Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru

Q&A with Nichole: Learned a Language & Volunteered in Peru
Share this
Print this
Nichole
Learned a Language & Volunteered in Peru
San Diego State University
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
I knew that while having a friend to accompany me would have made it more comfortable, going by myself would make me stronger, and force me to interact with everyone that I encountered.
Her thoughts on Adaptation
If I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone, I’d never have discovered so many amazing places.
Her thoughts on The International Workplace
Sometimes I didn’t feel totally welcomed, but I knew that they probably had reservations about a young foreigner working in their hospital. I went out of my way to introduce myself and ask if I could help them.
Her thoughts on Personal Growth
Saying goodbye was very hard.  The experienced sparked my passion for international philanthropic travel and changed my life for the better. 
Her thoughts on Taking It All In
Nearly every day, there was a festival going on in the town square. I was blown away by their overwhelming national pride.

When and where did you learn a language abroad? Which language?

In the summer of 2011, I had the opportunity to volunteer in a community hospital and children’s clinic in Cusco, Peru, working as a nurse’s assistant.

What made you want to learn a language abroad?

I had wanted to volunteer abroad to gain insight into health care systems in impoverished countries, and to help others in need. I selected the AmeriSpan SALUD program because it offered students the ability to volunteer in a hospital setting while taking a medical Spanish course. Homestay living arrangements were also made available for the duration of the course.

Were you involved with a particular program or school? What made you select your program/country?

I spent several days researching language study programs both online and through my school’s study abroad office. Ultimately, I chose AmeriSpan’s program because it included all the specific things I wanted from a program.

Did you participate in extra-curricular or social activities while abroad? If so, how did they differ from social activities in your home culture?

In the AmeriSpan program, you take your medical Spanish classes at a school geared towards international students. The school had organized activities and trips that we could participate in on a daily basis. I did a variety of things outside of my volunteer work and language learning in Cusco: I rode horses through ancient ruins, made chocolate in the traditional Peruvian style, shopped in cities in the Sacred Valley, and took a tour of an alpaca textile factory. One weekend we took a bus to Lake Titicaca, where we had the opportunity to stay the night on the islands and spend time with native families. Another major sight to see was Machu Picchu. A friend and I decided to do a four-day Inca Jungle trail hike through the rain forest. We rode mountain bikes through waterfalls, went white water rafting, zip lining, swam in hot springs and hiked many miles until we reached our final destination. Machu Picchu was a truly remarkable sight. I learned so much about the history of the ruins and had a great time getting there!

What made your experience abroad a success?

I think there were many things that contributed to making my experience a great success. Firstly: my decision to go alone. I knew that while having a friend to accompany me would have made it more comfortable, going by myself would make me stronger, and force me to interact with everyone that I encountered. Another reason my trip was such a success was that I jumped into things without second-guessing myself. If I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone, I’d never have discovered so many amazing places. And lastly, while my Spanish was definitely sub-par upon arrival to Cusco, I didn’t hesitate to try my best to communicate with the locals. Everyone was very understanding of my slow speech and encouraged me to practice and improve.

How did you finance your trip abroad and did you find any creative solutions to stay on budget?

AmeriSpan offers many scholarships for their trips, which definitely helped out with finances. I set up an online account that friends and family could donate to my trip. I found that I was pleasantly surprised with how generous and supportive friends and family can be when there’s an important cause.

How did you deal with the cultural divide?

During my time at the hospital, I was shocked at the level of care and cleanliness practiced there. There are many things that we take for granted at home that are luxuries abroad. Sometimes I also didn’t feel totally welcomed by the local workers, but I knew that they probably had reservations about a young foreigner working in their hospital. I tried my best to make conversation with them and went out of my way to introduce myself and ask if I could help in any way. This seemed to help.

What was your return like? Do you plan to go abroad again?

