Welcome to post one of my blog! My name is Emily and I am a junior studying Animal Science at the UW. This is my first experience blogging so I’m just going to jump right on into it. The program I chose is the Massey Student Exchange, which is located in New Zealand. For the next 8 months, starting in February, I will be calling Palmerston North my home. I have dreamed of going to New Zealand for as long as I can remember. One thing about me is that I have a love for animals, with the sheep being among my favorite. I have a small flock of Southdown ewes back home and have had the opportunity to work for the UW Sheep Unit. However, with Madison having more of a dairy focus—being literally the dairy state—my opportunities to learn more about small ruminants are limited to just out of the classroom experiences. That’s when I looked into studying abroad to gain more experience. New Zealand is home to approximately 30 million sheep! That is about 7 sheep for every human on a country that is about the size of Colorado (just to give a size perspective). That is a whole lot of sheep filling a small space. New Zealand is also always on or involved with the leading edge on sheep research. Through the Massey exchange, I will get to learn more about the industry both in and out of the classroom and bring my newfound knowledge with me when I return to the states! Another little tidbit about me is that I love photography! While I mainly specialize in animal photography, I dabble in several other areas as well. I am all about capturing life’s greatest moments as they are unfolding. As you follow along on my adventures, it is my goal to document my experience through my camera. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I hope to capture hundreds of thousands of words that I wouldn’t ever be able to explain in my posts alone.
I stumbled across the Global Gateway Fellowship when I started looking into studying abroad and the costs associated. Flying overseas in general can be quite costly, and I didn’t have the spare funds to just leave the country for 8 months. So, I hit the scholarship listings with hopes that I could maybe gain some funding to support my studies. Then, I found the Fellowship program. If awarded, this scholarship would fund a great part of my time abroad. At first, I was hesitant in applying…I thought that I wouldn’t stand any chance at getting it, especially being worth ten thousand dollars. However, you miss a 100% of the shots that you don’t take, and this is what pushed me to finish and submit my application. The essays had larger word limits, which I greatly appreciated. It gave me room to tell my story and my goals. No harm in trying, right? The day that I received the email of my acceptance into the fellowship program, I had to reread it twice to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. That day was a game changer, as it set the New Zealand start line for me. This program is allowing me to fulfill a lifelong dream.
While in New Zealand, I want to learn as much about their agricultural systems as I can. My main focus is in their sheep production; however, I want to learn about the systems that tie to their sheep production as well. Pasture and crop management, feed formulation, health and disease management are just to name a few areas. I learned growing up that there are about as many ways to farm as there are farmers. I want to learn from these international farmers on what works for them and maybe bring some new farming techniques back with me. I also want to learn from the Kiwi population in general. I will get the opportunity to stay with a host family for the duration of my study, and I hope to get a more cultural experience from this over just staying in the dorms.
That should be all. A lot more exciting stuff is to come in February as I fly out to New Zealand, my new home away from home. For now, this is Emily signing off!