Martha completed her Psychology internship online! Over 8 weeks during the Summer of 2022 she learned so much and wants to share her experience from her time with Salma Prabhu Institute of Counselling.
I decided to do my internship online since I am working parttime and studying psychology at the same time and wanted some flexibility. When I started the internship at the Institute of Counselling, founded by Mrs Prabhu, I didn´t really think it would be such an amazing life experience. I expected a lot of classic clinical input but I got so much more.
The daily contact with Mr and Mrs Prabhu who are both psychologists was always constructive and friendly. They both really give all their heart into the internships, and my fellow interns and me which I also got to know while I was doing the internship felt it all the way. I got many insights on the daily life of a psychological counsellor and also learned so much on the many fields that Mr and Mrs Prabhu are covering with their work e.g organizational psychology, developmental psychology. Not only did I learn classic counselling skills, I also learned a lot about natural remedies in psychology and definitely changed my perspective on alternative therapy methods.
I´ve met specialists from different fields and learned from the online sessions with them. I also could apply a lot from my university knowledge in the internship and it came in handy in different situations. Mrs Prabhu always held close contact to all of the interns and encouraged us in our abilities. The knowledge and the wisdom I gained from her sessions are immense and I will make the best out of them for my further career in psychology.
I am looking forward to do another internship while doing my masters degree and I can just encourage everyone thinking about doing an internship at the SPIC to do it! The gain I got from this experience will accompany me a lifetime and I am very thankful it happened.
Ronja took part in our horse programme in Ireland in autumn 2021. For 3 months, she lived and worked at a stud farm in County Cork, Ireland. Her hosts run a very successful boarding yard as well as an equine hospital and train top quality competition horses.
Read here about Ronja’s experience in Ireland.
My journey began on 20 September 2021. I flew alone for the first time and even had to change planes in Amsterdam. That all turned out well and at Amsterdam airport I immediately met a girl who had also planned a ranch stay. When I arrived in Dublin, I took the bus that World Unite! had suggested prior my arrival. The journey to Cork, the second largest city in Ireland, took several hours – but I was able to observe the fascinating green landscapes and the left-hand traffic.
In Cork, I had to wait an hour for my host mother, Corinne, to pick me up at the bus stop. The Irish are not as punctual as the Germans, which I learned over the next three months. When she finally arrived, she was not alone. A red-haired girl with a dog on her lap greeted me and I was relieved to have a girl my age to ease my arrival. World Unite! had also reassured me of this beforehand, as they knew of another German participant would be there before me.
Then we went shopping right away and the girl told me everything about life and work at the ranch. We usually went grocery shopping with our host mother once a week. She often took us out for dinner or to the pub when the work on the farm was done.
The first days or weeks were very hard for me and I had to get used to the new living conditions. My room only consisted of a bed and a cupboard. But I used the room only for sleeping anyway – the other girls and I were usually busy from 8 am to 5 or 6 pm.
Our daily tasks were:
Feeding hay and concentrate (in the morning and in the evening)
Mucking out and sweeping about 10 stalls
Cleaning bridles and saddles
Washing, grooming etc.
Taking horses to the paddock and to the horse walker
Since I was there in autumn, there was a lot of leaves to sweep every day
Most of the horses on our farm were sport horses. That’s how we got in touch with the owners as well. Once a week a very nice trainer came and gave us a riding lesson. A training lesson in Ireland is different from the ones I was used to in Germany – our trainer always asked us what we wanted to train (jumping or dressage). He let us ride freely and improved during the lesson. We didn’t ride out, as there were only roads around. It seems, the Irish prefer to go on hunts.
We were also allowed to ride Corinne’s horses during our lunch breaks. As the work was very strenuous, especially in the beginning, I often preferred to take a nap instead.
Once a week, each participant received a phone call from the partners of World Unite! who are the direct contact on site. They always inquired about our well-being and had an open ear for our problems or worries. If you have problems with your host family, they also make it possible for you to change your host. Once, someone even came unannounced to check in with the yard owners and myself.
