What was your motivation for studying abroad?
I knew to expand my horizons I would have to travel. I wanted to be able to say I’m truly walking to the beat of my own drum. Having never left the country before I wanted to experience a program that offered true cultural immersion.
Presenting my capstone paper on both the Cuban Healthcare System and Cuban Revolution. This may not sound glamorous to many, but this gave me a platform to educate my peers on what I learned. To finish a program completely (mostly taught in Spanish) unrelated to my course of college study and make a connection with my field was amazing. During my presentation I was proud of how much information I absorbed during my stay in Cuba and knew I would cherish this experience for many years to come.
Adapting to the new environment. I didn’t have the luxury of driving to school anymore. I had to walk to and from school in all types of weather. From extreme heat to heavy downpours. I also had to refresh my Spanish. It was a little tough communicating in the first two weeks with the natives, but they were eager to help me learn. We also had daily blackouts between 12pm-2pm. This meant no electricity whatsoever to conserve power. The toughest aspects are also what contributed to the beauty of the program.
Without a doubt, it has made me a better person. I’m always eager to go places I’ve never been now more than ever. I’ve learned to push my limits in both my personal and professional life. Studying abroad is also a VERY humbling experience to say the least. It’s really hard to put into words what my experience has done for me.
Tremendously. There is always something new to learn. I’m fascinated with learning about other cultures. I had preconceived notions about living in a third world country, but I was pleasantly surprised. Third world countries are not all synonymous with poverty and sickness. Cuba was peaceful, welcoming, and fun. Before I went to Cuba my family and friends were all ranting about the embargo that was imposed at the time. My experience taught me that looking from the outside in one’s perception might be tainted by personal views.
How has study abroad impacted your education and/or career?
Learning about the Cuban Healthcare system and seeing it firsthand was amazing. It solidified my decision to pursue a Masters Degree in Public Health. Studying abroad has allowed me to standout from my peers. When someone sees my resume, the first thing they ask about is Cuba.
Go for it and don’t second-guess yourself. There will be times when you want to give up, but at that moment is when you need to push even harder to complete your program. You’ll look back on the experience and I can tell you now without a doubt you will be proud of yourself.
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