Major: Nutritional Science/Dietetics
Hometown, State: Las Vegas, NV
Type of experience: Dietetic Internship
Experience: Production and processing of sustainable, safe and nutritious food in France
Experience website: http://isuabroad.iastate.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=12244
Destination: Paris, France
Studying abroad in Paris was a great experience to integrate into my dietetic internship program. During our two weeks there, we had the opportunity to absorb the French culture; while also travel through most of the city to see most that it has to offer. We began our journey visiting the must-see tourist spots, from museums to cathedrals. Since it was most of our group's first time in Paris, this was a great way to introduce ourselves to the city. The food was nothing short of amazing. And we had the chance to meet many passionate wine and cheese makers who are absolute experts at their craft. Not only did we eat, but we also had the chance to create. From baking classes, wine tasting, and chocolate crafting, we got a good bit of many French traditional methods in making food. Since this was part of my dietetic internship program, I thought it was incredibly helpful to be completely engrossed in another culture. As a future registered dietitian, this experience leaves me more open and understanding to different perspectives on food culture—a crucial skill I can take with me when educating and counseling others.
While applying for the dietetic internship program, I discovered this study abroad opportunity on the Iowa State Dietetics Internship Application website. It seemed like such a unique and exciting program, so I couldn’t turn down applying for this study abroad opportunity.
An impact to my life...
This study abroad experience gave me the chance to visit Europe for the first time. The initial cultural shock made me realize that there is much more to food and culinary culture than I have seen in the United States. On a personal level, studying abroad in Paris made me fall in love with the city. As someone who hasn’t traveled internationally since I was a child, this experience makes me want to travel more of the world to expand my understanding of other food cultures and traditions. The French have a sense of pride and love within their cuisine that differs from the U.S. food culture that is more quick, casual, and trendy. I plan to integrate many of their values when I educate others on food and food behavior as a dietitian. As a future dietitian interested in taking my career toward public health and community nutrition, these lessons learned on food culture are invaluable.
I will never forget...
One evening set in our agenda was to attend a Sunday dinner offered by Jim Haynes: an American who has been living in Paris for over 30 years. Every Sunday, he hosts a dinner open to guests from all over the world. All that is required is a reservation from his website to ensure there’s enough food to go around. I would say that there were about 40 to 50 in attendance in his quaint Paris home. Everyone was a stranger, with a goal to meet and mingle with others who have traveled countless miles to meet at this single destination. I’ve had the chance to meet an Irish couple, a Canadian stand-up comedian, a young graduate from Washington, as well as a multitude of others that I can go on and on about. I’ve never had such an experience to which I was able to meet so many people from different industries, age groups, and countries. The experience made me realize how vast and diverse the world can be, yet still manage to come to a common ground when we all meet as strangers over a meal.
A surprising discovery...
One thing I didn’t expect was the more leisure pace of life that the French seem to live. Dinners are long and social. The waiter does not give you the bill until you ask for it. Often times, we had dinners upwards of 2-3 hours long. There was no pressure to leave, nor did it seem out of the norm. There were others around us doing the exact same thing. People are rarely on their phones and were mostly there to enjoy each other’s company. The overall perspective of not being busy all the time is a principle that I am taking back with me into both my personal life and profession. Our culture in the U.S. tends to be very busy, where “fun” social moments are just another calendar appointment. This study abroad experience has changed how I manage my time, my relationships, and my social behaviors. I came out of this experience simply appreciating humanity more.