Most people long to travel, to see sights they’ve never seen and experience cultures unlike their own. Once at college, many students decide to study internationally for a semester, on a break or during the summer.
In the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), there are 21 programs available for various majors. This includes three during the fall or spring semester, three during spring break, six during winter break and nine during the summer. With the various options, students are better able to find a program that fits their schedule.
According to Shanon Dickerson, director of study abroad for CAFNR, summer is the most popular time that students choose to venture internationally, and most students wait until their junior or senior year to participate.
Students generally join a program that directly pertains to their major if they choose to do a break option, or they can go to a university that has their major and study for a semester. In CAFNR, agricultural systems management and animal sciences have the most students studying abroad, but all majors have students who participate in the program.
There are many popular destinations such as Australia, United Kingdom and Italy. According to research done by the International Center at the University of Missouri, Italy was the most popular destination in 2015, closely followed by Spain and the United Kingdom. There are also programs in Chile and Czech Republic, and they are becoming more popular each year.
Last year, over 1,000 University of Missouri students took part in a study abroad program, and most came back having loved their experience. The number has gone up over the years as more and more students find the trips more beneficial than reading from a textbook or hearing a lecture in class. According to research done by the International Center, CAFNR is the fourth highest college within the University of Missouri to have students participate in study abroad with 173 travelers in the 2015-2016 school year.
Although Dickerson is relatively new to this position, she has received high interest in trips and enthusiasm for this program from students.
“Since I started working in CAFNR in August, I have received great enthusiasm for study abroad from students who have been visiting my office, inviting me to speak at their organizational meetings, and contacting me after classroom visits,” Dickerson said. “Students are very excited about the study abroad programs being offered through CAFNR.”
Erin Greeley, a junior animal science major from Hopkins, Missouri, describes her Brazil study abroad experience as unforgettable.
“I can’t express how thankful I am for this opportunity,” said Greeley. “Don’t be scared of the expense because the memories and things you experience are truly priceless. I was a huge homebody that liked my normal northwest Missouri environment. But getting out of my comfort zone was the best thing I’ve ever done, and I didn’t want to come back at all. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could. Take advantage of the amazing opportunities Mizzou provides for us. We aren’t here forever.”
One of the main reasons that students choose to study abroad is to learn what they wouldn’t in the United States, let alone Missouri.
“I got to experience a wide range of German agriculture,” said senior agribusiness management major Carly Lorenz, who traveled to Germany with the food science department. “We toured small family owned farms, wineries and butcher shops, as well as the largest pork processing plant in Europe. My group also toured a winemaking college, as well as the largest cheese production plant in Germany. We also got to experience German culture by staying in castles, going windsurfing on the Baltic Sea, and completing a high ropes course.”
From the perspective of being the director, as well as having been a study abroad student previously, Dickerson says that study abroad is one of the most beneficial experiences you can have.
“As a former study abroad student, I think that study abroad is one of the most life-changing, career impacting opportunities students can participate in at the university,” Dickerson said. “Learning a new culture, language and way of life helps students to develop global competencies and to better understand themselves as well as the world around them.”
While many are afraid to go out of their comfort zone, those who do gain more knowledge and skill, and come back with memories to last a lifetime.