The girl who arrived before me left after one month and a new World Unite! participant arrived. This time I was the one with the dog on my lap to greet the new girl and to explain everything. The new girl owned two horses in Germany and came with more riding experience than me. Therefore, she was able to ride different horses a day from the start, went to shows and even gave the children riding lessons.
Each girl had her favourite horse on the farm. People took great care in finding out which horse suits you best to ride. My favourite horse was a chestnut called Zeus.
Then came a French girl who planned her whole trip by herself. I also travelled with her at the end. The other German participant had left after a stay of four weeks. We also had two days off per week, which we used for travelling. We visited Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher and the Christmas market in Galway.
On 20 December, I started my journey home. I almost missed my connecting flight in Amsterdam, but everything went well and I was so happy to embrace my parents after three long months.
Overall, it was a very nice but exhausting time that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss!
Thank you for your support, World Unite!
Do you love horses more than anything else? In Ireland, we can help you land jobs on horse ranches, stud farms and riding stables, offering you free accommodation and meals in exchange for work! You will not spend the whole day doing what you love most, but you will also learn how to get more independent and maybe launch your equine-related career!
Silke, a B.Sc in Psychology student from Germany did a 2 months remote psychology internship with World Unite! out of India.
Silke wrote to us: “I want to thank you and your colleagues again for the great support. World Unite! Is a very professional platform that I am recommending to my fellow students. Thank you very much for the great experience! I wish you at World Unite! ongoing success and wonderful experiences to you and the people who can get to know the world through you!”
You can read her full internship report here:
As part of my university studies for the B. Sc. in Psychology a practical internship is required.
My goals for my internship were to deepen my knowledge in counselling and in occupational and organizational psychology. In addition, I was very interested in learning more about mentoring (especially clients with pathological diagnoses) and about career counselling.
Because of the corona pandemic I was looking for an online internship.
Salma is a clinical psychologist and Rajesh an engineer with a lot of experience in psychometric testing, organizational psychology and conducting trainings and counsellings in the business sector. My deepest gratitude goes to both of them because they provided a very interesting and multifaceted internship.
Topics that were covered throughout my 2 months internship at SPIC were:
Career counselling for 10th graders and young adults
Tests that were used for the career counselling: GATB General Aptitude Test Battery, Raven´s Progressive Matrices, Otis test of intelligence, H.G. Bells personality inventory, Kuder´s Interest Test, PF Catell for 18 and above
Mentoring for teenagers and young adults who scored high on their personality tests to provide them with self-development strategies
Mentoring for clients with various requests and diagnose
Insights into organizational psychology (covering KRA (key result areas), KPI (key performance indicator) and competence level in companies and psychometric tests like 16 PF from Cattell or MBTI for recruiting and employee development)
Regular Courses such as “Basic Counselling Skills”, “Anger Management”, and “Weight Reduction”
Participating in online webinars about clinical topics and Para Olympics
As interns we were participating in the sessions as observers. Afterwards we wrote session reports about the sessions and about what we learned.
In the course “Basic Counselling Skills” we were also allowed to counsel one of the other participants to practice the learned skills.
Because of the pandemic situation Salma had to conduct most of her counselling and mentor sessions online. This made it possible for us interns to participate in the Google meet or Zoom sessions.
Salma is an open minded and intuitive person. She brings in a lot of power to create spaces for people to heal and especially to find their passion in life. Her and her husband´s believe is that when we are in the right profession, we are not laboring but enjoying what we do. If we get paid for what we enjoy we create win-win situations not only for ourselves but also for others. Therefore, we bring light into the world.
I very much enjoyed learning about the tests Salma and Rajesh use to give the young people and their parents a valid scientific background for their career path decisions.
In her sessions and courses Salma showed a lot of passion for the clients, the participants and the topics covered and managed professionally to motivate the clients and participants to work on their own development. I liked the way she uses stories from her own life to give tangible examples. Now and then she also relaxes and lightens up the situation with her humor.
