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

A GTL Student’s Cultural Guide to Oktoberfest

Written by Lillian

September 12th, 2022

Oktoberfest is a local German festival held in Bavaria, Germany. The festival origins come from a celebration of the marriage between King Louis I and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. While many regional festivals happen throughout the state, the main Oktoberfest happens in Munich at the end of September and early October. I had the opportunity to be guided through a regional Oktoberfest in Regensburg, Germany this past weekend by a native German. I will share some tips and tricks to make the most out of your time there!

Traditional Clothing

The most recognizable Oktoberfest tradition is the clothing. For men, one must dawn lederhosen (translates to leather pants) and a button up checkered shirt. Vests are also very common with plain button up shirts. Wool socks that stretch over the calves are common too!

For women, dirndls are the traditional women’s dress which consists of a blouse, dress, and apron. I will give a warning, quality dirndls will cost on the order of €100-200! In Munich, there are a couple of clothing stores that will sell lower quality ones or rent a much nicer one for €50. If you attend a smaller regional Oktoberfest, there will not be options for lower quality ones. You also don’t have to wear one if you are uncomfortable with it; women wearing lederhosen is perfectly acceptable too! 

Finally, you may see people walking around with clothespins on their shirts and blouses. These custom clips, called “Glubbal”, are engraved with sayings or nicknames of the wearer. They can be made and purchased at stores near the festivals. 

German Language in Bavaria 

In Germany, you greet someone by saying “Hallo” or “Guten Morgen/Tag/Abend”; however, in Bavaria, you greet someone using “Servus!”

Bavaria, Germany in German is “Bayern, Deutschland”. Bavaria is located in the south-east corner of Germany and is the largest German state by land mass. One of the major cities in Bavaria is Munich or “München” in German. 


One of the main festivities of Oktoberfest are the Tents: large tents with live music and drinks. Upon entering a tent, locate an empty table. When the band starts, stand up on the benches: this will be your place for the next hour as you sing and dance along to the music. 

Traditional Oktoberfest music is played poka-style; with accordions, trumpets, electric guitars, and drums. Spot the lederhosen too!

While most of the songs that played were completely in German, including the Oktoberfest hit “Bayern, Des Samma Mia” (translates to “Bavarians, That’s What We Are”), usually the bands will interlace English songs as well. Some examples include “Don’t Stop Believing”, the “Cotton Eye Joe”, and even “I’m Blue”!

In Bavaria, FC Bayern is the most popular football club. Often times, the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” starts getting sung on stage and FC Bayern’s football chants get started in the crowd. It really is a sight to be seen, and is a cool connection to sports culture all around the world.


A giant pretzel in front of the Ferris Wheel.

Some of the most iconic foods you can find at Oktoberfest are pretzels, gingerbread, and meat. Gingerbreads are usually sold in a heart shape with sayings such as “Ich liebe dich” (translates to “I love you”). These gingerbreads are bought for your significant other to wear around their neck for the entirety of the festival. They can also last quite a while after; most people keep them as souvenirs instead of eating them! You can also find a lot of meat at festivals such as bratwurst and schnitzel. The menus tend to offer portions of some animal (i.e 1/2 a chicken, 1/4 of a duck, etc.), so vegans and vegetarians beware!

The leg of a pig and a Kartoffelklöße (potato dumpling). In Germany, dumplings are not filled with anything, and instead are giant gnocchi like spheres.

Overall, my time in Germany was one to remember. I highly recommend you try and attend a local festival since they are much more rich with German culture, less touristy, and cheaper than the main festival in Munich. The one I went to was filled with college aged students too! Overall, it was very fun to experience a small snippet of German culture at Oktoberfest, and I recommend the experience for anyone coming to GTL in the Fall!

Spring is in Full Bloom!

Monday, April 11, 2022 | Written by Claire

Warmth. As the sun began to filter through the trees, the first signs of Spring emerged as tiny flower buds nestled within the greening grass and started peeking out from the crackly tree branches. In Metz and across Europe, a myriad of colors began to paint the cold, bleak canvas left by winter. 



One of the best places you should visit if you’re headed to Amsterdam is the Keukenhof Tulip Fields. It has several hectares of flowers of all different colors and varieties, whether they’re tulips or different species. The beautiful design of the garden itself creates a great environment that accentuates the color of the flower themselves. The placement and pairing of colors create an artwork along the ground. It was a shame that we went slightly too early as many of the flowers had not bloomed but if you go any time in late April or May, that’s when you’ll see the best of Keukenhof. 


