Gracias a Dios y Gracias Adios

Studying abroad in Mexico has been one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in my life and I was truly blessed with an amazing host family. One thing I didn’t expect, was to feel  so welcomed by everyone I met, from the faculty members and students at UAQ, the nurses and doctors at the hospitals and my host family. I didn’t want to say goodbye today, I don’t think any of us were ready to leave Querètaro. I fell in love with this beautiful city and the beautiful hearts of the people here. For this, I want to say, “Gracias a Dios,” Thanks be to God for this unforgettable experience, before I say, “Gracias Querètaro, adios,” Thank you Querètaro, goodbye (for now).

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(A bridge near our house that we walked over everyday to get home)

Last night after our dinner, Becky and I came home to find all of our aunts, cousin, and grandma there to say good bye to us.  I can’t put into words the amount of warmth and kindness I feel from my new family. They all made sure that Becky and I new that their house was our house, and that we need to visit again soon. I really felt like I had become part of their family. Last night Gaby, Dani, Becky and I stayed up until 2:30 or 3:00 am goofing around with each other in the kitchen. I think we stayed up so late because we didn’t want our time together to end. It is awesome that I have friends in another part of the world. Even through language barrier, I’ve grown close to my host mom and sisters over time. I have two brothers at home but I think I finally got to experience what it would have been like to grow up with sisters!

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Today our mom cooked us a delicious breakfast of fresh sliced fruit (I’m going to miss the mangos here) which we ate every morning, and a toasted ham and cheese sandwich which was another dish we ate frequently. We said our final goodbyes, which is symbolized by a cheek to cheek kiss and a strong hug to our families and UAQ faculty. I remember thinking this greeting was awkward at first coming to Mexico but I really like it now; it’s warmer than a hand shake and I think it really reflects the friendliness and warmth of the people here. Then we hopped in a van which took us to the airport.

While we were sad to be leaving, we made the most of it and played the Español version of Banana Grams on the airport floor while we waited for our flight to arrive. It was a long day of traveling but we made it to Dallas and finally to Grand Rapids safe and sound.
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Some funny realizations we had as we returned to the States were: that this was the first time we had been cold in three weeks as many people don’t have air-conditioning in Mexico, that there were no trashcans for toilet paper in the bathroom since we could flush it again, and that Coca-Cola is not as sweet here in the United States as it is in Mexico.  When we landed in Michigan,  Kyrian’s family and friend greeted us at the airport with a welcome home sign!

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Tonight after we returned to Hope, we all went for a walk in the pleasantly warm night air which smelled fresh and sweet like summer. While three weeks seems like a long time to be away, I can’t believe how quickly it went. I won’t forget the new friends I have made (both from the US and Mexico), the different foods I tried, or all of my incredible experiences like learning to salsa dance, assisting patients in the various hospitals, hiking Bernal or the Temazcal.

Thank you, Hope College, for providing me with this opportunity to spend time in another culture which I realize in some ways not all that different from my own. It was truly special and is definitely something I’ll always remember!

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14. God’s presence was unquestionably present in this marvelous city and the compassion of the wonderful people there.

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Thanks for listening!

-Brittany

I’m gonna “taco” ’bout my day

This morning we returned to El Hospital General. Becky and Blair were in the Emergency Room, Katie and Kyrian were in Post Surgery, and I returned to the Trauma today.  It was awesome to return to the same area because the patients felt more comfortable with me today and were joking around with me. I also got to talk to a medical student doing his internship at the hospital where he is specializing in spinal surgery. He really wanted to practice his English so that was the language our conversation was mostly in. Through our conversation, we discovered that medical school education  in Mexico seemed quite similar to that in the United States.

One of the most heartwarming things we saw in this hospital  is that on the main level there is a mural called el arbol del vida (the tree of life) in which the names of the families of organ transplants are placed on the tree.

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Our host aunt also works at El Hospital General, so Becky and I met up with her for lunch and had a tour of the administration area where she works. This hospital, like many of the others we have visited, use paper records for their patients. There were many shelves of colorful folders with patient records.

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Tonight we all met up for a late dinner in El Centro at  El Portón de Santiago. The live music there was great! A young gentleman played guitar wish Spanish flair and sang sometimes getting the restaurant goers to sing with him. The food was delicious (those are chicken tacos below) and Becky and I walked home in the cool evening air just missing the beginning of a rain storm.

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That’s all for now! Tomorrow we’re going to Temazcal which should be pretty interesting.

Buenas noches!

-Brittany

Tonight Ended With a Bang

Hi friends!

If you’ve been keeping up with us, you’d know that we are adventuring in Guanajuato this weekend! After our walking tour of the city we relaxed in our hotel before venturing out in the night life for some dinner. We were all craving some American food, so when we saw Domino’s Pizza place we couldn’t resist stopping for a bite. The pizza place was right across the street from the Basílica Colegiata de Guanajuato, which is beautifully lit at night. While we were waiting for our pizza to cook (which was delicious by the way) a couple different marching band groups came out of the Basílica in a procession, trumpeting and tapping march rhythms on drums, followed by a flowery tribute to Mary.

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There were many other festivities happening in Guanajuato last night. There was a soccer game on just about every TV of the restaurants in the central part of the city that we and many other people in the city were checking the scores as we enjoyed the sites and sounds of the city. There were many different music groups to listen to as well. There was a group dressed in medieval type clothing for a festival. As we passed different restaurants we could hear many different groups from singing solo guitarists to groups playing  accordions, trumpets and various string instruments.