Rajesh is a structured and humorous person. He offers a lot of experience in the field of organizational psychology. In his sessions he provided us in his witty and energetic way with extensive information and insights into his work.
Organizational wise Salma and Rajesh managed the online internship very well. In the beginning I had a preliminary talk with Salma so she and I could get to know each other. I was also provided with a written welcome instruction to my internship. Salma and Rajesh were always there for us interns when we had questions or requests.
The communication was done through WhatsApp in different group settings. We had a WhatsApp group for every topic: for each course a separate group, for the career counselling and mentoring sessions one group, for organizational psychology another group. In the groups we were notified when sessions would take place and were provided with the invitation link to Google meet or Zoom. In addition, we had contact through e-mail where we also sent our session reports to.
Throughout the 2 months it needed some flexibility from my side because Salma could most of the time provide the notifications of the sessions only on a short terms notice (one or two days in advance). That was due to the challenge that in the pandemic people do not want to plan too far ahead and were not always eager to do the session online. In addition, I would recommend to Salma and Rajesh to briefly explain to the interns the possibilities they can participate in. That is also a suggestion for the interns to specifically ask for sessions or observation possibilities in specific fields and topics they wish to broaden their experience and knowledge in.
Salma and Rajesh seem to very much enjoy working with people from around the globe and put a lot of heart into their work with the interns. If we came up with requests, they made it possible to address the topic or let us participate in a respective session. In addition, it felt for me like actually being there with them in India. They managed to relate on a deeper level with us.
I would like to thank you, Salma and Rajesh, for your passion, for your open hearts and for the insights you provided me with. Even if I did know already many of the techniques you use it was extremely beneficial for me to observe you and fine-tune my knowledge and skills. And I would also like to thank you for the people you connected me with in the sessions and courses. I felt a very nice connection between all of us. May you bless many students and clients with your passion and skills!
Here you can find all information about Silke’s remote psychology internship!Register now!
We asked Markus from Germany to tell us about his experience working for a sugar cane farmer on the small island of Miyakojima, roughly 300 kilometers away from Okinawa main island. He arrived in May 2020 and worked there for a month. With a smile he looks back at his extraordinary experience in the very south of Japan.
What was the farm like?
(laughs) Funny enough, I actually worked for some sort of Japanese Buddhist cult. I learned that they send the sugar cane harvest to their Buddhist headquarters, which is located near Osaka. Apparently they collect harvest and other goods from all sorts of places all over Japan and then sell it elsewhere. Every morning they’d also have like a morning prayer and at some point I had to join as well. But it sounds stranger than it was, the people were incredibly friendly and nice. I did some research and apparently there are a lot of peaceful Buddhist movements in Japan.
Why did you choose to work on a farm?
I wanted to live and work in Okinawa for a month, because I’d heard many good things about the island. So I contacted World Unite! and asked if it was possible to do farm work there. Eventually I got a job offer from a sugar cane plantation on Miyakojima and I thought: “Why not?”. So on May 26th I flew south.
What did you typical work day look like?
I’d wake up around 4:40am, take a shower and have breakfast. Then I’d talk to my housemates, pack my gear for the day and we’d leave for the fields, so that we could start at 6am. There were two shifts every day, the first was from 6am to 10am, and the second was from 3pm to 7pm. Like this, we would avoid the worst heat during the day. We would get around 40 degrees, which was tough. So every day was eight hours of work.
What I did was basically chopping off sugar cane and making it ready for transport. You could roughly break it down into five steps. The first step was to tear off the leaves from the top. The second was to chop off the sugar cane right above the root. Third step was to collect all the sugar cane plants and pile them up on a heap. The fourth step would be to tear the last of the leaves off and the fifth step was to tie them together, so they were easier to transport.
What did you earn with your work?
I earned 4500 JPY a day (~35 EUR). However, I didn’t have to pay for my accommodation nor for food.
How did you spend your free time?
