In Ghana, after the fifth year of medical school, there is a professional exchange organized for students. This exchange, put together by the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA), gives medical students the opportunity to get some real working experience. And here’s the best part: that experience is gained from hospitals in other parts of the world.
For Dr. Ewurabena Addo, the professional exchange meant spending a month working at a hospital in Berlin, Germany. Ewurabena tells us about that experience, as well as her escapades across several other countries in Europe thanks to her Schengen Visa. Welcome to this week’s installment of the My Studies Abroad series.
Charite University Hospital—Berlin, Germany
The medical school professional exchange is a great way for fifth year medical students to grow their portfolios and gain some globalized professional experience. Naturally, the majority of KNUST’s 2016 fifth year medical class leapt at the opportunity. Of course, that includes, Dr. Ewurabena Addo.
Ewurabena spent her month of the professional exchange in Berlin, Germany, along with five other classmates. They would spend that time working at the Charite University Hospital. And on their weekends, the group explored other parts of Europe. The six students lived together. One of the things that stood out for Ewurabena while they were still settling in was the fact that there was basically internet everywhere.
According to Ewurabena, one of the things that you would definitely notice about the hospital was how neat it was. Every room in the hospital was in pristine condition (the wards, the canteen, the doctors’ offices, the lobby …). The neatness was so outspoken.
At the University hospital, Ewurabena spent the month assigned to the Neurosurgery Department. They attended to patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological/neurosurgical problems. In Ghana, not many female doctors can be found in the neurosurgical field, however, in Germany, there was a significant number of female doctors in the field.
Another noticeable thing about working at the hospital was that all the staff worked very hard. The doctors also treated patients very well. In fact, as Ewurabena puts it, the patients felt so at home in the hospital.
Touring The Schengen Region
During the week, Ewurabena and the group would have morning meetings at the hospital at 7am, after which they followed the doctors on rounds to see the patients. Later in the day, they would also observe any surgeries that had been scheduled. There were cafes within the wards that allowed the hospital personnel to take food breaks seamlessly whenever they weren’t busy. That was usually how the exchange students spent their weekdays.
The weekends, however, were an entirely different story. For their first weekend, they were still settling in, and they hadn’t yet explored much of the city of Berlin. It was simple enough to get around using the train and tram. The group planned their own tour of the city, using Google Maps when they had trouble finding a place. In Ewurabena’s opinion, they spent a lot of time shopping for clothes and cosmetics. Aside that, they also visited the Berlin Tower and Alexanderplatz, a city square housing a major train station, shops and restaurants. It was a place teeming with activity and it provided so many things to do.
For their second week, things went pretty much according to the same routine as their first. But that weekend, they decided to take full advantage of their Schengen Visas to visit some of the other countries in the Schengen area.
The Weekend In Switzerland And Italy
So, on the Thursday of their second week in Germany, the group left Berlin on a bus to Zurich, Switzerland. The Swiss are known, among other things, for their chocolate. So naturally, when the group got to Zurich, they tried some Swiss chocolate. They also interacted with the locals and got a sense of the place.
Ewurabena recalls how very serene the Swiss countryside was. There were some simple things that stood out enough to make an impression. That is, how green the grass was, the crystal blue colour of the lakes and the picturesque mountains. The scenery along the Swiss countryside made for a serene experience traveling to Milan, Italy.
As part of the professional exchange program, one of Ewurabena’s classmates was already in Milan. So, the group called ahead of their arrival, and he booked a place for them to stay. He also showed them around the place. They visited the Milan Cathedral and made sure they went to all the designer shops at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. After all, one of the things that Italy is known for is fashion and designers. One thing worth mentioning is the nature if the Italian infrastructure.
Ewurabena describes the buildings as being antique. She calls them buildings from a different time. However, those buildings have been preserved to stay they way they were built in the past. And then, when you enter a building, it’s just a whole other experience.The interior is very classy and modern. Finesse!! That difference between the interior and exterior is made its own experience.
Finally, the group visited Lake Como before they left Italy. There were restaurants and houses around the lake, and you could take a boat cruise around. Italy is also known for being the home of pizza, so while at Lake Como, the group tried the pizza from one of the local restaurants. And let’s just say, the country’s reputation for having the best pizza is an earned one.. The real beauty of Lake Como though, Ewurabena says, is when night falls and the lights around the lake come on. The lake becomes the theme of romance.
The Weekend In France
On the Sunday of their second weekend, Ewurabena and the other exchange students took a flight back to Germany.
Europe Has A Very Good Transportation System And It’s Very Reasonable Even Across The Continent.
—Dr. Ewurabena Addo.
After their week working in the hospital, the group entered the third weekend with plans to go to France. They took a flight to Paris and used Airbnb to find accommodation. There are some places that you have to visit if you find yourself in Paris. One of those places is the Musée du Louvre which Ewurabena and her friends visited. Interestingly, at the Louvre, they ran into some of their classmates. Those classmates worked in another city in Germany for their professional exchange. It was a coincidence that felt too good to be true.
Other than The Louvre, Ewurabena also visited the Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel tower. There’s a reason why Paris is called the city of love and Ewurabena witnessed that first hand. The people in the city overtly expressed affection for their partners by holding hands, hugging and kissing along the streets of the city.
Finally, the group also visited Disneyland Paris. They made it to the Disney themed amusement park early and basically stayed until the place closed. They visited various attractions including, an Aladdin-themed place, Pirates of the Caribbean cruise and some Disney castles. The park was filled with people from all walks of life (aged and retired people, children, couples, Africans, Asians and more).
Ewurabena also went on the roller-coaster, an experience which had her questioning whether or not she was still alive. In addition to that, at the park, you could also learn how certain parts of movies were made and what went into the stunt work. And then, on Sunday, it was back to Berlin.
The Final Weekend In Berlin
For their final weekend, the group decided to stay in Berlin. In Berlin, moving around was made easy by the buses, trains and trams. You could easily get around the city. There were also several canals running through the city where a boat cruise could give you a good view of some parts of Berlin. You also couldn’t travel a certain distance without seeing at least one Benz or BMW auto Showroom.
Some of the places they visited were the Berlin Haunted House; an immersive scary adventure brought to life by props and effects. It’s a fun place. They also visited a bowling center, aquarium, open markets and city fairs with live bands and the Berlin Wall Memorial. Although the Berlin Wall itself has long since been broken down, you can still see its foundation, and there’s a memorial that you can visit to learn its history.
Berlin was generally a good place to stay. The food was affordable and you could easily stock your fridge without spending too much. The food that Ewurabena ate was mostly fast food though.
Ewurabena appreciates seeing first hand the good ethics of German doctors and the good relationships with their patients. It was an enjoyable trip, and an amazing learning experience. And if she ever decides to go another Euro-tour, the first thing she’ll do is ski at the Swiss Alps.
My Studies Abroad is a weekly Kuulpeeps series that brings you the Ghanaian schooling experience—from other parts of the globe.