Study Abroad Student Spotlight

The student spotlight highlights the transformative experience Marquette students have abroad. Through the Office of International Education, students are able to participate on a range of programs.  From faculty-led to short term to yearlong study abroad experiences with varying topics that can fulfill major/degree requirements. Marquette sends 30% of students abroad on the 80+ partner programs we have available.  Ranging from the Latin America to Asia, Europe, and Oceania, Marquette students are crossing boundaries and seeking opportunities to help them enhance their intercultural competency levels. 

Check out our monthly student spotlight interview below!

March 2020

Ana Dabrowski, Community in Nursing, Summer 2019

ana dabrowskiWhy did you choose to participate in the Community Nursing in Peru program?

I chose the Peru study abroad program because I knew it would be an incredibly impactful experience. I have a big passion for nursing and helping those around me, and I knew that I would be able to live out that passion in Peru. When reading the description of the program, I knew that I would have an impact on the patients I met, but also that they would have a lasting effect on me as well. I have been speaking Spanish for the majority of my life, so I also knew that I would benefit greatly from being immersed in a Spanish-speaking country. Before going on the program, I knew it would be a great opportunity to grow as a future nurse while also practicing my Spanish.

What were some of the highlights of your program?

There were so many highlights of the program, I am not sure how to list them all! By far one of the biggest highlights was visiting the different parts of Lima and understanding how people live in a place that is vastly different from me. Many of these areas were impoverished and definitely gave me insight into my own life. From a nursing perspective, understanding the lives of those I was treating helped me understand the importance of individualized care that puts the patient at the center. Another incredible highlight of this trip was my host, Federico. He welcomed us with open arms and took care of us as if we were his family. This made the transition into a new country very smooth. And then there were all the experiences we had. To list a few, we surfed in the pacific ocean, saw the wonder of the world that is Machu Picchu, saw many Incan ruins, tasted traditional Peruvian cuisine, visited many different markets and so much more. Peru is a beautiful country with the ocean, desert, and jungle and my breath was taken away on multiple occasions from seeing its vast beauty. Just being able to experience a different way of life for a few weeks was its own highlight. I could write an entire essay on everything that we did, but it would be way too long. To put it simply, every day that I was on this trip changed my life a little bit more and I can easily say this has been the most incredible thing I have done in my 22 years of life. 

How will this program help you in your future career?

As I mentioned earlier, this program will help me in my future career because I really learned the importance of understanding where someone comes from in order to give them the quality care they need. For example, we visited areas with no running water or electricity. Therefore, when providing care, we had to think about how we would treat them in a way that would be possible for them; we couldn't tell them to simply go get more medication when they were not in the financial place to do so. Coming from a middle class family in the United States, I have not had to worry about certain medications or getting the treatment I need and I realized in Peru just how much I take that for granted. Having that new knowledge allows me to have more respect for each of my patients and shows me the emphasis in knowing a person before treating them. I also learned the importance of compassion when it comes to nursing. At one of our clinical sites, we were treating elderly men and women who had no where else to go. These people may have been at the end of their lives, but the care that the nurses gave them was next level. Even though they were working for long hours every day, they were so compassionate with each patient and I could see how that affected those they were treating. I learned that even when I am tired at the end of a long shift, I need to remember to have compassion for my patient because that is what they deserve. I have no doubt that I will be a better nurse because of this trip. 

What are your biggest takeaways of this program?

This was the first trip I have done without my parents, so I believe that one of my biggest takeaways was learning independence. I may have been with other students and instructors, but was also on my own in a way. During this program I took a lot of time to reflect on myself through journaling and I believe that greatly benefited me. Additionally, some of the sights and patients we saw were quite sad. As I mentioned earlier, I came to realize how fortunate I am to have the life that I do, and that is something I have still not forgotten today. I met many different people and learned how to be open to working with all of them which is another great takeaway as I tend to be more introverted. Lastly, another takeaway was the curiosity I grew. Curiosity to explore more countries different than my own, but also to get to know how other people live and understand them on a below-surface level. I learned that there is always more to learn, especially when it comes to compassionate nursing and helping other people. Immersing myself in experiences such as this one help me to grow not only as a nurse but also as a person overall.

 Archived student spotlight interviews

February 2020
Abigail O'Rourke, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Fall 2019

student spotlight ab

Why did you choose Latin American for your study abroad program?

I chose Latin America for a number of reasons. As a Spanish major, I knew I wanted a full immersion program. Our programs in Latin America are fully immersive and have the option of living with host families and I really liked the idea of having all of those experiences while improving my Spanish. When looking at the programs that Marquette has, I saw that the Chile program had the Rural Intensive Spanish Program with Notre Dame and that intrigued me. I liked the idea of being able to have some time learning about the culture and language before jumping right into it by myself.

Can you explain was the Rural Intensive Spanish Program is?

This program is with Notre Dame and is run by Cecilia Espinoza. She had children who went to both Notre Dame and Marquette. When arriving in Chile, she picks all of us up and for the first nine days you go to the foothills of the Andes and stay in a seminary with all of the Notre Dame kids. While there, you take classes about the culture, history, and Spanish of Chile. Throughout this entire time, we are given free time to explore and really learn about the culture and there are planned activities like salsa dancing. After those nine days we all go together to stay for a week with volunteer host families in a tiny town. The entire program was incredibly helpful in preparing me for my host stay in Santiago. I felt much more confident with speaking Spanish and understanding Chilean norms.

What was your favorite part of this program?

Honestly, my favorite part was getting to meet all of the Notre Dame kids right away. I was the only Marquette student, so it made me feel so much better getting to spend the two-ish weeks with them before we all traveled to Santiago. I was really nervous going to Chile by myself but meeting them and all being in the “same boat” was really helpful. I also loved the way that the program is run. It didn’t feel like we were taking classes by any means; it really felt like just hanging out and learning and playing games in order for us to be able to succeed throughout the semester.

How has your Spanish progressed since completing your semester?

Before leaving for Chile, I did not feel entirely confident or comfortable in a conversation with a native speaker. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the knowledge, it was just that I was nervous or that I knew I was slow. After spending an entire semester and living with a host family, I feel completely comfortable. I now seek out opportunities where I can have conversations in Spanish. My Spanish has improved immensely in all areas. It’s honestly really hard to describe because while in Chile it really felt like Spanish was my first language.

Would you recommend this program to another student and why?

YES! I would totally recommend this program. I had the best experiences of my life in Chile. I would recommend this to anyone who is studying Spanish and wants a full immersion into another culture and language. I continue to keep in contact with my host family and friends that are there and all of my friends from Notre Dame. I learned things about myself and how to adapt to a whole different way of life. The university there is incredibly helpful and there are clubs and ways to get involved in school and travel. I could go on and on about how amazing this program really is.