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OSU Abroad

Comparative Healthcare: An Ecuadorian Perspective

December 2nd, 2013 · No Comments · College of Science, Ecuador, IE3 Global Internships, International Degree, University Honors College

Erik Dove is a senior in the Honors College at Oregon State University, pursuing degrees in Biology and International Studies with minors in Chemistry and Spanish.  He works as an International Ambassador for the International Degree and Education Abroad (IDEA) office. In Spring 2013, Erik participated in a medical internship in Quito, Ecuador, through Child Family Health International and IE3 Global Internships.

I recently returned from a ten week medical internship in Quito and Chone, Ecuador, through IE3 Global Internships. IE3 partners with Child Family Health International, an organization that connects local and international health professionals to conduct community health projects and global health education programs.  My internship took place in clinics and hospitals in two cities, offering a comparative perspective on the health care available in urban and rural settings. Our curriculum consisted of daily clinical rotations and Spanish classes, yet offered ample free time to explore the cities and travel on weekends. On a professional level, this internship exposed me to differences in clinical care, ethics, and health education, stemming from the distinct cultural identity of the Ecuadorian people.

Erik Dove I CFHI I EcuadorI lived with a host family throughout the ten week program.  This opened up the door to cultural experiences to which I would not have otherwise been exposed.  Our house was located in downtown Quito and was a quick walk to the bus stop, where I could access all parts of the city for twenty five cents. My host family was also able to give me advice on places to visit, activities to do, and foods to try.  Additionally, my Spanish speaking skills were greatly improved by living with the family, as it forced me to practice my Spanish continuously.

I chose this particular internship site because it offered the chance to gain valuable clinical and language experience.  A personal goal of mine is to become proficient in Spanish, so living with a host family and taking language classes as a part of the program contributed to the immersive experience I was looking for. During clinical rotations, we learned treatment practices, conducted patient interviews, and assisted physicians when necessary. An added benefit was that it exposed me to societal and cultural aspects applicable to my undergraduate thesis, which focuses on public health issues in Ecuadorian populations.

For me, the most valuable component of the CFHI internship was the opportunity to develop skills necessary to communicate with patients of a diverse culture. These skills are a vital element of being able to deliver effective care as a health professional. ThroughouErik Dove I CFHI I Ecuadort the program, my program peers and I witnessed the importance of considering each patient’s values, beliefs, and ideals. An individual’s cultural background may influence the attitude they have towards medicine, their physician, and their understanding of health.  For example, during the time I spent in the Emergency department of the rural city of Chone, a patient was rushed in with a poisonous snake bite. Upon arriving, his forearm was blackened and enormously swollen. As he drifted in and out of consciousness, his friend explained that he had been bitten almost 5 hours previously, but had initially sought treatment from a medicine man rather than the hospital. Due to his delay in seeking professional treatment, he was sent into surgery for amputation.  This incident represents the challenges health professionals face when treating individuals with varying levels of health awareness. Consequently, health care workers who are sensitive to cultural issues are able to provide a higher level of care for their patients. The internship experience offered the opportunity to develop my language and cross-cultural skills, and provided the necessary education to enhance clinical experiences.

An additional advantage of the internship was the exposure to a variety of medical specialties, which allowed me to explore focuses within the field of medicine.  Our intern group spent each week in a different clinical setting, observing in the Surgery, Hematology, Emergency, and Internal Medicine departments to name a few.  This made for incredibly interesting experiences in all kinds of clinical settings – gruesome dog bites, broken bones, and the rapid assessment and treatment of victims of accidents.

My experiences in Ecuador led to an appreciation for a health care system vastly different from that of the United States.  I returned with greatly improved Spanish speaking skills and a broader sense of cultural awareness. The internship helped me to identify specific areas of medicine that interest me and allowed me to gain experiences that will enhance a future career in health.

