By: David Minich, Animal Sciences | Cincinnati, OH
Before coming to The Ohio State University, my scope of the world ventured no further than my own travels in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. However, all of that changed during my first quarter here at Ohio State when I had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador on one of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences’ study abroad programs.
During my freshman year trip to Ecuador, we toured numerous farms, learning about sustainability and the culture of the country. With just 18 first-year students in the group, we all quickly became good friends. Some of my best friends today are those who traveled with me on this study abroad program, and it is something we still talk about years later. My first international experience initially seemed very overwhelming – I had to get my passport, attempt to brush up on my Spanish language skills, and prepare for my first trip out of the country, but when I returned home, I knew immediately that I wanted to participate in another study abroad program and travel abroad again.
In December of my sophomore year, I was fortunate enough to be able to once again go abroad, traveling to Ireland for 11 days studying human and animal interactions. This was another incredible experience learning about the culture and society in Ireland while also having numerous opportunities to compare and contrast the use of animals and land in Ireland and the United States. A few of the more memorable experiences of this program were visiting the Cliffs of Moher as well as taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the Dublin Zoo.
Finally, after my junior year, I was extremely lucky to be chosen as one of the first students to participate in a new study abroad program focusing on exotic animal behavior and welfare in South Africa. As an animal sciences major who hopes to one day work with exotic animals as a veterinarian, I could not think of a better program to fit my interests, round out my animal sciences career at Ohio State, and fulfill one of my biggest dreams – traveling to Africa! Every single day of this 17 day program was filled with surprises. From observing wild animals in their natural habitat and witnessing amazing moments, such as a herd of nearly sixty elephants crossing a river, to learning about the problems these animals are facing as human populations and wildlife increasingly interact, this program provided a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget and will always be able to reference during my future career.
After participating in three study abroad programs held on three different continents, I can confidently say that study abroad has not only defined my time here at Ohio State and in CFAES, but it has also changed my life for the better. I encourage any students who are interested in study abroad to do so and to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity!