I’ve always had the desire to travel. Work the World offered me an organised way to combine an overseas trip with my studies, so of course I went for it.
I was immediately drawn to Africa. I’d always wanted to go there to see Victoria Falls, go on Safari… I knew that it had a big hospital too and that was a draw.
When I stepped off the plane, I was thankful to have landed. My total travel time was about 36 hours!
I felt immediate relief when I first met the member of the Work the World team who was there waiting for me. She was so welcoming and told me to feel at home.
We jumped into the car to head back to the Work the World house and we discussed what I could expect from my time in Zambia.
The Work the World house was big and beautiful. The house staff were waiting outside ready to welcome me, it was so nice.
I lived with other healthcare students in the house. We talked a lot about the differences between our countries and their healthcare systems. I learned as much about the UK culture as I did about Zambian culture! Every day we figured something out about the other country.
When it came to the hospital, I had no idea what to expect. It was much larger than I had imagined, a bit like a university campus. I was nervous about walking into the hospital at first because everything had suddenly become very real.
After a day or two, I knew where I was going, I knew how to get around. The nurses and the students took me under their wing and taught me everything I needed to know.They really worked with me and seemed to really care about how we did things where I came from. In turn, they wanted to show me how things differed in their practice. It was a really positive experience.
One of my patients had been bitten by a python. One was in a rollover car accident and their skull was exposed. And on another patient who had suffered severe burns, they used honey to treat the wound!
They first used saline on gauze and the local nurse got the wound as clean as she could. She then put honey on another piece of gauze, put that directly on the wound, and then wrapped it. The variety and severity of cases and treatments was eye-opening.
In fact, everything felt different there.
On a normal evening, we came home from placement and spent time getting to know each other. We made strong friendships. We played a lot of cards, we laughed, we even went to Pizza Hut once as we were missing food from home.
All the housemates travelled together at the weekends. We went on safari, over to Botswana for the day, on a sunset cruise, to Victoria Falls… you name it. We hung out a lot, as the experience was very much about the people we were with.