Crossing the borders
By Emily Baldauf
She will never be the same. For Ann VanderMolen, traveling halfway around the world for a three-week study abroad program changed her perspective on life.
Photo provided by Ann VanderMolen
During their stay in China, Purdue agricultural students took the opportunity to visit the Great Wall. In this photo, they are posing with Chinese nationals they met during the trip.
"It was the best thing I've ever experienced," she said. "It's nothing you could ever experience in a classroom." The senior from Rensselaer, Ind., who is studying agricultural economics, traveled to China last May to take advantage of one of the school's may study abroad opportunities.
While living in China, VanderMolen had the chance to experience her coursework firsthand. For example, the ancient practices she and her classmates had been studying in the classroom came alive when she saw practices like acupuncture being done. "We're so used to scientific medicine, but it was interesting to actually see what they've been doing for hundreds of thousands of years," she said. "When you see it happen in front of you, it affects you personally."
VanderMolen is one of th 118 Purdue College of Agriculture students who studied abroad last year. In recent years, more and more agriculture students at Purdue have taken the opportunity to study abroad in one of the 21 countries where agriculture programs are offered. And, with varying program lengths, such as summer and spring break programs, more students are able to travel abroad.
Last year, 15 percent of graduating seniors in the College of Agriculture studied abroad. "That's the highest percentage in any of the schools at Purdue," said Mike Stitsworth, associate director of International Programs in Agriculture. "We believe that an education today does not stop at the borders of the United States. Regardless of what your major is, there is an international dimension to everything we do."
Stitsworth believes study abroad opportunities give students a broader global perspective and the skills needed to work in a diverse workplace, in addition to giving students an edge in the job market. Purdue offers 27 different agriculture-specific programs that cater to students' educational and financial needs.
"We will match you up with a program that will work for you," he said. "We have programs that will fit every student." For VanderMolen, the lessons she learned abroad will last a lifetime. "I'll never forget the trip," she said. "It was one of the best things I've ever done."