ChristMETZ markets

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 | Written by Mira

With the holiday season quickly approaching, Europe’s famous Christmas markets are in full swing. While Germany and other areas of France, such as Colmar and Strasbourg, have more extravagant markets, the ones in Metz are worth the visit. 

The views from up here were immaculate.

There are at least four markets spread out around Metz, each a little different from the last. To get into each market, our health passes were scanned due to the possibility of eating and drinking. I met up with my friends on a Friday afternoon at market #1. In Republique Square, the market has ice skating and a carnival ride for 5 euros each. I personally didn’t go ice skating, but my friends did (I was the designated photographer when I arrived). I did go on the “Flyer,” a swing ride similar to the one I did in Luxembourg at the beginning of the semester. On this ride, I got the best view of Metz even though we were spinning around in circles. We could see the cathedral from above the rooftops of the other buildings and it was interesting to see just how tall the cathedral was compared to everything else. 

 The rest of the first market were two heated shops with various Christmas decorations, and many food and drink stands. You could get anything from waffles, beignets, and crepes to sandwich raclettes, hot chestnuts, and rich hot chocolate, to name a few. 

 Market #2 of the day was near the church. This one was filled with multiple rows of vendors selling all sorts of things, from flavored hot chocolate kits to etched vinyl, from halva and baklava to Christmas tree ornaments. I had been on the hunt for gloves that fit my hands well that weren’t knitted, and I found the perfect pair! At the end of the stalls, there was a large carousel!

The rows of vendors at the market by the cinema.

Market #3 was near the cinema, closer to the Cathedral, but not quite the Cathedral market. I’m sure each of these markets has a specific name or are named based on the streets, but we just referred to them by the landmarks we knew. This third market was smaller and had about eight booths. We did get to sample some “pain aux fruits” (fruit bread) and dried apple chips that were delicious! 

This was the view as we walked up the fourth market!

 

Market #4 was in front of the Cathedral. This one had the main attraction of a Ferris wheel! We were saving this market for last because we wanted to see the city of Metz at night from up high. The rest of the Cathedral’s market was mainly food. There were vendors for falafel and hummus, French onion soup (or just onion soup since we’re in France), paninis, etc. The Ferris wheel was quite cold, but beautiful! Luckily the Ferris wheel compartments had blankets! The pictures of the city from the Ferris wheel didn’t turn out too well because of the glare of the windows, but the view was spectacular! We even saw the “Flyer” that we did earlier all lit up in the dark.  

The Ferris wheel and Cathedral were so pretty it needs a second photo from another angle.

I love how each market in Metz has its own personality. We didn’t go to the same market 4 times, but we got a different experience from each one. If you are really looking for the famous French Christmas markets, Colmar and Strasbourg are musts! 

Crous

Monday, November 29, 2021 | Written by Mira

While we don’t get a meal plan during the fall and spring semesters at GTL, we do have access to a local student cafeteria “Crous” open during lunch and dinner. Crous offers meals for 3.30 euros for us GTL students, which makes for a convenient and inexpensive option for meals when you don’t feel like cooking, getting the same things from Paul (the bakery between GTL and Lafayette), or going downtown. The menu at Crous rotates, so you get some variety in your meals. 

 Please enjoy the four meals from Crous that I remembered to take pictures of:

 Meal #1

 Lots of veggies!

 During the first few weeks of the semester, the Crous location closer to GTL was not open yet, so we trekked the 20-minute walk between GTL and farther Crous location. Since there was only one location open, it was pretty packed, and by the time we would get there, the options were quite limited. But the food was still worth the long lines! You get a lot of food for your 3.30 euros, and I will say, I have not finished a full plate yet. 

 At Crous you get 10 points worth of food for your 3.30 euros. The main plate is usually 5 points, with two side items either 2 or 3 points each. Water and a little baguette are free!

 Meal #2

Still can’t get over the fact that this whole tray was only 3.30 euros.

 This meal was still from the farther Crous. At that location, there were two lines: a pizza line and an “other” line. I would usually just go for the “other” line since I could guarantee a vegetarian option, but this one particular day, the pizza line did not include meat. The pizza was massive, and we were able to ask (with some trouble due to language barriers) for a box for the leftover pizza. I have not seen pizza as an option for the closer Crous, unfortunately. 3.30 euros for two meals was a great deal!

 Meal #3

 The tomatoes were a flavorful touch.

