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.

A Guide to Buses in Metz

The fastest way to get around Metz is definitely by bus. Mira breaks down her knowledge on the bus system in Metz in this must read for any student at Georgia Tech-Lorraine!

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 | Written by Mira

The 45-minute walk into downtown Metz is anything but ideal. Yes, it’s picturesque, but it’s not quick. I’ve used the bus system extensively in the month that I’ve been here, so let me break it down and share some tips.

Bus tickets come in 1-trip, 2-trips, 10-trips, or monthly pass. If you get to Metz at the end of the month (ex: August 20th), I’d recommend holding off on the monthly pass. It expires at the end of the month, so a 10-trip pass should suffice until the beginning of the next month. To get the student discount on the monthly pass, you go to the Le Met office in République square.

The Metz Buses go all over the city, which makes it really convenient to get around!

There’s a bus stop right outside Lafayette for a bus (C12) that takes you directly to the train station and downtown Metz. It’s about a 20-minute bus ride to Republique square, and buses run about every 30 minutes, from 5am to about 8:30pm. If you’re downtown after 8:30pm, such as for dinner or coming back from the train station, you can take the M4a or M4b to the station nearest Lafayette and walk 13 minutes. 

To use your bus pass, you tap it on one of the screens on the bus. Always remember to pay, because you never know when metro workers will come around and check that you paid. If you see someone official walking down the bus with a little device, don’t panic! Watch what other bus patrons do and tap your card to the device. If you paid, you’re all good! If not, you could get fined.

To get off the bus, pay attention for your stop. Right before your stop, you should hit the “Stop” buttons that are spread out around the bus. Usually they’re red, but you can also click the small metal ones to indicate that you would like to get off at the upcoming stop. Once you press the button or if someone else already has, “Arret Demande” lights up in red near the front of the bus.

I highly recommend downloading the Moovit app. Moovit helps you navigate all sorts of public transportation pretty much in any city. I used it over the summer in Tel Aviv (in a big city), and it works in Metz (a smaller city). You type in a destination, and it’ll give you options of routes you could take and the duration of the routes. It also tells you how much you need to walk before and/or after the bus or train. Always check which side of the road you should be on, because sometimes it’s not clear on the map.  Moovit has the bus schedule loaded in, but sometimes the buses are late or early. Sometimes, it will show you an ETA, how far away the bus is from a certain stop in minutes. Once you select a route, you can hit the start button, and it will follow you on your journey. For example, once you get on the bus, it will update you on how many stops it is before you should get off. You can also set it to give you notifications when you are 2 stops away. 

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I’ve only used the C12 and M4 lines due to their proximity to Lafayette, but there are a few other lines that can take you elsewhere around Metz. The C12 can also bring you to and from Cora, the hypermarché near Lafayette (about a 25-minute walk). But, Georgia Tech-Lorraine provides a free shuttle back from Cora on a specific evening of the week (for us, Mondays at 7:30pm).

The buses in Metz are a great way to get around and to help downtown seem not quite so far away.

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 (http://cueillettedepeltre.fr/)! 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 (https://www.louisschwizgebel.com). 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 Paddle Down the Moselle

With its location on the confluence of the Moselle and Seille, rivers are as entwined in the history and culture of Metz as they are with the buildings downtown. Join Kaitlyn as she explores the heart of Metz in a way she hasn’t before — afloat. Read more in her latest blog post!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

What better way is there to spend a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon devoid (with the exception of the ECE homework I was avoiding) of responsibilities than on a trip downtown in Metz?

Since the French lockdown began, my friends and I have been looking for places to explore while staying within the allowed 10km of our dorms. Luckily, downtown Metz is within this radius, so when we discovered that a boat rental place downtown we set a plan in motion for an afternoon on the river. 

An image of kaitlyn and her friends reserving a boat at la flottille in metz. It is a small green shed on a dock.
Speak to the worker at the green shed to rent a boat!

The rental company is called La Flottille, and is only a few minutes walk from Republique Square, the center of Metz. La Flottile has all sorts of boats, but since there were four of us, we decided on renting a four-person paddle boat.  The worker brought us onto the dock and handed us each a bright orange life jacket. There’s no doubt in the world that we looked extremely goofy with the giant life jackets swallowing us, but of course, safety first. 

