Ruth’s Study Abroad Experience

My study abroad experience in Valencia, Spain has truly been a life-changing experience. Studying abroad is something I have always wanted to do in college. When the opportunity came in pharmacy school, I jumped right on board. My intention on going was to experience life in a different part of the world. I also hoped to learn some Spanish while I was there. Even with these intentions, I did not realize how much I would gain from this experience as well as its impact on my future career as a pharmacist.

My host family experience was definitely a crucial part of my study abroad experience. My host mom’s name was Lucia.  Lucia was in her early fifties and taught English to elementary school children and to adults at a company. She worked about 8 to 9 hours a day Monday through Friday. She had a pretty busy work schedule with hosting two students at her home on top of that. A few days before I arrived, she was diagnosed with diabetes. I think living with someone who recently got diagnosed with diabetes was a good learning experience for me. I was there for all her frustrations, questions, and doubts. I realized there are so many more emotions and thoughts that bombard you with a diagnosis like diabetes. Therefore, it is very helpful to have supportive people around you. I am glad that Lucia had a great support group. She had a neighbor who would bake her healthy and nutritious food once in a while, and it also helped that Christy, my roommate, went to the gym with Lucia every morning. She also started attending our diabetes elective class most days of the week. Living with Lucia for a couple of weeks has helped me better understand what many patients may go through when they are first diagnosed with diabetes. It is a lot on their plate on top of their normal schedule and routine, and I must learn to be empathetic and willing to help in any way I can.

Another way studying abroad has impacted my future career as a pharmacist is through my experience with the language barrier. The only Spanish I had going into this study abroad program was one year in high school. It was not easy and a bit frustrating at times trying to communicate in Spain. Although, I will say that it was nice that my host mom spoke English very well. Nonetheless, this experience helped me to better understand what my parents may have gone through when they emigrated to the States as well as others like them. As a future pharmacist, I hope to remember this experience and be patient and understanding with my future patients whose first language may not be English. Also, I hope to be a pharmacist that patients can trust and comfortably approach with any questions they may have about anything in life and not just medicine.

Last but not least, my study abroad experience in Spain has given me a new perspective on life. I realized there is so much more to life than my own little world I have been living in. I also realized that I have been ignorant about a lot of things around the world. I am thankful that I was able to come abroad to expand my knowledge and to be able to better relate to and understand people from around the world. Studying abroad has also encouraged me to explore and appreciate diverse cultures outside of my own. I always thought that I had a very diverse mindset; however, coming to Spain has given me a new perspective on diversity. Studying abroad truly makes a difference!

 

The Oceanográphic

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On Wednesday, a couple of my classmates and I went to the Oceanográphic in Valencia. I hadn’t been to an aquarium in a very long time so I was excited to go. I don’t like to set my expectations too high because that tends to ruin things for me, but the Oceanográphic did not disappoint! There was so much to see. We saw a variety of fish, jellyfish, seahorses, spider crabs, sharks, walruses, whales and so much more! We also got to see a dolphin show while we were there, which was very good. One thing that is unique about this aquarium is that kids can have sleepovers in the aquarium. The coolest part is that they get to sleep with the sharks! The sharks actually looked pretty scary to me, but I think having a sleepover at an aquarium would have been pretty awesome as a kid.

One thing I love about sea creatures is that they are all so unique and diverse! Everything God created is unique, but I think you can see the most diversity and uniqueness in sea creatures. To think that God created each and every one of them is so amazing to me! Once again, I was in awe of God’s wonderful creation, and I’m so glad I got to visit the Oceanográphic here in Valencia!

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Jasmine- Dr. Wiseman’s daughter- AKA our honorary tour guide 🙂

 

 

Come Get Your Tapas!

This past week was our last full week of adhering to our health behavior changes! Adhering to change has definitely been a challenge, especially being in Spain where there are so many pastries, tapas, gelato, and churro places just minutes away! Tapas in Spain are like small “snacks” that can be eaten as a snack or as a meal. These snacks are like mini sandwiches, pizzas, hotdogs, etc. I went to my first tapas restaurant called Cien Montaditos for lunch last Wednesday. I did not consider whether eating the tapas for lunch was considered a healthy snack choice or not, but I failed to adhere to my health behavior change by eating the potato chips that came with them.

