Study Abroad and Global Education

Sonia Shenoi

Ask me where I've been: Argentina

Major(s) Science, Technology and Society
Hobbies Traveling with friends, Playing piano, Running, Hiking
Hometown San Marino, CA
Program/Study Site SIT Public Health in Urban Environments, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sonia Shenoi | Argentina

Why study abroad?

I chose to study abroad because I wanted to learn about public health and improve my Spanish in a country situated away from the throngs of American tourists. I also wanted to be able to say I knew the country well—not that I scraped the surface of multiple countries. This program in Argentina provided me with such depth.

Why did you choose Argentina?

I chose Argentina for its rich culture, great food and wine, and, most importantly, academic focus on public health opportunities. I wanted to study in a Spanish-speaking country that was accepting of and welcoming towards foreigners and had an emphasis on medical education and public health. I plan on becoming a physician and know that speaking Spanish is a necessity, especially if I am to stay in Southern California. I have been to a few countries in South America but never Argentina; I wanted a new adventure.

What courses did you enroll in while abroad?

The program included classes such as Epidemiology, Health Systems and Policies, Research Methods and Ethics, a Spanish class focused on medical healthcare terms, and an Independent Study Project (ISP). I fully enjoyed these public health-driven classes and loved how the program included visits to provinces such as Tucuman and Mendoza. I’m interested in pediatrics and executed my ISP on healthcare professionals’ perspectives of breastfeeding in Buenos Aires. I got credit for my classes towards my Global Health concentration and the classes also translated into my GPA.

What was your living situation?

I lived with a host mom (or grandma) and her daughter. My host mom and I had an extremely close bond; I called her “Nana” and she called me her “nieta,” or granddaughter. She treated me as part of her family, and I did the same. Argentine mothers are very caring, protective, and nurturing. I keep in touch with her to this day.

What did you do for fun?

I loved exploring Buenos Aires, doing food crawls, exploring bars and boliches with friends into the night, visiting the many museums, going to an Argentine football game, and traveling to Iguazu Falls and Patagonia. Visiting Patagonia with my dad was easily one of the best weeks of my life.

Highlights of the program:

The program gives you a holistic view on public health in Argentina and shows you the variety of healthcare services, from the private sector to the public sector to the fringes of society. While it was heartbreaking to witness some situations, it was simultaneously motivating and has further propelled me to become a doctor. The highlights of the program for me included hospital visits in Buenos Aires, Tucuman, and Mendoza. I also loved going on a hike with llamas in Purmamarca, going to two beautiful wineries in Mendoza, and climbing glacier Perito Moreno.

The most challenging aspects of your experience:

Adapting to a new country is always challenging—try doing it in a second language with a new family and set of friends in a bustling, exciting city! I was able to overcome the occasional low points with the immense support of the program, my Argentine family, and my program peers who are still my best friends.

Final comments or suggestions for future participants:

This program is for someone who wants to be intellectually stimulated while exploring Argentina and practicing Spanish (not English!). One should also be self-aware at all times in terms of safety; as with any big city, robberies are not uncommon. This program gave me the perfect dose of challenge and rigor while allowing me the flexibility and freedom to explore the city of Buenos Aires and Argentina.

 

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