After debating which of Work the World’s Sri Lanka programmes to visit, I decided to go to Anuradhapura.
Work the World were incredible from start to finish. Firstly, the information on the website and the reviews from students who had already travelled were enough to convince me that a placement abroad was something that I had to experience for myself.
The staff I spoke to on the phone were friendly, and understood all my questions and concerns. I felt like a part of Work the World, which put me at ease knowing that I could travel solo with very little anxiety.
They organised everything, from each individual aspect of my clinical placement to catering to my vegan diet (the food was to die for). When I arrived, their overseas team took me on an orientation of the local area, and even explained how to get to certain places whilst travelling at the weekend.
They made the experience what it was and I am forever grateful for their support.
My placement hospital was the 3rd largest in the country, and I felt honoured to be shown how midwifery was taught and practiced in such a beautiful (and surprisingly up-to-date) unit.
Staff on the wards were inclusive and friendly despite the language barrier. And after a couple of days, they began to recognise me and vice versa. It was nice seeing friendly faces every day.
As I was only in the country for two weeks, I spent most of my time on the labour ward. Honestly, I found many maternity cases in Anuradhapura quite shocking.
Before I started, I thought I was going into a world of natural labour and birth. It was surprising to discover that intervention was actually used more than might considered necessary in the UK.
I found that no matter what the mother’s individual history was, every labour had the same outcome; a McRoberts position, an episiotomy and supra-pubic pressure once the woman was fully dilated. These were standard practice, even if the woman had already had a baby before.
In the UK, we tend to take a hands-off approach, letting the female body do what it does naturally. We typically give verbal guidance when necessary, and intervene only if there is a need.
Midwives in Anuradhapura do not suture. This meant that some women waited for up to an hour and a half for a Doctor or consultant to assess them.
That said, the hospital had a lot of technology that I didn't expect to see, such as a resuscitaire for babies.
My placement totally defied my expectations, and my whole perspective on maternity and midwifery completely shifted.
Being part of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle, Anuradhapura had plenty of sacred sites and temples to explore. The possibility of which intrigued me.
As I only had one whole weekend during my trip, I wanted to make the most of being in such a beautiful country.
I travelled with my housemates to Kandy by bus. When we arrived, we met the students from Work the World’s Kandy programme.
Together, we took a taxi to Nuwara Eliya (otherwise known as ‘Little England’) to visit Sri Lanka's biggest tea plantation.
It was called Little England for a reason—the temperature was 17 degrees Celsius, and, of course, it rained. We then moved onto Ella, which we’d heard had a beautiful train ride back to Kandy.
Before we went back, we tried to visit the Nine-arches Bridge (as seen in the Harry Potter movies). However after getting halfway through the forest that leads to it, we were attacked by leeches and had to turn back!
The train journey back to Kandy from Ella took seven hours, but the stunning scenery made it worth every minute.
I also took two days by myself to visit Trincomalee beach, a three-hour bus ride from Anuradhapura. When I arrived, I was met with white sand and clear ocean. It was beautiful.
I had the opportunity to go snorkelling in Pigeon Island National Park where I saw sea turtles, sharks and a multitude of coral and fish.
Having total independence to explore Sri Lanka for myself was amazing. At the same time, having the support from the Work the World staff and from my housemates was amazing. I loved being a part of such a peaceful and friendly local culture, even if it was only for a short while.
My advice, if you’re thinking about undertaking an overseas placement with Work the World, is DO IT. Money can be re-saved but chances to make memories like the ones I did are finite. To add to that, gaining clinical experience outside of the UK is priceless.
Don't hold back; let the world show you what it has to offer. If you don’t, you can bet there will be a time in your life when you look back and regret not jumping at this opportunity.