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Lay-Ups in Lancaster

November 21st, 2013 · No Comments · College of Liberal Arts, Education Double Degree, Exchange, Political Science, Returnee, study abroad

Zach Johnson is an International Ambassador for the International Degree and Education Abroad (IDEA) office. Zach is currently studying Political Science and pursing the Education Double Degree at Oregon State. During the 2012-2013 academic year, Zach participated in a year-long OSU exchange program at Lancaster University in Lancaster, England.

As a huge soccer fan, I had always wanted to see a live match in England, but if someone had told me two years ago that I would be watching a Premier League Zachary Johnson I Lancaster Exchange match in Manchester, England I would have laughed in their face. Studying abroad transformed what seemed like an unlikely dream into a reality. During the academic year of 2012-2013 I had the privilege of studying abroad in Lancaster, England at Lancaster University. I was lucky enough to be accepted into an OSU exchange program through which I was able to pay regular in-state OSU tuition, fees, etc. and study abroad in another country. As a duel major student (Political Science and Education) I am entering my fifth year now, and actually went abroad in my fourth, so don’t let your academic class standing stop you from going abroad! While abroad, I studied politics, specifically international relations courses that focused on the Middle East, the UK, and the EU. This was an amazing way to gain new and exciting perspectives on some of the biggest issues in politics.  During my time I was able to travel to multiple countries, including Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, and more!

One of the more surprising aspects of my journey abroad was the fact that I tried out for the Lancaster University Basketball team and made it as an international walk-on! As a dedicated sports fan, and someone who grew up playing competitive sports there has been a little something missing in my life since finishing my competitive sports career after high school. For this reasonZachary Johnson I Lancaster Exchange I did a bit of research about the team and contacted both the coach and president of the team prior to my arrival in Lancaster. We discussed if they held tryouts for international or exchange students, and luckily for me they kept five spots on the team for open tryouts. As Lancaster is a very popular international school, and many students participate in yearlong or two yearlong exchanges they leave a limited number of roster spots open for students like me. So, I attended the open tryout and was selected to fill one of the open positions. I eventually worked my way into the starting lineup which was an incredible honor for me. During the season we played in the Northern England 1A division—the second highest division in England. I was able to travel all around the UK playing basketball, meet a ton of incredible people and revitalize a passion of mine! This was just one of many aspects of a remarkable year I spent abroad. From the people, to the places, to the experiences,  my year abroad provided me with not only the most fun year of my life, but one in which I grew immensely as a friend, student, and individual. I will end here, and leave you with what almost any person who has spent time abroad will tell you and that is to do it, you won’t regret it!

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A Voyage of Self-Reflection

November 15th, 2013 · No Comments · College of Science, Returnee, Semester at Sea, study abroad

Helen Walters is a senior  at Oregon State pursuing a degree in Bioresource Research with a minor in Chemistry. During Summer 2012 Helen voyaged with Semester at Sea (SAS) – a program that provides students with a multiple country experience. During her 2 month voyage, Helen visited the countries of Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Morocco and Portugal. 

This past MV Explorer l Semester at Sea l Summer 2012summer, I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in Semester at Sea’s 2012 Summer Voyage. The entire experience was made possible because of funding that I received from both Semester at Sea and Oregon State University.  Throughout my program, I wrote and shared a blog of my various adventures and experiences with family, friends, and contacts back home.  The trip, as one would imagine, was incredible. The new sights, experiences, and friendships I discovered were beyond anything I had previously imagined. Being immersed in so many different cultures stimulated a lot of reflection time when I got back to the U.S. I discovered that what I had most taken away from my SAS experience was a broadened sense of the world and a more accurate sense of self.

As it turned out my favorite experience wasn’t the snorkeling in Croatia, or the camel riding in Morocco, or watching the 2012 Eurocup semifinals in Barcelona, Spain (and mind you I am a huge soccer fan). My favorite part of the trip was how I felt at the end. I thought for a long time, “why was it that out of all the new experiences I had and people I met, that the ultimate end of the experience was a greater understanding of the world and how I fit in it.”

This brings me to the crux of my reflection: Culture Shock.

