I went to the Merida, which is a state located in Yucatan, Mexico. From a young age I have been interested in learning Spanish. During my first year at university I chose to take an outside course in Spanish to develop my language skills. When the opportunity arose for me to experience time in a hospital abroad, I jumped at the chance. I chose Mexico because it is a Spanish speaking country so I could learn Spanish which is relevant to my degree. Within Mexico I chose to go to Merida as it has one of the best teaching hospitals in Yucatan, which is also a public hospital which lacks resources overall providing me with unique learning opportunities.
Mexico was my first time living in a new country, living in a different country away from my family and friends. One of my biggest fears was not being able to communicate and be understood which would negatively impact relationships I hoped to build with people in the Mexican hospital. I was worried about how I was going to fit in with Mexican culture and if I would be safe. While I was in Mexico, I was cautious about where I went after dark, just as I would be in any country. I never once felt unsafe and I have to say every Mexican I met was friendly and were keen to learn English just as I was keen to improve my Spanish. Mexican culture is laid back which was a shock for me as I live a busy life, although I enjoyed having time to relax and do things at my own speed. I have never felt less stressed than during my time in Mexico and I believe it is because of their relaxed ‘mañana’ culture.
While in Mexico I attended Spanish school where I was able to learn and improve my Spanish. During this time my confidence improved, and I began to believe that I was going to be able to communicate a little, alleviating my fears of not being understood.
While observing in the hospital in Mexico I spent most of my time in the emergency department which was overcrowded with queues of 50+ people waiting in the corridor, sometimes waiting there for days. I learnt how to deal with emergencies using minimal resources and equipment which often resulted in patients becoming sicker rather than better. A lack of resources meant that staff and patients could be at risk in the event of a non-medical emergency e.g. a fire.
Overall, the past few weeks in Mexico has been an experience I will never forget, it has made me grow as a person, become more sensitive and my eyes have been opened to the reality of non-government funded healthcare. I have made memories and seen things which will stay with me forever, some brilliant some upsetting and some horrific.