International Connections

Sara Martin

Major: Dietetics/Nutritional Science

Minor/option/emphasis: Minor: Exercise Science

Year: Sophomore
Hometown, State: Pella, Iowa

Type of experience: Faculty Led Program
Experience: Production and Processing of Sustainable, Safe, and Nutritious Food in France
Experience website:
Destination: France

Overall experience..
This study abroad incorporated touring the city and countrysides in France while experiencing the culture and food around us. For two weeks we traveled to numerous monuments, cathedrals, and museums and learned about the history and importance of each area. At several of the stops we had the opportunity to converse with natives and to learn about their cultures and stances on certain topics. There were also opportunities to expand our cooking skills and knowledge with macaron and chocolate making classes, wine and cheese tasting, and vineyard tours. I thought that all of these experiences were very helpful to teaching us while being engrossed in the culture and I enjoyed learning about the differences between our culture and theirs.

I learned...
I learned about this international opportunity through a former student on this trip and an informational session by Dr. Rosentrater.

An impact to my life...
Through this experience I was able to travel outside of the country for the first time in my life and experience a different culture. Personally, I loved the pace of life we experienced in Paris. Even though we were not hard at work, like many civilians, the locals still take time to spend with the people around them and enjoy long conversations and dinners. i think that this is something hard to find, especially in a college town, where students keep to themselves and are always rushing from one thing to another. I think that this is something that I will be able to carry into my career as well. I believe that it is important to be able to listen to clients in order to help them. Something else that I'm working on embracing more is savoring food and the work that was put into crafting it. Food is an art and a skill and what it does for your body is incredible.

My most valuable learning experience...
One of the events our group participated in was "The World Comes to Dinner", hosted by a former American that has resided in Paris for the past several decades. Once we had arrived to his small courtyard outside of his home, we were greeted by several other people, all strangers to one another, who were introducing themselves and explaining where they are from. We joined in on the mingling, and talked to people from Norway, Boston, the French Alps, and Switzerland. All of these individuals were so open to new people and it was a really fantastic way to enjoy the people around us.

I will never forget...
While in the Montmarte district, we met up with a French food blogger, named Clotilde. Clotilde walked us all around the market and stores and taught us about how carefully fresh food was handled in Paris and what a proper French baguette should look like. She also talked to us about various sustainable issues in America and France. Clotilde helped us understand just how seriously produce and food is treated in France.

A surprising discovery...
You always hear about how the French are rude and don't want to talk to you. I found that if you try and speak their language and are kind to them, they are very responsive and open. They definitely know you are not a native, but they are thankful for your effort and I think a lot of tourists overlook that. I believe that this showed me how even the smallest effort can have a positive impact and that is something I can carry into my future career.

Advice for others...
Be open to new experiences and be kind to those around you, both locals and students on your trip. I found a few really great friends while traveling abroad, know what good, quality produce looks and tastes like, and know that I never want to eat a snail again!

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