Nursing and psychology students explore mental health history on London interdisciplinary trip

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Josie Johnson ’25 of Roseau is a self-described travel junkie. So, when she had an opportunity to head overseas and expose herself to ideas that will benefit her future career as a nurse, she jumped at the chance. 

She and nine other nursing and psychology students spent fall break on the Psychiatric Healthcare: Interdisciplinary Perspectives study abroad trip in London.

The trip was designed to show students how world views and treatments of mental health disorders have evolved over the ages, while also providing an opportunity to explore the historical and modern attractions the city has to offer, such as the Tower of London, Big Ben, the London Eye ferris wheel, and Buckingham Palace.    

"International travel is so important because there is so much to learn outside of our own little world,” Johnson said.

The trip is led by Dr. Jane Indergaard, associate professor of nursing and also an expert on ADHD. She started taking students to London after finding the U.K. had more advanced research and resources for psychiatric illness as well as overall wellbeing.

"Interdisciplinary behavioral health is such a huge issue right now, and it's really a global issue,” Indergaard said. “Our students need exposure and experience in this field.”  

One of the academic visits was to King’s College, where the student met with scientists doing cutting-edge research on ADHD. They learned about treatments not yet on the market and were able to experience testing demonstrations in brain imaging labs.

This stop was especially exciting for psychology and neuroscience student Hadlie Dahlseid ’25, who was thrilled to be able to have one-on-one conversations with leading researchers.

“It's kind of like how journalists get the scoop before anybody else does,” she said. “We got to hear the research before some of it’s been published or finalized. This is so different than learning from a textbook or in a classroom.”

Other stops included a museum dedicated to the nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, the Sigmund Freud Museum where students got a quick course on Freud’s dream analysis, and Bethlem Royal Hospital, the oldest psychiatric hospital and treatment facility in London, which had the biggest impact on Josie.   

“Psychiatric health care and nursing are so intermingled,” she said. “Nurses care for the whole person—the mind included—so it’s important for us to learn this.”

Another important aspect of the trip was exploring the city and having fun with some built-in support for first-time travelers. A boat ride on the River Thames took students under the iconic Tower Bridge. A night outing had the students dressing up for a performance of “Wicked.” And a free day allowed people to do landmark tours, shop, or venture to the countryside to visit the White Cliffs of Dover, the picturesque city of Bath, and Stonehenge.  

“I just absolutely love watching the students’ growing confidence as they experience a new culture,” Indergaard said.

For Josie, her advice to Cobbers considering a Study Away program is simple: do it.

“If you have the means to travel and learn from it, I think that you should take that opportunity as soon as it comes to you.”

Learn more about Concordia’s nursing and psychology programs.

Learn more about Concordia’s Study Away opportunities.