An image of Kaitlyn and another friend sitting in a bright yellow paddle boat on the river. Their backs are to the camera and they are looking to the right at the Temple Neuf from the water.
A brand new perspective of a familiar sight.

A few seconds later, and we were seated in the boat and already pedaling our way down the river towards Temple Neuf. It was really neat to see Metz from this perspective; we’d seen the city from our many walking tours, but never from the water! 

An image of three white ducks to the left of the yellow paddle boat on the river.
Don’t mess with the Metz ducks!

A brave family of three very large ducks came extremely close to our boat. It seemed like we were about to run them over, so we had to frantically change direction. Luckily, the ducks escaped unharmed and continued on their merry way to pester other boaters for food.

An image of a canal with a triangular bridge connecting two buildings.
Shh… the Venice canal system is actually in France.

Cruising our way down the river, we saw a small gap in between the buildings that we could enter via a narrow canal. We floated underneath a footbridge to check out the space; it felt like a quiet courtyard, but one filled with water rather than grass. I’ve never been, but the area gave me strong Venice vibes. Swap the fluorescent yellow paddle boat for a gondola and we would basically be on a canal in Venice, right? Due to the tight nature of the space we were in, it was just a little bit complicated to get out of there. We played bumper cars with the walls for a couple minutes in our attempt to exit the canal. 

We continued down the river, as far as we could go. The rest of our boat ride took us underneath three different bridges, one of which was so short that I was able to reach up and touch the underside of the bridge.

We had this view all to ourselves on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

There’s a lot more to discover; we didn’t have a chance to go in the opposite direction toward the Plan D’Eau, so we’ll probably be back soon after our legs recover from the slightly strenuous pedaling!

Dr. Birchfield’s List of the Best Bakeries in Metz

Boulangeries, patisseries, et fromageries, oh my! France is known for its amazing bakeries, cheeses, butchers, and markets and while studying in Metz all of these are a short walk (or bus ride) away. Join Kaitlyn and her friends as Georgia Tech-Lorraine’s Professor Dr. Vicki Birchfield shows them her favorite spots in Metz!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

*Disclaimer: Kaitlyn was not paid to endorse any of the businesses mentioned in this article, nor does Georgia Tech endorse any of these businesses.*

This past weekend, INTA professor Dr. Birchfield took a few of my friends and I downtown to check out some of her personal favorite bakeries, delis, and fromageries in Metz! 

Statue of Charles de Gaulle in Metz
Statue of Charles de Gaulle in Metz,
Photo by P.Gisselbrecht.

We first met at the train station, right underneath the newly constructed statue of Charles de Gaulle. Being an expert on all things EU, Dr. Birchfield regaled us with a brief history lesson on de Gaulle and his prominence in this area of France, specifically due to his history of being a colonel while posted in Metz. 

An image of pastries in a display case.
Le Moy Boulangerie, Metz

Across from the train station is Le Moy, a family owned shop specializing in chocolates and pastries. According to Dr. Birchfield, Le Moy has the best pain au chocolat in town, which is pretty high praise, considering we’re in France! My friends and I sampled the Paris-Metz, a cake that was created during a competition organized by the mayor to celebrate the opening of the TGV line from Metz to Paris. It’s a three-color macaron, filled with harlequin candy mousseline and raspberries. We all agreed that it was the most delicious pastry we had eaten in Metz. Le Moy is so close to the train station every Georgia Tech-Lorraine student should visit this exquisite shop, and try this classic Metz pastry.

An image of the Paris-Metz described above
The delectable Paris-Metz from Le Moy
An image of the exterior of Boulangerie Poulard.
One of the city’s most up and coming boulangeries.

Next up was Boulangerie Poulard, which was dubbed the “hottest new bakery in town”! This boulangerie has won several competitions for having the best croissants and baguettes in this region of France. In fact, it was a finalist in the competition for best bakery in France. The owner and chief baker, Seydou Diallo, has two shops: one on Rue du Grand Cerf, and one of Rue Perrat (just a block away from the train station). We picked up a classic, baguettes, from Boulangerie Poulard. It was pretty much everything a French baguette should be, so I can see why this bakery is one of the city’s favorites! Boulangerie Poulard is also a designated “Agriculture Biologique” boulangerie, meaning that it utilizes products from organic farming. This label  identifies a bakery as being respectful of the environment, animal welfare, and biodiversity. Boulangerie Poulard has award winning baguettes and environmental conscientiousness; what more can you ask for in a bakery?

