Bonjour from Paris, France! I am traveling to the study abroad program, The Microbiology of Cheese and Wine, in Cluny, France. Cluny is a small town of about 4,000 people, 20 miles northwest of the city Maçon. Before I join up with the program, I am traveling to Paris, the city of light, to spend 3 glorious days seeing all the cafes, famous sights, and Parisian culture. I write this entry reflectively aboard the TGV heading southwest to Aix-en-Provence, a city that is only 30 km from the Mediterranean. The TGV one of the fastest trains in all the world any reaches speeds of over 200 miles per hour in certain regions.
Even as I right these words, we are speeding past farms with a steady hum of electric powered engine in the background and the control toward of Orly Airport in the background. The sound of the speeding train is greatly dampened by the heavy windows and thick carpeting so I can only imagine the sound of the wind rushing past outside. It is an invigorating experience to know that we are moving over a hundred miles an hour, and I didn’t even have to be strip searched or X-rayed by security.
A bit about myself should be included in this narrative. My name is Daniel Kurz and I am now a senior at Rutgers University. I am double majoring in nutritional biochemistry and exercise physiology with a minor in biochemistry. I entered college expecting to become a dietician and then potentially go into medicine or work as a clinical dietician. For those who don’t know, a nutritionist is not really a word of any importance. Anyone can be a nutritionist because it is not certified or accredited by any governing body, but a dietician is a person that has passed an exam on the federal level certifying their abilities.
At the end of my freshman year, I realized that I didn’t want the job of having to try to convince people to stop eating so much saturated and trans fats. People can be obstinate, and I just don’t have enough patience. I appreciate my peers who like that challenge. For me though, I switched away from the applied science of nutrition to the basic science of nutrition, trying to understand the fundamental underpinning of how nutrition interacts with the body. I then decided to add exercise physiology in my sophomore year when I realized that you couldn’t have proper nutrition and understand the body with only an understanding of how nutrients enter the body. The question was how the body uses those nutrients and in what way. So I answered my question and took the plunge of a second major, a hard but a good choice because the scope of my understanding has broadened so much. The nutrition department ought add an exercise physiology class to the curriculum.
This trip that I am embarking is the product of several months long planning starting with the suggestion of my friend who didn’t want to go alone. As a result, I agreed to attend the same program, and write an essay to seek a scholarship. Little did I know that it was the beginning of a long day dream that would cummulnate in the spectacular trip I am now on.
I departed from JFK airport and arrived the following day in Geneva, Switzerland before departing back to Paris, France. I found it highly amusing that it is cheaper to fly past Paris to Switzerland and then to Paris than it is to fly direct to Paris, but as the French say, “C’est pas.” meaning too bad. Delerious with sleep deprevation from not sleeping well on the flight I found my way to the RER B, the regional suburb train that goes to central Paris, and arrived a short time later at Gare du Nord. It should be noted that where you buy tickets for the RER is an electronic booth next to many other booths for many other kinds of trains, and if you are not familiar with the machines it is very confusing. Furthermore, the symbol that looks like a square on the front of the machine that is lit up and says, “Non acceptee” means that credit cards are not accepted. It took me nearly 20 minutes to figure that out. The adventure en Francaise began then, but we made it out of the airport and into Paris. I switched trains to the metro, the equivalent of the New York Subway, which was very clean and every single station is decorated differently. This was the easy part.
Almost immediately after walking out of the metro, I was quite lost. Unfortunately, blocks in Europe do not come together in perfect right angles. Rather they come together at obtuse and acute angles with many road names coming together at once. If you do not have a map, as I didn’t, you can become very lost. After a small panic, and quite the fright that I would be lost in a city that does not speak much English I found my hotel. Hotel Eiffel Villa Garibaldi is not a cheap hotel, but it deserves the price it charges. In Europe, it is not very often that in old cities with many building dating to the Napoleonic Era to have bathrooms in the room or a service that cleans the rooms. Figuring that I am in France only rarely, I chose to step up my expectations of hotels and reserve a hotel that has those accommodations included. Thankfully, Frommer’s France guidebook suggested a mid-range hotel that has those accommodations as well as breakfast included. En Francaise the words are Hotel avec le w.c. dans l’interieure et petite dejuener.
I ended that first part of my journey by laying flopping down on my bed and uttering the words, “why did I have to come to France.” That day was terrifying with exhaustion and confusion, but it was thrilling