Every since I came to college, I have always wanted to study abroad. I had a small study abroad experience in high school, and I realized how much you can learn from surrounding yourself in another culture. It was actually this study abroad trip in high school that made me decide to major in Spanish. I decided soon after coming to the University of Alabama that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, and use my Spanish skills to help Spanish speakers all over. I found the Nicaragua Clinical Experience through being involved in the honors college. This experience had everything that I was interested in – an experience with medicine and experience in another culture. I feel that the best way to become a great physician is to fully understand your patients – you need to know where they come from. I chose this trip so that I could experience some of the Spanish culture first hand and begin to understand everything about these people.
To prepare to go abroad, I took a class with the honors college for this trip all throughout the spring. We learned about the culture and specific medical terminology in Spanish. I also spent time this year as an interpreter which helped me prepare to be able to communicate with the people that I would be interacting with while abroad. Emotionally, I prepared to adapt. The key to studying abroad is to be able to have an open mind and adapt to the new location and lifestyle. The most important thing that I brought with me was definitely my journal. I think that it is so important to take note of your experiences so you can have them for forever. As I prepare to leave I need to make sure that I have all my donations and all the clothing and materials that I will need to live in an unfamiliar place for two weeks.
I was beyond excited to leave. This trip goes to Nicaragua every year, but based on recent violent protests and some problems with the government, the Nicaragua Clinical Experience was changed to Peru. I have never been to South America. The town that we were going to, Tarapoto, has many little villages that are very underserved. Although Peru was not the culture that we had learned about all semester, I was very excited to see a new culture and adapt as we went. I am very excited to update my family and friends on all the new things that I will experience. I have been abroad multiple times so I am less nervous and more excited.
I hope to gain a deeper understanding of healthcare in the Spanish community from this experience. I want to be able to understand more about the Spanish culture and how I can use this knowledge to help people in the United States.