My passion for medicine and traveling drove me to find a program that offered both, and that's when I stumbled upon the Atlantis Project! I figured that I only have a limited amount of time before I apply to medical school, and once that is all said and done, my traveling opportunities will be significantly diminished because I will be too busy with school and work. I recognized that traveling during college would be the best opportunity to learn more about the world in which I live and how other cultures practice medicine.
Why did you the Atlantis Project?
The Atlantis Project appealed to me because it was both a pre-med organization as well as a traveling organization. Sure, there are probably others similar to it; but the Atlantis Project was super communicative with my parents and I thought that throughout the whole process, from applying to being accepted to completing all of the pre-departure steps, and even after my program ended, that they were interested in my thoughts about the program and wanted my feedback on how they can improve. Atlantis project is a superiorly excellent organization overall.
What was your favorite part about Spain?
My program was three weeks long in Toledo, Spain - one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to! Cobbled streets, medieval architecture, and warm and friendly inhabitants; I could have hardly asked for more. Probably my favorite part of Toledo was the scenery in terms of the buildings, the nature, and the sunset. It was absolutely breathtaking at times and sharing it with my other Fellows made it all the more enjoyable.
What made your experience abroad unique?
Two things made my experience abroad unique: meeting new people and shadowing doctors. When I landed I was greeted by the Atlantis Project staff and the other participants. It was a very awesome experience getting to meet other people from all over America who shared the same interests as me - because of this, I quickly formed a close bond with all of the participants.
Furthermore, the fact that I got to observe a physician's daily practices and shadow them for all of the procedures and consultations they performed was just an extraordinary experience that I will never forget. I had a notebook that was almost completely full by the end of my trip!
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
Local staff was from the host country, but they all spoke English very well and I was very humbled to see them doing everything they could, even if that meant learning a new language, to make sure that the participants had an amazing experience! Ana, our primary staff guide in Toledo, welcomed us with open arms and had care packages ready for us, so that we could be successful in the city and find everything that we might need on a local map! She was always available with questions, was very personable, and was like a big sister to us all! I miss her!
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
Travel on the weekends! For my program, our weekends were open (Friday to Sunday night) to do whatever we wanted as long as we were back in town for Sunday night. Many people that I knew went to different cities/countries over the weekend and that’s something that I encourage you (pending finances) to take advantage of!
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.: Wake up and have breakfast
8 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Shadow in the hospitals
2 p.m: Free time!
For me, free time consisted of swimming in the local pool, running, shopping, getting lunch with friends, exploring the city, nightlife, etc. Four days out of the week, we had complimentary dinners at a different restaurant each time provided by the Atlantis Project!
What did you enjoy doing in your free time most?
Swimming in the local pool, running, shopping, getting lunch with friends, exploring the city, nightlife, etc. I did not want to just stay in my room no matter how tired I was because I wanted to soak up as many experiences as I could.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
We stayed in a quaint little hostel roughly 20 minutes (by foot) away from the hospital, practically in the center of Toledo. It was highly rated by several travel and hotel companies, was clean, and always provided a delicious buffet-style breakfast in the mornings before work. The rooms varied in size and it was only two people per room, but we were hardly in the room except for to sleep so it was perfect!
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Keep an open mind and try everything! This includes new foods and experiences! Not everyone has the opportunity to go abroad and you don’t want to come back and regret not doing something!
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
In HUGE ways. Going through school and my classes, I have a renewed motivation to do my best in all of my classes so that I can graduate and apply to medical school. This experience solidified my decision to pursue medicine; every obstacle that I will ever come to face leading up to that point, I know that I can conquer it because I have a vision for my future and a firm desire to accomplish my goals - even nine months after my program ended!
Would you recommend Atlantis Project to others? Why?
Yes, yes, yes, 11/10, yes! The Atlantis Project gave me the experience of a lifetime and now I just want others to have the same experiences to help them discover what their passions are in life. If you are interested in health care and love to travel, apply now!
Claudio is a second year student at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he is majoring in microbiology and minoring in chemistry, history, and business management. He has traveled to several countries, both in Europe and South America, and travel is a passion he hopes to always pursue. Claudio’s work experience includes scribing for the emergency room at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he has worked for two years.