Paula Alexa’s Iowa Experience

“Crossing borders is never a single faceted experience. There were so many dimensions to the process of adjusting to my new home-away-from home across the ocean, that three paragraphs of text will never encompass everything about the five months I’ve spent abroad. Nevertheless, I consider myself a privileged journeyer.

The 2014 fall semester spent at the University of Iowa helped me build a more integrated approach to public health research and practice by participating in three classes. While studying Design of Clinical Trials, I learned how to be thorough and precise in study design and implementation. The Sociology of Health class allowed me to reshape my view of the cultural and social context in which public health operates and made me more culturally-sensitive when transporting theories across borders. Finally, I was fortunate to learn and apply the principles of Motivational Interviewing in an interactive class and learn how to help people bring healthy changes into their lives through insightful interactions with my peers. I have always enjoyed school, but University of Iowa will remain a unique educational experience because being a student here showed me how an institution in which students and professors share responsibility for the quality of the education process allows you to thrive academically.

Outside school, I was able to observe and gradually experience the mid-west culture of the United States of America mirrored in the friendly environment of Iowa City and its surroundings. For five months, this close-knitted community and its inhabitants were patient and caring with my two colleagues and me. Iowa City lives and breathes public health and people here bond over sport events, take pride in their public education system and keep their community a friendly place for students and families, likewise. I became more aware of my own culture when comparing it to the American one and I built valuable friendships with people I greatly admire.


I was happy to return to Cluj-Napoca and bring back all this knowledge and experience into my own community and workplace. I hope to build great things on the lessons learned abroad.”

–Paula Alexa, Researcher at the Department of Community and Behavioral Health

Paula has also presented two posters at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition held in New Orleans, USA during 15-19th November 2014.