Considering studying public health abroad? As a student in the health sciences, you’re probably well aware that the field of public health reaches around the globe. You know that professionals in the field work in a variety of capacities to promote and protect the health and well-being of people and communities, and that they may do so while often navigating the local political and cultural terrain.

You might also know that successfully administering public health initiatives requires a great degree of knowledge, expertise, and experience. As an up-and-coming professional in the field of health sciences, you need as much know-how as possible. Study abroad public health programs can help you pursue the knowledge and experience to be successful.

Studying public health abroad gives students an opportunity to see how public health administration works in other countries. Students may learn how factors like race, class, gender, and ethnicity affect health administration, initiatives, and policies. They can also observe the influence that political systems, economics, and culture have on public health problems. The ability to engage with dynamics like these firsthand may provide students with a unique and powerful learning opportunity.

What Does Studying Public Health Abroad look like?

To gain a clearer picture of how it might look to study public health abroad, imagine studying issues like these: • Epidemiology, or diseases • Health care systems • Social aspects of public health • Cultural aspects

Then imagine studying issues like these while you’re living in the country and engaging with the community. You might choose to focus on a topic such as health care in a country in Central America, or race and human rights in South America, or maybe even something like community public health in Southeast Asia. Immersing yourself in the field may offer a unique set of insights and experiences.

Public health study abroad programs may also provide a great opportunity to network. Through your classes, you may meet educators in the field of health sciences and students who have connections to the community. You may collaborate with educators and future public health professionals on current or future public health problems. Your field work may also allow you to make connections with public health researchers, politicians, and maybe even activists outside of the university.

By studying public health issues in places where they’re actually happening and by connecting with people in those communities, you may gain a more nuanced sense of what it takes to work across cultures and institutions.

Studying public health abroad and learning a new language can also help you communicate with some communities back in the United States. Many communities need public health experts who speak languages other than English. Communities with high populations of Spanish speakers, for example, benefit from working with someone who can communicate with people to assess their needs and design initiatives using the Spanish language.ii

Cultural sensitivity is another vital concern. Public health professionals who understand the nuances of a community’s culture may be more likely to be better prepared to conduct research, educate community members, and design initiates that successfully promote and protect people’s health and well-being.

Many public health study abroad programs offer students opportunities to study public health’s specialized terminology in a language other than English. Plus, soon-to-be public health professionals can develop their broader language skillset as they navigate everyday life while abroad.

Add to this the simple fact that you get to study abroad. This means that you get to see partss of the world that you’ve always wanted to see. You get to visit amazing places and enjoy life-enhancing experiences. You get to eat new foods, listen to new music, and learn about new cultures. You get to live and study in another country! That, in and of itself, can be a wonderful opportunity.

Next Steps

Numerous public health program opportunities like these exist throughout the world.iv You can pick from summer-, semester-, and year-long programs, or engage in internship or language-intensive programs. So what are you waiting for?iv, v Begin your search now!

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