If I were to describe my experience with Work the World in Cambodia I would label it exhilarating and challenging.
Coming into the trip, I was both excited and anxious about what to expect.
Naturally, several questions came to my mind — “How do I get a Visa?” “What will I be doing day to day?” “How can I cope with the cultural change?” “what can I expect from the staff at the Work the World house?”
I had my questions answered, and my concerns consoled by the professional, friendly and rapid responses from Work the World.
I still remember stepping off the plane in Phnom Penh.
The heat gave a lasting first impression, as did the friendly face of the member of Work the World’s Cambodia team who was there waiting to meet me.
The following day, the team introduced me to local culture and the Phnom Penh way of life.
I was both surprised and intrigued by the bustling city. During the day, there were street markets, tuk-tuks and many thousands of Cambodian people going about their business.
Then there was Phnom Penh by night. Two of my housemates — already in the Work the World house when I arrived — helped me experience this firsthand.
As I started the first days of my hospital placement, one of the local doctors took me under their wing. He was an excellent medical practitioner and teacher.
Not only did I learn proper clinical medicine, but I was also given the opportunity to meet other doctors, surgeons and specialists from across the country.
I chose surgery and ICU as my main placements. The hospital presented me with a lot of opportunities to understand the different procedures and medical styles of teaching typical of Cambodian practice.
I noticed the contrast between the Australian and Cambodian healthcare system and how it operated for the patients.
During my placement, the doctor also took us out to lunch and dinner on several occasions! It was experiences such as these that critically shaped my delight at my placement.
I remember one particular case extremely clearly. I scrubbed into surgical theatre and assisted in a hernia mesh replacement surgery. I had the opportunity to use the suction device as well as perform sutures on the patient at the end of the operation.
This was definitely an eye-opener, as it allowed me to appreciate the intricacies and difficulties associated with surgery in a developing country.
One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Cambodia was because I had never experienced a Southeast Asian country. The culture, the people and the tourist attraction sites were absolutely stunning.
One weekend, I travelled to Koh Rong Island, spending two days exploring the province. It was a spectacular trip.
We snorkelled, went on boat trips, watched bioluminescent plankton at night, stayed at resorts and experienced Cambodian island life. It was a trip like no other, and was extremely exciting.
One of the greatest things my Work the World trip provided me was the opportunity to meet new people.
I loved the staff members that worked at the house. The team were resourceful and kind. The housekeeper, language teacher and catering team were all extremely helpful and friendly.
They were fun to talk to and played a critical part in making our trip the experience of a lifetime.
For anyone thinking of coming on a Work the World placement, I highly recommend you give it a go. It will be one of the greatest things you ever do.