Sivani Inparaj, a final year medical student at Queen Mary University of London, and Turing Scheme grant recipient, gives us an overview of their hospital placement in France.
For my medical elective I chose to go to France and Paris seemed like the perfect city to select. My elective has been insightful for my future career prospects as I hope to one day practise medicine in France. I was able to go to France for my elective placement and the Turing Scheme greatly helped me. I worked in a hospital in the middle of Paris called St Antione for 5 weeks and was able to understand how healthcare in France varied from the UK. Moreover, I met some lovely people during my elective who I will be keeping in touch with even when I come back to the UK. I worked in the endocrinology department and all the doctors and medical students wore white coats which I found quite interesting. I felt that there was a stronger relationship between the patients and healthcare professionals in France than the UK. I had the opportunity to speak to patients, examine them, go on ward rounds, and attend theatre. Although my French wasn’t fluent, the Turing Scheme has given me this opportunity to improve my French, and I think I’ll continue learning French by watching French programmes. Luckily most medical terminology is quite similar in both languages.
Besides the hospital placement, the Turing Scheme grant I received allowed me to experience French culture as I was able to travel around Paris and even made a trip to the south of France! Paris itself is very beautiful and magical; the city is very busy but surprisingly people have time to greet each other. As French is the official language, it was quite difficult to understand what was going on, but most people tried to speak in English to help me understand. In Paris I visited the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées and took a boat down the river Seine where I went sightseeing. Although the Notre Dame had been involved in a fire accident, much of the building remained and was beautiful to see. I then took a stroll down the streets and had the famous and delicious French crêpes with Nutella. I also saw the Louvre which was quite unique and elegantly designed. As I stayed in the suburbs around Paris I was also exposed to a multicultural community and was able to try their food too. I particularly liked visiting Belleville to get bubble tea and La Chapelle to get some Indian/Sri Lankan snacks. Moreover, the pastry in France is impeccable. I had never tried a croissant that tasted so good. The madeleines were also a delight and by the end of the 5 weeks I had become obsessed with the boulangerie.
My trip to the South of France was so fun. I feel privileged that I was able to not only visit Paris but Cannes and Nice too. The South is very different from Paris. There are beautiful beaches, a much calmer lifestyle and you could stare all day at the scenery. I had to go to the Crossiere where the Film festival take place and take a picture on the red carpet! Although it rained whilst I was there it was still a pleasant experience.
I would highly recommend undertaking an elective abroad even if it’s in a country where you may not be familiar with the language. It’s a great opportunity to learn the language, learn about the culture and improve on interpersonal skills too. Personally, this experience has made me more confident as a person and I’m more open to experiment and try new things now whether it’s with food or travelling. Planning on how you’re going to use your time and knowing what you want to get out of the elective is useful, also don’t be afraid to ask people for other opportunities. I expressed my interest in ophthalmology which led me to sitting in with the retinal screening team in the endocrinology department. Look out for grants like the Turing Scheme as this was so helpful for covering essential expenses like the metro, food, rent and allowed me to go travelling. This has been an amazing experience for me, and I’ve made a lot of new memories too!