Study Abroad Testimonials

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In Their Own Words:

– Brittany Birdsong, Summer 2016

When I signed up to go on the adventure to Costa Rica, I thought I would be impacting the lives of the patients; however, it turned out to be the opposite. The patients impacted my life in the best way possible. The joy that my small act of service brought to them made my heart smile. Traveling through Costa Rica was absolutely awesome, but my favorite part was most definitely going into the nursing homes and interacting with the patients. While in Costa Rica, I was exposed to a whole different way of living. I was taught that having a car is a luxury that not everyone can afford, so we need to be grateful for what we do have. I learned that family is the most important thing in the world and that there is always room for new members. I loved having the opportunity to practice Spanish and see all of the beauties of Costa Rica. There is definitely a special place in my heart that will always belong to Costa Rica. Pura Vida!


– Amber Davis, Summer 2016

This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad with Georgia Southern’s nursing program in Costa Rica. I was both nervous and excited for this adventure, but once I was there, I knew it was an experience I would never forget. Getting to stay with a host family allowed us to truly live and be immersed in this new culture. I quickly learned that family is very important to them, and I was certainly not left out. I connected with the whole family from the first day, and I now feel as if I have a home away from home. When we went to the nursing homes, we assessed feet and nails, and also looked at shoes for pressure points. We also got to take blood pressures and file and paint fingernails for the ladies. Working through the language barrier was tough and frustrating at times, both at our host family’s and at the nursing homes, but it was a learning and bonding experience. What really struck me was how grateful every single person was for the services we were providing. I even had two patients try to pay me! They just emit joy, and the thankfulness just shines through their face and smile. It makes you appreciate the little things and remember why you are there and want to be a nurse. This trip pushes you out of your comfort zone and showed me that different doesn’t mean bad. I ate different food, which mainly consisted of rice, beans, chicken, and fresh fruit, even for breakfast. I spoke a different language. I rode in a car where they don’t use the lanes and pedestrians don’t have the right of way. To me, this allowed us to get the most out of our study abroad learning experience. However, I did thoroughly enjoy getting to go on adventures to see parts of this beautiful country, especially Baldi Hot Springs, Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna Waterfall, the Doka Estate Coffee Tour, and zip lining at Nosavar Ranch! Overall, this trip has opened my eyes to the vastness and diversity of the world, and it has given me a newfound appreciation for the life that I live. I want to continue expanding my knowledge about different cultures to help others as a person, but also as a future nurse.


— Christiana Dube, Summer 2016

Becoming a Georgia Southern University Nursing Student was the proudest accomplishment of my life. I have wanted to become a nurse for as long as I can remember. I have been in the Georgia Southern Nursing Program for a year now. I have been blessed with the opportunity to do what I love abroad in Costa Rica. Studying abroad in another country is a life-changing experience in itself. However, when you are a practicing nurse in clinical settings in another country, it is beyond life changing. Not only did I get to experience an entirely new culture, language, food, and people, I learned how to practice the nursing skills I learned at Georgia Southern University in this completely new environment. Communicating with patients in a different language can be a challenge. However, there is no language barrier between actions. Whether you speak the same language or not, patients can feel your care and compassion through your work as a nurse. Seeing the smiles on the patients’ faces when we completed our work at the end of the day was the most rewarding part of this entire experience. Studying abroad in Costa Rica changed my life forever. Not only as an individual, but as a nurse and I am forever grateful for this amazing opportunity.


— Carly Rhea Dye, Summer 2016

I’ve always heard about the incredible experiences from study abroad, but knew that I never had time to explore because it wouldn’t fit into my schedule, I didn’t have the money, and I’d never find a study abroad program that went with nursing. Well, all of those thoughts were wrong, and that old saying, “where there is a will, there is a way” reigned true once again. I heard Dr. Tabi talk about the trip in class, and I fell in love. I want to specialize in geriatrics, and so my journey began. I started to raise the money, I figured the dates out, blocked my schedule off months in advance, and found the perfect program. Not only did I have the opportunity to practice some of my nursing skills, but I was able to tour an exceptionally beautiful country, experience a new culture (with great food), and meet some of the best people I’ve ever known! I can now say I have a family in Costa Rica. I’ve hiked a waterfall and volcano, zip lined through the rainforest, and I’ve studied abroad. This was truly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life, and if I had the money, I’d do it all over again.


