The Leonardo Program

In the spirit of the renaissance man the program is named after, the Leonardo Program at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, run by Prof. Sonia Serafin, provides students with a broad array of cultural experiences in Metz. Read more about Mira’s experiences with the Leonardo program in her latest blog as in just one week she goes produce-picking at la Cueillette de Peltre and sees a performance by Orchestre National de Metz!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 | Written by Mira

The Leonardo Program is a true hidden gem of Georgia Tech-Lorraine. I didn’t know about this until our welcome orientation. Professor Sonia Serafin created the Leonardo Program to give students a chance to have cultural experiences that would otherwise be inaccessible. With a focus on cultural immersion and the arts, the Leonardo Program offers various activities and events throughout the semester.

An image of strawberries growing from a planter. One red strawberry is in the center of the image behind it are several whitish-green strawberries that are yet to ripen.
The rows and rows and rows of strawberries!

On Tuesday afternoon, we went fruit, vegetable, and flower picking at a local farm, Cueillette de Peltre (! Georgia Tech-Lorraine provided a shuttle to and from the farm so for an hour and half we could pick whatever we wanted. The main attraction? Strawberries. 

After getting instructions of logistics, we made a beeline for the “fraises”. There were rows and rows and rows of strawberries! They were some of, if not, the best, freshest strawberries I’ve ever eaten! Not a fan of strawberries? No worries. This farm was massive, and they grew everything you could want: tomatoes, apples, peppers, all sorts of herbs, carrots, cauliflowers, different kinds of lettuce, flowers, eggplants… The best thing about Cueillette? The prices. As college students without a meal plan, the low prices were a major win. Someone bought a whole bag, full of produce, for 10 euros! 

An image of the concert programs in front of the seats in the concert hall. The text reads "Concert d'ouverature de saison" which translates to the opening concert of the season.
The opening concert of the season!

On Friday evening, the Leonardo Program provided tickets to the Orchestre National de Metz’s first concert of the season. I don’t know much about orchestra concerts; in fact, the only orchestra concerts I’ve ever been to have been high school orchestras. I was definitely looking forward to whatever this experience would bring. The first piece was quite startling, fittingly named “Apocalypsis.” With a mixture of French, Latin, and English lyrics, the chorus resonated around the venue in ominous echoes. My favorite thing was watching one of the musicians play seven different instruments in two ways each to create some of the most dynamic and interesting sounds to accompany the chorus and string orchestra.

After being thoroughly confused for the first twenty minutes (the length of the piece), there was a long, ebbing and flowing round of applause. I lost track of how long the applause lasted, but it seemed like a solid ten minutes of clapping.

An image of the concert hall with rows of people sitting down.
This concert hall was gorgeous!

The other three pieces were more what I was expecting an orchestra concert to entail. Lots of piano and strings. The third piece highlighted the piano played by Louis Schwizgebel, a Swiss pianist who has played all over the world at just 33 years old ( The audience loved the piano piece so much (and rightfully so), that the resounding applause shifted to a rhythmic applause with a steady beat. Having not been briefed in orchestra concert etiquette, the shift in applause was a little unsettling; however, Professor Serafin later told us that this rhythmic applause is a sign to the musicians that the audience wants an encore. And that’s exactly what happened. I’ve only ever experienced planned encores at the end of a concert but this was in the middle of the show, unplanned! 

At the end of the show, an audience member yelled “Bravo!” before the concert hall erupted in applause. Professor Serafin knows one of the flautists, and we got to meet her very briefly outside the venue. I am so grateful for the immersive experiences I’ve had this week, and I am only more excited for the semester to come. Professor Serafin even teased a fun “name that tune” event with some of the members of the orchestra coming to Georgia Tech-Lorraine (pandemic-permitting of course). To anyone interested in Georgia Tech-Lorraine, take advantage of these events because I guarantee you, you’ll never have such a combination of unique experiences.

