My name is Alexandra Barkolová, Iam 22 years old and I am currently studying medicine at the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. The one thing I enjoy more than studying medicine is – travelling. Combining the two of my greatest pleasures could be hard, but not impossible.
Thinking about how Iam going to spend the summer of 2021, I came across the idea that I should apply for a medical clerkship. I immediately contacted our Leo, which was Zuzka Velická and asked her about my options. Since it was already January, Zuzka informed me that unfortunately, my options are limited, but there might be the last free spot for a clinical clerkship in Egypt. However, to reserve a spot, I would have to finish the necessary papework within a week. I did not have much time to think about it, but I was intrigued by the idea of „clinical“ clerkship considering I have only finished the second year of med school at that time. I finished the paperwork and paid the fees, but kept is a secret from my friends and my family. I knew my family was full of prejudices and I was not ready to be confronted with questions I did not know the answers to.
The 28th of June. I arrived at the airport, where I met for the first time with Lucka and Sima. Lucka and Sima were 4th year med students, also from Slovakia. They were full of expectations due to the little knowledge we had about the city or the hospital we were accepted for. We all unpacked „Slivovica“ (national alcohol) from our backpacks, all three of us took a big sip – ready for our adventure to begin. We arrived to Sohag, a city on the west bank of the Nile. The local Leo – Yasser, came to introduce himself, gave us all the necessary information and continued to take care of us on a regular day-to-day basis for the entire month. Other local students, Daba in particular, were always there for us. We felt very welcome, included and safe at all times. Not only were they responsible and caring, but they became our genuine friends.
All three of us got accepted for the Department of Plastic Surgery. We were attending hospital during the week – Monday till Thursday. We gained a lot of hands-on experience. Since Sohag is overpopulated city and people tend to get injured very often, the doctors at the hospital are fully employed at all times and initiative students (like us) were very appreciated. All we had to do was to ask:„Can I do this?“ and the doctor would say: „Yes, let me show you how“. From a student perspective it was a very valuable experience as in Slovakia it is often very hard to actively participate and engage in surgical procedures.
Every Friday to Sunday we went for a trip. Our contact people paid a lot of attention to our free time and wanted us to make the most of it. We went to Hurghada where we swam with the dolphins, went for safari and had a lot of fun. During the following weekends we also went to Aswan, where we visited Nubian village famous for its spectacular architecture. We also went to Luxor. Luxor is famous for its temples and history, it was very educational. In Luxor we also flew in air hot baloon. Very memorable was also trip to Siwa, where we met with all the international med students in the entire Egypt during July. We made a lot of international connections and friends all around the world. We were camping in the middle of Sahara together and this experience brought us all closer. Our last trip was to Dahab. Dahab is very laid back city with many tourists. We spent a lot of time at the beach, snorkling and sunbathing. It was a great end to our trip.
Overall I rate my experience 10/10. This clerkship exceeded my expectations. Not only I gained a lot of clinical experience, but I also enjoyed my summer to the fullest. I left a piece of my heart in Egypt and Iam very thankful for this opportunity.