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Student Post: Traveling through Barcelona

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 27, 2014: It’s Thanksgiving!! It’s a bummer I can’t be home eating turkey and stuffing with my family but I have some exciting plans for the weekend! Today I started my journey to Barcelona with my sisters! We met in Stuttgart and took our train to Karlsruhe. From there we had to take a bus to get to the airport. We were all so excited and laughing so hard we didn’t realize the bus reached it’s final destination and we were the only ones left. The bus driver came up to us and we asked if this bus was supposed to go to the airport- he replied with “This is a school bus”...ummmm??? It was pretty funny, we have no idea how that happened.

We got to the airport eventually- we weren’t too far so we just walked. We got lunch and waited for our plane departure. When we arrived at the Girona airport we had to wait almost two hours for the bus to take us to another train station that would take us to Barcelona. We got cheeseburgers and hot dogs from the airport while we waited and that was our Thanksgiving dinner. We finally got to the city though and checked into our hostel.  We walked up and down La Rambla and it was so pretty with all the lights lit up at night! There were people everywhere though trying to get you to buy things or go to their club or eat at their restaurant. It got to the point that it was just plain obnoxious and annoying.

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

November 28, 2014: We started our day with a free walking tour. It was cool to see some things and hear the stories and history that went along with it but there was a lot of talking and not as much sightseeing as I was hoping for. 

Afterwards we went to lunch. We had cheeseburgers, fries and sangria. It was actually a really good cheeseburger! Our tour guide recommended us to a cooking class that we will be doing tomorrow! We were near the beach at that point, so we walked down there and it was sooo beautiful!! I couldn’t believe it. I could have stayed there all day! Some of the sites we saw today include the Barcelona Cathedral, Old town square, Columbus Monument, Montjuic and Santa Maria del Pi. In attempts to find some of the sites we ended up climbing this mountain/hill. We didn’t find much though. We discovered the Palace was all the way at the top and it was too far to walk. We did get a great view of the city though and we ended up finding the Olympic Stadium, which was cool to see! Shortly after, we headed out to find some dinner. We ended up finding a restaurant close to our hostel. Jenn and I split a “”special” they were having- six tapas and an order of patatas bravas (potatoes with spicy sauce). Our tapas were fried mashed potatoes, octopus, red peppers, mushrooms, black pudding (yuuuck), and meatballs). It wasn’t too bad! Afterwards, we tried to go see the Magic Fountain but it wasn’t turned on. We waited until night time and everything and for some reason it wasn’t working that day, so that was a real bummer. Today it was 71 degrees which was so nice!

November 29, 2014: This morning we got up, got ready, had some breakfast, and were off to see some sites! We didn’t get as lucky with the weather today. Although it was still fairly warm (probably around 60) it was pouring rain the entire day! We were all absolutely soaked. We went to some sites that included Casa Bastllo, Casa Mila, and La Sagrada Familia. Today was definitely my “Thanksgiving day” though. I ate so much yummy food! In the morning we stopped at the food market and we got some gelato- I had tiramisu. Then as we were walking to our first site I saw Ferrero Rocher flavored gelato- that is my favorite candy. So I had to try it! Wow so good. Around lunch time we saw a sign for churros with chocolate sauce so we split an order of that. Before we went to our cooking class, we stopped at the cathedral we saw on our walking tour and went inside. It was so beautiful! At the cooking class I had delicious tapas and chicken/ seafood paella! It was by far my favorite meal and experience in my time here in Europe!  We got to go to the food market with the chef and buy all of the ingredients.

