The Benefits of Studying Abroad as a Pre-Health Student

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset   As a pre-health student, I would watch all my non-pre-health friends study art history in Paris, learn Spanish in Barcelona, and experience authentic Italian food in Rome. I envied them as I spent any free time I had taking science classes, shadowing health professionals, or volunteering at local organizations. At first, I thought I wouldn’t have time to study abroad, but by being proactive and planning in advance, I was able to study abroad for a month in Seoul. I opted out of doing a program that focused on pre-health and instead took a class on the Urban Sociology of the Subcultural Neighborhoods in the City of Seoul, which was completely unrelated to my biology degree and my career goal of becoming a physical therapist. However, I gained numerous benefits that I would not have been able to gain from spending my summers taking science classes or shadowing health professionals.

So what are some of the benefits of studying abroad as a pre-health student? Here are some of the most helpful skills I gained while abroad:

1. Communication Skills

While studying abroad in a country where English isn’t the native language it is inevitable that you’ll hit a language barrier. I had learned how to read and say the most common phrases in Korean but many times that wasn’t enough and would lead to a game of charades as I tried to communicate with the locals. The absence of a common language made me more cognizant of nonverbal communication and how powerful it can be when communicating with others. No matter what healthcare professional you aspire to be, there will be times where verbal communication will not be enough and being able to use nonverbal communication is what will make you a more effective clinician. By studying abroad, you really get the opportunity to practice and build on this skill, especially in a country where English isn’t the main language.

2. Cultural Competency

I was surrounded by a culture that was completely different from the culture back home both inside and outside of the classroom. My peers were from various countries like Singapore, France, and Mexico, which fostered diverse perspectives in class. Due to the multicultural nature of my surroundings, I ended up gaining a better understanding of various cultures and came back with a more global perspective. As a pre-health student and future healthcare professional, it is important to have this skill since the patient population is extremely diverse. That being said, being culturally competent is an extremely useful skill and it’s directly cultivated by studying abroad.

3. Ability to Persevere

During the short time I was abroad, there wasn’t a day where I wasn’t faced with a challenge. I faced both major and minor challenges such as culture shock, difficulty navigating the subway system, and a language barrier. At first, these obstacles made me want to stay in my dorm rather than explore the city. However, I knew I had to overcome them to experience everything Seoul had to offer. As a result of overcoming the numerous challenges, I got to experience Seoul to its fullest and gained more self-confidence and the ability to persevere. This is probably the most important skill I brought back home. Instead of being intimidated by obstacles, I see them as an opportunity for personal growth now and embrace them. Having this mindset and the ability to persevere is a skill that will help any pre-health student make it through graduate school to enter their desired healthcare field.

The experiences, skills, and knowledge that I gained in South Korea have helped shape me into a better pre-health student. These are just a few of the skills that I thought were directly important for a pre-health student to have. However, studying abroad fosters a plethora of skills, which is why I encourage every pre-health student who thinks they don’t have the time or doesn’t see the importance of studying abroad, to actually do it.

–  Shraddha Bista, exchange at Sungkyunkwan University,  Summer 2018

My International Internship Experience

In the summer of 2018, I got a chance to complete an international internship as a finance intern in a company located in Pune, India. The interesting aspect of this internship experience was not the traveling or residential experience in India but increasing my knowledge about corporate Finance. You may be wondering as to why living in India was not the highlight of my trip! I have lived in India for nine years. My family owns a house in Pune. So, though I got a chance to complete an international internship in my home city, I did not have to worry about any transportation or residential issues. However, does that mean that my trip was boring. Of course not! I got a chance to meet all my school friends and most importantly my relatives. I also enjoyed eating street food as I was craving it since I came back to the US. I even got to enjoy the night life in Pune. While these were the things that I did, I would also like to talk about my internship experience.

I was offered the internship through an official network connect. Having just completed my freshman year, I was not sure what to expect out of the internship as this was my first opportunity as an intern. With multiple discussions about the internship tasks with my undergrad advisor, I finally decided to take a leap into the opportunity. I also received a scholarship from my university which was a feather in the cap and my journey to India began.

