Metz, France – While heavy snowfall and below-freezing temperatures kept students away from Georgia Institute of Technology‘s main campus in Atlanta on Jan. 10, some 80 undergraduates were getting a warm reception as they arrived at the university’s campus in Metz, France.
Metz is the capital of France’s Lorraine region, which borders Germany and the Benelux countries. Lorraine’s degree of latitude is farther north than that of Maine, the northernmost state in the U.S.
The weather has been colder than usual this winter in Metz and in December the city had problems coping with unusually large amounts of snowfall.
By the time students arrived to begin the spring semester, though, temperatures in Metz had warmed and snow had begun to melt. Unexpectedly, Tech’s home campus in Atlanta had more snow and ice on the ground, thanks to a storm that rolled in Sunday night blanketed parts of the American Southeast with up to 13 inches of snow.
Students arriving in Metz, who mostly hailed from Atlanta, were greeted Jan. 10 by Yves Berthelot, president of the French campus.
Georgia Tech Lorraine celebrated its 20-year anniversary last year. The campus’s growth has tracked the region’s economic transformation over the past two decades. Traditionally reliant on its steel, coal and chemical industries, Lorraine’s economy now boasts important automotive, building materials, electronics and logistics sectors.
The region also has several universities and major research centers.
Georgia Tech Lorraine opened in 1990 with only five students. Now 500 students from all over the world come every year for at least one semester.Both graduate and undergraduate courses are offered in mechanical and electrical engineering and information technology.
Dr. Berthelot encouraged the students to make the most of their upcoming cross-cultural experience this semester, which lasts from January to May.
He said that companies would value their international experience and consider it a positive “differentiator” when evaluating their resumes. Aside from imparting important global skills, he said that their experience would build character.
To underscore the point, he cited a famous Mark Twain quotation:”Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness … Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one corner of the earth for all one’s life.”
Dr. Berthelot and other staff members stressed the importance of developing a global mindset not just to become more competitive in the job market, but also to be better prepared to provide innovative solutions to global problems of the 21st century.
Phil Bolton is currently traveling in France on a reporting trip for GlobalAtlanta.