Bittersweet

I have a treat for you this week! It’s a post that has nothing to do with engineering, machines or power plants! You can thank me any way you wish. I like cookies, brownies, ice cream, hand-made artwork, gift cards…I’m not picky.

So this is the last week of my internship. My last week before going back home to school, to my apartment, to all my familiar places and faces. In honor of my last week, it feels appropriate to do a listicle about what I’ll miss about this summer, and what I won’t miss. Because everyone loves a listicle!

What I’ll Miss


  1. My Drive to Work
    I won’t miss the necessity of a 25-minute commute at 6:30 a.m. everyday, but the drive itself, down nearly deserted country roads, through farm fields and forests, watching the sun come up and seeing the misty fog hanging over fields of corn and rows of berries was sometimes so starkly beautiful and peaceful I almost forgot how tired I was and how inhumane it was to start work at 7 a.m.

    Rainbows liked to pop up on my drive to work. This one was so intense I had to stop and take a picture.

    Rainbows liked to pop up on my drive to work. This one was so intense I had to stop and take a picture.

  2. Lake Michigan
    This one doesn’t require much of an explanation. My plant is on the shore of beautiful Lake Michigan. If I drive 10 miles north of my plant, I can enjoy a beautiful resort town on Lake Michigan. If I drive 10 miles south of my plant, I can enjoy a beautiful resort town on Lake Michigan. If I stop anywhere in between I can enjoy beaches that speckle the roads up and down the coast. This is such an incredibly beautiful area. It’s more than enough to spoil a person.

    One of the many beautiful beach parks along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

    One of the many beautiful beach parks along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

  3. Real World Learning
    I’ve been in the plant for three months and I’ve barely scratched the surface of everything I want to learn. Watching machines get opened up, repaired and put back together is so much more informative than doing homework problems. Sad but true: I don’t want to go back to school because I want to keep learning, and being in the real world is where I’ll actually learn how to be an engineer.
  4. My Plant Co-Workers
    I’ve been so incredibly lucky to have been surrounded by so many genuinely nice, smart and helpful people at the plant. Being a female in a largely male-dominated field, I was a bit nervous about the kind of experience I might have among real engineers. Well, my experience this summer was nothing but encouraging. I met so many great people who were funny, gave great advice and were always willing to answer questions or take me out into the plant to show me how something worked. If any of you are reading this post – thank you!!
  5. Walking Around the Plant by Myself
    Strange as it sounds, I liked walking around the plant by myself doing my valve mapping project. It’s loud, dirty, hot and dark inside a power plant. There are spiders. But nonetheless, being out there alone with my earplugs in was strangely meditative. I could sing and no one could hear me (I didn’t actually do this…*nervous laughter*…of course not).
  6. My Paycheck
    So I just quit my job at a state university with decent pay and excellent benefits. But the financial pain of that decision hasn’t reached me yet because, well, engineering internships pay pretty nicely. The time has come to feel that pain. And so begins the (hopefully) slow parade of dollars out of my savings account.

What I Won’t Miss


  1. Living with Roommates
    I may devote a whole post to this topic, but at age 33 after having lived in my own apartment in a quiet, distinctly non-student area of town for the last five years, subleasing a student apartment with three 19- and 20-year-olds was interesting to say the least. Never again will I take for granted having my own refrigerator.

    This was my kitchen table for a week. These are not my clothes.

    This was my kitchen table for a week. These are not my clothes.

  2. Low Ponytails
    According to my co-worker there is no such thing as a good hair day at the plant. She is so right. Hard hats slide all over the place over loose long hair. Not to mention they look weird. High ponytails won’t fit under the hat. So the long haired among us are left with the low ponytail – the most unattractive ponytail. Yuck. I may not wear another low ponytail for the rest of the year.
  3. Waking Up at 5:00
    I am not a morning person. Getting up at 5:00 a.m. for three months didn’t make me a morning person despite suggestions from others that it would. I can still sleep in just fine. I’m a fan of the idea that no one should ever have to be anywhere before 9:00 a.m. I probably will not get my wish, but a girl can dream. 8 o’clock classes this fall will be a breeze.
  4. Sweating from my Eyelids
    It is hot in the plant. Especially on the upper floors of the boiler room. Like 120 degrees hot. You begin to sweat in all the expected places after just a few minutes. But soon your body is forced to get more creative. Sweating from your eyelids is a very odd sensation. It’s not something I would recommend.

This summer has been an experience. The end is going to be bittersweet. My internship was fascinating. I met wonderful, smart and helpful people. I learned a lot. I got to explore one of the most beautiful regions of my state. But I miss my friends. I miss my apartment. I miss my gym.

It’s time to go home!

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