Senior Rhianna Rich spent seven weeks overseas, shadowing doctors in Toledo Spain and traveling in Europe.
Atlantis Fellowship in Toledo Spain (by Rhianna Rich)
Many college students decide to spend part of college abroad. For the first couple years of my college career, many of my peers and friends from other universities completed programs abroad and had nothing but exceptional things to say about their experiences. I wasn't sure if going abroad was something for me, especially since I had never really traveled before. But by my junior year, I finally decided that I myself wanted to spend my summer abroad. I had come to realize that it would be a special opportunity and I could not have been more right.
This summer I participated in a medical fellowship in Toledo, Spain with a program called Atlantis. Atlantis offers students the opportunity to shadow a variety of different departments within a hospital. Over the course of four weeks, I spent 80+ hours observing brain and open heart surgeries, listening to doctor-patient consultations, and learning about the inner workings of a hospital amongst so many other things. At the end of each day, I walked home amazed at all that I had learned and seen. It was eye-opening to work closely with doctors who were so willing to share their knowledge of medicine and their personal accounts of working in the hospital. In addition to the vast amount of medical knowledge I gained, I was also able to greatly improve my Spanish skills.
Within the four different departments I shadowed at Hospital Virgen de la Salud and Virgen de Valle, I met and formed lasting bonds with dozens of doctors. They were eager to teach, but even more willing to listen to the questions I had. I was in awe with how they welcomed me with open arms into the hospital. I came to realize that this inclusivity was constant across Spain and I treasured this personable and genuine culture. In addition to shadowing, I had English tutoring with the doctors which was a great way to get to know them apart from a professional setting. In these sessions, I learned how truly amazing these doctors were as people.
It is worth noting that this experience would not have been what it was without the five other students I shared it with. We all attend different universities and come from different backgrounds but I came to appreciate each one of them. I am thankful for the lasting friendships we formed and I can say with confidence that the memories we made together are ones I will never forget. Every week they inspired me because all five of them are so passionate about medicine. After each day shadowing, we would listen to what each one had seen and learned that day. To listen to them talk about their days with eyes lit up inspired me because these students want to make a difference as doctors someday solely due to the fact that they are passionate about it and there is nothing purer than that.
Outside of the hospital, we went on excursions to various cities with our program coordinator who made this whole journey possible. We explored museums and palaces, tried various Spanish dishes, worked on our Spanish speaking, and saw many beautiful parts of Spain. While my time in the hospital was exceptional, I also equally treasured these experiences because I learned so much about a culture very different from my own and came to really value it.
After my program ended, I was able to experience other cultures in traveling to France, Wales, and Ireland. Traveling across Europe further allowed me to try new things, meet new people, and see beautiful places.
I am so thankful for my experience abroad because I come away from this experience with more knowledge, friendships, and appreciation for other cultures. Even though I only spent seven weeks abroad, there are so many people I met and experiences I had that have made a permanent impression on me. For now, my time in Europe has come to an end, but I know that it has forever impacted me and I have grown immensely as a person.