Bienvenue à Metz and Settling in to Life in France

Since making her decision to get her undergrad degree at Georgia Tech, Mira knew that she wanted to spend a semester at Georgia Tech-Lorraine— and after 3 years, Mira has finally made it to Metz! Read her latest blog post to find out more about Mira’s love of travel and her first experiences in France.

Friday, September 10, 2021 | Written by Mira

View of a city from a tall apartment building. Three tall buildings rise above a collection of smaller buildings. Clear balcony walls are in the foreground. Fluffy clouds are spread out across the blue sky.
The view from my apartment in Tel Aviv this summer.

Bonjour, Je m’appelle Mira!  I am a third year at Georgia Tech, majoring in biomedical (BMED) engineering, minoring in health and medical sciences (HMED), and pursuing the International Plan (IP). I just spent an incredible summer living and working in Tel Aviv, and I am so excited to take my sense of adventure to Europe!

This study abroad experience has been years in the making— studying at Georgia Tech-Lorraine is one of the reasons I chose to go to school at Tech in the first place. I had to hold off on going until my third year, constructing my academic plan carefully, and I can’t believe I have finally made it to Metz. 

Wooden table with a light brown latte in a white mug on a white plate. The latte art is 3 white hearts in a vertical line. To the left of the mug is the corner of a silver laptop keyboard with a half peeled off sticker of Eurasia and Africa.
My phone is full of aesthetic coffee photos and I am excited to add to my collection.

This semester, I only have class on Mondays and Wednesdays, which means I get the day in between to explore Metz (pronounced: “mess”). I know as the semester rolls on I will be spending my Tuesdays in quaint coffee shops doing schoolwork while sipping a latte and munching on pastries. Coffee shops have always been my primary study spot and I can’t wait to experience the French café scene, so stay tuned for a detailed review of coffee shops in Metz! Also, while all Georgia Tech-Lorraine students have no classes on Friday, I am lucky enough to not have Thursday classes either (yay for four-day weekends). 

My deep love of traveling (and to be honest, of reality TV) came from watching the Amazing Race with my brother. I would fantasize about where we would go if we were on the show together. As contestants would we be scrubbing trolleys in Moscow, playing table tennis in Shanghai, or leading  llamas to a pasture in Cuzco?  While as a part-time wheelchair user competing in the Amazing Race is somewhat unrealistic for me (literally running around the world would not be the safest thing for me), my dream is still to experience as many cultures and sites as possible. I know throughout this semester I may face accessibility challenges as I travel, but I am interested to see what “accessibility” looks like in other areas of the world.  

The preparations for coming to France involved a lot of paperwork. The visa application process was a little stressful, but if you stay organized and work on the process as early as permissible, it should be smooth sailing. The week leading up to my departure from America, I talked to as many Georgia Tech-Lorraine alumni as possible, getting restaurant recommendations in Metz, beach recommendations in Nice, tips and tricks for study abroad, and everything in between. My excitement was bubbling over by the time the Thursday of my flight arrived.

That Thursday and Friday are a blur; upon arriving in Paris CDG, there were  shuttles to take us from the airport to the Lafayette Residences in Metz. I tried my best to fight the jetlag, but I ended up falling asleep. The four hour journey to Metz went by in a snap. We arrived at Lafayette around 4:00 pm, and I quickly went to bed, letting jetlag do its work.

Road lined with pale colored buildings with red brick roofs. In the median of the road are purple flowers. The sky is a pale blue with no clouds.
A picturesque walk through Metz!

The following morning, it was Saturday in Metz. My first “official” day in France! In the Georgia Tech-Lorraine GroupMe, someone suggested going into downtown around noon to get SIM cards and lunch, and I jumped at the chance to meet other Georgia Tech-Lorraine students. A small group of us meandered down the streets, taking in a 45-minute walk to downtown that was incredibly picturesque (a descriptor I’ll probably be using a lot). We went to Free Mobile, one of a few SIM card options in Metz, another being Orange. After using my beginners’ French, the employee’s beginners’ English, and Google translate, I got my SIM card, and instructions on how to cancel the monthly plan at the end of the semester.

