Stories that Shaped Us: A Medical Mindset
Linh Nguyen is an ISA Lillie alumna and current ISA/TEAN Global Ambassador at Texas A&M University whose experience abroad during Summer 2022 was instrumental in her career aspirations and impacted her perspective on culture and life’s goals.
We reached out to learn more about why she chose to go abroad with ISA France and how her experience abroad has shaped her in the long-term. Check out this unique story below.
Why did you choose to study abroad and why did you choose France?
LN: My goal for the future revolves around my passion for being involved in the medical field. The responsibilities of a physician include being well-rounded; a trait that is incredibly important when it comes to providing the best care one possibly could. The ability to adapt to your patient is similar to adapting to a new environment around you. You need to stay true to your studies, but you will have to cater to the wants and needs of your patient. Instead of letting my previous knowledge of the country be my guide, studying abroad allowed me to learn from the locals instead.
France was among my top three decisions, but it became my preferred choice due to the Doctors Without Borders organization headquarters being located there. Becoming involved in this organization is my top goal during my career as a doctor, therefore France became top of the list. Furthermore, it was my first time traveling internationally by myself. In order to lessen my anxiety a bit, I chose a country whose language I already spoke. That way, I knew if I were to ever need guidance while by myself, I had the ability to communicate with those around me easily. Aside from the small tidbits that would make my life flow a little easier, French culture has always been beautiful to me. From the architecture to the food, I knew France had so much to offer me. It was an offer I could not refuse.
When it came to picking the city, I knew that a big city like Paris would make me feel too small. I currently live in an incredibly lively, big city and I felt that if I were to be dropped off here without any knowledge beforehand, I would not be equipped to handle it. Hence why my heart told me give Lille a chance. In the end, Lille proved to be perfect and I miss it everyday.
How did your study abroad experience mold you into the person you are today?
LH: Due to the fact that I was in a foreign country by myself, when it came to things outside of school, I mainly had to try and figure it out myself. Every puzzle piece had been given to me and all I needed to do was find out where they fit. This experience of me coming out of my shell to ask locals for directions and my peers where I can get train tickets for my own excursions, living alone, and managing my work-life balance rendered me completely responsible for everything. Returning home from this trip, I feel like I have been polished. I feel like I now have the confidence to accomplish the things I aim to do instead of being scared to attempt them. I have become more independent and mature in a way where I still stayed true to myself.
In what way(s) did your study abroad experience impact your goals for the future?
LH: This experience has shown me how much I love meeting new people and working with them. Everyone welcomed me with open arms, making it incredibly easy for me to feel safe. In turn, this has made me realize how fitting the medical field is for me. I will be meeting with new and returning patients constantly and it will be up to me to create an environment where they will feel taken care of. From being empathetic of cultural differences to the willingness to listen about each person’s background, my study abroad trip has inspired me to continue to pursue my goal of taking on a profession that revolves around people.
How did you balance study, mental health, and adventure while on your trip?
LH: I was incredibly fortunate to immediately find a group of people that I clicked with instantly. In doing so, it made my experience abroad a million times easier. They created a space that made everyone feel welcomed and supported, making it safe for people to vent about the stress of school or the anxiety they may feel being away from home. It was a loving environment that had no judgement. Therefore, my mental health was not too much of an upkeep. My studies did get in the way of hangouts at times, but prior planning and scheduling helped me balance a fun work-life experience. I saw my schooling as a job where I only worked weekdays within an allotted time. This mindset cleared my weekends, making it so that I was able to travel during the weekends.
It may seem a little overwhelming having so many things to keep track of, but with an amazing group of friends and the willingness to be organized, everything should flow smoothly.
Any advice you’d give students interested in a global experience?
LH: Do it! Go for it! Do not let the fear of travelling override the fact that a global experience will grant you new friendships and new memories. The most anxiety-ridden part will be the plane ride to your destination, but after you land and meet the other students who are in the same boat as you, the whole process feels much easier. If funding is a problem, talk to your school’s financial aid office and apply to the scholarships that are available. An abroad opportunity is extraordinarily rewarding, and I highly recommend it.
Curious to hear more from ISA/TEAN alumni? Read more blogs from France alumni or explore how other alumni embraced the many diverse communities while abroad.
Inspired by Linh’s journey and want to discover your own while immersing yourself in a study abroad program? Fill out your details below to let our team know and we’ll help you find your adventure today!