I decided that I would like to do an international placement during my time at university in order to widen my clinical and cultural knowledge. I chose to travel with Work the World because they seemed very organised and passionate. I also heard very good feedback from my friends who had recently completed the program in another country and they had spoken very highly of it. I sent in a query and soon enough Work the World was in contact, offering me assistance and consistent communication over the phone. They ensured that I was well prepared before arriving in a foreign country and made me feel very safe to travel to the other side of the world.
My placement at the hospital was very interesting. I was placed in the hospital pharmacy and soon came to understand that the role of pharmacist here is very different to those in Australia. They were very efficient in providing the staff and patients with the medications and equipment they required, however their role in the clinical side of patient care is very minimal. As I was hoping for a more clinical placement, the Work the World (WTW) and hospital staff happily organised for me to follow a doctor around, giving me an opportunity to see how they prescribe and use the medications.
For most of my placement, I was working in oncology and oncology surgery. There were some really interesting cases, including ones that I’d never seen before in Australia. Although they limited in resources, medications used here are pretty similar to those back home. I was able to see a lot of the chemotherapy drugs and the drugs used by the anaesthetist in surgery.
There is so much to do in Arequipa and Peru that you never get bored. I was there for five weeks and travelled around the country on all four of my weekends. There are an endless number of activities you can enjoy, from chocolate making to a 3-hour downhill mountain bike, there are suitable activities for everyone. Travelling is also very convenient as there are overnight buses to other major cities in Peru. Most trips will only take 2-3 days, meaning it is possible to adventure on the weekend and return to work the next week.
The main highlight of my trip was definitely visiting Machu Picchu and Huacachina, they were both only a weekend trip away! Machu Picchu had the most stunning views and beautiful Inca structures. Huacachina was a more active trip, including buggy rides and sand boarding down some amazing sand dunes.
Most Arequipians speak Spanish and very minimal to no English. This tested my ability to communicate with hand gestures and a Spanish dictionary, but the people there are really friendly and patient, so it is a good environment to learn a new language.
Upon reflection of my time in Arequipa, it was definitely well worth the experience. I have really enjoyed the 5 weeks I had in Arequipa; the locals were friendly and nice, the staff were informative and supportive, and the other students have now become my new lifelong friends. Thank you to all the people that have made this exciting and memorable trip possible.