Justine Boulay

Justine is a student at the University of Ottawa in Biomedical Mechanical Engineering. She is very sporty and has been practicing Taekwondo for several years. She got her black belt in 2015.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it met my expectations for what I wanted to achieve while being abroad. That is to say, it allowed me to share my strengths with the community, to work as a team, and to face challenges. Additionally, this course allowed me to visit another country and work in a hospital assisting doctors and nurses, something that I could not do in my home country.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

To get the money needed, I sold chocolate. I did a garage sale. I sold empty bottles. Several people supported me financially by giving me a small amount of money.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would say that nothing is more uplifting than visiting a new country and discovering their traditions. It’s a unique opportunity to spend time in another place as a student while learning and visiting the country.

It’s a great opportunity to travel abroad, to go and help a community and to discover their traditions.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Every day the routine and activities were different and fantastic, depending on the choices I made. Having chosen the "pre-med" option for the program, one day I might find myself in the hospital learning about medicine, the next day I could be volunteering in the community helping to build houses, or participating in activities either on the beach or in the jungle or near a volcano.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was to find myself in a foreign place with other students I didn't know. I felt far from home. The language barrier was also difficult but I got used to it and I saw it as a challenge to learn a new language.

What made your experience abroad special?

I appreciated this program because it allowed me to confirm what I really wanted to do later in life. The 2 weeks spent in a hospital with doctors and nurses allowed me to practice my medical knowledge and learn how to perform stitches, diagnose diseases, and evaluate patients in an emergency room.

Another great experience I had while I was on this program was helping to finish building homes in the community. Helping these people paint their homes gave me a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. I felt useful and appreciated for what I was doing. Moreover, the reaction of people when they receive the keys to their home is unexplainable.

What touched me most was an 80-year-old gentleman, who was the first individual in his family to receive a house. It is a moment of memorable and unforgettable joy. We forget our little problems and we see that in some countries people have almost nothing.

I want to have another experience of this kind. I want to travel and get to know other cultures and to help them. This is why I’m now working as a leader for the program this year. My taste for adventure will continue and I will meet other challenges.