Summer internship in Lebanon, Beirut was unforgettable experience that I will happily think of for the rest of my life. When I was deciding which country to pick I hoped to go to Nordic countries but never have I thought I will end up in the middle east region When I told someone where I was going their immediate reaction was whether it is safe! The stereotypical way of thinking of this region is common yet out of place. I never had doubts about my chosen destination and since I had some before knowledge about Lebanon – its history, cultural and intellectual legacy – I was getting pretty excited for the adventure.
Beirut is a beautiful, chaotic, deceiving, magical and mainly diverse city. Very noisy and busy beyond anything I knew before. Never I have seen in my life such crazy and dangerous traffic as here. Crossing a street requires focus and skill. Public transport was a vague term and transportation in general was a problem. We used system of taxis where you had to deal a price before you entered. Since we were basically tourists they tried to rip us of most of the time – just don’t take it personally, it is just a business. It helped to be in groups of 3-5 people to get the best price or I can highly recommend UBER to save yourself from all the stressful situations that may and will arise. Other than that Lebanese people are very friendly and welcoming. They are always up for a conversation or when in need they will immediately try to help you. Most of the citizens speak English/ French rest is Arabic. Food was provided in hospital – little morning snack, lunch and even sandwiches for dinner. One last recommendation that I have to urge – bring anti-diarrheic medicine, you will need it.
For my clinical exchange I was placed to obstetrics and gynaecology department. The best part about my clinical rotation was that I joined local students from Lebanese American University. This meant that I was fully immersed into teaching process as if I was one the local students. This included lectures, discussions and hands on experience. I also had the opportunity to observe how the teaching process were different to my education system from which I have come from. It was eye opening and valuable experience. It also made more aware of the differences between American healthcare system versus European since the first one was here present.
What really made my experience stand out was all the amazing international students that I have met and spent time with. We were accommodated in university dorms – gender separated. Accommodations were excellent with air-conditioning and bathroom. We were more than 40 international students all together – placed at different accommodations and universities. We all met during the weekends where local IFMSA students organized trips for us. Here I would like to praise the local committee for their amazing commitment and work. All our trips were paid and were so exceptionally organized that I just have to urge you to not think twice and go to Beirut. Because of these trips we were able to see much further parts of beautiful Lebanon. Of course our trips brought even greater stories and most importantly helped in strengthening the friendships that had arisen among us.
In conclusion I would like to say a big thank you to IFMSA organization for making this possible. Beirut as an opportunity is an adventure that should not be missed.