An image of pastries in a display case at Boulangerie Poulard
Boulangerie Poulard, Metz
The exterior of Au Veau D'or
Au Veau D’or also known as Maison Heitzman

We took a shortcut through the city center to get to the other side of town, to a street called Rue du Grand Cerf. Dr. Birchfield informed us that this is “the best street for food shopping in Metz”. We first stopped by a deli, Au Veau D’or, also known as Maison Heitzman. They specialize in deli meats like sausages, but they also have charcuterie and roasted chicken for takeaway. They offer classic French cuisine in the form of a warm Plat du Jour for well under 10 euros.

an image of the rotisserie in the deli

 Directly next to Maison Heitzman is a small shop, Prime Primeurs, that sells the regional products of Lorraine. Here, you can purchase things like fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as French jams and beverages.

An image of the exterior of the prime primeurs store front
Prime Primeurs is a great place to get a true taste of this region of France.
An image of the exterior of Boulangerie Fort
Boulangerie Fort, Metz

Also along Rue du Grand Cerf is Dr. Birchfield’s second favorite patisserie, Boulangerie Fort (after Poulard). She recommends trying the pain tradition “la festive” and the quiche Lorraine from this bakery.

If you’re a cheese fan, you’re in luck. Also on this street (see how it’s living up to its reputation as the biggest street for food in Metz?) is La Fromagerie du Grand Cerf, a cheese shop run by a former pro footballer. He is passionate about sourcing his cheeses from smaller and more specialized producers. Not too far away, just off Place Saint Jacques is her other favorite fromagerie, Conrad, a very classic, family-run cheese shop with three locations in Metz that have been operating since 1920.

Our little food tour of Metz ended here, but it wasn’t the end of Dr. Birchfield’s recommendations. She suggests visiting the Marché de Saint Therese on a sunny Sunday. The market has stalls that sell warm meals (think roasted chicken, pizzas, calzones, and galettes), cheese, fruits, and vegetables. From there, on your way to the botanical garden, where you can enjoy your freshly prepared food at a picnic table, you can pick up baguettes and pastries from the fantastic L’Ecrin Gourmand.

Of course, this is nowhere near an exhaustive list of the amazing food options in Metz, but hopefully it inspires you to explore the iconic French cuisine that is practically in your backyard during your time at Georgia Tech-Lorraine!

Battle of the Dorms

Have you ever wondered what the residences at Georgia Tech-Lorraine are like? Well, here’s your chance to learn more! Read Kaitlyn’s latest blog post detailing the advantages of both dorms from a student’s perspective and get a glance at your future home away from home in Metz!

Friday, April 9, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

Lafayette or ALOES? Depending on the semester, you may be able to select your residence while at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. To help make your decision a little more informed, and give you some insight on where you’ll be living regardless of your choice; this post is about the differences between the two, so you can figure out which one suits your lifestyle better. As a resident of one of these dorms, I’m biased and inclined to believe that one is slightly better than the other *cough* Lafayette *cough*; but both residences are great and the decision of where to live is in your hands!

Location

There’s a few places you’ll find yourself visiting very frequently while in Metz. First, obviously, is the Georgia Tech-Lorraine building, where you’ll be spending most of your days during the week. Then there’s the two grocery stores, Cora and Auchan. Lastly, Georgia Tech-Lorraine students commonly frequent the nearby university cafeteria, CROUS, to take advantage of the student discount on meals.

Both the dorms are about a 10 minute walk away from campus, but ALOES is much closer to the large grocery store, Cora and CROUS. Lafayette is closer to the PAUL near the Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus and Auchan. ALOES also has a great view of the lake!

Dorm Room

ALOES can rooms differ greatly among themselves, but the standard is a bedroom with an attached private bathroom. You’re given a microwave and refrigerator, along with the standard bed, desk, chairs, closet, and shelves.

Lafayette rooms come with a bit more space and furniture: you’ll have a (admittedly tiny!) kitchen with a sink, cabinets, fridge, hot plates, and microwave. The main difference between the two dorms’ rooms is that Lafayette comes with a private kitchen, whereas you share a communal one in ALOES with anywhere between three to ten other students.

