One thing I learned [by studying abroad] was that it feels amazing to leave your comfort zone because it resulted in making new friends and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. We always felt safe and the guides we had throughout the trip were so phenomenal when responding to anything we asked them. The hospitality of the people we met was indescribable and many of us mentioned that we would love to meet them again in the future! Although being far away from home with no internet access felt intimidating at first, it made the experience more memorable since we were always present in the moment and in the end it felt as if my mindset had been rejuvenated. Looking back at the many activities we did and places we went to, I can call this a one of a kind trip with confidence.
Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: As someone who doesn't speak Spanish fluently, there was a bit of culture shock when there were a lot of people around us speaking in Spanish. However, the professor and classmates who spoke Spanish helped us communicate when needed and some of us ended up speaking a few phrases to each other for fun!
This class isn't the average classroom experience, as we were mostly learning while we were taking hikes and visiting communities of the Amazon. Meeting face to face with people and learning about the health issues they face and how they treat them was such a unique experience and I am forever grateful for the opportunity. We experienced living in a village (San Jose de Uchupiamonas), which was the most heartwarming experience of the trip. The locals made us feel very welcomed and reminded us that we could call this place our home. I feel that we have left this trip with new mentors that we can call family.
Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: I became interested in studying abroad during my junior year and thought it would be hard to find a class that would count towards my major, since I no longer needed any electives. I was pleasantly surprised when this new program was created for both undergraduates and graduates in public health. It gave me an opportunity to talk to others who had various interests in public health and I gained new insights from other classmates when they talked about their passions in public health.
While we were in Bolivia, there were a few days where it was quite cold at night and some of us had gotten colds. It's important to take care of your health, but not to forget to enjoy your surroundings. Dr. Carter-Pokras did an amazing job in making sure those who were sick were rested and allowed time for breaks. There were also many times when the guides had asked the cooks to make soup for those of us who were sick which was very thoughtful of them.