— Brianna Kerridan, Summer 2016

 handThe picture I chose demonstrates a patient in one of the nursing homes grasping on to me for comfort while my classmates performed critical foot assessments and treatments on her. In America, women are so accustomed to getting pedicures to keep their feet healthy and most take the activity for granted. I know I did prior to this course abroad. We truly don’t realize how good we have it until we are immersed into a culture different from our own. Ten minutes into our volunteer clinical day, this certain patient found her way to me and my fellow group of students with a strong excitement to have her feet cared for. Although I couldn’t understand exactly what she was saying to me, I could understand the treatment she was seeking. As her toenails were disinfected and trimmed to allow better comfort in day to day activity, I could sense through her facial expressions and gestures that she was experiencing discomfort. Without hesitation, I gave her my hand for comfort; she formed a firm grasp almost immediately. I then felt a special tingling running through my whole body as if the gratitude she was expressing was injected into my veins. At this the moment, I became forever inspired to make a contribution to bettering the healthcare system through quality care for patients. At this moment, I knew becoming a nurse was the perfect decision.


— Kristina Scuby, Summer 2016

Studying Abroad in Costa Rica was an amazinNurse and patientg, life-changing experience. The culture I was exposed to made me very thankful for the life I have here in America. Getting to meet the wonderful people of Costa Rica and feel like I was making their day was a great feeling. I was nervous to leave my family and friends to go to Costa Rica for two weeks, but once I was there the two weeks fly by and by the end of the trip I never wanted to leave. Living with a host family is a very different experience but it allowed me to really be immersed in the culture of Costa Rica; it feels like living like a local for the two weeks. The coordinator that the school works with over there is amazing and took such great care of us while we were there. The decision to go abroad was one of the best decisions I made in my college career.


 

Caitlin Speir, Summer 2016

Nurse and man

 My experience in Costa Rica was amazing. I loved working with the patients in the nursing homes. Even through the language barrier, love and kindness could be communicated. The patients were so thankful to be seen and be treated. Overall the nursing experience was rewarding and educational. I was also able to be a tourist for other parts of the trip as well. Zip lining in the jungle was my favorite tourist experience; it was exhilarating. Some of the other touristy things I did was a coffee tour as well as visiting a volcano and a waterfall. My favorite aspect of the whole trip was living with a Costa Rican family. My family was amazing. They treated us as members of their families and this really helped me learn the culture and the language better. My host mom was an amazing cook and made sure we never went hungry. The food in Costa Rica is mainly rice, beans and a meat, but one night my host family ordered Chinese. I guess Chinese food there could be considered “Costa Ricanized,” similar to “Americanized.” It was nothing like Chinese food here. I loved Costa Rica; I loved nursing in another nation, and I hope to be able to do similar things in the future.


— Danielle (Dani) Williamson, Summer 2016Nurse Clapping

Going on the Costa Rica study abroad trip was surely one of the greatest decisions of my life. The country is beautiful and the people there are even more amazing. Nothing is more fulfilling to me than being able to help people in need, especially those who cannot or will not ask for help. This trip was much more than a trip for me, but more of a journey, because I learned so much about other people and myself. We went to Costa Rica to do Diabetes and Foot Care work, which many people need, but sometimes, all that people need is someone to talk to, or laugh with, or even dance with. Part of my journey on this trip was learning that nurses don’t only heal from the outside, but from the inside; sometimes, we can heal broken hearts or sad souls. Being with someone and showing that you care is oftentimes the best form of medicine and I firmly believe that is how we, as nurses, can make our first impact on anyone that we meet. Just remember, to always have an open heart, open mind, and open hands. Pura Vida!


