My senior year of high-school I decided to attend Western Illinois University because it’s close to home and it has a great agriculture program. I had no idea the clubs, connections, and opportunities it would present to me while here. I certainly did not expect it to help me travel to the other side of the world and learn a completely different side of agriculture.
The spring semester of my freshman year I found out the Ag department was making the trip to the land down under-Australia and I could not have been happier. I have always had a fascination with Australia and I wanted nothing more than to visit. I attended the meeting and met with Dr. Carlson, who was a professor here at WIU from 1980-2012 and has taken over 200 students to places such as Russia, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Australia. I learned about the study abroad program that I would hopefully get a chance to be a part of. My summer and sophomore year consisted of me working and applying for scholarships to make this trip happen. The School of Ag offers a few different scholarships and the study abroad office does as well and they were a great help at making this trip happen for me. It did not seem real until the spring semester of 2015 when we actually had a class to attend that was all about Australia. In the class we learned about the history, culture, language, and what we should and should not do while we were there. It did not take long before we were loading up the van and heading to Chicago.
Land down under
Two planes later and we had finally made it Sydney, Australia. Our group spent the first couple days touring different places in Sydney including the Rocks, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the famous Sydney Opera House. It was amazing to see the detail and hard work that has been put into that incredible building. We also visited a couple sheep stations, one of them was over 130,000 acres with over 60,000 sheep. It was definitely one of the more impressive farms that we visited while there. We made our way to a couple rice farms where we were able to talk to the farmers about the struggles they face, like getting water to their fields. They are only allowed a specific amount of water depending on the year and the water is fairly costly. We also visited Ireland Angus, which is a farm that raises and sells Angus cattle to people in many different countries. They sell over 800 cows and 100 bulls a year. Along the way to Melbourne we made a stop at Charles Stuart University where we toured the university farms and met with some of the students. I enjoyed getting to meet them and just hang out with them. As we continued to make our way to Melbourne, spring break was coming to an end. Once in Melbourne we had our last dinner as a group and we were able to discuss the trip and bring the trip to an end together.
Back to reality
Boarding the plane to head back home happened much too fast. The next 18 hours were extremely long but before we know it we were back on U.S. soil. This study abroad program helped me see the world and learn about a different side of agriculture at the same time. It is a trip I will never forget, I got to know some of my classmates and meet some amazing people, some of who I still talk to from time to time. If you’re thinking about participating in a program like this I would highly recommend it, it could be a once in a lifetime chance.
To learn more about the WIU Study Abroad program you can email them at StudyAbroad@wiu.edu or call them at (309)298-2504 and you can always make a visit to Horrabin Hall room 8 to get the information you need. This program offers you a chance to study in over 60 countries regardless of your major, so if you’re considering traveling during college I encourage you to take the time and get some information.
My name is Brianne Brockley, I’m from Astoria, Illinois which is about 30 minutes from Macomb. I’m currently a junior here at WIU majoring in Agriculture Science and minoring in animal science. I’ve been involved in Ag Mech, Hoof ‘n Horn, and CFB. I’m also involved in my FFA alumni chapter, who were a huge help in getting me to Australia. If you have any questions about the study abroad programs don’t be afraid to ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org or the study abroad office. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!