Arriving in Sri Lanka on my own was a surreal experience. On the drive from Colombo Airport to Kandy, where I was undertaking my physiotherapy elective placement, the culture difference became very evident. After having our induction talk on the Monday, we had a tour of Kandy city from the helpful and knowledgeable Work the World staff where it became clear to me that Kandy was a vibrant, busy place with friendly locals and an impressive range of shops in the market.
Reality kicked in on Tuesday morning. Entering the hospital in Sri Lanka for the first time is something that will stick in my mind forever. It was shocking to see the differences between this department and the hospitals back at home.
However, the business and lack of resources didn’t hide the fact that the healthcare professionals had one goal in mind: getting the patients better, just like in the UK. In the outpatient physiotherapy department, the therapists were responsible for treating three or four patients at one time so it is fair to say time management is one thing they have down to a T.
The staff in the hospital were welcoming and always willing to explain and answer our questions. The ideas and evidence behind the treatments used were much the same as the UK but the department lacked equipment such as exercise bikes, weights and plinths for every patient. This placement has taught me how I would treat patients with limited resources, giving me an insight into physiotherapy in another culture but most of all it has given me appreciation for the facilities and care we have in the UK.
Evenings during the week were spent planning our weekend trips, because why come all the way to Sri Lanka and not explore such a fascinating country? My first weekend there I chose to go on the cultural triangle, a unique experience including visiting the Golden Temple, tours of the ancient temples on bikes, an elephant safari, and finished off climbing Sigiriya Rock which provided the most stunning views. Then on the second weekend we set off for Trincomalee, a beautiful area of Sri Lanka on the coast which was perfect for relaxing after a week in busy Kandy. During the week, we also managed trips to the elephant orphanage, many trips to the markets and embracing the culture by going for a meal in our saris.
my last weekend was spent between Nuwara Eliya where we had high tea, visited tea plantations and walked to world’s end view point and Ella where we caught the train back to Kandy where we witnessed the most beautiful scenery of the Sri Lankan countryside.
The whole experience was made better by the sociable and amazing atmosphere in the Work the World house. It is fair to say I made friends for life with the group I met when I was out there. There are communal areas and weekly barbecue nights, because what better way to make friends than over tasty food and drinks!
The staff in the house were always available to give us advice for weekends away, afternoon trips and answer/sort out any queries we had about our placements. It was always kept tidy by the wonderful housekeepers and we were always well fed by the amazing chef.