Intro by Elizabeth Sanchez


My name is Elizabeth Sanchez. I am a rising senior at the College of Charleston pursuing a degree in public health with a minor in health care and health systems management. My time at the college has not always been easy. As a first-generation, Hispanic student I have had to work very hard to get where I am today. As I am writing this blog post, I am almost in disbelief.

Studying abroad has always been a hope of mine but doubted my chances because of the pandemic and financial complications. After working tirelessly over the past few months I now find myself sitting on a plane departing Hartsfield-Atlanta-International Airport and heading toward Paris, France. I am honestly at a loss for words. This will be my first time flying over international waters and touching European soil. As I look over my right shoulder and out the airplane window, I can breathe a sigh of relief. I have worked hard to sit where I am today, working countless hours while juggling school and volunteer work. I have never worked so hard for something I wanted so badly. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and thankful to all the people who helped me to where I am today. Many get the chance to travel but for me, well this is a totally new experience. This study abroad experience stood out to me because of the course that was offered this semester with Dr. Maness which is a Special Topics in Public Health with a focus on immigration and public health. This study abroad opportunity furthered my interest when I reflected on my unfamiliarity with the language and culture in France.

Coming from an immigrant family, I grew up learning both Spanish and English, becoming bilingual and fluent in both languages. Throughout my life, I have not had much difficulty understanding and/or interpreting these two languages but as I fly over the Atlantic, I know a rude awakening is approaching. Since I received my acceptance to the program, I have been practicing my French but still, have much to learn. I am ecstatic to step out of my comfort zone and immerse myself in a new culture while also attempting to learn the language. I am beyond thankful for this experience and excited to see where the next few weeks take me.

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