In my opinion, preparing mentally and emotionally are the hardest parts of pre-departure for a trip like this. In many cases, physical health overshadows these two aspects of our lives. Since I'm really close with my family, I've made sure that my cell phone plan is ready to be used overseas and I can call my family at any time, even if it's just to say hello. I have also asked my family to send me encouraging words. In this way, I can feel a little calmer knowing that I'll be home to see them soon and can re-focus my thoughts and energy on enjoying London and everything the U.K. has to offer.
I know English food is far different from Jamaican and soul food, which is what I'm used to. So I plan to look up restaurants or markets that sell good quality meals which I can make or buy cooked. Since I cannot sacrifice roti, oxtails, fried chicken, rice and peas, etc. for a whole month, I'm looking forward to tasting these items in London.
I'm also mentally preparing myself to cook with the people on my floor because I am far from being a legitimate chef. I hope there are other frugal individuals in my dorm that want to make Pinterest-inspired dinners and snacks! I hear that London is expensive so I'm also ready for the sticker shock and late night cooking.
Preparing physically for a trip like this is not as bad as traveling to some of the other places I've been. The Dominican Republic, where the climate is very hot and humid, or Peru where the altitude is extremely high are places to which are more difficult to adjust. But I do plan to pack running clothes so I can work out when I have the free time and energy because feeling healthy is also important for mental well-being.
Last, but certainly not least, I'm preparing myself to have conversations with Londoners about daily life, politics, sports, and customs. This requires some reading and maybe even documentaries for fun. A few newspapers that I know will keep me in the loop are The Guardian, The Independent, and The Daily Telegraph. I'm excited to draw some parallels between these outlets and the major ones in the states because all of them lean left or right on the political spectrum.
Overall I'm ready to try new teas, keep in touch with family and friends, practice for the Great British bake off, and have fun!
Top left: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/_qGBwqye1a8/maxresdefault.jpg
Top right: http://assets.vixendaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/how-to-get-partner-work-out-2.jpg
Since I am new to the world of public health, I haven't learned much about epidemiology or how it applies to our daily lives or modern policies. So I know this experience will not only give me an in-depth understanding of the subject but also an experience to see how the subject is practiced globally.
As of now, I'm aspiring to become a doctor or PA. When my family and friends ask me why I'm willing to put myself through more schooling and probably much more debt, I say it's because health is a human right and I want to be able to provide that service to people who are disadvantaged. However, I'm starting to see that one doesn't have to be a doctor to provide healthcare. In fact, public and global health offer a wide array of opportunities to improve the health of communities and general populations.
This experience will help me determine which parts of public health I could see myself pursuing. As of now, I'm extremely interested in maternal and public health because I've seen the importance of this aspect of health in a community. But the history of epidemiology is definitely going to be interesting. Seeing the relics of this subject, first hand, could possibly inspire me to focus my public health track on disease prevention.
My mom wants me to work at the CDC, but I've always said I don't know if I ever could because, outside of movies, I have no idea what the subject of epidemiology is really about. So when I return home, I can give her a more clear direction about my career path and if it involves the CDC.
On the other hand, my conversations with Londoners might steer me in the direction of health policy, especially with the fate of the NHS in the balance. Overall, I'm grateful to learn more about who I am and what I could see myself doing for 20 or 30 more years as it relates to public health.
After my past two trips to the Dominican Republic, I realized how important Infant and Maternal health is in regards to community and individuals. I also learned how much I enjoyed this topic because mommies are awesome and babies are cute- both deserve the best healthcare. In a vulnerable, poorer population, you can evaluate the level of health communication and policy by looking at infant and maternal mortality rates. When babies and mothers are dying in large proportions relative to the size of their communities- there is always a larger problem at hand. This could include cholera and diarrhea from dirty water, thus unclean food. This ties into Epidemiology as well because illnesses that can be taken care of fairly well in the states are lethal for people that don’t have access to a simple clinic or hospital and are still vulnerable to the bad water; poverty typically renders women and children unable to move to a new area. When in the U.K., I’d like to learn if and how they’ve improved this aspect of healthcare with the discovery of bacteria and viruses. I’d also like to gain some insight on the health policies in place to benefit women and children.
