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Student Post: First week in Germany

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

October 9, 2014: This morning I had to go to the Citizen Center to officially register my residence in Bietigheim-Bissingen. It was quite a hike there! I wasn’t able to find it on my own though. I finally asked a couple ladies for help and one was going that way anyway, so she offered to drive me, which was extremely helpful. After I was done at the Citizen Center I had to basically run to work because it was already 8:30 and I am supposed to be there by 9 a.m. I made it though! The weather here has been just beautiful. Today I got to eat lunch outside and I loved it. The warm sun was on my back and it was relaxing and enjoyable to be able to get out of the office space for a while. In the afternoon, I did some research about potential EPA standards and a need for new equipment in the US (Europe already has some of these standards). After work, my boss took me on a brief tour of downtown Bietigheim-Bissingen. It is such a cute little town! I didn’t really get to see it in detail though so I think I will go back Sunday and explore!

Scenes from Rachael Cuthbertson's second week in Germany in the study abroad program.

October 10, 2014: It’s already Friday! I can’t believe it! This morning I had pancakes, bacon, sausage and eggs for breakfast. The pancake texture threw me off because they weren’t fluffy like my dad’s but the flavor was good! And the bacon was to die for because it was so salty. The eggs were good too, they had onions in them which seems to be pretty standard here. At work, I was briefly introduced to the tool I will be getting training on soon. It is very similar to what we use in the US and it is 100% chemical engineering which makes me so excited. One of the HR ladies that I met in Plymouth a few months back emailed me today to welcome me to Germany. She also mentioned there are some other interns that meet weekly for lunch and she could get me in contact with them. That would be great to meet people my age that work here! When I got home today the hotel cleaned my apartment! So that’s a pretty awesome deal!

October 11, 2014: Today I traveled to Berlin! I got up really early since it takes between 6 and 7 hours to get there by train and I wasn’t planning on spending the night. I got breakfast at the Stuttgart train station and I ordered a croissant stuffed with ham and cheese. Oh my goodness it was amazing. Yesterday I looked up places I wanted to go see while I was in Berlin and I took pictures of the google maps I had searched. This turned out to be extremely helpful. I was able to find all of my attractions and navigate the city almost entirely on my own. I felt so accomplished. I had some Banana Chocolate Brownie ice cream when I first got there. It was okay- I don’t know how I feel about the banana flavor paired with ice cream. The attractions I saw included the Reichstag Building, Brandenburg Gate, Gendarmarkt, The Berlin Wall, and St. Hewig’s Cathedral. They all had beautiful architecture and I’m glad I was able to go. While I was walking between attractions there were so many stores I passed! I got some more Christmas shopping done and I also found the perfect pair of winter boots I have been searching for! It was a successful day! Before I left, I got some dinner. I had pizza and it was okay but I think I like American pizza better :) I surprised myself on the train too. A lady had asked if the spot next to me was taken and I said no please sit down (in German!). It’s amazing how much you pick up just by listening to it all day everyday.

October 12, 2014: This morning I got up to go explore downtown Bietigheim-Bissingen. It is such a beautiful little town. Since I was there so early the town was nearly empty and it was so peaceful. I have been wanting to try ice cream from this one place- everyone says it is amazing. So I got Dark Chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone and it was so creamy and rich! I was very impressed!  A little later on, people started coming to set up tents in the street. It turns out today was their Apfelfest! It was really neat to see. All these different vendors came and set up their product in a little tent along the street. There were of course many different apple products- jam, cider, and pie just to name a few. But there were also things like jewelry, dishes, hand-knitted items and more! Later in the day I went to Stuttgart to meet with the my Alpha Phi sisters! It was so great to see them! We all walked to Wasen together. And we had a chicken dinner feast! It was amazing. We are going to try to coordinate a couple of our weekends so we can travel together!

October 13, 2014: It’s Monday morning already! When I first got to work I saw Jason (my DSUS boss) standing near my desk. It was nice to see a familiar face at work. We chatted for a few minutes but he had to get to a meeting. I had lunch with the other interns today. I enjoyed meeting other young people. They eat together every Monday, so that will be good for me to get to know them better. I had chicken wrapped in bacon, veggies, salad, and this weird grit thing. I didn’t like that very much. And for dessert I had a pancake type thing with berry sauce. It was good but the berry sauce was pretty sour. On my way back from lunch I saw Rob (also from DSUS). That was a surprise and we caught up for a few minutes. The day went by pretty slow but I was glad to relax when I got home. 

October 14, 2014: Today for lunch I met with Laura and Gabriel. They have apprenticeships with Durr and Katrin from HR got us in contact with one another. It turns out Laura will be working in Plymouth next spring around the same time I will be there. They are both very friendly and I enjoyed their company very much. They gave me a tour of where they work and what they do which was cool. We agreed to meet for lunch again soon. I tried something that looked like mozzarella sticks. However, they turned out to be fried mash potatoes!! Oh those were good. And for dessert I had some type of pudding topped with cinnamon applesauce. It was okay, I’ve noticed they love pudding type desserts here.  After lunch I went to our test site. We set up another measurement device on one of our systems and calibrated the system. Tomorrow we will be able to start taking measurements. After work I went grocery shopping. I was in desperate need of food! It’s a little difficult here though, because they don’t have a lot of the typical food I’m used to buying in a grocery store. So I am working on finding some new things to eat.

October 15, 2014: This morning I had to go to the Immigration office to continue the process of obtaining my work visa. The Citizen Center that I had to go to last week opens at 7AM on Wednesdays, so I assumed since the Immigration office was two floors above, it would also open at 7 a.m. I was wrong. They open at 8 a.m., so I was stuck waiting for an hour. I still made it to work on time, so it all worked out fine. I even had time to get breakfast at the hotel (since they weren’t open when I first left). I tried a slice of lemon bread (which I’m pretty sure was just lemon cake that was sliced). It was really good but I definitely had dessert for breakfast today. I heard some coworkers saying that there are no trains running from 2 p.m. today until 4 a.m. tomorrow because all of the train personnel are going on strike!! Good thing I don’t need to travel anywhere today! Something that strikes me as funny is here in Germany they all say “Mittagszeit” which means lunch time. They say it so often you would think they were saying “Hey, how’s it going”. And they always always say “Enjoy your meal”. Regardless of who I have ate with- customers, colleagues, or interns like me- they all say it! Which is different because I would never say that if I was just eating with my friends. I unexpectedly went to a supplier today. We got a tour of their facility and it was pretty cool what they make. On the way there a Backstreet Boys song came on the radio (in Germany?? Random??) and I really wanted to start singing and dancing obnoxiously but I couldn’t because I was with my colleagues, not my sorority sisters. We were also going 180 km/hour on the highway which is 110 mph. It was pretty fun :)