You hear many times before embarking on your journey abroad that when you reach the destination, you will experience something called “culture shock.” Culture shock happens when you are completely immersed in a culture that is unlike the one you have spent your entire previous life in. It can be scary, exciting, new, and ultimately shocking. Culture shock is discussed as something to be feared, wary of, and ultimately inevitable. The reverse of culture shock happens when you arrive back home and are re-introduced to America.Semester at Sea l Turkey l Summer 2012

When you arrive back stateside from your study abroad, people view you differently and you view yourself differently. You feel like a different person and those around you, who are at all perceptive, take notice.

Before I went on the 2012 Semester at Sea Summer Voyage, I had never been out of North America.  I had never before heard people speaking languages that I did not understand, nor had I seen stop signs written in Arabic (a language I could not even begin to read) and I certainly had never met people like those I met abroad.  I was in culture shock.

One of my favorite experiences actually involved being lost in Istanbul, Turkey. I was looking for a hotel that my friend’s mom was staying in and somehow managed to get very lost. It was dark and we were wandering in the back alleyways of Istanbul. The biggest problem was that I couldn’t understand any of the people and therefore asking for directions was quite challenging. My friend and I saw five Turkish men sitting on the side of the road playing a card game and chatting away. Desperate, I approached them and asked for directions to the hotel, as I frantically pointed to the address on the piece of paper that I clutched in my hand. They were talking in Turkish. I was talking in English.   Not a word was understood. It was obvious that we were at an impasse.

Then, one of the elderly gentlemen took my precious piece of paper containing the address I was trying to reach. He raised his hand in a motion to follow him. Then the question was “do I follow the old man down the dark alleyway or do I not?” Well, yes was the answer I came up with. Yes. For twenty minutes, my friend and I walked through winding alleyways, up and down hills, and around buildinSemester at Sea l Turkey l Summer 2012gs as we followed this man. Eventually, we came out on the busy street. Right in front of us was the hotel and the man was frantically pointing to it, as if saying “please, it is right in front of you, you cannot miss it from here!”

As I am searching in my purse for some Turkish liras, the nice gentleman just walks away. Although he didn’t accept any form of payment for his help and he may never remember me, I will forever remember him as the man who showed me the way in Istanbul.

Yes, some of the culture shock was scary, but mostly it’s exhilarating. For the first time, I was the minority. I was the one having difficulties speaking a language that was foreign to me. Ultimately I was the one who didn’t “fit in.” It was absolutely wonderful. This new atmosphere induced vast amounts of learning about other cultures and stimulated a desire to understand the world better.

The bottom line is that no matter how well one attempts to prepare for it, culture shock can still happen. When you return you may be the quiet one who prefers to re-examine the scenery of America, or you may be the boisterous one who wants to share every single story you have with every person you meet. Regardless, remember your experiences abroad and remember how they have allowed you to see the world in a different light. Most importantly, remember that no matter what you saw or did, you are still the same person, but with a greater understanding of the world at large.

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Interning at the Cheetah Conservation Fund

October 30th, 2013 · No Comments · IE3 Global Internships

Ben Spearing is a Biology student at Oregon State University who is currently interning in Namibia through IE3 Global Internships. Ben is working with the Cheetah Conservation Fund, an organization that aims to conserve cheetahs and their ecosystems. The largest and healthiest remaining population of cheetahs is in Otjiwarango, Namibia, making it a prime location for the CCF’s International Research and Education Centre, where Ben is an intern.

Check out a recent update from Ben below!

