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Kinesiology’s Galvan reflects on study abroad experience in Argentina, Uruguay

August 10, 2017
by Emily Hamer, University Communications

While many UW–Madison students spend their summers taking classes in Madison or staying at home with family, others choose to do something a little more out of the ordinary: study abroad.

This summer, there are approximately 622 UW–Madison students studying abroad through International Academic Programs, up more than 19 percent compared to 2016. The students are scattered across the world, in 48 different countries.

And among those studying overseas was fifth-year senior Jesús Galvan, who is majoring in kinesiology with the School of Education.

Dan Gold, director of International Academic Programs, said studying abroad provides students with the opportunity to gain independence, learn a language, experience a new culture and expand their perspective of the world.

Jesus Galvan
Jesús Galvan stands in front of a mountain in Patagonia.
(Contributed photo)
“Students … might not truly understand how societies and cultures could shape how people think,” Gold said. “With the interconnectedness of the world today and globalization, experiencing that first hand is an invaluable skill for both life and for professional work.”

One of the main goals of IAP is for students to be a part of a program that helps their professional development and earns them credit relevant to their degree. Academics are the core of the study abroad experience, Gold said.

Galvan participated in a public health program and enjoyed the unique experience.

Galvan, who is from Belvidere, Ill., spent three weeks in Argentina and three weeks in Uruguay visiting different government based agencies and health care departments in the two countries. He got to speak with different health professionals about a variety of topics, including mental health, drug usage, how to treat different populations, the money behind the health care system, and more.

One thing Galvan thought was interesting was that in both countries health care is defined as a right, not a privilege.

“Everyone has access to basic health care in Argentina and Uruguay, even immigrants,” said Galvan, who plans to pursue a master’s degree from the School of Education in School Counseling after he receives his undergraduate degree.

Ultimately, Galvan wants to be a guidance counselor in a high school. Galvan said education and health care are connected in a lot of different ways, and he liked being able to see how they connect in the context of a different country.

He also said developing his Spanish will help him be a better guidance counselor because he’ll be able to better serve students who don’t have English as their first language.

While it was challenging being in a new country since Galvan is not fluent in Spanish, he said he liked experiencing the culture of both countries. Instead of shaking hands with people you meet, you give them a kiss on one or both cheeks, Galvan said.

“It’s very indicative of how welcoming the people are to strangers,” Galvan said.

To end conversations, Galvan said it’s standard to give “un abrazo” or “un besito” — a hug or a kiss.

To read about more study abroad experiences enjoyed by UW-Madison students, check out this University Communications report.
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