As a medical student at the University of Leeds, I knew that I had to complete a medical elective at the end of my fourth year. As the hardest year of the course, I decided to plan well in advance and chose to go Sri Lanka through Work the World.
Deciding between travelling alone or going with a company can be quite tough, but I felt Work the World would take a lot of the stress out of planning and ensure that all went smoothly. Although I was travelling with another student, neither of us had much experience abroad so this was an easy choice for both of us.
Living and working with other students from different healthcare backgrounds was something I really enjoyed, and just wouldn’t have been possible without Work the World. Meeting new people to share your experience with really does makes a difference.
My favourite weekend was definitely visiting the cultural triangle. I never imagined when I came to Sri Lanka that I would be following a guide on a bike to see the next site!
The in-country support provided was even better than I could have hoped for. The staff were constantly available to support us with any placement issues and help us plan weekend travels. I found help with the latter the most useful; you really get the most out of Sri Lanka with their help and they make sure you see all the best parts! When we arrived they suggested a number of weekend activities, and put them on a notice-board where we could see them. However, we were still independent and could decide if we wanted to do something different.
Even when we weren’t in the house the staff were always at the end of the phone - particularly helpful for navigating transport which can be quite tricky in a country you are not familiar with. In short, without the incredible staff we’d have been alone with The Lonely Planet Guide, which is no substitute for local knowledge!
My favourite weekend was definitely visiting the cultural triangle, which includes a good variety of sights to suit everyone. The highlight for me was touring Polonnaruwa, an ancient city. I never imagined when I came to Sri Lanka that I would be following a guide on a bike to see the next site!
There’s also the chance to explore a temple hidden in caves, go on an elephant safari and spend time in a luxury hotel by the pool. We even got to wash an elephant, which wouldn’t have been possible without Work the World.
A close rival to the cultural triangle was Nuwara Eliya and Ella where you get to see a whole different side to Sri Lanka. We got to walk up to world’s end and see some spectacular views and then climb Adam’s Peak for more views over the green landscape. The biggest shock was the temperature difference there – it was actually cold!
Spending time in the hospital has really improved my communication skills. Although the doctors all speak English, the patients don’t and I had to think carefully about how to interact with them and conduct examinations. This was especially important on paediatrics, where the parents are constantly with their child and understandably very concerned. Although learning Sinhalese is helpful I felt it was more about your manner and attitude towards the patients, with a smile going a long way.
The doctors here are also really willing to impart their knowledge and place more emphasis on investigations rather than clinical history, so I have learnt to look at a case from a different angle.
I have no doubts that I will be recommending Work the World to other students. I was able to finish fourth year without worrying what my elective would be like and whether everything would go to plan. Right from the moment you book they provide support and the online MyTrip page gives you all the information you need in preparation. This even includes a suggested packing list including a few things I wouldn’t have even considered to bring but did need.
I had some amazing experiences in Sri Lanka and met a lot of new people that I wouldn’t have had I had planned it by myself.