We walked down the street a little bit to Café de la Presse (3 En Chaplerue, 57000 Metz), where we strung together six or seven tables to have a late lunch and meet other students. I struggled a little to order an iced coffee. Coffee culture varies wildly across different countries and apparently “café glacé” was not the correct way to ask for an iced coffee and ordering a “café froid” did not come with ice.

After a leisurely lunch, two other students and I walked around downtown, making note of some restaurants and shops we might want to try. There’s a vegetarian breakfast and lunch restaurant that I’ll definitely be coming back to! We also found a cute bookstore, adding to the charm and romanticism of Metz.

On Monday, we had an orientation in small groups of the Georgia Tech-Lorraine building. Georgia Tech-Lorraine’s campus is one building containing four-stories full of study spaces, classrooms, faculty offices, and laboratories. At the end of our tour, we got to go through donations of  items left by previous students. I highly recommend grabbing one of the MANY fans and a trash can. I also grabbed a mug and a French press, to fuel my coffee dependency. 

On Tuesday, we had a virtual academic orientation, welcoming us to Georgia Tech-Lorraine, where we got to learn about all that Georgia Tech-Lorraine has to offer including the Bureau Des Étudiants (BDE, the student government) and the Leonardo Program (cultural excursions organized by Mme. Serafin). After the orientation, I had a deeper appreciation and excitement for the semester to come. Being in France still feels like a dream, and I can’t wait to take you on this adventure with me! À bientôt!

A Week of Attending Affairs Around Metz

Weekdays at Georgia Tech Lorraine are for more than just classes. There are lots of fun events by the GT-Lorraine staff as well as events throughout the city of Metz. Read on as Kaela details her time at two events she attended last week in Metz: a meeting with the Mayor of Metz and a National Orchestra of Metz rehearsal.

Wednesday, October 27, 2020 | Written by Kaela

In addition to giving students a chance to travel Europe, Georgia Tech-Lorraine hosts a lot of events for students during the week! With COVID-19 it makes organizing events a bit more tricky, but luckily, some are able to take place (with proper precautions: masks, social distancing, etc.) and last week, I was able to attend two of them! 

City Hall with the Mayor 

The mayor of Metz invited Georgia Tech-Lorraine students to a welcome reception in downtown metz. It took place at the Town Hall, an 18th century building with an ornate and elegant interior. It was absolutely beautiful inside. I personally love when buildings or their interiors are adorned in gold. Upon arrival, we had some time to mingle with other Georgia Tech-Lorraine students. This was a great opportunity, because this semester it has been difficult to meet graduate students since they live in another dorm. Soon after our arrival, the Mayor came to greet us. 

The town hall building in Metz

His speech was in French, but thanks to Sonia Serafin (a GTL professor) it was translated to English for us. He spoke about the history of Metz: how it has been German at some points and French at others, how it has acted as a battlefield and a fortress in the past, and in the 1950s it was chosen to be the capital of the Lorraine region. Currently, the mayor aims to move towards clean energy such as solar panels and windmills. Georgia Tech-Lorraine then gifted the mayor with Georgia Tech merchandise. Afterwards, we were given refreshments and a welcome bag (with a book, mask, pen, and a couple of other items). We once again had the chance to network with one another as well as professors who came to the event. 

National Orchestra of Metz Rehearsal

We had the opportunity to sit in on the music rehearsal of the National Orchestra of Metz under the direction of David Reiland. Metz’s location between France and Germany has given it a colorful past including being a war city. This orchestra rehearsal took place at the Arsenal, a building that once housed weaponry and military equipment, which has now been converted to hold receptions, performances, conferences, galleries, seminars, ceremonies, and so much more. The conversion of old buildings into cultural hubs is a common occurrence in France. This trend often lowers the cost of construction because instead of tearing down a rebuilding, they will strengthen old structures. We were given a short tour of the building and I learned the bottom of the chairs are lined with carpet so that the acoustics are similar to if there was a full house, regardless of the size of the audience. 

