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Keep An Open Mind

Keep An Open Mind

Today's Student Spotlight is Mackenzie Mahon!

Major: Agriculture with a concentration in Agriculture Business 
Class year: Junior 
Hometown: Amelia, Ohio

1. Describe your Education Abroad program(s):
We traveled around Ireland observing various farming operations and tourist attractions that the country had to offer. We travelled to 6 various cities, also stopping to a few others in between to view some natural attractions such as Giant's Causeway.

2. Is this a good program for other students in your major?
I would encourage everyone in the agriculture department to follow this program! It gave me so many interesting insights to the industry on a global scale, something that I don't believe a textbook can accurately portray. I am a very visual learner and it benefited me greatly to see firsthand how the various farms functioned and sold their products worldwide. Ireland's sustainable agriculture is very different from the conventional style that the United States uses, making it interesting to be able to see the differences. Even small aspects such as milk pricing is done in a unique way.

3. Was this your first time abroad?
Yes, I had always dreamed of traveling abroad but had been waiting for the right opportunity to come along. The length, curriculum, and class size of this trip was exactly what I was looking for!

4. How do you feel that you benefitted from studying abroad?
I feel that I have gained an entirely new sense of knowledge. It was so neat to not only learn about material pertaining to my major but also to the country and culture of Ireland. This trip definitely enabled me to step outside of my comfort zone and push to try new things. We explored The Cliffs of Moher, something that terrified me due to my long time fear of heights. However, this made my experience feel that much more rewarding when we arrived at the top and I could take in one of Ireland's most famous views. I also feel more knowledgeable about world politics and how different countries' governments run. This assisted me in forming my own opinion on today's hot topics.

5. How do you think this experience will impact your future plans?
This trip has given me a "travel bug", if you will. I aspire to study abroad again in the future and travel to other countries and gain even more knowledge on various agricultural systems and cultures. Prior to this trip I was very nervous to go anywhere outside of the US and experience things that were different to my everyday life. I have loved getting to explore new locations, learn stories from locals about their own history, as well as learning about the history of the country and what caused it to become what it is today.

6. How did the experience differ from your expectations?
I hadn't expected the Irish agriculture to be as vastly different as it is to the United States. I love to compare and contrast things, and this was eye opening to me to see how different practices are done and how they are carried out in order to be profitable and sustainable. I also never imagined the culture and surroundings to be as different either - while some aspects were similar (restaurants , shopping, etc.) the mindset of the people was different. Ireland has had their fair share of issues just like we have, and getting to hear stories and learn their history in person helped me to better understand what caused the laws, opinions, and views of the people.

7. What other countries have you traveled to?
Prior to this trip I had been to Mexico and Jamaica.

8. Favorite thing about studying abroad?
My favorite thing about studying abroad, other than stepping outside my comfort zone and witnessing new cultures, would have to be the relationships that were formed and the people I had the privilege of meeting. I have made some great friends over the course of my trip that I know will continue to bloom on, and had some great conversations with various professors and agriculture enthusiasts in Ireland. They helped me to better understand topics I had questions on, as well as share insights about their lives which allowed me to see differences in our upbringings.

9. Suggestions for future students?
For anyone that says "I'm a homebody type of person who wouldn't enjoy visiting new places alone", try and venture outside of the box! I was in the exact same shoes prior to this trip and now I can't imagine me ever not going. It may be scary and a completely new experience but it is so worth it. These opportunities only come around every so often and what better part of your life to travel and learn about your passion than right now?

10. Anything you'd like to add?
Just go for it and keep an open mind!

Published on November 01, 2017

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