As a college student studying global health, I participated in ICDS' Health Care in Latin America program.
Now, I am in graduate school for my Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in community health. My study abroad experience helped lead me to this career path.
In Costa Rica, I learned about health systems and policies, which got me interested in systems-level change and population-based approaches to improving health. Community engagement was integrated into coursework and volunteer work, which furthered my interest in working in the field of community health.
All of these opportunities allowed me to practice speaking Spanish - an invaluable skill in the U.S. health care setting. Living with a host family also helped tremendously.
Interviewers are always impressed with my study abroad experience since the courses are so relevant to public health (and they’re always a little jealous of a semester spent in this beautiful country).
Aside from contributing to my professional life, my time in Costa Rica opened up the wonders of travel and introduced me to some of the most friendly people that I still keep in touch with, including my professors and host family. I hope to go back soon
Studying abroad helped in many parts of my life. I learned how to travel and plan for myself and groups. I learned how to handle uncomfortable situations, mostly in regards to language barriers.
Aside from the beautiful country and friendly people, I also grew to respect a way of living that focuses more on those around you then always trying to be the best. I learned to recognize the importance of sustainable living in a time when consumerism is rampant.
I think I have an example or a situation for every part of my life that I can relate to my time abroad. Without sounding too corny it is an experience that defines my young adult life.
While we were preparing for our trip to Finca Agroecológica La Flor, I was anticipating what the finca would be like. I pictured lots of green, little cabins, and a few people who would make up the staff. One of the biggest differences from my expectation was the amount of people at the finca! I had no idea that it was made up of a little community. That was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I love how sustainable small communities work together for the benefit of the whole.
The Finca Agroecológica La Flor is an incredibly beautiful place for a fieldtrip- this is the first thing that came to mind when I got the chance to tour the area. For the educational portion, both Everhart and Steven were so knowledgeable about everything regarding the finca. As I look back on the experience at the finca, the first thought and feeling that comes to my mind is community. Community and love. For the short time that we stayed there, the feeling of unity with one another as people and with nature was so pervasive that it has left a true impression on me. The visible passion of all those involved in the community at the finca left a great and lasting impression that encouraged me to have more concern about the impact that I have on the environment and to constantly stay informed.
My six weeks in the ICDS program were a fantastic experience, in which I not only had the opportunity to learn about Costa Rican culture and achieve fluency in Spanish, but also explored the beauty that Costa Rica has to offer.
In addition, my host family made me feel welcome at home, and the professors showed genuine interest in my learning.
As a result of my experiences in class, in the hospital emergency department, and around the country, my summer with ICDS has armed me with solid Spanish skills that have helped me both in and outside of a clinical setting.
I have been able to successfully translate in clinical situations where none of my colleagues spoke Spanish and I can converse with my friends from Spanish-speaking countries.
All in all, I highly recommend the program for anyone who has an interest in Latin America, the Spanish language, public health, or just wants to have an incredible summer experience.
Hola! I attended ICDS’ Health Care in Latin America in the Winter of 2016.
My time abroad has been a humbling and enriching experience. During my time there, I have learned a lot about their unique health care system, culture, and wonderful biodiversity.
I got to practice speaking Spanish with my host family, volunteer teaching English to children, and travel the country with amazing friends that I have made along the way.
This was especially important to me because I got to explore a different part of the world, immerse myself in an unfamiliar culture, and come outside of my comfort zone. From that I gained more independence, knowledge of Latin America, and invaluable soft skills.
Since then I have graduated from Drexel University with a B.S. in Health Services Administration and soon will be starting my M.S in Occupational Therapy at Jefferson.
Thanks to ICDS I now have some Spanish medical terminology under my belt and feel more comfortable working and interacting with Spanish speaking patients!
Studying abroad in Costa Rica was the highlight of my entire college career.
Going to another country for ten weeks and living with a host mother who didn't speak a word of English was challenging and pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I am extremely grateful for that experience.
I couldn't have asked for a better group of students to spend my time in Costa Rica with. We spent almost every weekend exploring different parts of the beautiful country ranging from Caribbean beaches to mountains and hot springs.
Our classes were informative and engaging, and I looked forward to the trek into San Jose every day knowing that we would be learning something new about the healthcare system in Latin America. The ICDS team was welcoming and helpful, especially in the beginning when our Spanish-speaking skills were developing.
Overall, this program was an unforgettable experience and I encourage anyone who is considering studying abroad in Costa Rica to do it without hesitation.