Rachel is a Pre-Med student at Furman University.
Why did you choose this program?
I chose this program because I wanted to experience healthcare in Spain as well as to enhance my Spanish abilities. I chose a smaller city in order to experience genuine Spanish culture and have more intimate interactions within the hospital. As a Pre-Med student, it is difficult to go abroad, but this program provided a unique opportunity to go overseas and gain valuable shadow hours in the hospital.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Atlantis is very hands-on. They will be in contact with you before, during, and after the program. You are responsible for traveling to/from your host city, however, they offer guidance on trains, buses, airports, etc. Atlantis plans one to two weekly group dinners and group excursions, however, most meals and any additional travel are planned on your own. Compared to the United States, eating out and traveling is a lot cheaper (and the food is better!!)
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Attempt to speak the language even if all you can say is hello/please/thank you! It goes a long way when you show an effort to use the country's language! Many people will speak English, or have things written in English, however, trying to speak Spanish is a nice cultural gesture.
Also, take into consideration that customs or behaviors might be different, so you might have to adjust! Don’t worry though – you’ll learn as you go, and people love hearing about where you’re from or what you’re doing!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Mondays to Thursdays are spent at the hospital, although evenings are pretty open to relax or explore with other fellows. There are one to two group dinners per week (which were my favorite nights!). Fridays are group excursion days! Saturdays and Sundays are completely open – take advantage of the time to travel!
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was worried that I would not get along with the other Fellows, since Medical School is competitive, and everyone is trying to gain an edge. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I absolutely adored everyone in my group. We supported one another throughout our time in Spain and had meaningful conversations, memories, and travels! I still keep in contact with just about all of them, and I know we’ll be there for one another through Med School!
What was the most influential moment of your program?
During my surgical rotation, I witnessed an amputation. While it was necessary, it was emotional, to say the least. The day after, I switched to my rotation in Pediatrics and saw a live birth. To come full circle from the loss of a leg to the beginning of life was incredibly moving, and it renewed my passion for Medicine.