I was so nervous about eight weeks in Sri Lanka - stepping into the unknown was scary! But from the minute I stepped off the plane and saw Nandi’s friendly face I was put at ease. Nerves became excitement!
I soon got to know all the other housemates it really helped put me at ease. Getting to know the chef, Aloysius, and Champika the cleaner, made the whole house even more like home. The food cooked by Aloysius was AMAZING, I got to try lots of new foods but the BBQ night was always popular!
The house was beautiful and the view was stunning from the roof, I’d never seen anything like it! The roof was a lovely place to relax on the afternoons, but it was too easy to catch the sun! Orientation was a great way to get to know the other new arrivals to the Work the World house, and it really helped to locate the main sites of Kandy.
Afternoons and weekends were a perfect time to see the country, which was just beautiful. Along with other students, we visited various places such as the Pinewella elephant orphanage, the Temple of the Tooth located in Kandy. Then outside of Kandy we visited Galle, Trincomallee, the Cultural Triangle, Horton Plains and Arugam Bay. Each was different but worth a visit and everything was cheap as we were able to haggle hotel prices.
On my first day of placement, Nandika took us to the hospital and introduced us to Nalin, the CNO. There we discussed each of our placements and then were taken up to our respective wards. At first it was nerve racking, as there was a slight language barrier and it was an emergency setting. But I soon settled in and began to enjoy my time on the wards I had been allocated.
I spent time on the emergency wards, Neuro, ICU, and the renal unit. Each was different but equally enjoyable. I saw various illnesses and treatments that I had not seen in the UK, such as prophylaxis for rabies after a dog bite. It was explained to me that the equine preparation is used, due to funding, so patients were more likely to have a reaction. That was definitely a shock at first!
From my time in Kandy I really got to see the role of the Sri Lankan nurse in comparison to the UK. It seemed much more medical, as the family did all the nursing care and visiting hours were not rigid. I spoke to many of the nurses on different wards, but one nurse stood out to me, he said ‘I have the knowledge; I just cannot use it, like you can in the UK’. By this he meant that nurses are expected to do as the doctor asks without questioning. This was a mind-frame that took time to get used to, but once I accepted it I was able to gain so much more from my time.
I also got to know some student nurses on a ward. They were telling me about how their studying works to become a nurse. I thought I knew what hard work was until then! They explained that they are expected to work part of a shift, then go to lectures and then come back and finish the shift. They took it all in good spirit and were great people to work with on the wards as we were all still learning!
I also did the Ayurvedic week, which was another great experience. We spent the mornings in the orthopaedic hospital located a few hours from Kandy on the bus, where Western and traditional medicine were incorporated to treat orthopaedic complaints. In the afternoons we would do various activities, for example, an Ayurvedic massage, climbed Sigiriya, an ox ride to name a few! At the eco lodge we had cooking lessons, where we learnt how to make Sri Lankan dishes, but it was safe to say our cooking wasn’t as good as the chefs!
Overall, my experience was unforgettable and worth every penny! After going to Sri Lanka, I think if I can nurse there, I can nurse anywhere! It was definitely the best decision for me to go to Sri Lanka for my elective placement. I don’t think my words justify the experience but I would recommend it to anyone!