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Commentary: Health care students benefit from studying abroad

Senior+Olivia+DeVries+writes+about+her+experience+studying+abroad+and+encourages+other+healthcare+students+to+take+advantage+of+travel+in+college.
Kai Lincke
Senior Olivia DeVries writes about her experience studying abroad and encourages other healthcare students to take advantage of travel in college.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest commentary. The opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board.

Working in health care comes with burnout. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many benefits to this field. You help the health of your community, meet many people from all walks of life and easily expand your knowledge through meeting others in different health care fields. However, it almost feels like you’re going into this field burnt out just from going through over four years of schooling. This does not only include classes and studying, but also multiple rounds of clinicals and, once you graduate, licensing exams. But that is the beauty of college. You have the ability to partake in experiences that allow you to take a step back and disconnect from your chosen career path.

One of these experiences is studying abroad. The Office of International Programs allows students to participate in programs in many different countries. They are extremely helpful in assisting students in finding the perfect program for them to join and in organizing their trip. Rachel Gould, senior director of study abroad, helped me immensely when I was planning my study abroad trip. This process can be overwhelming and confusing, but with the help of our school’s study abroad department, you know you’re in the right hands. Don’t be discouraged; it’s worth it in the end.

I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. It was terrifying and I almost backed out. I had never traveled out of the United States before, and I was going by myself. But once I got there and found my footing, I fell in love with the city and never wanted to leave. I took classes on Italian food and wine, Italy’s social issues, the mafia and the Italian language. Outside of school, I learned what it was like to live like an Italian, how to cook their regional dishes and how to assimilate to another culture. My advice to those who plan on studying abroad is to keep an open mind and allow yourself to take in every opportunity that is presented to you.

As an occupational therapy major, I understand that health care students have busy schedules. That is why I love the Occupational Therapy Department. They know that students need to prioritize themselves and their occupations, not only their careers. The department has a schedule for students who want to study abroad that allows them to graduate on time with their class. This usually takes place during the spring semester of sophomore year, since students are still taking mostly general education classes at this point. 

I believe that studying abroad is so important for health care majors to experience. It gives you a deeper cultural understanding and a more worldly view. In health care, you work with so many people who come from different places and have different cultures and customs. Travel allows you to better understand that everyone comes from different backgrounds and experiences life in their own ways. Take every opportunity Ithaca College offers to discover and explore your passions. Happy travels!

Olivia DeVries (she/her) is a senior Occupational Therapy major. Contact her at [email protected].

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Kai Lincke, Former Assistant News Editor
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