When a cheetah is still releasable there are quite a few steps that Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) needs to take before being able to let it back into the wild. Usually, cheetahs that end up here have been set back in development in one way or another. They may have lost their mother at a young age soNamibia IE3 Cheetah Conservation Fund they didn’t learn to be a cheetah, or they may have been injured and needed to be taken in for surgery or dentistry work. Either way, we need to be sure that these cats have what it takes to go out into the wild and be successful. Opening a carcass, finding water holes, proper hunting techniques, and predator avoidance are some of the things that a cheetah must know to survive. These tactics are put to testIE3 Cheetah Conservation Fund- Namibia in our soft release camp called Bellebeno. This is a game reserve that contains game and water holes that the cheetah must use to survive. Cheetahs placed in Bellebeno will be monitored and, if deemed successful, will then be taken to a nearby reserve to be released into the wild. Further monitoring is done on the cheetah while it is the wild to make sure everything is going alright. This whole process has recently happened with two adult females here at CCF named Luna and Athena. Just the other day they were taken to the wild. This is a big part of what CCF strives to do, and we all have a fingers crossed that these two girls continue to thrive while on their own.

To view the original entry as well as Ben’s other blog entries, please visit: http://benspearing1.blogspot.com/

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Summer in Salamanca, Spain

October 23rd, 2013 · 1 Comment · API, College of Liberal Arts, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Spanish, study abroad

Alexsandra Dos Reis is an international student from Brazil currently studying at Oregon State. During Summer 2012, Alexsandra studied at la Universidad de Salamanca through the Academic Programs International’s (API) Spanish Language and Culture Program. At Oregon State, Alexsandra is majoring in Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS) and has a minor in Spanish.

In the summer of 2012, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain. This is one of the best choices I have ever made. I was able to learn Spanish and visit so many places in Spain that I could only dream of. From the city of Madrid to the warm blue oceans of Cadiz, Spain was incredible. Not only was I able to be in Spain, but I chose the perfect summer to go. While I was in Spain, the Eurocup was going on as well; this made my experience so much more worthwhile.

Puerta del Sol l Madrid

In Madrid, Spain I got to step right smack dab in the middle of the country. This was part of Puerta del Sol or “Gate of the Sun”—one of the best and busiest places in Madrid, where many events are held for the city.

Cadiz, Spain was one of the most beautiful places we visited. The entire city looked like a blank white canvas with all the white buildings. The ocean was the warmest ocean I have ever been in and I never wanted to leave. This was just one of the many different wonderful places we visited, but definitely my favorite.

One of the most amazing things that I saw every day for two months living in Salamanca was the new cathedral that is connected to the old one. Every city had a cathedral which was the tallest building and this one was the most beautiful. I was able to visit inside and go on top to view the city. Being able to see this every morning when I woke up was the best part of my day.

I’m so happy that I studied abroad in Spain while the Eurocup was happening. I have never felt so part of the community. The celebration was incredible. It didn’t matter who you were, where you were or what you were doing. You could hear fireworks and people celebrating everywhere. You felt as one, even with strangers. Soccer and especially the Eurocup is such a big part of Spanish culture and if you don’t enjoy it, you will after you leave.

Since I decided to study abroad during the summer, everyone in Spain was on summer vacation. All the students that were attending school were students that were studying abroad too, so the structure of school was a little different. School was great, it would start at 8 AM but you would be done for the day by 1 PM. I was able to learn a lot because the teachers were all native Spanish speakers and were able to work so well with all of us learning the language. I learned a lot especially in understanding Spanish. My speaking skills did improve, but not as much as I had hoped.

A part of it was the program I went to study abroad with. I studied abroad with Academic Program International (API) and this included about 20 students from the U.S. I feel that we as a group were together a lot and actually did not speak much Spanish to each other. This really affected learning more Spanish because speaking English was the easy way out for all of us.

Another part that really affected learning to speak more Spanish was that I went to study abroad with a native Spanish speaking friend. Though I loved experiencing everything with a friend the most important part was improving my Spanish and this was a bad choice on my part. I ended up relying on her a lot when shopping or trying to communicate with other people, even our host mother.

I was not only able to improve my Spanish while living there, I learned so much about the culture and how it is so different than the U.S. Being born in Brazil, living in the United States and studying abroad in Spain, I got to learn a lot and compare all three. The relaxed feeling of the culture in Spain and all their siestas (naps) was so comforting. It just seemed like everyone there took the time to do their work, but to enjoy life and all the simple things. It seemed to be the same in Brazil. In the U.S. everyone seems like they are always rushing or have something to do and it is so stressful even if you are not that person. Being in a community where everyone takes the time for everything was relaxing and very stress free.

