The whole trip almost seems like an outer-body experience now. Staying in Angers, France for four weeks was probably one of the best, and craziest, things that I have ever done in my four years here at Texas A&M.
In the summer of 2011, I stepped out of my easy Texas life into life abroad with two crazy host parents who didn’t speak a lick of English for the Texas A&M France Agribusiness: From the Farm to the Table: A Sustainable Food Chain Study Abroad. Through this experience, I was able to learn un peu, a little, of survival French, make everlasting friendships and memories, and gain a type of confidence that can only come from travelling to a foreign land.
While studying at École Supérieure d’Agriculture d’Angers we were taught by professors and staff about French history, culture, government systems, agriculture, agribusinesses and viticulture.
The professors were able to give us a brief overview of all the different topics that really helped us get settled in with our host families!
While in France, we toured many local agribusinesses in Angers that included an organic farm, the Cointreau factory, a sea salt marsh, a farmers’ market cooperative, a cheese factory, a sheep farm, the birth place of the Maine Anjou Cow, and many vineyards.
This truly gave us the opportunity to compare French agribusinesses and practices to American. Being able to experience it firsthand really helped me realize that although the practices may be different, this does not mean that they are not correct or inefficient. What works for some does not work for all.
Close to the end of the trip, all of us students were feeling comfortable in Angers, learning routines and social norms. This was about the time Dr. Vedenov took us to Normandy to visit the American Cemetery and Memorial.
I think when all of us Americans stepped off the bus on that rainy and stormy day, smelled the sea air, pride swept over all of us. As the professors gathered us around to give us a brief history of the historical site, like they always did, there was no chatter. Suddenly we all understood what it was to be an American. Walking through the cemetery and on Omaha Beach was without a doubt the coolest thing I could ever experience. To think that I would feel so proud of where I call home 5,000 miles away is ironic.
After four weeks in France, I was lucky enough to stay an extra two weeks traveling around Europe by train with my roommate Hannah. Like I said before, my trip to Europe was literally life changing. I learned so much about myself, my taste buds, my home country, my tolerance levels, my resourcefulness, and the beauty of simplicity. After travelling to France, I caught the travel bug, and since I spent the summer of 2012 in Namibia with the ALEC department. I know my travelling will not stop with Namibia, but I have started to re-evaluate a little. I am now concentrating on visiting places in the United States more and try to soak up as much culture as I can in-country.
Oh, and of course we saw the Eiffel Tower!
Brandy Dangelmayr ‘13 is a senior Agribusiness major with a minor in Agricultural Communications and Journalism. She will graduate in May 2013 and start her Masters in Healthcare Administration from University of Houston—Clear Lake in August.