Antoine Mellon is the highlighted SMU Abroad student of month
Antoine is a Biology major at SMU. He studied in northeastern Tanzania during the spring semester of 2018. Being a STEM student at SMU, Antoine was told that it would be very difficult to study abroad with his course load. Determined to take advantage of this opportunity to study in another country, Antoine researched various ways so that he could find a program that would work with his course load and provide valuable hands-on experience. Antoine is interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.
What influenced you to go abroad? What have you gained from the experience?
I wanted to experience a different type of teaching and learning, and I needed something much more interactive than simply a classroom experience. Coming to Tanzania through SFS gave me the learning experience that I was looking for. In this program, we learn the basics in class, and then we go apply them in the field. Whether it be our wildlife management course – where we further our understanding by going on safaris, or our political economy class, in which we go to nearby towns and interview locals to get first-hand information on their lives. I feel that these experiences further my understanding and appreciation for the material I am learning.
Why did you choose this program?
I am a Biology major with a strong interest in wildlife and potentially veterinary medicine. During the study abroad fair at the beginning of the year, I saw a flyer with pictures of lions and zebras. I was immediately interested due to my love and interest for wildlife. By talking further with the SFS representative, I learned more about this program. This program therefore allowed me to earn Biology credit for SMU while also learning about wildlife management and ecology.
Can all STEM students study abroad?
I was told several times by professors and classmates that studying abroad as a Bio major on the pre-health track may be difficult or impossible. I decided to do my own research and find a way to make this experience work. It is definitely possible to study a whole semester abroad and earn enough credit in order to graduate on time, even if you think your major is not designed to allow this. Advisors may tell you that it probably isn’t possible for your major, but there is definitely a way to make it happen.
What has been your favorite part of living in Tanzania?
I came to Tanzania because I wanted to see the animals and go on Safaris. The locals have singlehandedly made this experience amazing. Through various community service projects, the interviews we have conducted in nearby towns, and simply by playing soccer, volleyball and ultimate frisbee with them every day, I have realized that I was ignorant in thinking that I only really wanted to see wildlife in Tanzania. There is much more to a country than just the scenery and the wildlife. Engaging with the community and learning from the culture should always be a priority when visiting a new country.