Bethany Clotz, a graduate student in pharmacy, studied abroad with the College of Pharmacy International Pharmacy Experience in Switzerland during spring break 2023.
This was my first time going out of the country, and I knew visiting Switzerland would be a great experience abroad. I knew the International Pharmacy Experience program would help me reach my personal and academic goals by allowing me a chance to be independent and learn about the profession of pharmacy in a different country. This global education opportunity allowed me to not only travel by myself and establish a sense of independence, but it also allowed me to travel while learning about one of my greatest passions, pharmacy.
While being in pharmacy school, I have been very interested in learning about the roles of pharmacists in different states across the country (for example, how provider status affects what pharmacists can and can’t prescribe and dispense for their patients). I knew this opportunity to learn about the role of a pharmacist in Switzerland would contribute to this interest and would allow me to learn about how I can be advocating for the role of a pharmacist in Ohio.
What made my education abroad memorable was getting to spend time with my classmates and really get a feel for the culture in Switzerland. One aspect of the in-country experience that had a meaningful impact on me was getting to visit Mount Pilatus. I think this might be a similar response for a lot of students, but truly the view was breathtaking, and it is an experience I will never forget. I am extremely afraid of heights, and riding the gondola to the top of the mountain was out of my comfort zone, but I’m so glad that I was pushed out of that zone. The views at Mount Pilatus, and honestly all of Lucerne and Switzerland, were unlike anything I have ever seen before, and I’m so fortunate that I was able to experience this with amazing people around me. Also, in Lucerne, I loved being a part of the guided walking tours because I love getting to learn about the history of the cities.
Being around people in a foreign country that speak multiple languages fluently is really humbling, and something that I would never expect to experience in the United States. This really made me think about the difficulty that people who do not speak English fluently must face when they travel to America. Experiencing this in Switzerland and thinking more about it after the fact has changed how I will approach a lot of situations with patients. I know that at the pharmacy where I work, we have a lot of patients who do not speak English as their first language, and from thinking about my experiences in Switzerland, I hope to approach these patients with more patience and compassion.
As far as my personal life goes, my time in Switzerland made me relax more, and not take everything too seriously. Tt was instilled in me to work hard and not take a lot of breaks for myself and my wellbeing. However, in Switzerland it appears as if the people are more casual and take their time to relax and enjoy the company of those around them, and I plan on implementing this more. I hope to be goal-oriented still, while also prioritizing my well-being and time with others!
For me being a global citizen means expanding my community. A lot of people talk about giving back to their community once they graduate and start a career and that usually means their city or where they came from, but by expanding your community globally and recognizing how you are connected to not only people in Ohio, but also people all around the world, you can exceed your own expectations about being able to give back. Before we went to Switzerland we talked as a class how important it is to be open to learning about new cultures and trying new things, and I think by traveling and opening yourself to these new opportunities you’ll learn so much about yourself and your ability to care for and help others.