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Learning from the Best

By Julian Hinson ('10)
French and Chemistry Double Major

My experience with the France for the pre-med program consisted of a stay of five weeks on the French Riviera as one of twenty-five students interning at one of three hospitals. A typical day included shadowing a physician for four hours, then two hours of class, and finally a lecture from a visiting doctor. This is an awesome experience if one limits oneself to this description alone; but as is often the case with study in France, there was so much more.

My experience at the Hôpital Pasteur took place in an endocrinology ward, doing daily rounds with a physician, an intern and several externs. While the majority of our cases concerned diabetics, the visits offered insight into the French medical system, which, while functioning much better than our own, still has its flaws. We were introduced to all the deleterious effects of high blood sugar and the resultant desensitization of the feet. (I can assure you, Dermite Ocre doesn’t look any better in French than it does in English).

A Washington University professor and a local French professor taught our courses (their Niçois accent is much more fun than Parisian French) which consisted of an introduction to the culture and practice of French medicine (did you know that aluminum may play a role in the onset of Alzheimer’s? Or that a surgeon, while staring at a monitor, may operate on a fetus in advance of its birth? The latter issue raised some interesting questions about the difference between the French and American concept of “Life”). We also of course made sure to fit in visits to the beach.

Finally, the best family I could have hoped for housed me: my grammar needed improving, my host-mum was an elementary school teacher, and the family offered me an environment where I could truly learn about the culture of France. Between visits to Monaco, Antibes, and Eze, we argued over Sarkozy, Obama, smoking, and romance. When I wasn’t poring over Montaigne, Molière, and Camus, we were munching Carpaccio (raw beef dish) and Soca (chick pea pancake) between daily baguettes, pain au chocolat, and homemade Italian jelly courtesy of the first person who indicated to me the definition of “French Wit” (and taught me all the slang I am now employing).