- Group:New College, Nottingham
- Age:17-21 years old
- Group Size:12 Students 1 Staff member
- Project:Medicine & Healthcare
- Destination:Madurai, India
Before we left
Being told you have the opportunity to go to India on a medical volunteer trip is enough to excite anyone, and then being told it would cost £2,000 each, it seemed too good to be true. For the last 18 months we have all worked together, gaining and improving our teamwork, social and communication skills, which wouldn’t only benefit us during our nursing careers but would also make the trip extra special as we would have all worked so hard to achieve it. We have spent countless weekends and two Christmas’ bag packing in supermarkets, organising Indian Bollywood nights, Greek Nights, raffling off donated products, selling cakes and washing cars for months to make this dream a reality.
Arriving in India
Three planes later and over twenty hours of travelling, we finally landed in Madurai, India. As we all walked off the plane we were all hit with the heat, along with the feelings of excitement and nervousness. We hadn’t even left the airport and the severity of the culture change was already upon us. We were greeted by our host, Daya when we arrived and he greeted us politely and instantly made us feel welcome, this definitely made the trip easier. He then took us to our hotel, home for the next 2 weeks.
The culture change in Madurai hit us hard and after having the culture work shop we realised our lives for the next two weeks would change dramatically in order to respect and fit into this new culture. Staff at the hotel and hospital made this adaptation really easy and made us feel so welcome while being miles away from home. Madurai itself is a busy, beautiful and interesting place as you never know what you will encounter from one day to the next. The colours, sights and smells were very different from what we were used to!
The Mission Hospital we volunteered in was significantly different from home, which excited us and encouraged us even more to get the most out of this opportunity. All the staff were keen to help and answered your questions before you even had to ask them! The experience we gained here was invaluable and helped to develop us both personally and professionally.
The anticipation of what the weekend trip would hold excited us. When we arrived we were amazed at the difference in our surroundings compared to the city of Madurai, as we were surrounded by vast amounts of greenery and a huge variety of wildlife in various sizes! This weekend trip allowed us to learn a lot about ourselves, helping us to build much stronger friendships and develop characteristics which will help benefit us during our nursing careers as well as developing the skills to overcome personal challenges. The views, sights and wildlife we saw here were incredible and no amount of words would do justice what we saw, experienced or felt.
The Best Bits
Getting the opportunity to volunteer in the Mission Hospital was definitely a once in a life time opportunity. Closely watching brain surgery and seeing a baby being delivered by caesarean section was incredible and something you could never experience while being at a college in the UK.
Venturing out into the jungle and trekking at 7 o’ clock in the morning was something most of us never thought we could do, and how proud we were after that jungle encounter with what we had just achieved.
Having the opportunity to visit the rural homes of those suffering from a mental illness was really interesting and inspirational as we all left feeling as though there a lot more which could be done to help those in need within these communities.
Our final night was spent with our host Daya and some of the Projects Abroad team. We all wore saris in respect of and to embrace this new culture. This night topped the two weeks off and made us feel thankful and grateful for this opportunity and for the life we have in the UK. Overall, spending two weeks in India with people who you’ve worked hard with to achieve it, who you’ve had the highs and lows with made the trip memorable, inspirational and exciting. We have all had such a positive experience and improved our team work, social and communication skills as well as our professionalism and gained a deeper understanding of morals and ethics in healthcare across different cultures.
The best two weeks of our lives as future health professionals had come to an end. We had adapted to countless culture changes, including food, the way we ate with our hand, how we stood, our hand gestures and body language, all of which was made easier by our Projects Abroad host, Daya and the local staff. We all said our thank you’s and goodbyes to Daya and the local staff as the trip wouldn’t have been the same without them. We were exhausted but the trip had been worth every tiring minute!
If I ever in my life get to experience nearly as half as good, enjoyable and as life changing as this, I will be extremely lucky. We are eternally grateful that opportunities like this are available to us.