March 13, 2020, by Leah Sharpe
International Work Experience Grant – Ana’s story
By Ana Paredes Cimadevilla, nutrition and dietetics student
Are you interested in undertaking work experience in another country, but worried about the cost? The International Work Experience Grant can offer up to £750 to support you. Read on to hear about Ana’s experience:
I travelled to Mombasa in Kenya, with an organisation called International Medical Aid. The fee covered my accommodation and my food, as well as transport. I stayed over in the organisation’s accommodation, which consisted of four houses shared with all of the other interns.
My role as a nutrition intern consisted of going to the hospital every morning at 7.30am, Monday to Friday. I would stay at Coast Provincial General Hospital until lunch time and shadowed a nutritionist around the wards. I helped the nutritionists and doctors take care of the patients, help them take the patient’s anthropometric measurements, and participate in some lectures given by the hospital. I also experienced some night shifts (8pm – 6am) where I worked in the surgical room or emergency ward, helping doctors clean the equipment or talk to the patients.
In the afternoons we participated in outreach activities and went to primary schools and orphanages to teach children how to wash their hands and brush their teeth. We also donated food and clothes to orphanages that needed them. During the weekends we could visit Mombasa or participate in the activities organised by International Medical Aid.
Even though I was doing a nutrition internship, my biggest achievement happened while I was in the labour ward during a night shift. As the nurses were taking care of some patients, I kept hearing a patient scream in pain and asking for help. One of the nurses asked me to put on some gloves and to go and help her. I stayed right beside the patient and held her hand asking her to breathe with me. I poured water on her back to help her cool down and tried to distract her from the pain. The woman said she was very grateful and I think it helped her relax. I learnt that I don’t need to be an expert in a specific field to help someone. I did what I could with what I had, and in that moment it was enough to make the patient feel at ease at a lonely time.
The biggest challenge for me was to see patients with cancer and being aware that they didn’t have much longer to live. It was very difficult to face them and not to get sad but the rest of the team were very supportive in helping me deal with these situations.
This experience has allowed me to learn first-hand about another culture and country. Everyone in Kenya was so nice and helpful that it made my experience unforgettable.
My advice to other students
If you are thinking about doing overseas work experience or volunteering but you are still hesitating, my question to you is, what are you waiting for? I highly encourage anyone who is interested in this kind of experience to just go for it! It might be daunting at the beginning and you might not know what to expect, but I can guarantee that it will be a life-changing experience. Volunteering abroad is a unique way of meeting people from other countries, getting to know a different culture and work on something you are truly passionate about. I could not recommend this opportunity enough!
Feeling inspired? Find out more about the scheme and how to apply.