During my free time I explored the island with my working colleagues, because many of them were there for the first time, too, just like me. Other than that I’d just relax and take it easy.
Did your Japanese improve during your time on the farm?
Yes, definitely. Interestingly, my boss was kind of a Germany-fan, and he knew some words. And one co-worker could speak basic English. But aside from that they only used Japanese. My co-workers were all super friendly, also my boss was really cool. I’m still in contact with all of them.
In general, all the people on the island were really nice, however it was also kind of funny and weird at the same time to be the only “white” person on the entire island. I was kind of an attraction for the people.
Did you experience any lows during your time?
I have to admit, there was one. It was the first day, the day before my actual work started. It was hot in my room, I couldn’t sleep and I knew I had to work outside in the heat the next day – that was when I was quite terrified of it all. But after that, it was fine and it all went well. But of course it was hard at first, and I discovered for myself that I don’t want to become a sugar cane farmer, at least for the long term. But at the same time I was glad that I’d done it.
What would you tell others who are thinking about doing farm work in Japan?
I think people should be aware what they get themselves into. Farm work is hard, physical labour and people should be really sure that they want to do that.
It is important to learn how to control or at least filter your thoughts. It sounds generic, but you have to keep thinking positively. If you have a positive mindset, you’ll have the most amazing time.
In terms of the beautiful island of Miyakojima, I’d say you should be aware that it is difficult to get off the island, especially if you can’t drive or you don’t have a car. I was glad my co-worker would give me lifts regularly, but aside from that there is hardly anything. You definitely can’t rely on the public transport.
Did this experience shape you as a person?
I would definitely say that this experience taught me new ways of thinking. The people on the island were insanely nice. They lead simple lives, but they are so genuinely happy and content, and I think I kind of absorbed some of that attitude. The people are always in a good mood and happy, and it really rubbed off on me. You learn to appreciate the little things, it all really inspired me.
What do you do now?
I arrived in Osaka on July 9th. I’m working in a guest house and izakaya, and I also live there. I’m thinking of working here for at least another month and after that, I’m not sure yet. But I’m thinking of staying in Osaka. My visa expires on April 18th, and I want to stay in Japan the entire 12 months that the Working Holiday Visa provides me.
Here you can find all information about Markus’ farm work. Register now!
As international travel is slowly picking up again, a remote internship is still a good alternative to travelling abroad for your international internship! It gives you the opportunity to gain intercultural experience and can give you a fresh look on your field of interest while communicating with a team from a different cultural background. Rina from Japan completed a remote internship in Myanmar. For 4 weeks, she supported a tour operator in Myanmar without having to leave her home country.
What did you do in your internship?
Firstly, I was able to deepen my knowledge of the tourism industry in Myanmar. I was getting into marketing research and created buyer personas, which had never done before! That was a valuable experience, that I will be able to use in the future.
I also researched the tourism sector in Japan and then created programs for the Japanese market, helping my internship partner to expand their business in Japan. I also created and uploaded a video to social networking sites. I really liked creating a new program for the tour operator. That was fun and I learned much about tourist attractions in Myanmar.
Did you have any worries before starting your internship? What piece of advice would you give to those who are thinking about participating!
I was worried that I would have problems communicating with my internship partner because all communication was in English. I was actually worried about many things at first, but thanks to the support of everyone at World Unite!, I was able to enjoy the internship and make the most of it! Whenever I asked for advice, they responded quickly and were really helpful.
I would tell anyone who is thinking about a remote internship to just go for it!
The internship allows you to deepen your knowledge in your field of interest and to improve your English skills. If you are thinking about working globally in the future, you should definitely participate!
What else are you taking with you from this experience?
This internship helped me to reaffirm my desire to work in the field of tourism in the future. I know now that I will deepen my knowledge in that area in order to create a future career! I realized that my English skills are still not good enough in order to aspire for an international career. So my next goal is to improve my English skills.
Here you can find all information about Rina’s internship. Register now and use your time at home effectively!
