what med school should look like all year round!
lazing at the beach learning medicine with our apple products
I'm one week into my latest IFMSA exchange in Malta and am loving it! How could you not? The architecture is gorgeous, the people are incredibly laidback and I have forgotten what a cloudy day looks like!
I arrived here last Thursday with my 'rich lady sun hat' (as Andrew calls it) in hand ready to start my month-long, sun-filled adventure in Malta under the pretence that this holiday is critical to my medical education 😊 My first impression of Malta was indicated by instantaneous back sweat as I stepped off the plane. To say it is hot here would be a gross understatement! I'm not complaining in the least though - my skin hasn't seen the sun for at least a year, and it wold probably be a safe bet that I am among the whitest Maltese residents at the moment. The Mediterranean climate is fabulous and although I was quite surprise to be honest at the complete lack of anything green in the landscape. Even the grass is dried out and yellow.
I was picked up by a Maltese student who laughed at me as I absent-mindedly got into the drivers side of the car (a remnant
my new favourite Maltese beer - now a staple part of my diet :)
of when Malta was a British colony...). He brought me to my flat which is about 15min walk to the hospital near the capital city of Valletta. I live with 5 other exchange students - two other Canadians, a Turkish and a Portuguese student and my roommate who is from France. Our flat is surprisingly nice and so far we are all getting along well. Malta is the top destination for international students in the IFMSA program so in total there are 22 international students here from all over the world - although most are from Europe. Canada is well represented though! We all live in pods of 6 or so in different flats, although we have been getting together often to watch the world cup games. Tomorrow we are all going to tour one of the older cities and on the weekend we'll be going to Malta's sister islands - Comino & Gozo which are less populated and apparently gorgeous.
My days are slowly falling into a routine. I've started to FINALLY figure out the CRAZY bus system here and have at last found a grocery store that is open in the afternoon (all shops are closed between
the before photo...
I am currently the whitest kid on the island
noon and 4pm since it's so hot - everyone heads out for a siesta which makes getting anything done at that time impossible!). I start at the hospital around 8:30am and work until about 12:30 or 1pm (I know such a hard day!) at which point my preceptor tells me to go hit the beach. Obviously I comply and head on the bus to the nearest swimming spot about 10min away and to sun worship and swim in the Mediterranean for the afternoon. Don't worry - I won't come home with melanoma... I have learnt not to go anywhere until about 3pm when the sun isn't so strong! So far, I have swam at least once or twice a day in the sea. You are never far from somewhere where you can jump in which is fantastic. It isn't sandy like the beaches you see on the postcards - the coast is mostly limestone and you can take a dip just about anywhere. The other day Andrew (a fellow NOSMer) and I got lost on the bus but it was no big deal since we just ended up getting off somewhere (who knows where!? haha) and walked across the road
Our daily routine in the afternoons consists of Andrew fishing and me sleeping/reading/sunbathing
to the water and spent the day swimming!
Clinically, this experience so far is in stark contrast to my exchange last year in Rwanda. Malta has a well-developed, well-funded public health system. The hospital is huge, brand new and services the entire island (population of 400,000ish). My exchange is in pediatrics and my preceptor is welcoming and very patient . It has been quite interesting clinically and I'm learning lots. Unfortunately, patients and docs mostly speak Maltese but the charts are in English so I'm getting by. Andrew and I have been having some very productive beach sessions and we are thinking of maybe proposing to NOSM to continue to do med school from the beach with our Apple products! Between the hundreds of textbooks, podcasts, etc on Andrew's iPad and my iPod, we usually discuss whatever we had seen in clinic that morning until our interest fades and I fall asleep while he dives for fish 😊
So, I'm getting along quite well over here! I'd love to hear from any of you so shoot me emails if you can. I have internet access at the hospital so I can hopefully stay in contact pretty well.
The view from our swimming spot
Much love and hope everyone is well in Canada.
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