I had all these ideas in my head of what the house would be like, but it was better than I had imagined! All the staff were so friendly and we soon became a little family. My favourite factor of the house was being back to basics with no TV, so we spent many an evening playing card games – spoons being my all time favourite - or just chatting away with a cup of tea. My fellow housemates became close friends and we shared some unforgettable memories throughout the trip.
I came to Dar es Salaam with a friend I have lived with at university so when we set off on our adventure to Tanzania, I was able to feel excited rather than scared of whether I would make it to Dar, having never travelled alone before! When arriving at Dar airport after my favourite flight ever with Qatar (never been so spoilt on a plane before), we met with a couple of other students who were going to be our housemates (spotted with the blue ‘work the world’ t-shirts on) and came through to find Alpha and Mark waiting for us with a friendly smile on their face.
The first day of placement was exciting, getting our first Dalla Dalla (an experience in itself) looking around the hospital and meeting the x-ray department staff - who were always extremely friendly and welcoming. I was worried that language barriers would be a problem on placement, but all the staff and students can speak very good English. They would also help translate for patients which made it easier to get involved with the cases. As the department was all in one area, we were able to choose the room we wanted to spend time in, which was useful as when one room became less busy you could move on and gain as much out of the time in placement as possible. I spent most of my time in the General X-ray room, then shared the rest of my time throughout Ultrasound, MRI, Fluoroscopy and the paediatric X-ray room (unfortunately the CT scanner was broken during my time at the hospital). The students were very friendly and always keen to get you stuck in, helping with the patients and wanting to teach you new things.
The equipment was more modern than I expected, yet nowhere near as modern as in England. For me, the main difference between here and the UK was the patient care, moving and handling and hygiene. All in all I reflected on how privileged we are for the care we receive in the UK and confirmed the importance of these factors for myself, which will always be useful throughout my career. Radiation protection wasn’t their main focus here, lead coats were scarce and so relatives would often be exposed to radiation as well as the patient and LMP was never checked. I was excited to learn how to process films in a dark room, which I will never have the opportunity to do again, it reminded me how lucky we are to have CR and DR equipment, providing us with instant images.
My advice to other radiography students looking to take items to donate would be disinfectant wipes, hand gel, slide sheets (you would have to teach the use of these), gowns and gloves.
My placement was only 3 weeks but I was lucky to fit in as much as I could in my spare time! We had a full house (31 people) during my stay and we all took a trip to Mikumi National Park (Safari weekend) which is something I have always wanted to do. The whole experience of game seeing, camping, eating our dinner in the dark basically, chatting around the campfire and singing lion king songs all day made for a weekend I will never forget!
We also spent a weekend in Zanzibar, going on a spice tour, to Prison Island to see the giant tortoises and snorkel in the sea, and going to Kendwa. The beach was paradise and the beach party on the Saturday night was amazing, learning African dancing and having a laugh with everyone and the locals made for a night I will always remember!
We spent time going to local 5* Hotels in Dar, Whitesands and Kundchi Beach, which had gorgeous beaches and pools to spend an afternoon lazing by for a very cheap price. As well that we visited slipway markets, testing my bartering skills for family presents! Thursday evenings were also BBQ night and we always had a dress up theme too make the night more fun.
Overall the experience was one I will never forget, I saw and did some amazing things and made amazing friends that made my trip the unforgettable experience it was... I only wish I would have stayed longer!