Annika from Germany decided to go to Zanzibar during the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020 and fell in love with the tropical island. She volunteered for 2 months and had a great time at the Mother Nature Conservation Camp. In today’s Blog post, she wants to share some of her experience.
The Mother Nature Environmental Conservation Camp
The Mother Nature Camp, surrounded by giant mango trees, climbing passion fruit plants and tall palm trees, will be my new home for the next few weeks. Apart from the Safari tents, there is a communal area with a large wooden table and benches, two hammocks and a ping-pong table. This is where we meet to eat our daily meals, play cards in the evening, do sports or drink tea. Those who prefer to spend some alone time can retreat to their tent, which the staff will not enter without asking. The tents are big, each has three bunk beds, a toilet and a shower corner. At night, you might hear the high pitch sound of the Bush babies, who come to visit regularly and climb the roofs of the tents. Our camp is right next to the small village Kitogani. There are no cafes or restaurants, but there are vegetable stands and a small supermarket at the side of the road where you can get a few things. In the evening, the Kitoganis like to sit in front of old tube TVs on the street, as if being in the cinema, and cheer to the football. I find it particularly exciting how gardens and courtyards are used intensively. What might appear messy at first glance turns out to be a functioning ecosystem, apart from the plastic waste lying around. The locals create something useful out of every root, bark, leaf and fruit. It is almost impossible not to feel home in the camp immediately – the volunteers are welcomed warmly like into a big family. I was able to reach out for help about everything that was on my mind and very quickly felt familiar with everything. Every day, Zainab cooks the most delicious kinds of local specialties. Even those who like to eat a lot don’t need to worry, because there is always a supply. Also vegetarian and vegan options are possible.
My arrival in times of Corona
I travelled to Tanzania during the corona pandemic and was concerned like many other people! My preparation and the staff of World Unite! – both internationally and on-site – made me feel more at ease and so I started my journey to Africa. My flight was postponed three times before I took off with Qatar Airlines. During the entire flight, I had to wear a protective visor in addition to the mouth and nose cover, but I had a whole row of seats to myself!
When I arrived in Zanzibar, Corona didn’t seem to be a big issue anymore. But it was very clear that the Zanzibari are suffering extremely under the economic crisis because of the lack of tourists.
What were my tasks?
After the first days of settling in, Mr. Mohammed introduced a weekly schedule with various activities that are important in development aid. The diverse activities give you an insight into the life of the locals, the life of the school kids and the animal world. If you are interested in a special activity or field don’t be afraid to communicate your wish – Mr. Mohammed will happily integrate this into the weekly plan. On a typical working day, you will work around 3 hours in the morning and another 2 hours in the late afternoon. Here are a few of the activities:
The Turtles & Tortoise Land nearby hosts green sea turtles and land turtles, such as the Aldabra giant tortoise. The tasks of the volunteers include collecting, feeding and cleaning the enclosures and animals. To do so, the sea turtles, which can weigh up to 60kg, are lifted out of the water with the help of the staff and then scrubbed off gently with sand and a brush.
Most of the time we work on plantations. Here we helped the local farmers to water, fertilize and pull weeds. I learned a lot about plants, including how to plant mangroves. The farm work only happens early in the morning and in the evening because it would otherwise be too hot.
Already as a young girl, I dreamed of teaching children in Africa. This dream has come true. As soon as we enter the class, the 4- to 5-year-olds happily welcome us with waving hands and loud screams of Jambo Jambo.
We were supposed to make the kids more familiar with English and so we taught them the days of the week, numbers up to 20, and songs.
And much more
There were many other activities, depending on the importance and needs of the local community. We helped with the construction of the school toilet or the mosque.
I also paid a visit to the local healer, who taught us on medicinal plants and their effects. We also spent a day with a local family and got an insight into their live.
The weekends are off – discover the contrasts of Zanzibar!
The weekends are off and begin on Friday afternoon. It’s up to you what you want to do and discover – the options are plenty!
