In taking Maximizing Your Study Abroad, I have learned a lot about the ins and outs of studying abroad. This class has helped me understand what I am looking for in a study abroad program and what programs and additional resources are available to me as a student at VCU. Through the course of the class, my plans for studying abroad have changed and evolved a lot. Originally, I wanted to studying in an English-speaking country, but when I learned more about the advantages of learning a language abroad, I decided to look into studying in Russia. Through additional research, I decided that Russia was not for me and that studying in Spain would be more beneficial to me academically and personally.
One of the most beneficial assignments that we did in Maximizing Your Study Abroad was going to talk to our advisors about an academic plan for studying abroad. I met with my advisor, Amanda Burby and talked with her about when the best time for me to study abroad is. I am a pre-nursing major and hope to get into the VCU nursing program next fall. Ms. Burby told me that as a nursing student it is very difficult to study abroad, because VCU only accepts nursing credits from their own nursing school. She told me that if I wanted to study abroad during an academic semester, I should plan to study abroad next fall. I did not like this idea, because I want to be very well adjusted in my academics at VCU before I switch to a whole new university and country. In the nursing plan of study, the courses I would be taking next fall are not nursing specific, so it is more likely that the credits would transfer from a foreign university. Ms. Burby also suggested to me that I could study abroad over the summer if I am not ready to go abroad next fall.
My discussion with Ms. Burby really changed my study abroad plans. Prior to meeting with Ms. Burby, I really wanted to study in Russia for a semester and learn the language, but after talking with Ms. Burby, I realized that that might not be the most realistic plan. Now, I am thinking about a summer program that Ms. Burby suggested to me that is specific for nursing students. The program is hosted in Spain and is very popular among VCU nursing students. The program is held in Cordoba, which borders a river in the south of Spain. I have looked at a few photos from Cordoba and it is breathtakingly beautiful.
The name of the program is VCU Summer: Nursing in Spain. The program is open only to VCU nursing students, so if I decide to apply to it, I will be traveling with my colleges. This may be very beneficial to me, because if I am being honest with myself, traveling to a foreign country where I do not know anyone at all could be too overwhelming for me. The program is open to juniors and seniors in the nursing program, so I will have plenty of time to become adjusted in my academics before going abroad. I think I will apply to the program for the summer before my junior year. The Nursing in Spain class is very inexpensive in comparison to other study abroad options. The program class charges VCU tuition, so I will be able to use my financial aid and scholarship money to offset the cost. The only other expenses associated with the program are a $250 fee and airfare. Room and board are included in the tuition, so the cost of living for the program will be even less expensive than living in Richmond. The class offered through the program is called International Comparison of Nursing Education and Clinical Care. The goal of the class is to compare and contrast the nature of nursing in Spain and the United States. It is a one credit class that includes 30 clinical hours. I think this class will be very interesting and also useful when applying to jobs once I graduate with my Bachelors of Science in Nursing.
An international perspective is useful in any job, but especially in nursing. In knowledge that I gained in class as well as in my interview with Laura Benn, I have learned that employers really like employees who have studied abroad. It adds diversity of knowledge to the workplace as well as something interesting to talk about in a job interview. Ms. Benn told me that as a nurse it is important to be culturally sensitive and aware. I grew up in a culturally diverse area, but studying abroad will help increase my cultural awareness. In addition to looking good to employers, I hope to learn some medical Spanish in my time in Spain. There are a lot of people in America who speak Spanish as their first language and speak only minimal English. For many of these people, their English language skills do not extend to medical terminology. Therefor, it is important for medical professionals to speak medical Spanish in order to communicate with their patients.
In addition to coursework, I hope to travel in Spain. The University of Cordoba is only two hours from Madrid, 45 minutes from Seville, and one hour from Malaga. Cordoba and all of these cities are historic European cities with beautiful architecture. I do not think that I will have the time or money to extensively travel in Europe during my time studying abroad, so it is great that Cordoba is so close to other cities in which I can explore.
Maximizing Your Study Abroad has aided in personalizing my study abroad plan. Planning to study abroad was initially very overwhelming to me. I did not know where to start or how to go about looking for programs. After taking this class, I feel that I have a solid study abroad plan and that I will easily be able to execute this plan. I am very excited about the opportunities ahead of me.