How I Got There
Since starting my training, I had always wanted to carry out my dental elective in Nepal, but when the time came in my fourth year to actually plan for my elective, I did not have a clue where to begin! The thought of having to plan and organise my elective to Pokhara, Nepal seemed like a stressful task, which almost put me off going abroad for the elective. But then, Work the World (WtW) showed up at my university to give us a talk about planning for our elective and how they could help.
After learning about WtW and hearing what the senior students had to say from their experiences with the organisation, I decided that they would be the best choice for me! It proved to be the right choice. Everything from the information pack, which was immensely helpful, to reminders about applying for my visa, buying flight tickets and getting insurance, as well as the pre-departure phone calls to brief us about our placement and what to expect, were instrumental in preparing me for my departure.
The hospital placement was a good experience. Being able to see what the healthcare standards are like in a developing country like Nepal really opened my eyes to a whole new world. I had the chance to see cases that I would very rarely come across in the UK. This would not be the norm in the UK as patients tend to seek treatment much earlier. In Nepal however, treatment can be difficult to find, especially if patients are from rural areas, in which case they have to travel for days to the city to seek treatment. The delay in getting treatment allows the illness to progress to a more severe stage before patients present. It was also interesting to see how dentists, with very limited resources, provided treatment to patients. They strived to ensure patients received the best care possible, though at times the lack of resources would be a limiting factor.
Settling Into a New Culture
It was amazing to be in a country with so much culture and so many vibrant colours! With the assistance from our language coach at the WtW house, we managed to learn some very useful phrases and words that helped us along the way. The Nepalese people are so nice, and I can guarantee that you will not fail to hear people say “Namaste” and “Hello” as you walk down the street.
It was incredible to meet so many students from different parts of the world
The Work the World House
I was truly impressed by the accommodation and services provided by WtW in Pokhara. The house was big and very spacious. We had our breakfast and dinner cooked for us by our very talented chefs (we also had snacks and ingredients to cook for ourselves if we ever got hungry at any time during the day). Our beds were made and rooms cleaned by the housekeeper, and there were security guards at the front door who kept us safe day and night. Furthermore we could always count on the Programme Manager who helped us with any and all problems we had. It was incredible to meet so many students from different parts of the world, spending time with them, doing things to keep us busy during the weekends and any free time we had. There was always something to do in Pokhara!
My elective in Nepal was the experience of a lifetime, which was only made possible by the immense help from WtW. My advice for future students would be to keep an open mind during your placement in Nepal, to fully appreciate what they do and what they achieve under the circumstances. While there, take every opportunity to soak up the culture and try new things! You’ll be surprised how much you would have learnt and how much you would have changed by the end of your experience!