Argentina Internship Finale!

This trip has been one of the coolest adventures I have ever been a part of. I have been able to see surgeries, shadow pediatric doctors, learn how to speak functional Spanish, and gain more confidence in all aspects of life. I have a strong desire to not lose what I have learned here. My purpose for coming out here was to learn Spanish and to see pediatric medical cases, and I was able to do that and more.

I went through the initial and intermediate Spanish levels, and the immersion process really does work. This global health internship in a Spanish-speaking country was the best choice I could have done. Although at times it was difficult, I learned to appreciate so much of what I have taken for granted in the United States like never having the problem of the local water not coming in to take a shower.

After some pain and tears, I was able to figure out how to speak and be confident while speaking another language. I also learned that mistakes are normal and essential to learning; being too afraid to make mistakes does not yield any worthwhile results. My teacher was amazing and so helpful; I owe all of my Spanish ability to her patience and kindness.

I also gained confidence in learning how to navigate and plan. I was able to travel all around Argentina from the rainforests to snowy mountains to the desert. I booked and found all of the information in new places with other twenty year olds, and we were able to see all that we wanted. I made some amazing friends who I hope to collaborate and work with one day.

Best of all, I learned that the medical field is completely right for me. During the first tonsillectomy, all of the steps just made sense. I felt like I had found something that I already knew and was just now remembering. I know that this path is for me. Even when one of the kids woke up during the surgery, I knew what to do and helped calm him down. It all just clicked.

I was able to see various tonsillectomies and appendectomies with the coolest surgeries being a parasite pulled out of a scrotum, tonsils as big as my palm, and an entire intestine being pulled out and massaged. I was able to meet some amazing doctors in general consultations and ophthalmology. I also got to do a few shifts in the ICU and the ER where I got to put in cannulas and use my stethoscope. This was an amazing opportunity that my parents, BYU Hawaii and BYU Provo all helped me to be able to have. I hope to be able to be a future surgical physician assistant who gets to scrub in and help little kids. I am closer now to achieving my dreams of serving internationally. I am so excited to keep on learning and scrubbin’!

Iguazu Falls!

This entire trip was amazing, and Iguazu Falls was stunning! When we first landed, I felt like we were in South America for the first time. It was hot even in the middle of their winter with tons of pueblos. When we got to Airbnb, we learned that it was a bit different than from what we were expecting. The area was a little sketchy, but it turned out to be an adventure.

On the second day, our water never came in, so we had no water to shower or use the bathroom with. Our windows and doors had bars on them, and about five locks to get into the house. In order to get to the center of the city, we had to walk for about thirty minutes to get food or go grocery shopping. The streets were all made of dirt and some rocks, so I tripped and fell a few times (being the graceful person I am). I would hide my blonde hair under my jacket to get less noticed on the way over. By far, it was one of the coolest experiences I have done and really wanted to do.

We went to the Iguazu Falls National Park for all of Saturday and Sunday. This park has three sides: Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. I might be biased, but we’ve heard that Argentina’s got th best side. The first day was pretty cloudy and drizzly, but that meant that all of the wildlife came out. We got to see monkeys, toucans, butterflies, and coatis. I even picked up one of the adorable little coatis, but it was a little less cute when its mom attacked my hand. They are little South America aardvarks that jump up at people for food or when they do not want their babies touched. Still though, way fun to spend the weekend in a jungle in South America.  

We were a little sad on the first day because the water was literally the color of dulce de leche and chocolate. During winter when the water rises, all of the clay gets soaked in and the water is nowhere close to blue. On the second day though, it was sunny and way amazing. Words cannot describe how excited we all were to see the falls up close and walk around.

For the rest of the time, we did all of the hikes up to the Garganta del Diablo (Throat of the Devil) at the top of the park. My favorite two trails were the upper and lower circuits where we could walk around to all of the waterfalls. The craziest part about the park was that there were metal bridges everywhere so we could walk above the water to see the falls.

For our excursions, we did a boat tour on Sunday morning where they took us straight to the waterfalls on the river rapids. We went into the waterfall, twice! Lucky for us it was not shut down a couple of years ago when a few people died getting too close to the waterfall. Definitely once in a lifetime experience, and one of the best hours I’ve ever had.


We went to Bariloche for a quick trip away from the hospital and Córdoba. Bariloche is in upper Patagonia and is about a two hour plane ride away. You could literally see the snowy mountain tops peeking out of the clouds from the airplane, and all I could think was wow.

Our Airbnb was in the centre of Bariloche, so we were right in the middle of the chocolate shops, lakes, and mountains. The Swiss settled Bariloche, so the whole town was like a little Swiss skiing village in the middle of the Andes (instead of the Alps).

In the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are switched so we went during the fall and beginning of winter season in May. We did not bring any of the right clothes to South America, so we definitely froze.