When the Crous closer to GTL opened, the journey became a whole lot more convenient, although I have not taken full advantage of the proximity. The different location does not mean different value, so once again, the plates are well worth the price. The closer Crous is also more vegetarian friendly. This particular pasta dish could have come with meat or the tomato slices that I got. At the closer Crous, there are two dining areas, and if you don’t set up your International Student Card, and you pay with card, you have to go to the left side. 

 Meal #4 

 Crous but make it dinner.

After not going to Crous for a while (I kind of forgot it existed for a bit because of the convenience to stop by Paul and grab a sandwich for lunch on my way to GTL in the morning), my friend suggested we go for dinner. I hadn’t been to Crous for dinner yet, so I decided to give it a try! We went almost right when they opened at 6:30pm and beat the crowd of potential high schoolers. Crous is definitely a convenient option for dinner especially if you have a late class – the closer Crous is only about a 5 minute walk from GTL.

 

Day Trips to Paris

Wednesday, November 24, 2021 | Written by Mira

One amazing thing about GTL is its close proximity to Paris. I’ve been on the Metz to Paris train plenty of times, but Paris has rarely been my final destination. In fact, the only time Paris was my destination this semester was back in August for the short weekend. I decided that as the semester is winding to a close (and classes are in full force) and as my Eurail pass is about to expire, I should take the opportunity to do a quick day trip to Paris. 

 Friday

 The Fontaine Médicis in Luxembourg Gardens surrounded by all the fall colors!

I woke up bright and early Friday morning for my solo Parisian adventures. I arrived in Paris around 9am, got a 12euro day pass for the metro, and was ready to begin my day. I meandered around the beautiful Luxembourg gardens, in full fall ambiance with red, orange, and yellow leaves coloring the trees. The gardens are lined with statues of women from European history, and there was even a mini Statue of Liberty.

 I just had to take a picture of the iconic Parisian cathedral.

 

After enjoying the brisk fall air of the garden, I walked a little bit to the Île de la Cité, the island on the Seine that is home to the Notre Dame Cathedral. While the inside is still closed due to reconstruction efforts from the fire of 2019, there is an archeological crypt underneath the cathedral, one of the only excavation sites in Paris open to the public. In the exhibition, there was a retelling of Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris and how the novel shaped the public opinion around the Cathedral. There was also a portion that was the stone remnants of a Roman bathhouse, which reminded me of the popularity of the bathhouses in Budapest.

 Near the Notre Dame Cathedral, on the south side of the Seine, is a quaint, mostly English bookstore called Shakespeare and Co. (37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris). It was incredibly touristy, but the upstairs portion was a little oasis – a reading room (with a cat!). I successfully convinced myself I didn’t need to buy another book (my book count is up to more than a dozen and transporting all these books home will be less than convenient… whoops).

 The bookstore!

 After grabbing a quick lunch at the Shakespeare and Co. Café, I made my way across to the north side of the Seine. I walked along a series of bridges. The first had incredible street music, and the second had an antique market with a very enthusiastic French woman telling me about her antique maps.

 A panorama of the Seine with all the fall colros reflecting off the water! The little antique market is on the bridge on the right under the white tents.

 After spending a majority of the afternoon sitting at a café, The Caféothèque of Paris (52 Rue de l’Hôtel de ville, 75004 Paris), and reading a book I had brought, I wanted to make the most of my 24-hour metro pass before I had to leave, so I hopped on a metro and headed across the city to see the Arc de Triomphe. You can go under the traffic circle to get to the middle of the monument, and you can even pay to go up it. Even though I love heights, I did not end up going to the top. Instead, I took another metro to the Eiffel Tower to watch it illuminate in the approaching dusk. It had been cloudy all day and shortly after 5pm, the tower’s lights turned on– it was breathtaking. There was something really peaceful about watching the “sun set” against the Eiffel Tower and watching as a crowd of French school children went about their Friday evening and some men nearby me were playing bocce.

 Timing the picture just right so no cars were blocking the arc was truly a feat

 After a little while, I mapped directions back to the train station so I could grab dinner in the station before heading back to Metz. As I walked away from the Eiffel Tower, I ran into three other GTL students who were spending the day or the weekend in Paris! We grabbed a small dinner together near the Eiffel Tower before I headed to the train station to return to Metz for the night.

 Sunday

I really want to make the most of my Eurail pass before it expires in a week, so I had booked another quick day trip to Paris! This time, I was meeting up with a friend who lives in Paris for lunch. She took me to her favorite café, Treize Bakery Paris (5 Rue de Médicis, 75006 Paris), near Luxembourg gardens. We walked in and the first thing I saw was “Bienvenue Y’all” in big letters on the wall. I got a vegetarian breakfast plate that came with an authentic Southern American biscuit. Any homesickness I felt was either intensified or cured by the biscuit, and I can’t quite determine which it was. 

