This time I would like to share with you my exchange experiences. In fall 2015 I travelled to Texas to study for one semester at Texas A&M University. It is specialized in Agriculture and Mechanics, but there is also an economics department, mostly linked to the agricultural sector. It was a perfect opportunity to focus a bit more on agricultural related issues.About the courses± I followed three agricultural economics courses and two agricultural law related courses. For me it was a requirement to follow at least three economic related courses because that is my major. However, I think this is a bad advice. Two of the three economic courses had too much overlay with my previous studies. The law courses were new for me and very interesting.
One month before my study would start in Texas, I went to a farm in Michigan owned by Dutch familiars. It was impressive. The farm has around 1300 heifers (cows) and young cattle. All distances are taken by car, because otherwise a lot of time would be waster by just walking around. Further, the farm has 1000 acre of crops. Crop harvest is done by the farm family and its employees themselves. At the last day, a second cousin went over who works on a farm with 10.000 cows nearby.
After my stay at the farm I went to Texas. Texas A&M University was initially a university for corps members. Nowadays everyone is welcome, but the corps are still important. All students have the opportunity to join them. The university has 60,000 students. It is enormous for Dutch perspectives. The university has its own emergency services such as a hospital, ambulance, patrol cars, and fire trucks. And of course it has its own American football team with stadium. It provides seats for 102,000 visitors. Before the start of every home game, an enormous tailgate takes place with stands of the aggie family all over campus. ‘Aggie’ are students, alumni, families, and employees of Texas A&M university.
Texas A&M is a school with many traditions. One of the most important traditions of Texas A&M is that of the 12th man. It refers to the students standing at sport games where Texas A&M participates in. They do yells under leadership of the Yell Leaders. This is done instead of cheerleaders.
Another tradition which made a big impression is Silver Taps. Every first Tuesday evening of the month, if necessary, fallen aggies are honored with a ceremony whereby all the lights on campus are shut down, everyone gathers to the center of campus, everyone is silent, and a strict ceremony follows by a special trained team.
On campus, I stayed at T.O. Walton Hall, an all-male dorm. All dorms have their own traditions, but they are connected through Student Bonfire. This is a project that takes places every fall whereby students build a bonfire. Every dorm forms a crew. This project also involves many traditions. Everyone has its rank position. For details, you should undergo this experience it yourself. It gave me the chance to be on the field every weekend, and also many evenings. The perfect opportunity to enjoy the nature and agriculture in North America.
After my study, I stayed one month at a ranch in Arizona. It is a farm with 4000 acres of mountains, with around 120 beef cattle. With horses they are driven to other parts of the area. One call was enough to arrange this stay even though it included Christmas and New Year’s Eve. They treated me like their family. It was the perfect opportunity to experience the ultimate country life experience.
The Americans are very friendly and open for your ideas and requests. If you plan to go to North America, keep this in mind and use it in your advance. When you have specific things in mind, please note that it is actually possible! The Americans are very open to support you so that you can realize your dreams.