Freshman year of college is a time for a lot of firsts in the lives of many 18- and 19-year-olds as they venture to the University of Arkansas from their respective homes. It is a grand adventure they have chosen to pursue and a grand adventure is what they will get—late nights full of studying, new friends from across the state or even from another country and new experiences every day.
With new opportunities knocking on the doors of all college students, answering that figurative door can be intimidating for those new to the scene – especially when an opportunity asks you to jump to a new country and culture across the ocean from home. For sophomore Kylee Sigmon, the choice to answer the door and pursue the chance to study abroad was a no-brainer.
Originally from Berryville, Ark., Sigmon is a double major in agricultural business and agricultural communications. During her freshman year, Sigmon became interested in the international programs offered by the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences International Programs Office (IPO), thanks to guest speakers in her orientation classes.
When she applied for the Food, Agriculture and Sustainability in Greece program, Sigmon admits to feeling a bit nervous.
“I think any student will be a little nervous their first time studying abroad,” said Sigmon. “I knew I would be in great, capable hands once in the country, so that settled the majority of nerves I had leading up to the trip.”
With her head held high, Sigmon pushed forward and put her energy into finding funding.
“One of the biggest things I learned through my experience is that the funding is there,” said Sigmon. “There are many other ways to fund study abroad trips. The student just has to be self-starting and motivated enough to execute what works best for them.”
Once abroad, Sigmon was able to capitalize on the opportunity to learn more about sustainability in agriculture as well as history. Not only was she able to see first-hand how agriculture was practiced in Greece, but she was also able to see ancient ruins as well as significant religious and cultural sites.
The time abroad gave Sigmon perspective for when she came home to the United States.
“I returned home with a strong appreciation of being an American,” said Sigmon. “I had never taken a moment to realize how developed our agricultural practices are.”
Returning to campus after studying abroad provided new opportunities for Sigmon to step up as a sophomore and serve others within her college.
“I have been able to serve as an IPO mentor this year and encourage others to take part in an international experience,” said Sigmon. “If my story and experience can convince just one person to apply for a program, I would feel satisfied.”
For more information about international experiences offered through the Bumpers College International Programs Office, visit http://bumpersinternational.uark.edu.
About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture.