Being a third-year at GTL doesn’t offer many choices for classes. With three semesters left in college, I literally only had 5 classes I could possibly take here, and I needed to take them all. Of those, one is INTA 2221, Politics of the European Union, a class with 2 field trips on the first two weekends of school. Annoyed that I couldn’t travel on my own, and having “FOMO” that everyone else got to travel, I was dragged out to Trier, Germany. The first field trip surpassed my expectations. I didn’t really expect to be engaged with anything from the itinerary. Touring an old Roman bathhouse? Old brick walls and some arches. A basilica? A big barn. Staying in Metz? Boring and nothing new. Also, why did everyone else get to travel except for us? I didn’t have big expectations for the first field trip, yet it actually turned out to be pretty beneficial.
The first day of the trip Graham and I waddled to the GTL academic building at 8 am. Still a little jetlagged and tired from staying up late, this walk absolutely sucked. We made it at 8:01 and got some scolding… oops. We got on a bus and traveled to Trier, Germany, a small German city that most people haven’t even heard of. We had a short city tour on our bus and then a walking tour through a basilica, old Roman bathhouse, and the streets of Trier. At the bottom of this post is a gallery of photos I took of the trip. The first group of pictures my favorite/featured, which I edited and color corrected, and the second gallery is the raw images from the trip. Last fall, I took a humanities class titled History of Architecture. I took it because I wanted to get an understanding and appreciation for European architecture and the influences so that I would have the appreciation when I got here. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you much about architecture besides what a column and a flying buttress are, but it definitely worked out how I wanted it to. The basilica we visited was absolutely ginormous. Pictures studied in that class just don’t do the architecture justice. It was so big it was almost claustrophobic. It was beautiful.
Once the tour was done, we immediately went to get food. We got bratwursts (with mustard of course) on these tiny rolls that didn’t match the shape or length of the brat, but it was incredible. It was only 2 euro and I would have paid 10, no doubt.
Graham and I ventured out from the group. I bought a postcard and a scarf (when in Europe, right?). We wandered into a pub on a side street, and it was the most cliche study abroad experience I could have imagined. This tiny pub featured 8 old men sitting around a wrap-around bar smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, and what sounded like screaming at each other. I felt like they all stopped and turned at us as soon as we walked in. We definitely did not blend, but oh well. We sat down and hung out for a while before we had to get back on the bus. I just observed all of the interactions in front of us. That’s been my favorite part of the study abroad so far, not just the fun activities and sightseeing, but observing the day to day life of people from all of these different places. It really gives a new perspective, that not only are you nothing special, but that there are so many different ways of life and yet they are all almost exactly alike. You can walk into a bar on any Saturday in the US and find a bunch of people drinking beer, there are just a few subtle differences that make the whole difference; language, smoking inside, and etiquette just to name a few. If a few non-regulars walked into that US bar they would have felt that same way that Graham and I felt, like we stuck out as if we were wearing signs that said, “look at us we don’t belong here.” Anyway, we headed back to the bus and drove home.
Later we visited the Pompidou Center in Metz, a modern art museum downtown. I particularly enjoyed a featured exhibit by Rebecca Horn, a late artist whose art was very difficult to read. She had a variety of content, from fashion, to film, to four doors in a room with a needle on a motor in the middle just barely touching each one. I really could not explain her art to you, except that it hit the small part of your brain that lights up when you peel the plastic off of a new electronic, or when you pop bubble wrap. It’s just satisfying in the most primitive and rudimentary form. My favorite piece was a blue pool with a spotlight on it. Every fifteen seconds or so a wire would come down and tap the water, sending ripples through the small circular dish and reflecting those ripples on the wall. It was so simple yet very pleasing. I took a live photo of it and it’s currently my screensaver on my phone.
The rest of the trip was mainly exploring Metz, with the class, and on the days without the class we would venture into the city anyway. At this point I’ve realized most cities work the same way, and it really just takes a few rides on a metro to really figure it out. Google translate helps you talk to locals, Moovit helps you get around, and a camera helps you capture the immense amount of aesthetic content that a European city has to offer. I feel that most people that come to GTL forget that we’re located in a city, and they never get the opportunity to really enjoy Metz since they’re traveling to some other European city each weekend. However, these first two weekends staying in Metz really made me appreciate the city, and gave me the small-town feel that I needed to feel like Metz is a home base for me to come home and enjoy throughout the week, in between my travels. Lastly, Metz is pronounced “Mess”.