Returning from Nicaragua was much more difficult than I had anticipated. I had just began to get used to the heat, the food and using Spanish more than English. Above all, I felt like I had not spent enough time in the clinic. It almost seemed unfair to go down to Nicaragua, recognize the necessities that the country has, help for a few weeks and then disappear. I know that there is so much more that I could have done to help if I simply had the time for it. I guess that would be the only complaint I have about the trip, not having enough time, which isn’t a bad complaint at all. The people that I met in Nicaragua, the other students from Alabama, the excursions that we went on, the work that we put in at the clinic and the stories that I heard from my host family all came together to make this journey the most educational and wonderful trip I have ever been on.
I actually had the opportunity to shadow a couple of the doctors from Alabama that helped start the clinic the week that I returned and that really helped to tie together my entire experience. I got to hear first hand how much the clinic meant to them, how much work it took to get it started and how important we as students are to the clinic. They told me how their biggest dream is to have all of us grow up to be doctors and continue to travel back to Nicaragua to volunteer. There is nothing that I want to do more than that and it is a wonderful feeling to know that I am always welcome to return to help in the clinic in Nicaragua.
The best advice that I could give to future study abroad students is to just do it. Whether you are having reservations in regards to going on the trip in general, not sure about speaking the language while you are there or nervous about being away from family and friends, do it anyways. I promise once you are there and immerse yourself in the country you will learn so much, meet so many people that make you look at the world differently and have amazing stories to bring back for everyone here in the states. This really is one of the best opportunities that we are offered while in college so don’t let it pass you by. I wouldn’t trade my time in Nicaragua at the clinic, with my host family and with my friends for anything and by the end of your experience, I know you will feel the same way.