For two weeks in May, myself, Dr. Cannon, Dr. Ellis and six other students from K-State journeyed to a country where left is the “right” side of the road, chips are actually fries with no salt, and pubs are the place to be after five p.m. Instead of going crazy and hitting up every nightclub we could find (although we joked about it from time to time), we traveled from London to Glasgow, visiting agricultural publications, farms and cultural hot spots along the way. I got my first view of the ocean, the English Channel, nearly got hit by a car in Edinburgh, and managed to get sunburned in a place which is supposed to be rainy 90 percent of the time. Needless to say, we brought the sunshine with us, and when our two weeks were up we took it back home with us!
Highlights of my study abroad experience include (by order of occurrence):
The London Tower
We had a free day in London to visit whichever sights appealed to us the most. My uncle Steve, who works in England as a geologist, came to London to show me around. My favorite sight was the London Tower, which is rich with English history and home to the Queen’s Crown Jewels and an impressive armory display. As the yeoman (tour guide) said after asking if there were any Americans in the group, “Why so quiet? If you had just paid your taxes you could call all this history yours too!”
This castle is not just any ordinary castle. Restored to its former medieval glory with lots of interactive exhibits and convenient ice-cream shops, it’s now a huge tourist attraction. We even climbed all 580 steps (I’m positive they miscounted or rounded down) to one of the towers. While the view was impressive, climbing up and down that many spiral steps was exhausting!
The Pigs of Bath
Bath is famous for the natural hot springs located there, originally discovered and later forgotten by the Romans. They were rediscovered by a Celtic prince several hundred years later, who established the current city there. After being banished from his kingdom due to a terrible skin disease he had, the prince became a pig herder and wandered the country. He eventually made his way down to Bath, where he noticed how much the pigs enjoyed the mud near the hot springs and how it benefited their health, so he decided to take a dip in the water too. The water cured his skin disease, after which he returned home a new man. Today there are numerous artistic pigs scattered around Bath commemorating its historic connection to pigs.
We had the opportunity to spend an entire day touring the family farms of Rick Jones, a dairy operation, and Robert Leedham, an arable crop and sheep operation. Both families were eager to show us around and answer questions. Much of their farming practices are similar to our own, but altered to suit the English climate and much more strictly regulated. Some major differences I noticed is that they encourage using dairy for beef and their major crops are barley, wheat, and canola. This was for sure my favorite part of the trip, after spending a week in London being out in the open again reminded me home.
The Scottish Farmer
This was the last publication we visited but also my favorite. They were a fun group with a great sense of humor. The Scottish Farmer is very good at connecting with the younger generation of farmers using their Facebook page and annual t-shirt competition, during which readers submit funny slogans to go on that years t-shirt. They are a huge hit among the Scottish and us Americans too! Some example slogans are “Ewe want it and you know it” and “Get your hands on a Scottish Farmer.” Our group got quite excited when the staff offered to send some extras along with us.
The Scotch Whiskey Experience
The Scottish are well known for their whiskey, so much so that they have an interactive exhibit dedicated to the history and making of Scottish whiskey, complete with samples at the end of the tour. There are four geographic regions Scotch whiskey distilleries are divided into, each with their own unique flavors. Fun fact, every two minutes 4,680 bottles of 70 cl Scotch whiskey are sold worldwide, which is 39 bottles per second!
Despite the ongoing Huskers vs. K-State jokes (which were completely unnecessary, we don’t even play football against each other anymore), it was a great trip and has given me a fresh perspective on agriculture from a global outlook. To read more about our adventures, you can go to http://acjintheuk.wordpress.com/ Thanks for reading!