I highly recommend doing a study abroad program. Even if it is just for a week. I completed a week-long study aboard program and it was by far the best experience I have had. I went to Donegal, Ireland where I got to experience living life as a local and being submerged into their culture. We worked in the local community center with people of all ages to help teach preventative methods to reduce common health risks.
It was a very educational experience. I learned a lot from the other students in my group; from ways to test the different levels of fall risk in older adults to oral hygiene to how to check blood pressure and glucose levels properly. I also learned a lot from the people in the community. I learned how their health care works, as well as the specific job roles of the nurses/ doctors in the community. It was very different than the nurses/ doctors in the USA. It was very interesting to see the similarities and differences between the different countries. There were some aspects of the healthcare in Ireland that I think worked better compared to the USA, but also some things that need to be improved.
Along with the educational aspect of the trip, we did a lot of exploring. We went on tours of the town that we were staying in, the Glenveagh castle, the beach, a hospital, and a town in Northern Ireland. We also had an Irish history class, an Irish language class, and an Irish dance class. We put the Irish dance class to good use when we went to a pub later in the week to listen to traditional Irish music. We were welcomed by the locals who danced with us all night. It was my favorite activity we did outside of working with the locals in the community center.
Overall, it was a great experience. I would go again in a heartbeat. The views were incredible and the local people were very sweet and welcoming to us. It gave me the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, and learn more about public health on a global scale.
-Courtney Allen: Old Dominion University