It follows that the second area in which I’m interested is health policy and management. This branch of public health shapes the way in which people are allowed to live their lives and the quality of care they receive so I think it’s of great importance. Although not all populations are the same, every group can learn from one another in this area. For example, U.S. policy makers are struggling between privatization and open access to health care for many reasons, including the lack of funding allocated to health. It's important to our health as citizens, that preventative measures receive the least amount of money within the small healthcare budget. So I’m interested in learning about how compromise is reached in the U.K. to cover as much of the population as possible. I'd also like to learn more about how health care was administered and regulated since major developments such as penicillin occurred.
Health promotion and communication is the third area of which I’d like to explore more. In the DR, we conducted hand washing workshops for the children in rural communities. Unlike the U.S. where there are many messages and requirements for students to learn about how to remain healthy and what shots to get, the children in these rural communities did not have access, thus making them vulnerable to diseases. Although the U.K. is different from both countries I mentioned, I’m sure they face similar challenges. So learning about how they spread knowledge throughout the urban and rural regions of the country is very exciting to me.
Image credits (from top to bottom):
I've taken multiple trips abroad to visit family and do service learning trips, but this will be my first experience taking classes in another country. Although there will be USF teachers there, the University College of London campus will be much different from our stomping grounds back in Florida. The level of independence is so much greater and the students who live and study there probably have a different outlook on life. So I'm excited to do some real adulting 3,000 miles away from my family in tampa while learning in and out of the classroom.
Also, I recently learned how much the study of epidemiology has developed specifically in London. I never connected the illnesses and plagues of the Medieval Times to the growth of this branch of public health. I'm eager to learn more about things like the pump, penicillin, etc. by physically looking at some original, historic sites. Since the syllabus for this class is so short, I know that most of the knowledge gained will not be in a lecture hall or on computer screen, but rather in the field where Epidemiology was developed. This type of public health course is unique and somewhat difficult to pursue, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn in places that are historically and currently relevant to the field.
The education system in the U.K. is so much different from that of the US from high school to college. I'm interested in seeing if their system gives them a more holistic knowledge base, helping them fare better in university. I’d also like to learn what their opinions are regarding different aspects of public health, especially as the National Health Service is a major polarizing issue in the upcoming elections. I believe that U.S. policy makers as well as those from the U.K. have much to learn from each other about infant and maternal health as well as health policy that could limit healthcare equity. Thus, this learning experience also implies exchange of opinions and learning from the stories of those we encounter in the U.K.
Although we, Americans, and the English speak the same language, there are many differences in traditions, systems, healthcare, food, and even slang. London is a great place to learn about Epidemiology and the lessons the U.K. has gained from this aspect of public health.
The other international travel experience I've had was primarily cultural, with a drop of medical and public health, and it was to Peru. I took a cultural anthropology class in the spring with Dr. Schmidt. Although my emotions about the class essays and topic of native peoples in Peru fluctuated between fascination and "I'm over it", the experience in Peru cannot be matched and I'm so grateful I went. Everything we learned about the Quechua people- their history, traditions, food, music, coca leaves, clothing, and language- was there in our faces the entire trip. We worked in the field with them planting and harvesting potatoes, fava beans, and planting native trees. We learned about their water sources and saw how their respect for their gods- which includes Pachamama (in a way, is what we know as Mother Nature) allows them to preserve the environment. And yet, they are still threatened by climate change.
If I learned one thing from them, it's that potatoes are life. I mean that literally because they eat it in every meal and have created desserts out of tubers which is just mind boggling because they're delicious. But climate change is forcing them to cultivate their 1,367 varieties of potatoes higher and higher in the mountains. One of the technicians in the community of Parque de la Papa named Asentó, asked us, "where are we going to plant next- the sky?" This question really opened my eyes and made me feel awful for taking long showers and not doing more to recycle because those simple things could preserve a culture... and save the only earth we have. Without their non-GMO, completely delicious varieties potatoes, a huge chunk of their unique Inkan culture is lost. It also sparks a lot of eco-tourism, and therefore, revenue for their local economy that allows them to be self-sustaining outside of the Spanish government.
So in addition to meeting the amazing Quechua people who took us in as brothers and sisters, I learned so much about climate change and my role in it. I hope I can share it with more people with another blog or maybe open forums. But one way or another, I feel it is imperative to use that experience to heighten the awareness about our individual contribution to global warming, while simultaneously eradicating the typical view that native Americans, including those in the US are dumb, backwards, or dirty. They are some of the strongest, most intelligent, and innovative people I've ever met, and hopefully I've encouraged someone to go and experience this unique culture as well.
