NACOGDOCHES, Texas — With the added perk of exploring a new culture, 12 students from Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture traveled to the Netherlands this summer to learn about the country’s natural resources and horticulture production.
Over the course of the two-week trip, students visited four cities while observing history, art and scenery.
“The Netherlands is a beautiful country with lots of natural beauty and wildlife,” said Brandy Bishop, a student in SFA’s Doctor of Forestry program. “There is also a lot of diversity with people from all nationalities.”
The trip was led by Dr. Brian Oswald, Joe C. Denman Distinguished Professor of Forestry, and Dr. Michael Maurer, professor of horticulture, who both provided insight as the students immersed themselves in several activities.
Students and faculty visited national parks, museums and gardens, including the Open Air Museum, the Anne Frank House and De Hoge Veluwe National Park.
“The Open Air Museum took you through important historical periods that shaped their culture today,” Bishop said. “I appreciated that the Dutch utilized real artifacts rather than replicas in all of the places we visited, especially at the Anne Frank house.”
Students quickly drew connections between nature and culture at many of the country’s attractions. While at De Hoge Veluwe National Park, students biked through hundreds of species of flowers and wildlife.
Additionally, the rich history of the Netherlands allowed students to learn more about the impact of policies and major events related to conservation practices.
“My favorite activity was visiting historical sites like the castles, Open Air Museum and World War II museums,” said Bryan Pace, a candidate in the Master of Forestry program.
From Apeldoorn to Amsterdam, the group enjoyed the sights and appetizing cuisine.
“The food is amazing, with less preservatives than the U.S., if any,” Bishop said. “There was always fresh bread, cheese and vegetables available.”
Many of the meals they shared left a positive impression and heightened their experience.
“Don’t get me started on how good the food was; I couldn’t get enough of it,” Pace said.
As they traveled to many popular locations throughout the country, the students used different forms of transportation.
“It took a few days to get the hang of walking or riding bikes everywhere, but it was worth it,” said Rachel Miller, forestry senior.
The trip allowed them to interact with locals and engage in an environment unlike what they might experience at home. By the end of their travels, they returned to the U.S. with a greater understanding of how their areas of study influence more than just their own surroundings.
“I wish I could go back and do it all over again,” Pace said.
To learn more about SFA’s study abroad programs, visit sfasu.edu/international.