Jessica’s Journey through the Himalayas

Hi everyone! My name is Jessica Knapp and I am a rising junior with a major in biochemistry, minor in chemistry, and certificates in conceptual foundations of medicine and global health on the pre-med track. This summer, I’m studying abroad in the Himalayan Mountains at the Woodstock School in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India.

The program I am doing is called Himalayan Health and Wilderness First Responder. It is 6 weeks and I get 3 credits for the class Mountain and Medicine: Health and Environment in the Himalayas and 6 credits for a Wilderness First Responder certification course. These courses contribute to covering the CC Awareness, Geo Region and Global Issues gen ed requirements and will go toward my global health certificate.

I have selected the Himalayan Health and Wilderness First Responder program because it offers everything I am looking for in a study abroad program. Going to the Himalayans has been a dream of mine and this program allows me to explore Northern India, which I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to do. As a pre-med student, I like that this program offers shadowing and hands-on experience that broadens my perspective on public health issues and better prepares me for medical school. I love spending my summers hiking and this program allows me to spend time outdoors and explore nature and the beautiful Himalayan mountain range. As someone who really enjoys hiking and being outdoors, getting wilderness first responder training is something that really interests me. Becoming a certified wilderness first responder will not only help me for future hiking and outdoor adventures but also for my future career as a doctor. I have already noticed an increase in my confidence with giving first aid and responsiveness in emergency situations. This program is really important for my academic career because it’ll allow me to continue to study the things that interest me, such as medicine, while getting really great hands-on experience that’ll better prepare me for med school.

This program allows me to gain new perspectives and experiences. Being able to study in Northern India brings a plethora of new ideas and cultural perspectives that are very different than my worldview and this allows me to better understand how and why those in this environment hold certain beliefs. Exposure to unknown cultures, people, and scenarios is life-changing and pushes me out of my comfort zone. I have had to learn how to adapt and problem solve. Certain areas of India we have seen are places of extreme social and economic inequality, different from other places I’ve traveled. I have gained empathy as well as skills and ideas on how to improve the lives of those who live in poverty. Also, through this program I have become more knowledgeable on public health issues. This program has expanded my horizon on these issues that are pervasive globally.

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