This glorious stretch of cherry blossom was just a random find when we visited Bonn, Germany. 

It was a random residential street around the city center, surrounded by small local businesses and restaurants. The blossoms were in full bloom, casting a pink hue across the street. As a breeze floated through the streets, some of the petals would fall from the trees, floating through the air in swirls. It was as if I were in a real-life anime scene. If you ever stop by the region, look up Cherry Blossom in Bonn on Apple Maps and you’ll find yourself a gorgeous view, perfect for the gram.

No matter where you visit next, as Spring arrives, there will be so many opportunities to see the beauties of nature around every corner. While the semester draws to a close, there are so many things that may stress you out: finals, thoughts of moving back, or catching up in your classes. I, myself, have also been extremely stressed with many things in life that are outside my control, including things with my own health that have prevented me from enjoying the last month at GTL. While the GTL staff has been more than accommodating with my needs, I just want to head into the last 2 weeks at GTL on a positive note, and with the weather much nicer and everyone in good spirits, I hope to continue heading in the right direction to end this semester strong, not just for myself but also for my friends and family. These flowers have been a reminder of how great life is and I should just enjoy what is left to one of the best chapters I’ve ever had in my life.

Schnitzels and Sausages: Germany at a Glance

Tuesday, February 1, 2022 | Written by Claire

Our journey to Germany was hectic to say the least. For our first weekend at GTL, my friends and I decided to venture into the rustic German towns of Freiburg and Heidelberg, well known for their authentic foods and traditional architecture. The journey was a mere four hours away from Metz and a quick transit in several smaller stations along the way. After a quick dinner, we were bundled up and ready to face the blistering winter night. We expected nothing but smooth travels… Sike.

From the first leg of the journey to the very end when we arrived in Freiburg, we encountered numerous obstacles on the way. With the first train delayed 15 minutes and our next train having a transfer time of merely 12 minutes, we had little hope of staying on schedule. As we sat anxiously in our seats, legs bouncing and fingers furiously swiping across our phones every few minutes or so to check the clock, the train miraculously started to make up lost time. Somehow, we made it to the station on Platform 2 with four minutes to spare. Right as we were about to heave a deep breath of relief, we looked up at the departure board in dismay. There, shining brightly in the dark winter night, was a large 24….Platform 24. Time seemed to freeze for a split second. Then, as if we all knew what to do, all eight of us, sprinted down the dark corridor, backpacks slapping against our backs and boots thudding against the ground. We were a sight to see. Eight Americans running top speed across a small local train station to the furthest platform where we saw a small, local train paused on the tracks. Out of breath and sweating bullets, we managed to plow through the snow, collapsing into our seats right at the last second. I’d give us a pat on the back for that one.

 After a few more hours, we made it to the outskirts of Freiburg where we checked into a quaint, modern-looking hotel that seemed to be in the middle of a construction site. It was 11 PM and the streets were dead. Not a single soul or restaurant light graced the streets. It seemed quite eerie, but after a long journey, we were famished. There were multiple restaurants and pubs that were opened according to Google maps, so we decided to try our luck. To keep the story short, turns out there was a 10:30 PM curfew and we ended up with a jar of pickled hot dogs and a bag of chips in our hotel room, courtesy of the hotel concessions. A great first meal in Germany indeed…

 The next morning, we woke up to a nice dusting of snow on the ground and a delicious egg and turkey sandwich topped with pretzel bread from a famous German bakery. As we started to travel further downtown, the snow started to fall faster, painting a beautiful winter wonderland before our very eyes. The first stop was the Freiburg Cathedral, an ornate masterpiece made of marble and stone, decorated with huge windows of stained glass. The silence within the Cathedral itself added to the sheer beauty and divinity of the structure, creating a haven for those worshiping there. The most notable detail, however, was a map that showed the aftermath of the bombing in 1944. All of the buildings surrounding the Cathedral were completely obliterated but somehow, the Cathedral stood, unscathed. It was as if God had shielded the place from danger, a thought enough to bring goosebumps on my arms. Truly unbelievable.

