it also taught me the importance of balance. Living alone showed me how to be self-sufficient and care for myself and my needs without being able to rely on others like my parents. On the contrary, being in that kind of vulnerable state requires that you also recognize when it’s time to seek help. Whether it was through highs or lows, we were rewarded with many fruitful lessons. There is merit in overcoming setbacks such as the fortification of resilience and strength. It took me what felt like an eternity to get acclimated to my new lifestyle abroad. Everyone around me looked so happy to be there when inside I felt like I couldn’t adjust to it. However, this showed me the value of intrinsic motivation and the power of a positive mentality that led me to believe I could face the unknown with a newfound confidence. Sometimes in life, the most intimidating opportunities can be the most rewarding and a leap of faith could take you there. 

The Photograph

Written by Valerie

As the GTE blogger for this semester, I have been able to take my love for photography and give it a new purpose. After a couple of years of photography lessons, I was able to work on my skills and begin doing photoshoots for people’s special events. Being able to see the looks on people’s faces when they saw themselves captured in the way they imagined it is one of the most satisfying things I have been able to do for others. However, knowing that my blogs with my photos mixed within could help or even inspire a single soul is even more fulfilling. I gained my love for the art of photography when my dad gifted me my first digital camera for Christmas at the age of fifteen. I would like to share my thoughts and admiration for the craft. 

Everything has to have a beginning. Just like the camera had its beginning and evolution, so do people. The camera and its functions capture that evolution. “The magic of the camera, the enchantment of photographic technology may precisely lie in its believed capacity to capture the spirit of a place [and] create copies imbued with the power of the original place visited,” as stated in The Framed World by authors Robinson, Mike, and Picard. For tourists and people alike, taking a photograph is an event in itself that turns into an everlasting story. “It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with our words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it,” as mentioned in Ways of Seeing by Berger, John, and Dibb. When sharing travel photography, there is always a level of enchantment to it. It starts with the feeling you had when you first spotted the frame of the photo, the sensation when you took it, and then there is the joy you get from sharing that experience with someone, which could manifest an interest in them to pursue similar knowledge or experiences.  

“A photograph captured every detail and was considered more truthful than a manually made picture,” as stated in From Snapshots to Social Media by Sarvas, Risto, and Frohlich. Prior to recent advancements in technology, people believed that a photograph was the most unbiased and authentic form of communication. However, with all the new technological innovations this may not be as true. Despite all, since the creation of the camera, it has been a beloved art among all. 

Everyone has different talents and interests, but I hope that everyone who views these blogs can enjoy them half as much as I enjoyed creating them. A single photograph has the power to influence the world, but I only aspire to influence those who visit the Georgia Tech-Europe blog page in hopes of learning more.

 

The Semester For You 

Written by Valerie

If you are considering studying at Georgia Tech-Europe or any other study abroad program, picking the right semester for yourself is important. There are many things to evaluate, such as your classes, extracurriculars, career opportunities, etc. I am a little biased toward the fall semester as the ideal semester to go abroad to GTE, but I would like to discuss all the options. 

The summer semester is the most popular semester for students attending GTE according to my program director. The lack of conflict with the traditional fall and spring semesters is very appealing. Additionally, you only have to be enrolled in a minimum of 10 credit hours which means you have a smaller workload to balance as you travel. The summer semester is also shorter than any of the other semesters, meaning it’s a shorter time commitment if you don’t want to be away from home that long. Separate from school, the weather is always warm and sunny during that season, which is perfect for the amount of time you will be spending outside. 

In the spring semester, you get to start with winter and then end with the spring season, which could be a nice transition and an incredible way to start the new year. All the flowers will begin to bloom, and it will be warm and colorful all around as May approaches. In terms of academics, a different set of courses could be offered in the spring that are specific to that semester, but course offerings can vary every year. To be able to enjoy a semester filled with schoolwork and travel then go back home to enjoy summer vacation would be a great way to reset. 

Lastly, there is the fall semester — the best semester in my opinion. You have plenty of time to prepare for the start of the semester since you are coming in from summer vacation. The weather is nice and warm but not too hot since the months of intense heat have already come and gone. You get to enjoy traveling without the huge crowds of tourists visiting Europe, which often make the prices of accommodations and flights very expensive. You can see what Europe is like at the very end of the summer, the entirety of fall, and just a little of what the beginning of the winter season looks like. I am a huge fan of the holidays, and Europe is riddled with heavily decorated streets and holiday markets. There is a vast selection of picturesque destinations that will make you feel like you are in a Christmas Hallmark movie, such as a ski resort in Switzerland or a chimney cake stand at a Christmas market in Budapest. 

Regardless of the semester you choose, you will have the time of your life. Enjoy the moment and do what is best for you and your journey. 

London Called and We Answered 

Written by Valerie

It is so satisfying when things come perfectly into place. My friends and I have been wanting to visit cities in Europe that are adorned with Christmas decorations and have Christmas markets scattered around. We searched the internet and discovered that London was starting to have their Christmas markets the weekend of November 17th. Coincidentally, one of my GTE friend’s birthday was that same weekend. We put two and two together and decided on plans for the weekend. London, here we come! 

In no time, we began to get everyone together and solidify the plans for our London trip. The hostel was booked along with all the flights and trains. London became one of the cities I was looking forward to visiting the most on my study abroad journey since I started learning more about the modern dynamic of the area. I saw how much diversity there was. Its influence could be seen in the food and music scene of London. Granted, I love hearing different languages and their accents, but it was so enjoyable to be able to be in an English-speaking country. 

Once we arrived, we soon realized that during this season in the United Kingdom, the sun sets at four in the afternoon. Even though the time difference between Metz and London is only one hour, we were thrown off by how early it got dark outside. Our minds were struggling to fight the feeling of it being nighttime against the reality of the time of day. We found ourselves eating lunch at a chicken shop, a London staple, as the sun was descending. However, our waiter was kind enough to offer to make us an itinerary so we could visit all the must-see attractions in the short time we would be in town. My travel buddy and I finished up and headed for the Tube, the underground metro lines in London, to meet up with the rest of our friends at the hostel. 

Now that we were all settled in, it was time to go out and explore. I don’t know if we were just seeing things or if there was an actual resemblance, but we were surprised at how much it looked like Atlanta at night. Many European cities have laws around how tall buildings can be, so it is rare to see skyscrapers and other high-rise buildings. This gave London a very different look to the other cities we have visited up until now. Even though parts of the city looked very modern, other parts put into perspective how old the city truly is. This was another experience where my old history books came to life. Seeing Westminster Abbey, a church with nearly a thousand years of history that hosted royal coronations and weddings, along with a red double-decker bus all while standing next to a pub with a red telephone booth outside had to be the most British corner in town. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to London even though there was not nearly enough time to see everything the city had to offer. Traveling with my friends meant endless laughter, even in moments like the time when we made a mistake and accidentally ended up an hour outside the city. London, I thank you for all the good memories and expect to be back soon to make some more.