We ate tons of amazing food and saw the Andes mountains. I had venison for the first time at this perfect restaurant called Familia Weiss. We went on cruise through the Nahuel Huapi Lake to see the two islands, Isla Victoria and Villa La Angostura. We also ate around twenty times at the one dessert place called Rapanui where they made gorgeous piles of desserts for three dollars. Everyday started out with crepes and tons of chocolate. The whole thing was totally magical.

I definitely want to come back to Patagonia to see glaciers and mountains by skiing and paragliding. I wish we had more time in one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited.

A Day in the Life

My day first starts out getting prepped and ready for the hospital with my scrubs, stethoscope, and shoe covers. Also, we thought South America was going to be warm in the winter… we have frozen, and people do not really believe in heaters here, so I run to the bus stop to catch a bus. There have only been two strikes, so I have been able to take the bus most days. The first day, I knew that the hospital was the third stop after the river, but I got the hang of it eventually, and proudly never got lost.

I then go to the hospital and get scrubbed in for five hours. I have been rotating through the operating room, infectious diseases, the emergency room, and intensive care. I definitely studied up on my Spanish medical vocabulary and downloaded an offline google translate before I started in the OR. I ask a couple of questions and watch during the surgeries. It’s been so cool because I get to be right by the patient while they are being operated on. However, my Spanish is not that great, and I am pretty white, so I stick out a lot. If anything goes wrong in the OR like a doctor accidentally pulling out a central line, all eyes are on me. The main scrub nurse yelled out “Ella!” and I was like No no! No fui yo!”.

I have seen the bread and butter surgeries of pediatrics, which are tonsillectomies and appendectomies. I saw the biggest tonsils, which were the size of my palm taken out of a child, and then an entire intestine pulled out of a kid and massaged/cleaned. All I could think was that this was for me, and so so cool.

A couple of fun facts are that the toilets are in the dark in the hospital and there is no toilet paper in any bathroom in South America, water and foods are not really compatible with American stomachs. We also only have cold water for showers, which is a pretty wake up call.

Everyone is twenty three and been on a mission here, so bit of a learning curve for me, but it has been tons of fun to make new friends with the BYU Provo students.

I then go to my class on the other side of the city. I am on my own to go places because I’m in the beginner class for Spanish. I was able to figure out the city because the canal and river are perpendicular and help me locate where I am. I usually grab lunch like a milanesa sandwich, lomito, empanada, or pizza. I also stop at a panadería on my way over; anything with dulce de leche or chocolate is amazing.

We have class for three hours, and I have been able to catch up on my few years of school Spanish and more. I understand fairly well, and my grammar is getting better. In Argentina, they say “J” not “ll”, which took some getting used to. One of my favorite words I have learned is riñonera, which is their word for a fanny pack. It’s shaped like a kidney, so they call it a kidney pack.

Sometimes we have a health lecture afterwards for an hour about the healthcare system or common diseases here. Then, I head home where our mamita cooks for us. She makes lots of extra helpings!

The YSA ward has been awesome too! They are so friendly and inclusive with sports, activities, and two am taco nights. It has been so much fun to practice Spanish and get involved.  

I have absolutely loved being in Argentina these past few weeks: learning, growing, and traveling. I love pediatrics, and I am even more excited to be a PA one day! I am so grateful I’ve been able to do this internship. Can’t wait to do some more scrubbin’!

You are the Gift

In my life, I have always loved serving others. I have volunteered for every Saturday service project, assisted special needs with physical therapy, organized fundraisers for African and Syrian refugees, conservation efforts, oral health days, and a service trip to Thailand to teach and give aid to Burmese migrants.

When I was seventeen, I started working in a pediatric dental office, and I have never loved any job more. I knew that I wanted to combine all of my scholarly efforts and service into a career. Medicine just fit the best, and I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do.

As I have been working towards my goals of getting into college and becoming a Physician Assistant, I have been more focused on checking my list and getting all of the required experience. In doing so, I feel that I have lost my personal fire to dispense healing and have sincere interest in people. I want to be an exceptional healthcare professional, and I never want to lose sight amidst the busyness of why I wanted to work in the medical field.

Especially after being in Latin America for these few weeks, I have learned more how important it is to put people first rather than your personal schedule or “to-do” list. Before we even begin working, we give besitos (little kisses) to people on their cheeks. We interact and ask them how they are. I have learned to make every relationship important in my life by placing an emphasis in people.

Rich relationships are built through effort and thought. It means taking the time to talk with a coworker when they say they are not fine or remembering the birthday of someone. Our actual efforts to love and serve people rather than to treat them as a checklist will show through. I have made it my personal goal to give an act of service every day. If we go above and beyond in our service efforts daily, just think about how the world can be changed.

