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Student Post: Bonjour, Paris!

Rachael Cuthbertson is a senior from Port Huron, Michigan, majoring in Chemical Engineering. Her co-op placement is with Durr Systems Inc. Rachael is participating in study abroad this term in Germany and will send periodic updates about her experiences. If you’d like to write a guest blog post, email phayes(at)kettering(dot)edu. 

By Rachael Cuthbertson

November 19, 2014: I have quite a bit to do at work this week, which is helping pass the time a lot! They must have had leftovers of the turkey kebab from yesterday’s lunch because there was a little bit more today! I had to get it because it is just so good :) I also had steamed carrots, salad, pasta with parmesan cheese and pesto sauce and half of a chocolate pudding. The reason I only had half was because an alarm went off in the middle of my dessert. I guess there was a fire so we had to evacuate the building. There were fire trucks coming from every direction and there was so much smoke when we got outside. I haven’t heard what exactly happened though. We had to do some set up this afternoon for the testing we are doing  tomorrow. I finally had internet today when I got home. It must depend on who is staying in the apartments below me. If the current residents use the wifi a lot, I don’t have wifi. But if they don’t use it, then I do.

November 20, 2014: Well I was supposed to have testing today. We ran into several problems though so we didn’t get to the testing. We are continuing tomorrow though. For lunch I had chicken with gravy, steamed vegetables, salad and tater tots. Nothing too special but man it has been so long since I had tater tots, they tasted so good :) One of my coworkers and I ended up walking home at the same time today. He is easy to talk to because he also started as an intern at Durr, so it's cool to be able to compare experiences.

Scenes from Rachael Cuthbertson's experience in the study abroad program.

November 21, 2014: Well I had to be to work early today! We still didn’t do any testing since we were still troubleshooting yesterday’s problems. I think we finally got it figured out though so we are planning to do the testing on Monday. For lunch I had that burrito thing I had a couple weeks ago. It turns out it is a beef chili wrap! It was so filling though. For dessert I had “kaiserschmarrn.” It was basically a shredded pancake with raisins, served with cinnamon sugar and a plum sauce. I didn’t really care for the plum sauce but the rest was really good!

November 22, 2014: I was up bright and early this morning to catch my train to Paris! I didn’t get any sleep on the train though because there were these two really whiny little kids. There were also a group of women and they were ready to have a good time in Paris! It was like 9 a.m. and they were already opening their bottle of champagne! I discovered that the hotel will give me a breakfast to go the night before if I can’t make it to breakfast! So I had a really delicious sandwich for breakfast with a drinkable yogurt. This particular train I took is a special high speed train, and it goes 320 km/hour! No wonder it only takes four hours to get there! I was very overwhelmed when I first got to the city. I know I always get like that in each new city, so I guess I should be used to it by now. It still gets me every time though!

For lunch I stopped at a bakery and got a french baguette...mmm so good! I saw a lot of sites today! The major ones include Tour Saint Jacques, Hotel de Ville, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, Pantheon, Senat, Palais du Luxembourg, Jardin du Luxembourg, St. Sulpice, Hotel des Invalides, Eiffel Tower, Cite de L’Architecture, and Arc de Triomphe.  A lot of people warned me there would be pickpockets in Rome but no one warned me about Paris! I didn’t get anything stolen, but there were a lot of people approaching me, that I could tell were up to no good. After all my sightseeing, I went to check into my hostel. Their wifi was down so I went to a nearby McDonald’s for a little bit. There was a man who came and sat at the same table as me. It turns out he is a Lebanese fashion designer in Paris. After talking with him for a bit, I went back to the hostel because I was really tired.

November 23, 2014 When I got up, one roommate was gone and the other was getting up too. He didn’t speak a lot of English, and when he did his accent was so thick it still sounded French to me so it was really difficult to have a conversation with him. Luckily, it only takes me about 10 minutes to get ready, so our conversation didn’t last very long. I was ready by about 8 a.m. and wanted some breakfast. I soon discovered literally nothing is open that early, so I had to wait a little bit. Eventually, I stopped at a bakery and got a baguette with chocolate chunks in it...oh it was good :)

Sites that I saw today include Sacre Coeur, St. Agustin, Madeleine, Palais de L’Elysees, Grand palais, Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres, Place de la Concorde, Opera Garnier, Palais Royal, St. Germain L’Auxerrois, Musee d’Orsay, Institut de France, Republique, Saint Ambroise, and St. Joseph des Nations.  Around lunch time I stopped and treated myself to my fancy meal for the weekend. I had a glass of their red house wine (very good), Saucisse d Auvergne de la Maison Mas Aligot (sausage with cheesy garlic mashed potatoes and gravy), and creme brulee. I was stuffed by the time I left, so it was good I still had some exploring to do before heading home. It gave my stomach a chance to settle :) I also got some more Christmas shopping done this weekend! As I expected, no one really speaks English in France. It turned out fine though because I had a good map (I got from a hotel yesterday), so I was able to find my way around no problem. I got lucky again with the weather! It was 60 and sunny both days! I didn’t get back to Bietigheim until 10 p.m. and I was happy to have my own bed to sleep in.  

November 24, 2014: Well this morning I finally got to do some testing! It was cool to get some hands-on experience. It made the day go by fast too. It was a little crazy though since I was trying to stay in contact with Thessy so we could try to get me an eye appointment (my pink eye returned). It all worked out though, because the other intern, Markus, was able to watch the system while I took care of that. I have an appointment tomorrow morning. So hopefully all goes well. I had rabbit for lunch! It tasted like chicken to me. I was supposed to play badminton with some of the interns after work, but I decided against it because I was so exhausted from the weekend, I just needed to sleep. We finally finished testing at 5:30pm- we started at 7:30 a.m. so it was a long work day for me.

November 25, 2014: Back in the office today! I had my eye appointment this morning. One of my coworkers was kind enough to drive me there since it was too far to walk. It was helpful to have him with me because the receptionist didn’t speak much English and she needed a lot of information from me, so he was a good translator. It was a little stressful too trying to figure out how the billing would work with my insurance and everything. All in all, the appointment and getting the medicine only took about an hour and a half which isn’t bad. Hopefully the new drops work better than the last ones. Nothing too special for lunch today- pork with mushroom sauce, veggies, salad, fried rice and potatoes. I had to make a quick stop to the grocery store after work, it's nice that it's on my way home from work!

November 26, 2014: Even though it’s only Wednesday, today is my Friday! I have tomorrow and Friday off for Thanksgiving and I’m so excited for my trip with my sisters this weekend :) As my time here is quickly coming to an end, I’m starting to notice things I will miss: having a buffet for breakfast and lunch; wearing jeans to work everyday; the freedom of living on my own; the privilege of learning another culture; the convenience of being able to walk everywhere; the not-freezing your butt off- Michigan winter weather. For lunch I had fish and was going to have sausage but after tasting it I discovered it was vegetarian. So I went and got some chicken instead. Oh! And they had chocolate covered bananas for dessert :))) Today is the opening day of the Christmas markets! So a group of us interns went to see them after work! It was really cool and not what I was expecting at all! There were so many people, different shops, all different kinds of food, and of course the traditional “hot wine.” We definitely don’t have anything comparable in the U.S. and this was just what I needed to get me excited for the holidays!