Laundry

Oh, the laundry situation… the bane of any Lafayette resident. Students have a lot of gripes with the washer and dryers here, mainly due to the fact that the dryers just don’t do their job of fully drying our clothes. Additionally, each wash cycle costs three Euros, and each drying cycle costs one Euro. At ALOES students are given two tokens a week, each one good for a wash cycle, and the dryers are free.

Wifi

Where Lafayette has its issues with the laundry, ALOES has its fair share of headaches with the wifi. In some rooms the connection is just simply unreliable, and goes in and out. Students in Lafayette have had the wifi cut out a couple times unexpectedly in Lafayette, but only for short periods of time.

Both dorms have advantages and are overall great places to live in Metz while at Georgia-Tech Lorraine. Hopefully this information will help you make a decision on where to make your home away from home while studying abroad!

Studying Abroad During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all aspects of daily life, and the experience of students studying abroad is not exempt from this. Read about Kaitlyn’s experiences with studying abroad this semester and how she feels it compares to a typical semester at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in her latest post.

Monday, March 29, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

For many of us studying at Georgia Tech-Lorraine this semester, our study abroad experience is, to put it lightly, much different than most of us originally imagined. Of course, I’m talking about the fact that there is a global pandemic taking place as we are studying in France. Things have been wildly different than a “normal” semester, but I believe I speak for all when I say that every student at Georgia Tech-Lorraine feels extremely fortunate just to be here during this time of crisis. 

For many of us, studying abroad has always been something we’ve wanted to do. It’s an integral part of our college experience, when we can learn to broaden our perspectives and expand our horizons. Thanks to the safety protocols and preventative measures taken by Georgia Tech-Lorraine, we’ve still been able to have that transformative experience while prioritizing the health of the community. 

What is different from a typical semester? 

  • When you throw a handful of young, ambitious college students into the heart of Europe, our natural instinct is to travel as far and wide as possible; however, COVID-19 has thrown a bit of a wrench into this plan. Travel restrictions and lockdowns in certain countries have limited our capabilities to check off every single country on our bucket lists. Since circumstances change rapidly, we’ve had to keep ourselves well-informed on the conditions in other countries. 
  • Fortunately, here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine we have access to free testing in France. One testing location is a short walk away from the dorms. It is quick, convenient, and free. We are encouraged to test as much as possible, and most of us do.
  • We are all doing our part to prevent the spread, and that means wearing a mask in all public spaces.
  • We have to set more realistic expectations for the semester. As much as we may want to travel to a multitude of countries, sometimes it simply is impossible. We are currently living through difficult circumstances where we cannot compare our experiences to previous students’, which took some time to get used to. It is a changed world and situations are constantly evolving around us.

Despite the challenges, there have been lots of positives!   

As an optimist, I couldn’t address the discrepancies of this semester without looking on the bright side.

  • We’re learning how to deal with unfamiliar situations, and how to be adaptable. There’s nothing like your plans for the upcoming weekend falling through because of a sudden lockdown. This entire experience has taught us how to be flexible and prepared for whatever the next week may throw at us.
  • Since certain countries are closed, we’re exploring more of our host country of France. The travel restrictions have made us stay close to Metz, and in some ways I am extremely grateful for that. We’ve ventured to many off-the-beaten-path destinations in France that have given us an authentic taste of the country’s culture. We’re seeing the less touristy and more real parts of France.
  • On a similar note, it’s not uncommon for us to be one of the very few tourists in a place normally teeming with sightseers. We can experience places like the iconic landmarks of Paris without the usual bustling crowds!

    This is a picture of a usually crowded street in Bellagio, Italy.
    It’s easy to photograph places when there’s no people! This is a picture of a usually crowded street in Bellagio, Italy.

In the end, the hallmarks of a study abroad experience are learning about a new culture, meeting new people, and dealing with unprecedented circumstances. We are very lucky to be crossing off all three of these items, even if they are not in the way we originally imagined!

If You Don’t Like to Cook…

… then this blog is for you! Read on as Kaitlyn details some of her favorite places to get food from at Georgia Tech-Lorraine when she doesn’t want to rely on her own culinary skills!

Friday, March 26, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

Like a good majority of college students our age, you are probably only just beginning to venture into the world of learning to cook for yourself. Luckily for us, we have an abundance of options of prepared meals here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine! Here’s a look at them; bon appétit!