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Immersion in Ecuador

October 7th, 2013 · No Comments · Ecuador, IE3 Global Internships, Returnee, Spanish, Uncategorized

Cody Buongiorno is a Senior at Oregon State majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. During Fall 2012, Cody traveled to Ecuador through IE3 Global Internships and participated in a medical rotation internship for Child Family Health International (CFHI)

Making the decision to travel to the astonishingly beautiful and diverse country of Ecuador was a remarkable and immeasurably beneficial experience. I achieved a longtime dream to study and live in a different region of the world. Throughout the three months of my Child Family Health International (CFHI) medical internship in the fall of 2012, I completed an intensive intermediate Spanish course focused on language and medical terminology. Cody Buongiorno - IE3 CFHI EcuadorAdditionally, I was privileged to work alongside and learn from seven doctors in various specialties, and interact with countless other doctors, surgeons, medical students, nurses and, of course, many patients. I was immersed in both the rich Ecuadorian culture and healthcare system. I lived with another Oregon State student and three other CFHI interns participating in different programs who were all interested in studying medicine.

The programs varied, reflecting each student’s level or experience with the Spanish language, the medical field and prior world travel. The medical coordinator, a local family medicine doctor, organized the clinical rotations and weekly progress meetings while also providing excellent advice and making the students feel comfortable. I spent seven weeks of my program in the city of Quito, and three weeks in between on the coast. I started off at a pediatric clinic and maternity hospital with my fellow OSU intern. We travelled by trolley or bus to the clinic and the hospital where we worked with doctors for four hours each morning. We then returned to the Spanish school for four hours of language classes. With this general schedule I rotated through a pediatric clinic, a maternity hospital, a surgery rotation, a family medicine clinic and a specialized hospital for oncology and hematology.

Cody Buongiorno - IE3 CFHI Ecuador

After the first five weeks, I ventured to the coast of Ecuador where I lived and worked in the rural town of Chone. The pronounced and distinct change in climate, culture, language and my personal lifestyle both refreshed and challenged me after becoming accustomed to the massive city of Quito. I lived with a loving and caring host family that assisted my assimilation into the culture and accepted me as a part of their family with open arms. I worked alongside a very caring and intelligent pediatrician with whom I spent the majority of my time. We worked eight hour days in the hospital, running between the inpatient cases and the outpatient clinic while continually referring to surgery, the ER, the ICU, radiology and other specialty areas of medicine. This portion of the program was more hands on and intense as I learned from many medical professionals, worked with my doctor one-on-one, dealt with patients while under supervision, and interacted with the entire working community of the hospital.

All the while, I took Spanish classes taught by instructors who became friends, connected with my fellow interns, integrated into multiple host families, and traveled all over Ecuador. While abroad I expanded my comfort zone and tried many adventurous activities: paragliding, waterfall repelling, bungee jumping, and finally, zip lining. The entire program was memorable. I witnessed sixteen surgeries, recorded countless interesting medical conditions, learned from many upcoming physicians in both a clinical and a classroom environment, examined children in Chone – after being taught how to perform a complete physical – and learned how to interact with doctors, nurses, and patients. I saw cases of dengue fever, severe bronchitis, intense malnutrition in children (kwashiorkor), heart murmurs, intestinal blockages, and many more. I encountered patients with remarkable recoveries, complicated surgeries and captivating medical cases. The entire culmination of experiences in my internship confirmed my desire to enter the medical field.

In the end it was difficult to say farewell to my family and to the country that helped me grow into the person I am today. I have been affected in so many wonderful ways and have the desire to travel more and experience other cultures of the world. I met unbelievable people along the way and encountered marvelous adventures. My study abroad greatly exceeded all expectations and was far more enjoyable and beneficial than I ever imagined. I entered my internship as a junior in college and, with the help of all the life lessons and skills I gained from studying abroad in Ecuador, I emerged with the goals of maintaining my Spanish, traveling the world on a greater scale, and someday becoming a doctor.

