Study abroad: The European perspective

Study abroad: The European perspective

Houston native Phuoc Anh-Thi Nguyen made the most of her summer abroad in Denmark. She received credit for two courses that she was able to transfer toward her biology/pre-pharmacy degree at UT. She stayed with a host family and learned about Danish culture. She also received a new perspective on the different ways health care can be delivered.

So why did you want to go abroad?
I had a very specific goal. I wanted to immerse myself in the health care system of another country so that I could make as informed a decision as possible about my own future, in this country, as a health care professional. You can read as many books and journals as you want about the different ways that countries organize their systems, but unless you see it first hand, you can't really know.

Why Denmark?
I found a program at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen that really fit my goals perfectly. It's called the Medical Practice and Policy program, and it enabled me to take two classes that are focused entirely on the big questions of how to deliver health care systemically. For our first class, Human Health and Infectious Diseases, we did a study tour of Karolinska Hospital, which is one of the largest hospitals in Stockholm, Sweden. For our second class, Health Care in Northern Europe, we learned about different universal health care systems in Europe and compared them to the American health care system.

Any advice for other students considering going abroad?
Well, if you're interested in the program I did, I would recommend completing the UT study abroad and the Danish Institute for Study Abroad applications as early as possible. That's the only way you're going to be able to stay with a host family in the summer, and I found that my stay with a host family was essential. It was the best way to immerse myself in the culture.

Was it worth it?
Absolutely. Going abroad was one of my best decisions I've ever made. It opened my eyes to the different ways that health care can be delivered. It nourished me mentally and professionally. It was a lot of fun. If you'd asked me two years ago about studying abroad, my answer would have been "never." Now, though, I would study abroad again in a heartbeat. The experiences you will gain from your study abroad are irreplaceable.