My return was very bittersweet. I wish I could have stayed longer to travel more and learn more about the Peruvian culture and healthcare system. I stayed with the sweetest family during my six weeks there, and saying goodbye to them was very hard. But the experienced sparked my passion for international philanthropic travel and changed my life for the better. In January, I’ll be traveling to Ghana, Africa with 50 of my fellow nursing students. We’ll be setting up a health clinic for 10 days. I am SO excited for this adventure, and hope it will be just as rewarding as my trip to Peru!

Do you have any final observations about your experience?

The local culture of Peru is very family-oriented. My host "mom" was a grandmother living alone, but her son, daughter and grandchildren came over for lunch every day. Lunch is a very big deal in Peru! Lunch breaks from work are typically two to three hours long in order for families to get together. Peruvians are also very organic in the sense that they utilize every piece of the earth to support their health and diet. Various herbs, roots and grasses are their first line medical treatment as opposed to the pharmaceutical interventions we’re used to. In America, we are so quick to take pills for our ailments, whereas in Peru, they will cure their ailments with various teas, herbs, leaves and grasses almost exclusively. Peruvians are also extremely proud of their culture. Nearly every day, there was a festival going on in the town square. If I ever asked them what they were celebrating, locals would look at me, laugh and seem surprised by the question. I was blown away by their overwhelming national pride.

What are your future plans for going abroad, building your language skills, and for your career?

In the future, I hope to make many more international philanthropic trips where I can contribute my skills as a registered nurse. I will be graduating from my nursing program at San Diego State University in May of 2013. I hope to go on to get my master’s degree soon thereafter in order to broaden my scope of practice on an international level.

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Nichole has given a great account of her adventures abroad, and she clearly has the right attitude to solo travel. If you’re planning a trip abroad, heed Nichole’s advice: “I knew that while having a friend to accompany me on this trip would have made the trip more comfortable, going by myself would not only made me a stronger person, but would force me to interact with everyone that I encountered.”

Nichole is on the right track to achieving her goal of working internationally as a nurse. She mentions that she’ll soon be graduating with a master’s degree in nursing. Bravo to Nichole! A master’s degree is often considered the new minimum for many (but not all) international positions. For those in a similar position, I might recommend adding an extra year during your master’s to volunteer abroad, intern abroad, or to complete a research project overseas for an extended period of time. If you work towards this goal, your chance of breaking into the international field upon graduation will be much, much greater. If you plan to work in international development, you must have previous experience living abroad, preferably in a rural or developing location. Paying one’s dues is not as difficult as you might first think, since rural “hardship” life – in Africa or Central America for example, can be full of interest. Each placement, no matter how remote, has its own hidden rewards. Nichole has a great plan for her short-term future, but she and others like her may find some useful information among the suggested resources below.

