What you see is what you get
When I first got to Metz, I felt like a walrus stuck on an iceberg, all alone.
Here's some information on how to survive the first few days.
Here's a great web site put together by one of the students on survival in Metz. It's quite good and thorough, though from the student perspective.
Iím going to assume you have never lived for a period of time on the continent, even though you may have visited many times. My experience in Barcelona taught me that things are quite different when living somewhere than when you just visit. I would like to note, that when we have visited places for extended periods (for us Barcelona in 2003 and Metz in 2005) we live there as if we were at home and donít treat our visits like an extended vacation. If you choose to treat your visit like an extended vacation, enjoy it, and most of the things I have to say will be irrelevant.
GTL is obviously different than GT. How is it different?
ē Itís small. You get to know all of the staff, your fellow colleagues from ECE and ME, the students, and even the people who clean the building. It is a mini-university that has the atmosphere of a university and the collegiality of a bunch of folks having fun and enjoying a small-scale environment.
ē The staff of GTL and the few permanent faculty (at last count 3) are the only permanent part of GTL. It is primarily the nomadic instructors from Atlanta that populate the place. Almost every semester there are returning faculty. That says something about GTL, but also makes the newcomerís experience easier. Those people make your time in Metz much easier. Our neighbors, Steve McLaughlin and his wife, Mary Fisher and John and Anise Barry constantly offered help, assistance and what, where, when and how. Peter and Alice Rogers likewise offered much help, but they werenít right next door.
ē GTL is a French University and an American University. That means it answers to two masters, but it is not just a Georgia Tech campus in France.
ē French is the language in Metz. To date, my French is at the level of a slug. If you gain or have French skills your life is much easier. Rest assured the issue is not the typically thought of French arrogance. They are just as uncomfortable speaking English as you are speaking French. If everyone makes an effort, you find the French are open and warm to their American visitors. A little French, a little English, wave your hands, make faces, and dance around and everyone is happy. If you are an ugly American, they can get ugly as well.
Your first days in Metz
have a tendency to be the hardest because you know almost nothing, if you are like us, your French is not quite right, you are tired from the trip, and this place looks like a foreign country. Welcome to Metz. Itís in France, and last time I checked it is a foreign county. Relax, it is a wonderful place to be. The rest of this blog contains my experiences and survival tactics. One important thing to remember is the GTL infrastructure that is in place to help students and faculty. So, even though you wonít need it in your first few days, youíll come to depend on it.