Story by Kevin Waida
Raeann Magill had big dreams to study abroad. A junior soil and crop sciences major with a minor in Spanish, she first started studying Spanish in high school and had always thought about going abroad at some point after college. But as she followed her journey through Spanish at CSU, she had an epiphany: “I could go now, I don’t have to wait until I graduate.”
But the journey into another world only served to whet her appetite for adventure. While in Argentina, Magill begin exploring additional opportunities to travel abroad, and found the perfect opportunity through WorkAway. WorkAway is a cultural exchange program where travelers stay with host families in exchange for service performed in their business.
The next stop
Magill found the perfect fit for her next adventure: A 3,000-hectare sheep and cattle ranch in Uruguay. She hopped on a ferry that took her across the Rio de la Plata and into Uruguay, and then a five-hour bus ride from the capital city of Montevideo to Mariscala, described by Magill as “the middle of nowhere.”
“The town was small, but had all the basic necessities,” she notes, adding that it might not be the ideal place to get hurt, on the other hand. “The hospital was two hours away.”
She spent much of her time there working on the ranch, communicating with gauchos to accomplish a variety of tasks around the property. The towns in the area are filled with community spirit and cows, lots of cows. Magill estimated that there are probably three cows for every person in Uruguay.
Uruguay was not short on surprises, from kissing people on the cheek to greet them to dinners that started considerably later than they do in the U.S. Magill said Uruguay did not disappoint on good food. One of the more memorable highlights for her was the weekly asado, a weekly social barbeque featuring all the meat you can ask for. “You have a ton of meat, so much meat, more meat than anything else on the table.”
Preparation at CSU
Part of Magill’s preparation for the journey included taking the Spanish for Animal Health class at CSU taught by Shannon Zeller. The class is part of a relatively new initiative by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures called “Languages for Specific Purposes.” As Zeller explains, the courses are aimed at real-world practicality. “The course will give them the skills necessary to communicate in a professional context,” she said.
“I learned the foundations from Shannon,” notes Magill. “The class was really engaging.”
The “foundations” included everything from giving instructions to describing the animals to asking everyday questions like “Which horse am I going to ride today?”
In addition to an unforgettable journey, Magill also saw her Spanish improve. “Last spring, I was in Spanish 200, now I’m in 400,” she said.
What’s next for Magill?
“I know I have to be back down there,” she states with purpose. “CSU has prepared me, and I am so ready to go back!”