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Agrimarketing : Agribusiness Employer Guide 2008
you in on some tiny aspects of the trip that you may not have consid- ered. Learning from others’ personal experiences can be very helpful in making your trip the best possible. 2. Formulate your budget. One of the biggest worries about participat- ing in a study abroad experience is the money. “How much is it going to cost me?” First and most importantly, there is money out there in the form of scholarships and grants. All you need to do is go looking for it. You can find links to these sources through faculty advisors, Internet sources and other students who have previously studied abroad. Regardless, the money that is spent up front should not be what you solely budget. Providing your- self with a budget also allows you to understand how much you want to travel outside of classes. Setting a budget for the trip will enable you to be realistic about your travel plans. Additional trips take additional money, knowing what you are inter- ested in and the potential costs will help you stay within budget. 3. Research your location. Living in a foreign country brings new rules and societal norms. Understanding that cultural differences that exist are important, however knowing how to handle the differences are the most crucial aspect. This can be done initially through doing some research via Internet or travel books. For any country, it is very important to understand as much about their lifestyle as possible. Not just for the sake of respect for their culture, but also to allow you to fully embrace the experience. The initial thought when going to the Czech Republic is that it would be relatively similar to the U.S. since it is a developed country. However, it did not take long to realize that everything from facial expressions to the way food is consumed differed. Thailand was also full of surprises; the culture is a complete shock from what is the norm in the U.S. In each country knowing about their social taboo’s, religion, and government helped immensely with understanding the people. Being able to connect with the people you meet and the places you go is one of the most rewarding aspects of travel- ing, and doing research will help you accomplish that. Often while abroad you will be stretched as an individual. Opportu- nities will arise that you are not com- fortable with, remember that part of the reason you should be traveling is to become familiar with other cul- tures. Getting outside of your com- fort zone is where the most personal growth occurs, because you are then able to respect and understand your surroundings. REALIZING YOUR GOALS Knowing what you want to get out of the experience will help you to fully appreciate your opportunity. However, to maximize the fulfill- ment of your goals, do not be afraid to take a very serious approach to them. Before leaving, you should record your specific goals of the trip. For example, one of my major interests is in the area of poultry sci- ence and one of my major goals was to learn more about the avian flu cri- sis in Thailand as well as their related bio-security techniques. Because of this specific goal, I was able to talk with my program direc- tor as well as my host family. They made arrangements for a tour of their university poultry farm and a lecture on the current status of the avian flu by their leading researcher on the topic. ENJOY THE EXPERICENCE Finally, take a moment to realize the amazing opportunity that is being presented. Journal your experiences so that you can relive the moments once you are back home. Be sure to pack a camera and post pictures or blog online to com- municate with family and friends back home. The benefits that can be gained for both personal and academic goals are incredible while studying abroad. With the world market growing as quickly as it is, having an international experience puts you one step ahead in the future job mar- ket. Therefore, the opportunity to go abroad that is provided through edu- cation is something to be consumed and utilized. CAPITLIZE ON THE EXPERIENCE WHEN YOU GET HOME Studying abroad can be a volatile piece of your resume and student portfolio, the key is communicating your experiences to employers as you begin the job search process. Employers recognize that students who travel abroad at some point in their scholastic career are often the “cream of the crop,” however the student is responsible for communi- cating how those benefits will factor into their ability to be top employees for the company. Students often make the mistake of letting the social experience of studying abroad overshadow the professional and soft skills it pro- vides. Employers are looking for stu- dents who have stepped outside of their comfort zone to go on the trip and spent their time wisely by learn- ing a new language, exploring the country, and embracing the culture. These are all skills that can be paral- leled to the workplace. Using examples from your study abroad experience in your interview, mentioning how the trip has impacted your career decision in your cover letter, and strategically wording the experience into your resume will allow you to get the most out of trip abroad. Sarah Shultz in front of a Mangrove tree in the Khao Yai Tropical Forest of one of the largest national parks in Thailand. 39
May 2008 Supplement
Canadian Agribusiness Employer Guide 08