Karina Kowalski - 2014 Program Participant
What inspired you to apply for an international program?
I decided to apply for an international program because I really wanted to study abroad but knew that it was not a possibility during the school year due to my double major, on campus job and internship, and other extracurricular activities that I am involved in. However, traveling the world has always been a dream of mine, which is why when I saw a flyer for the Atlantis Project hanging outside my professor’s office, I could barely contain my excitement for this amazing opportunity to not only travel to a different country but also to be able to shadow doctors at a foreign hospital.
I know that pre-health undergraduates have a lot to do with only a limited amount of time, which is why I highly encourage anyone who wants to go abroad, but does not have time to do so during the school year, to look into the Atlantis Project.
Why did you choose the Atlantis Project?
There are a lot of pre-health internships available out there and I have been part of multiple programs and opportunities before my experience with the Atlantis Project. I have done a lot of volunteer work at hospitals but wanted to be part of a program that took the experience a step further. I also wanted to explore multiple fields, which was my favorite aspect of the Atlantis Project.
The Atlantis Project let me choose which fields I wanted to shadow doctors in, which is what helped me put into perspective what kind of doctor I would like to be in the future.
What did you like about your internship location?
The location that I went to was an island called Tenerife (Canary Islands) in Spain. The location was absolutely amazing and so different than any place I have ever been before. We traveled all around the island as part of the excursions that the program planned.
We stayed at a dormitory (Residencia) which was located a couple streets away from the town square. The town square was really a great attraction and had many restaurants and shops that we were very excited to visit.
Another part of the program that many people enjoyed were the amazing beaches. It was so nice to be able to go relax on the beach after a long morning at the hospital. The location had so many wonderful places to visit and explore, which was made possible with all of the fun trips that the program had planned.
What makes The Atlantis Project unique?
The Atlantis Project is unlike any other program I have ever heard of. It combines the opportunity of being able to travel abroad and explore all of the attractions and sites that the area has to offer while also providing the experience of a European hospital and a vast amount of knowledge about multiple medical fields. It is unlike other programs because it combines a fun summer travel experience with the ability to gain more knowledge about your future career path and learn what it is like to work at a hospital.
How did local staff support you throughout your internship?
We had three staff members that were always available to contact for help or any questions that we had. They came along on the excursions and group dinners to make sure that we felt safe in the foreign country. They also made sure to ask the students if they were enjoying the program and the hospital experience. I was initially placed in a field that I decided I did not have interest in after two days and wanted to explore a different field because I knew my time with the program was limited. The staff members were kind enough to find another place for me at the hospital in a different field. I am so lucky for their help because that experience helped me realize the field I want to go into in the future.
Name one thing you wish you would have done differently while abroad.
One thing that I wish I would have done differently is sign up for a longer session. The Atlantis Project offers sessions which vary in different lengths. I chose to go on the two-week session because it was the only session that fit into my schedule at the time. Most of the other students that were there chose the five-week option. I feel like two-weeks was enough for me to get a wonderful experience and learn a lot from being at the hospital, but I also wish that I had chosen the five-week session because the program was so fun and I wish I would of had more time to spend with all of the friends I made on the trip.
Describe what a typical day was like for you during your internship.
A weekday in the program included waking up early in the morning at 7 a.m., getting dressed for the hospital, and then going downstairs to eat breakfast provided by the Residencia. Then we would walk to the tranvía, which was only a couple streets away, and take it directly to the hospital site. We would all go to our assigned doctors which we would shadow until about 1 p.m. Some of the students stayed longer if they wanted to or thought the field was particularly interesting. Other students participated in a community service portion of the program during which they taught English to natives who wanted to learn the English language.
After coming back from the hospital, we would get lunch with friends and some people would use their free time to shop, play sports outside the Residencia, or catch up on sleep. Most days we had a group dinner planned which would either be in the town square or at a restaurant near the excursion site that we were going to visit that day (transportation by a private bus was provided for the excursions). Other days that we did not have excursions or group dinners planned, we would get together and take the tranvía to a beach nearby.
At night some students would go out on the town and enjoy the nightlife. Others would stay in and watch movies, hang out, or catch up on studying. Most weekends we had excursions or other activities planned as well. There was honestly not a single dull moment during the entire trip!
What was your favorite activity outside the planned schedule of your internship program?
One of my favorite activities outside the planned schedule was being able to visit the beaches with my friends. On days that we had free time, we would all go to the beach in a big group and hang out there until the sun went down. It was so nice to be able to relax and reach the beach quickly and conveniently. I honestly never wanted to leave!
What was your accommodation like?
Each student in the program was given their own room in the Residencia. This was a really great accommodation because we all got our own bedroom and bathroom and did not have to worry about sharing a room with someone we did not know. It was fun because even though we all had our separate rooms, we still lived in the same building and it was easy to hang out together.
Because I went to the session in June, some of the students who went to the university for which the Residencia was for were still living there, which was nice because they were always willing to help answer our questions and guide us when we needed directions somewhere. They were also always willing to play sports outside with us and it was nice to make friends who live in a different country. The Residencia also provided breakfast for us in the morning which was very convenient on weekdays when we had to go to the hospital.
How has interning abroad impacted your life?
Atlantis Project impacted my life in multiple ways and provided an experience which helped me see multiple perspectives of healthcare. The healthcare and hospital system in general was very different than the system we have in America, which was interesting to see and learn about. It was also interesting to travel to an island that is so incredibly different than what I am used to.
At first it was not easy to live without constant available wifi and cell phone access (which took a couple days to get). However, this was actually a blessing because it caused us to all hang out together, play sports outside, and explore the island during our free time instead of sit in our rooms and watch movies online or spend time on social media.