The National Orchestra of Metz was rehearsing for an upcoming performance of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. It was amazing to hear some of the best musicians in the country play. I was taken back by the amount of skill sitting before me. I played flute for seven years and after starting college, I have been unable to find the time to play. Sitting before them gave me nostalgia and I left longing to play in an orchestra once again. Hopefully, I will have the chance to attend a concert in the future. 

Attending these events taught me more about the city of Metz. In my desire to go to different cities on the weekend, I often take for granted the beautiful one I am temporarily residing in. The Mayor said that he “hopes [we] will keep a small part in [our] heart for Metz” and I most definitely will.

Cueillette de Peltre

There is nothing better than going to the market to get fresh produce, except for picking it yourself. Read about Kaela’s experience visiting Cueillette de Peltre, where she spent a couple hours roaming strawberry fields, apple orchards, and even made a new friend!

Monday, September 28, 2020 | Written by Kaela

Fresh produce is abundant in France, but in order to get the best produce, you have to pick it yourself. Luckily, the Leonardo Program at Georgia Tech-Lorraine gave us an opportunity to do just that in Metz. After the end of classes one afternoon, a group of us loaded onto the provided bus to head to the local farm in Peltre. On my arrival, I was overwhelmed on arrival by how many areas of the grounds I had to explore in the one and a half hour period we were visiting for.

I grabbed one of the provided bags and, along with many others, headed straight towards the strawberries. We were told they were the last of the season and soon to go, so of course I had to get some. The rainstorm in the distance made the trip a bit ominous. I thought, “Will it head towards us and cut our short trip even shorter?” and hoped it would move further into the distance.

We started our strawberry expedition at the front rows of bushes, a rookie move. After perusing the picked over bushes near the front we discovered as we moved further in and further away, the strawberries got larger and more plentiful. I guess few are willing to walk through the enormous strawberry patch to the back. The strawberry bushes sat in troughs raised above ground, which put them at eye level and made for easy picking. Once we had stuffed our bags with ruby red strawberries, we headed to the nearby apple orchard, grabbing some beautiful tomatoes on our way. 

Pink lady, fuji, gala, honey crisp, granny smith, red delicious, golden delicious: To me, an apple is an apple. This may be a controversial statement, but I honestly don’t eat them enough to tell the difference. I find the variety of apples to be overwhelming enough when there are between three to five to choose from at the grocery store; to say I felt in awe when walking towards what seemed like an acre of apple trees is an understatement. There were endless rows with an uncountable number of apple varieties, most of which I had never heard of. My solution: pick a random row of trees and begin picking. The twisted trees towered above me and below my feet lay fallen fruit in various stages of rot. I was surprised and initially felt disappointed by how many apples laid on ground: seemingly all gone to waste. Luckily, they can be turned to compost and the nutrients will return to the ground to further the growth of more apples, a nice reminder of the beauty of the circle of life. 

After leaving the apples we walked past a multitude of in-ground veggies which naturally I turned into a fun guessing game. What was it we were passing now? Would it be a carrot? A radish? A beet?

As we continued on we happened upon a large variety of leafy greens. I was excited at the prospects of the dishes I could create with them, but unfortunately, I was leaving for Nice the coming weekend so I only picked a small bunch. My group decided we would eventually make a trip back and make dinner with the freshly picked food. We made our way towards hoop houses filled with peppers, eggplants, and more but we ran out of time quickly. As we walked towards the exit, we ended our trip by making friends with a couple of goats.  

This short trip was a good way to take a break from the business of school work and travel. I was grateful for the quiet and peacefulness of it as getting out in nature is always a great way to destress. I think the weather knew how much we needed the break, because the once ominous rain clouds at the beginning of our trip became a light drizzle as we drove away. 

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)! 

A Field Trip to Munich (Part 2)

“It’s crazy to me that this is just another part of the HTS 2100 class, and I’m so glad that I decided to sign up for this class…” Karsten wraps up his summary of his jam-packed trip to Munich with Georgia Tech-Lorraine’s HTS 2100 class in his latest blog post!