 Walking to the metro station, we saw the street lined with lights and the Eiffel Tower was shimmering!

After lunch, I met up with some GTL friends who were spending their weekend in Paris as well. I met up with them in the afternoon on the street by the Arc de Triomphe, Av. des Champs-Élysées, a major shopping street, that was being lit up that night with holiday decorations. For dinner, we ate closer to the station at Pizzeria Popolare (111 Rue Réaumur, 75002 Paris), part of a group of restaurants called the Big Mamma group, as recommended to me by my friend I met up with for lunch. We had somehow secured a reservation for five at this restaurant, and we enjoyed a leisurely 2-hour dinner before returning to the train station.

 A quote from under a bridge on the Seine, “les histoires inachevées nous achivent” or “unfinished stories bring us down” (thanks google translate)

 I hope I get to return to Paris at least once more before the semester ends. I feel like it’s been so close this whole time and I haven’t taken full advantage of it.

Linen Swap

Tuesday, November 23, 2021 | Written by Mira

Every other Tuesday, we have a “Linen Swap” and every other week I think wow, it seems like we just had a linen swap.

 Pros of Linen Swap:

  •     We get clean sheets every other week.
  •     We don’t have to wash our own sheets.

 Cons of Linen Swap:

  •     I spend about 30 minutes every other week unmaking and remaking my bed.

 On linen swap days, I have to mentally prepare myself for the task ahead. First, I strip my bed. I always wait until we have confirmation of linen swap on the specific day because the 1 (ONE) time I stripped my bed in the morning was the 1 (ONE) time linen swap was postponed. The three things included in a linen swap are the pillowcase, the flat sheet, and the duvet cover. From the people I’ve talked to about the linen swap, I might be the only person who actually stuffs the duvet into the duvet cover. A lot of people just lay everything on top of each other. I find that the duvet cover is more comfortable than the duvet itself, so that may be why my linen swap process is such an ordeal. 

 Stripping the bed isn’t the bad part, but we need to fold the sheets before bringing them to be swapped out. From personal experience, the duvet cover – my personal nemesis – is heavy! Trying to fold the duvet cover neatly is a feat in and of itself. Since I’m not quite 5 feet tall, the duvet cover is much longer than I am which makes the process quite difficult. 

 Once our sheets are folded, we can bring them to the common room of Lafayette. Due to COVID restrictions, we are limited to one person at a time in the common room. We place our neatly folded sheets in a laundry bag and collect our new sheets. It’s pretty simple and is usually the fastest part of the whole process for me. After returning to my room, I place the new sheets on a chair in my room, and take a deep breath before starting my mission: Operation Make My Bed.

 * deep breath * Commencing Operation Make My Bed

First is the flat sheet. This is our “fitted sheet.” It is supposed to go directly on the mattress, and it’s what we sleep on so we aren’t directly touching the mattress. However, my bed is a little wider since I have the wheelchair accessible room, but my sheets are the same as all the others… which means my flat sheet is always slights too narrow to wrap my mattress neatly. I can usually wrap it under the top and bottom of the mattress, but it just rests on the sides. (I have woken up to many mornings of my flat sheet being completely pulled to one side of the mattress.)

 Getting the flat sheet under the top of the mattress is also a feat, and usually involves some moving of the mattress itself.

Next is my least favorite part: fitting the duvet in the cover. As I mentioned, my bed is a little wider than what the sheets are designed for, and that extends to my duvet. My duvet is slightly wider than the duvet cover, and it’s not a perfect square. I lay my duvet on the floor next to my bed and count how many diamonds are in which direction (one side has three and the other has four). This helps me orient the duvet in the cover, but the cover is too narrow for the actually duvet and the edges are always a little squished.

 Counting with my feet how many diamonds are in which direction.

Opening the duvet cover is tricky because the two sides are usually stuck together. Also since it’s too narrow, I try to starfish my body over the duvet, pulling it to the corners as best as possible, but it’s never a perfect fit.

 The hardest part is getting the duvet inside the cover.

The duvet and cover are longer than my mattress, so I’m able to tuck it under the mattress which definitely helps my daily bed making process be as easy as possible.

 When I transfer the duvet onto the bed, it usually undoes part of the fitted sheet, which only makes the process longer.