Throughout the course of the internship, I got a chance to interact with the CEO of the company, the President of the US company and even the financial head of the US entity. My internship experience included tasks of analyzing excel spreadsheets to setting up meetings with 3rd party vendors. Throughout the internship my mentor Richa Singh played a key role in assigning me tasks and explaining me what output was expected.

As a part of my internship, in my first assignment I had to research and find out how the credit rating of a company is determined. This also included obtaining a DUNS number for the company. A DUNS number helps a potential client determine whether the company it wants to do business with, is financially stable or not. It also gives ratings based on awards won by the company and present number of employees. As a part of this assignment I got a chance to set up a meeting between the CEO of e-Zest Solutions Ltd and some representatives of the credit rating issuing company, Dun and Bradstreet. As a part of the assignment, I even got a chance to get an overview of how a corporate company’s financials are interpreted.

Amongst many other tasks, I also was told to create a sales report for the US entity. This sales report helped me analyze the funds a company is willing to invest on business trips. I got a good overview of how a company distributes its work by analyzing work orders. This analysis included making key changes to pre- made working orders like adding jobs offered by the company based on a project and the salary offered for these jobs. It also included analyzing grammatical errors. This task helped me improve my knowledge of Microsoft Word; overview of the shortcuts used in word which would particularly help me in my completion of a MS Word certification.

At the end of the internship I realized my decision to take up the opportunity was indeed the best one. I will be able to apply the knowledge gained in 6 weeks throughout different courses in the curriculum.

–  Abhishek Joshi, Internship in India, Summer 2018

London School of Economics (LSE)

London LL 2016    Having lived in Europe for thirteen years I was no foreigner to to the UK, but all my previous visits had been for leisure. I had always stayed in a hotel or a day trip, this however was going to be a two month stay in one of the largest cities in Europe. The largest city I have ever lived in was Dallas, but London was different from the moment I Landed. I took a taxi, not to a hotel or a popular tourist destination but to my accommodation at Sydney Webb house on the Southern Bank. I was about twenty minutes away from central London were all the hustle and bustle was going on. It was a bit daunting at first to get used to the fact that I was going to be staying in this room for two months on my own, the longest I ever have been away form family.

But the classes left no time for me to get homesick, from day one the program started with no intention of slowing down. The professor was engaging made the three hours go by in a flash, when I initially saw the timetable I thought “there’s no way I’m going to be able survive two months of this!”. While the lecture was engaging the class wasn’t a cakewalk, we had a paper due immediately for the second week, a presentation during the first two weeks then a final for the third and final week. Luckily the professor and the two TA’s were extremely helpful when it came to any questions relating to the course and the LSE facilities were amazing as well. This was the same for all sessions, the professors knew we only had three weeks to digest a semesters worth of material and they themselves tried to be available late into the night to help us succeed. It didn’t feel like a chore but a challenge.

London itself was amazing the summer I was there, no rain in sight and the atmosphere in the city was awesome due to the world cup going on at the same time. The city was full of people from all over rooting for their teams and you would not have a hard time to find fans from your favorite team.

Transportation in the city is what makes me miss it when looking at the DART system here in Dallas. It may be crowded and the tube can get delayed quite a bit, but the convenience is amazing and affordable as well. No matter where you needed to go either a bus or tube stop was there, and if that was not to ones liking then renting a bike or simply walking is also a possibility.

Of course I can’t talk about London without talking about visiting some tourist spots. I went to and recommend the Tower of London, for around 25 pounds you get to see three different museums, which include the iconic crown jewels and the crows of the Tower. Once you are done you can then walk over the London bridge and over to the eye of London. I also visited the Shard, the tallest building in London, from which you can admire the skyline of London.

The two months went by way to quick, but thanks to the time I spent there I was able to make friends from Korea, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Columbia, Austria and Australia. The amount of nationalities you meet in this program is incredible, even if you don’t learn much from the classes you will at least be meeting people form all over which easily was one of the more fun parts of the program.

I’d love to go back once more, but I hope others from UTD would make the trip over their and represent our school.

–  Eric Wiggins, Summer School Abroad, Summer 2018