Friday, October 11, 2019 | Written by Karsten

After we went to the BMW Factory, we had a little bit of free time. Many of us went to get coffee or hot chocolate and then to explore the English Gardens, as this was right by where we were supposed to meet for dinner. It was beautiful outside and felt so good—maybe I can bring these European temperatures back to Atlanta! After wandering around for an hour, we made it to the restaurant where we were meeting Georgia Tech alumni for dinner. The HTS professor arranged this dinner so that we could network and hear about working or interning in Europe. We all were able to learn lots from the experience. We returned to our hostel at about 1:00 AM and immediately went to bed.

We had another early morning on Friday morning. I woke up at 6:30 AM – and therefore was running on about nine hours of sleep for the past two nights combined. We had breakfast and then left for BMW World. Here, they had on display almost all of their new cars as well as a large BMW and Mini merchandise store. The main reason we were at the BMW World was to be really close to the BMW Museum when it opened, as this would make the timing for the rest of the day easier. We got to see all of the cars and engines that are important to BMW’s history. To save you most of the details of my part of the BMW presentation we gave in class, the most important pieces were the airplane engines that BMW started as a supplier of and the BMW Neue Klasse. 

From the BMW Museum, we headed into the middle of Munich for lunch. We had forty-five minutes to walk around and find food before we headed to another museum. I had a pizza but more importantly a gingerbread cookie—it was massive and so good.

We met back up where we all dispersed from and headed to the Deutsches Museum. This is a museum of German technology, and we were given an assignment to do. Firstly, we all had to look at their special exhibit, which was coffee. (We all ordered a coffee after. It was extremely good.) Then, we had to pick one exhibit in particular to focus on and answer a couple of questions with a partner. My partner and I chose the airplane exhibit, as aerospace is quite cool. There, they had many instantly recognizable planes and flying objects, though replicas and models, such as the Red Baron’s triplane, the Hindenburg, and the Wright Brother’s plane. Once we had all of the information we needed, we decided to rush through everything else that we thought might be interesting, primarily the astronomy and cosmology sections. Getting to learn (and remember) about outer space is one of the best and most interesting topics out there. Once we were done, we met back up with the class, and from there officially went out to the rest of our weekend’s adventures. It’s crazy to me that this is just another part of the HTS 2100 class, and I’m so glad that I decided to sign up for this class where I can learn and visit places that I likely wouldn’t have chosen to go myself.

A Field Trip to Munich (Part 1)

As a self-proclaimed car nerd, Karsten enjoyed the HTS 2100 class’s trip to the BMW headquarters and manufacturing center! Check out his blog about the first part of the field trip.

Friday, October 11, 2019 | Written by Karsten

I am a car nerd. I can’t tell you how an engine works exactly, I don’t know the relationships between different parts, but I can name random facts about cars and correctly guess most higher end models from a fair distance away. When I signed up for the HTS 2100 class I’m in, I had no idea there were field trips involved (luckily, they didn’t mess with plans I had already made). Before this weekend, we had only had the one to Crystal Saint-Louis, but this weekend was the one I was most excited for about any of them on the list. We went to Munich to see the BMW factory and museum.

The field trip started after classes on Wednesday. Since our first train was at 5:38 PM, the 3:30 PM classes got to leave a little early to ensure that we made it with plenty of time. We were all good with trains until our last one, which we thought we were going to miss, got delayed, but people were getting food and so most people waited for the next one anyway. However, a trio of us didn’t get that memo, so we arrived in Munich an hour earlier than everyone else. We finally made it to our hostel at about 1:30 AM, and with breakfast at 7 AM, no one slept too well. From breakfast, we went to the FIZ, which is BMW’s information and R&D headquarters. We met with a few German interns, and they were our tour guides for the day. We went almost immediately to a Georgia Tech alum, Tomohiro, who currently works in acoustics, and his intern Nate, a current Georgia Tech student who was in this class last fall.

