A case of diagnosed wanderlust

Gaining valuable experiences abroad

Prestina Buggenhout is currently living in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands where she is working in the field of mental health. She is of Belgian nationality, but has taken quite many interesting turns during her life, before landing in the Netherlands. And it seems like her adventures in foreign lands are far from over.

Qualifications and work life

Prestina studied medicine in Leuven, Belgium. Since her graduation in 2003, she has worked within the field of medicine in numerous countries. She is currently working within mental health in the Netherlands, which she is planning to do until next June. Then it is time for something new and different. “Next summer I am moving to Edinburgh, Scotland, to start a postgraduate counseling diploma at Edinburgh University”, she informs us. But this isn’t the first time Prestina has taken a leap to follow her interests.

In Belgium and the Netherlands, Prestina has worked in mental health hospitals. She has additionally worked in the field of international health and travel insurances both in the Netherlands and Spain. She has also work experience from general hospitals in Australia. Outside the field of medicine, Prestina has volunteered in a hostel in Colombia and studied Swedish in Sweden. When asked what has motivated Prestina in her study and employment decisions, her answer is wide-ranging: “My interest in languages, the human mind and international work environments combined with the experience of living and working abroad.”

Mobility

Prestina has lived, worked and traveled in quite a few places. There are a few cities Prestina is especially fond of and where she could imagine herself living in. She is particularly fond of Edinburgh, San Francisco, Vancouver, Gothenburg, Melbourne and Berlin, to mention a few. But why has she chosen these cities in particular? ”These are all cities with a good cultural vibe and lots of different nationalities. They all have nature around, are safe to go out alone at night and have good healthcare and education standards”, she replies.

Living abroad does not come without hurdles and challenges. Prestina speaks of difficulties with the feelings of insecurity and macho behavior in Spain and Colombia. “Housing conditions in Spain and paperwork in Australia have been challenging at times. In Australia I noticed and experienced racism, which was a bit unexpected”, she continues. When asked why living abroad is important to her, Prestina’s answer is short and clear: “You can get to know a country better by being a local for a while than by mere travelling.”

Advice for our readers and plans for the future

Many of our readers might be interested in some advice from Prestina. What would Prestina give as advice if someone were interested in living abroad like her? “I would advise to definitely go for the adventure, but also to read about the local culture and system sufficiently. Or even better, if possible to talk to people who have already lived in that place”, she replies.

Prestina’s future career dreams are firmly set around counseling. “I will finish my coaching course in London, study counseling in Edinburgh and eventually set up my coaching and counseling business in the UK or if I can get it organized, have my own fabulous coaching and counseling retreat in Spain”, she explains in an excited tone.

Prestina sure has accomplished and experienced many things, and it seems like she is planning to continue on that path. This corresponds to her philosophy of life, “If you can dream it, you can do it!”

What about you, what are you dreaming about?

Text: Maaria Tirri

Prestina Buggenhout, a doctor of Belgian nationality, has lived, worked and traveled in plenty of countries around the world. Read about her experiences, thoughts and plans for the future.

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