CROUS Student Cafeteria

Thanks to our status as French university students, we have access to the student lunches at a neighboring college. For just one euro, we can pick from a menu that usually features warm sandwiches, pasta, and a chef’s meal of the day. For our sides, we are given fruit, salad, yogurt/compote, and a bottle of water. The panini poulet is always a popular choice with Georgia Tech-Lorraine students, but there’s plenty of vegetarian and vegan options too! The cafeteria is about a ten minute walk around the lake from the Georgia Tech-Lorraine building, so it’s a great option for a quick lunch between classes. 

PAUL and Aux Petits Choux

Another favorite with Georgia Tech-Lorraine students is the bakery chain, Paul. It’s an industrial bakery, meaning that it’s not an authentic French bakery, but that doesn’t stop it from tasting good. They specialize in breakfast goods, pastries, and sandwiches. Their prices are a little higher than most bakeries you’ll find in France, but you can’t beat the location, it’s about a three minute walk from the Lafayette dorms and on the way to Georgia Tech-Lorraine. If you’re looking for a slightly more affordable option, there’s another great bakery called Aux Petits Choux down the road from PAUL. It has a smaller selection, but they bake everything fresh daily! 

French Fast Food

Because of the local preventative measures for the pandemic, for example the curfew and restaurant closures, we’ve all become good friends with food delivery apps like UberEats and Deliveroo. Metz’s abundance of restaurants — Metz is the third highest French city in terms of the number of fast food restaurants per inhabitant — makes it really easy to order delivery! Some Georgia Tech-Lorraine students’ favorites are Burger Kebab (sandwich kebab shop) and O’Tacos (French tacos chain). 

Auchan & Cora

Of course, you can always buy premade meals from the grocery stores. There’s Cora, the superstore, but also the smaller, more traditional Auchan. While Cora has a wider selection, I and others have found ourselves going to Auchan more often for our weekly groceries. It’s closer to the Lafayette dorms, and set up more like an American grocery store. 

A Tour of the Campus

Even though this semester may look different in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgia Tech-Lorraine building serves as a home base for the students during the week! Take an inside look at the campus with Kaitlyn in her latest blog!

Friday, March 19, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

*With the current COVID-19 pandemic, the photos taken in this blog post reflect the way campus is set up to accommodate social distancing, so the campus may look a bit different from usual!*

Welcome to a small oasis of familiarity in the middle of Europe: the Georgia Tech-Lorraine building. 

The GTL Building from the front

The campus is a single building, but comes with everything you’d expect to find on campus in Atlanta. It’s comprised of four floors, six classrooms, two study spaces, and one very popular ping pong table. 

The first and second floors are home to the student lounge, staff offices, nurse’s office, computer room, and laboratories. Above that are the classrooms, which are great for a small stair-climbing workout session if you’re running late and your classroom is on the top floor… I speak from experience. Since Georgia Tech-Lorraine classes are relatively small compared to Atlanta ones, the classrooms are small and fit about 30 students. 

Each level of the building has a similar setup: the staircase and elevator take you out to a small seating area with a bulletin board showing information for things like emergency exits, class schedules, and upcoming Bureau des Étudiants (the BDE, Georgia Tech-Lorraine’s student government) sponsored events. 

Need a place to meet up with your group to discuss a project? Or do you have a train ticket you need to print out? Better yet, want to let off some steam by playing a quick game of ping pong or pool? Head on over to the Georgia Tech-Lorraine student lounge. It’s well stocked with computers, printers, stationery, and coffee you can purchase from a vending machine.

 If you’re the type of student that stays on task best when surrounded by others also doing work, the student lounge is an ideal study spot for you. If not, there are quieter areas in the building open to students; all classrooms are open after classes for the day have wrapped up.

For those without access to computers, or for those who just prefer to use a monitor rather than their laptops, we have a dedicated computer lab on the second floor. 

Lastly, outside the back of the building there is a large parking area where you can sometimes find food trucks, usually organized by the BDE. It’s worth noting that the entire campus is gated, has a security guard present, and only accessible with an ID; the location is incredibly safe. 

Despite this semester being a bit different, the Georgia Tech-Lorraine building is a fantastic place to study and hang out with fellow students!

picture of the back parking lot with a bike