As a 16 year old girl interested in pursuing a career in Medicine as well as further enhancing my Spanish language skills, I knew I had found a perfect fit when I learnt about the Medicine & Spanish High School Special programme offered by Projects Abroad in Cordoba, Argentina.
As a junior at secondary school, I was worried about travelling by myself to a foreign country and meeting new people. However, after talking to many Projects Abroad staff members, I became more excited and couldn’t wait for my new adventure.
My decision to volunteer
I have always had a desire to travel the world as well as pursue a career in Medicine. For the past 11 years, I have also studied the Spanish language and wanted to further enhance my knowledge of the language. I learnt about the Medicine & Spanish programme and knew it would be the perfect fit for me. Not only did the programme sound amazing but it would give me the opportunity to experience a part of the world I had never before.
My host family
While in Argentina, I lived with a family of 3: Laura (my host mom), and my two host sisters, Vera and Clara (age 11 and 8). When I first arrived, Laura made me feel at home, offering me food and water within seconds of stepping inside the gate to their home.
Conversations were tough at first, due to the language barrier, but as time went on, speaking with them became easier and easier. Whether it was obsessing over One Direction with Vera, painting Clara’s nails or talking about my life in Colorado with Laura. I became extremely close to my host family and spent as much time as I could with them.
My Medical placement
Every day from 8am to 12pm I would volunteer at different hospitals around Cordoba. Memories were formed by talking with patients and doctors, observing surgeries, and being taught different procedures on a doll made of medical tape.
My favourite part of my medical placement was the ability to talk to the doctors; whether it was explaining a patient’s situation, or helping me to figure out how to do the perfect stitch. Every day was different and this made my experience so much more interesting and helped solidify my desire to pursue a medical degree.
Spanish classes in Cordoba
One of the most beneficial things that I took away from this experience was my Spanish skills. After spending 4 weeks in Argentina, conversing almost every second in another language, my Spanish skills developed more than I ever thought they would. Every day from 2pm till 5pm, the other volunteers and I had a Spanish lesson with a Spanish teacher.
We were split based on our level of Spanish at the time. This was good as it gave every volunteer the opportunity to learn at their own pace based on their ability to speak Spanish. Through this experience, I found that in order to really learn a language, you have to immerse yourself in all aspects of the language; this will include the Spanish culture too.
Free time in Argentina
One of my favourite parts of my experience was the friends I made along the way. I made friends from the USA, Canada, Germany, Poland and Italy, and I still talk to each of them on a regular basis.
We all became very close as we travelled together every weekend to places such as the Che Guevara museum, zip lining in La Cumbrecita and even went horseback riding. Every moment was filled with laughter and I could not have asked for a better group to experience Argentina with.
Overall, I could not have asked for a better experience in Argentina. Saying goodbye to all the wonderful people I met, and places I visited was truly the hardest part of the trip. I learnt a lot about myself through my visit, and would go back to Cordoba in a heartbeat.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. To find out more about what you can expect from this project we encourage you to speak to one of our friendly staff.