Wrapping it up for Christmas

This past week and a half has been crazy trying to get everything together to leave next Friday! There are currently 8 days left in Spain, which is bittersweet.  I can’t even begin to explain how much I have missed my fiance, family, and friends I have not seen for the past 4 months, but I know going back to the US I will definitely miss Spain.  I still honestly can’t believe I was given this experience and I am EXTREMELY lucky.  It had been a dream of mine my entire life to go to Spain, but I was unsure if it would ever be able to happen financially.  However, not only can I now say that I have been to Spain, but I have lived here and made a great deal of connections.  I will definitely be returning to Spain at some point in my life, I am just not sure when.  

The “goodbyes” began this past Tuesday in the colegio of the Hospital with all of the children I have been lucky enough to work with the past month.  As this was very difficult, I went back again today, and will be going back for one last time to say goodbye to all my kiddos next Thursday, the day before I leave! Additionally, today was my last day at the hospital.  Everyone was sad to see me go, but they all commented on how proud of me they are and how much I have accomplished since my first day a few months ago.  The difference is almost comical.  I remember my first day.  After talking myself out of running away, I stood to the side wide eyed concentrating my hardest to understand what everyone was saying.  It was a HUGE jump from class where speech is from one person at a time, much slower, without abbreviations or slang, and with terms the class has generally learned.  In the hospital the first day it seemed like speech was a free for all, BUT throw in medical vocabulary in another language.  This is not to mention cultural differences and extreme changes in nursing procedures.  And in a hospital, you have to learn fast.  There is not time to slow down and explain what is going on step by step when you are caring for 24 patients.

 At times at the beginning of this experience, I wondered why I was here.  Many thoughts rushed through my head such as: why am I doing this, I’m out of my league, I have NO idea what is going on, why the heck is everyone talking so fast?!  That being October 1st, now on December 12th I have retaught myself all of the medical vocab I have ever learned, but in Spanish, have come extremely far in my speaking and listening skills and now somehow understand almost all of what is said to me, and have finally mastered all the differences of nursing procedures and treatments. For me, my clinical experience in the hospital was by far the most important part of the trip.  Having excelled in this makes me extremely proud of myself and grateful.  This was definitely the most difficult clinical I have ever had, by far.  With that being said, I feel as though I have relearned 4 years of nursing school in another language these past 4 months from all the work I have put in.

Finally, the people I have met, in the hospital alone, have been exceptional.  They taught me all that I have learned here and took the time and patience to allow me to learn and live up to my full potential.  I will additionally miss all of my patients.  As I have worked on a Rehabilitation floor the past 3 months, I have had all of the same patients.  We have all become very close on my floor, like a family, and it will be very difficult to leave everyone.  With that being said, I am ecstatic to go back to Boston and will never again take for granted any of the supplies or materials we are lucky enough to use day by day in the US Hospitals. 

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First day in Pediatrics

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This past week was extremely busy, and I also began working with the children!  It was a great week overall.  This past Tuesday, after working for 2 hours on my regular rehabilitation floor at the hospital, I was FINALLY able to go to the first floor and work with the children.  This floor is MUCH different than the others, as it is set up as a school, rather than simply a floor with beds.  The children who are able to get up and walk around, attend classes in specific rooms each day from 10-3 until their parents come to bring them home for the evening.  I think it is great that the children are able to go home at the end of each day and be with their families, as this is obviously extremely important for their well being and development.  The manner of education was very interesting and useful as well, as  the classes were grouped together in terms of disability, and each teacher was specialized in how to teach this specific group of children to obtain maximum results.  I visited each group of children, as it was my first day, and was very interested by this and how each set of teaching instructions and methods was different, based on the learning abilities of the children in the room.

The first room I was brought to was for children with autism.  Although I have had experience with autistic children in the past at Children’s Hospital Boston, I found myself a bit nervous at first being alone and not knowing what to expect.  However, to my surprise when I walked in, a little boy ran over to me, grabbed my hand, and brought me over to the Lego tower he had built!  Following this, I was placed in a group of nonverbal quadriplegic children.  I was told when I entered that this was one of the most interesting groups, and had no idea what to expect.  I spent most of the day in this room, with one little girl in particular, who I was told was unable to communicate and rarely displayed any emotion.  Despite what I had been told, after being with her for over 2 hours I can’t count the amount of times she had smiled at me and laughed while were were playing.

