I chose to study in Chile through SIT’s Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment program because I wanted a program that would allow me to immerse myself in Latin American culture and also learn about the health challenges and practices of the local population. My program was based in the small city of Arica, which was very close to the borders of Peru and Bolivia and provided an ideal location to study the effects of migration and multiculturalism in health care. One of my favorite aspects of this program was learning about how the Chilean health system is working to provide more culturally-sensitive care for vulnerable indigenous populations in order to reduce existing health inequities.
Studying abroad has enhanced my Rice academic experience primarily by providing opportunities to translate classroom-based knowledge into real-world situations. The field-based, experiential nature of my study abroad program allowed me to learn from local professors, health professionals, and policy-makers through lectures, field trips, and and excursions across the country. When I wasn’t in class or participating in programmed activities, I was constantly learning by interacting with local people such as my host family, students at the host university, fruit vendors at the local markets, etc. In this way, my study abroad program allowed me to fully immerse myself in the local culture and form meaningful cross-cultural relationships that will last a lifetime.
Overall, participating in a study abroad program has allowed me to become more sure of my interests, values, and goals and has shaped me into a more open-minded, globally-aware, and empowered individual. I could not be more excited to share my experience with others students and encourage them to study abroad as well!
My advice: Don’t be afraid to take risks and leave your comfort zone! There is a world of possibilities beyond the hedges of Rice, and experiencing a new environment and culture is an amazing way to broaden your perspective and develop your passions.