How Am I Doing at GTL? (Mental Health)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 | Written by Claire

At Georgia Tech, it is no surprise that mental health is a big topic among students facing stressful situations at university. Just like any other college, students are often met with heavy workloads, difficult courses, and little social time outside of classes. At GTL, it is a different type of challenge.

As a GTL student myself, I’ve had a smooth run the first few months of living in France. Besides the lack of usual Asian food that I eat, life has been good. My classes were going well; I was managing my workload while traveling extensively; I was having a lot of fun as a happy and healthy student. It wasn’t until late March when I began experiencing some health hiccups here and there. I had and am still going through a bad eczema flare up on my face after being prescribed a steroid cream for a previous rash by a French doctor. After using it, the rash spread across my face and currently, I’m still doing everything I can to keep it at bay. Then, after it had healed for a day, I got COVID. From there I was stuck in isolation for a week and the rash came back full force and still hasn’t subsided. This period has been very difficult for me. I had to skip out on so many social events just to stay stuck in my small dorm room. Right when I thought I was healed and ready to go for my long weekend vacation in Italy, I had to stay in COVID isolation for a week. It was truly very frustrating to deal with day after day and today almost marks one month of this struggle. Slowly but steadily, I am beginning my recovery.

GTL, however, has been excellent in reciprocating my needs. For all prospective students, the GTL urgent phone line is staffed 24/7 by GTL staff members who care about your health and wellbeing. They are willing to talk to you about your wants and needs whenever it is. I’ve heard about students calling for emergencies or even slight inconveniences, but for me GTL Urgent staff have been angels. When I had COVID, one of the staff members even drove me to the hospital personally so I could get treatment for my flare ups. They spent hours upon hours waiting with me at the hospital despite the massive line of patients. They even helped translate what I needed to say to the doctor in French and helped me get my prescription medicine during rush hour. With Easter right around the corner, many places were going to be closed for the long weekend, and they made sure I was able to get my treatment before that time. Other than that, during isolation, they also arranged a food delivery service that would drop fresh groceries from Cora right at my door.

Other than the GTL Urgent phone, GTL is also staffed with a school nurse, admins around the clock and professors who prioritize your health and needs. Thus, I am happy to say that no student will ever be alone if they are in need and are at GTL. They can arrange emergency services whether you are in Metz or abroad, and I am so thankful for that. 

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!

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!

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!

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

Un Sac, S’il Vous Plaît & More First Moments in Metz

Join Kaitlyn as she details her first few days of living in Metz and the insights she’s gained from her new experiences.

Friday, January 22, 2020 | Written by Kaitlyn

Hello, all! As I sit at my desk in my dorm room, I believe I’m just starting to take in the fact that I’m in France, about as far away from home as I could be. Gone are the days of enjoying the comfort and security of home cooked meals and only ever leaving my house to walk my dog around the neighborhood (thanks, pandemic!). In their place are days full of adventurous attempts at cooking for myself and thrilling strolls around Metz and all it has to offer. It’s certainly a pretty intense shift from the past nine months of small-town America, but I know I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I feel so fortunate to be embarking on this journey. 

Flying into Paris with the moon overhead.

In the past ten days, I’ve learned so much about the French lifestyle, met so many incredible people, and seen so many beautiful sights, that it is all a bit overwhelming – but, I think that I can summarize my experience so far into a few key learning experiences and observations. Let’s jump right into it.

French customs agents? Anything but intimidating. When packing for this trip, one of the most important things we needed to bring was a plethora of documents. Documents showing proof of residence, negative COVID-19 test results, visas, insurance – you name it, we needed it. However, when we stumbled off the plane upon landing at Charles De Gaulle, and lined up to go through customs, we had a much easier process than expected. Maybe it’s because we are innocuous American college students? Either way, I was more than happy for the straightforward procedure.

Me, when I realized that I would actually need to speak French to get by while living in France.

Come physically and mentally prepared to Cora. After arriving at our dorms, a group of us decided to head to Cora, or as I choose to call it, French Super Walmart. When I and a couple others went to go check out, we realized that unlike most places in America, there were no grocery bags available; all the locals we saw around us had brought their own. Upon seeing this, I’ll admit I started to get a little nervous. How was I going to ask for a bag from the cashier? There wasn’t enough time to frantically Google “How to ask for a bag in French,” so I stuffed my newly purchased goods into my backpack (tragically crushing my chocolate croissants in the process), and resigned to hugging my bundle of paper towels against my chest on the walk back. My goal for my next trip to Cora will be to ask the cashier, “Je peux avoir un sac, s’il vous plaît?”