Lastly I was placed on lunch duty.  Here I met the rest of the children and was able to assist them with their lunches.  At one point when I was turned around helping one girl with her food, I felt something on my shoulder.  I jumped a little out of surprise and turned around to find one of the boys I had met before with autism, to have his head on my shoulder.  He then said in Spanish, “Hi! I’m Antonio! Are you new here? What’s your name?”  

It definitely did not take long for me to fall in love with all of the children.  Prior to going this past Tuesday, I had been told how difficult this floor would be and how many people hate it.  There seemed to be confusion why I would even want to spend my time with these children in the first place as it would be extremely difficult.  After much time and perseverance I was finally able to get myself through the doors.   So far I have loved every minute of it.  I was not taken aback at all by this first response, as this is the general consensus of pediatric nursing among many.  However, many fail to understand that this is a very special branch of nursing which is not for everyone.   For me, there is no greater satisfaction than taking care of children, being with them in their time of need, helping them get better, and putting smiles on their faces.  They are the most delicate group of patients, who I believe need the most from their nurse. Not only in care, but in love, support, and understanding.  

Out of all of the patients I have cared for, I have yet to be as touched or moved by any other patient than the children I have worked with over the years.  They have each taught me so much and are without a doubt the strongest group of people.  In my work as a volunteer at Children’s Hospital Boston over the past 4 years, I have worked with the sickest of the children in all 3 Intensive Care Units as well as the Oncology Unit.  Although I was solely placed on these units due to my  school schedule, and am sure that I would never have picked these floors on my own,  I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for ending up on these floors and how much each of these children taught me.  Despite their conditions, they are truly the happiest, kindest, most selfless people I have ever met.  

One specific memory I have was on the ICU a few years ago at Children’s, when I was talking to a boy about 8 or 9 years old, who was recovering from open heart surgery.  He told me something I will never forget.  As Halloween was coming up, many people had sent candy to his hospital room since he was not able to go trick or treating.  He told me that he was going to give all of this candy away to people who needed it more than him.  I was absolutely shocked by this, and thought how this would never even be a thought of most children his age.  This is why I have chosen to be a pediatric nurse in the future.  For this one moment, a thousand others I have had, and for millions to come in the future.  This group of patients deserves nothing but the best.  All that I ever do is to be a better nurse for this group of my future patients and I feel that this experience in Spain, which I have been lucky enough to have, will aid me immensely.

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The most interesting week so far in my opinion

Dios mio!! Where to begin? I have absolutely no idea! This past week has by FAR been the busiest since I have been here, and it went by extremely fast.  It began this past Monday with 6.5 hours straight of Spanish classes.  This past Tuesday, was probably one of the busiest days of my life.  I went to the hospital early, at 7am, to talk with my nursing supervisor, concerning my hope to start working with the children on the first floor!  After waiting about an hour, she said that it would be possible starting this coming Tuesday.  I also got to visit the first floor of the hospital, which is a school for mentally and physically disabled children.  I am extremely excited to finally start working here in only two more days!

During my shift this past Tuesday, I was with the BEST and most proficient nurse I have encountered at the hospital here.  She was absolutely amazing.  Not only was she extremely kind, patient when I had to have something repeated, but she taught me more than I have yet to learn in only a few hours, and additionally took the time to explain everything she was doing to me and why she was doing it.  She would then ask if I had any questions after or if I needed anything repeated.  In addition to this, she was an extremely proficient nurse and I felt honored to have worked with her.  She was the first I had seen to pack wounds, check IVs sites for inflammation and signs of infection, and prevent pressure ulcers.  Not only did she turn each of our 24 patients, but she made foot and back pads from what was available.  She told me it’s probably a lot different here than the United States because we have so many resources available, but here there is not much, and you have to improvise.  Most of the nurses don’t take the time for this, as there is so much to do, but she went above and beyond in all that she did.  We finished our work a lot later than the nurses I am usually with do, as we were able to do so much, and the other nurses actually told her to relax and take a break.  I asked at the end of our shift together if she would be there every Tuesday, and I’m hoping she will be here this next week!!

