As unbelievable as it may sound, I didn’t acknowledge the idea of me being more than 7000 miles away from home until 5 days before I was about to leave. It just seemed too surreal.
BUT, according to my calculations, 5 days gives me the glorious time of expediting my visa to Vietnam (3 days – for after my internship) and order everything I need via Amazon Prime (2 days).
Technically, that gives me 2 free days.
Hello everyone! My name is Quan Quan Nguyen, and I am from the beautifully historic town of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. I am now a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Biological Basis of Behavior (with hopefully a minor in Health Services Management); unsurprisingly, I am also on a premed track. This summer, I will be interning at the Aravind Eye Hospital in Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, India!!! In addition to documenting my experiences via Instagram and Facebook (like a good millennial I am), I will also be attempting to blog (so please bear with me).
I have always felt a need to break out of the comfort bubble I was lounging in to experience anything that would challenge and broaden my perspectives. Although Philadelphia is only 3 hours from Gettysburg, the differences between the two locations are astounding. I have learned so much since coming to Philadelphia, not just from an academic setting due to the University itself, but also from the people that I have interacted with in the community. As I was pondering where to intern for the summer (I am guilty of succumbing to the pre-professional environment), my mind immediately thought of the IIP program through Penn. I hoped that traveling internationally would be the experience to most likely satisfy my zeal for something different. As my parents were from Vietnam, I already felt very familiar with Southeast/East Asian culture but realized that I had had very minimal exposure to other Asian countries like in the South. Browsing through an overwhelming number of opportunities, I was drawn towards the Aravind Eye Hospital due to its goals, increasingly success, and location. No doubt, Aravind aligns with my academic interests as a premed student, but what solidified my decision to apply was the passion that was consistently articulated from articles written about the doctors, nurses, and all the other workers there. I hope to gain a better understanding of the incredible infrastructure that has made Aravind the success that it is and also explore my personal reasons for following my specific career path.
As I finally boarded the airplane along with a fellow CASI intern, I was more relieved to be on time for my flight at JFK rather than nervous to arrive in Delhi. My lack of awareness of Indian culture and customs made me even more eager to immerse myself in the community. There is a playful tug-of-war feeling of needing to be out of my comfort zone and the comfortable feeling I have of being out of my zone that I hope will be fulfilled this summer in India.