A Sojourn to Strasbourg

Join Kaela on a second field trip with her INTA 2221 class – this time to Strasbourg, France where she visited the home of the EU Parliament and explored the subdued city of Strasbourg.

Friday, September 25, 2020 | Written by Kaela

An 8 AM wake up call was made easier by the pastries that greeted us in the Lafayette lobby as my INTA 2221 class loaded into a bus and headed to Strasbourg, also known as Petite France. 


STOP 1: The European Parliament

The EU Parliament Building in Strasbourg, France.
The EU Parliament Building in Strasbourg, France.

The EU Parliament is one of three legislative branches of the European Union. They, alongside the Council of the European Union and European commission, propose, approve, and reject laws. We went through a self guided tour of the building aided by handheld devices. The EU is unique in that it is not a state, but is more than a typical international organization. Any laws passed by the European Union apply to all twenty seven (formerly twenty eight) countries and are superior to legislation at the national level. My favorite part of the parliament building was the area at the end of the tour where multiple stations allowed you to learn about various topics including: the members of parliament, hemicycle seating organization, cities in the European Union, and much, much more. Viewing the display of all of the different cities with lights made me feel the world was my oyster; a similar sensation I experienced watching the game maker stand before his map in The Hunger Games. 

The interactive map at the EU Parliament building.
The interactive map at the EU Parliament building.

STOP 2: Downtown Strasbourg 

The gorgeous downtown Strasbourg, bursting with blooming flower boxes
The gorgeous downtown Strasbourg, bursting with blooming flower boxes

We had a bit of free time before our guided tour, so a group of us, having only eaten pastries all day, headed straight for somewhere to eat. Amidst an alleyway of restaurants adorned by vines, flower boxes, and other plant life was Le Gruber – our lunch destination. The interior of this restaurant made me feel as though I was in my grandmother’s home. Surrounded by wooden furniture randomly placed knick knacks on creaky floors a table covered by a checkered cloth, the smell of freshly made food filled the air . Thanks to our professor’s recommendation, we each got a flammekueche (or tarte flambée). The look and texture can be compared to a very thin pizza but with a very different, yet delicious, taste. Afterwards, we used our spare time to browse the nearby souvenir shops and grab some refreshing sorbet. 

STOP 3: Strasbourg Cathedral 

I am now a cathedral enthusiast. Without fail, whenever I visit one, I am completely in awe of the intricacy of the details covering its walls.

The astronomical clock in the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg
The astronomical clock in the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg

We took a guided tour of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg. One feature in particular the Strasbourg Cathedral is known for is its astronomical clock. The clock dates from 1843 and is made of many integrated moving parts. Its intricate hands are guided by time and its detailed figures move at different times throughout the day. In the spectacle I witnessed, the left angel rang a bell, the right angel turned a sand clock and the figures on the top platform of the clock marched to the steady ticking as my time in Strasbourg came to a close.

Traipsing through Trier

GT-Lorraine provides many unique opportunities for students and one is classes with field trips. Join Kaela as she takes her first field trip of the semester and journeys through the city of Trier with her INTA 2221 class.

Monday, September 21, 2020 | Written by Kaela

When signing up for classes at GTL, I thought I knew one thing: I did not want a field trip class. Originally, I felt these classes would take away from an already minimal amount of weekends I was able to travel. So when registration rolled around I signed up for INTA 2221 (a field trip class) for two reasons. One, the only class I needed for my degree was canceled, and two, I could not sign up for any other class. After this past weekend visiting Trier and Metz, I can definitively say my original line of thinking was wrong. 


Before arriving at Georgia Tech Lorraine, Trier was not a place I prioritized in my trip list. I had daydreamed of spending my weekends in the classic tourist hotspots and big name cities: Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Budapest, and the like. Despite not necessarily frequenting the “Top 10 places to visit in Europe” lists, this city’s rich history makes it a worthwhile visit.

Trier market square
Trier market square

Trier, a city founded by the Romans, is peppered with still-standing roman architecture. My first year of college, I took  a history of architecture class, so I had some knowledge the Roman influence on technology and architecture. My experiences in that class made me all the more interested to see what had been left behind after centuries.

We started off the field trip with a guided tour of Trier. With our guide, I was able to learn so much about the place I was in, in real time. 

QUICK TIP: Guided tours offer an experience unlike solo or group travel and provide fantastic insight on a location.

While exploring Paris alone the weekend before, I knew little to nothing about the history of the places I was visiting. Time restrictions, slow data, and lack of knowledge of French kept me from learning as much as I had hoped to about the city I was in. Taking a guided tour on our trip in Trier allowed me to learn much more about the history and culture of the city. If I was traveling solo, I don’t think I would gain as much insight to Trier as I did with our guide without doing a lot of research before visiting; which as a busy student, would probably not happen. There’s no replacement for an expert on a subject.