Third is the pillowcases, my reward for the whole duvet operation. Super easy since the pillows are square and match the square pillowcases. Lastly, I add the finishing touch of my fleece blanket (not included in the room, but I definitely recommend investing in one for the colder months). All done!

 The finished product makes it all worth it.

This whole process takes me about half an hour, but I did hit a personal best of 17 minutes to make my bed. We have about two more linen swaps for me to improve my personal best, wish me luck!

How I Spent My Long Weekend

Tuesday, November 16, 2021 | Written by Mira

At GTL we follow the French holiday schedule. So, while we don’t have Thanksgiving off from classes, we got Armistice Day (November 11) off. A lot of people took this four-day weekend to travel a little farther than we would be able to on a normal three-day weekend. The freshmen even got to travel this weekend on their own. I, on the other hand, always have four-day weekends based on my course schedule, so this “long” weekend was a normal weekend for me. I had already planned on not traveling this weekend because I knew I would be exhausted from the week-long adventure to Eastern Europe. 

 Thursday

On Armistice Day, most businesses are closed, and the buses run on a Sunday schedule (limited). I woke up around 9:30am and searched for an open grocery store on google maps – Carrefour Express was open near the train station. I hopped on the first available bus to downtown and popped into the grocery store to grab a few essentials. The next bus back to Lafayette wasn’t for another two hours, so I walked across the street to Fox Coffee Shop to do some schoolwork while I waited for the bus. I also made a quick stop at the train station to purchase seat reservations for my Paris trip next weekend!

 Flowers were placed in from of a memorial at the train station for Armistice Day.

 The main task of the day: Statistics project. I had procrastinated this assignment during fall break because I was too busy traveling and too exhausted to work on it, but now the countdown began. I had 24 hours to complete the problem set. At 1:30pm, two classmates came to my apartment, and we started to grind it out. It took more than 12 hours, and I won’t disclose exactly what time I went to bed, but it was late enough that I learned not to procrastinate on the next project. 

 Friday

I woke up just before noon, starting my not-so-productive weekend. I walked to Auchan to do actual grocery shopping and did my laundry. I spent the rest of my Friday trying (and failing) to be productive.

 My walk to Auchan was such an autumn aesthetic!

That night, I had dinner with a family in downtown Metz. They had recently traveled to New York and brought back a toy yellow school bus for their kids. They asked me if these school buses were also in Atlanta (yes), and if other cars on the road really stopped for the school buses (also, yes). In France, there aren’t buses dedicated to bringing children to and from school. Instead, kids use public transportation. I had gotten on a bus early one morning to go to the train station, and I walked on to see it packed full of middle schoolers!

Saturday

I spent my Saturday completing a few tasks here and there, but mostly catching up on some reality TV. It was super relaxing to sleep in and slow down a bit. If I would have been traveling this weekend, it would be a series of early mornings and overexertion, so being able to stay in bed all day was a nice change of pace. (It’s totally okay to slow down and take a break – you’ll thank yourself later!)

 Sunday

My Sunday transpired very similarly to the previous two days. The gloomy, cold weather didn’t do much to help my productivity either, but I did manage to work on a physics lab. My sleep schedule had been a little bit messed up from that late night working on statistics, so I treated myself to a nap before completing my physics lab while watching a movie. I was also able to catch up with some friends from Atlanta and my parents (remember to call your parents!).

 In Atlanta, I would usually have another monitor to watch a movie on while doing work, but since I don’t have it here, I had to adapt.

I may not have had the most productive or exciting weekend, but it’s okay to slow down and recharge, especially with finals rapidly approaching! It is important to find a balance between *study* abroad and study *abroad*. 

Studying Abroad with a Disability

When coming to GTL, one question on my mind was “can I study abroad with a disability?” In my search for a study abroad experience, I constantly came across “requirements” such as “Climbing stairs (elevators are not always available overseas)” or “Walking over very long distances” or “Carrying packed suitcases and other personal belongings with no help.” A common sentiment in the disabled community is that having a disability is not the issue, inaccessibility is.

In my first post, I casually mentioned that I am a part-time wheelchair user and that I cannot literally run around the world, but other than that, I’ve put on a façade of being pretty much non-disabled, and that changes right now. 