– Jacob Youmans, Summer 2014

When I signed up to study abroad in Costa Rica I thought I had everything already figured out about the country and culture. I thought that it was a typical

cr6Hispanic culture that probably differed from the rest in its own unique way. The cuisine was the first thing that came to my mind in which I assumed that it would be similar to Mexican food and very spicy. When thinking of the landscape of Costa Rica, I immediately thought of only sandy beaches and waterfalls. It never occurred to me that it was very mountainous and hilly in Costa Rica. I was really nervous but anxious to meet my host family because they would basically take care of me for the next two weeks. I had never been farther than the state of Florida away from my home in Georgia so Costa Rica was a big deal for my family and I. Studying abroad in Costa Rica was one of the best decisions and experiences in my life. I learned about the culture, language, and myself while also helping care for patients in need. I love helping people in any way I can and the patients truly appreciated something as simple as a foot massage. This trip will not only make me a better nurse but a better person in general. I highly recommend this trip to anyone who is contemplating it.


 

Going to Costa Rica was a great experience that I will never forget. I had so many unforgettable experiences that have changed my perception on othercr5cultures. For example, living with a host family was not only interesting but a learning experience. I learned how to work past a language barrier to communicate with someone. This is particularly important in the profession of nursing because you may not always speak the same language as someone you must provide care for. It is also important to understand culture so that you can provide patient centered care. This allows for the best adherence and positive outcome to be possible. Providing care in Costa Rica was a frustrating but extremely gratifying experience. It was very difficult to ask questions regarding to health over the language barrier. However, after doing my best to communicate I was still able to provide the best care I possibly could. Many of these people had several foot abnormalities and we were able to help ease the progression. In addition, we were able to ease foot pain for some with foot conditions. It felt very good to help these people because they may not have had access to any care and their problems would have gotten worse. Also, I could feel the gratitude when I saw the smile on their face and them thanking me as best they could. I would recommend going on the study abroad trip to anyone who has the chance.

– Kurt Wahnschaff, Summer 2014


 

cr4This trip truly opened my eyes to things I was blind to and to things I did not even realize were problems in myself. I realized that I really do want to do mission work and that I do not want to just live in one spot the rest of my life. I want the adventure and the differences in culture because it is a large world and I have only seen one tiny corner in my life and I don’t want to miss out on the rest because I cannot speak the language or I don’t know how to help. I need to learn Spanish and maybe other languages so that I can travel and serve others where I go. This trip has changed my views on the world and I hope that my views continue to change in ways that can enable me to help those who are in need of aid. Going to Costa Rica for the nursing study abroad was an amazing adventure that taught me more than what can be learned in a planned course. I woke up each day wondering what new thing I would see or do that day. The first day we got to know our host families and they showed us the neighborhood we would call home for the next two weeks and that evening we went to the Ram Luna restaurant and saw traditional dancing. On three days we went to nursing homes and served the elderly people there. It was difficult at first since there were so few of us and we were still unsure of what to do or say but by the last time we knew what to do, how to do it and what to say. It was a very humbling experience to massage the feet of a stranger and to see how grateful they were for the little we did for them. I wish that I could have done more for them, because many of them needed more help than we could give. All I could think about was what else can I do for them.

– Mary Schoenbaechler, Summer 2014

 


Traveling to Costa Rica with the Georgia Southern nursing program was one of the most culturally enlightening experiences I have ever had. Everything about their way of life was new to me and broadened my perspective on other cultures practices, living standards, and concerns. I expected to find a place very different from my home in rural Georgia but I was taken aback by just how different it was and what a familial and holistic culture it was. The cultural immersion experience was one on its own. I absolutely expected the worst and was surprised with an amazing bonding and learning exposure to a completely different world. The most obvious difference between my culture in the United States and my two week home in Costa Rica was the language. I knew very little Spanish upon arriving in Costa Rica and was surprised by how cr3little English my host family knew. This ignorant point of view did not last long and I quickly attempted to try more Spanish and communicate with my host family in the native tongue. I found this very challenging with limited Spanish instruction and also found that trying to communicate with my broken Spanish was very frustrating. Overall this trip taught me much about a different culture, way of life, set of priorities and responsibilities. The time I spent living with and learning from the people of Costa Rica will be an experience I will never forget. I will take the lessons I learned from them into my many years of practice as a nurse and existence as a culturally aware human being.

