Report of exchange in Catania, Sicily
I did an exchange in the hospital Policlinic “G. Rodolico-San Marco”, in the pediatric haemato-oncology department. It was one month long during August 2021.
The hospital was only 20 min by foot from the dorms and was renovated not long ago. I was mostly going there in the morning until lunch. At 2 pm I was meeting with my friends to go to the canteen or the hospital cafeteria. For me it was a late hour to have lunch, but it was considered normal to eat after 2 pm in Sicily (for example even the restaurants were not opening before 19h30 for dinner…).
My experience in the hospital was intense. I was in contact with many kids with leukemia and I observe how they were treated. I got close to a few of them (as they were living into the hospital) and to have prolonged contact with them changed me. It was a really good experience to see the children as patients and to communicate with them. Of course, the communication with the parents were also important. Many situations were heartbreaking, and some days were terrible. Some children got sick, and we couldn’t do anything. Another hard day was when I saw a 16-year-old girl diagnosed for the first time with a cancer… Not being able to help a patient or to give good news was a real struggle for me.
I was mostly following a doctor, and even if the communication between us was not easy (generally the English level was pretty bad), she was always trying to explain me the best she could. All the department were almost like a family, and everyone was nice with me. I could help and participate in a lot of procedures.
The time I had with the incoming was amazing! They were at least 40 people from 15-20 different countries. I talked to a lot of them and learned a lot about their cultures, ideas, and traditions. Even now we stayed into contact almost every day. I had a Romanian roommate, and some of my neighbors were from Denmark, Germany, Tunisia… I will remember all these meetings for a long time!
Unfortunately, I was also having to study to pass an examination. I had to do my pathophysiology examination. So, I couldn’t go almost everyday to the beach like I wanted but I had to come back home to write some notes and repeat my oral questions. I successfully passed my exam at the beginning of the third week and then I finally could enjoy the trips, my friends, and the hospital to the fullest.
Each weekend we were having a trip organized by the Italian team of CP. Even if “organized” is a big word. We found ourselves a lot of time waiting under the Sicilian sun because they forgot something, or we got lost. But even if there were some problems, the opportunity that they gave us was amazing. I could see most of Sicily, discover many monuments, and eat a lot of granitas. It was a beautiful island!
I had a really good time, and all the month was an amazing experience. The Italian team was really nice and took pretty good care of us. I definitely recommend other people to do this exchange!