Victoria Williams: Study Abroad Reflection

Monday, May 9, 2016

Victoria Willams

This past March, I had the opportunity to join the College of Pharmacy on a short-term study abroad trip.  Our trip was the duration of Spring Break and we traveled to Switzerland to learn more about their healthcare system and the ways in which it is different or similar to ours.  In the months leading up to the trip, we met on Tuesday evenings for class where we discussed topics from travel logistics to Swiss culture and everything in between.  The class was a great opportunity to get to know my fellow travelers and prepare for our trip.

Though we stayed in Zurich throughout our trip, we made day-long excursions to Basel and Geneva.  We even spent a day in Strasburg, France! While in Zurich, we took a tour of the city that included a boat ride on Lake Zurich.  Throughout the tour, we learned some Swiss history and more about the architectural styles of the buildings and churches in the city. We took this tour on our first day there which was very helpful as we had a sense of direction for the remainder of the week.  I was nervous about navigating a foreign city, but after the tour I found it much easier to get around town!  Later in the week, we visited a community pharmacy named “Victoria Apotheke.”  This pharmacy was located on Bhanhofstrasse (“Station Street”), Zurich’s equivalent of Rodeo Drive so after our pharmacy visit, we spent the afternoon shopping.  Some personal highlights were definitely the Swatch store and all of the chocolatiers!

During our time in Basel, we went to a pharmacy museum and the University of Basel’s College of Pharmacy.  Our time at the University of Basel was incredible - the faculty and students were so welcoming!  At the end of our time learning more about pharmacy education in Switzerland, we had the opportunity to engage in casual conversation with the students and learn more about their areas of study and what it is like to be a pharmacy student there.

While in Geneva, we met with another college of pharmacy in the morning and got to visit the World Health Organization in the afternoon!  This was an incredible opportunity!  Our visit focused on the WHO’s efforts to combat global counterfeit medication distribution.  It was interesting to hear about this challenge within pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution from a global perspective.  I was in awe of WHO’s large campus, scope of influence, and the number of programs currently operating to improve global public health.

We also had the opportunity to experience many other cultural experiences including an opera, a visit to an old castle, and several authentic Swiss meals.  These experiences were equally valuable as their pharmacy-specific counterparts as they contributed to a well-rounded abroad experience.  This trip was my first time in Europe, and I feel so grateful to have been able to go.  It is opportunities like these that make Ohio State, and the College of Pharmacy, so special.  I encourage my peers to take advantage of these unique opportunities as much as possible.  I am certainly glad I did!