One month in Spain can have a lifelong impact on students

By for CAES News

Time abroad looks different for every student.

Some are seasoned travelers looking to fuel their sense of adventure. For others, studying abroad is the first chance they’ve had to explore a new country.

For University of Georgia poultry science major Logan Waldrop, embarking on a monthlong study abroad trip to Spain with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) was his first time outside of the Southeastern U.S.

“I had never been abroad before and the longest plane trip I had ever been on was an hour or two. The eight-hour flight and being in a country where English isn’t the first language was frightening,” Waldrop said.

But traveling with the support of UGA’s faculty and fellow students helped to make the Franklin County, Georgia, native feel at home.

“The minute I got there I felt welcomed and comfortable in the environment,” he said. “The trip overall exceeded my expectations tremendously.”

After an eight-year run in France, the CAES Food Production, Culture and the Environment program moved to Granada, Spain, in May 2019. As a participant in the inaugural trip to Spain, Waldrop traveled with animal science Professor Michael Azain and now-retired UGA Professors Mark and Judy Harrison for a unique opportunity to learn about food production and culture in the Mediterranean region. He and other students attended lectures and visited production facilities for olive oil, cheese, Spanish ham, bread and wine.

“Going to Alhambra was one of the coolest things that I got to do on this trip,” Waldrop said. “It was truly unique to see all of the different designs from the different people and different time periods, but my absolute favorite thing that we did on the trip was going down to Malaga on the Mediterranean. Getting to be on the coast and experiencing the culture was something I’ll never forget. Plus, the food was incredible.”

It can be hard to achieve cultural immersion when studying abroad. It can be all too easy to stay comfortable in the groups you travel with, and it’s hard to get to know locals. Waldrop was able to overcome this barrier by staying with a host family.

“The homestay was flawless,” said Waldrop. “I loved our host family and they took extremely good care of us. The food was absolutely incredible, and they were the sweetest people in the world.”

Walking away from his time in Spain, Waldrop has two pieces of advice for future study abroad students.

“The advice I would give is to get familiar with the language,” he said. “That was one of the bigger issues that I faced while over there. If you know you’re going, brush up on it. The other piece of advice I’d offer is to have fun. There were a few nights that I was a little homesick, but then we all decided to go do stuff in the city and all of that went to the back of my mind. Cut loose and have fun — there won’t be many opportunities like this one.”

The deadline to apply for the CAES May term program, Spain: Food Production, Culture and the Environment is February 15. Interested students can find more information at www.caes.uga.edu/students/study-abroad.

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