By: Samantha Ward, Food Science & Technology | Worthington, OH
When setting off to South Africa two summers ago I never realized the impact that Studying Abroad would have on not only my time at OSU, but also my life as a whole. Studying Abroad was a stepping stone that opened many doors for me not only at OSU, but also in the professional world. When applying to study abroad my mindset was typical of most college students in that I thought it would be a great experience for the five weeks I was there, and would gain me some credit along the way. Before studying abroad I didn’t even know of any of the clubs within the CFAES college, and by the time I came back I was active in three different organizations.
Even two years later I still remember the adventures we went on, and the amazing opportunities we had in South Africa. In addition to the fun of boating along an estuary filled with hippos, riding through the game reserve searching for lions, and riding to the top of Table Mountain our study abroad group completed many meaningful projects while in South Africa. One of the projects our group had the opportunity to work on was to design and build an irrigation system at an AIDS Clinic and at a community garden in Khayelitsha in order to help improve the efficiency of watering the crops. While there we made a strong connection with the women who ran the garden, and were able to learn a lot from them on how they grow their crops so successfully with minimal means. Looking at the experience as a whole I realized I originally went in with the mindset that we were going there in order to help the people and share our knowledge. What I actually found was that they ended up helping me by teaching me a lot and helping me grow. I gained a different perspective on the Agricultural Industry than that seen in America.
Coming back to Columbus I have found that this experience, and the knowledge that I gained, has helped me advance personally and professionally. In addition to the extracurricular involvement I have noticed that when applying for internships prospective employers are interested in hearing about what I have learned and my experiences in South Africa. I gained a perspective to the Agricultural industry that most people do not have. By seeing a new way of life, and a new way of doing things, it truly opens you up to step outside of the safety of your box.
I would truly advise anyone who has the opportunity to study abroad. The experience will not only give you memories and friendships for a life time, but can truly change your life.