Roman Amphitheater in Trier
Roman Amphitheater in Trier

Our first stop was a Roman amphitheater. With our guide’s descriptions, I could vividly imagine the battles, hear the roar of the crowd, and feel the tension as animals were lifted up into the arena. I could see the way it looked at the end of the day with crowds spilling out after watching the gruesome combats.

Kaiserthermen roman baths in Trier
Kaiserthermen roman baths in Trier

Next, we vistited Kaiserthermen, a Roman bath complex. The more I learn about history, the more I am repeatedly impressed by how technologically savvy the Romans were.  The many “modern day” luxuries (including running water and heated floors) mentioned as we strolled through their gravity reliant underwater sewage canals surprised me.


My delicious plate of currywurst – if you eat meat and visit Germany, be sure to try a plate!

After our guided tour, we had some free time to explore Trier. One of the foods I was told to try while in Germany was sausage. So naturally, the first thing my group did was head towards a food stand to try some of their famous currywurst. It was absolutely delicious. I enjoyed my currywurst so much, I drowned my fries in every last drop of leftover sauce. While I didn’t think I would find a food I enjoyed more than my curry and sausage combination, I was wrong. We found a pretzel stand and the pretzel I bought from it satisfied my top food categories: baked items and covered in butter.

Trier Saint Peter's Cathedral
Trier Saint Peter’s Cathedral

After indulging in food heaven, we walked towards Trier Saint Peter’s Cathedral, which was impressively beautiful to say the least. It differed from the Metz Cathedral in its lack of stained glass, but the intricacy of the stone carvings made it just as beautiful in a different way.

In the end, this trip made me regret my initial hesitation towards taking a field trip class at Georgia Tech Lorraine (and almost glad my other class was canceled). Without this class or this field trip, I wouldn’t have seen the history left behind by the Romans, eaten the delicious currywurst or pretzel, or gotten beautiful pictures at the Palastgarten. 


Musées de Metz

Kaela is back on the blog to recount her first trip to downtown Metz. Join her as she explores the many cultural wonders of Metz, only a 15 minute bike ride from her dorm.

Friday, September 18, 2020 | Written by Kaela


I was not able to go on the GTL organized tour of downtown Metz, so I was grateful that I was able to have this experience with my international affairs class. Despite being just a fifteen minute bike ride away, I had not visited downtown Metz until a week into the program. One cathedral, two museums, three hours, and eight-thousand steps later, I was exhausted, but baffled that I am living so close to such an amazing city. 

Cathédrale de Metz
Cathédrale de Metz

We started off the tour by visiting the Cathédrale de Metz. From the outside, it looks like most French cathedrals – dark windows, gothic style architecture, and intricate carvings. After walking in, your eye is immediately drawn upwards towards one of the highest naves in the world. The dark windows become colorful and bright with the light shining through.

This is the Rose Window in the Cathedral de Metz.
The Rose Window in the Cathédrale de Metz.





With an area of 6,496 square meters or 69,920 square feet, the Cathédrale de Metz has the largest display of stained glass in the world. To give you an idea of its magnitude, the rose window on the west work alone is about 37 feet (or 7.5 Kaelas). Our guide walked us through the history  of the windows and the stories they tell. One piece I found interesting  was the Garden of Eden Window by Marc Chagall. The four sections of the window depict different parts of the story of Adam and Eve all intricately tied together.


More stained glass in Cathédrale de Metz

What captivated me the most about the cathedral is the story each window paints. At first glance, most ofthe stained glass appears to be some mix of various colorful pieces, but with a bit more observation you are able to make out the religious figures and the stories they tell.We then made our way to the Musée de La Cour d’Or. The museum houses artifacts, paintings, roman baths, and even skeletons! We did not get to spend much time here, but our guide did her best to point out notable pieces and I’m planning on making a second visit to fully experience the museum. Luckily, entry is free on the first Sunday of the month and students enter for just 3.30 euros!

The entry way of the Centre Pompidou
The entry way of the Centre Pompidou

Le Centre Pompidou Metz was our final stop. It’s Metz’s modern art museum, that I believe, vaguely, resembles a crepe on a stick. Having just finished touring the Musée de La Cour d’Or, visiting the Centre Pompidou was a complete change in pace. While the Musée de La Cour d’Or is filled with older, historical pieces, the Pompidou, is new and modern with ever changing displays.  I loved the exhibition in the third level.