To see the impact of someone who knew nothing about acoustics and also knew no German a year ago definitely made me consider trying to get an internship for sometime next year. After learning about their jobs, we had lunch at the “small” cafeteria in the headquarters. Apparently, the one in the FIZ is substantially larger, but I guess that makes sense, as 15,000 people work there. We watched a few presentations after, and considering the little sleep we all got the previous night and the presentations being immediately after lunch, it was rather difficult to stay awake, but at least the topics were interesting.

After the presentations was the factory tour. The thing that stuck out the most about the factory tour was that the production of the body is over 99% automated, meaning that there are tons of robots doing all of the welding and shaping of the body. We also saw the production of the engines, seats, and the pairing of engines to the transmissions and to the body. While this isn’t the first car factory I’ve toured (I visited Lamborghini before my senior year of high school), it won’t be the last car factory I’ll tour (I’m visiting Porsche around Thanksgiving). And though the cars we saw in production (3 Series coupes and wagons and 4 series coupes) aren’t as interesting to me as, say, a Lamborghini Huracan or a Porsche 911, it was very in depth, and we got to see it all come together, which was very cool. 

This post is ending at about 5:00 PM on Thursday, meaning there is still almost a day’s worth of the field trip remaining, so stay tuned next week to see the post about the alumni meet and greet and the two museums we are going to on Friday.

A Reflection on the French SLS Program

Noa provided a quick reflection on the brand new French Immersion program at Georgia Tech-Lorraine and all that it meant during her time abroad. Check out all the cool things that the program participants got to do!

As I’ve mentioned before, I am currently taking a class, French 3011, which allows me to be a part of the French Sciences and Sustainability program at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. This has been such an incredible experience for me that I thought it would be best to devote an entire blog post to it! Initially when coming to GTL, I wasn’t anticipating taking any French classes since I haven’t taken French since junior year of high school. I was a little bit nervous at first, even just coming to France, that my French might not be at the same level that it used to be. However, after talking to Professor Ippolito, he mentioned that my level of French will probably be just fine for the class, and I felt much more confident coming in to the program.

The primary focus of French 3011 is to learn about France today, and understand the environmental, political, and societal circumstances in France today, as well as in Metz. Our class consists of in class presentations, two essays, and a final project of our choice about topics that we’ve focused on. While it is taught in French, I definitely do feel that it is at a good level for me, and if anything my French has improved exponentially being immersed and in this class. Another important aspect of this class, as I’ve mentioned in the past, is that we are able to go downtown to visit and volunteer with different associations in Metz about once a week. The nice part of this, is that other students from other classes, such as FREN 3813 or FREN 3500 (also taught by Ippolito) also can come downtown and be given the opportunity to volunteer as well. It really has made me feel more welcome at GTL, because I have been able to get to know a lot more students on our downtown visits. It also has improved my confidence in French, and visiting downtown, because I understand a lot more about the history of Metz itself.

Our downtown visits usually begin with us meeting at Place St. Jacques, and then Professor Ippolito shows us around giving us information about different histories about the architecture or how Metz came to be. Afterwards we head over to one of the associations he has selected for that day. The associations we have visited include:

  • Metz a Velo, an organization that helps people in Metz familiarize themselves with biking and fixes their bikes as well.
  • Couleurs Gaies, who provide a safe, educational space for LGBTQIA people.
  • Carrefour, who provide living and support for students as well as refugees
  • the Institut Européen d’Ecologie, who educate and promote the importance of ecology and the environment in Metz as well as hold a yearly film festival for this purpose
  • BLIIIDA, a space for upcoming startups, designers, and inventors

The fact that we are given the opportunity to get to know Metz beyond just visiting downtown or being a student at GTL is extremely rewarding and has given me a sense of community and confidence during my time abroad. I would recommend this program to anyone coming to Georgia Tech-Lorraine, and I truly think that it sets the program apart from many study abroad programs because of the fact that you can fully immerse yourselves with local people.