Studying Abroad in Paris, France


Posted: February 16, 2018

By Kathryn Dietrich (Food Science major, Nutritional Sciences minor) "The College of Agricultural Sciences provided me with a unique, educational experience during my time abroad, one that I will not forget!"
Group photo in front of the French Ambassador’s house

Group photo in front of the French Ambassador’s house

The College of Agricultural Sciences provided me with a unique, educational experience during my time abroad, one that I will not forget!

I was fortunate to have visited Europe prior to this trip, as I visited Italy during the summer of 2016. I had a wonderful experience and knew that I wanted to see more of what Europe had to offer. Choosing to study abroad through an embedded course at Penn State was a no-brainer. The short travel time that augmented the in-class lectures allowed me to learn more about French agriculture and the beautiful city of Paris.

During the week prior to beginning the course in Paris, I traveled to London, England with my family. We enjoyed a few days there and then transferred to Paris a few days before the rest of my classmates were to arrive. I was very grateful to have had this time with my family to become acquainted with the city and the time change. When the other students arrived to begin our course, they struggled to stave off the fatigue from their long flights. Fortunately, we went on a walking tour of the city to help everyone stay awake and become familiar with the city.

Our time in the City of Light was filled with lectures, field trips, and exploring the city. The first day of class consisted of introductions by our gracious hosts from AgroParisTech, the university at which we would be attending for the next two weeks. I was excited for the various lectures in the classroom, especially since the first one consisted of a cheese tasting. After class, we went on a boat tour of the Seine that provided us with views of some of the timeless sites and bridges of Paris. To end the day, we attended a classic French dinner at Le Montparnasse 1900 with the entire class. I ate my fill of onion soup, rumsteak, and Ȋles Flottantes, which is a classic French dessert consisting of meringue floating on a vanilla custard.

Some of my favorite memories from this course are from the various field trips we took. During our day in the Champagne region, I enjoyed the visit to an agricultural high school that made Champagne and prepared students for their future careers in the agriculture industry. Another highlight of trip was a tour of Rungis, which is one of the largest wholesale markets in the world. The amount of produce that went in and out of the market was astounding; I certainly have never seen that many goods in one place, and I probably never will again. I also loved our time in Versailles amongst the breathtaking gardens and palace. The sheer size of the grounds was amazing, and I wish I had more time to wander the garden paths.

The trips taken out of the classroom supplemented the material covered in the classroom, both at AgroParisTech and Penn State. We went to AgroParisTech’s campus in Massy to learn about baguette making. This activity, as well as the sensory science lecture in the classroom in Paris were my favorite lectures. As a food science major, it was great being able to learn about the science behind making bread, and then actually being able to make and taste some authentic baguettes. The sensory science lecture was intriguing, as it debunked so many common myths related to our senses and perceptions.

While our time in Paris was filled with classes and field trips, we were also allowed ample time to discover the uniqueness of the city on our own. After classes, my classmates and I loved exploring the city, going out to dinner, playing cards, and enjoying our time together. During our free weekend in Paris, I explored some of the amazing gardens and museums the city had to offer. I got to see the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph, various churches, and even a small zoo. I enjoyed every minute of my time in Paris.

The lessons I learned during my time abroad are not just related to agriculture. I learned so much about myself and my abilities as an independent traveler. Whether it was communicating to Parisians through broken French and hand gestures, getting lost in the city, or planning my free time, I found that I was able to adapt to different situations. I feel that my communication skills have especially improved following this experience.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to study abroad with the College of Agricultural Sciences. In a professional environment, I feel that this experience will provide me with the ability to communicate with others more effectively. I am more open to different viewpoints and better able to facilitate discussions with others. The friendships formed with other students in a variety of degree areas at Penn State have provided me with connections I lacked prior to this course. I will carry the experiences and knowledge gained by studying abroad in the College of Agricultural Sciences through both my academic and professional careers. I am so appreciative of this opportunity, and I cannot wait to plan my next adventure!