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Art, Food, Love, and Wine in Italia

September 19th, 2013 · No Comments · API, College of Liberal Arts, Italy, Returnee, study abroad

Jordan Shields is an English major at Oregon State. In Fall 2012, Jordan studied abroad in Florence, Italy at the Lorenzo De’Medici School through API.

Wanderlust: a very strong and irresistible impulse or desire to travel the world. Nothing could be more true for me. I’ve wanted to travel ever since I knew there were roads that could take me to another place. Specifically, it has always been Italy. I talked and talked about it, until I made it happen. I don’t think anyone really believed that I would ever make it and at only 21 years old! I chose to study abroad because while I do have that strong craving to travel, I also knew there were things I needed to overcome. I’m a naturally shy person and I have a very hard time communicating with people or asking for help, and I knew without a doubt going somewhere a foreign language was spoken would force me to come out of my shell and ask for that help. I was rewarded with wonderful new friends and my favorite memories thus far in my life.

One of the best parts, if not the best part, of traveling the world was that I was able to do it with one of my best friends. I somehow convinced her to go to Italy with me; my reasoning being that she most likely will not get another chance to see the world for a long time. I know now that if she hadn’t gone with me, my experience would have been entirely different, more challenging, and probably not as fun. She brings out the best in me and I will be forever grateful to her.

I was expecting Italy to be full of romance, art, great food, and even better wine. All turned out to be true and the city where I studied, Florence, turned out to be the perfect choice. It’s a small enough city that you can walk it in a day (granted, you are dead tired by the end of it). It is home to the best red wine in all of Italy, and the architecture is out of this world. Passing the Duomo every day to get to my classes seemed like a dream and I find now that I miss the old church, it was a comfort when coming back from a long weekend; it was a symbol of home. Florence also happens to be home to Michelangelo’s David, along with countless other masterpieces, but David stands on its own and it is truly a masterpiece to behold. I know where my favorite places to eat in Florence are and I’ll forever be craving Gusta pizza and fresh gelato. I miss seeing Stefano and Anna in their little espresso shop. Italians are the friendliest people in the world if you talk to and get to know them. The people you meet are what make a place feel like home, which makes Florence feel like home to me. And it always will.

There was never a doubt in my mind that I would make it to Italy, I just didn’t know that the opportunity would arise through studying abroad, which I have to say was the best decision of my life.  I have left my heart in so many places and I don’t regret that for a second.

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Empowered in Ecuador

August 26th, 2013 · No Comments · College of Liberal Arts, Ecuador, OUS, Returnee, study abroad, Uncategorized

Samantha Beattie recently graduated from Oregon State, where she studied History and Spanish. She ended her college experience studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito through OUS International Programs. Now, Samantha is pursuing her Master’s in Library and Information Science at the University of Washington.

My experience in Ecuador was one of the most profound and immense experiences of my life. Since I returned, I have tried to ruminate on my experiences as a whole, but I have found that this is very difficult to accomplish. There is no way to explain the experience of being immersed in the sights, sounds, and culture of another country that is so phenomenally wonderful, beautiful, and welcoming as Ecuador. My time in Ecuador was more than a vacation or a semester abroad; my experience in Ecuador will be a part of me forever.

One of my favorite parts about Ecuador is the immense beauty of the region. What makes Ecuador so unique is the incredible diversity in its landscapes. Ecuador has everything from the beautiful beaches and stunning coastline of the Galapagos Islands, to the awe-inspiring Andes Mountains, to the amazing ecosystem that is the Amazon jungle. The most amazing part is that all of these vastly different landscapes fit into a country roughly the size of Oregon.

