When deciding where to go on my elective I was in a bit of a quandary about what to do. My best friends were all set on going to Tanzania and part of me wanted to go with them and have the security that comes with knowing people already. However the other half of me thought I should go somewhere on my own (which is very unlike me!), meet new people and have a completely new experience. This is what I decided to do, 7 weeks in Sri-Lanka! I was so excited yet very nervous.
We arrived in Sri-Lanka airport and were met by Nandika (Program Manager, and the most fun man ever!). It was great to see his friendly face after a long journey. We had a great orientation around Kandy the next day with Nandi; he showed us all the good places to go around the town and where the best food was! We were so excited to explore! The house we lived in was really nice; all the staff were so friendly. Champa was the housekeeper and the Mum of the house. She even showed us how to put on a Sari! We also had a chef, Allouis. He was amazing and it always was excellent food (especially BBQ night on the roof terrace, looking out over Kandy).
All my worries of being on my own went as soon as I saw how friendly the other girls were. I knew I had made the right decision. There was always someone keen to explore or go travelling with at the weekend! There often was a big group of us that made it so much fun!
We started placement after a few days of arriving in Sri-Lanka. I spent 3 weeks on the paediatric medicine ward, 2 weeks on paediatric surgery and 2 weeks on the labour ward. Placement was such a great experience. I learnt skills during my time on all three wards that university could never teach me. The nurses were so interested in how we do things in England and about technology and equipment we rely on that they can only dream of. The experience really opened my eyes to appreciate how much we have and take for granted in the UK. I got to assist the nurses with clinics that had over 300 patients per day. I was able to help with wound dressings for the children and was taught about many tropical diseases.
The language barrier was difficult to overcome; however, some nurses spoke very good English. I found it easier to attach myself to the nurses who spoke the most English and they were always willing to teach you what they know. I also went on ward round with the Doctors. They were brilliant, spoke English throughout and were very keen to teach. I did find it very hard at the beginning to see the conditions that the nurses have to work in, but after a while I accepted it and began to learn from them. It amazed me to look round at the children and their mothers and see how happy they are considering how little they have. That was a real eye opener for me.
Travelling at the weekend was incredible. We explored over the whole of Sri-Lanka. We went on all means of transport, from the busy busses for 9 hours to the posh trains where we had meals! We visited Argugam Bay where we met lots of other travellers and had a BBQ on the beach. We climbed Siguria rock, visited Trincomalle and Pigeon Island and many more amazing trips. My favourite was going to the elephant orphanage, we got to ride and wash them and even feed the baby orphan elephants.
The one thing I regret not doing was the Ayurvedic week, all my friends came back from going and said it was the best thing they did. If I had my trip again I would have gone there 100%. Over all, I cannot find the words to describe my elective in Sri-Lanka well enough to do it justice. I honestly had the best 7 weeks of my life. I learnt skills I will take with me through my career as a children’s nurse and made good friends and memories that will stay with me forever. I also learnt a lot about myself. You will not regret going to Sri-Lanka, WTW were great at organising my trip, the staff in the house (especially Nandika) were excellent. You must go to Sri-Lanka and see this beautiful country – I’m jealous!