As we exited the Cathedral, we stumbled upon a large outdoor market, filled with stands of vegetables and spices. What really caught my attention was the mouth-watering smell and satisfying sizzle of the sausage cooking right before our eyes. There, we found the gem of our entire trip. We all ordered a sausage topped with either mustard or curry and then we all ordered another, minutes after we devoured the first. The German Sausages, known as Bratwursts, were nothing like the usual American hot dog. My favorite was the Weisswurst. It was a white sausage, speckled with herbs and other spices inside. Every bite came with a mouthful of tender, juicy meat that had a springy yet crisp texture, unlike anything else I’ve tasted before. The most surprising was the variety of flavor it offered: it was savory yet sweet with its caramelized coating, mildly spicy yet zesty with lemon, and firm yet tender with grease. In fact, my mouth is watering at the thought of it at this very moment.

The rest of the Freiburg trip was filled with hikes and other scenic views. Right as we were heading towards Heidelberg, we were greeted with hordes among hordes of people chanting, waving flags, and beating drums. It was a full-blown protest as people held up huge anti-vax flags every few feet or so. The trams were completely shut down and roads were blocked. The beat of the drums and the thunderous chants made the streets vibrate of angry fervor, heated with political drive. It was massive. The rows of people stretched further than the eye could see, and the crowd didn’t pass until we were almost out of the downtown district.

We were now on to our next destination: Heidelberg. As the sun began to set, we could feel our stomachs gnawing itself in hunger. The streets at night were also emptier than expected in a large city. Yet somehow, we stumbled upon a Schnitzel restaurant, where all eight of us crowded into one giant table. Having never even heard of “Schnitzel,”, I was appalled when the menu had nothing but Schnitzels… Nonetheless, I ordered the traditional Jagerschnitzel and a bowl of fries just to give it a try. Best decision ever. The Jagerschnitzel came out on a huge plate with two slabs of pork doused in savory gravy. The meat was tender, melting away in my mouth. It was breaded to perfection and the gravy paired magnificently with the fries. On the side was a crisp German salad. Alternating between a bite of warm gravy, a tender slice of Schnitzel, and some cold salad, my mouth was experiencing an explosion of flavors. To add to the mood, the restaurant owner was highly accommodating, entertaining us with hilarious stories and even recommending some other places to eat in Heidelberg. If I could, I would definitely go back there to try another one of their delicious Schnitzels in a heartbeat.

Finally, to end our trip, we visited the Heidelberg Castle, a huge structure detailed with intricate carvings that also survived multiple bombings in the past. It sat upon a hill next to the city, granting us a beautiful overlook of the city below. The view can be better  conveyed in pictures than in words.

If you ever find yourself looking for a convenient place to go for a weekend, definitely hit up Freiburg and Heidelberg. Although the journey there was a bit chaotic, the experiences and delicious foods we tried in Germany were unforgettable. Overall, a 10/10 way to start my semester at GTL.

Stay tuned for other travel stories soon!


Oktober in Frankfurt

Friday, October 8, 2021 | Written by Mira


Paddle-boating in Frankfurt!

We started our weekend in Frankfurt with a cute breakfast at Café Laumer (Bockenheimer Landstraße 67, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany) before going to the Frankfurt Botanical Gardens.

On our walk to the botanical gardens, we passed by a residential area that resembled the houses on 10th Street across from Piedmont Park in Atlanta in both architecture and ambiance. It truly felt like a piece of home halfway across the world. The Frankfurt Botanical Gardens are only three euro for students and, dare I say, are better than the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The Frankfurt gardens have cute little paddle boats and a butterfly house! After meandering around the gardens and playing various covers of La vie en rose, my friends and I found a little lake with a quaint waterfall and shortly after we found ourselves on the paddle boats. I was the lucky one who sat in the back of the paddle boat so while my friends peddled, I was in charge of taking pictures. There was a little fountain that made a rainbow in the sunlight– it was breathtaking. After riding around in the paddle

The beautiful, colorful, butterflies and flowers

boats, we found the butterfly house which was just breathtaking. The butterflies were so colorful and lively flying around us. I could probably spend all day in this magical little house, but alas, we had more of Frankfurt to see.

 After the nature-filled morning, we made our way across town to one of the many museums in Frankfurt. We ended up choosing the Jüdischen Museums out of the 33 to pick from! In the evening, we went to the Skyline Mall, where we had an amazing view of the city at sunset.

Found the Frankfurt version of Atlanta’s pencil building!