I went on some great excursions that I mostly planned with the other volunteers, whom I befriended quickly. We visited the historic Prison Island, Stone Town and a Maasai village, went surfing and kite surfing, snorkeling, did yoga, and went to beach parties. We also went on a trip to Dar-es-Salaam and even on a fabulous safari on mainland. Most of the time, we visited breathtaking, paradisiacal beaches with azure-blue and emerald-green water. Paje Beach is only 15 minutes away by public bus (Daladala)!
Even on a distance as small as between the rainforest and the touristy beaches, the conflict of the island becomes very clear – the gap between poverty and wealth, simplicity and glamor, tradition and modern tourism. The houses of locals are made of clay and coral or are prefabricated buildings – gifts of Walter Ulbricht from a long gone GDR.
Compared to European countries, life on the island in the Indian Ocean is incredibly cheap. A ride on the Daladala to the beach costs the equivalent of € 0,17 and a visit to a local restaurant starts at € 2. For the Zanzibari, however, a fortune. The nursery school where I work asks for a monthly tuition fee of around € 1 but sadly, many parents are unable to pay this money. The majority have never left the island because of the extremely low income.
To the benefit of the environment, everything is used until it really falls apart and can no longer be repaired: worn out tires serve as fences or seats, old canisters as watering cans, empty rice bags as flowerpots and rags made from clothing scraps. Us, as tourists, should take this form of sustainability as an example.
The tourists can be found on the beach. Magnificent hotels with pools line the coast. The life of the tourists rarely mixes with that of the locals – rather they run parallel, except for when they come together in the exchange of fruit, clothes or handmade jewelry. You can see female tourists in skimpy clothes, while the majority of native women wear headscarves. Tourist attractions such as water sports are even rather expensive for us.
Our means of transport from camp to beach: Daladala
Since only a few Zanzibari have a motorcycle, let alone a car, the locals are dependent on the local bus – Daladala.
On the roofs of the truck-like vehicles, they transport everything from sacks of flour to bicycles. It’s also turbulent inside – there are banana plants, potato bags and canisters in the passageway while the driver often waits until all the seats are occupied. A bus is almost never considered to be too full. No matter how many people and sometimes chickens are in the Daladala, others who still want to join can squeeze in.
When I got onto the Daladala with my new girlfriend on a Saturday, everyone cheered and the driver played loud music. As soon as we set off, half of the passengers started dancing and made the bus shake. Among them, a group of teachers who were supposed to be working, but took the day off with the excuse to refresh our mind. They were a wild bunch who asked to be taking selfies with us afterwards. What a zest for life!
While I’m in the middle of the Zanzibari, the wind blowing through my hair and the sun setting outside, I can’t help but feel grateful for this unforgettable experience I had on Zanzibar!
When I came across the most important words in Swahili in my travel guide, Pole Pole (slow or easy easy) was listed among the top 5, which at first seemed random, but the I got it the day I arrived!
In Zanzibar, everything is very relaxed. Compared to hectic Germany, stress seems out of place in the life on the Tanzanian island. That also makes Zanzibar the perfect place to relax. You might get annoyed by long waiting times in the beginning, but I am sure you will soon notice how good it feels to slow down and understand the true meaning of sayings such as strength lies in calmness. My Zanzibar travel guide hits the nerve: Everything works fine – just differently.
Here you can find all information about Annika’s project.
How can you spend your time at home most efficiently during the Corona pandemic? Nicolas from Germany completed a Remote Internship in a Tanzanian microfinance organization. Read about Nicolas’ experience as a remote intern, in times when international travel is not easily possible.
Nicolas from Germany completed his remote internship at WEECE, a microfinance organization in Tanzania. The organization supports so-called “Village Community Banks” (Vicobas). These are an important instrument of development work, as they enable people who do not have access to conventional bank accounts and funds to finance their agricultural, small business and education projects for their children.
