Kartlis Deda Every Day

In Tbilisi there is a large monument on one of the hills overlooking the city called Kartlis Deda, or Mother of Georgia. Kartlis Deda is supposed to be the quintessential symbol of the Georgian spirit throughout history. In one of Kartlis Deda’s hands she holds a sword for those coming as enemies, and in the other a glass of wine for those coming as guests.

Is “Food the Window to the Soul”?

I suppose it depends on who you ask. I know someone who thinks eating is overrated, so perhaps it may not be a universal truth. Regardless of this controversial opinion, for me, food is the window to the soul. Eating and enjoying food with good company is something that I value. It is an experience, a comfort, a chapter on life’s simplest pleasures. Food, and the care you put into its ingredients, can transcend language, bringing people together.

The Challenge of Perception

France, comme un reve, was rich in culture and natural beauty -- exceeding my expectations and presumptions about French life. Although Rennes was adorned with cobblestone streets and charming architecture, the ignorance and racism was overt. I was adopted from China as a baby and grew up in a predominantly white area in rural Pennsylvania. After taking many French language and culture courses over the past 8 years and my life experience as a POC, I assumed I was prepared to encounter the racial ignorance in France.

Expanded Perspectives

Studying abroad has influenced many of my goals. Some goals I want to accomplish initially from studying abroad include learning more in depth about the European healthcare and insurance systems and healthcare delivery, so that I can have the knowledge to be open minded and have diverse ideas regarding global and public health as a future physician making decisions one day. Also, I hope to compare the strengths and weaknesses of both American and European healthcare.

Everyday Life

As a student on the Comparative Healthcare in Graz, Austria study abroad program, we are living in Graz for 4 weeks. The Hotel das Weitzer is a very nice hotel in a great central location. It is close to two tram stops that we use to get to the university every day. It also is within walking distance to numerous restaurants with outdoor seating in the popular location called the “Bermuda triangle.” We are also close to the main Congress square and the famous Bell Tower and fortress of Graz.

Don't Waste a Single Moment

Whether it’s specifically Plus3 Ireland or any other Plus3 program, the best advice I have is to make the most out of your time. The program is very short (only two weeks), and you will constantly be busy. The program really packs in a lot of activities such as site visits, lectures, and tourism opportunities and it can be exhausting. However, the exhaustion is worth it. The time really does fly by, and you don’t want to leave wishing you had gone to a certain restaurant, walked through a certain museum, or visited a certain sight-seeing spot.

Overcoming Language Barriers

As I reflect on my time studying abroad in Graz, Austria with Pitt’s Comparative Healthcare program, the biggest challenge I faced was the language barrier. The official language in Austria is German, and I had no previous experience with the German language prior to the study abroad program. Although we did learn introductory phrases on our second day of class with our onsite Austrian coordinator, Julie, it was a challenge to communicate in some stores and restaurants, as some locals did not know any English. For example, for our free weekend we went to a rural, small village of Admont.

Language Isn't the Only Cultural Barrier

My expectations going into my trip to Ireland were that I wouldn’t have too much of a hard time adjusting to the culture mostly because their primary language is English. I think one of the biggest challenges when traveling abroad is overcoming the language barrier, but that was not an issue for us on our trip. Yes, some Irish people have thick accents that take paying extra attention to understand, but there weren’t many difficulties when it came to communication.