aerial shot of georgia tech lorraine campus

Beginning Summer 2021, up to 50 incoming summer first-year students at Georgia Tech will have the opportunity to spend their first fall semester abroad at Georgia Tech-Lorraine.

The First-Year Fall Abroad (FYFA) program leverages Georgia Tech’s European campus in Metz, France, to provide a high-quality experiential learning opportunity for incoming first-year students who wish to internationalize their college career. The program will be led by Professor in the School of International Affairs and Co-Director for the Center for European and Transatlantic Studies Vicki Birchfield, who is in residence at Georgia Tech-Lorraine and has extensive experience leading study abroad programs in Europe.

"This is an exciting new program that is designed for our first-year students who want to get an early start on their global experiences at Georgia Tech," said Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Steven P. Girardot, one of the administrators who helped initiate the program. "Students will begin on our Atlanta campus as part of the iGniTe Summer Launch Program, where they will take classes, transition to college life, and prepare for their international adventure. In the fall, they will travel to our campus in France, Georgia Tech-Loraine, where they will live together, take Georgia Tech courses taught by our faculty (in English), and explore France and Europe."

Students will explore the concepts of globalization, intercultural sensitivity, and global citizenship as they prepare to embark on their study abroad experience in Europe and the immediate internationalization of their college career. The track also includes an orientation and introduction to France and the European Union, since this will be their "home away from home" during the fall semester.

Why would students choose to spend their first year abroad instead of pursuing the more traditional route? As part of FYFA, students receive increased attention from faculty while taking courses that incorporate local academic, historical, and cultural resources into the foundation of student learning. A 10-year study conducted by the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative found that students who venture abroad received a more conceptual learning experience. It also found that students who studied abroad were more likely to graduate within four years (49.6%) compared to students in the control group (42.1%). Study abroad students were also more likely to see an increase in GPA.  

In addition to the academic benefits, students have the opportunity to explore new cities, cultures, and traditions. FYFA students will spend their first seven weeks participating in weekend activities and excursions around Metz and the surrounding areas in France, Germany, and Luxembourg. During Fall Break, students will travel in small groups, led by the program director and other participating faculty, to one of several possible destinations, such as Brussels, Berlin, or Barcelona. 

"Opening up the Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus to a select cohort of first-year students is an exciting, one-of-a-kind opportunity that allows newly admitted students to internationalize their college experience from the very outset," said Birchfield. "As a veteran study abroad director, I can attest to the difference it makes in a student’s intellectual and personal growth to have an international experience early in the college years. Not only do students gain global perspectives and enhance their knowledge of the wider world, inevitably, they learn more about themselves in a way that prepares them to better succeed throughout the remainder of their college career." 

Students who want to be considered for FYFA must complete an application for the program after they have been admitted to Georgia Tech. (Full program details/requirements can be found here.)

“Tech attracts students who want to build a network, expand their perspective, and understand global issues,” said Rick Clark, director of Undergraduate Admission. “This program accomplishes all of those goals and immediately sets them up for success and additional academic and employment opportunities. I expect this program will become one of Tech’s signature offerings in the future.”

About Georgia Tech-Lorraine:

Georgia Tech-Lorraine was established in 1990 in Metz, France. The campus is located in the heart of Europe in the Grand Est region, which shares borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany, and is less than 90 minutes from Paris by high-speed train. The highly innovative Lorraine campus offers programs that create synergies between academics, research, and innovation.