After working with this nurse on Tuesday, I was placed with the one I seem to have the greatest deal of difficulty with this past Thursday, for the second time.  There was 0 patience throughout the day, which made the entire shift very difficult.  If I did not understand something the first time, it was not repeated and that was that.  I was also given pop exams by her throughout the entire day, such as “Set up this tubing!”  Haven’t you done this before? Faster Faster!! What if this was an emergency go faster!”  I did not take any of this personally, as I was fully expecting to encounter barriers before I came to Spain.  Without them, there would be nothing to accomplish or change.  One part of the day I found a bit comical was when I was told to treat a pressure ulcer with cream based antibiotics via syringe.  Although this seems like an easy task, but patient was face up, and his bottom was about 3 inches off the bed.  When I squeezed the antibiotic out of the syringe, and it slide back down, I was responded with “Give it to me you can do the next one if you get it then.”  I responded with, “I understand it now, but this defies the laws of gravity!”   Needless to say, the struggle was real on Thursday.

Following my shift this past Tuesday, I went to two medical conferences at the hospital.  One was concerning pressure ulcers, which I found interesting as it turned into a heated debate!  There were two doctors giving the conference to a room full of nurses.  The doctors were saying that it is the responsibility of the nurses to turn their patients and prevent ulcers, and it is their fault if the patient develops a pressure ulcer.  This was when everything hit the fan.  Many nurses started screaming at the doctors, saying that it is not their fault as they do not have enough resources to prevent these efficiently, and that they additionally each have 20-40 patients depending on the shift.  This conference was in a public hospital in Spain, which had very little resourced to begin with.  However, now with the negative impact of the economy, the government is cutting expenses in health care, further reducing their funding and resources.  This conference was very interesting to be a part of.

After this conference, I went back to my hospital for a four hour conference on dealing with difficult patients and patients with terminal illnesses.  This conference was extremely interesting and I learned a great deal about the Spanish Health Care system, as well as its differences with the US health care system.  The main difference was that here in Spain, if a patient has a terminal illness and the patient’s family doesn’t want the patient to know, the doctors and nurses will not tell the patient they have this illness.  For example, if a patient has cancer and is placed on an oncology floor, the doctor will tell the patient they are getting better or that they are the same, but will not state the prognoses.  I found this completely ridiculous as the patient ALWAYS comes first in the US, and this has been implanted in my brain since I began nursing school.  I thought it is absurd to deny a patient a right to their own body, to choose their treatment, and to know if they will live or not.  The instructor of the class said he doesn’t agree with this either, and that there is currently a law being passed that will prevent this.  The rational behind this was that if a patient knows they are dying, they will be stressed and could potentially lose their will to live by knowing this.  I thought about this a great deal after the conference and gained a better understanding.  There are a great deal of cultural factors that must go into this, such as family roles in the hospital in Spain.  Here, the families stop working when their family members are sick, and stay in the hospital with them all day and night for months or years on end.  They are truly amazing.  They provide extraordinary care for them as well, taking on similar roles as nursing assistants in the US.  This conference was very interesting as well.  Although I can understand the mentality of this idea while taking Spanish culture into consideration, on a human level I still feel that it is always better to be honest with the patient or family member.  

Additional differences in the Spanish health care system include the fact that Placebos are legal in Spain, and given as “pain meds” and psychological medications.  I had known this before the conference as I had seen them on my own floor in a med cabinet, but still find this interesting.  Also, if a patient has HIV/AIDS in Spain and does not want their wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend to know, the hospital will call and tell them anyways, as they are at risk and it is a public health hazard.  In the US, we respect the patient’s wish and do not tell the family if they do not wish so, but I can definitely understand why this is done in Spain and am torn between the two.  The nurses at the hospital stated, “But they are a person, who could die without treatment, and furthermore infect others.  They need to know.”  I am completely in agreement with this, but also in agreement with respecting your own patient’s wishes.  

Finally, this weekend my class went to Sevilla and Cordoba! This was my final trip of the semester and it was very interesting.  I had never been to either part of Spain before, and found them extremely beautiful.  It was a great week overall, and I honestly can’t believe how much I learned this week!

 

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Hospital and the end of another week!

As my fiance left Granada last weekend and I have additionally been getting over a sickness, this week has been very difficult for me.  However, I have continued to push myself academically and have once again learned a great deal this past week.  I am very proud of myself for all I have accomplished and gotten through this week.  Yesterday, I had my 7th shift at the hospital.  Towards the end of the day I spoke with the supervisor of my floor, and she said that I will most likely be able to work with the children this coming Tuesday!  I am very excited about this and have been looking forward to it the entire trip.  Starting next week I will continue working on my floor at the hospital Thursdays, and will begin working at a school for physically and mentally disabled children directly across from the hospital on Tuesdays.  I am extremely excited and will let you all know how it goes!