–Ann Marie Sammon, Summer 2014


This summer I did a study abroad through Georgia Southern’s nursing program to Costa Rica. This was an amazing experience from the standpoint of a

cr2practical and adventure standpoint. From the practical side, I got to experience what it is like communicating with patients using very limited language and resources. This was challenging, but gave me an opportunity to learn what works best when working with these types of patients. Through our work, we were able to provide foot care, assessments, blood pressure, and glucose checks to those who often do not receive such treatment. I didn’t think rice and beans would ever be a part of breakfast until I came here, but food seemed to be one of the things I personally appreciated most. I truly enjoyed eating the natural mangos, watermelons, and bananas and many other fruits the nation had to offer. I will forever appreciate the new things I got to see at Costa Rica. I loved having the opportunity of seeing the hot springs at Arenal Volcano, zip lining, swimming under the waterfall, seeing ancient ruins, experiencing natural native coffee, playing with monkeys, and enjoying the beach. I will always remember what it is like here; appreciate what I have, as well as remember some of the natural beauties of this world. The trip has inspired me to further study in Spanish so I can better communicate with Spanish speaking patients. Overall this was a life experience that allowed me to open up to more than my own personal world.

– David Maxwell, Summer 2014


 

crThe people of Costa Rica are absolutely beautiful and challenged me to self-reflect in many ways. Not only did they remind me of how little it takes to be happy, but they taught me the importance of seizing the day and enjoying it to the fullest. I guess that we in the United States would refer to it as the “half-full” glass mentality, rather than half-empty…either way.

Though human nature may tend to naturally gravitate toward indulging or remaining in a comfort zone per se, a study abroad trip to a culture other than ones origin can be a great teacher. When we step outside of the boundaries that succor us in order to face the challenges of cultural immersion abroad, we learn. We learn about not just who they are, but very much about who we are. We also learn to appreciate the differences, as vast as they may be. Differences are not a bad thing. When the student nurse is able to recognize the differences in culture and among a population other than her own without ethnocentric thoughts, progress is made and growth is experienced. This trip taught me to love the culture, embrace the experience, and live for the day. ~Pura Vida.

– Jennifer Edmisten, Summer 2014


 

No alt textMy overall experience was amazing, once in a life time, and unforgettable. I indulged in and basically lived in a completely new culture. You could say I fell in love with the Costa Rican culture. Their liveliness, their calmness, and just their overall lives are just so amazing to me. I not only learned and fell in love with the Costa Rican culture; I also learned a lot about diabetes and foot care during our service learning. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience but I do wish I could have stayed longer.

-Amber Dashnoo, Pre-nursing,


 

No alt textDuring the two weeks in Costa Rica, I developed many friendships that I will cherish for forever and a day. An experience like this is not one that everyone can appreciate, but many of the people that I did meet were thankful for the opportunities. Throughout the trip, we put our brains and skills together so that we could provide our patients with the best possible service. – Chante Sylvester, Nursing


 

No alt textTo be culturally competent is different in that one is submerged into a culture more dominant than his own and now becomes the minority. It is essential that you “Do as the Romans do!” and assimilate so as to not become vulnerable to ignorance nor to be disrespectful. I am grateful for this humbling experiencing. Being able to visit the nursing homes and take part in a project that I feel was both religious and culturally defining means so much to me. Getting to know the world around you and those who live in it means adventuring outside of you comfort zone, sharing experiences, and asking questions. It means living life to the fullest, keeping an open heart, and rich soulPura Vida! – Shanice Muirhead, Nursing

Last updated: 11/2/2017

School of Nursing • Georgia Southern University