Interview: CAPA London Study Abroad Alumna & Record of Achievement Recipient Courtnee Heyduk

Jun 9, 2014 9:23:00 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

Courtnee Heyduk spent Spring semester 2014 studying abroad in London with CAPA International Education. Through an internship at Whittington Hospital, she feels she's much more prepared for medical school which she will attend from Fall 2014. Her class, "Analyzing the Global City: London" also made an impact in a few different ways which she explains below. Courtnee shared her thoughts on staying with a host mom during her time in London too. It's something she highly recommends!

CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
COURTNEE HEYDUK: I studied abroad in London during Spring semester 2014 during my senior year at the University of Minnesota in Rochester, Minnesota where I was pursuing a health sciences degree. I will begin medical school in the fall of 2014. My hobbies and interests involve community activities and participation. In Rochester, I volunteer at two institutions - the Ronald McDonald House and the Gift of Life Transplant House. I enjoy interacting with the guests and their families and learning about their diagnosis. I also enjoy reading, going to the gym, watching movies and camping.

Photo: London's Old Operating Theatre by Justin Green

CW: Which MyEducation event has been most memorable for you and why? How has your participation in this event changed your understanding of the city?
CH: The MyEducation event that was most memorable to me was the visit to the Old Operating Theatre. I enjoyed this event because it was able to connect with my undergraduate major and it is one of the few health science related activities that were included in the MyEducation events. My participation in this event changed my understanding of the city by informing me about the previous hospital and operating style that was utilized in London. I also learned more about the history of hospitals in London and the surgeries that were performed.

CW: Give three examples of ways in which you’ve been able to tie the knowledge you’ve gained in your CAPA classes into the way you understand your host city.
CH: Through my "Analyzing the Global City: London" course, I have learned many ways to tie the knowledge that I have learned into my understanding of my host city. We have taken field trips around various neighborhoods including Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Canary Wharf. These places all have different history and relevance as to why London is a global city today. We also explored different boroughs with partners and gave presentations on facts about the boroughs. I found this beneficial because it enabled you to see the different aspects of London that make it a global city. It was also a great way to become informed about the various neighborhoods in London. In addition, we took a trip to the Museum of London and learned about the history of the city through various artifacts. Through the exhibits, I learned more about the history of London and I wrote a paper on the migration and multi-culturism that is showcased by the Museum of London.

Photo: Museum of London by waldopepper

CW: Tell us a story of a memorable interaction you've had with a local and why it left an impression on you.
CH: A memorable interaction that I have had with a local was with my host mother Kathleen. She was always comforting and supportive during my time in London and really acted like a second mother to me. This left an impression on me because I felt so comfortable in London that I had a chance to explore more and gain confidence for future travels. In addition, she allowed me to have a wonderful experience in a homestay so that I can encourage other students to utilize this great opportunity in the future!

Photo: Housing in London by Natalia

CW: What changes have you seen in yourself since you began your study abroad program? What has your experience taught you about yourself and the world around you?
CH: Some changes that I have seen in myself since I began this study abroad program are a greater sense of independence and confidence. It takes courage to move so far away from home, basically on your own. I learned that I was able to navigate a large global city such as London as well as be a functional member of the society in London. I was able to navigate the tube, manage an internship and take courses. In addition to all of those tasks, I also was able to participate in additional cultural events and enjoy the city! This experience has taught me that the world is so easily accessible and open for exploration. All it takes is a plane ticket and a slight knowledge of the language and customs of that location. I mainly learned that I possess the confidence of travelling to another country on my own which can encourage me to explore other countries in the future.

CW: How do you imagine that your experience abroad will change the way you approach your environment back home? How do you think it will change the way you approach your studies?
CH: I imagine that my experience abroad will change the way that I approach my environment back home through my internship experience. As an intern at the Whittington Hospital, I learned more about the nursing profession as well as how an international hospital functions. Since I am going into medical school in the Fall of 2014, I think that this international experience will have an effect on the amount of international medical trips I decide to embark on during my schooling. I am now more comfortable with exploring a new city and I also have the confidence to explore areas far from the US. I will most definitely decide to go on additional international adventures as a medical student due to this study abroad experience.

Photo: Big Ben and the London Eye at Sunset by Harshil Shah

CW: When you think of London, what first comes to mind when you hear the following -
Sight: Big Ben and the London Eye (Getting them together in one photograph is like having the ideal London scene)
Sound: Ambulance sirens and traffic
Smell: Roasted nuts covered in cinnamon near the bank side of the River Thames
Taste: Curry from Brick Lane
Texture: Raindrops

Photo: London Rain by Graham Holliday

CW: Tell us a bit about your internship that you completed while studying abroad, your duties and accomplishments. How will this experience help you in your future career?
CH: My internship at the Whittington Hospital involved a variety of projects within the departments of human resources, voluntary services, accident & emergency, and on the wards. It was overall a great experience to have within a NHS (National Health Service) hospital in London. I was the intern to Liam Edwards, the deputy head of nursing, who was very busy and had many projects for me to work on. My main duties were to assist in the human resources and voluntary services department. I had one project shadowing the charge nurse and observing the ambulance handover in A&E. I also had a project on the wards which allowed me to organize and price the items in the stock rooms on the wards. This experience will help me in the future because I gained a perspective of a hospital and staff that I had not been exposed to before. While I am in medical school, I will constantly be going into new hospitals and working with staff members whom I have never met before. It was a good preparation for me to become comfortable roaming around a hospital and shadowing a variety of positions.

CW: What were the biggest challenges you faced in adapting to London? Most rewarding moment?
CH: My biggest challenge that I faced while adapting to my London was living in a homestay. I have never been exposed to living with someone that I had never known, let alone someone who has been taking in students for 20 years. I was not sure what to expect or what types of customs I would have to become aware of. However, once I became more aware of the living situation and my host mother’s history, I felt more comfortable living there. She was interested in what I was doing in London. My most rewarding moment was when I navigated around the city, by tube and walking, in order to see the sights!

Photo: Jef Aeorsol street art in London by Christopher William Adach

CW: Describe an area of the city that surprised you and tell us what it was about it that you didn’t expect. How did this change your perceptions of the city as a whole?
CH: One areas of the city that surprised me most was Spitalfields and the street art. We went to Spitalfields for a field study in the "Analyzing the Global City: London" course. I had not ever witnessed street art in person and some of those works of art were remarkable. They were also so large and took weeks to create. It was interesting to learn that these were commissioned by the owners to help bring people into their stores and to improve the local economy. This changed my perspective of London and the profession of street artists. I was happy to see that they have a growing platform in the London art scene.

Thanks Courtnee!

Find out about the CAPA London program

Topics: London, England, CAPA Alumni, Interviews