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AN SC 499A: The Equine Industry in Normandy, France – Amy Kraus, Animal Sciences

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Posted: December 18, 2012

I’m amazed by all of the unforgettable experiences we packed into just ten days...

While I was on the airplane to the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, I decided to write down some of my expectations for our ten day trip to Normandy France. Looking back at that page in my journal now, I can honestly say that this class exceeded all of my expectations and put my stereotypical views of France to rest. Considering the diversity of France’s equine industry, I’m amazed by all of the unforgettable experiences we packed into just ten days.

KrausFrance3.pngAlthough it’s hard to pick which part of the trip I liked the best, I’d have to say that visiting Haras du Pin, Haras du Quesney, and Saint Lo National Studs are among my favorite memories of Normandy. These stables which are as old as the United States if not older really showcase the grandeur of France’s equine history. I don’t think that I will ever see more picturesque barns anywhere else in the world. Considering how old the studs are, it was also nice to see the staff’s commitment to the future of the Equine industry and keeping these historical sites profitable.

Unlike some of our more fast paced days, our group was able to take some time to watch the steeplechasers gallop on a beach race track. With Mont Saint Michel in the background, this sight was absolutely breathtaking and definitely worth getting up early in the morning. For me, this was even more amazing than seeing the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame in Paris. It was such a unique opportunity to feel the rumbling of the Thoroughbreds’ hooves and to see the trainers waving to us as they raced past our group.

KrausFrance2.pngBesides learning about the horses in France, I think that this experience really opened my eyes to the world outside of my country.  Even though we only spent a few hours on the Omaha and Utah Beaches, I learned more about the devastation that World War II caused than I ever have from history classes or documentaries. In the United States, it is so easy to get disconnected from war. Seeing the bunkers and the cemetery with all of the fallen American soldiers gave me a new perspective.

Throughout this experience, I was able to work on my communication skills and adaptability. In Pennsylvania, I rarely encounter language barriers, but this changed when I arrived in France. Although I was often frustrated by receiving a different meal than I “thought” I ordered, I found that the French were happy to share their culture and teach us more about their customs.  I have been taking foreign language classes and learning about European history for years, but it’s not the same as actually going there and experiencing the culture.