Allow me to reintroduce myself: My name is Mira, I am a third-year biomedical engineering student, I have a disability and sometimes use a wheelchair. Even though I spent my whole summer working abroad, I was nervous to study abroad, being away from my medical comfort zone for such a long period of time. In Atlanta, I have housing accommodations and my wheelchair stays in my dorm room (instead of at my parents’ house) in case I need it urgently. I flip-flopped between deciding to leave my wheelchair at home or to take it abroad with me. I had never travelled alone with my wheelchair – how would I maneuver my suitcases through the airport? How would I get my bags at baggage claim in France? How would my wheelchair fit on the shuttle to GTL? I’d first like to debunk the “carrying packed suitcases with no help” requirement. There will be people to help you, and it’s okay to ask for help.

I worked with the Office of Disability Services to figure out how to transfer my accommodations to GTL (what would accessible housing look like?), and luckily the administration at GTL is incredibly welcoming and more than happy to help. I was able to secure a room designed for wheelchairs in the Lafayette Residence, access to the elevators at GTL, and peace of mind that my chair would make it between the airport and Metz. As an ambulatory wheelchair user, it was easy for me to transfer to the bus and keep my chair tucked underneath. If you aren’t ambulatory, it may take more planning, but I’m confident it won’t be an issue!

The next question I intended to tackle was “can I travel with a disability?” The short answer: yes. The long answer: yes with intense planning. The major form of transportation for GTL students are trains. When I bought the Eurail pass, I contemplated getting the 1st class ticket because some wheelchair travel blogs said it was 100% necessary, but others said it is perfectly fine to get the 2nd class ticket. After experiencing trains first-hand, I can say I definitely made the right decision to save money and buy the 2nd class ticket. There are wheelchair accessible 2nd class compartments, so don’t waste your money. The complicated thing about traveling via train is that depending on what country you’re in or going to, the mobility assistance procedure changes. The Eurail website has a great resource for all the train companies in one place, which can help you figure out how far in advance you have to let the train company know that you’re coming. Also, in almost every major train station I’ve been in, there has been a mobility assistance kiosk or room to help with any issues that may arise. Trains have specific sections that are wheelchair accessible and train station workers are there to help you with the technology to get on and off the train with a wheelchair. I have not yet done a weekend trip in my chair, but it’s nice to know it’s an option. 

Sidewalk between Lafayette and GTL that includes curb cuts and tactile information.

Metz and disability? Every public bus I’ve been on has been wheelchair accessible. Curb cuts are pretty standard. Metz is fairly flat – you don’t have to worry about pushing yourself up too many hills. Tactile information is present, but the amount of it depends on what part of Metz you’re in. For example, GTL has a lot of tactile information outside the building, but the sidewalks leading to GTL have less.

Lots of stores in downtown Metz are up a step, but there are accessibility buttons that you can press to either activate a ramp or call an employee to bring a ramp.

The call button alerts the business of the need for physical access.

Accessibility is also incredibly abundant around Europe, but again, the quality and quantity depends on the country and city. For example, Amsterdam has a lot of tactile information around the main train station, but hardly any once you actually cross the street. Sidewalk quality varies around Europe and cobblestone can be tricky to navigate. Hilly places like Porto have stairs spread out around the city, but there are also cable car options to help get up the hills. Tourist attractions, such as castles and cathedrals generally have a miniature replica with braille information. I saw a lot of that in Krakow!

A miniature of the Budapest Parliament building with braille.

 TL;DR It *IS* possible to study abroad with a disability, but it does take a little extra planning. GTL is a great place to study abroad because the administration is so welcoming and willing to help transfer accommodations from Atlanta to Metz. My study abroad experience with an exchange program might not have been as seamless  if it was not with GTL or another GT faculty-led study abroad experience. 

Coffeeshops in Metz

Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | Written by Mira

I love coffee and coffee shops. I made it my mission to spend my Tuesdays exploring Metz, and that includes trying new coffeeshops to do homework in. Some have been more conducive to telework than others. I have searched for other blog posts to help me find ones that are computer friendly (I found one in French: http://adoptemetz.com/gourmandises/cafe-metz-brunch-teletravail/).

  1. Fox Coffee Shop Metz (6 Rue Gambetta, 57000 Metz): Location? Amazing. Coffee? Delicious. Ambiance? Immaculate. Fox Coffee Shop Metz is a GTL fan favorite for obvious reasons. Fox Coffee Shop is my happy place, no ifs, ands, or buts. It is definitely computer friendly with very speedy free Wi-Fi, although you can only connect one device at a time with a given email. You can sit outside or inside, both of which provide a unique coffee shop experience. Inside, they have beautiful, ornate, furniture and decorations, and they even have a piano! The music is *chef’s kiss* a vibe – I spent one day Shazaming many of the songs I heard and made an Apple Music playlist for your (and my) enjoyment. You can also find them on Spotify. Outside, they have plenty of tables that spread out along the sidewalk and into the square. Each table has a unique set of stickers, adding to the quirkiness of the place.

