Even with some 10,000 km of physical distance, this semester feels a little too raw for a full reflection, especially a public one! Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to make a Public Service Announcement.
When you’re packing your bags for a study abroad, you’re not just packing material things to get you through the year. You are also taking your life experiences, prejudices and skills with you.
One of the skills I brought with me came from the training I received as a lifeguard at UNM. Many places don’t – or can’t – prepare for emergency situations to the extent that you might be used to in the United States. Even though it’s mandatory that we leave with comprehensive health insurance, that doesn’t help much if ambulances are notorious for taking hours to arrive even within a major city, or you are isolated. If you plan on being in remote areas with minimal access to emergency services, or your destination has unreliable EMS, it’s important to have some knowledge in your arsenal. You may be responding to a friend that needs help. You could be responding to the need of a complete stranger.
I’ve been faced with four separate incidents since I left for study abroad and because of the training I received at UNM, from a whole team of head guards and from my boss, I could respond to each situation to the varying extents that were required. For that, I can only express my deepest gratitude.
These experiences can be traumatic and overwhelming, but they would be even more so if no one present is able to respond quickly, correctly and safely.
Regardless of whether you are going abroad, or studying at UNM, please learn CPR. Take a First-Aid Class. Carry a small emergency first-aid pack with you when you are travelling. I hope you never need to use the skills you learn, but shit happens. You could save someone’s life.