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Student Post: When in Rome ...

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 14, 2014: I arrived in Rome this morning! I asked a man sitting next to me if he knew where I could get a converter for my phone once we got to the train station, and he gave me his! He said he had several and he didn’t mind. It was so generous of him, and I was very grateful because I was told that Italy and Germany have the same plugs so I was a little rattled when I saw they didn’t. I also love listening to Italians speak - it’s such an appealing sound to me.

I was a little overwhelmed when I first arrived though. Rome’s train station is combined with the airport and it is very large and there are A LOT of people. I was pretty hungry so I found some gelato :) I had a scoop of dark chocolate and a scoop of cookies and chocolate. Sooo goood! Then I started on my journey of finding my first site. It was really difficult though. There are so many little streets and no one could really point me in the right direction. I gave up on that and walked back to the train station where I took a bus to Vatican City (it’s a little outside Rome, so it would have taken a little bit to walk to).

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

I was in awe when I got there. It is absolutely beautiful. I first went to see Castel San’t Angelo, then I walked over to the main part of The Vatican. I got a really good deal on a tour- I was able to see the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica with a tour guide. Not to mention I got to bypass the line that was at least 2 miles long! The tour lasted 3 hours, so I definitely felt like I got my money’s worth. After the tour, I stopped and got some Italian pizza. It was topped with lettuce, a slice of cheese and fresh tomato slices. Wow it was good. Before I checked into my hostel, I wanted to try to see the Pantheon since it was relatively close to the Vatican. I was having trouble finding it, so I asked a group of people who had a map. They were on their way to their hotel as well, which was near the Pantheon, so they let me walk with them.

Once we had to part ways they gave me their map, which was very nice! The Pantheon was easy to find after they walked with me. I walked around inside and got some more gelato (nocciola e cacao-basically nutella flavored and stracciatella) and ate in the plaza. There was so much going on! People everywhere, entertainers, music, dancing! It was fun to watch! It was getting late so I started to my hostel. I took a bus from the train station to the Vatican so I assumed I could take one back- it turns out I couldn’t. So I had to get off the bus and use the subway. I didn’t have too much trouble finding my hostel after that, since it was pretty close to the train station. It looked like an apartment complex though, so I was a little confused at first.  One of my roommates was Turkish and he played a native instrument for us a little bit. It was neat to see. I went to bed shortly after because I was exhausted and knew I had another long day ahead of me tomorrow.

November 15, 2014: This morning I got up early, checked out of my hostel, and was on my way to a day filled with sightseeing! Since I had my map those people gave me, I found it very easy to navigate the city, which was a nice change. I wasn’t worried about being lost and they best part was I was navigating by myself and not relying on other people! For breakfast I had an espresso (my coworkers said I had to try it but I thought it was gross) and a cannoli. Holy cow it was not like a cannoli from America. It was mouth watering delicious.

Some of the main sites I saw include Santa Maria Maggiore, San Giovanni Laterano, Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Arco di Costantino, Palatino, S. Maria in Cosmedin, Colosseo, Domus Aurea, Fontana di Trevi, Fontana del Tritone, Piazza del Popolo, S. Ignazio di Loyola, Palazzo Montecitorio, Palazzo Chigi, Piazza della Repubblica, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Campidoglio, Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, Colonna Traiana and Mercati Traianei. I saw a lot of other things too but I don’t know all of the names! As I was walking through the city I heard a familiar voice...I turned around and there was Drew and April (from Kettering, studying in Germany)! I couldn’t believe it! What are the odds?? We talked for a little bit and decided to meet up later in the day for dinner before I had to catch my train back home. Not only did I run into them, but I ran into two different girls in two different places from my Vatican tour yesterday AND I ran into my Turkish roommate from the hostel. Weird.

I had beautiful weather today and yesterday! It was 60 and sunny. I was loving every minute of it. Rome definitely had the most people out of all the cities I’ve visited. Even though “tourist season” is over, there were still people everywhere. There was also, a parade of some sort while I was there. There were just so many people all gathered around this truck and they were singing and walking through the city. It was really cool to watch! After I finished my sight seeing I met back with Drew and April for dinner. It was fun to go to dinner together and talk about our experiences. I had a chicken and cheese pizza and we had some sweet wine too. It was all very good but I was so full by the end. After dinner we said our goodbyes, and I started my journey back home. After walking for two days straight, my feet felt like they were going to fall off. Over the course of the weekend though, I took 900 pictures!

November 16, 2014: I didn’t sleep much on the train- I got maybe two hours of sleep. I was crammed into a six person cube again, but it was full this time and I felt really claustrophobic.  There was a Chinese and Italian in my cube though and neither of them could really sleep either, so the three of us talked most of the night. It was really interesting to compare all of our cultures and the traveling that we have all done. It was an eventful train ride though because there was a group of people who didn’t have train tickets so they were just sitting in the hallway and they refused to get off the train. The train personnel had to call the cops and get them escorted off the train. The train personnel also kept coming into our cube and checking our tickets. So even if I did fall asleep, I would have been woken up multiple times by the train personnel.  As much as I love traveling, it will be so nice to be able to consistently sleep in my own bed :) I was pretty hungry once I got off the train in the morning, so I tried this pastry from a bakery. The dough was topped with a crumble and frosting. Then baked so the crumble was crispy on the edges. It was okay but I wouldn’t get it again. It was also the size of a dinner plate so I had a stomach ache by the time I finished it.

November 17, 2014:  Wow it seems like forever since I have been in the office! This morning at breakfast, a man asked me if I worked for Durr and it turns out he does as well- he is visiting from a different location. I got the impression he didn’t know how to get there so I offered to walk with him. I could tell he really appreciated it, and it made me feel good to know I could help someone find their way. Especially after all the people who have helped me when I have been lost. He also mentioned my accent is funny because it’s a mix of American and German, which made him think I spoke some German...oh boy. My coworker taught me today that even though multiple countries in Europe use the Euro, each country has a different “picture” on the back of their coin to represent the country, which is kinda cool!  For lunch I had pork, carrots, salad, potatoes with skin still on them baked in this really delicious sauce and pasta with parmesan and pesto sauce. 

November 18, 2014: Today I had training on a device I will be using Thursday. It’s not too complicated, it just takes a long time because the system needs a lot of time to warm up to temperature and calibrate. For lunch I had shaved pieces of turkey kebab with bread and broccoli. It was really good. And of course on the coldest and rainiest day we have had here they have me running around from building to building. I can’t even feel my feet they are so cold! I had to go to the bank today after work. It was cold and raining so I wasn’t very motivated to go, but I didn’t have much of a choice. While I was downtown, I did a little shopping :) It’s starting to get colder here and I don’t have too many warm clothes with me so I found a really good deal on some sweaters! Afterwards, I headed home and took it easy. I’ve been a little frustrated lately because my wifi at my apartment has been more awful than normal. I can only keep my phone connected if I stand by the door and my computer won’t connect at all.