 DAY 2

As much as we enjoyed the first day, I made it my mission to find the older part of the city in our second travel day. What we had seen of Frankfurt thus far had been fairly industrial and modern, and didn’t exactly feel European to me. I am more drawn to an older architectural style, with buildings rich in history, as opposed to glass skyscrapers, as impressive as they are. After some trial and error, we found a quaint café in the middle of the historic square. This is what I expected Frankfurt to look like, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Finally found the old part of the city.

 After our leisurely breakfast in the picturesque square, we walked about two minutes to the river for our sightseeing cruise. Apparently, I love boat tours, and this was no different. For less than 15 euros, we had a two hour boat tour on the Main, with explanations of historic and modern buildings spoken to us in both German and English. One building to note was the Frankfurt Cathedral; a gothic style church that rises high among the smaller buildings of the old city and dates back to the 13th century. From the boat, we could see in one panoramic view, the industrial, modern buildings juxtaposed with the 13th century church. This view put in perspective how authentic the two days we spent in Frankfurt really were. 

: Back in the Romer Square with delicious chocolates from the Kleinmarkthalle.

Next stop: lunch. We went back to the Römerberg square (Römerberg 26, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany) for lunch, and my friends got Schnitzel, a German classic (while I opted for a vegetarian faire). From there, we went to the Kleinmarkthalle (Hasengasse 5-7, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany), an indoor grocery store with over 60 vendors. As we walked in, I was immediately transported into another world. The market hall was so reminiscent of a challenge on the Amazing Race – Season 32, Leg 7, Kazakhstan, the Zelenyi Bazaar. I imagined teams trying to run through the market to find their next clue, and I almost felt like I was in the race, just without the stress. Small local venues like the Kleinmarkthalle helped give me a sweet taste of daily life in Frankfurt and helped me feel a little less touristy, and allowed me to embrace more of the culture within the city. 

More Time in Munich

Some adventures are so long they have to be told in pieces, like Kaela’s latest trip. Join Kaela as she details the second half of her journey in Munich in her latest blog post!

Monday, October 19, 2020 | Written by Kaela


We started the second day of our adventure bright and early with a quick visit to Odeonsplatz: a square lined with ornate buildings. We then headed towards Kaisergarten: our breakfast spot of choice. On our way there were no turnstiles, workers, or barriers to ensure that you stamp the 10 trip pass, rather the German train system relies on the honor system, which felt quite novel. We did however encounter many multi directional escalators– a great space and money saving idea.

My avocado toast was absolutely delicious!
My avocado toast was absolutely delicious!

For breakfast, I had delicious avocado toast before we ran off to the next activity of our weekend. We made a quick stop by the BMW welt, but opted out of going to the museum. We then headed towards the English Garden, stopping for some cake on the way there. After finding a bench to eat on, enjoying the quick snack, and walking around, a surprise drizzle greeted us. The cold weather and rain did dampen the experience slightly but we happened upon a small shop, grabbed a cup of hot chocolate, and waited out the light sprinkle. 

We ended up back at Odeonsplatz while trying to visit the Kriegerdenkmal and ended up in the middle of a protest. The rain suddenly started to pour, so we waited it out under an arcade by Kriegerdenkmal. After freshening up at the hostel, we made a quick stop at Gute Nacht Wurst for currywurst, which was even better than the dish I had in Trier. I was tempted to order more, but this visit was meant to hold us over until dinner later that night. We made another stop in Marienplatz for pictures and visited some of the surrounding shops. We ended up running into a model whose pictures were displayed in an advertisement there.

Scrumptious Strudel!
Scrumptious Strudel!

Since it was a Saturday night, many places were full but we got lucky and ended up getting a table at Hofbräuhaus München once again. Luckily, thanks to the night before, we knew exactly what to get: chicken, schnitzel, and pretzels! Unfortunately, we ended up with a table outdoors in the cold so I spent a decent amount of time walking around looking for an empty table indoors. This gave me the chance to explore all three floors of the restaurant. We ended up finding a table inside! We celebrated by eating strudel, playing games, and hanging around. 


We went to Cotidiano for a less German-style breakfast. This place was amazing! I got an american style breakfast, an acai bowl, and a brownie with ice cream. This breakfast was similar to what I would eat at home, so it felt nostalgic after being away for so long. We spent some time in Gartensplatz taking photos and then went on a quest to find an open souvenir shop on a Sunday.

