Here is the final post, as promised! As the program recently ended, and I have had a chance to reflect on what I have learned throughout the program. Every day that goes by, I miss Puebla even more than I did the day before.
My advice for students who go abroad is to embrace the discomfort of immersion and always keep a growth mindset. For me, it was difficult to go from a top-performing student in my Spanish class to feeling like an inadequate communicator. It is a very humbling experience, having to struggle to find the words to communicate that come to us so naturally in our mother country. I continually strive to reach a higher level of proficiency in Spanish, and this trip has inspired me to work even harder. I found that thinking less about being correct all the time in my language skills and instead trying to communicate more complex ideas. Although it was difficult, this made it easier for me to make deeper connections with people. I am happy to say that I am still consistently talking to two people I met from Puebla, and I am continuing to learn Spanish from them. These lasting connections are some of the best parts of my study abroad trip, and this was only made possible by branching out of my comfort zone.
At this point in my experience, I am still deciding where to go for my semester abroad. While I originally planned on Spain for the sake of being able to travel across Europe and see a completely new culture, I think it would also be valuable to spend more time in Latin America to get a more immersive experience there. As a future doctor, I think it would be beneficial to have more experience in Mexico and be better able to cater to immigrants that come to America. In the coming semester, I will have to think about it and decide.
Hopefully I will upload and post my photos soon. Until next semester!
Hola from Puebla, Mexico! I was planning to post sooner, but I have been busy immersing myself in all that this wonderful city has to offer. I have loved being surrounded by a place so rich with history and culture and am excited to share a small portion of what I have learned with all of you!
I have been participating in the Summer Pre-Medical Program in Puebla as a part of OU, which aims to provide students opportunities to attend lectures about public health in Mexico and spend the mornings shadowing medical professionals in a public hospital. As a pre-medical student, I was naturally attracted to this program and the exposure I could get to what healthcare is like in another country. For me, the idea of learning about the Spanish language and medicine at once was the most appealing part of the program.
I am happy to say that I have not been disappointed in this regard—I have learned a great amount not only about medicine and Spanish, but about Mexico as a whole, ethics in the hospital, living independently, and taking the responsibility for shaping for the experience you want abroad. I have enjoyed learning through experiences, from scrubbing in to surgeries to going out Cumbia dancing with strangers. One night out we happened to meet a group of young adults who lived in Puebla who invited us to a barbeque the next weekend! I have learned that putting yourself out there and attempting to communicate, even with imperfect Spanish, really enhances the study abroad experience. The important part is to embrace the learning and not to expect perfection.
Within the hospital, I have done rotations so far in surgery, pediatrics, and gynecology and obstetrics. This week, I will go to the emergency department. Here, I learned that putting myself out there was of the utmost importance for getting opportunities. Trying to communicate with medical staff made it possible for me to learn about different surgeries I witnessed, how to tie surgical knots, how to use a stethoscope to listen to babies, and so much more. Even after leaving a floor I worked on for a week, those connections still have been beneficial for me and made the experience even better.
I will write a post again in the next couple days summarizing more of my findings and to share photos. Stay posted!
The Democratic Republic of Congo announced an Ebola outbreak this week, leading Nigeria to take precautions. There will now be temperature screenings at all borders for travelers from the DRC. More than 11,000 people have died since the epidemic started, and that is the low estimate. See the following link for more information. (Information and images from https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/10/africa/nigeria-ebola-screening/index.html).
Several recent cases of sexual assault in India have prompted the government to find new ways to address the problem. As a result, India’s Cabinet has passed an executive order mandating the execution of rape perpetrators against children under 12. This is currently awaiting approval from parliament before being enacted. See the following CNN article for more information and five interviews with Indian women on the matter. (Information from https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/08/asia/india-women-rape-intl/index.html).
In March, I attended the United World Cultural Show to support some of my friends showing off their talents! This was a unique show because there was a variety of acts, from singing to stand-up comedy, all with an emphasis on cultural background. One of the most interesting acts was the “fashion show” in the beginning, where students dressed up in clothing from their culture. I loved seeing students share their culture proudly with the University, and I hope to go to this event again in the future.
At the end of the year, I helped out at the OU Cousins BBQ loading buses and making sure the event ran smoothly. I appreciated how festive and eager to dance everyone was. We danced to various country songs like “Cotton-Eyed Joe” and had an old-fashioned BBQ meal. I appreciated the company of the other club members, and even made a few new friends!
I continued participating in OU Cousins this semester, and am excited to announce that I am a member of the Advisory Board for next year! I hope to continue being friends with my cousin and I am excited to tell her all about my adventures abroad in Latin American this summer. Next year, I look forward to being more involved with this organization that promotes diversity on campus!
Many countries around the world are alarmed and the rate at which North Korea is developing its missile technology. The ultimate goal, according to Pyongyang, is to develop a missile topped with a nuclear war head able to reach the United States. This is allegedly for defensive purposes, in order to prevent the US from ousting Kim Jong Un from power. This event reveals that open communication and cooperation internationally can prevent the threat of violence to civilian populations. (Information from http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/29/asia/north-korea-missile-tests/index.html)
Four days ago, a terrorist attempted to detonate a bomb in the busiest subway corridor in Manhattan. Though the bomb failed to fully detonate and there were no serious injuries sustained to witnesses, it seriously disrupted the city’s transportation. Akayed Ullah, the perpetrator of the violence, stated that he planned to detonate a bomb “in retaliation for United States airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere.” Terrorist incidents such as this reveal a need for a more cohesive global community that works together for the protection of all lives. For more information, refer (Information and images from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/11/nyregion/explosion-times-square.html)
This semester, I participated with the OU Cousins Club on campus. In order to help international students adjust to a new country, students from the US are matched with an international student, and they are “cousins” for the semester! My cousin is a girl from Colombia, and I enjoyed hearing about her experiences in South America as well as Europe. She speaks Spanish very fast, and so I aspire to gain that level of proficiency. Overall, I plan to continue in this club next semester and to keep in contact with my cousin.