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21 return after studying medicine in Maastricht

Jan. 24, 2001

Taking in classes, cities' sites part of experience abroad



After spending more than three months in Europe, 21 Baylor students returned for the spring semester. All participated in the new pre-medical program in Maastricht, Netherlands, which provides a chance for students to study abroad for one semester.

The program, led by Dr. William Hillis and his wife, was first tried last spring. This last session was the first one to take place over the fall semester and, according to Hillis, was a successful experience.

'I can see the students maturing,' he said. 'Now they know how the world is different.'

The students lived in a 17th- century castle in the suburbs of the city, took history of medicine, medical genetics and international disease courses, but also attended practical classes at the University of Maastricht.

'We had to do clinical visits and assist in some surgeries,' said Jason Poteet, a Temple senior. Beside their classical classes, students witnessed clinical medical practices at the Maastricht teaching hospital. Students attended a variety of procedures such as heart and complication of pregnancy operations and surgeries to repair broken bones.

Besides taking classes, students also had the opportunity to travel through Europe while visiting famous places in medical history.

'It was great to be in the oldest places, where the world began,' Jesse Nguyen, a sophomore from Portland, Oregon, said.

'It brought medicine to life,' Ana Nguyen, a Garland senior said. 'It emphasized my passion. After the trip I haven't been more sure about doing medicine.'

Students learned about the history of medicine by travelling all around Europe.

According to Hillis, students could go everywhere but some chose to concentrate on certain areas of medical history.

Most students went to London where they experienced a private tour of the Westminster Abbey, visited the Guy's Hospital Museum and walked in the footsteps of the first epidemiologists. Paris, with the Pasteur Institute, was also one of their favorite destinations. The institute was founded in 1887 by Louis Pasteur, the French scientist whose experiments with fermentation led to discoveries about infectious diseases. They visited the Charité Hospital in Berlin and followed the traces of modern pathology. In Paedue, Italy, they studied anatomy and experienced the ancient places where modern medicine began.

All students interviewed agreed that these three months helped them to develop close friendships and to recognize how much the professors were dedicated to them. Ana Nguyen said that she gained more than knowledge, but also maturity and discipline. 'You have to balance between travel and study,' she said.

However, if the students were absolutely satisfied with the trip, most of them were happy to be back this spring semester.

'Everybody was ready to go home,' Ana Nguyen said.

'It was good to come back to some normality,' Poteet said. The senior agreed that it is actually more convenient to have a fixed schedule and not to be on the move all the time. He also mentioned that life over there was too different for him, particularly too liberal.

'People always live together before [their] wedding,' he said. 'They think it is weird to wait until the marriage, and they did not understand me.'

Hillis effectively noticed that his students were experiencing culture shock.

'Sexual morals shocked them,' he said. ' They were also very impressed with all the medical care in Europe. They know how expensive it is here. Their vision was greatly widened'.

The next pre-medical program in Maastricht will take place in the fall of 2002. Anyone interested in the program can contact Dr. Hillis or the International Studies office.

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