Animal Agriculture and Life Down Under: Morgan Kimmel, Animal Sciences


Posted: November 12, 2014

If I was describing this trip to an employer, I would tell them about how this trip has increased my appreciation for the Australian culture as well as introducing me to new ideas and outlooks.
At The Maru Koala and Animal Park

At The Maru Koala and Animal Park

Back in January 2014, I set off on a trip taking me across 10,000 miles to the other side of the world.  The journey seemed painful traveling for over 20 hours but it was completely worth it.  I had the opportunity to spend 5 weeks in Australia learning about animal agriculture, animal welfare, and the culture of the country.  However, the trip consisted of so much more than just learning in a classroom.

I started my journey in Melbourne.  Melbourne is a great city to experience Australian culture.  The first 2 weeks were filled with a lot of classroom time listening to lecturers but when we were not in the classroom, all 15 of us often traveled downtown together to wander the city streets and explore.  I gained a lot of navigation skills traveling on the trolleys and figuring out when to get off at the correct stop.  We enjoyed long afternoons on beautiful St. Kilda beach and visited many cultural places including The Royal Botanic Gardens, The National Art Gallery of Victoria, The Healesville Animal Sanctuary, and the Queen Victoria Market where local bands play and hundreds of booths are set up with different kinds of hand-made goods to purchase.  One aspect that I was surprised by were all the street performers who were on almost every corner of the city.  They consisted of artists singing, playing instruments, beat boxing, and we even watched a man ride a unicycle and juggle in Federation Square.  I was entertained everywhere we went.

Traveling the Great Ocean Road was another amazing adventure.  Visiting the scenic views were a once in a lifetime experience because I was given the opportunity to see the natural beauty of the land.  Along the way, we saw many wonderful beaches, wild koalas, the 12 apostles, and Loch Gorge.  After the long drive, we spent a couple nights in a few small places like Halls Gap, Kangaroobie Farm, Dookie, and Wagga Wagga.  During this time, we participated in team building exercises including a ropes course and group projects which increased my ability to work with a group.  The group presentation gave me more professional experience and we were only given 2 days to prepare so I gained more skill in self-management as well.

Morgan KAlong the way, we visited 10 different farms.  We learned all about the management of lamb, wool, dairy, beef, and stud farms in Australia including the differences they have with American farms.  Both wool and horse racing are incredibly huge industries there but not nearly as large in America. 

I definitely loved the homestay aspect of the trip. Living with a host family really invites you into the typical Australian mind and lifestyle. While living with my host family, I learned about Australian customs every day including the fact that they do not use the word ‘sure’ and thought it was ridiculous whenever we said it.  Australians may speak English but trust me, the dialect is quite different from American English.  I gained a lot of skill in communication learning the slang.

The last few days were spent in beautiful Sydney.  The second day in Sydney we spent 6.5 hours exploring the entire city which was incredibly tiring but so much fun. We obviously checked out the opera house, we laid out on Bondi and Manly beach, and walked around The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.   Sydney is an amazing city and I would love to go back someday.

If I was describing this trip to an employer, I would tell them how much I’ve gained from this journey.  I’ve never been on an actual running farm before this trip and now I have experience on many farms of different trades. I would explain to them how much I’ve learned goes into building and managing a farm.  I would also tell them about the animal welfare research and efforts being made in Australia to make sure animals in agriculture are treated ethically.  We listened to multiple lecturers talk to us about research being done including studying how whips affect training horses.  I would also tell them about how this trip has increased my appreciation for the Australian culture as well as introducing me to new ideas and outlooks.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to go to Australia with Penn State. I can honestly say that was the most amazing experience of my life. The only things I didn’t enjoy about the trip were the absurd number of flies on the farms we visited and that Australia is slightly more expensive than America.  If I could change the program at all, I would love if the trip was longer so that we could travel up north to Queensland and see the Great Barrier Reef.

After experiencing another continent and culture, I have a new found love for traveling. I have a surge of motivation to explore the rest of the world and see everything that I can see. Australia was absolutely amazing and I definitely need to go back but this trip has also inspired me to discover more amazing places.  If you have the chance to study abroad, do it!