Time is precious, and it comes and goes. Sometimes we pay attention to it, but often time passes us by and we reflect on how short life really is. I have now lived in another country for 7 weeks. I’m sure more has changed in my life and back home during this trip than I will ever realize. What a blessing and an amazing life experience it was to study in a different country. Here are some of my take-aways from this trip.
From a pharmacy perspective, I learned there’s different ways to practice pharmacy, especially in countries that have socialized healthcare. It is important to keep this in mind when serving patients in the U.S. who are from a different culture than my own. I will have more patience with people who have a hard time understanding how our healthcare system works since it is much more complicated than universal healthcare. Also, after experiencing the difficulties in communicating in a second language, I will have more empathy with the people I serve who are not native English speakers. I desire to increasingly value the differences of other cultures.
One major difference I noticed during my time there is how America wants everything done fast. We rush to get things done quickly, and get upset when services or products are not provided to us as fast as possible. This is not the case in Spain; things are slower paced, especially when eating out in a restaurant. This slower pace allows for more conversation and patience resulting in what feels like a more relaxed culture that is not always stressed out. I enjoyed this style of life and hope to slow down some aspects of my life in the U.S.
During my time there, my diet improved significantly. Part of this was due to my health behavior change of cutting soda out of my diet, but also because of the foods I was eating. They eat many more fruits and vegetables than I am used to here in the U.S. I think this is in part due to the availability of them. I want to try to maintain a better diet here in the U.S. as I’ve found that’s hard to do in pharmacy school.
My time with my host family was fantastic. I was by myself with an older couple, Coronada and Miguel. We enjoyed being together and it stretched my Spanish skills since they did not speak any English. I tried all different kinds of homemade food from Paella to squid to rabbit to snails and everything in between. They made me feel at home and I was sad to leave them at the end of the trip. When I was not in class or out with friends I usually spent my time at the house, making the most of my experience of living with a host family.
Through this trip, I now realize the difficulties in gaining cultural sensitivity and competency. It’s something that is hard to obtain but necessary to strive toward in one way or another. I think of it as similar to our war against sin as Christians. Though we will never be perfect, by the grace of God we are able to continually take small steps toward the end goal, growing little by little during our short time here on this earth.