Then when we went back to the kitchen, we got to help prepare the meal and watch how the paella was made. Sangria was included with dinner too! The tapas our chef served were slices of bread with several different toppings. There was really good cheese, ham, olives, tomatoes, sausage and onions (the best I’ve had so far), olive oil with herbs, sea salt, and roasted peppers. Mmm it was soooo goood!!! Then our chef recommended us to the best gelato in Barcelona. And let me say it was the best gelato I have had period. It was even better than the gelato in Italy! I got cheesecake flavor and it had chunks of graham cracker crust in it and everything!! I was beyond stuffed after all this food, so I was happy I finally had my “Thanksgiving meal”.  After the cooking class we went home and tried to dry out. We had an early morning so we just stayed in at the hostel. Coincidentally the five of us had taken a picture two years ago at an Alpha Phi event. So we recreated the picture that night and it looks creepily a lot alike! It was so much fun! Some people in the lobby at the hostel helped us pose the same way and everything!

November 30, 2014: Well today was a long day! We were up at 7am to get ready and head to the train station. We had to make our train reservation from Barcelona to Paris, but we were glad to get a seat on the train. Then from Paris to Stuttgart there were no seats left so we had to stand for a little bit and then some un-reservable seats opened up later on. Besides the breakfast from the hostel and some snacks Jenn had packed we hadn’t ate all day. So we bought some dinner on our last train. I just had a sandwich and it wasn’t very good, but I didn’t really care at that point.  All in all, we were on the trains for 13 hours. I wasn’t able to sleep at all, but we did watch a couple movies on Morgan’s tablet which helped pass the time a little bit.

December 1, 2014: Well I had a nice surprise at work today! I got to help out with some testing of one of our newer products so that helped the day go by fast. It was interesting to learn about how it worked and see the data the system was producing. For lunch I had chicken with some type of butter herb sauce. It’s getting colder here though! It was 37 this morning when I walked to work. Since I was feeling in the Christmas spirit and wanted to relax after my long weekend, I watched Elf after work. It's one of my favorite Christmas movies and it is already December now! 

December 2, 2014: Oh my gosh I am absolutely exhausted today. Usually I feel like this on Mondays after a long weekend...maybe it just took a little longer for the weekend to catch up to me this time. I tried brussel sprouts at lunch today. They were okay- not my favorite. I got some more calculations to do today that deal with the testing I did last week. I had to figure out how to do these on my own but I feel pretty good about it so far. My coworker said it looked right so that is encouraging. Today actually went by really fast! I wasn't expecting to, so that was nice!

December 3, 2014: There literally wasn’t anything good to eat at lunch today. They had some leftover ham from yesterday, so I had that with carrots and salad.  After work, my department had our unofficial Christmas party. We all went out to dinner and it was a lot of fun! I tried an “export” beer that is pretty common here- it wasn’t too bad. I ordered pork with swebian noodles with cheese. It was good, but when I saw noodles and cheese I thought it would be like Mac n Cheese and it wasn’t at all. For dessert I had vanilla ice cream served with a warm crushed raspberries and chocolate sauce. That was good too! I have to say though I miss American portion sizes. Everything here is literally half the amount you would get in the U.S. Which I guess is good for here since it is rude not to finish your meal, so I would be beyond stuffed if they were all American portions. During dinner I learned a cool story! Someone had ordered Maultaschen and this dish originated in Maulbronn (which I’ve been to). The monks lived in the Maulbronn Monastery and they would have to go long periods of time without meat. So the cook would hide pieces of meat in this ravioli, which is where the “maul=bad” comes from. If you translate maultaschen it means “cheater of God”- which makes sense since the monks weren’t supposed to be eating meat! On the way home, my coworkers were teaching me how to make “German sounds”. They said I was doing really well. Only took me three months to figure it out. It was also interesting because they were saying how “th” and “wh” sounds are hard for them to say in English. Weird! I would have never of guessed!

December 4, 2014: Wow talk about a good lunch. I had chicken topped with a slice of pineapple and cherries. I also tried a bite of risotto with mushrooms, but I didn’t really like that. The risotto was cooked so much it was basically mush. I also had some cherry chocolate mousse...mmm mmm good!! After work, I went to play badminton with some of the interns. It was so much fun! I haven’t played since I was little so I forgot how much fun it is. There were only 6 of us, so we played in teams of 2 vs 2 and 1 vs 1, and we just kept rotating the teams. I hope we go again before I leave! It was nice to hang out with them outside of work!