The third floor gallery

Hanging from wall to wall, window to window, and ceiling to floor, noodle-like glass filled the room, leaving just enough space for you to walk between the glittering displays. All of this is accompanied by large windows on each end of the floor that overlook downtown Metz. From the opposite end of the building, the Cathédrale de Metz fills the entire window and seems larger than life but as you approach the window it begins to shrink. This optical illusion caught me off guard. Despite walking closer towards the cathedral, it seemed to move further away. Just as the Musée de La Cour d’Or, the Centre Pompidou warrants a second, more thorough visit (and thanks to Georgia Tech-Lorraine, we have a card that allows unlimited visits)! 

Eleven Days Down

With eleven days in Europe under her belt, Kaela recounts her experiences arriving in Paris and Metz. Read her blog as she details her first solo travel!

Monday, September 14, 2020 | Written by Kaela

Today, I came to the realization that I have been living in France for 11 days– in Metz, for a single week. In this brief time I have: met people from all different backgrounds, traveled to two countries, visited Cora excessively, and timidly inquired “Parlez-vous anglais?” more times than I can count.

Let me backtrack and lay out my experiences from the beginning of these hectic, but exhilarating 11 days. 

The view out my airplane window crossing the Atlantic.
The view out my airplane window crossing the Atlantic.


While rushing to finish packing the night before my flight, I attempted to wrap my head around a new realization: I would be apart from my family for the longest I have ever been. With everything that has happened this year, three months seems like an eon and simultaneously feels like a flash. Ready to see what lies ahead of me, I was eager to leave the next day. 

In an attempt to more quickly adjust to the seven hour time difference, I tried to get as much sleep on the plane as I could. I arrived at 10am CEST (3am to my CST acclimated body) and felt relieved that I had finally made it to Paris. With the ongoing pandemic, I had to present 5 additional documents in addition to my passport when going through customs, a moment I had been anticipating to go wrong in some way. While packing, I was expecting to be back the very next day having run into some kind of issue: my airline wouldn’t accept my Covid test, I would miss my flight, the french government would bar students from travel, I wouldn’t have the correct documents on hand. To my surprise, everything went as planned. I didn’t expect to make it from ATL to CDG, let alone for it to be so seamless. 


La Basilique Sacré-Cœur in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris.
La Basilique Sacré-Cœur in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris.

I planned on staying in Paris alone for a couple of days before journeying to Metz for the start of the semester, so I could acclimate to France on my own. I arrived feeling exhausted, somewhat detached from reality, and anxious. My knowledge of the French language, the maze like airport, and the country overall was limited. On the ride to my hotel, I made an effort to observe the differences between the US and France: the landscape, the people, how they drive, etc. I was confused (and slightly concerned) why my driver was going 100 miles an hour, despite our slow pace, when I remembered the speedometer is in kilometers. My general first observations on Parisian traffic? Cars are much smaller. Motorcyclists are more daring. Everyone stops for bikers and pedestrians. 

Though short, my stay in Paris was very meaningful. It was my first solo trip, my first interaction with Europe, and the last vacation before classes began (although definitely not my last of the semester). I stayed just a 10 minute walk from the Eiffel tower, so after a nap, shower, and quick lunch, I headed over to the famed landmark. Overall, my stay in Paris was amazing, but a bit lonely. I FaceTimed my family and boyfriend when I could to show them everything I was experiencing. My timidness, in addition to the language barrier, kept me from connecting with locals. I kept to myself and did my best to visit as many places as possible; my goal was to see as much as possible in the short time I had. However, I enjoyed that traveling alone gave me the freedom to choose what my day looked like. I could change my plans on a whim, make detours, enter a museum spontaneously without having to worry about what anyone else wanted to do. Everything I did was up to me. 


Eiffel Tower, Palais du Chaillot, Louvre, Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame, Montmartre, La Basilique Sacré-Cœur, Pantheon, Luxembourg Garden, Les Invalides 


With Covid-19, our arrival was slightly different from how a normal arrival might be for our safety. Our luggage was unloaded for us, we left the bus in groups of five, masks on all the time, hand sanitizer at every checkpoint, went straight to our rooms. It felt amazing to finally get to my dorm, unpack, and settle in. A large group of students went to Cora almost immediately. This first trip there was chaos. None of us spoke much French or had the data to translate it, the market is organized differently than ones back home, and not a single person knew what they needed to buy. Needless to say, we all returned multiple times the following days. They have countless options for every item you could ever want; I swear I saw 3 aisles with cheese! 

I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to study and travel at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. Almost everyday I have a moment where I go, “Oh wow, I’m in FRANCE!” I still cannot believe I am here. I am excited to see where the rest of the semester takes me. Kaela in Paris!


Soak your shower head and sink faucet in white vinegar and water. Don’t bring electrical items besides your devices (I almost set my hotel on fire trying to use an American steamer). Get a bike in Metz through the rental service Georgia Tech-Lorraine has.