Madison Perretta chose to study abroad this past summer in Vienna, Austria through IES Abroad. Madison studied Psychology for six weeks in the birthplace of psychoanalysis and took a Health Psychology and Communication course. The class focused on social problems and the way countries such as the United States and Austria address them. The class also covered the practice of counseling. During the six week program, Madison learned how to set up the best possible counseling environment along with learning communication skills key in the practice of counseling and other professional settings in general. The professor was an Austrian counselor herself and offered Madison and her classmates helpful examples and advice, which allowed them to understand and compare the Austrian and American counseling settings more in-depth. The utilization of role-play in her course was key and Madison was able to get peer feedback and the professor’s advice after completing a mock counseling session with her peers in front of the class. Madison gained confidence with her communication skills and also was able to solidify her decision to pursue counseling through the role-playing. While studying psychology, Madison also took a six-week course in the German Language. This course allowed Madison to function in the Austrian society such as order food, buy groceries, and ask for directions in German. This allowed her to be immersed further into Vienna culture. While in Vienna she attended concerts and the opera, and on weekends she was able to travel to Italy, Germany, Hungary, and Slovakia. Through the Vira I Heinz scholarship program she was even able to make contact with a family in Vienna and stay with them during her trip abroad. The unique opportunity Madison was given to study in Austria allowed her to gain confidence, independence, and more of a holistic worldview.
For my CEE, I chose to host a mental health fair for my campus and community. This summer I studied Health Psychology and Communication in Vienna, Austria. This enriching experience helped me to better understand Austria’s healthcare system. Within this healthcare system, holistic health is promoted in the inclusion of mental health in the universal coverage they offer their citizens. This holistic health promotion inspired me to promote holistic health in my community. While physical health is promoted on campus often, our community is rarely educated on mental health. As I planned my CEE, I decided to hone in to bringing awareness and advocating the understanding of mental health. I contacted local mental health resources and offices and ask them to bring information and a representative to be a part of the fair. I planned and constructed this event in a fair setting to benefit the students and community members. This provided them an opportunity to learn about mental health promotion in an accessible and interactive environment. By providing a representative, each resource allowed individuals attending the opportunity to ask questions and take away a unique experience. My time spent in Vienna gave me the confidence and overall ability to conduct a CEE centered around the topic of mental health and how crucial is for the campus and community to be made aware of the effects it has on individuals.