I did a two-week placement as a nursing student in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania through Work the World last summer. I chose Dar es Salaam because I wanted to see a part of the world I hadn’t visited before. I have always liked being different and 99% of the people I know have not been to Africa. I can easily say that I made a really good choice when I chose to go to Dar es Salaam.
When I arrived on my first day at the hospital, I remember thinking how different it was from hospitals in the US. Hospitals in the US are usually one big building with different specialities on each floor. The hospital in Dar es Salaam was much smaller and to get to a different ward you had to walk outside to another building, or through a connecting hallway. It was very open once you got inside the complex, but of course very hot and crowded. That didn’t bother me much as I was excited to get started with my placement.
I learned how to be resourceful and how to make the most out of the things I had.
Even though I could greet people and understand simple questions, communication was a big challenge at first. I learnt how to communicate with people I didn’t share a first language with and this will be useful to me when I am a nurse. I learned how to communicate with people in non-verbal ways such as using facial expressions, acting things out, pointing at things and drawing things out.
During my time in Dar es Salaam, I learned how to be resourceful and how to make the most out of the things I had. I learned how to respect others’ views even if they differed from my own, and how to have conversations about these views. I learnt how to respect another culture and how to not be judgmental when things were done differently to what I am used to. And of course, I did learn a lot clinically, especially about things that are not as common in the US, such as HIV and malnourishment.
I think it helped me grow as a person.
You will see some things that are really sad and I have experienced feelings I never have before, but I think it helped me grow as a person. It is also important to take time for yourself and to take care of your own feelings too. Hospitals are not always the happiest of places, but it’s a special feeling being able to help someone through what could be the worst time of their life.
I was paired with a nurse and she taught me a lot about their culture and how they do things. I remember she would share her donut with me in the morning and I always looked forward to seeing her. It’s nice to bring some medical supplies to the hospital on your last day as a way to thank them, it made them really happy!
Outside of placement we had a lot of fun and did a lot of exploring. We were there for a short amount of time but wanted to see as much as we could. We went on a safari and took a ferry to Zanzibar for a weekend (I highly recommend both).
Everyone in the house was so welcoming and so interested in us because we were the only Americans. I really liked getting to know everyone in the house and learning about where they were from. There were a lot of people from Europe, and even some people from Australia. At night everyone in the house would go out to a local bar. I was there during the World Cup, so it was fun to go out and watch that. There was also karaoke every Thursday. All of the Work the World team were honestly amazing.
I highly recommend Work the World to anyone. Although I'm biased to Tanzania I think anywhere would be a valuable experience.
I was nervous about traveling alone to somewhere so far away, but I always felt safe and that I was in good hands. You have the freedom to do what you want, but there is always someone there to answer your question, guide the way, or if you needed anything. They were there to pick us up when we walked out of the airport and took us to placement on our first day. They even took us out to lunch and on a tour of the local area.
I wouldn’t change anything about my experience (except that I wish I went for longer) and will probably go somewhere else through Work the World again.