I had always wanted to visit Vietnam and I was delighted to discover, while browsing the Work the World website, that this was an option for my medical elective.
Although mostly excited, I cannot deny I was slightly nervous to be spending five weeks abroad, in a country where the culture would surely be very different from that of both the UK and Portugal (I am Portuguese but have lived in London for 6 years).
The warm welcome I received from the Work the World team on the first day quickly put me at ease and made me realise I could rely on them to help me with any concerns that may arise during my stay there. The house is absolutely gorgeous and the whole team was extremely welcoming and friendly. They truly made an effort to make us feel at home as much as possible. The food cooked by the chef at the house is also incredibly delicious!
Having wanted to be a psychiatrist for most of my life, I decided to spend my entire five-week placement in the psychiatry department of the hospital where I was based.
When it comes to your placement, I definitely recommend keeping an open mind. In general, units are under-resourced and the conditions at the hospital are fairly poor. Regardless, probably the most striking issue for me to come to terms with was the fact there was very little regard for patient privacy. However, if you keep an open mind and accept that the culture is different, you will have an amazing time!
Everyone in the psychiatric department was unbelievably welcoming, approachable and helpful. If you have any interest in psychiatry at all, I definitely recommend you spend time there, you will not regret it!
With regards to Vietnam in general, I was stunned by how beautiful the country is. I took a day trip to Bach Ma National Park and spent a weekend in Hoi An, both of which I thoroughly recommend. The Hai Van Pass is also an absolute must with utterly stunning views!
Overall, I had a fantastic time and this will be an experience I will never forget!