I am not proud of my choice to break my health behavior change last Wednesday, but I am proud of the snack choice I made last Sunday when we went to our excursion to Ghandia beach. We had free time after visiting an amazing palace, and so a group of us walked around the city. A friend and I wanted some water and snacks so we went into a nearby fruit store. Although there are tons of tempting snack places all around Valencia, there are tons of fruit stores along the streets as well. I was very proud of my snack choice that day for getting water and an orange!

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Reflecting back on my adherence to my health behavior change, I realize that stress and social surroundings impact my snacking choices. Although I must admit, I also just really like unhealthy snacks like chips and cookies. I guess I am just not used to eating healthy snacks. I feel like eating unhealthy snacks once in a while is fine, but I would like to change my snacking habits to incorporate more healthy snacks and less unhealthy ones into my diet. Working on a health behavior change for the past 3 weeks now has helped me realize what many patients may go through when they are told they need to make a health behavior change. Making a change is definitely a challenge, but I realized that as a future health care professional, I can make a lasting impact on my patients by just being encouraging and supportive of them every step of the way.

 

A Change for the Better

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It has been almost two weeks since I have made my health behavior change of choosing healthier snack options. This week, I noticed how my snacking habits change depending on my environment and the group of people I am with. For instance, I had friends who would actually offer me fruit, which made it easy to follow my health behavior change. Lucia, my host mom, also bought some fruits for us this week. She said she would get us something that we have never tried before. I like trying new things, so that was a fun way to pick a healthy snack! I tried nísperos (loquats) for the first time, and they are amazing!

On the other hand, I was very tempted to follow my old habits when I went to a supermarket called Consum with my roommate, Christy. She wanted to get a snack so I went with her to the snack aisle. I was very tempted to get some chips for myself, but I didn’t. I could have bought some healthy snacks, but honestly they were not appealing to me and they were just expensive. I feel like I can make so many excuses to not choosing healthier snack options such as cost and convenience. However, I know what is better for my health in the long run, and I need to remind myself of that the next time I go buy snacks. Next week, I should try to be aware of my environment and be active and mindful in choosing healthier snack options no matter where I am or whom I am with. Hopefully next week will be a better week in adhering to my health behavior change!

 

 

Snacks Galore

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It has been almost one week since I started my health behavior change here in Spain. For an assignment in my health behaviors and beliefs class, I decided to try changing my habit of eating unhealthy snacks such as chips and cookies to choosing healthier snack options such as fruits and nuts. I decided to make this change because I often go for unhealthy snacks rather than healthy ones because, in my opinion, they are tastier and more convenient to eat.

The first week was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Every time I wanted a snack, I had to think about whether it was healthy or not. For instance, when we went on our excursion to Teruel last Saturday, Isabel, who is like the administrative assistant for the school, bought some rosquillas for the group. Rosquillas look like sugar donuts but have a texture that is more like a soft cookie. It was hard because I knew they probably weren’t the healthiest snack and I did not want to refuse her offer. Before making this health behavior change, I would have gone all for it and tried some. However, I decided not to eat them. It helped that my classmates were there to keep me accountable. I realized that day that having supportive people around you to keep you accountable is very important and helpful in adhering to change.

Unfortunately, I am not very proud of the snack choices I made today. A couple of my classmates and I went to a big mall/supermarket in downtown Valencia called Carrefour. There was a booth that was selling snacks such as Turkish delights, baklava, and dried fruits. Without even thinking much about it, I ended up buying 2 baklavas and some cinnamon covered nuts. I did consider whether baklava would go against my health behavior change, but I rationalized in my head that it was technically not a cookie. However, I still am not proud of my choice because I did have the option of buying dried fruits that did not have added sugar in them. My first instinct is definitely not to go for healthy snacks, but I hope that working on this change for the next few weeks will help me change my snack habits and make healthier snack choices.

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Turkish Delights and Cinnamon Covered Nuts