When I was asked to do this blog post, I was not too sure what I was going to write about; in fact, this blog is sort of REALLY late . . . From what I had seen, people had already covered the process of getting abroad and how all of it was life changing. I was a little worried about what I could bring to the table. Then, I remembered how my experience had a hiccup that no one else can really cover. The medical side of studying abroad.
For my study abroad trip, I decided to spend my time in Italy. The class was based around ancient and modern Italian culture and art so my “classroom” was the cities of Italy. The professor wanted us to gain the “Italian experience” and understand the divide between the north and the south of Italy. Much like the United States, the north is more urban while the south can be more blue-collar. I honestly was always on the move and living out of backpack; basically, I was an American gypsy discovering Italy. However, my gypsy luck did not hold out for all that long.
During our class excursion to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, I was my overly cocky self just showing off and striking “poses” for the camera. I ended up striking a pose that led to me dislocating my right knee cap. It was a whirlwind of emotion. My professor’s wife, who was a nurse practitioner, popped it back into place, and I was given some Advil for the pain. I then had to make the 45-minute walk back to the train station, and another hour walk to the hospital in Florence. When I walked into those hospital doors, I had no idea that I was going to experience the longest night of my young life.
Despite my professor knowing Italian, he was not versed in medical Italian, so we were not able to fully communicate the situation to the doctors at the hospital. Eventually, we were able to string together Italian and Latin for the phrase “dislocare patella” which translates very very roughly to dislocated kneecap. That phrase was the only form of communication I had with any of the hospital staff. If you think hospital are scary when you know the language, I cannot describe the fear when you have no real form of communication with the staff.
To make things worse, there is no private rooms in Italian medical care, so I shared a room with four people that night. Two of them were in there for alcohol poisoning, one for a severely broken arm, and the final one was a woman who died that night. I do not know how to express the terror of watching the hospital staff attempt to save her life while yelling in a foreign language. It still haunts me.
Eventually, the hospital staff put together a plan of action for my injury. It had been determined to re-dislocate the knee cap and ensure it was put back into place properly then a cast for three days. Without a doubt, the American gypsy life is much harder on crutches than your own two feet. I was able to finish trip though and the Tech insurance covered nearly all of the expenses abroad. I really am thankful.
Everything being said, my trip abroad was definitely different from your average trip you overhear at the local Starbucks. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I do not want this story to be a reason you decide not to go abroad, because it is life changing in so many fashions! If I am willing to redo that entire trip again, injury and all, then I see no reason why should not want to go abroad too.