Note: Commodore women's basketball rising senior Christa Reed is spending nearly a month in Europe, joining other Vanderbilt students studying health care systems in several regions of France. Along the way, she's also getting a chance to enjoy the French culture.
Usually during the month of May, I would be home in Bay St. Louis, Miss., just trying to endure that Mississippi heat. However, this year I’ve been fortunate to participate in the Vanderbilt GEO’s study abroad program, enjoying France and its incredible surroundings with other Vanderbilt students.
For the last two weeks, I have been part of a class in southern France, indulging in the country’s medical and social cultures. We’ve learned about the basics of French health care and medical insurance, the differences between the French system and ours American system and studied factors that play a role in France’s health care industry; how personal health is measured, how coverage works and cost-efficiency models from here and other countries in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).
What makes the class even better is that French health care professionals have been very open. We’ve been able to visit their sites and clinics and take in presentations from French doctors, healthcare workers and midwives. Our course has also included visits to the Red Cross and local polyclinics.
Aside from the classroom curriculum, we have been fortunate to experience much of French social culture. Our group has visited a number of different unique sites in cities such as Marseille, Cassis and Collanques, and Camargue. We’ve taken boat tours of Mediterranean islands, enjoyed sailing excursions and even been on horse riding expeditions.
Everywhere we go, the local residents have been very nice -- even understanding when we attempt a French phrase and fail miserably. Fortunately for many of us, English has basically become an international language. Of course, the experience is much cooler if you attempt a little French. The locals appreciate it, too.
I have undoubtedly learned two things about French culture: pedestrians don’t matter, and the country’s food is amazing! In the small village of Aix-en-Provence, hardly anyone drives – but the people who do are THE MOST aggressive drivers I’ve ever seen.
The French food is so good that it might just make up for the locals’ fast driving. I have not (and don’t plan to) try escargot, but I have had a variety of different foods including different cheeses, calamari, crepes and other dishes that have yet to disappoint.