Emilie Clark, a TCU Nursing student recently visited London, England as part of our summer study abroad course, “Global Perspectives on Health in London.” Learn in her own words how the exploration of the health care system and its practices across the pond enhanced her learning and growth at Harris College.
When I first decided to study abroad, I knew I wanted it to be in London. When I learned that Dr. Shelley Ford was taking a group there, I was so excited at the possibility. I applied almost immediately and convinced my friends to apply, as well.
I looked forward to learning what the United Kingdom had to offer through its National Health Service (NHS) and discover it impacts the people of London.
Each day was not complete without a speaker lecture or some sort of tour. On our first day, we went on a tour of London. I enjoyed learning about the Monument to the Women of World War II and its representation of over 7 million women’s wartime contributions. Our guide explained how it showcases the various jobs women had during the war, one being nursing. This resonated with me as I imagined what life would have been like for me as a woman during that time.
One of my favorite days was when we visited the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It opened my eyes to the varying nursing practices in a different country. This tour gave me hope that working abroad is possible.
The hospital was very nice, and we all learned so much. The nurse explained how the accident and emergency (A&E) department was staffed and the process of how the patients flow through, with the goal to discharge or admit patients within four hours. The system impressed me, but I learned that insufficient pay has led to protests outside the hospital by the junior doctors.
After the hospital tour, we visited Borough Market, indulging in a variety of cultural foods. I savored a delicious Japanese rice bowl and treated myself to chocolate-covered strawberries. The market was charming and bustling with people from all over the world.
It was an unforgettable day that broadened my nursing perspective and emphasized the need for fair compensation in healthcare.
Each day offered a different learning experience, from touring a historical landmark or hospital to sitting in on a lecture from one of Dr. Ford’s former colleagues. One in particular inspired me with all she has accomplished with her nursing degree. She has traveled all over the world helping people and caring for the sick. She showed us how we could do that, too, and so much more as a nurse. I was in awe learning about her career and the how it changed over the years. She explained how the NHS used to be a better to work, but in recent years has been hard due to a lack of funding. It was quite the learning experience.
Given that I am a nursing student, having the chance to visit the Florence Nightingale Museum was incredible. The iconic lamp was one of mt favorite things to learned about. Everyone been led to believe that Nightingale used a lamp similar to the one we use during our white coat ceremony. Turns out it was a typical, ordinary British lamp that was featured in all the newspapers. However, Nightingale actually used a different lamp during the Crimean War. I was astounded to see what it must have been like during the Crimean War after learning that.
While the primary focus of our trip was to learn about the health care system of another country, I was equally excited about experiencing London’s vibrant culture and history. The city’s iconic landmarks, museums and theaters blended education and entertainment. When we arrived at the train station in London, I was overwhelmed with anticipation for the adventures that awaited us.
At the Tower of London, we were in awe at the crown jewels, artifacts that made me wish I were part of the royal family. Later, we caught a glimpse of the Tower Bridge.
After the tour, some friends and I went to Nandos, one of Nial Horan’s favorite spots, so we had to try it. Despite the South African cuisine, the food reminded me of American cuisine, except for their delicious Peri Peri sauce. As a popular choice among locals, I understood why it’s a casual dining favorite.
We also saw a guard on a horse, which fascinated me. It depicted the cultural differences between England and America.
On Saturdays, we went on excursions. We visited Stonehenge, the Roman Baths and Windsor Castle, all of which were amazing. We did so many amazing things and learned so much, it’s difficult to describe it all on one short story.
In two weeks, I experienced more than I ever through I would.
I learned how London works; how they drive on the left side of the road; how they stand outside of pubs every night after work in their suits; how they have traffic signs for bikes just like cars; how they use double decker buses; how they navigate the city in underground tubes; how they can’t understand you when you say “y’all;” and how they get free health care.
So many different things and, yet it felt almost like home. I got into a routine and learned what it’s really like to live in London.
This experience impacted me tremendously through the friendships I made and the lasting memories. I gained confidence in my ability to get around a foreign city, and now I feel like I could go anywhere without fear. This course made me excited for my future, I learned so much about nursing and what it entails. I learned about the different ways I could see the world as a nurse, and it excites me so much. I hope to one day return and work there as a nurse.