Step Reflection: Lima, Peru

1.) For my step project, I spent 6 weeks studying abroad at La Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru studying Spanish medical terminology as well as community and public health. Through this program I was able to improve my ability to speak Spanish as well as learn and observe the health care system in Peru. I was also given the opportunity to stay with a host family with allowed me to be more immersed in the culture.  


2.) While completing my step project I was faced with the task of learning how to adapt and live in a culture that is different to that in the US.  Throughout this experience I learned my capability to communicate and advocate for myself and others through a second language as well as further my independence as I learned to navigate a new country with different cultural norms than the US. In the United States, I don’t have many opportunities to speak Spanish outside of my Spanish classrooms and came into the experience nervous to see how I would adjust to a Spanish speaking country.  At the end of my program my confidence in my ability to speak the language increased tremendously and I realized I was more capable of speaking the language than I first thought. I didn’t have many expectations or assumptions coming into the country, but I was pleasantly surprised about how laid back their lifestyle was, it was a very nice change of pace in comparison to the United States where everyone is on the go all the time. I was also exposed to the type of healthcare offered to people of lower income in Peru and was able to make comparisons of how their healthcare is different to that of the US 


3.)  During my time in Peru, I was given the opportunity to live with a host family in the city of Lima. My host family did not speak any English so every interaction I had with them was in Spanish. We spent a lot of time together, most of this time being at or after dinner, with allowed me ample opportunities to work on improving my Spanish at a conversational level. Along with helping me improve my Spanish they taught me so much about Peruvian culture and their lives growing up in Peru. I became very close friends with their 17-year-old niece Akemi. We spent a lot of time together and she helped me become more comfortable with getting to know Lima and navigating the city. Though my host family played a huge role in my transformation while I was in Peru, my time spent at the hospital also played a huge role in my development. Throughout my time at the hospital, I spent a lot of time around patients which helped me develop a greater understanding of health issues prevalent in Peru and things that are being done to resolve these issues. Spending a lot of time in the hospital also improves my skills of building patient relationships and improved my knowledge of Spanish medical terminology.  


4.)  This transformation is very significant to me because it made me realize the importance of my double major in Spanish and how this degree will open so many opportunities for me as well as allow me to communicate without barriers to another population of people. The experience, as well, helped me gain confidence in my ability to speak Spanish in a conversational and professional way. I have also noticed a huge improvement in the fluidity when I speak. Apart from what I have taken from the language aspect from my time in Peru, spending time in the hospital reassured my passion for healthcare and solidified that pursing something in the medical field is something I still want to do. This program has also made me further consider working in a central or south American country after college.


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