My name is Filip and I would like to briefly tell you something about my exchange program in Thailand. I was admitted to the Department of Cardiothoracic surgery in the biggest and the oldest hospital in Bangkok – Sirriraj hospital. Both the hospital and the department were my first choice so I was extremely pleased when I had received the letter of acceptance 2 months before my internship started.
My CP contacted me at least once a month before my arrival to Thailand and she answered my questions willingly. Unfortunately, she couldn’t pick me up at the airport so I had to take a taxi. Because of the language barrier, it took me almost half an hour to explain the taxi driver where my dorm was. Therefore I would recommend you to write down the exact address and show it to a taxi driver, or just use Google Maps once you get there.
The dorm I was living in was contemporary and cozy. The hospital was just 10 minute walk from the dorm. For those who were more comfortable, there was a possibility to take a cab or a motorbike ride, which was being provided by local students. Especially the motorbikes are really popular in Bangkok. I shared my room with two other guys. The room was well-furnished including beds, study tables, wardrobes, air-condition, balcony and bathroom as well.
For the clinical rotations, the hospital was extremely accommodating. My day at the hospital usually started at 7.15 in the morning where I was participating in ICU rounds. Later we had conferences, where unfortunately everybody spoke in Thai. Therefore the conferences were completely useless for me. On the other hand, breakfast was being offered at the entrance to the conference room so we could appease our hanger. The most interesting part of my stay at the hospital was obviously an operating theater. I was observing the most amazing surgeries I could imagine. After some days they let me to scrub in to surgeries. I was not only performing the small surgical procedures such as suturing the skin but they also let me to tie knots on the heart.
The social program was organized by local students. They made two official events for us. The first one was a dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya River and the second one was a trip to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand situated close to Bangkok. Apart from this, contact persons were hanging out with us in Bangkok all the time so we couldn’t complain about anything.
Another chapter of this amazing internship was food. In the first place, Thai food differs completely from what we are used to eat in Europe. Personally, I find Thai food interesting but not as exquisite as Indian food. Generally, they eat a lot of rice, noodles, vegetables and each kind of meet with spicy sauces. The food was being offered on the streets so I did not need to walk a mile to appease my hunger. During my duties at the hospital I usually ate a lunch in the hospital’s food court where the price for one meal was approximately one euro. Unluckily, the stuff did not speak English even the names of foods were in Thai language. I must confess that every time I ordered a meal it was a shot into the dark.
Local people are very kind and willing to help. I have spent one month in the biggest city I have ever been to. If you are thinking about Bangkok as a place to visit, you should be prepared to spend hours in the traffic jams. Basically you cannot get anywhere without a taxi or a “tuk tuk” as an alternative. On the other hand, this kind of transport is really cheap and affordable but you better ask for the taximeter otherwise you will pay a lot. During our stay in Thailand we also had a lot of time to explore the breathtaking nature, especially during the weekends.
To sum up, I would highly recommend anyone who is planning on doing an exchange program to choose Thailand because of its stunning nature and unique culture.