How four months abroad made me appreciate my disabilities and become a better advocate for myself
A reflection piece by Josie Mbaye (science education/environmental science major), a Diversity Ambassador Scholarship recipient.
When I first landed in Chile, I won’t lie, I was pretty anxious. For most of my life I had suffered from a number of chronic illnesses, however, two months before my departure I began experiencing new symptoms and received a diagnosis of Trigeminal Neuralgia, a severe chronic pain disorder. I feared what my experience might be like abroad, not knowing if or when a flare up might occur, or even how long it might last. I was very close to canceling my plans to study abroad, but knew that a flare up could occur anytime, anyplace - so if I was going to experience pain anyways, I’d rather do it in Chile experiencing a new environment, culture, and language. As I looked out the window on the drive to Valparaíso, the city I’d be living in for the next four months, I knew I had made the right decision.