Jenny Smith, Nu’21
Penn Nursing offers a few different abroad options, but Australia drew my attention immediately as I have always dreamed of snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. After applying and going through an interview process, I received an acceptance email and my journey started there!
My international flight arrived mid-February and the trip was already exhausting. After 30 hours of travel, I had spilled water on my laptop, the airline lost all of my luggage and all I had to shower with was a travel-size bottle of face wash. Following fourteen hours of sleep, I awoke at the break of dawn to get my affairs in order and my mood could not have been better. I was in Australia!
The group of us Penn students had our orientation on the beautiful campus of the University of Queensland, our new home for the next five months. Immediately, I was able to befriend multiple people in my lab simulation and joined the club QUEST, a club for international students to interact with Australian students. I was able to travel to Byron Bay, learned to surf, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, feed koalas and kangaroos, ran away from dingos, skydived over the ocean and hiked at 5 AM to see the sunrise of the fairy pools before the pandemic struck the country.
Australia immediately shut down for COVID, allowing it to open almost entirely back up right when I left at the end of June. I was still able to complete my clinical rotations for the semester, giving me a whole new perspective of global nursing and healthcare during a pandemic. The nurses I worked with could not have been more accommodating with my need to adjust to the different systems and my clinical supervisor was very helpful in taking the time to educate me about the different floors, systems, and regulations used at the specific hospital.
I cannot thank Penn Nursing enough for giving me this opportunity to practice nursing abroad during a pandemic and allowing me to travel with three other amazing peers. It is an experience I will remember forever and I am so excited to travel back to Australia and explore the country further post-pandemic. This experience opened my eyes to travel nursing, which I would love to do for a few years after graduating if the industry allows for it.
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