Greetings from small university town Potchefstroom! It is situated in the North West province of Republic of South Africa. My two months of exchange are nearly over now, since I’ll be flying home in a weeks time. Even though my stay has been a wonderful experience, I’m also waiting to get back home where the electricity is available 24/7, and it will be safe to walk on my own.
During my exchange period I have mainly done practical training in local hospitals and clinics, but also visited a lecture and a sim lab at the campus. I have seen that many health care facilities don’t always have such basic things as antiseptic solution or examination gloves available. Because of this,I have surely learned how improvise.
Studying here seems to be quite laborious for local students. Their theory exams focus a lot more to small, detailed information than ours in Finland. They also do have practical exams, during which they have to show a teacher that they remember how to do a health care procedure such as abdominal examination. During the practical exam the teacher has a list of things that a student has to say or do, and if an examinee forgets something it will take out points from perfect 100. In practical training students carry along their portflio that is basically a stack of forms they will fill up while successfully doing procedures required by the school.
Spare time here has been limited mainly by three things: Load shedding (scheduled power outages), poor safety situation and lack of public transport. While back home I’m able to watch tv, cook or charge my phone any time, here one has to plan out everything that needs electricity according to the blackout time tables. Taking a nice evening walk, especially alone, is out of question, because violent crimes are too common. Getting around here can be quite a task since there is virtually no public transport. I made a weekend trip to Kruger national park with two other exchanges students, and since none of us had a international driver’s license (nor was willing to drive among the daring locals), it took some time and planning. But the trip was really worth it. The scenery alone was breathtaking, and we were able to spot “the big five” among many other animals in just two days.
If you are yet to visit South Africa I highly recommend doing it. People are very warm and welcoming, and the nature is very diverse and beautiful. I can see myself coming back here for a holiday despite all the negative things.