University of Colorado, Colorado Springs 2018
The Work the World house in Kathmandu was beautiful.
Breakfast was bright and early and the Work the World catering team always made an array of different foods to choose from. My favourites were the mini pancakes with sliced sausage and egg served up on Thursdays!
In the afternoons, we relaxed at the house and caught up on our tans, read books, or swam in the kiddie pool some of my housemates bought to cool off in!
Most afternoons, however, we were out and about in Kathmandu touring temples, shopping, and other fun activities.
Dinners were feasts! There was enough food for everyone, which was around 10 people while I was there. We could all have seconds and even thirds if we wanted. Popular dishes were veggie and chicken momos (Nepalese dumplings), lasagna pizza, fruits, veggies, and fish & chips.
There were several benefits of living with other healthcare students. For starters, we were all nervous about starting our placements in a foreign country. That was a common ground that I, and many of the people I met in the house, used to break the ice and make friends.
It was also that everyone was on a different track (i.e. nursing, medicine, radiology, etc.), and gave in depth explanations of their fields.
The fact that many of the students were from different countries around the world gave rise to questions about how healthcare was conducted in their home countries.
When I think of all the cases I saw during my time in Kathmandu, two stand out.
The first involved a premature newborn in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The baby was born with an abdominal cyst. There was an excessive mass of tissue growing on top of the baby’s liver. This mass caused the baby’s abdomen to swell to point that the baby looked like he’d swallowed a large round object.
The baby was in this state for a little more than a couple days after his birth. He went to surgery and the cyst was removed. The next time I saw him, he was drinking milk properly and the swelling in his stomach had gone down significantly. He no longer cried constantly and was an absolute delight to take care of.
The second interesting case was a baby I met in the neonate ward. He was born with Prune Belly Syndrome. In short, this baby was born without abdominal muscles. His internal organs were not tucked in as ours are, but instead were spread out and somewhat visible through his skin.
As with the other baby, he couldn't receive anything by mouth and had to have a urinary catheter placed. His urine was black and bloody at times, so the catheter had to be changed frequently. Sadly, the baby’s prognosis was not positive and the plan was to attempt abdominal reconstruction surgery.
Outside of placement, my housemates and I spent a lot of time shopping in the markets of Thamel. There was so much to see and do there. There were coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and other stores where we bought trinkets, clothes, books, tea, soap... you name it.
If we weren’t in Thamel, we were at one of the three Durbar Squares in Kathmandu. Sometimes, we went to a nearby hotel pools cool off.
Another place we visited was the Garden of Dreams. It was a gorgeous place, built for an empress (literally).
Another fun thing to do before placement was the Mt. Everest flight. We got up well before the crack of dawn to be at the airport on time, but the 30-minute flight was so worth it. The views of the mountain as the sun came up were breathtaking.
During my second weekend, my housemates and I traveled to Pokhara. We stayed at a beautiful hostel right next to a lake. There were a multitude of restaurants, bars, and shopping stores along the waterfront.
We spent our first full day there paragliding, visiting underground cave, hiking up to the Peace Pagoda, hiking up Sarangkot to see the sunrise, and visiting Davis Falls!
The following weekend, I traveled to a Jungle Resort in Chitwan. I saw elephants, visited the local village and learnt about their history, took a canoe ride down the river, and hiked into the jungle to visit the crocodile farm.
The trips were very memorable, and I was glad I took the time to go!
I experienced two permanent and memorable things that I will always associate with my trip to Nepal. The first thing I experienced was the welcoming kindness of multiple nurses and doctors in both departments I visited during my four-week stay. It broke my heart to have to leave.
I honestly wish I could have extended my stay.
If you can take the time to go on an internship abroad, I strongly recommend that you do it. With the right attitude and work ethic, you’ll meet people you adore, visit places you’ve never been, and create memories that’ll last a life time. You won’t regret it.