After attending a study abroad information session at my first-year orientation in the summer of 2022, I knew right away I wanted to go abroad for the maymester to end freshman year as I love to travel and learn about new cultures. However, figuring out where I wanted to go out of the countless locations and programs that UGA had to offer proved to be more difficult than I had imagined. After speaking with my amazing advisor to help narrow down my options, she suggested some of the programs that CAES had to offer. After a couple of conversations with fellow classmates and faculty members who had either previously been on the trip or were signed up for the upcoming maymester, I made the decision to enroll in the Youth Engagement in Agriculture Scotland study abroad trip through CAES at UGA.
Everyone I spoke with prior to the trip could only talk about how amazing it was and how beautiful the country of Scotland is. However, even with that knowledge, I was anxious as I only knew two other people attending the trip and had never traveled this far and for this long of a period of time without my family. As we got closer to the departure date for the trip, my worries lessened as the amazing faculty members supervising this trip answered all of my questions and made all traveling and excursion arrangements very clear with a detailed itinerary.
When it came time for us to depart for our trip, I was nervous about connecting with everyone else who was on the trip as I only knew two others attending. However, I can say without a doubt I made the best decision of my college career going on this trip. I have formed so many new friendships and learned so much about others, those on the trip and those we have met along the way, over the past two weeks. While the curriculum of this course was for us to learn about teaching students in agriculture (which was fulfilled), the main outcome of this experience for me has been the connections I have made with others along the way whether it was with the students we taught at the primary and secondary schools, the professors we met with from nearby universities in Scotland, our tour bus driver (shoutout Andy), or with my classmates and faculty on the trip.
Looking back on it now, I am so incredibly grateful to have gotten to be a part of this experience. I have learned so much about the cultural, agricultural, and teaching differences between the United States and the United Kingdom. My biggest piece of advice for future students wanting to attend this trip would be to have meaningful conversations with the people you meet in Scotland, especially the students you teach. You will learn so much more about their culture and differences by going out of your comfort zone and starting a conversation rather than just going through the motions of what is required. If you are even slightly thinking about applying for this study abroad experience, DO IT! This trip has brought experiences that I will remember for a lifetime and so many new relationships and friendships that I will forever cherish.