Nichole's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
Want to Have the Same Experience?
In a Rush? Read These Articles First
These carefully chosen articles will lead you to our most important go abroad strategies!
Discover the Career Value of Going Abroad
Get the facts! See surveys and stats linking your experiences abroad to future career success.
Sample Application Documents: See How Others Did It!
Get inspired by actual documents that real students used to apply for internships, volunteer positions and other go abroad experiences.
The World Online
Want to stay in touch with the world? Check out these top (and sometime quirky) links!
Quick Guides! Our Most Popular Go Abroad Topics
View, print or share our easy-to-use guides available in English, French and Spanish.
What's Your International IQ?
How much do you really know about living and working abroad? Take this quiz to find out!
Are You Prepared for the International Job Search?
How much do you know about international jobs in your field? Get ready for a targeted job search!
Do You Have Enough International Experience?
Have you maximized your international experience? Are you ready for the international job search? Find out!
Quizzes: Your Master Scorecard
Check your scores for all quiz categories: international skills, experience & the job search.
Career-Boosting Strategies for International Students Studying in North America
What does it take for an international student to succeed in North America? We’ve got tips to help you thrive!
Earn $25 Gift Card & Submit Your Story From Abroad
Been abroad? Want to share your story? Submit your Q&A today to see your experience online!
Self-Evaluations: Think Analytically About Going Abroad
Keep track of your evolving international skill set before, during and after your international experience. Be ready to apply for jobs in the global economy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to all your questions about MyWorldAbroad by diving into our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Your International Resume & LinkedIn
Write your international resume first, and then create that all-important LinkedIn profile.
Top Tips on Going Abroad & Your Career
Scan our top tips in 40 go abroad subject areas: international skills, getting experience, finding work, and the professions.
International Skills: Be More Than Just a Tourist!
International people have a unique skill set. Learn the terminology and get professional about describing your time abroad.
100+ Career-boosting Strategies While Abroad
Discover enterprising, innovative ideas for how to demonstrate your international skills to future employers.
9755
- # of # Filtered -
  • 81
81
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
1
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
2
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
3
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
4
10851
Tips From Tasmania
5
9807
Fast Friendship In Korea
6
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
7
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
8
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
9
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
10
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
11
9784
Skill-Building In Bonn
12
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
13
9762
American Freshman In London
14
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
15
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
16
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
17
9741
Adapting To Work In Peru
18
9773
Independent In India
19
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
20
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
21
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
22
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
23
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
24
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
25
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
26
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
27
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
28
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
29
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
30
9771
Learning To Love London
31
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
32
9737
Passionate About Panama
33
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
34
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
35
9787
A Spring Semester In London
36
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
37
10192
Out And About In Paris
38
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
39
10157
Changing Course In China
40
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
41
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
42
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
43
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
44
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
45
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
46
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
47
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
48
9753
A Season In Sweden
49
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
50
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
51
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
52
9752
Giving In Guatemala
53
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
54
9748
Adventure In The Alps
55
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
56
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
57
9754
Building Memories In India
58
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
59
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
60
9765
Simpatico In Florence
61
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern In Rome
62
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
63
9756
Springtime In Spain
64
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
65
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
66
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
67
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
68
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
69
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
70
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
71
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
72
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
73
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
74
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
75
9817
A Bulgarian In England
76
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
77
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
78
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
79
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
80
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
81
9755
All Job Boards
436
All NGOs
1503
Au Pair Resources
31
Awards and Grants Resources
27
Business and Finance Job Boards
64
Business Directories
20
Canadian Federal, Provincial and Territorial Government Profiles
64
Canadian Government Resources
26
Children and Families Abroad
20
Country Guides
51
Cross-cultural Skills
101
Engineering Job Boards
59
Engineering Resources
55
Expatriate Networking Sites
20
Foreign Students Working in the US
8
Freelancing Abroad
23
General Job Search
23
Global Education and Social Action
29
Health and Medicine Job Boards
51
Health Career Resources
37
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
31
International Development Career Resources
43
International Internship Job Boards and Advice
45
International Internship Organizations
285
International Internships and Student Programs With Canadian Governments
34
International Internships With the US Government
39
International Job Hunting Resources
13
International Law Careers Resources
81
International Law Job Boards
21
International Studies in the US and Canada
10
International Trade Resources
28
International Volunteer Organizations
443
Internships With the UN and Other IGOs
137
Language Careers
30
Learn a Language
98
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
28
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
13
Loans for Studying Abroad
12
Low-cost Travel
28
NGO Directories
32
NGO Job Boards
41
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
138
Relocating Abroad
19
Resources for International Students Studying in the US or Canada
43
Stories From Abroad
81
Study Abroad Resources
165
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
105
Teach English Abroad Resources
59
Tools for Travelers
39
Top International Blogs
40
Travel Health and Safety
37
UN and Other IGOs
219
UN and Other IGOs Job Boards
16
UN and Other IGOs Resources
17
US Government Profiles
79
US Government Resources
33
Visas and Passports
16
Volunteer Job Boards and Advice
53
Women Living and Working Overseas
15
Working Vacation Resources
56