Week 8: Final Week & Return Blog



There was not much to the last week, but to focus all on the final exam. It was a strenuous one. The exam was said to include only the last 3 chapters, but with language classes, it is always a cumulative exam. This means we had to review everything from the beginning vocabulary-wise, all 8 chapters. The professor spent all of Tuesday’s class reviewing and preparing us.

The exam is divided into two portions, oral and written. The oral portion has two parts, a randomly chosen scenario for each person to lead, and a performance script, all with a partner. My partner and I did our oral portion early in the morning of the exam day because she needed to leave early for the airport. We were both very nervous, but we did great. The written portion this time was very easy. Full of subjunctives and scenarios with difficult patients rather than translations like the last exam. This time the challenging portion was the oral portion due to the various scenarios.

The entire experience has been very fun and informative. All of the expectations I had for the program were met and more. I like that the professor taught us a lot about the medical system of her country, Costa Rica. As I have been expressing in each blog, I loved each class we had together. The only thing is that I wish there were more classes, and we had more meeting time rather than twice a week, 90 minutes each.

Also, I loved the assigned book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. It was not necessarily about the Hispanic community, but the book demonstrated what it is like to be treated by western medicine while being a non-English speaking and non-acculturated minority in the United States. The book also showed me how to deal with multicultural patients as well as information about the Hmong people. The book was a great addition to the class material.

Throughout the program, I have learned a lot more medical Spanish vocabulary as well as about the medical system in Hispanic countries. I can feel that my vocabulary has advanced as well as my speaking skills. Although I can never get too comfortable and must continue to practice and learn Spanish.

Since the class is the last class of my university career, I now have some more free time. I originally wanted to find an internship or fellowship to do after the program, but I have decided to add an extra goal, and that is to travel. I want to travel to at least one Spanish-speaking country this year to immerse myself in the culture and language. This was my original goal of study abroad before the pandemic anyways. Therefore, next week, I will be flying to Europe for a little backpacking trip.

Over the past two months, two of my friends and I have been planning for this trip. One of my two friends, who was my partner for the final exam, had left first with her father to visit their extended family for the first time in northern France. We will be meeting each other in Paris, where my aunt and her family live. We both are reuniting with families in France after a long time. Then, we will be making our way down to Spain for about 10 days for a complete language and cultural immersion in cities like San Sebastián, Seville, Bilbao, and Barcelona. It will be almost spontaneous where we will go and how long we will stay. However, San Sebastián will for sure be one of our destinations since it was my original study abroad destination. I am glad and grateful to be able to actually make it happen after being disappointed when the program was canceled at the beginning of the year.

My fellow travelers and I wanted to make it a backpacking trip because we want to expect the unexpected and get surprised by our destination and the people we meet. My purpose to sign up for a study abroad program in the first place was to do so anyway. I did not want to grow complacent to my environment and grow to expect everyone I meet to be the same. That was the problem in the book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. The doctors were complacent with their knowledge, skills, and practice although the entire time they were dealing with a patient who came from a culture and language they knew nothing about. They were in no way incompetent as doctors in medical skills, but if they had reached out further to understand their patients and not expect them to assimilate and get acculturated into our U.S./Western culture, the little girl might have been able to live a normal and longer life.

After Spain, we will probably try to go to other parts of Europe with the COVID restrictions in mind or return to France and be with our families because who knows how we are going to be separated again in the future. I am hoping to help out my uncle at his pharmacy by conducting COVID tests in any way possible. I want to practice my French, learn how to do the testing, and meet new people in such an environment while helping out and spending time with family.

Once I get back, I will continue the plans that have been delayed. To build my resume, prepare for the MCAT, get a job and volunteer more. Perhaps also plan a trip to Costa Rica because our professor did invite us. I miss her already.