Katelyn participated in the study abroad program in Luang Prabang, Laos! Read on to learn more about her time abroad.
Global Impact Laos
Can you describe what you were doing while you were in Laos? What was the focus of your program?
While I was in Laos we set up clinics in underdeveloped areas of the country and shadowed doctors as they saw patients. Doctors took blood pressure, height and weight, did diagnosis/assessment and worked a pharmacy to fill prescribed medications. We were able to gain experience in all parts of the clinic and were able to sit in with a medical doctor that came with us from the US for diagnosis/assessment of the patients. We also participated in an infrastructure project to get running water to the local hospital.
Describe a time in which you were immersed in your host culture. What was challenging or exciting about this?
Participating in an immersion experience was very difficult and eye opening in several ways. We traveled to the country to immerse ourselves in a service learning experience and in the excitement of preparing for the trip, I don’t think I prepared myself well enough for the homestay arrangements. The homestay experience was the most challenging part of this program because the living situations are so different in comparison to the normal standards I am used to. Sleeping on the floor of someone’s home in a foreign country, without access to a standard toilet or shower was the most challenging overall. Although, each new day brought excitement and learning opportunities that overshadowed the challenges faced while abroad.
What do you wish you would have known before you studied abroad?
I wish I had known that not only would I experience culture shock while being immersed in this new community and lifestyle, but that dealing with a group dynamic while abroad could be difficult as well. There was a lot going on, and being involved in a big group of people (that you may or may not know) means that unfavorable situations could arise at any moment. I wish I mentally prepared for that in advance.
If you could give someone one piece of advice about your study abroad location, what would it be?
I would advise future participants to be ready for anything! This program can be a lot to take in, in many different expected and unexpected way. Laos is hot, be prepared to work hard and get dirty!
What was your favorite part of your study abroad experience?
My favorite part of my study abroad experience was the opportunity to sit in with the medical doctor on our program and watch him use the skills he has worked so hard to possess to help the people in the area that are in need. It was an enlightening experience and really solidified my hopes of one day becoming a doctor.
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