Student Stories: Food science major tastes international trade

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- You don't have to be in a study-abroad program to get traveling experience, Natalie Masters can tell you. The Penn State food science major made her way through Chile during the University's 2011 spring break as part of an embedded course trip.

Through a horticulture class, the Pittsburgh native and 18 other students toured four Chilean cities to learn the processes, challenges and importance of international fruit trade.

Months earlier, the class's first meeting was held in Wegman's grocery store in State College, Pa., examining the produce section, exploring the origins of fruits and discussing the processes behind international fruit trade.

"It's valuable to have that knowledge when working in the food industry," she said. "We need to be more understanding and open minded when there is a recall, knowing the challenges of trying to bring the world's best produce to the United States."

With 19 students and three staff members on board, the Chilean tour started in Santiago, the country's capital, and made its way in a triangular path, traveling through the towns of Curico and Talca, before ending in Valparaiso. The students visited two or three sites each day, before having leisure time to experience the culture on their own.

"I loved going to restaurants and trying their cuisine. Everything is so different there," said Masters, now a senior. "I just love experiencing other cultures, and I think it's important for people to realize that not everyone in the world is like us in the United States."

The experience provided a well-rounded picture of the global trade system and helped narrow her career plans. "I eventually will have to pick a focus," she said. "So now I have a better understanding."

As a Schreyer Honors College student, she came to Penn State for the food science program. "The College of Agricultural Sciences has done a great job getting the best companies to come here and recruit for jobs," she said.

For more information about the food science major, go to online.

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Last Updated February 06, 2013