It takes courage to go abroad. It takes courage to leave the comfort of your room, the Richmond campus, to leave America. To walk new streets and listen to an unfamiliar language. It takes nerve to disregard the boundaries and norms of a lived culture and to, instead, completely delve into a new one. It takes commitment to leave the comfort of old friends knowing new friendships will complement the old ones.
It’s only the beginning, yet I can feel myself fidgeting with anticipation of the unknown, but I hold back tears knowing so much will be left behind for my return at the University of Richmond. This post is for all the other fellow students who have the courage to study abroad. I commend your recklessness, wit and spirit that pushes you to spend the semester in an unknown land.
Over the next four months, I will be traveling across oceans to four drastically different locations. My semester begins in the local and historic area of Washington, D.C. Then, I travel to the colorful and crowded streets of Delhi, India. From India, I will fly to the diverse and beautiful land of Cape Town, South Africa. And to finish off my abroad experience, I will spend my final month in São Paulo, Brazil. In these drastically different locations, health inequities are widespread and ever-consuming. Our program challenges us to see how factors like culture, community, wealth disparities and government intermix to create a country’s current health institutions and care.
I am majoring in Health Care Studies and minoring in Anthropology and Business Administration. Through my studies and experience, I understand health is not a one variable factor but instead multifaceted and greatly impacted by circumstances uncontrollable by the individual. For instance, I have a mother with a full-time job providing us with healthcare coverage. I live in a suburban area with an abundance of hospitals, clinics and health care facilities available if needed. And I go to a university that prioritizes wellness. But what if my family did not have health insurance? Would I be able to afford the care I need? How would my life differ if seeing a specialist meant a 4 hour round trip every appointment? And would my healthy lifestyle be maintained if my school refused to offer nutrition, physical activity, and wellness services? In my experience, my health has critically been impacted by the luck of the draw. My cards, thankfully, have been winners. However, because health worldwide is not a human right, there are countless individuals whose circumstances have not been as lucky.
As I learn from natives, hospitals, and peers across the world, I am excited to see how individuals view health based on their societal expectations and cultural opportunities. I am beyond grateful to have this opportunity to study health, culture, and community across the world. Thank you for letting me share this opportunity with you.