When my mind wanders back to Romania, I find it daunting to try describing all of my experiences in a few hundred words. Summarizing the two weeks we spent touring the country seems far too impossible. However, I’ve often found myself spouting off random bits of information about the people and places in a faraway land.

These instances give me some time to reflect about my two weeks in Romania and how it has changed my perspective as a whole. As a senior who used the three credit hours to complete my coursework at the University of Georgia, you could say that I waited until the last possible minute to study abroad. Some part of me wishes that I would have gone earlier in my college career so this wouldn’t be my only international study experience. But I can’t help but be thankful for this experience that was exactly suited to my interests.

During the first study abroad program specifically tailored for the agricultural communication major at UGA, we did it all. From creating a web strategy to enhance tourism in a rural Romanian county to interviewing, photographing and writing about dairy farmers, I saw classroom skills come to life. Since this was also a service trip, we had the chance to learn about Open Fields, a philanthropic organization, as well as use our communication skills to recognize the outstanding work of the programs they have in place.

While I learned about agriculture programs to help the less fortunate in Romania, I also learned what it is like to be welcomed into the homes of those who don’t know you. I learned the love that surrounds these communities and saw the passion within the people who are working to make their lives better as they receive hives of honey bees and dairy cows with milking equipment.

Working with these passionate people and the developmental organizations sparked a fire in me to use my communication skills for a common good. I’ve worked for Georgia’s dairy farmers for the past two years, and the time we spent on dairy farms was a dream for me. I kept spouting off questions about equipment and silage and somatic cell counts. I realized I could help with something like this. I have skills that will help make the world a better place, and it’s up to me to find out how to use them. Going forward, it’s my responsibility to get involved in making lives better. I don’t want this to be my final travel adventure. I want this to be my first of many, not as a tourist, but as a helper, a journalist, a photographer or a social media specialist.

This journey halfway across the globe taught me that there are good people everywhere trying to achieve a better way of life. If I can, I would like to use what I’ve learned over the past four years to help them reach this goal. And that’s what I’ll take with me as I move forward. Leaving the University of Georgia and transitioning into the “real world” is a task more daunting than trying to summarize my trip to Romania, but I can’t help but feel like the experience was a perfect farewell, a culmination of everything I have learned while earning my degree. So thank you, family and friends, for giving me the confidence to explore another continent. Thank you, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, for giving me a home where I felt welcomed and providing me with the funding to make this trip affordable. Thank you, Dr. Borron and Dr. Holt, for being the best Ag Communication professors I could have asked for, opening up the possibilities within the ag comm field and encouraging me along every step of the way. Finally, thanks, UGA, for preparing me for this journey and for the world ahead.