Equine Industries in France - Maria Dahl, Animal Sciences Major, INTAG minor


Posted: September 29, 2012

This past summer of 2012, I attended a study abroad trip with Dr. Marianne Fivek and Dr. Ann Swinker, and fifteen other students from Penn State. The trip was for an embedded course on French Equine Industries in Normandy. The objective of the trip was to learn about the horse business in France, which included, breeding, transportation, dressage, racing, showing, and selling.

The class and I spent seven days in Normandy, the beautiful and historic countryside of France. Our last three days of the ten day trip, was spent in Paris. I would have to say I enjoyed Normandy a lot more than Paris. Paris is a beautiful, romantic city with a tremendous history, but it was also very crowded and dirty. Paris has a great metro and subway system, but I found it was very confusing. Normandy was more to my tastes because I enjoy the countryside. One part of Normandy we visited, called the city of Caen, we visited many beautiful horse farms and racetracks and there were quiet little villages, shops and restaurants everywhere we went. I remember seeing a beautiful view from the top of a hill in one the villages that showed a panoramic view of the countryside farms and meadows.

DahlFrance2.pngWhile in Paris, our class had time to explore on our own. I was able to see the Louvre, where the Mona Lisa painting is housed, but I just looked from the outside. There is also a river that runs through Paris called the Seine.
The class and I were able to visit many different art museums as well as the cathedral of Notre Dame. Everything was very expensive in Paris, especially the restaurants. While in Normandy they weren’t so expensive.

My favorite attraction that we visited was in Normandy. There is a cathedral housed inside a fortress right along the northern beach of Normandy called Mont Saint Michel. It’s very interesting because it was built right on the coastline, but sits atop a sandy bar where the waves can’t penetrate the walls. It is a fantastic sight to see and I was so happy I was able to see this great historic monument from medieval times.
One skill I was able to gain while in France was an appreciation for other cultures. French people are very polite, quiet, and have a great appreciation of food. DahlFrance3.pngFrom about eleven until one, all stores were closed because the French people like to take their time to enjoy their lunch. Unlike many Americans who tend to eat lunch and work, or go to class, at the same time. This trip also expanded my knowledge and appreciation of horses. I’ve never seen a dressage show or a horse farm as great as they are in France.

If I were applying for a job related to agriculture, I would definitely be able to describe my trip to my potential employer. It would be a great addition to my resume and I know my employer would find me a more valuable as an employee if I have knowledge of agriculture from abroad. It is a very unique experience because not everyone has the chance to study abroad.