I needed to do a global placement and I’d always wanted to travel to South America. Travelling to Peru with Work the World seemed an obvious choice!
This also seemed like a perfect opportunity to throw myself in at the deep end and improve my Spanish language skills.
My first week in the hospital was eye-opening. It’s hard to know even where to begin with the differences.
As the weeks went on, I quickly adapted to Peru’s approach to physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy in Arequipa was very different to what I was used to in Australia.
Back home, physios assess and treat patients independently from doctors. In Peru, doctors still make all the primary decisions and are the only professionals allowed to prescribing specific treatments.
While we would consider a lot of the treatments and techniques used outdated, they really do what they can with limited resources and limited access to up to date research.
Everything about the local healthcare system was so different to home, and it was sometimes confronting. Having an open mind was essential to getting the most from the placement.
Many of the cases were similar to what I might see at home, but often a lot more severe due to the long waiting times often required to access the healthcare system in Peru.
Patients’ understanding of health was particularly low. Physiotherapists did their best to educate patients, but the approach to healthcare lacked urgency and efficiency in all areas when compared with Australia.
The experience in the hospital here made me immensely grateful for the Australian healthcare system.
Honestly, I fell in love with Arequipa itself. It was a beautiful city — vibrant, chaotic, and there was always something new to try throughout my time there.
The weekend trips were also a highlight — I hiked Colca Canyon (it was physically hard but worth it), Rainbow Mountain and had one weekend exploring the city of Arequipa itself.
I was lucky enough to be able to travel after I’d finished my placement with Work the World. It allowed me to see more of the country than I would have otherwise been able to. If you have the time, I strongly recommend you stay on longer.
Next, a few words of encouragement for fellow students thinking about undertaking a placement with Work the World.
First of all, do take up the opportunity to do a placement overseas — you won’t regret it!
Secondly, do try and learn some Spanish beforehand. I would also really recommend undertaking Work the World’s in-country Intensive Spanish Course. It taught me some handy things, and the people of Arequipa really appreciated me speaking the language!