I spent a week travelling throughout Spain studying human-animal reactions. During this time, I was able to make connections between animal use and the Spanish culture while also making comparisons to human-animal interactions in the United States.
When given any opportunity to travel internationally, one grows as an individual. Before, I had only travelled to Nicaragua and not to any European countries. I had many preconceived notions that Spain would be similar to the United States in how they interact with animals. Since this was an animal science program, I thought the majority of our program would be production related. I feel to the most part my ideas were proven correct, but at times I felt what I believed was challenged.
I was most surprised that a significant amount of our stops were not production animal related. We made stops at the Madrid Zoo, Madrid Animal Rescue, and a bullfighting ring. Coming from a livestock background, I guess I just had preconceived notions of what I thought human-animal interactions were supposed to be. But all of the stops we made were excellent examples of human-animal interactions and allowed me to make comparisons to these interactions in the United States.
I decided to participate in this animal science program even though I’m not an animal science major because I thought I had a developed background in the topic. However, during class discussions, I found myself sometimes being the one who was lost in conversation. At times, terms were used that I was not familiar was and those other animal science students were expected to be well-versed in all species whereas I am mostly familiar with cattle. Some of the discussions heavily referenced animal science course material and through these conversations I felt growth in my knowledge.
When I was in preparation to travel to Nicaragua, the pre-departure class focused heavily on the history, culture, and current events. During the pre-departure class for Spain, our topics focused heavily on varying human-animal interactions so we would be better able to make connections to the U.S. while in Spain. A week before departure, I realized how unprepared I actually felt. While in-country, we were given so many opportunities to prove ourselves as adults. Many meals were on our own and many evenings were left to us to decide what we’d do. Being able to explore various Spanish cities really developed my appreciation for Spanish culture.
I hope to work with the Cooperative Extension Service and land grant universities have statements regarding the inclusiveness of their services. By obtaining a hands-on experience of the world and different cultures, I feel that I will be understanding of different cultures and backgrounds in my future career. Being able to relate better to others of different studies or backgrounds will be beneficial as I choose my next academic path, I am considering a master’s program but am considering various schools and academic programs. I am grateful to have this chance to expand my view of the world and grow as an individual before I graduate and am considered a real adult.