Alexis Perry – February 6, 2019

Being able to study abroad in Ghent, Belgium was one of the best experiences in my life. Cultural night was incredible and a night that I surely will never forget. It was enlightening and wholesome to watch how animated everyone got about their food and their country. I got to meet so many people from various places around the world (Belgium, Kansas, Portugal, Latvia, Czech, Germany and Estonia), and learn about their country, perceptions of the world and end-of-life care.

Since I have been working in a nursing home as a nurse’s aide for almost five years, I have had many experiences with the way end-of-life care can be carried out in America. However, I wanted to learn more about palliative and end-of-life care in general, but also about how it differs in Europe.

As I was in Belgium, I quickly realized that the country focuses a lot more on optimizing comfort and enhancing the quality of life during palliative care. There are actual facilities dedicated to this, therefore the healthcare workers are experts at completing the care. Through the use of music, art, aromas and even massages, the workers are capable of not only relaxing the individual, but also relieving physical and existential suffering.

My own personal box has widened to accept everyone I met, everything I have learned and everything I have experienced. The friends I have made from this trip I still talk to, because though this trip was only two weeks, I believe the impact of this course and each other, has kept us talking. I am so happy to have met them all.