In May, 16 students in the inaugural Animal Science in Italy study abroad program began their 30 days overseas. The program, spearheaded by UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences (ANS) Associate Professor Antonio Faciola, immersed students into Italian agriculture and society.
For the first few weeks, students stayed in apartments in Florence. They would travel by train or bus to nearby cities each day. Students also attended classes and completed small homework assignments. Examples of assignments included summaries of their day trips and comparing food prices to those of the United States.
During their time abroad, the group traveled to over 10 Italian cities, including Milan and Siena. Students were also able to visit four vet schools during their trip, including the oldest operating university in the world, the University of Bologna. While at the University of Bologna, students toured the Dairy Research Farm, which features a robotic milking system.
Other animal science-related highlights included touring the Parmigiano Reggiano parmesan cheese facility, visiting a Chianina beef operation, and learning about the production of various cheeses. Students were also able to visit pig and sheep farms. ANS undergraduate student, Angelina Boudy stated one of her favorite stops was the Caseificio Jemma water buffalo farm.
“Visiting this farm was such a unique experience, from trying fresh Mozzarella di Buffalo, to getting to directly interact with the water buffalo throughout the farm. We were able to get an in-depth and informational tour, and it was really incredible to just learn more about these beautiful, gentle animals,” said Boudy.
Outside of agricultural experiences, students visited historical cities such as Rome and Pisa. Students toured several museums and heritage sites. The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Colosseum were among these famous landmarks.
Boudy stated the most meaningful experience she had while abroad was engaging in Italian culture. From trying native dishes to learning local customs, she appreciated the new experiences. Boudy also enjoyed learning about the opportunities available in Animal Science.
“This trip helped expand my perspectives and show me how the Animal Science industry varies between countries based on how animals and their products are viewed as an essential part of culture and everyday life,” stated Boudy.
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