A Tale of Two Passports
By: Cory Ingram, M.D. studied abroad in Leiden, the Netherlands for three semesters between 1990-1991. He is assistant professor of family and palliative medicine at the Mayo Clinic, College of Medicine. He is also the medical director of palliative medicine at the Mayo Clinic Health System.
My experience at Central College was transformative in many ways, and it is impossible to envision what my life would have been like had I never taken the leap of faith to study abroad.
Studying abroad will allow you to learn about another culture and meet new and interesting people, and yet that is just scratching the surface. Studying abroad is really about the personal journey and self-discovery that reveals itself when all of life is viewed through a new cultural lens that challenges common beliefs, values and your way of life.
I had met several people at Central from other parts of the world, and I was intrigued by their worldview and cultural perspectives that differed from mine since I had grown up in rural Iowa. Practicalities led me to Leiden. It was the only English-speaking study abroad program on the continent of Europe at the time, and, I was searching for a place with people like those I had met and admired from Central. In fact, I changed my major to from pre-medicine to interdisciplinary studies overnight, and then I was off to Leiden. It was truly a leap of faith, one of many yet to come in my life.
After my graduation from Central, I applied to a Medical program that accepts 30 foreign students from about 3,000 applicants and distributes them across eight Dutch medical schools. I received word that I was one of the thirty. I took my second leap of faith and went back to Leiden for medical school. Six months of intensive Dutch language classes and exams at Leiden prepared me to matriculate in 1994 into the 2000 class of Leiden University, College of Medicine. I lived the Dutch life, immigrated and married my Dutch wife.
I took another leap of faith moving back to the United States in 2002. Dutch life and Dutch medicine proved difficult to navigate. The market for doctors was saturated, and many Dutch doctors were leaving the country. I returned on the word of my residency director at the University of Nebraska and a prayer that I would pass all my U.S. Board exams. It all worked out! Many of my friends from medical school are still in the process of their postgraduate training almost 18 years later, and I have been enjoying the life of a consultant for the last six years.
After a few years, my wife and I decided that it was important for her to return to The Netherlands. She needed to breathe in the culture again, visit friends and family and simply be home for a while. We returned to Holland in the summer of 2011 with our four children.
My wife and I returned to Holland in the summer of 2011 with our four children. During our vacation, we realized that the trip was equally important for me.
Holland is also my home. In retrospect, by the time I was 33, I had lived in Holland a third of my life, essentially all of my adult life. I spoke the language and held a desired position in Internal Medicine at the Queen’s Hospital in The Hague caring for seriously ill Dutch people. I am Dutch.
Life has been interesting, full and rich. I can only attribute that to studying abroad. You see, I came to Central without a passport and today I have two.
Discover how Leiden can transform your life!
Dr. Cory Ingram with his wife, Lillian, and kids