This week at the hospital I was placed with the nurse I had worked with my second week.  I have clearly come very far since my second week at the hospital, when I knew extremely little, and have hurdled many barriers along the way.  To say that she was impressed with me this week would be an understatement.  She would ask me if I knew how to do something, similar to our last week together when my go to answer was “No tengo ni idea.”  However, this week my answer to everything was “Yes of course!”  She started laughing and stated “Wow you know how to do everything now that’s incredible!!”  This made me feel very happy as I have accomplished this completely on my own and it has taken much dedication.  It has not been easy, but I find that it is all worth it when I am given positive feedback such as this.  

A funny moment which occurred this week was with one of my favorite nurses on the floor, who is trying to learn English.  She was showing me how to remove staples, which are “grapas” in Spanish.  Before I was able to see the staples, she told me that “We will be taking out the grapes!”  I was obviously extremely confused, then burst into laughter once I saw the staples and remembered they were called grapas.  I then explained to her that grapes are “uvas” in Spanish, and that there are thankfully none of those in his leg.  She then started laughing, as well as our patient, who didn’t know any English but found the entire situation quite comical.  

An incident I was a bit confused about this week occurred when an elderly patient on the other side of the floor was sitting in her wheelchair crying because she had to go to the bathroom.  She was then told that she would not be able to go to the bathroom because she would fall.  I asked if we could bring her to the bathroom with more people for support, and was told no because they had tried that last time and she had fallen.  I then explained a bedpan and asked if they had those here, to which I was told yes, but she would not be able to use one because she was in a wheelchair and not a bed.  I then thought of a chair lift, but those do not exist at this hospital either.  I am not sure when this patient ended up being able to go to the bathroom, but I found the entire situation very strange.  In each of the hospitals I have worked at in the past in the US, if a patient has to go to the bathroom you stop what you’re doing, get help if necessary, and get the patient to the bathroom.  I’m not sure if this is a cultural difference or some sort of language barrier, but I found it very different.  

A moment I was proud of this week was when I was standing in the hall waiting for the nurse I was working with.  A patient’s family member saw me there and began to approach me to ask me a medical question.  I was a bit nervous as this hasn’t gone so well in the past.  The woman started speaking extremely fast about her father.  It was not until she stopped that I realized I was actually able to understand everything she had said, and was additionally able to fix the entire problem on my own successfully! 

Today I took a tour of “Hospital Real” and learned a great deal of San Juan de Dios, who was the founder of the hospital I work at.  I learned that he was originally a soldier, then heard to voice of God telling him to convert.  He then began to care strongly for the poor and give all he had to them.  People thought this was strange, then began to think he was crazy.  Resulting from this he was locked in a cell for a year in the Hospital Real, as it was a mental hospital at the time.  Today, I got to stand inside of his cell! 

 

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The beginning of November

This past week was one of the busiest so far, although it went by extremely fast.  It was a very interesting week at the hospital as well.  I was with the same nurse I had worked with my first week, and the difference in my skills between then and now was obvious. She seemed very impressed and surprised with how much I had learned and how far I have come in such a short amount of time.  I found this alone to be a great accomplishment.  The staff was additionally pleased with me this week, as I had brought them chocolates from my program director, Dr. Pulgarin.

I found this week at the hospital to be very intense.  I definitely feel as though I am in the role of a nurse, and that I am now able to fill this role with my knowledge of Spanish.  Although there are still words here and there which I do not understand, I honestly find it remarkable how much I have accomplished so far.  This week, I noticed some differences between the roles of the staff on my floor here in Spain and floors I would typically work on in the US.  There are 2 nurses on my floor of 46 patients, 8 nurses aids, and 2 doctors.  However, the nurses aids are not permitted to take blood pressures, any other sort of vital signs, or blood glucose levels.  This is all done by the nurse, in addition to all treatments, medication administrations, and patient care.  I always find myself in awe of the nurses I am working with, still remaining unsure of exactly how they are able to complete all of this successfully.  Due to the excessive tasks the nurses are required to complete, I find care to be very different from the United States.  I was saddened this week to find one elderly patient I always talk with, to have a broken nose and 2 black eyes.  I asked what happened, as this was new from last week, when the nurse responded that she had fallen trying to get into her wheelchair.  Although I have seen few falls in the US, I feel that they are much more prevalent here as bed alarms or chair alarms are nonexistent on my floor.  I was further shocked to find my patient getting up again from her chair to sit in her wheelchair, without assistance, and was told to “be careful” but was not given any help.  This is a prime example of  the difference in the amount of time spent with each patient here verses in the US.  Although the nurses yearn to spend more time with their patients, it is often impossible and they are forced to prioritize between 24 very sick patients at all times.

