Many of our Health and Human Performance students take advantage of the wonderful opportunity to study abroad. Many of the study abroad programs fulfill electives but other programs can also fulfill our Health and Human Performance major requirements. Here are some testimonials from our students.
After my fourth year as a Health Promotion student at St. Thomas, I still had several general credits to finish before completing my degree. Instead of continuing my studies in summer school or the following semester, I decided to take advantage of my opportunity for a break and do some traveling.
While working at my summer job as a wilderness guide, I made friends with a Tanzanian man who told me all about his country and his life there, which fascinated me. I mentioned to him that I was planning to take a trip in the fall and he suggested that I visit Tanzania, so I did.
I arrived mid-October with no plans other than calling the few phone numbers my friend had given me and seeing what kind of volunteer work I could find. So, from the Kilimanjaro Airport, I had a cab take me to the nearest city, Arusha. There, I was able to find a reasonably priced hostel that could arrange volunteer work for its guests. For the next four weeks, I spent my days at a nursery school for children affected by HIV/AIDS through the TUPO organization, as well as at an orphanage for school-aged girls from rural areas. I enjoyed my volunteer experiences immensely and made many friends during my time in Arusha.
After living the city life, I decided to move into the bush and help out at a small hospital where my friend’s brother and sister are employed as nurses. The hospital is located outside the small village of Endulen, in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and serves primarily the Maasai people, most of whom are still living traditionally. Although I am not certified to perform medical procedures, my help was greatly appreciated and I was able to observe international and rural health programs at work. I spent another four weeks here, and then it was home for Christmas and the completion of my studies.
Usually when I think of doing something like this, it is placed under my long list of things to do in the future- after graduation, after making some money, after my life settles down, but it is easy to see that this time never comes. I would strongly encourage any student who is unsure of the next step after graduation, or before it like in my case, to take advantage of the time right now and have an experience such as this one. It can be done affordably, it can be done easily, and you will not regret it.
I spent my 2008 J-term in India. The course fulfilled my Theology 300-level course core requirement. This was an experience of a lifetime! I spent time getting to know many local people, visiting rural villages, exploring ancient temples from a variety of religions, and spotting monkeys and cows along the roadside. Studying aboard has my highest recommendation. When else in your life will you be able to step outside of your comfort zone for a month and travel the world? My passion for traveling has only grown upon my return. I look forward to taking more courses aboard in the years to come. Next year I hope to fulfill my Personal Health and Wellness major requirement studying in Norway.
For J-term 2008, I completed my fine arts requirement abroad in England. The course I took was “Theatre in Britain.” One of my favorite aspects was traveling with a group of strangers, who soon became great friends. I was exposed to a side of theatre that I would have never experienced in the States. I had the time of my life and it was a great way to get abroad, and not spend too much money!
Living in Madrid, Spain for four months during spring 2007, where I did not know much of the language, was extremely difficult, but what I walked away with is priceless. I was able to immerse myself into the Spanish culture and made it a home for four months. It was comforting being at a University where I took my business classes in English but was able to fulfill my Spanish requirements at the same time. I was able to pick up the Spanish language much quicker being forced to use it on a daily basis, especially living with my senora. She was amazing, she treated me as if I was her own daughter, and took me in and was very patient with me and my very poor Spanish skills. In the end, I was able to communicate to her without being scared or nervous I would say something wrong, which happened a lot. One thing I will always remember is the day I walked out of the metro (subway) and was asked to be interviewed for the news about some political campaign. They picked me! I did not follow through with it for several reasons, but it was amazing that I was able to blend in so well in four months.
As a non-traditional student, I was fortunate enough to take the whole month of J-term 2008 off from work to experience the study abroad program. I traveled to New Zealand to study work and life balance of New Zealanders. We visited with employees from 3M, ING, Department of Labor, Department of Transportation as well as employees from the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, the park rangers from the national parks and mayors from small tourist towns plus numerous other workers. We learned how New Zealanders balance their busy work lives with their families and their recreation. We learned how much health care, employment benefits and recreation plays a role in their benefits' packages at their place of employment. This was an elective course but I was able to substitute this course for one of my health courses - HLTH 464 -Critical Issues in Health Education. Studying abroad is a wonderful and unique opportunity that a person would not be able to experience just visiting a country on a vacation. Everyone should take advantage of this wonderful opportunity that St. Thomas offers.