Finding out about the inequalities in health and social care services in Florida has proved an eye-opening experience for students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
The group visited agencies and questioned practitioners on their approach to dealing with issues such as severe financial hardship in what people rarely think of as a deprived area.
The aim of the trip to the Sunshine State was to analyse the reality of American society, contrasting conditions, community responses, ideology and culture with the UK.
Health Studies student Rebecca Agyen described the experience as "amazing and life changing".
She said: "I wanted to go on the trip to experience the American Dream, however, after visiting the various projects I realised America isn't all that it seems on the TV and there is a lot that we don't see.
"This has helped with my final-year studies because being out there allowed me to put everything I've learnt into practice.
"I also feel as if I've grown and developed as a person."
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Fellow Health Studies final-year student Tamika Gatela thought the course-related experience would be interesting.
She said: "The trip was really good and enlightening - I wish I could go again!
"The highlight was probably meeting and getting to know people on the trip. I also enjoyed volunteering at the food bank we went to.
"I think the trip has helped me to be more informed in relation to some of my subjects and has shown me to be more open and to think wider about different aspects."
The Poverty Amidst Plenty trip was organised as part of the university's overseas experience programme #DMUglobal. Although Florida is often associated with sunshine and prosperity, Central Florida experiences high rates of poverty, unemployment and other social problems.
Jenny Sanders, Senior Lecturer in Health Studies, which has recently been renamed Health and Wellbeing in Society, said: "Across the programme we look at inequalities in health, such as rates of obesity, smoking and alcohol use, among low socio-economic status groups, and access to health and social care services/support within groups that are socially excluded.
"The trip gave students the opportunity to see the reality of such inequalities.
"Through links with the University of Central Florida (UCF), the students learned more about policies/practices in Florida, and it gave them a chance to apply the theory they've learnt to the real-life situations they've seen, by giving a presentation to the UCF students.
"The trip was eye-opening for the students!
"It may help them identify a particular area of interest that they wish to pursue and it also introduced them to a range of different service providers, which can help broaden their understanding of potential employers."
Posted on Thursday 20th April 2017