Sarah Palocko, Sesquicentennial Scholar and social work major, studied abroad on the Social Work in India with a Focus on Health and Mental Health education abroad program during summer 2019. Sarah received funding through the STEP Fellowship ($2,000) and a Students First Study Abroad Scholarship through the College of Social Work ($1,500).
My program, set in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Bangalore, Karnataka, India, was a three week immersion into health and mental health care practice and treatment, within the context of Indian culture. I attended lectures every morning pertaining to different fields of health/mental health social work, followed by site visits to social service agencies in the afternoon. In the evenings and on weekends, we would travel, eat incredible food and attend cultural events, like weddings, Bharatanatyam (dance) class and yoga workshops.
I chose this program because it seemed like the absolute perfect fit for me. I want to work as a LCSW/mental health therapist in the future, so I am passionate about mental health care. I am also a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher, and the chance to learn how to incorporate yoga and mindfulness into mental health care, in the country where yoga was born, was an opportunity I could not pass up.
My transformational moment abroad came as I sat amidst a fire ceremony at the Atma Darshan Yogashram. I had read and studied meditation and yoga for a few years, including its philosophical, spiritual and physical practice. However, in that moment, I was experiencing something unique and powerful, that no book or teacher could ever show me. At the ceremony, the Ohio State students were specially honored and asked to receive Prasad, which literally translates to "gracious gift." We stayed at the ashram to eat with everyone after the ceremony, and even though we came as strangers, I felt an energy of connection that transcended all barriers between us. It was in this moment that I felt fully present, gracious and transformed.
In my opinion, if a student was to do only one thing during their time in college, it should be a study abroad program. The experiences you gain are incomparable on multiple levels. Not only are you fully immersed in a new culture, but you are also supported by Ohio State every step of the way with faculty members, community connections and opportunities you simply could not find on your own. Studying abroad challenged my world views, taught me new things about my own culture in addition to others, introduced me to new lifelong friends (both at Ohio State and in India), taught me flexibility and adaptability and above all, encouraged me to be a more well-rounded, global citizen.