This summer I had the chance to spend two weeks traveling through the United Kingdom and learn about the impact of agricultural communications. It looked at problems facing the agriculture industry in England and Scotland, and how media responded to them. Views of both people involved in agriculture and those that weren’t are explored and the ways to communicate with these different groups is shown to students as they engage with industry professionals.
Growing up removed from agriculture and then coming to Ohio State as a student of the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Science I have learned so much. I saw through this program the many problems that are facing the industry today. I learned why dairy farmers are fleeing the industry, how farmers are working to feed a growing population, how the public is reacting to these changes, and how the media and our communication efforts impact all of these.
This experience changed not only my outlook on how I view agriculture, but it really impacted the way I approach others in regards to agriculture. I learned to always try to make sure that people are given all the information, but that you have to approach each communication effort with passion and direct it to my audience.
This program was incredible in every way, but my favorite part by far was the people I met. I got to experience a new country with 25 people I didn’t know, all of whom are passionate and extremely incredible people. Then we met farmers who took us out to lunch at their local pub and talked for us for hours about their work with passion shining through in every word. The strangers that we struck up conversations with that informed us of the local traditions, and the writers that explained their life stories, made each moment an adventure. The sights and itinerary were incredible, but the people made the experience.
Getting to see their education system was also an incredible experience. The Royal Agriculture College showed how similar the agricultural training we receive in countries with vastly different agricultural systems can be. While our systems vary, we have the same goals of producing safe food, creating a healthy environment for animals, and sustaining the Earth to the best of our abilities. As our goals are the same, we learn around them and therefore, we learn many of the same ideas and ethics. Though the way we interpret these ideas can vary, this is what leads to new ideas that help change the world. It was great to see a brand new perspective on the same things I have known all my life, and it has helped me to remind myself to reach out and find new perspectives on everything, no matter how long I have known or believed something. It is helping me to make sure that I am learning and trying to do the best work I can.
The other thing about this experience that greatly affected me was learning about and participating in a completely different culture. From the fact that cars drive on the opposite side of the road, to the not tipping of wait staff, there was a whirlwind of things to learn upon arriving in a new country. Even though the United Kingdom is probably one of the most similar countries to the United States, the differences are vast. Having to adapt and learn quickly while there was something we were tested on each and every day. From adjusting to language difference, and trying to remember that chips were fries, to making sure we looked the correct way when passing the street. It is hard to adjust to all the small changes that there are, but it was also a wonderful learning experience. I have often traveled, but this was the first time that I really embraced the culture and looked at the beauty of the country. I have never seen anything like the sights I saw there, and I believe myself to be a much more prepared traveler and more open to new ideas and experiences after this study abroad.
Moving forward in my life, this experience will always be a part of me, and I hope to carry it with me in everything I do. I have learned to be a more effective communicator, and that is important with schooling and any career in the future. Also experiencing new people and learning how different other places are has opened my eyes to what the world has to offer. It has made me a more understanding person and has helped me to learn how to invest in others and learn from them. We all have something to offer the world, and if we just take a few minutes, we can learn so much. That’s the most important thing I learned and that I am working towards implementing in my life each and every day.
STEP Study Abroad May 2015