Another reason why my experience abroad was so memorable is that I was able to immerse myself in the culture. Traveling around the country relying on only my language skills was one of the most fulfilling parts of the experience. I also enjoyed going to a University that had a mixture of Ecuadorian students and international students. However, the most beneficial part in immersing myself in the culture was living with my host family. My host family is absolutely amazing; they opened their arms to me and really made me feel a part of their family. We still keep in touch, and their friendship is one of the things I value most from my Ecuadorian experience.

Before I left to study abroad I was very excited, and had high expectations, however there was no way to really know how phenomenal the experience would end up being. Living in Ecuador is one of the most profound and shaping experiences of my life.

 

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A Newfound Global Perspective

August 8th, 2013 · No Comments · College of Business, Returnee, Spanish, study abroad

Lyndsay Toll is a senior studying Management and Business Administration. She studied abroad at the University of Murcia in Murcia, Spain through the College of Business exchange program.

Lyndsay Toll with Map l University of Murcia l SpainPeople

One of the best parts of studying abroad was meeting so many international people. I met a rainbow of people and explored not only my town (Murcia, Spain), but all over Spain. The local Spanish people I met opened their world up to me. They taught me their language, presented their favorite foods, and explained their culture, history, traditions, and beliefs. They showed me the beauty of their country and helped me acclimate to their environment. I was able to tutor children, learn at the university, play soccer with the locals, experience the culture, and explore the land. I was able to do more than I imagined. While I could have done it all on my own, it would have been much harder and less meaningful without the context and facilitation of the friends I made.

Places

The most attractive part is commonly the adventure of the experience. While visiting multiple countries is intriguing, I highly encourage spending time traveling within the country you visit. I found amazing hikes, wineries, historic cities, palaces, festivals, and more by connecting with the locals and exploring their favorite parts.Spanish Scenery l University of Murcia l Spain

Problems

An interesting aspect of studying abroad is that you see the world’s problems in a different light. I became immersed in another lifestyle, political system, and economy. The comical phrase “first world problems” is quickly understood. Not every country has the same conveniences we have, making the lifestyle more interesting to adapt to. Also, while I was in Spain, I was in the midst of their economic crisis. I experienced strikes, protests, and sat next to people as they broke down in tears of despair over the uncertainty of their future. I experienced their political struggles and more. I’m not saying this to discourage people from traveling to Spain, in fact I found this a blessing.  Living in Spain gifted me with a more worldly perspective and understanding of different lifestyles, economies, and problems that are out there in the world. It’s hard to truly understand the issues going on in the world until you live there and see it for yourself.

Perspective

The most valuable aspect of the trip was the perspective and understanding I gained. I got to live another life. I walked in the shoes of another culture, and saw the world from another view. I was able to learn what is truly important :Politics in the Streets l University of Murcia l Spain

-Nothing is more meaningful than your support network of friends and family;

-Nothing is more precious than the earth’s natural beauty;

-Nothing is more positively impactful than the ability to harmonize, understand, and work together.

While everyone takes away something different, I hope my takeaways have inspired some to embark on their own adventure and broaden their perspectives. Safe travels my fellow adventurers. Stay young.

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A Surprising Surgery in Chile

June 3rd, 2013 · No Comments · Chile, College of Liberal Arts, Spanish, study abroad

Alison Blazer is an International Ambassador for the International Degree and Education Abroad office. Alison is studying Speech Communication and Spanish. During fall 2012, Alison studied abroad at Universidad de Bío Bío in Chillán, Chile through OSU.

Alison Blazer - OSU Chilian, Chile F'12 (3)Last fall term, I studied abroad in Chillán, Chile for four months. This program is OSU specific and gives Oregon State students the opportunity to travel with fellow Beavers and complete the entire second year of Spanish language courses in just 3 months. I had an incredible experience living in a new country, immersing myself in a new language and culture, bonding with my host family and classmates, and learning about myself. Throughout my time in Chile, there were several unforgettable adventures, but the most memorable of all was my emergency surgery.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I was experiencing a lot of stomach pain. The pain became so bad that I could do very little other than sit in bed, so I talked to my program director, my mom and host mom- all of whom thought it was probably appendicitis, but hoped it was something different. When I finally conceded that I had to go to the doctor, my program director immediately put a plan into action.

