By: Porsche Campbell, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, winner of the spring 2019 BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship

Study Abroad Destination: India

I’ve been in Kochi, India for just about weeks now; in this time I have immersed myself in the culture, the health care system and most importantly the people. I must say this experience, studying abroad in my chosen career path, has certainly brought about a new perspective to maternity nursing. The learning I have been able to achieve while at my placement hospital has certainly heightened my ability to provide care. It has been a challenge to accept the healthcare system here in India due to barriers such as unequal access, the nursing model of care differs immensely from western medicine, and in my opinion, lack of patient autonomy. Compassion from healthcare professionals is also not a priority. Much of what I have seen and been able to be apart of is unbelievably eye-opening, so much so, it has made me extremely thankful for the Canadian healthcare system, the policies in place and the emphasis our healthcare systems have on patient-centred care.

I knew studying abroad in an underdeveloped country wouldn’t be easy. There would be experiences that could be a culture shock and perhaps so backwards you wonder how is it possible a country operates in such a way. However, I must say while I wasn’t expecting a lot of what I saw, the importance of being aware and open to how things work in different parts of the world can only add to my current practice in nursing.

With regards to challenges, accepting Indian norms is perhaps the biggest I have come across thus far. However, it is important to be respectful of the country you’re in and by this, we most often must adapt and accept their traditional ways. The most important take away I have found is what I am able to give back while abroad. Sometimes I think to myself that it’s not about what I’m taking away as much as what I am giving to the city and village I am volunteering in. Studying abroad has helped build me as a person, pushed my limits with critical thinking and is pushing me outside my comfort zone; in turn, I have helped a city see healthcare from my perspective, provide support and interactions that are not a custom, as well as be a new face, where a smile and hello can go such a long way.

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