St. Peter's ChurchDuring this search, we ended up making a pit stop at St. Peter’s Church. Of all the churches I have seen so far, this might be my personal favorite. It was a bit different from the stone and stained glass I am used to seeing in cathedrals. It is mostly white with paintings covering the ceilings and walls. Golden figures line the sides leading up to the altar where a figure of Saint Peter lies. The smoke from incense filled the nave and caught the light beams streaming in through the windows.

We ended up finding souvenirs at Munich’s large train station and then boarded the train to head home.

A Minute in Munich

Join Kaela in Munich as she learns observes the traditions of Bavaria, halted by a modern dilemma. Read on to find out more about her delicious meals and the sights of the city!

Friday, October 16, 2020 | Written by Kaela


When people think of Germany, they might think of people dressed in lederhosen (leather breeches) or dirndls (traditional dresses) eating copious amounts of meat and pretzels. After my brief visit to Munich, I can confirm these assumptions have at least some truth. We decided to visit Munich because one, it is a beautiful city, two, Germany has great food, and three, we wanted to catch the end of the Oktoberfest “celebrations.” Oktoberfest began as a wedding celebration more than two hundred years ago and soon became an annual event intertwined in German culture. While the Coronavirus pandemic halted what would have been the 187th Oktoberfest in Munich, the spirit of the celebration still continued on. People dressed in traditional outfits peppered the streets and many restaurants offered special “Oktoberfest” menu items. 

My delicious wurstlteller!
My delicious wurstlteller!

After a long morning of travel, we headed to Augustine Keller for our first German meal (as well as our first meal of the day.) A friend and I shared a wurstlteller: a platter with an assortment of sausages. We took our time tasting each sausage and examining their flavors as though we were food critics. I tried some of a travel companion’s schnitzel and thoroughly enjoyed it (and highly recommend it). I left the restaurant wishing both my stomach and wallet were larger so I could order a schnitzel for myself. We played a few rounds of cars after our meal, but our fun was cut short by the menacing chestnuts hanging above our heads. Every time a strong gust of wind blew, a few would come flying down towards our table like hailstones.

Upon arrival at our hostel (Augustin), I immediately fell in love with our temporary housing. We had traveled with enough people to have our own hostel room and despite the bunk bed style sleeping, there were a lot of private spaces. We had our own large bathroom with two showers and the toilet was placed in a separate area. There were more than enough mirrors, sinks, lockers for storage, and couch space all placed strategically so it did not feel cramped. The room was modern, clean, and had an amazing view overlooking a small courtyard. German engineering is renowned for a reason. 

Our lovely traveling gorup!
Our lovely traveling group!

After freshening up for a bit, we headed to a famous Munich landmark, the Bavaria statue. Our hostel happened to be extremely close to the statue, which sits in the middle of the grounds where Oktoberfest would have been hosted, Theresienwiese, had it not been cancelled. The statue is meant to be a female personification of the Bavarian homeland. It reminded me of a piece of home, the Statue of Liberty. Both statues serve as monuments to their homeland, personifying patriotism through the depiction of nurturing and powerful women. It was fascinating to walk through the entirely empty fairground and imagine what would be there: food and drink tents, traditional music, dancing, horse races, temporary museums and crowds of people. I took a moment to try to imagine the fanfare and compare it to the somewhat empty large park before me. There were people wind skateboarding, biking, running, working out, or passing through like us. 

An image of the beautiful Marienplatz.
An image of the beautiful Marienplatz.

We passed through Marienplatz on the way to our next eatery: Hofbrauhaus. We admired the New Town Hall building and its gothic revival architecture. I admired the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, a tourist attraction in its own right, with 43 bells and 32 life sized figures. Unfortunately, we were not able to see the show while we were in Munich but I imagine it is quite a spectacle.

Our last stop of the night was at Hofbräuhaus München. This Bavarian restaurant dates back to the 16th century and is three floors high. Its aura was incredible: live music, bustling customers, the smell of great food, couples dancing, traditional clothing, and workers walking around selling pretzels. Our group opted for a family style meal allowing us the opportunity to try all of the restaurant’s popular dishes. My favorites? For sure the half chicken, schnitzel, and pretzel. After eating and playing more card games without the threat of chestnuts falling on us, we headed back to the hostel for the night. As I listened to the snoring of a travel companion in the bunk above me, still full from my traditional meal, I slowly drifted off, excited for what the next day would bring.

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. 


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.