Considering that I had never been outside of the tri-state, I realized that it would be valuable for my personal development.
I chose to study with IES's summer program mainly for it's academic offering. The program lasted about a month and a half in which we did field placements and also, classroom based learning. More of the field placements were in community health centers and hospitals, but we also had the opportunity to volunteer in Allied Health Centers as well. Aside from academics, we went on a fair number of excursions, Robben Island and the Apartheid Museum being amoung the list. As a group we stayed in a large manor, but during excursions we would stay at smaller hostels.
Luckily, only a small portion of the trip came out of pocket as I was awarded three major scholarships. My family also chipped in to help with some of the out of pocket expenses.
I wish that I would have done a little more research about South Africa's weather. After arriving, I realized that I needed warmer clothing.
Despite that South Africa is recognized globally as the "Rainbow Nation", I found that racial ambiguity is not as common as I believed. As an African American, I would normally be mistaken for a black South African during our trips or field placements. The racial landscape in South Africa is still very much segregated.
The amount of healthcare exposure that I got while in Cape Town, I could not have gotten anywhere else. I am sure the fieldwork will look great on my resume. Personally, the trip really help me to grow as a person. I feel more confident now in my ability to make good decisions.
I have so many. One of the best was during the Garden Route Tour. We canoed across and river and hiked up a huge mountain and at the very top was a waterfall. I never saw a waterfall before so to me it was beyond astounding. I remember sitting on the mountain with my friend Ricky talking about what we wanted to accomplish in the future.
Riveting. It is a lot cheaper to go out and have a good time in South Africa. Unlike my attitude here in the United States, in South Africa I really let my hair down. On a Friday night, it is easy to have a great time and meet new people.
For one, it helped me to understand the life of a medical physician. Studying for medical school at an undergraduate level does not always prepare you for what you may experience in practice. My experiences in the field placements showed me more of what being a doctor really means. Overall, my experience has caused me to reflect on who I am and critical analyze my reason for pursuing medicine.
For a student who has more interest in research I would not recommend this program, however for a student that is looking for more exposure-based learning, go for it. IES's summer program will expose you to healthcare in ways I am certain you would not be able to experience anywhere else.
I encourage it! Choose a country that you have always wanted to go to and go there. Remain open minded, but always stay true to yourself. And study hard!
I encourage anyone who has considered study abroad to do it! The experience was empowering.