    A glimpse inside this magical little shop
  2. Ô Sœur Saveurs (19 Rue Taison, 57000 Metz): A self-proclaimed, woman-run business, this coffeeshop is in the heart of downtown. They don’t open until 11am (and I recommend not going right when they open like I did), but it’s definitely worth a visit. When I went, I accidentally ordered a “lait froid” thinking I was ordering an iced latte… much to my dismay, the server brought out a glass of milk with ice in it. Not what I wanted, but it was what I ordered apparently. After I finished my sad glass of iced milk, it took me a good hour to work up the courage to ask for the menu again. The second time, I ordered a cappuccino and a crumble poivron, tomate, et feta (a pepper, tomato, and feta crumble), and it was delicious! I sat in an outdoor area in the center of the café, which made for a unique atmosphere, even if it drizzled a little bit.

    My cute cappuccino
  3. Columbus Café and Co. (33 Pl. Saint-Jacques, 57000 Metz): In the heart of downtown Metz, Columbus Café and Co provides both indoor and outdoor, upstairs and downstairs seating and a sweet spread of food and drinks. I would describe this as a Starbucks with more personality. If you’re hungry, I’d recommend getting the menu étudiant (student menu) which is a sandwich, a baked good, and an iced tea or soft drink for only 6 euros! My cappuccino classique was a whole 4.50 euros. They have free (and good quality) Wi-fi and plenty of outlets inside. I spent all day studying for my plethora of exams during my exam week here and will definitely be coming back.
  4. Paul (219B Av. de Strasbourg, 57070 Metz): A GTL staple. Located between the Lafayette Residence and the GTL building, Paul is a very popular and convenient stop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I usually grab a sandwich to go (à emporter) on Mondays between my class ending at 5:45pm and my class starting at 7pm. I have also had breakfast there (sur place). It wasn’t anything special, but convenient enough to make it worth it.

    A small selection of the many items they offer throughout the day at Paul
  5.  Chalon de Thé (6 Rue de la Petite Boucherie, 57000 Metz): This café is purrfect (pun intended) if you like (1) coffee/tea and (2) cats.You don’t need to pay to get in – you just pay for what you order! If you need productive café vibes, this is probably not the place for you. While they do provide free Wi-Fi, the cats are pretty distracting. I found myself taking pictures of the cats more than I did homework. The cats also have no problem walking all over the keyboard (“zxt6yt5v   5nm” and “./;……•••••••••••••••••••7[‘puy[p-9” were two such instances. How one of them typed bullet points? I’m not sure. Very talented kitty.)

    I could be distracted by this sweet kitty forever

Bonus! Honorable Mention

Look at the colored-windows!

Konrad Café & Bar (7 Rue du N, 2229 Luxembourg): While not in Metz, this café was too cute not to mention. Located in the older part of the city, Konrad café is a prime telework spot. I knew I’d love it when as soon as I walked in, the music was only Frank Sinatra. The staff is so kind (and English speaking), the Wi-Fi is fast, the ambiance is impeccable. You can sit inside or outside, but it was pretty chilly when I came so they had blankets outside for customers. On a Tuesday, I decided to take a solo day trip to Luxembourg to take advantage of my day off from classes, and I definitely don’t regret it! I can highly recommend coming here on a day off or even an afternoon – Luxembourg is only 47 minutes from Metz!

A Rainy Fall Tuesday in Metz

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 | Written by Mira

 

A colorful flower stand while walking around town.

Tuesdays have quickly become one of my most relaxing days of the week. Nestled between two heavy class days, my Tuesdays are a chance for me to get out and explore Metz before traveling somewhere else on the weekends. I had been hunting for a bookstore with English books, so I took this Tuesday to see if my google-mapping was correct.

It was a crisp, rainy fall day. So, just after lunch, I hopped on a bus for downtown, equipped with my backpack, umbrella, and scarf. The bus couldn’t take me all the way to the bookstore, but I enjoyed a nice leisurely walk through downtown. I got to see parts of Metz I hadn’t seen before, and I even saw a cute flower stand!

 I found the Atoutlire Bookshop (2 Rue de la Basse Seille, 57000 Metz), the “foreign” bookstore, and while a majority of the books are in English, there was quite a variety of languages. It was a small but cozy bookstore, and I even got to practice my French with the shop owner!

The rooftops of Metz.

