Our adventure is quickly coming to an end. We’re currently on hour number four of our seven hour layover in the Detroit airport. Not a whole lot to do in an airport to keep a bunch of college kids entertained, so we’re sprawled out all over the floor by gate C30.
Reflecting on our trip, I don’t think I can truly put into words what this experience has been like, but this blog will be my best attempt. Ya know, everyone tells you to study abroad, but I never actually thought I would. I applied for the Russia and Ukraine trip, as well as the trip to Italy. When I got accepted to both I chose the Russia and Ukraine trip, even though it freaked me out. To be honest, I had no interest in going to either country, but I was excited to go on a trip that was focused on pigs. When it switched to Denmark, Sweden and Finland for safety reasons, I knew I made the right decision and that I would enjoy my trip.
Frankly, I was terrified down to the minute we arrived in Copenhagen. I’m the queen of procrastination, so in true fashion, I waited to pack until 5:30 the morning we were supposed to leave, before I took off for a pig show in route to the airport. The first few days, I was freaking out that I had left something behind that I would desperately need. My bag was obviously full of the essentials, clothes, shoes and toiletries; but it was also full of snacks. When you’re a picky person, you learn to never leave the house unprepared. Growing up, I ALWAYS had the biggest purse and at any given time could be found with at least a can of Dr. Pepper, a rice crispy bar, a hand full of Starbursts and the occasional banana. My luggage was no different. I had three bags of Starbursts, two snack size bags of Cheetos, a family pack of Oreos, and 12 little packets of Teddy Grahams. Turns out, I ended up enjoying the food over there quite a bit and am happy to announce that a good chunk of my snacks returned to the US in their packages. This is a big step for me, people.
On that note, I’m also pleased to share that contrary to popular belief, I tried a few new foods on this trip. These included veal, fish & chips, salmon, sushi, a bite of carrot and sweet potato soup and developed a crazy addiction to a good cup of Joe. I ended up really liking the veal and fried fish!
Though we’re all exhausted, missing our families and just can’t wait to finally wash our clothes and stop living out of a suitcase, I think I can safely say this group is full of heavy hearts as we prepare to say goodbye for the summer in a few hours. At the beginning of the semester, many of us had never met. Actually, we didn’t really know everyone’s names until the first plane ride from Des Moines to Detroit. But after spending just 14 short days with these people, I feel like I’ve known them my entire life. I can’t wait to meet up with some of them this summer and to see them all again next fall and catch up. This trip is full of memories, inside jokes, life story exchanges in the bus, late night heart to hearts, casual sauna sweat sessions and just genuine friendships beginning to form.
Not only did I learn about agriculture in Denmark, Sweden and Finland, but I learned about myself, and about all of these great people on my trip. I learned to step out of my comfort zone, go on a trip that terrifies me, and to be optimistic in trying a new food. I learned that even though those other countries were beautiful and I absolutely loved my time there, there is no where I would have rather grown up than in the USA. It was also reinforced to me how lucky I am to be a part of agriculture in general, but more importantly, to be a part of the swine industry with these other students who share my same passion.
And of course, we were blessed to have Dr. Baas, his wife, Cindy and Dr. Harmon as our chaperones. Three wonderful people who not only planned this amazing trip quickly after our original trip was cancelled, but also looked out for us, laughed with us, put up with our craziness and helped us learn on this trip. Below is a picture of Dr. Baas’ and I’s selfie, Dr. Harmon’s first selfie and a picture of me with Cindy and Dr. Baas.
I can’t imagine going on a better trip with a better group of people. I’m excited for the future of this group. Not only for the future of our friendships and all of the memories I’m sure will be in our future, but for the contributions to the pork industry that this group of individuals will be able to make.
Thanks for reading about our adventures. I hope you enjoyed it!!