A nurse in the USA: the importance of speaking Spanish

It’s hard to miss the backpack Gavin, a first-year student of our Spanish Pathway to Nursing Studies, carries around our campus. It is so heavy that one can’t say if he is about to leave for a trip around the world or if he has just landed from an exciting backpacking experience. Although a citizen from the USA, Gavin apologizes to us in perfect Spanish, just in case he uses an Italian word during our conversation.

From the United States to Japan, currently in Spain, after spending some time in Italy (where his girl lives), with plans to do an Erasmus+ in Finland or Greece or Argentina, this future nurse from North Carolina worked as an emergency volunteer for five years before coming to study at CEU Valencia. If generosity were a tangible object, it would be in his backpack; something that would partly explain why it is so heavy.

Gavin has arrived in Valencia from North Carolina
Gavin has arrived in Valencia from North Carolina

It seems that you were always clear about your vocation!

I have always felt comfortable helping others. The option to study Medicine was in my head for a long time, and I am still considering it once I finish my degree in Nursing. But I went for this degree because I’m interested in interacting with patients and It think that human and personal approach, which is what I’m mostly looking for, is more present in nursing.

Did you consider other destinations before choosing CEU Valencia?

I thought about taking the degree in Germany or England. I opted for CEU Valencia because with the degree I get here I can practice in the USA and that is very important for me. Another important reason was the opportunity to improve my Spanish skills.

To what extent is it important for you to improve your Spanish?

The most important thing for me is the language. I know that I will have more opportunities in the USA when I return with a good level of Spanish. Keep in mind that in a few years my country will concentrate the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world.

“Nothing compares to the feeling you get when you are helping someone who really needs youR SUPPORT”

How did you get involved in volunteering in the USA?

The cost of dealing with an emergency in the USA is extremely high. Not all places can afford a helicopter to rescue a mountaineer who has had a mishap. That is why there are groups of volunteers. I have helped in an air accident and I can tell you that sometimes it is very, very hard to face these situations. However, at the same time, being with someone who at that precise moment is experiencing one of the worst moments of his life, accompanying him and being able to help him is a sensation that cannot be compared with any other, at least for me.

When looking for accommodation, you have chosen to live with a Spanish family. How is the experience going?

I didn’t know Valencia before coming to study here. I thought it was a good option to improve my Spanish faster and it really is that way. With this family I speak all the time in Spanish, it’s a complete immersion in the language. In addition, while my friends from other countries will just be returning to their home countries once they finish their degree, I will always have a house in Spain and a “Spanish family”. It is perfect!

Gavin in our Faculty of Health Sciences
Gavin in our Faculty of Health Sciences

You are in a degree that concentrates a large number of international students, how is your day-to-day life?

We have created an amazing group of international friends. Not only with Nursing students, but also students of Medicine and other degrees. We study together, we share what we learn in subjects that we attend as a group. I think it’s a very fulfilling experience.

Thank you very much, Gavin. Or should we say “¡muchas gracias!“?


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