The bookstore is located right next to a public garden/park on a hill: Jardin des Tanneurs de Metz. There was a small amphitheater, and if the weather was nicer, it would have been the perfect place to relax with a book. As I kept climbing up the park, I realized it overlooked the city of Metz. The view from the top was simply incredible! I hadn’t known there was a good look-out point for the city, but here it was, at the garden next to the foreign bookstore.

One of the many cats at Chalon de Thé.

 I walked down the street to a cat café that one of my friends recommended to me. Chalon de Thé (6 Rue de la Petite Boucherie, 57000 Metz) is such a cute café, with even cuter kittens. My favorite was a little guy named Salem, who proceeded to walk all over my laptop keyboard. I could probably have spent all day sitting in this café, but I needed to get home and change before my evening plans: the Opera!

The day before, my French professor told us about 5-euro tickets to the Opera, secured by the Leonardo Program. I jumped at the chance to have a unique cultural experience (I had never been to an Opera before, even in English). After I got back to my apartment and changed, a group of friends and I headed out for dinner. We scoured google maps for a cheap dinner spot with vegetarian-friendly options that opened early enough near the Opera house.. We ended up finding a burger place called Boogie Burger (1 Rue du Pont des Morts, 57000 Metz), and it was *chef’s kiss* so good. There weren’t any seats, so we ate overlooking the river as the sun set. I would have been content if my day ended there, but there was still more to do!

The definition of an American in France.
 Only at GTL can you spontaneously get 5-euro opera tickets.

The Opéra-Théâtr de Metz is this beautiful building on a small island surrounded by the Moselle River. The show for the night was called “Le comte Ory,” a comedic French opera from 1828, written by Gioachino Rossini. We looked up the synopsis beforehand just so we could have somewhat of an idea of what was happening, and boy is it a jam-packed plot. Luckily, when the performance started the lyrics were displayed above the stage, so I was able to follow along a lot more than I expected. I wish I could see the performance again, honestly, because there was just so much to look at: the live orchestra, the actors, and the text- it was truly an experience. 

 From bookstores to cats to operas, the day had it all… and it’s only Tuesday!

Living Alone and Doing Chores

Thursday, October 7, 2021 | Written by Mira

I’ve never lived alone before this semester. The closest I have gotten to that is spending last winter break by myself in a 6-person on-campus apartment, but that was only two weeks in total. As a self-aware introvert, I was very excited by the idea of having my own space. While most GTL students live in the same apartment complexes, we each get a studio apartment, with our own kitchenette and bathroom. After spending a little more than a month here, I have finally settled into a housekeeping/chores schedule.

  1.  Laundry: The entire Lafayette residence (GTL students and other college students in the area) share one laundry room which includes exactly three washers and three dryers. I learned on campus in Atlanta that the best way to avoid laundry frustrations is to get it done at unusual times, like Monday mornings. The Monday morning laundry schedule still applies here, thankfully, but please don’t share my secret! My first class starts at 11am, so that’s the perfect amount of time to wake up, throw my clothes in the washer (for three euros and 28 minutes), make and enjoy my French-pressed coffee, go back to the laundry room to grab my clothes, and spread everything out around my room to dry. The “European dry” dryers here, are not worth the one euro and forty minutes that have your clothes go from wet to slightly less wet. After I spread my clothes around my room to dry, hanging them off the desk, nightstands, and chairs, it is still early enough in the morning to go grocery shopping.

    Proof that no one does laundry on Monday mornings (time stamp: 8:33am)
  2. Grocery Shopping: The Lafayette residence is close to two grocery stores: Auchan and Cora. On Monday evenings, GTL sponsors a shuttle back from Cora, but I have class during this time, so I usually end up going to Auchan on Monday mornings. After doing my laundry, I grab some tote bags, throw on my headphones, and turn on a podcast. The roundtrip (to Auchan, shopping, and back) usually lasts the whole podcast, and I have just enough time to unpack my purchases before heading to GTL for class.

    Monday morning walk to Auchan.

3. Cleaning Dishes: One thing I enjoy about living alone is that you don’t have to worry about others leaving dishes in the sink. One thing I dislike about living alone is that there’s no pressure to do the dishes right away. I try my best, but I must admit I keep myself accountable only half the time. I’m trying to get better about doing my dishes as soon as I get them dirty, but as I sit here writing about my dish-washing routine, last night’s dishes are piled in the sink… but I’ll get to them later, when I need to make dinner tonight.