Less than an hour later, I was in the clinic with my Chilean grandma and a close friend of my program director. My program director was unfortunately in Santiago (about 4 hours north) for the weekend and feeling just about as helpless as my mom back in California. There was an hour and a half wait at the clinic, but luckily a surgeon friend of the program director met us outside and saw me immediately.

Alison Blazer - OSU Chilian, Chile F'12 (6)I saw the doctor at 5 p.m. and was scheduled to have surgery at 6:30 p.m. The next hour was filled with me frantically trying to get a hold of my parents in the states and figuring out what the nurses were asking me in Spanish. My dad had taken off for a fishing excursion in Shasta before knowing about my operation, so my mom and younger sister were left alone to worry. Thank God for Skype!

A few of my closest friends in my program came to the clinic as soon as they heard the news, and my host parents rushed back to Chillán from a neighboring town where they had been at a barbeque. Luckily everyone got there before I had to go into surgery. They were so incredible; helping to connect with my family back home, distracting me while the nurse put my IV in, and asked me what I needed from my house.Alison Blazer - OSU Chilian, Chile F'12 (4)

A little after 6:30, I was wheeled into the operating room with my Chilean host parents saying that they’d wait there for me and not to worry. In the operating room, I was moved to the operating table and then came the worst part…..spinal anesthesia. I’ve been under anesthesia before- once for an eye surgery when I was nine years old and again briefly for my wisdom teeth removal, but never in a million years did I think that I would be receiving spinal anesthesia. So picture this: I’m sitting in the OR with a team of about 10 people (surgeons, surgical nurses, the anesthesiologist etc.) all of whom are speaking Spanish and I get told that they’re going to stick a needle in my spine with no prior wooziness or drugs coming my way. Safe to say it was one of the scariest moments of my life. They kept telling me not to worry. I tried to explain in Spanish that I wasn’t worried about the surgery. It would be a piece of cake. My problem was the fact that they were about to stick a needle into my spine. But hey, what can you do? After the piercing pain of the injection, my feet immediately got super-hot and went numb and that sensation continued up my legs until I couldn’t feel anything below my chest. The nurses put a curtain up separating my head from the rest of my body and I was immediately concerned that they weren’t going to put me to sleep.

About an hour later, I woke up in the recovery room, unable to move my legs and extremely woozy. I was filled with relief- I had made it through surgery in South America, thank God! Not being able to move my legs was an unpleasant experience, but my nurses in recovery were so nice and asked me how I was doing each time I managed to wake up for a few moments before falling back asleep. This went on for about two more hours until I was finally taken back up to my room and immediately greeted by my Chilean parents.

Alison Blazer - OSU Chilian, Chile F'12 (5)After that, I spent a couple nights in the clinic to be monitored and get medicated via an IV. My host parents, my program director and my friends all sat by my bedside in shifts over the next few days until I was released and able to go home. The main priority at the time was just to fully recover—I was planning on traveling to Peru to see Machu Picchu one month after surgery. If that goal was to be reached, I would really need to lay low and recover at my own pace.

It’s safe to say that I never thought I would have surgery without my parents present, let alone in a different country. I owe so much to my program director, my amazing classmates and my fantastic host family who were all there for me 100% of the way. They pulled strings to get me to see a doctor quickly, sat by my bed before and after surgery, and told me not to worry. It’s fascinating to me that even when sleeping alone in a Chilean hospital, I felt comfortable and sure that I was receiving the best care possible.

I truly believe that there is no better way to learn about oneself and your own strengths and abilities than traveling abroad.  Any experience abroad is bound to provide students with a new global perspective and the ability to grow and learn at a new rate by constantly challenging oneself. Personally, I am so grateful for the opportunity to have gone to Chile in the first place and now each and every day I think about my experience, my health and the amazing support system I have here as well as below the equator.

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