Article by Romana Vajdikova
In 2014, LSU and the LSU AgCenter signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mendel University in the Czech Republic. In this agreement, the institutions discussed conducting joint research projects, academic seminars and lectures; exchanging faculty members, students and researchers; and cooperating in graduate education. Since then, LSU, the LSU AgCenter, and Mendel University have capitalized on their expertise in agriculture to pursue international collaboration.
Visiting scholars Romana, Jiri, and Vojtech, join Dr. Rodrigo Valverde and visiting scholar alumnus Cesar in Dr. Valverde's plant pathology lab.
Mendel University was founded in
1919 as the University of Agriculture in Brno. Since then the university has
expanded its focus beyond agriculture, but Mendel remains active in developing
world-class leaders and technologies in agriculture. Its Faculty (department)
of AgriSciences runs many well-equipped research and production facilities such
as the food technology pavilion, bakery, bio-gas station, experimental
breweries, as well as a university farm.
Exchange opportunities at Mendel for LSU students include courses, taught in English, within all five Mendel faculties: Agronomy; Forestry and Wood Technology; Business and Economics; Horticulture; and Regional Development and International Studies. Additionally, Mendel offers exchange students courses within their Institute of Lifelong Learning, an excellent opportunity to expand students’ knowledge to disciplines like economics, regional development, forestry, or horticulture. For undergraduates, LSU and Mendel allow student exchanges with transfer course credits. For master’s and PhD students, there is a possibility of internship without course credit.
So far two LSU students have completed study abroad programs in Brno. First was Cameron Roig, an agricultural business student in the College of Agriculture. He spent one year at Mendel, arriving in September 2017. Cameron immediately felt at home, starting his stay with orientation week organized by the Mendel International Relations Office and Erasmus Student Network. Cameron filled his time in the Czech Republic with studying, meeting new people, and exploring the Czech Republic and neighboring European countries.
Visiting Scholars Patrik, Radek, and Seyman welcome LSU student Cameron Roig during his year-long study abroad at Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic.
“My time at Mendel University was an eye opening experience I won’t soon forget. I was far from home in a place with little in common to anything I was familiar with, yet I was still made to feel comfortable and was given the tools I needed to succeed academically. The professors and faculty at Mendel are knowledgeable and considerate. Any student who comes to Mendel University be they a Czech speaking local or not will find an excellent environment to learn in.”
Plant and soil systems student Noah Willsea arrived at Mendel this September, and he will be taking classes in the Faculty of Horticulture. This faculty is the only Mendel faculty not located in the city of Brno, so Noah is enjoying the surrounding area with its beautiful gardens, greenhouses, and vineyards.
The first exchange students from Mendel will arrive at LSU in January 2019, however LSU and the LSU AgCenter have already hosted more than 10 Mendel visiting scholars. The LSU AgCenter’s Visiting Scholar Program pairs international students and faculty with AgCenter mentors for a 3-to-6-month research program in Baton Rouge. This experience provides research, professional development, English practice, and cultural opportunities to scholars like me.
My name is Romana Vajdikova, and I am an LSU AgCenter visiting scholar and a Mendel master’s student. I became a part of the LSU AgCenter Global Network team for two months. I have experience working in Mendel’s international office and previously spent 5 months in Spain as an exchange student. I love the international environment and know how important (and amazing) it is to step out of your comfort zone.
“It was a big challenge to go beyond the borders of Europe for several weeks. But going to a new place is always so exciting. You may either like it, or not. The worst thing that can happen is that you will not like it and will look forward to going back home. But you never know it until you try it.”
Over the past few years, many exchanges of LSU & Mendel students and staff have also taken place within workshops, summer schools, and study abroad programs. Each experience further develops the partnership between LSU/the LSU AgCenter, and Mendel University.
Visiting Scholars Jiri, Vladimir, Alena, Sara, and Romana enjoy LSU's campus.