Buffalo farms, eco-villages and seeing the world: a Murdoch experience


When you think about studying at university, a few things come to mind – classrooms, lecture theatres, maybe the library – but what about a buffalo farm? Or an eco-village in Asia?

This is the vision of Bachelor of Agricultural Science student Kristen Batten – who has just returned from a second-year trip across the world to learn about Thai agriculture and farming.  

Passionate about animals, the environment and learning how science is applied to cropping and pasture systems, Kristen knew she wanted to study agriculture.  

Initially nervous about making the jump into higher education, she treaded carefully into her first year. 

Now, after returning from a second-year trip across the world to learn about Thai agriculture, farming and cultural practices, she knows she made the right choice.  

“I really didn’t think I would do well – I expected to be cramped in a lecture theatre for eight hours a day, but here I am returning from over two weeks in Thailand, out and about in the field, with more knowledge and memories than I could’ve ever dreamed of,” Kristen said.  

The trip of a lifetime

Kristen, alongside her classmates in the International Field Work in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences unit ANS200, first travelled to Bangkok, for a weekend of activities.  

This included visiting the local markets to smell, see and taste locally farmed produce and seeing extravagant palaces built with traditional architecture and packed with history.  

Next, Kristen travelled to Phitsanulok – a city surrounded by mountains and rice fields.  

“Nothing could prepare me for the beautiful countryside scenery of Phitsanulok,” Kristen said. 

“The week was filled with two activities per day, visiting different agriculture production systems or related practices. It was so interesting to witness how different agriculture in Thailand compared to Australia, where climate, land and technology differ so much from ours.”  

Locals from the eco village opened their homes for the students to stay in, offering a glimpse into local, sustainable living.  

While in Phitsanulok, the Murdoch University cohort met with counterparts from Naresuan University, swapping stories, knowledge and experiences.  

Kristen said the ultimate highlight of her trip was visiting the Phitsanulok buffalo farm, where she learnt about the farm’s intricacies and operations. 

It would be hard to outline simply what I learnt because there was just so much taught and shown to us. I certainly learnt the potential in agriculture that extends internationally and that countries such as Thailand have bountiful career opportunities for agriculture students.”  

Taking the leap

“The further I have gotten into my degree, more and more opportunities have become available beyond my wildest dreams,” Kristen said.  

"You can never really prepare yourself for the experiences Murdoch allows, and I think that has definitely been the best part. You meet so many like-minded, passionate people not just studying alongside you but also mentoring and teaching you.”  

Her advice to other people standing on the precipice of pursuing higher education in agriculture was to “just take the leap”. 

I have met so many teenagers and young adults uncertain about studying, leaving the farm or leaving the country – sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.”   

Below video by Samantha Viljoen. Music: Riptide by Vance Joy instrumental.

Start your journey towards a Bachelor of Agricultural Science
Posted on:

28 Feb 2024

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