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Published: January 30th 2019
I can’t even begin to put into words how much this trip has meant to me. I have never traveled across the world before, so I didn’t know what to expect. However, Thailand far-exceeded my expectations. This truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Not only did it feel like the most amazing vacation, but I also got to experience the medical aspect of Thailand as well. Nursing is so important to me, and being able to experience that in a different culture was such an eye-opening experience. It was also pretty awesome to travel alongside 8 other amazing girls and now friends. We all meshed together so well, creating such a fun environment. Whether we were touring a temple, talking late at night in our rooms, or spending endless hours in a van, we were having the time of our lives. Apart from what we did and the people traveling in our group, one of the best parts of Thailand were the people.
I learned so much about the language, culture, and people while here in Thailand. One being that we are so privileged in the United States to have the medical resources that we do. It was shocking to see some of the differences in healthcare from our hospitals to Thailand’s public hospitals. Even though Thailand is much more developed than a lot of the surrounding countries (medically speaking), they still use bags as catheters, don’t have automatic IV pumps, and have questionable sterile technique when it comes to medical procedures.
A second thing I learned is how deeply Buddhism is woven into every aspect of culture and family in Thailand. You can barely drive one mile without seeing a temple, and everywhere you go people are bowing to Buddha statues. A third thing I learned is how wonderful Thai people are. They are some of the kindest, most patient people I have ever met. There is such a clear contrast between Americans and Thai people. Americans are loud, often obnoxious, and tend to speak their mind. In Thailand, people are soft-spoken, polite, and opt for saving face instead of telling it how it is.
In regard to my objectives that I made before embarking on this trip, I would say that I met both of my objectives. To remind you, I was hoping to gain cultural competence in my nursing practice and learn to function as a better community member by better understanding the idea of respect. Being in Thailand helped me understand that there are different ways to do things and say things, but that doesn’t make them wrong. It just makes them different. I think that understanding this will help me better care for a patient who may think differently or act different than me based on their culture. Just as my life is strongly influence by religion and American culture, so are others by their beliefs and upbringing. Respecting other people’s values and beliefs is such an important aspect of nursing and caring for your patients holistically. Secondly, I think I met the objective of learning respect by observing how the young respect the old, and how everyone respects those in authority over them. The young are supposed to wai or bow to elders, and students are supposed to wai or even crouch down below the level of their teachers when walking past them to show respect. Through actions and tongue, Thai people function well as members of communities and make great teammates because of the utmost respect they show to those around them. It has been so encouraging to see people act this way, and it makes me want to become a better teammate, coworker, and family member. Thailand has taught me so much in such a short period of time, and I’m so thankful for everything that I am going to take out of this trip.
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