4. The Junk Drawer: I love memorabilia. At my parents’ house, I have boxes full of movie tickets, airplane tickets, museum maps, etc. My personality studying abroad is no different. Why do I need to save my Paris metro train tickets? My Frankfurt Botanical Gardens ticket? The map of my canal cruise in Amsterdam? For the memories. The memorabilia had been piling up on my desk for a while, but with my first physics test came my first tabletop declutter… which meant finding a drawer to put everything in. At least now my things aren’t visible, but the junk drawer is an ever-growing beast.

Good luck to December me who will have to sift through this mess.

5. General Cleaning: Whenever I would leave my room at my parents’ house for extended periods of time, I always try to clean it to the best of my abilities which involves making my bed, clearing surfaces, and vacuuming the floor, as best I can. (Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this and my room at home is currently a mess… I’m sorry.) I did all this so that when I returned, I would walk in my room exhausted from whatever I was coming back from (a summer internship or a semester at Tech), and see my bed made, room clean and be able to thank past me for not making current me make my bed. I’ve tried to continue this tradition here, so before I leave for a weekend adventure, I make sure to clean the floors, do whatever lingering dishes are left in the sink, clean the bathroom, make my bed, put away any clothes that were left out from drying.

A Midterm Week in My Life at GTL

With all of the travel that happens in a semester at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, it can be easy to forget that it is still school and with that comes the occasional midterm week, and in Mira’s case midterm day. Read more about Mira’s experience relaxing in Metz and studying for her midterms in her latest blog post!

Friday, October 1, 2021 | Written by Mira

My color-coded google calendar for midterm day might have been too colorful for one Wednesday…

The best thing about having class only on Mondays and Wednesdays is  having class only two days a week. The worst thing is having assessments only two days a week. And naturally, this week, they all decided to test my knowledge on the same Wednesday. 

My upcoming midterm week (day) meant that I would spend the weekend in Metz. It is more than okay to take a weekend to slow down. There’s so much travel involved in studying abroad, especially at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, that you might feel like you’re missing out by staying home. I mean, I definitely felt like that. As I sat at home, studying all weekend, I saw on social media other students hiking in Switzerland, eating amazing food in Berlin, paragliding in Annecy… FOMO is real at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, but the semester ebbs and flows for everyone. While my midterm week was this week, a lot of people (the same people I saw on social media) have their midterm week next week, which means while they’re staying in Metz, I get to travel to Barcelona.

Coffee shops, like the Columbus Cafe featured here, are my favorite study spaces!

As I mentioned, I stayed in Metz this weekend. I had a very relaxing weekend… minus being stressed for midterms. Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early and went to my happy place, Fox Coffee (6 Rue Gambetta, 57000 Metz), to study. This was my third time this week here, and my goal is to become a regular. Saturday night, I finished a book! I actually get to read for pleasure here, and my younger self is very proud of my current self. I’m not quite sure yet whether it’s because I have more downtime or better time management, but being able to prioritize leisure activities (like reading) has been a welcomed surprise. 

Monday morning, I stopped by Paul (a chain bakery in Metz) on my way to class to get some non-apartment-made coffee. The rest of my Monday was full of lectures preparing me for my assessments on Wednesday.

Tuesday, I searched for a coffee shop that wasn’t Fox to study. I found a café in the center of downtown that was perfect (official coffeeshop review coming soon), and spent the afternoon working on an international business presentation, making a formula sheet for statistics, doing practice problems for both statistics and physics. One of my friends had met me there, and afterwards we went to Auchan for some grocery shopping. 

Wednesday arrived, and so did my midterm day. I walked to the Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus early to practice the international business presentation in front of the beautiful glass building on a crisp fall day.

Practicing a presentation with this beautiful backdrop.

After the presentation, I studied for a French vocabulary quiz, and did some last-minute review of statistics. After the statistics assessment, I went directly to Paul to grab a cheap dinner to-go so I could eat before the physics exam. Physics at Georgia Tech-Lorraine is distance learning from Atlanta, so our exam is done in our own room through Gradescope and Microsoft TEAMS proctoring, which also means I had to clean my desk. My desk was piled with metro tickets, train tickets, postcards, and other memorabilia from my travels so far, so I had to find a home for these things while I ate dinner and studied the last bit for the physics exam. The exam was over by 9:00pm, and so was my midterm day! I finally breathed a sigh of relief because, on the bright side, my stressful week was over and my weekend was just beginning – Barcelona, here I come! One of the amazing things about Georgia Tech-Lorraine is that so much happens in a week, and you get to celebrate the end of a stressful week with a new adventure.