Today is the day that I leave for Thailand for three weeks. I am very excited and nervous to travel to this place. I never really thought about venturing to Asia. Coming in to college, I never thought I would be able to have the opportunity to do study abroad. I had rigorous courses during the school year (including summers). So, when the opportunity opened up, I could not resist. I do not think there is any level of preparedness I can have for the amount of culture shock I am going to experience.
Traveling abroad is overwhelming. From making sure I receive the proper vaccinations, to reading about the culture, making sure I have the proper clothes to wear, and figuring out what I should or should not eat. Besides the nerves, I am excited beyond belief, and ready to embark on this trip. I am so grateful to be able to travel around the world. In total, we have about 25 hours of travel time. Our first layover is in Zurich, Switzerland for about 6 hours. Hopefully, we will be able to leave the airport and grab some food! From there, we have about a 11 hour flight to Bangkok and arriving in the morning.
To me, public health is a perfect intersection of medicine, social justice, and science. To those who do not know what public health is, my snarky response would be that it is intuitive, it is studying the health of the public. If you want a scholarly response, here is how I describe public health from a post for my healthcare systems class last semester:
“Public health is preventing disease, and promoting healthy lifestyles for the population as a whole through multiple organizations, programs, and community-based efforts. It is important to note that public heath is different than medicine; in fact, in some ways public health is the antithesis of medicine. Epidemiology, a sector of public health, focuses on analyzing the trends in subgroups and populations, risk factors, screening, and using clinical trials to intervene and treat. However, medicine focuses on recognizing signs and symptoms, diagnosing, and then treating the individual. Though they are different, it is necessary that public health and medicine work together to keep both individuals and populations healthy. “
As I look forward to this trip I start to ask an important question: What is it like to see public health in action? We see it every day from receiving vaccinations to community health based initiatives. My epidemiology professor pointed out during class last semester that epidemiologists don’t only care about what makes a population sick, but also what makes a population healthy? I am looking forward to seeing what it is like to see public health in action abroad in a culture that is foreign to me, and not only analyze the problems this country might have, but healthcare solutions they might have as well. In my next post, I will be reporting live from Thailand!