Student Spotlight: Ben Bryant

Ben Bryant study abroad

Forest Management major Ben Bryant spent his time studying abroad trying to answer the question, “what is sustainability?” He traveled with 30 students from NC State, Purdue University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences throughout Europe to study sustainability and natural resource management in Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic. to learn about sustainability and natural resource management. From comparing forestry techniques to exploring urban planning, the group took an in-depth look at the interconnected challenge of sustainability on a global scale. Check out Bryant’s experience, which was supported by the CNR Student Assistance and Enrichment Fund.

How did this experience impact you?

Before starting my study abroad experience in Europe, I had never traveled outside the Western hemisphere and had only a small idea of what to expect from Europe. I was nervous about being thrown into a group of 30 students that I did not know outside of the fact we were all in some field of natural resources. After the first day of the trip, everyone was already becoming friends and we all bonded over the fact we knew nothing about Europe. By the end of the program, everyone on the trip could navigate European cities and understand the cultures and norms of Europe. This has been the biggest impact for me, developing a new understanding on how others outside the USA live their lives. The norms in the USA are not the same as Europe, so it was a great experience to learn about the differences in our cultures. Another very important impact from this experience was making new friends from NC State that I shared this experience with and get to always talk about with them.

How has this experience prepared you for your future career?

On this study abroad trip a large portion of the course was focused on forestry. Whether we discussed it in classroom settings or went into the woods to see forestry up close, a lot was covered. From this trip, I was able to see how forestry operations work in European countries and how it compares to the United States. The biggest preparations for my future career was talking to the foresters we went on tours with about what they do for their jobs and how much schooling it took for them to get trained in forestry.

What did you enjoy most about your experience?

What I enjoyed most about my experience was traveling between countries and seeing how the landscape would change. Traveling from Sweden to Germany, there is a big change in environment due to the altitude difference. Transitioning between places also lets you see the differences in architecture, which was really interesting, especially since we went through some parts of the former Soviet Union. Seeing the culture change and experiencing different languages and currency was also cool for me. Just experiencing the changes between countries is a part of the trip that really stands out to me.

What did you learn about yourself during your experience?

From this trip, I learned that the field of forestry is the perfect field of study I want to graduate from and that I had made the best decision to study at NC State. Having a 4-week course, where almost every other day was spent in the woods, really alerts you to if you like spending all day in the woods, let alone make a career out of being outside. This experience did enlighten me that I want to study nature and have a career that involves being outside and among trees.

Would you recommend this experience to other students?

I recommend this experience to other students simply for the opportunity to see more of the world. Everyday on the program was a new place we would get to visit and learn about, so nothing got stale. On top of visiting new places, you’re becoming friends with some amazing people on your trip. If you want to find a group of people to become friends with, do study abroad.

What do you enjoy most about being a College of Natural Resources student?

The most enjoyable thing about being a College of Natural Resources student is having like-minded peers to be surrounded by. During my study abroad trip, I had some of the most in-depth and passionate conversations with other students from the college about the environment and issues facing our generation. It is amazing to have peers who love the outdoors as much as you and who love talking about nature.