At the end of last year, Katie Fairhurst travelled to Vietnam for three weeks to complete a medical placement in a local hospital. Here is how her placement went!
1. Why did you choose this particular project?
For a university placement to see how different it would be working abroad in a less fortunate country.
2. What kind of work and activities did you do during your project?
Working within the hospitals with the nurses and doctors. The coordinators gave us a culture trip to the city’s most famous landmarks such as the cu Chi tunnels and pagodas and also taught us how to make Vietnamese food. Me and my friends would visit the city often at night and the weekends for shopping, dining and spa sessions (there’s so much more to do). We also made trips to other islands such as Cat Ba and Halong bay.
3. How did the culture differ to home? What were the local people like?
There is a massive culture shock! Big difference between the food, family relationships and everyday living. People are a lot more friendly and approachable. I just wanted to bring some of them home!
4. What was the accommodation like?
The accommodation was simple but good as you shared a room with other volunteers from around the world and got to know them.
5. What were the staff and other volunteers like?
The staff where great. They were lovely and supportive and you were well looked after. It felt like home!
6. What was the most amazing moment and what’s your best memory?
Travelling to Cat Ba for a long weekend. Small island with lots of bars and restaurants. It’s small so you get to know other travellers. It’s a very pretty island with beaches in walking distance.
7. Do you feel the work you were doing was worthwhile?
Yes and no. We would often do blood pressures, medicines, acupuncture, watch surgeries and help out in occupational therapy and physio. I felt like it was a great experience for me but at the end of the day, we are mainly observational, even though you can’t do much clinically, you see the difference you make to patients and their families by supporting them and caring for them as nursing is very different from the UK compared to Vietnam.
8. What sort of wildlife did you encounter?
Rats, cockroaches, mosquitos, but on the other hand, the hospital had many cat lodgers and many dogs!!!!!
9. What were you hoping to learn while on project and have you achieved those goals?
The cultural differences and how Vietnam copes with everyday living.
10. Any tips and advice you might like to pass on to future volunteers?
Travel!! Find things to do every night. Explore the city. Explore Vietnam if you can, just cram as much in as you can.
11. What do you have planned next?
Volunteering in Morocco and travelling the rest of the world. Thankyou Vietnam for giving me the travel bug. You were truly amazing.
12. Anything else you would like to add?
Best thing I ever did.