I'm a military brat. So I've lived up and down the east coast from Maryland to Florida. And I'm lucky to say that I've only had to change schools 5 times. We also lived in Missouri, but I don't remember that part because I was too young. I do, however, remember cookouts and family gatherings in Kansas and Oklahoma with my grandpa Joe. I hope to visit the West Coast one day since I've never been there.
As an American of Jamaican decent, I have visited Jamaica multiple times. Shameless plug: my family owns a resort there called Pipers Cove if you're looking for a tropical vacation spot. Unfortunately, when I do visit, I don't go to volunteer- I just visit family and relax. I say unfortunately because Jamaica faces serious challenges with improving infant and maternal health, and I have yet to do work in this regard in my family's country. So I plan to do that soon before I graduate.
However, in August and December of 2016, I traveled to the Dominican Republic on a medical brigade with 20 other USF students. I had always dreamed of an experience like this ever since I heard of Doctors Without Borders. But I never thought I'd be able to do it as an incoming freshman. Since a USF senior named Simran had organized it with a doctor he'd worked with, my dream became a reality with a lot less formal paperwork. As sketchy as that may sound, the experience was genuinely one that I'll never forget. We lived with host families in Villa Emmanuel of Puerto Plata. This allowed us to truly feel accepted by the community as everyone who lived there was family- literally. We ate, danced, and talked with them every minute we weren't in the rural communities working. As one of the few decent Spanish speakers on the trip, I quickly learned how to translate for some of the other girls in the house and people in the group when we left the community.
On six of the ten days, all 20, and later 30, of us students would jump in a safari truck and head to some of the most impoverished areas of the country. Some of these communities were bateys- extremely poor abandoned sugar factories and plantation sites with a primarily Haitian population. We quickly saw how poverty and international policies can be detrimental to infant and maternal health, which is an indicator of overall health of a population. I also noticed a startling difference in the wealth and quality of life for people of Haitian descent in DR and Dominican citizens. Even in the slums, the Haitian families, especially the women, are in deeper poverty than their Dominican neighbors in the same slum. Most of the racial and ethnic divide traces back to Spanish colonialism, as well as the exploitation of labor by the Haitian government. So something completely unrelated to public health- trade agreements- has completely damaged infant and maternal health.
Hey everyone! My name is Amber and I'm a rising sophomore majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology. I enjoy playing soccer, making keychains and bracelets, and trying different protective hairstyles. I have a fairly large family that comes from or lives on every continent (except Antartica of course). My dad is Chinese Jamaican and Portuguese, and my mom is black, white, and Native American. Although I don't appreciate the term, I had the nickname of "mut" growing up. But having parents of multiple different cultures has made my daily life and familial interactions feel like a melting pot. It's interesting to see peoples reactions when someone who does not look like the stereotypical Jamaican speak patois and have an accent. Experiences like this have given me an open mind and appreciate how everyone maybe be unique or of different backgrounds and yet interconnected.
Over the years, I've come to identify as African American and embrace that part of my heritage. This includes trying different protective hairstyles to keep my natural curls healthy, listening to old and new jazz music, and learning as much as possible about the history of black people in America. Jazz is definitely one of my favorite genres, but I also enjoy Hip Hop, R&B, and pop.
I love to read historical and sci-fi genre books and watch sci-fi and action movies. Even more so, I love to travel with every fiber of my being. I've been to Jamaica to see family, the Dominican Republic, Peru, and now the United Kingdom. In the DR, I volunteered on a medical brigade and learned a great deal about infant and maternal health. I learned similar concepts and practices in Peru, and saw how Western and native medicine coincide and work together. I’d like to do research in this subfield of public health when I return to USF as well. After my undergraduate years, I hope to get a masters degree in Global Health or Medical Anthropology, and later matriculate to medical school. The concept of humans as they migrate and change over time is very interesting and I think public health is a huge part of that.
I'm also very passionate about ending modern day slavery so I work with No More, an international organization based in Tampa to provide assistance to victims and make the local community aware of its prevalence. One day, I hope to visit Thailand and assist anti-human trafficking organizations like No More in their service work and provide medical assistance to the young women in the orphanages who were victims.
But overall, I'm excited to take pictures, chat in the pubs, and document this experience because it will be, as Aladdin once said, "A whole new world."