Another difference I noticed this week occurred while I was waiting for the nurse I was working with for the day.  When I have down time throughout the day, I usually walk around with my notebook and write down terms or medications which I do not understand.  This week I was looking at the medication drawers, when I noticed two drawers specifically for Placebos.  One was entitled “Placebos Rojos” y the other “Placebos Blancos.”  I found this very interesting as we do not use placebos in the US.  The final difference, which I have repeatedly noticed since the first day, is pressure ulcers.  I have not had a single patient, out of 24, without at least one pressure ulcer down to the bone.  Before coming to this hospital, I had never seen a pressure ulcer so advanced in my entire life.  Now I have become accustomed to them, after treating over 30 a shift.  This is a difficult subject because there is not sufficient time to turn patients every 2 hours, as we would in the US, and additionally these patient are here for months at a time.  Despite all of the differences, I think it is essential for everyone to travel and view nursing care within other cultures, countries and continents at least once in their life.  I find witnessing and treating these various differences, among many others, to be extremely educational.  Coming to Spain, I found myself in a mind set that things need to be done a certain way, the “right way”,  and they way I have always learned them in the US.  It is very interesting to find that there may be no “right way” for any treatment, as there is most likely a different way in each country.  I continue to find this remarkable.

Towards the end of this week, I myself was a patient briefly.  After coming down with a virus, I can now say that I am one of a few to throw up on Granada’s most priced possession, the Alhambra!! The entire process of being sick in a foreign country and going to the doctors in a place where English is unknown is extremely nerve wracking.  This once again reminded me of my patients, as I felt that I had briefly become one of them.  Although I had been nervous, I found it extremely easy to understand the doctor and talking to her surprisingly came easy, despite the fact that this was all done completely in Spanish.  I was proud of myself for this, and am thankfully feeling much better today!

I was additionally lucky enough to have my fiance here with me throughout this entire week! Words cannot explain how much I had missed him, continue to miss him, and this past week was without a doubt one of the best I have had so far.  The day he arrived I picked him up at the airport, then he came to meet my host family.  My host mother was ecstatic to meet him, stating in Spanish “You will be like my son-in-law!”  Furthermore she loved the fact that he is able to eat far more than I am, and finished every meal, which is a task I have yet to complete.  Throughout the week we went to the Arab Baths, Albayzin, Alhambra y Generalife, and the Science Museum.  I also had all of my midterms this past week, which went very well!  Until next week. :)

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This past week in Granada!

This past week and weekend I remained in Granada Spain!  I have officially been here past the half way point, which I find extremely difficult to believe.  Although I can barely remember being at the airport the day I left the United States, I still feel that in a way this has gone by extremely fast.  This week in school has been busy, as we are preparing for midterms, but I have learned so much.  Multiple times this week, words and phrases I have learned in class have come up in conversations, and I felt very proud that I was able to remember these.  Additionally, although I do not realized it at times, my Spanish has gotten extremely better as I am now able to talk to and understand a great deal of people, and I definitely would not have been able to do this the first day.  

This week the hospital was extremely busy.  My nurse and I had 26 patients, many of which were total care.  I spent most of the day running around making sure everyone was taken care of and had what they needed.  This past Thursday at the hospital was also the feast day of San Juan de Dios, who is the patron saint of the hospital.  There was a great deal of excitement and food at the hospital resulting from this, including 2 large boxes of chocolate on my floor!  I couldn’t help but laugh when the day shift of nurses, including myself, opened the first box and ate the majority of the chocolates, then realized there were about 4 odd flavors nobody wanted.  They then decided to open the second box for the night shift, take out the ones they wanted from that box, and put back the 4 flavors from the other box in the missing places.  When the night shift came in they asked if I wanted to try a chocolate, having no idea my shift had already consumed a box and a half.  I politely said “No, thank you” as I had already eaten 5.  The other nurses then winked at me and started laughing.  It was definitely an interesting day at the hospital!

