Study Abroad at Maastricht University (Netherlands) - Public Health and Medicine Program
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Madison Altmyer

Major: Philosophy (Science and Mathematics) and Science (Biological Sciences and Health Professions Option)
Minor: Global Health
Hometown: New Castle

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I found out about this program by looking through different education abroad sites on Penn State’s Education Abroad website. After narrowing down to my top three choices, I made an appointment with the education abroad advisers to talk about the pros and cons of each of my choices, and figured out what would work best for my goals of studying abroad along with completing my majors.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

Simply put, I had an AMAZING experience! The program was with the Center for European Studies (CES), who were extremely helpful along every step of the way studying abroad and made my adjustment to the Netherlands easy and smooth. I stayed in a guest house with about fifty other students in CES throughout the United States, as well as hundreds of other international students from all over the world, which I thought was a very unique and valuable experience. Maastricht is a small, but quite beautiful city in the south of the Netherlands that was only about 2 miles away from Belgium. It is also quite central in Europe, so it was quite easy to travel on the weekends. During my time abroad, I visited 13 countries, all as beautiful as the next! I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed my experience and about the friends and memories I made that will last a lifetime.

How did this experience impact you academically?

I am much more of a well-rounded student, having heard diverse viewpoints of representatives from all over the world.

The classes I took at Maastricht University were unique in that they were all discussion based classes rather than lecture. One thing that I really appreciated about the classes I took (European Public Health in a Globalizing World, Medical Ethics, Cultural Pluralism, Introduction to Ethics), is that they were extremely relevant to many modern issues, rather than being theory based. For example, my Medical Ethics class focused on cases involving cloning, genetic testing, and end of life care, which are issues that are on the forefront of scientific research today. I feel that after my education abroad experience I am much more of a well-rounded student, having heard diverse viewpoints of representatives from all over the world in these discussion based classes. I definitely challenged many of my own ideas and not only have a greater appreciation for the United States, but for the cultures I experienced as well.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

After my undergraduate, I plan to attend medical school to focus on either geriatrics or family medicine and work for an organization such as Doctors Without Borders. I want to continue traveling while also using my medical degree to help those in need. It takes being independent, having an open mind, and letting go of any preconceived notions to function effectively in another culture, all of which I feel I have the ability to do after studying abroad. My classes taught me about many of the issues concerning health disparities around the world, which will also be beneficial to my future career goals.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

College may be the only opportunity to live in a new country and culture, while experiencing it with a diverse group of people and free of most responsibilities (besides school). It is truly an amazing experience! Maastricht is a wonderful city with a ton to offer, and its central location makes to easy to travel all throughout Europe. If you are even slightly considering studying abroad, anywhere in the world for that matter, don’t hesitate and go for it!

For more information on global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.

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