This summer I travelled to Groningen in the Netherlands to take part in a summer school on global health. The course was targeted at medical sciences students from all over the world. This was the perfect opportunity for us all to learn from each other about the challenges, similarities and differences which we face in health care and medicine across the globe.
I have written this over and over again and it’s difficult to put into words the truly amazing experience that I had. I study biomedical sciences and wish to pursue a career within global health so applied for the course to gain more experience and knowledge in this field. Before leaving I was apprehensive for many reasons. Firstly, was this the right move for me? Would I enjoy the course or would I find that global health was not for me? Secondly, I was excited to meet people from different cultures with different life experiences from myself but I was worried. What if we didn’t get on? What if our experiences were too different? Finally, I was travelling on my own. What if something went wrong and I didn’t know how to deal with it? What if they made me ride a bicycle? I can’t ride a bike and it is the Netherlands after all!
It turned out all of these worries that I had before leaving were completely unnecessary! I loved the course and I loved the people even more! Although there were often differences in opinion this made for interesting debate and discussion rather than conflict. As for riding a bike… well, that was one thing I was right about. We stayed about a ten-minute cycle from the university and were given bicycles for the duration of our stay. I can’t say I loved this part of the experience but it definitely challenged me in a way that I hadn’t expected. On the first day one of the Dutch girls looking after us likened me to a person who’d had a few too many alcoholic drinks… But now I can ride a bike!
The course was great, we covered so many aspects of global health and it really strengthened my desire to pursue this as a career. It was organised by a committee of medical students at the University Medical Centre Groningen, where our course took place. The committee were a wonderful group of girls who looked after us and made sure we were kept busy with plenty of socials, games and of course a fantastic educational program. I made some wonderful friends from all across the world this summer and I am so grateful to have met them. I’m already planning my round-the-world trip to visit them all!
I would like to thank the Principal’s Go Abroad fund for allowing me this opportunity which has inspired me to never stop campaigning for better health care worldwide. I have also met some of the most amazing people. It was a summer that I will never forget.