Junior healthcare services administration student returns from study abroad in Germany
Update: Since this article's publishing (Feb. 2023), Pushkar has completed a policy and education internship at the Business Network for Offshore Wind and begun an economics internship for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Pushkar Bhatia has seen a lot of this world for a 20-year-old. The junior economics healthcare services administration major is originally from Gallup City, New Mexico, but spent his K-12 years in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India, before coming back to the States for college at UMass Dartmouth.
When he heard about an opportunity to study international marketing and German language at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences in Hessen State, Germany, he jumped to enroll.
Why study abroad?
Is studying abroad always something you wanted to partake in?
"Yes. Early in my college experience I had a conversation with the international programs office about my desire to study abroad, and that almost led me to programs in South Korea and Japan in 2021, but those programs were both cancelled due to COVID-19. Now that the situation has improved, I was finally able to go."
How did you decide on Germany?
"I went to the study abroad fair in the fall of 2022 where Gina Reis, Assistant Director of the International Programs Office, handed me a pamphlet for a winter session at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences in Germany, and explained how a winter session is affordable and doesn’t conflict with UMassD’s academic calendar. I took it home and talked it over with my parents and decided just to enroll."
What did you study?
"I took two courses; international marketing and sales (equivalent to MKT 420 in CCB) fulfilled a requirement for my minor in international business, and German Language as an elective. Since we were only taking two classes at an accelerated pace, classes lasted at least three hours, and some excursions lasted all day."
Did the International Programs Office make this easy for you?
"Gina made the process very easy. Because this is a state-funded program in Hessen, housing and food were covered in the tuition. The international programs office covered all my logistical questions about insurance and flight information, which made the trip very smooth."
What was your biggest takeaway in Germany?
"I’ll always find it amazing how eager all the students in my program were to connect with each other. Everyone had an enthusiasm to make connections with each other and build bridges. You only live once, so you have to seize the opportunities in front of you."
Where did you go on excursions?
"We had excursions to big companies like Dematic, Stihl, and Lufthansa. Visiting Lufthansa was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They presented their international marketing strategy to us, gave us a tour through the Frankfurt airport, and connected with us on LinkedIn. Learning the basics of the German language opened a whole new door for me personally and professionally, and I’m glad we had to do that as part of the program."
What was the most fun moment?
"Our two day trips to Heidelberg and Frankfurt on the weekend of our first week. In Frankfurt we went to a 50-floor watch tower where we got to view the entire city. In Heidelberg we saw a castle and some nature spots. I really connected with my fellow students on those days, and I still chat with a few of them now. There were students from the U.S., Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, Thailand, Taiwan, and South Korea."
Would you be interested in going back?
"Yes. Absolutely. If the situation allows, I’d be interested in studying abroad again next winter. I’ve always thought of settling down in Europe, so maybe I’ll study in Germany again and settle there. There’s a lot of state-funded universities there that make the process easier.
"I didn’t like the experience; I loved the experience. Public transportation is almost free. The access to different types of food is much better than here. I am extremely grateful to everyone who made this experience possible."
Studying healthcare services administration
Do you have any interest in working in a foreign company after graduating?
"Yes, or even a company that has foreign branches. I think this experience was very helpful professionally, as it shows that I’m willing to travel to a foreign country and adapt to a new culture and language. I’m going to try and keep learning the German language on my own as well."
What inspired you to study healthcare services administration?
"I knew before high school that I wanted to go into the business side of healthcare and successfully run a hospital. My dad owned a hospital in India for 10 years that closed because it wasn’t getting enough traction. After a conversation with Professor Cosgrove and my academic advisor, Monica Godinho, I found that the healthcare services administration program was exactly what I was looking for."
What do you enjoy about the major?
"I love working with data. I love applying it to healthcare because it’s important to any decision-making process. I loved my statistics course, and I took an extra research-based class just to work with data. I see great value in combining healthcare, business, and data. That’s what my major offers me."
What do you hope to do in healthcare services?
"After graduating, I’d love to work with patient data to try and find solutions for a company. Long term, I’d like to be a C.E.O. of a hospital. Regardless, I’d love to use data to positively impact lives."
How did the pandemic affect your career plans?
"The pandemic made me more passionate and inspired to make a difference in healthcare. The data behind healthcare has never been more prevalent than when the entire planet is dealing with a respiratory virus."
Do you have any favorite classes?
"My favorite classes have been Politics of Public Health with Assistant Teaching Professor Kristen McHenry and Econometrics with Professor Neal Olitsky. Professor McHenry really opened my eyes, and that course reaffirmed my career interests in healthcare. I have also worked with Professor Olitsky as a research assistant and have taken other courses with him. I am profoundly grateful to both of them."
Coming back to campus, how will this experience help you?
"I think I gained a more diverse perspective talking to different people from different cultures. Having a wider perspective and self-awareness will help my decision making and self-confidence."
Do you feel like a more globally engaged citizen now?
"Absolutely. Having been brought up in India, I learned the local languages there (Hindi and Punjabi) and now I got to visit Europe and have started learning another language. I feel very fortunate to have this experience and knowledge. I think I understand differences between people more which helps me gain a greater respect for them."