January 13, 2015

My freshman year at Rice, I attended a study abroad fair where I heard about the School for International Training (SIT) and their programs. I became interested on their comparative programs called, International Honors Programs, especially the Health and Community tracks. I looked into the program, but soon got caught up with the Rice life. My sophomore year, I once again attended the fair, and from that moment on… I knew that I wanted to study abroad my junior year. I applied, was accepted, and am now preparing for departure.

A bit of background: I am studying abroad through SIT’s program IHP/Comparative – Health and Community: Globalization, Culture and Care. This program will be traveling to Washington, DC, USA –> New Delhi, India –> Cape Town, South Africa –> Sao Paulo, Brazil. I leave tomorrow to Houston, but leave for the program on January 18th and return May 11th. Throughout the semester our group will be taking four courses – Globalization and Health, Health, Culture, and Community, Community Health Research Methods, and Public Health: From Biology to Policy. These courses will be taught by traveling faculty as well as local faculty from each country. I will be staying in a hostel during my time in DC and homestays after that. We will spend about 2 weeks in DC and 4 weeks in each country (5 in South Africa because of Spring Break). Some of the key questions we will be asking/answering are:

  • Is health a fundamental human right? If so, who is responsible for guaranteeing it?
  • How can a deeper understanding of culture transform our view of health?
  • What can be done about the health divide – between rich and poor, urban and rural – that exists in many countries?
  • How do grassroots activism and top-down approached conflict with or complement one another? 

About a month ago, we received our pre-departure assignments, which is crazy because I was still in finals mode. I just finished up my poster, and I have gone through most of the readings. I will most likely finish the third part on the plane ride tomorrow. 

So, why am I doing this? 

Right now, I’m at a point in my life where some people know exactly what they want to do after graduation, and I still don’t know. All I know is that I want to be in the health field. Hopefully, I will know more by the end of this program.

Since this is a study abroad program, here are some tips:

  • Do a practice run of your packing, about a week ahead… then you’ll have time to buy anything else before you leave.
  • Take out 1/3 of the stuff you want to take – you don’t want to carry too much, and you want to have space for everything you buy!
  • Adjust the packing list to your personal needs. 
  • Thank everyone  who has made this trip possible. Thank you Rice University, Rice alumni/donors, my professors Brian and Rosemary for letter of recs, and everyone who has supported my dreams. 

This is going to be one heck of a ride, and I hope you can come along with me!

Stay beautiful, stay strong.


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