Broadening horizons while studying abroad

Students attending GT Lorraine have been able to travel to several countries in Europe with more and more COVID-19 restrictions lifting. Cities students have visited include Brussels, Belgium and Lyon, France. // Photo courtesy of Surbhi Bhatter

This time last year, students were unable to go abroad, colleges had to cancel their study abroad programs and the entire world had shut down most forms of travel. Fast forward to this summer: Tech has been able to successfully reopen their GT Lorraine program, and many excited Tech students signed up to experience what many say is an experience of a lifetime.

Thankfully, due to the travel safety measures, students are able to safely travel abroad and take classes while exploring the countries they are located in.

The GT Lorraine (GTL) study abroad’s campus base is in Metz, France, and students have been having a blast.

From seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, to visiting Belgium on the weekend — students are able to have fun and enjoy their time while also taking courses and getting ahead in their studies.

The Technique talked to a few students who are studying abroad right now and absolutely enjoying their time. Let’s take a look at the great experiences they have been having thus far.

Second-year BA MK Schmersal originally hoped to study abroad through the Oxford Program since it had more major related courses to take, but it was cancelled.

“GTL seemed like the next best option,” Schmersal said. “GTL was the best option because I knew it was going to happen with Covid. Also, I really liked that it was in France — how can you not love croissants and cheese! Also, Metz is really nice because it’s close to so many other countries and provides easy train travel.”

Schmersal also discussed what she is most excited for during her time abroad this summer.

“I was definitely the most excited about food,” Schmersal said. “I am a huge foodie and love trying new foods. I can say that the food I have eaten here just within the first few weeks has been amazing. I am going to Italy in July to see my parents and am awaiting the pasta.”

Schmersal also spoke on what she was most nervous about prior to traveling to Lorraine for the summer.

“As far as nerves go, I wasn’t that nervous as I traveled abroad to Australia in high school,” Schmersal said.

“I will for sure miss my parents and America, especially being in the States for the Fourth of July, but I am super excited to be in Europe!”

Almoney commented on the academic aspects of study abroad.

“The classes at GTL are more compact because we have less class time to learn the material,” second-year ISYE Grace Almoney said, “but the professors understand that we also want to travel around Europe while we are here, so the workload isn’t as heavy.”

Almoney emphasized the importance of being open to trying new things and exploring the rich culture you are surrounded by when you study abroad.

“The biggest piece of advice I would give another student who wants to study abroad is to keep an open mind,” Almoney said. “You will make so many amazing new friends and have so many different experiences, and if you keep an open mind about it all, it will make the whole trip 100x better.”

Third-year ISYE Matt Warrington emphasized his favorite part about being abroad is that he can fully immerse himself in the French culture and practice the language.

Being abroad he can also easily travel to nearby countries and even plans to cross off some items on his bucket list.

“So far my favorite part about studying abroad is that it allows me to practice my French! I’ve been able to converse with shop owners and waiters, and it makes me feel like I’m more than just a tourist in France,” Warrington said.

“My top place on my bucket list is Zermatt, Switzerland, home to the famous Matterhorn in the Alps! It’s such a beautiful area, and I plan to do lots of hiking there later in the summer.”

Warrington has been able to successfully avoid any tourist traps, but the lack of seating at restaurants due to COVID-19 restrictions has been a bit of a struggle.

“Surprisingly, I haven’t done very many touristy things here!” Warrington said. “However, in many cities, it is hard to find a table outside at restaurants, so in Lyon my travel group came very close to stopping at a McDonalds!”

Third-year BA Surbhi Bhatter discussed her experience during study abroad thus far and how traveling to other countries has allowed her experience to be heightened through seeing other cultures.

“It’s been incredible! GTL is go, go go … you travel on the weekends and study on the weekdays. But I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Bhatter said. “My favorite parts have been traveling with new Georgia Tech friends and witnessing different cultures all over Europe. I cannot recommend studying abroad at least once enough!”

She shared how COVID-19 restrictions have played into her experience studying abroad as well. Everything is slowly opening back up in Europe, and she shared on what it has felt like so far.

“It’s been different, but we are definitely a lucky bunch,” Bhatter said. “As soon as we got to Europe, things started opening up such as restaurants and museums. I still think we are getting the full study abroad experience, just with masks on! COVID restrictions are definitely taking longer to ease up here than in the States. We are just now getting around to eating indoors and traveling across most borders. But on the bright side, we are all getting to explore Europe without tourist traffic and see a lot more locals.”