I took advantage of a Child Family Health International (CFHI) combined scholarship with the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). They offered the perfect program for me - a 2-week medical Spanish intensive course with mornings in the hospital and afternoons in the classroom. I had always wanted to visit Argentina and was able to visit Córdoba, the second largest city!
Madeline is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
I was provided with housing with a local family, several organized cultural lectures, social events, a bus pass (reloadable), a key to the classroom building, a sim card (if needed), transportation from the airport to the homestay, and an organized hospital rotation (assigned based on specialty preference). The classroom exercises were very organized with individual placement based on level of Spanish speaking and comprehension.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Make sure to look at the temperature. I did not check and packed very poorly, bringing lots of pants and no shorts.
Be open-minded; the housing may be different from what you are used to, but you will get used to it and find it enjoyable.
Make sure to convert money ahead of time (I did it in the airport) and take money out of ATMs before the weekend.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
I would get to the bus station around 8 am and rounds started around 8:30. The hospital was a short 20-minute bus ride away. In my program, half the students were near the hospital and the other half were near the classroom. We would stay until about noon (rounding with the residents and attendings during this time). Then we had Spanish class 4:30-7pm.
At night, we would do social activities and then dinner with the host family.
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 very nervous about planning for the rotation - figuring out how fit an international rotation into my academic schedule. It required a lot of preparation: buying plane tickets; choosing dates; school approval. To prepare, I took a medical Spanish course through my school called Canopy during the month prior to my trip. I also planned the trip after interviews and before match day. It was definitely worth all the planning and I wish I stayed longer.
What advice do you have for future travelers?
If I could go back and repeat it, I would have done a 4-week program because I was having so much fun, and most of the other students were during one month. The longer, the better in any foreign country, especially when you are trying to learn a new language. My Spanish dramatically improved in the 2 weeks I was there, and I was very satisfied with my program/would recommend CFHI to prospective participants.