How Studying Abroad Changed My Life

erin-8If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: college is the only time in your life that you can go abroad for an extended time and have little to no consequences.  It’s true.  Whether you go for a week or a year, college really is the only time you can go not only without consequences, but actually gain something in the process.

I went to Australia to study their equine industry and compare it to America’s equine industry.  There are 4 major “hubs” in the equine world: Kentucky, Ireland, Dubai, and Australia.  Each of these places has a very specific way of doing things; however, when you are in your own little bubble, you don’t think much about how the rest of the world does something.  My first eye opening discovery was when I discovered that mares give birth outside, something that would be unheard of in Kentucky.  Horses are only fed grain as an extra supplement, not as a main source of food like it is in Kentucky.  Instead, there is focus on pasture management and seeding the fields in order to give horses the nutrients they need.  Finally, their equine industry is closely related to their dairy industry.  Horses and cows are rotated through the fields in order to lower the parasitic risk and reduce the use of pesticides and de-wormers.  In Kentucky, the equine industry is separated from the rest of the agriculture industry.

Other than the primary reason for studying abroad, learning, I also gained life skills.  I learned how to interact with people from another culture, a culture that rarely has a time line, and to appreciate another culture’s way of life.  I also learned how to interact with the same people for an extended period of time and in periods of time that were accompanies by a large amount of stress.

Not only did I learn a variety of things, I created memories that I will never forget an I think about every day.  One of my favorite memories is looking up to the sky in another hemisphere and fully expect to see the big dipper only to remember I was on the completely other side of the world.  Another experience I think of every day is galloping in the Australian outback to a winery.  I was also finally able to meet my spirit animal, the koala, not once-but twice-and feed and pet kangaroos.

While I went to Australia to learn about their industry and to boost my resume, I came home with many other skills and experiences that I never considered I would gain.  Studying (teaching, interning, researching, etc.) abroad is an experience that each college student should have because not only are a variety of skills learned and perfected, memories of a life time are made.

Erin Daugherty is a senior pursing a degree in Equine Science and Management with minors in Business and Agricultural Economics.  She studied abroad the summer of 2015 in Sydney and Brisbane, Australia with the “Equine Down Under” program.  Erin witnessed and studied the Australian equestrian community and hopes to use some of their innovations to improve America’s equine industry.