On May 13th, 22 GT students began the Nunn School’s EU Study Abroad Program in Metz, France where we are based for the first month. Professor Birchfield, who directs the program, is in residence at the GTL campus, so students have all the resources, classrooms and dorms that GT’s European campus has to offer. I attended the program in 2017 as an undergraduate student the first year that the program was in Metz. Now, I am very excited to be attending as the Graduate Program Assistant. The program is designed to provide students with an in-depth and highly interactive introduction to the European Union, human rights and security issues in Europe, and EU-US relations. As a region heavily involved in the Franco-Prussian War (or The War of 1870), World War I, and World War II, there is no better place to begin learning about all these topics than Metz!
Once we were settled in, we started the study abroad with a historical walking tour of Metz. My favorite place to visit in the city is the Metz Cathedral. During the wars in Metz, the stained glass windows were covered in order to preserve them; however, some of them were destroyed regardless. To replace them, the city chose to get new windows made by modern artists. As a result, the cathedral has a wonderful mixture of very classical stained glass windows and more abstract ones. Knowing the history of why that is makes it all the more interesting.
The next day, we all attended the official GTL orientation before beginning our first day of class. One of the professors at GTL went over some cultural experiences that GTL makes available to Georgia Tech students, including a free concert in the cathedral, weekly drawing classes, and a trip to a local farm to pick fruits, vegetables, and flowers. After orientation was through, we held a brief class to discuss more of the historical significance of the Lorraine region in the initial forming of the European Community (which later became the EU). That night, GTL invited all students to go on a bus tour of the city where we got a chance to see areas that we had not been able to on the walking tour, such as the German Quarter that was built when the Germans occupied Metz in the period between the War of 1870 and World War I.
The following days were full of classes. To understand the formation and transformation of the European Union and its institutions, it is important to first learn about the “founding fathers of the EU”, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and the treaties that followed it. I am in the fortunate position of getting a refresher of this history in class, as this is my second time on the program. My experience on the program in 2017 influenced me to focus on the Western European region in much of my subsequent research, so it is exciting to be back with much more knowledge than I had in 2017 on the significance of the EU.
Friday night, we went to the FC Metz game- the last home game of the season for Metz’s soccer team. This was the first international sporting event that I have attended, and a great way to end the first week of class!
On Saturday, the EU Program and other students taking the GTL 2000 class went to Trier, Germany- the oldest town in Germany. We had both a walking and bus tour, which allowed us to see many of the Roman ruins still scattered around the town. Two of my favorite sites on this trip were an old coliseum and Constantine’s throne room. The throne room was massive. According to the tour guide, those that entered the throne room could never turn their backs on Constantine, so they had to walk from the back of the room to the door backwards. The throne room has now been converted to a church for the people of Trier.
Finally, on Sunday, we went to the Centre Pompidou in Metz. It is very nice that Metz is the home to the only sister museum to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. As students on the program, we are given free entry to the museum, which has rotating modern art exhibits to explore. Currently there are two exhibits on display: Lee Ufan’s Inhabiting Time and The Adventure of Colour. My favorite was The Adventure of Colour; below are photos of two of my favorite pieces from the exhibit
Next week we will have class, a trip to Gravelotte, and a trip to Strasbourg to look forward to!