Hoffman returns with greater perspective on agricultural issues

February 12, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE-UW-Platteville senior Rhonda Hoffman, a native of DeForest, returned from a four-month international study opportunity in The Netherlands on Jan. 20.

Hoffman chose to study in The Netherlands because of a one-to-one exchange formed between UWP and The University of Dronten as well as the opportunity to study agriculture. Hoffman was interested in learning about the different styles and techniques of farming in a wet climate and the similarities between Wisconsin and The Netherlands because both have a main agricultural focus on dairy farming.

Hoffman lived in new flats built on the The University of Dronten campus. Each of the six flats had five bedrooms. Hoffman lived with two men from Hungary and a couple from Poland.

Prior to leaving, Rhonda knew one other person, Jon Woolever, who is also a UWP agriculture student. Hoffman is an agriculture education major with a minor in animal science.

Hoffman's most memorable experience in The Netherlands was living with people of different nationalities and working with people of different backgrounds in her classes.

"I learned more about other countries, their education systems and governments, than I have ever learned in a history class. I have made lasting friendships and changed some of my opinions on the different cultures," said Hoffman.

Hoffman was initially inspired to study internationally by Barb Daus, special assistant to the chancellor, and a friend who traveled internationally a year ago and had a wonderful experience.

"I met the students from The Netherlands who studied at UW-Platteville last year. They all helped to convince me to try a semester abroad," said Hoffman.

Hoffman attended classes in livestock production, specifically farm management, animal health and epidemiology, pig and poultry production, dairy nutrition and animal breeding and biotechnology.

Hoffman additionally traveled on many weekends and during her holiday break. While Hoffman was in The Netherlands, she had the opportunity to travel to Poland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Belgium.

"I would recommend it [study abroad program] primarily for the experience of living and learning about different cultures. It makes one realize how lucky we are to be living and farming in the United States," said Hoffman.

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