GTL couldn’t have been put in a better location. On Saturday we were given a tour of downtown Metz. I was instantly enchanted by the cobblestone streets lined with bakeries and shops, the cheerfully yellow buildings, and the general infectious liveliness of the city. We stopped at the most notable areas and buildings, then were left on our own to wander around. My group and I headed toward the Moselle river. We were greeted with a breathtaking view of Temple Neuf, lit up with its reflection shining in the water, and the cathedral glowing warmly in the distance.

Colors dancing on the walls of the cathedral.

The next day, we headed back downtown. It was a bit of a struggle catching a bus – we were about ten feet from making it to the bus stop when the bus we intended to hop onto blew right by us and the bus stop, not even slowing down for just a second. However, I am happy to report that we did eventually catch a bus and arrive downtown. We walked around the quiet streets (most places are closed on Sundays), taking in the sights with no specific direction in mind. A few of my favorite things I saw included: the Cathedral of Saint Stephen, where the sunlight shined vibrantly through the stained glass, a pair of ambitious swans looking for food along the river, and last but certainly not least, a delicious crepe that I consumed within seconds. 

Make the most of our time here. As a very wise person once said: “YOLO”. I like to think that this applies to studying abroad. Even just after a few days of living in a new country, I’ve had so much fun from figuring things out, experiencing French culture, and exploring Metz. Though it may be slightly more difficult to abide by this saying with certain restrictions in place such as a curfew, I like to think that there’s still so much at our fingertips while here in the heart of Europe. I’m very excited to see what’s coming up in these next four months, and I can’t wait to continue documenting it all here on the blog.

From College At Home to Studying Abroad!

A new semester brings a new Georgia Tech-Lorraine blogger! Meet Kaitlyn, the GTL blogger for this spring as she introduces herself and her anticipation to study abroad in Metz!

Friday, January 5, 2020 | Written by Kaitlyn

Bonjour à tous!

According to Google Translate, that means “hello everyone!” en Français. Unfortunately, my only experience with the French language is half a year of classes… from middle school. The irony in the fact I chose to study Spanish for four years, but am studying abroad in France, is not lost on me.

Anyways, hello! My name is Kaitlyn. I’m a second-year industrial engineering major, who like most of the other students enrolled at Georgia Tech-Lorriane this semester, has been looking forward to this opportunity for as long as I can remember. Since my older sister studied abroad in Italy two years ago, I’ve been dead set on studying abroad as well. When I was searching for colleges to apply to for my undergraduate degree, an outstanding study abroad program was a must. Luckily for me, Georgia Tech has exactly that.

Under normal circumstances, this upcoming semester would be remarkable. I feel that this year, with unusual circumstances, is going to be, although quite different, especially remarkable. This past semester, I chose to stay home and take my classes remotely. While I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the comforts of the at-home life (where I can attend classes in my pajamas), it has overall been… interesting. Plus, being at home all of the time has just made me that much more excited to have the opportunity to get out there and travel this semester.

Me and the classic French baguette, age 11.

When I was younger, my thoughts on France were very stereotypical; i.e, believing Paris was the only city and thinking that all France had to offer was baguettes and berets. This line of thinking was also perpetuated by an actual visit to Paris that my family took when I was 11 years old.

Being so young, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the places my parents took me to, and instead fixated on simple things like seeing pretty buildings and eating good food (not to say that I won’t still appreciate those things when I go there this time).

Wearing a Paris sweatshirt in Paris. Who could have possibly spotted me as a tourist?

 

This time around, I am looking forward to discovering the places in France 11-year-old me didn’t know existed, particularly Metz. While I’m sure I will still be drawn to the “touristy” places, I am excited to spend my four months in Metz exploring and seeing all that the small city has to offer. I am a firm believer in taking the road less traveled, and I plan on implementing that belief during my time abroad.

Whether it be through making new friends, exploring an unknown city thousands of miles away from home, or attempting to communicate with locals, I am beyond excited to use this time to further my global perspective. I will be far away from the comforts of home, and it is only given that I will experience personal growth and make progress on discovering my niche in the world. It’s amazing to think that soon I’ll be somewhere so different from home. Until then, don’t worry — I’ll be practicing my French.

A Week of Attending Affairs Around Metz

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2020 | Written by Kaela

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

City Hall with the Mayor 

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

building
The town hall building in Metz

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

National Orchestra of Metz Rehearsal

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

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

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