GTE Weekend Travel

FYSA Georgia Tech-Europe

Weekend Travel

Weekend travel is an integral part of the GTE First-year Semester Abroad experience. Students will spend their first seven weeks close to home with weekend activities and excursions led by program staff and the faculty director. Excursions will showcase the historical importance and cultural significance of Metz and the surrounding area in France, Germany, and Luxembourg. By the second half of the semester, students will be well-prepared and ready to explore Europe with weekend trips on their own with fellow students.


France is divided into regions, and Metz is in the Grand Est region. This is the only region in France to share a border with four countries – Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland!

Fall Break Excursions

Build independence and travel skills in small-group travel over the break to your choice of three exciting destinations. Follow the FYSA@GTE Program Director and other key Georgia Tech faculty to Brussels, Berlin, or Nice. 

After the break, you’ll be ready to embark on weekend travel on your own with small groups of fellow students. Will you go hiking in Interlaken, Switzerland, or sample France’s finest cuisine in Lyon? It’s up to you!

Brussels, Belgium

Getting to Know the European Union

Join Faculty Director, Professor Vicki Birchfield, as you learn about the European Union through highly interactive visits to key EU institutions such as the European Parliament—the world’s only directly elected transnational legislature; the Commission—the EU’s executive branch; and engage in dialogue with representatives at the Council of the EU. Examine transatlantic relations through policy briefings at NATO headquarters and the US Mission to the EU. Round out the week in Brussels with a day trip to the charming Flemish cities of Bruges and Ghent. You’ll be housed with local families, guaranteeing that you will be fully immersed in the culture.

Berlin, Germany

Entrepreneurship and Start-Up Culture: The German Approach

Visit Berlin, in the company of Professor Henry Owen, from Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Get a feel for Berlin’s startup culture and visit sites such as the Reichstag and the Berlin Wall Memorial.

Nice, France

Art and the European Avant-Garde

Follow Assistant Director, Lizzy LeRud, to Nice, France. With its lush Mediterranean vistas and vibrant Provençal culture, the Côte d’Azur has long inspired artists and creative thinkers, and Nice remains its hub. Walk in the footsteps of painters like Picasso, Renoir, Matisse, Chagall, and Beauford Delaney; writers like Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Claude McKay, Julia Child, and James Baldwin; and filmmaker Jean Cocteau.

Weekend Travel Highlights

Learn about the Grand Est

French regions, such as the Grand Est, are divided into Departments, and Metz is in the Moselle Department. Metz is the Department’s capital and is also one of France’s oldest cities.

World War I & II History

Learn about the region’s place in World War I & II history. Pay homage to fallen soldiers at the largest American World War II cemetery in Europe.

Enjoy a weekend in Paris

Spend a long weekend in Paris looking at French identity from several different angles while discovering the City of Light.

Explore historic Metz

Start with an inquiry into Metz’ Gallo-Roman heritage. Follow the trail of the mythical Graoully. Travel to nearby Trier, Germany, with its well-preserved Roman-era structures.

Get fresh air in The Vosges

End the first half of the semester with an invigorating hike in The Vosges, a mountainous region in Eastern France, near where Joan of Arc was born.

Get to know the locals

Have dinner with a French family in Metz. Participate in sports with local students. People watch in sidewalk cafés.

Discover beautiful towns

Visit some of the most beautiful towns in the region, such as Colmar, said to be the inspiration for Belle’s village in “Beauty and the Beast.” Try an Alsatian Flammekueche in Strasbourg.

See World Heritage sites

Tour UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Luxembourg and Germany and wander the streets of Nancy in search of Art Nouveau architecture.

European Union of today

Pay a posthumous visit to Robert Schuman, one of the key architects of postwar European integration. Visit his home/museum near Metz.