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Experiencing Italy through Healthcare

I always said that when I studied abroad I wanted to dive right in and experience all aspects of my new community. I also wanted to be able to include my major, community health, into my time studying abroad. I thought it would be interesting to observe community health in Italy and see how different ailments were handled. Little did I know I was going to experience this first hand.

farmaciaRight away I noticed that healthcare in Italy was very different then back home. I got a cold that started as a sore throat on the second week I got here so I decided to go to the pharmacy. On almost every street, there is a Farmacia that is marked with a bright green plus sign. Going into the pharmacy for the first time was a little intimidating. I was able to converse with the pharmacist and to my surprise I was given a powder to add to my water. In America, I got so use to being handed a pill that was almost guaranteed to make me feel better immediately.

After using the powder for a few days, I was feeling worse. The cold with a sore throat turned into earaches, sinus pressure, and overall discomfort. I also woke up one morning with one of my eyes very sore. I would soon found out that I had pink eye. I would have to see a doctor immediately. I started to panic. When I was thinking about studying abroad, I never thought about what would happen if I got sick while in Florence. Would I be able to explain all of my symptoms to a doctor that would understand me?

capaLuckily my IU co-sponsor program, CAPA, here in Florence, got me in contact with a British doctor here in Florence. I would describe the healthcare in Italy as slower and although in the end I received curative care, there is more of a focus on preventive care. After several pharmacy trips and finally getting in to see the doctor, I was ultimately diagnosed with pink eye, a sinus infection, and an ear infection. I was so grateful that the doctor gave me prescriptions for antibiotics that made a world of difference.

Even though this wasn’t the ideal way for me to learn about community health here in Florence, it was very interesting to see how overall healthcare is addressed. I hope that I am able to experience more of the community here but hopefully I won’t have to see a doctor next time.

sAlly Hunt is a junior from Zionsville, IN currently completing her degree in Community Health. She’s a lover of animals, traveling, and all things Beyonce. Even when life throws her curve balls, she’s grateful to be in the game!

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