Why did you pick this program?
I chose Help, Learn, Discover for exactly those three reasons. It is a very diverse program, which offers you many fantastic opportunities that are hard to find elsewhere. HLD allowed me to mix my desire to help others, my passion for medicine, and my eagerness to travel and discover another country and culture.
The major attraction factor of Help, Learn, Discover was that I was able to be apart of a sustainable solution in peoples lives, living in rural Ecuador, AND I was able to live the life of a doctor by experiencing medical rotations. After reading up on the program I knew it was the perfect way to spend my summer.
What is the most important thing you learned abroad?
Ironically, the portion of the trip where I learned the most important thing was not the "Learn" portion, it was actually in the "Help" portion. That "most important thing" was; the best way to help others is to give them your time.
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
DO IT! And do it with Ecuaexperience. You won't regret your decision. Travel enriches your life in so many ways. HLD was the first time I was travelling abroad solo, so I was quite nervous, but it was better that way. I was forced out of my comfort zone right away, and I met so many incredible people, and experienced so many different things. My trip taught me a lot about another culture, another way of life, and also about myself. It has made me a more humble, appreciative, open-minded, and adventurous person.
Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.
Medical rotations were an amazing experience that I could not have had a home (or would be very rare) as an undergraduate student. I was able to experience rotations in ICU, OB/GYN, paediatrics, radiology, OR, ER, and sports medicine. My favourite part of the rotations was our radiology and OR days. We were able to see a wide array of surgeries, and speak to/learn from the surgeons...all while standing two feet from the operating table! Standing a few feet from open-heart surgery was incredible.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I'm going to give a few pieces of advice. Mainly, don't think twice about it and prepare for the best month of your life. If you have to chance to fit in an extra week to Peru, Galapagos, or Argentina, definitely do it. One of the biggest regrets from my first trip with HLD was that I didn't experience an extra week. Learn a few common phrases in Spanish, and don't be afraid to practice while you're there. Finally....DON'T SKIMP ON BUG SPRAY!!!