Just gotta keep helping, serving, and scrubbin’!

Weekend at the Ranch (I fell off a Horse)

This weekend was great! After I finished up with my intensive lecture week of Spanish and Argentinian culture, we headed out to Huerta Grande to spend the weekend at a ranch in a rural Argentinian community. 

The food was very traditional. We had tons of mate, pan/bread and meat (chorizo, milanesa, sausage, and pork ribs). They used an outside grill called an asador to cook all types of meat, including a blood sausage (it’s literally muscle and coagulated blood/clots). It was definitely an experience and let’s just say, I’ll stick with steak. 

We also played soccer, and I worked on my Spanish skills more! The main part of the weekend was to ride horses. They had about seven for all of us to go out in groups along a trail. I ended up getting a horse that was kind of skiddish with a history of bucking people off, and I’m pretty accident prone myself, which was not the greatest combo. 

We rode along for forty minutes, and I had a pretty hard time controlling mine, but it was okay because I mean we were riding horses through the countryside, it was so cool! We started going down a steeper rocky part to the river, and my horse started slipping. The loose saddle started to slip to the side, and I went with it. The horse dragged me for a second, and then I got kicked off as the horse started running. I hit the rocks really hard and the whole right side of my body is purple bruised from falling. 

The ranch lady started yelling at me in Spanish as I almost blacked out on the ground. She then put me on an aggressive black horse, and I had to explain in Spanish that I needed a more calm one. Overall, pretty crazy experience, but so much fun. 

I went back out the next day on the calm white one again, and then we headed back to Córdoba to start our hospital rotations again. Back to scrubbin’ in!

My flight got cancelled, twice!

All of the flights went well until the third one. There was a storm in Córdoba where we were supposed to be staying, so we ended up flying another hour to Rosario. This would be okay if it was in the US, but all of the announcements were in Argentinian accented, rapid-fire Spanish, and I just sat there only processing half of it. I got the gist though when everyone started yelling at the pilot.

We’re sitting and waiting for two hours on the plane in Rosario when this cute lady pulls out her cup and starts making mate. They offered it to me and they all said sin sugar, thank goodness to my friend, Kyler, for having us try it before I left because I was totally used to it. They were all shocked that I already liked it.

We finally got to Cordoba, and I have so much spanish to learn. As I was walking through Córdoba, I was just reminded of Budapest, Hungary where I used to live. We have Spanish lessons, hospital hours, and a few trips planned. I want to do an emergency medicine shift and plan a trip to Patagonia as well.

Our host family is really nice! We kinda got thrown into the deep end though today because it was all Spanish conversations, and then we got sent on the bus without our host to tour around the city alone. A little scary, but it was fun!

We’ve also went to our first fiesta last night! I was trying to run on 6 hours of sleep in three days, but it all turned out great. I learned how to greet people with besitos (this was pretty difficult for me) and eat lots of empanadas (I’ve had them three times already!!!).

Our Spanish class today was all in Spanish, and I hope to learn tons in this immersion experience. I have a lot to practice and learn, but I hope to learn to speak. There are less hospital hours than I thought, but I still want to make the most of this experience. I am so excited to see what happens these next five weeks! I can’t wait to start scrubbin’ in to surgeries!

How to prep for a medical internship

It has been my dream to serve internationally my whole life. I have been able to travel in Thailand and Europe, but now I get to do an internship in Argentina! Other BYU students and I are going to work in a pediatric hospital and clinic for five weeks, and we’ll also be staying with a host familia!! and traveling around the country to Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires, and more!!

I first applied to the internship last September. I actually attend BYU Hawaii, and went through an application and interview process, and was accepted in December! Merry Christmas to me! I did a prep class through BYU Provo, and I feel prepared except… for my Spanish skills. They are definitely lacking, so I’m a little nervous, but getting there! It was a long process, but it’s all going to pay off. Here’s some tips if you are interested:

  1. Find an internship that matches your graduate school needs.
  2. Update your resume and cover letter specifically for that field.
  3. Interview well, stand out, and be personable.
  4. Go forward with your documents and stay on top of “to do’s”
  5. Plan, pack, and pursue!

Once I was accepted, I got to start packing. Fun fact about me, I’m a planner, so here’s some ideas to get you started. Coolest part was getting all of the medical supplies for the trip! I got glasses, scrubs and caps, a lab coat, surgical masks and shoes, and best of all a TURQUOISE STETHOSCOPE!!

I also got my CPR/BLS certification from the American Heart Association and completed HIPPA forms. I’m hoping that my physiology and spanish classes have paid off **crossing my fingers**

I chose to stretch myself this summer in Cordoba. This is a huge step to achieving my dream of becoming a PA, and I can’t wait to officially start scrubbin’.