Cheers to the Best Three Months in Edinburgh

10770272576_img_1464As I reflect on my study abroad experience in Edinburgh, I am filled with gratitude. I truly grew in ways I could not have foreseen. There is something about living in a foreign country that allows a beautiful transformation to take place. Getting out of my comfort zone was the best thing for me. Through living in a foreign city, taking classes at a new university, and my internship, I grew in independence and confidence.

img_9533           I grew in my independence tremendously during the three and a half months living in the city of Edinburgh. I loved walking all around the city, as well as taking public transportation. I felt like an adult in the “real world.” I was responsible for buying my own groceries, cooking meals, cleaning the bathroom, doing my laundry, and all the other duties that come with living in an apartment. I joined a gym as well as a yoga studio, which soon became one of my favorite places in Edinburgh. I am now much more confident that I am prepared to take on life after graduation. I was also alone much more than I was at my home university. My commute to class was about 45 minutes, and my commute to my internship was about 25 minutes. My typical days consisted of a lot of time in which I was forced to be alone. I realized that I was constantly with people at my home university. This was refreshing to take time for myself and listen to music or a podcast. I began to savor these moments alone. I learned that I need some time alone for my mental health.

img_5620            I also gained confidence through my study abroad experience. Through being the only American in a class of about 100 students, I was pushed out of my comfort zone. I reached out to people in order to make friends. I met many people with different backgrounds and opinions. Learning at a larger university challenged me to adapt to new teaching styles. I also gained confidence through travelling.

I was able to travel to seven different countries during my time abroad. Travelling has a way of showing people’s true colors. I learned a lot about myself. For example, I am very easygoing and tend to not be a planner. One of my friends that travelled with me learned that she is definitely a planner. Travelling also showed me that I am optimistic. We almost missed our flights a couple of times, but I was the one reassuring everyone that it would work out.

10740590192_img_7818I am planning on becoming a physical therapist, so I was thrilled when I found out I would be interning at a place I could shadow physical therapists. Through my internship, I gained valuable knowledge about treating a patient holistically. Therapy should be person-specific. All of the clients I observed were unique. I was particularly amazed at the variety of ability amongst the multiple sclerosis clients. Some were in wheelchairs, and some could walk with no evident sign of a disease. Some could barely talk, some stuttered, and some could talk with ease. Some were sad about their struggles, and some were optimistic. Each client had a different background and different daily struggles. I was impressed with the way the physiotherapists treated each one as a unique individual. I will carry this mindset into my future career as a physical therapist. This experience gave me confidence in my decision to pursue physical therapy.

img_6023            My internship at the Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre was an incredible experience that definitely shaped my sense of purpose. I am thankful that I was placed in such a welcoming environment. I am thankful for all of the incredible people I met. I am thankful I was able to shadow physical therapists who truly care about their clients and encourage them to reach their full potential. I am thankful I was able to form relationships with clients who amaze me with their positive outlook on life despite their circumstances. MSTC is such a special place, and I never would have been able to intern there if it weren’t for EPA. I remember the day I found out I had been accepted into the EPA program. Little did I know the positive impact it would have on me. I would recommend studying abroad through EPA to anyone wanting to get out of their comfort zone. I am very thankful that I was able to study abroad in Edinburgh and will never forget this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Charlotte Gilbert, Furman University (Edinburgh, Fall 2018)