UMD: A Globally Connected University

Natalie Fecteau

Program: UMD-Winter: India​ (HLTH)
Term: Winterterm 2017
Major: Community Health

My study abroad program was focused on learning about the public health system within India. As a public health student, this experience opened my eyes and allowed me to gain a greater perspective about the health system by experiencing it first-hand in this country. This experience fueled my interest in global health and is the reason I wish to pursue this field after my undergraduate education. [During the program], I met so many inspiring people that work to improve the health of others every single day. Going on this program with 11 other students allowed us to bond so well over the three week period, and I feel like it truly changed all of us.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: I am a community health student, which is what initially drew me to this program. But there were so many students on the program with me that were not public health [majors], so I would encourage anyone to apply for this program because it is still eye-opening and impactful no matter what degree you are pursuing.​

My most memorable experience while abroad was when our group stayed on a houseboat overnight on the backwaters of the Kerala region of South India. The views from the boat were absolutely incredible as well as the meals and stories we shared while on it. It was a great experience because it was so relaxing to just be on the boat and be with each other. Our group bonded so much when we spent the day on the boat, and that is something I'll never forget from this experience.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: I would encourage students to consider [studying abroad] and look for a program that would be enriching to them. When I began the study abroad process, I thought that studying abroad meant being abroad for a whole semester only, but I learned more about the winter and summer programs. There are so many different programs out there, so I would just encourage students to start looking early and reach out to the education abroad office with any questions. ​

The hardest part about studying abroad was adjusting to a new culture. The food and clothing were aspects of the culture that we had to adapt to, as well as other societal norms that you learn along the way. My group asked a lot of questions and stayed informed to ease the process of being in a new culture.