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Summer Internship in Paris

My name is Meghan Kane and I am a junior and French minor at Penn State University. Although I am a Food Science major and am not required to take classes for a second language, I decided my freshman year to pursue a minor in French, because of my love for the culture and language. The minor just started as something for me and a way to balance out my science-based classes; but it evolved into so much more than that.

            My name is Meghan Kane and I am a junior and French minor at Penn State University. Although I am a Food Science major and am not required to take classes for a second language, I decided my freshman year to pursue a minor in French, because of my love for the culture and language. The minor just started as something for me and a way to balance out my science-based classes; but it evolved into so much more than that.

            In addition to wanting to continue to study French in college, I also was interested in having a study abroad experience. However, because of scheduling constraints for the Food Science major, it would have been difficult to commit to a full semester in a French-speaking country. Thankfully, through the College of Agriculture, there was a short-term study abroad offered in the spring semester that dealt with the topic of “Comparing US and French Agricultural Systems.” This program had classes throughout the spring semester at University Park that discussed agricultural issues in the US and then after the semester ended, the class went over to Paris to study at AgroParis Tech for two weeks, where we talked about the same issues from the French perspective. In addition to learning about current agricultural policies and topics, I also volunteered to teach the rest of the class some basic French phrases in the hopes that they would feel a little bit more comfortable while in Paris. These small lessons before each class were a huge help in the end, as students were able to be polite in day-to-day activities and could order their food in French! After the two weeks in Paris, I felt like I had gotten to use my French skills and appreciate the Parisian and French culture even more than before.

            Then, just when I thought that my study abroad experience had come to a close, my professors from the US and French Agricultural Comparison class asked me if I would be interested in being the teaching assistant for the class the following spring. They said that they loved the addition of the French lessons at the beginning of each of our classes in the US and wanted to me to join them in Paris again, but this time with almost all expenses paid. Because of my French knowledge and enthusiasm about the language, I had another wonderful opportunity to explore the city of Paris, enjoy its delicious food, and take part in its rich history and culture.

            I believe that without my background in French, some of the experiences and chances that I have had here at Penn State, like my two short-term study abroad trips, may not have occurred. Next summer in 2013, I will be working at Mars Chocolate where I will be a food sensory intern. In this position I will be working with their chocolate products and consumers to understand what qualities the candies possess that make them appealing to purchase and to consume. In addition, because Mars is an international company, I will also be working on how to translate and globalize scales that are used during sensory testing. In this way, I will most likely have the opportunity to apply my French skills in a food science setting so that products can be tested and rated on an international scale.

            Today, as I continue to take French classes with my food science background, I keep finding more and more links between the language and the science and I cannot wait to see where they will take me next!