What has been your most rewarding experience abroad so far?
My most rewarding experience was when I was able to go with one of my patients to a soccer game in a city close to mine. I had discussed wanting to go to a soccer game with my clinical instructor, and he gave me the information to get tickets. After learning how to get tickets, I talked about possibly going to a game with a patient of mine that LOVES soccer, but rarely gets to go to games because she has cerebral palsy and it is unsafe for her to do so without assistance. My clinical instructor realized the situation and offered to come with me to the game in order to assist me with helping my patient at the stadium. Seeing my instructor take not only several hours of his free time, but also the way he genuinely enjoyed helping my patient go to a professional soccer game instilled in me a profound sense of dedication to advocating for your patient’s needs. Plus, seeing how much my patient enjoyed the game was the most rewarding experience of the entire trip.
What has been your favorite part about your host culture?
Obviously the food and the wine were phenomenal, but the best part about the Italian culture was the pride they have for not only their work, but their towns and their countries. They were truly amazing hosts and were always trying to make us feel welcome by inviting us to their houses or exchanging gifts for every occasion. Furthermore, every patient I talked to always had something great to say about where they were from, and they were always making recommendations on what to do and try if I was able to visit.
What was your favorite activity during your time abroad?
Every day at the clinics was amazing. I did not want to leave. I loved seeing the patients and being able to help them. I really wish I could do mission work for a living.
What has been your favorite trip you’ve taken?
We were able to find a local man with a sailboat off the coast of Sorrento who offered to pick us up and take us wherever we wanted to go for an entire day. So we booked the trip and drove down to Naples, Italy, on a Friday night where we enjoyed some pizza from the birthplace of pizza, and then Saturday spent the entire day on the boat. He took us over to the Island of Capri and we went in and out of caves as well as stopping at a local port to enjoy time on the beach. He then took us around the island and down to the Amalfi Coast where he dropped us off at the town of Positano, which is a beautiful town that sits on the side of the mountains. During the ride, he was constantly telling us history of the old ruins and towers we passed on the coast as well as offering to show us how to sail. He even provided us with lunch of homemade pasta and fresh baked bread that his wife had prepared for the trip.
What will you miss the most when you leave?
By far I will miss the amazing people I was able to meet and get to know while in Italy. The places we visited and the sites we saw were amazing, but none of it would have been possible without the help of people who were constantly offering to help us make plans and figure out how to travel to these locations. I feel like in 8 short weeks I was able to make friendships that will last a lifetime.
What has been most challenging living in your host country/culture?
The hardest adjustment I had to make was not being able to drink water from any sinks and having to do laundry by hand. The water from the sink was not safe to drink due to earthquakes in the area, and therefore we had to either buy water from the store or pay to have our bottles filled up (this includes paying for water at restaurants). Also, completing laundry by hand was not an extremely difficult task, but it made us plan ahead because without dryers clothes took at least a couple days to dry.
What is your best advice for a future study abroad student?
If you are going to Italy, travel as much as you can and get to know as many of the locals as possible because they can give you great information about the areas and the culture. Take time to visit small towns, and drink as much wine as you can!
Anything else you would like to tell us?
If you get the chance to travel abroad, take the time to really learn and understand the history and the culture of where you are going because it will make the experience significantly more meaningful.