Yesterday, Sarah and I went to get a smoothie and sit down on a bench to listen to a saxophone player on the street.  We then noticed an older man, probably in his 80s, staring at us, who then came over asking in Spanish “Are you girls German?”  I said no we are American, and then he proceeded to ask if we had boyfriends, and talk to us for about an hour and a half!  He gave us a great deal of life lessons about God, the church, not to trust boys, and then told us about his life.  He said he is very lonely and depressed because he never got married, and comes down everyday to talk to people our age, telling them to make good choices.   He told us that he sells balloons on the corner of the street every Friday, and hopes we will be able to come this Friday and say hi.  When I told him we needed to go home for dinner, the old man said “Oh, I can make dinner too I have paellas, coffee, sugar, shrimp, calamari, and rice!!”  We told him we already had dinner made, but we would try to get a balloon from him on Friday.  I found this entire experience very interesting, as this would never happen in the United States, but seems to be common here in Spain.  I am sure that we made his entire day, as he walked away smiling and happy.  

Yesterday following class, my professor here in Spain gave Sarah and I a very thoughtful gift from one of our favorite nursing professors in the United States!! It definitely made our whole day.  The remainder of this week is filled with a great deal of school work and studying, which I need to get out of the way before this weekend, as my fiance is coming for the week!!! I have been waiting for this weekend for 2 months now, and absolutely could not be happier.  Until next week! 

 

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Clinical, Stitches Class, and Trip to Madrid/Toledo

This past week was packed with adventures and was filled with new learning experiences.  The hospital this week was extremely busy and I was placed with a new nurse on the floor.  There was not much time for explanations, but I was able to understand much more than the previous week and at a much faster pace.  I have progressively been able to understand more, communicate more with nurses/patients/families, and perform nursing interventions.   The shift begin with my nurse asking if I knew how to administer insulin, to which I answered “yes,” and she proceeded to give me the tray of insulin syringes to administrate to the entire floor.  I was very nervous at first, but very excited after I was able to complete this task proficiently without any issues!  Following this, I was additionally able to change about 15 dressings,  insert and remove tracheotomies, give IV medications and suppositories, treat stage 4 pressure ulcers, and spend time conversing with my patients.  It was over all a fantastic day and I was lucky to be able to have done so much.  I definitely administered more meds in one day than i have so far in my entire career as a student nurse.

This weekend my class and I went to Madrid and Toledo!  I loved Madrid and it reminded me of the US.  It was very busy with a great deal of stores, people and things to do.  We went to many museums and learned about the history, and additionally saw a movie completely in Spanish.  I surprisingly found this movie very easy to understand, which is a huge change as I would have been completely lost the first week I arrived in Spain.  On Sunday we visited Toledo on the way back to Granada.  Toledo was one of the most beautiful and relaxing places I have so far seen in my life, and I definitely plan to go back at some point.  My favorite part of Toledo was surprisingly the air quality.  Having had problems with allergies and asthma throughout my life, this aspect has always been important to me.  Our professor said the air is so clean in Toledo that many people come here when they are sick to be cured simply by the air.

Yesterday, there was an optional class at the hospital to learn how to place stitches into people, which Sarah and I chose to attend!  This was a bit of a challenge as we haven’t even learned this in English, so we had absolutely no idea what we were doing in the first place, then were being directed completely in Spanish.  When we sat down we were looking for the “dummies” we thought we would be practicing on, and were very surprised to find that dummies do not exist at this hospital, and that we would be cutting and stitching up actual pigs feet!! This experience was definitely one for the books.  At the beginning, the doctor in charge of the class asked, “Who here is left handed, because that will be more difficult?”  So Sarah and I raise our hands, when the doctor then says, “Oh great! Only the 2 that speak English haha!” The hospital staff was very helpful with us and took the time to teach us slowly, and in the end we were able to do it!! We were very proud of ourselves for not giving up.

The first week I was here, my teacher told me “If someone lacks patience or has a problem with you, just pretend it was switched and they were in the US, feeling just how you do now.”  This one line has helped me a great deal, as I imagine this whenever I am feeling lost or out of place.  I am then able to realize how brave I was to have come here in the first place and accomplish all that I have so far.  I have become able to laugh at myself, and don’t take it personally if I say the wrong thing or am slow to understand someone at times, because I am learning, which is why I am here in the first place.

This past week has additionally marked the halfway point of my trip, and I was able to reflect on how far I have come.  A few weeks before I came to Spain, I was so nervous I was actually wishing I could have just stayed in the US because it would have been easier.  But without taking risks, you won’t achieve anything.  Despite how difficult it has been at times, I am learning more than I have ever dreamed and having the experiences of a life time.

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