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Today we ate at an authentic Mexican breakfast at a cute cafe near our hotel and then met up with our tour guide to visit the mummy museum and a mine in Guanajuato.  El museo de las momias de Guanajuato had over one hundred preserved bodies of babies and adults. None of the people were famous but it was interesting that the museum could predict how some of the people had died from the position and conditions of which they were found. It was a little creepy.

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After the museum we visited a mine where we descended many steps under ground. Our tour guide said that  the workers would have had to make the journey in they dark or wait for another worker to pass carrying a candle. We sure got our exercise on our way out of the mine, I can’t imagine having to carry equipment back and forth to mine the silver, gold and quartz from the area.

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Tonight, in Querétaro, we visited our relatives right around the corner from our house in order to eat some gorditos, which are kind of like a pita tortilla with meat inside which we cut open in add cheese and salsa. It was delicious. We also watched the American Billboad Music Awards on TV, which had been dubbed over in Spanish. The amount of American culture here has really surprised me. Finally, to end the day Becky, Gaby (our host sister), and I  went for a lovely 4 km run down by the river  where we had a fantastic view of fireworks along the way. Today sure ended with a bang. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings when we visit ISSSTE Hosptital!

-Brittany

 

What a wONEderful WEEK it’s been!

We survived our first week! It’s rather surprising to realize that we have spent exactly one week here today. Time has flown so fast but I think it is safe to say that we all are feeling fairly comfortable with navigating the city and being completely immersed in the culture here. Today we returned to Médica Tech 100 for a full day of clinicals. Four of us were on a general hospital floor and one in the NICU.  We got to see many more patients today and actually perform some nursing functions, which made me feel useful and accomplished.

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The patients in this hospital have private rooms complete with a modern hospital bed, leather couch, sink and counter top  in the main room and a private bathroom with a shower. There were quite a few admits today, so we were able to take many patients’ blood pressure and observe the nurses taking histories and starting IVs. The nurses were extremely nice and patient. They took the time to explain the different questions they were asking the patients on their history forms after we had left the room and to show us how medications were organized to be distributed to each patient. After we had our bearings of the floor we got to participate in more tasks under the supervision of the nurses there.

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I was really surprised to see all the tasks that the nurses here execute. The nurses assist the patients in all activities of daily living, which are normally completed by a Patient Care Tech or Certified Nurse Aide in U.S. hospitals, in addition to all of their responsibilities as a nurse. I was able to assist a nurse in a bed bath and occupied bed change which gave me some confidence as I frequently perform those tasks in the nursing home as a CNA. It was interesting though to see the equipment used. At the U.S. hospitals a cleansing shower cap sort of thing and warmed-whipes are normally used to clean a patient, but here at Médica Tech 100, we used sponges, bar of soap, and a 3 different metal basins to get the job done.

The nurses were really great at explaining different procedures. I got to help in setting up an IV infusion, which is a slow “drip” of medication into the vein over a set period of time, to deliver a constant amount of therapy. Becky, Blair, and Kyrian all got to start their first IV’s today as well!

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To finish the day, we all went for a run down La Avienda Universidad, which is a street by the river near my house that has many picturesque bridges and trees covering the sidewalks. Becky and I had a traditional Mexican soup for dinner at our tía (aunt) and abuelos (grandparents) house. Later in the evening we walked to pick up our prima (cousin) from her high school which is a Catholic school and spent time with with our family! What a great first week is has been!

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Adventuring in Querétaro

This morning we had an official tour of “El Centro.” The architecture is so interesting throughout Querétaro. The central part of town is very colonial style and is rich in history. There are many museums, cathedrals, and theaters. All the cathedrals in the central part are beautiful and many have detailed, golden ornamental decorations on the wall. Today we visited the Convento de Santa Clara. Murals are also a very popular form of art here and can be seen throughout different churches, museum/historical buildings and throughout the city. One of my favorite things about the city are all the gardens and plazas with fountains. The trees are well-kept everywhere and the city is very clean in most parts. Below is a picture of the Jardin Guerrero (the Warrior Garden).

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After our tour of the city, we ate at a Mexican style restaurant and did homework in a coffee shop. We found a cute coffee shop called Express Café Arte. It feels sort of normal to do homework there like being in JP’s Coffee Shop back home. I’m surprised at how comfortable and well-adjusted I feel in the city. We walk everywhere or my host family drives us to where we need to be so, so far I haven’t had to take a bus. I am getting to know the street names and felt quite accomplished to make it home without their help today!

After just three days here I can tell that the culture is very family oriented. Aunts and uncles have been over in the evening the past two nights for Mother’s Day and one of my host sister’s birthday. My host family is so welcoming and makes us feel like part of the family! They are all so patient with me when I speak Spanish and I really am starting to feel like part of the family. Tonight we went to visit the brother of my host family at his house. We took his dog for a walk and ate desserts while we watched a soccer game. Food and family go together here! I’m trying so many new things even if it doesn’t sound like something I’d like. Today I tried piña con chili (pineapple with a spice mixture of chili, salt, and lime sprinkled on top). It’s actually quite delicious, trust me! The desserts we ate tonight were a key lime pie sort of dessert and a jello dessert with a tiny bit of some type of sweet syrupy liquor poured over the top (No worries folks! I’ve had my 21st birthday, but you might find it interesting to know that the legal drinking age in México is 18). I can’t wait for tomorrow and all that it holds, my host sister is taking us do a discoteca (a nightclub) to dance!

-Brittany