My study abroad experience in Belgium for the End-of-Life care program was amazing. Before I applied I wasn’t really sure if this was something I wanted to do because it seemed like a short period of time and I didn’t think that we would have enough time to enjoy the program and Belgium itself. Thankfully, I was completely wrong. The second week was the intensive portion of the program that was filled with interesting lectures, guest speakers, discussion panels, site visits, a project, and fun activities to get to know the students from the other countries. The first week only included a few site visits and some activities with the native Belgian students so there was much more time for us to go out and see the beautiful sights in and around Belgium while getting to know each other. In fact we were even given a free weekend when we first arrived in Belgium, which we decided to spend in Amsterdam! The free weekend in the beginning was a great way for us to start off our time abroad because it gave us a chance to get familiar with the culture before jumping right into classes.
Our classes in the second week were far from boring and at times were very hands on. We were even lucky enough to have different workshops that focused on complimentary care. These included heptanomy, hand massages, feet massages, music therapy, art therapy, and several others. Not only were we able to practice on one another but we also actually were able to go to different sites for palliative patients and implement some of the techniques we learned with the patients.
My favorite part of the whole trip though had to be all the new amazing friends I made from all over the world. Other students came from Portugal, Czech Republic, Estonia, and of course Belgium. We even had some students come from Kansas, USA this year. Despite the different languages we all spoke or the different customs we had spending that time together made us realize we had more similarities than we had differences. It was incredible how close we got within such a short time frame.
So if you’re thinking about doing this program go for it! It will definitely be one of the best decisions you have ever made. You will learn so much about palliative and end of life care, meet some amazing people, spend time in a beautiful country and have some AWESOME food for sure! Finally if you’re even half as lucky as I was you just might end up with an incredible group of your own Uconn classmates to go on this journey with!