“The internship was a total success for me. First of all, I was able to improve my English language skills. I attended Skype meetings three times a week and worked with various members of the organization on topics related to microfinances (introduction to the country of Tanzania, profile of the organization, goals, challenges of the organization WEECE etc.).
I learned about the principle of microfinances and the importance of VICOBA organisations. We held small discussions and exchanged experiences at all of the meetings.
Due to the current situation (Corona), I was unfortunately not able to intern on-site and take on larger tasks. However, with the knowledge I acquired during my internship, I think I can effectively take on tasks on site in the future. Therefore, I plan to do an internship in Tanzania as soon as possible, once the current situation has improved. ”
Nicolas from Germany
Here you can find all information about Nicolas’ internship. Register now and use your time at home effectively!
Pia from Germany completed part of her medical elective at the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar. Here she reports on cultural differences in medicine, a typical daily routine in the hospital and how she spent her free time in Zanzibar.
Which internship did you do abroad and where?
I completed part of my mandatory elective at the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar, Tanzania. I went to Zanzibar together with a lovely colleague of mine whom I met in med school. I worked in the hospital for fifteen days and completed the remaining one and a half months of my elective in German hospitals. At German medical universities, we have to complete electives in medical outpatient facilities, which I chose to completed in Germany as well. At the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar I spent most of my elective at the pediatric ward but I also got to observe the work in the maternity ward every now and then.
During which semester did you do your medical elective abroad?
I did my medical elective during the term break of my 6th semester.
Please describe why you decided to do a medical internship / elective abroad.
I decided to do part of my mandatory elective abroad for many reasons: On the one hand, my friends in med school who had already done a medical elective abroad totally recommended this experience to me not only to develop my skills from a medical but also from a personal point of view. Some of these friends had completed their elective in Zanzibar and were absolutely thrilled about the experience. I’ve always wanted to get to know the medical system in another country and Africa was particularly interesting for me. I wanted to learn about the different health systems worldwide and be able to draw a comparison between Germany and a (developing) country. Another aspect that encouraged me to do my elective abroad was that I wanted to learn to be more independent and to improve my medical communication skills in English. And last but not least I was hoping to meet new people and to make international friends.
How did you come across World Unite!?
I found World Unite! on the internet. Their informative website spoke to me and after I had sent my inquiry, I quickly got a response from a team member who answered all my questions. I liked the fact that I could reach my World Unite! contact on WhatsApp and never had to wait long for a reply. Two friends of mine had completed their electives in Zanzibar through World Unite! before and I knew the organization was trustful and that everything had worked out well for them. Furthermore, I did not find many agencies offering electives in Zanzibar and I definitely wanted to go there, so the decision was easy to make!
Which departments of the hospital did you work in? Did you stay in one department the whole time or rotate through multiple departments and why?
I chose not to rotate through different departments and spent my entire elective in the pediatric department. However, the hospital staff encouraged me to visit the maternity ward and the delivery room from time to time to get even more exposure. I’ve also heard of other medical and nursing students or who rotated through various departments during their stay. However, in my opinion this does only make sense for a longer stay. For me, the best way to spend my 15 elective days was to stay in one department. The pediatric ward at Mnazi Moja Hospital has two floors which means that you can still somehow rotate from floor to floor internally. For example, the children in the monitoring room and premature babies were downstairs. The children with malnutrition and diarrhea were on the 2nd floor. I was able to see and experience a broad range of diseases and illnesses. Every day, there was an open consultation hour for children with acute diseases where a different specialist was present every day. Overall, I can really recommend pediatrics for an elective abroad!
Describe a typical day at the hospital, including your work days, working hours and your tasks.
Working in Zanzibar is more relaxed than in European countries. The doctors are very flexible about the working hours and won’t tell you how much time you need to spend at the hospital. It’s not a problem if you would like to leave earlier on some days, but it’s also totally possible to stay for the entire day, to observe the routines of the health care staff and also to carry out some tasks independently.
The day starts in the morning with an early meeting with the pediatricians. I was welcome to join the meeting and to actively involve. After the meeting, they would go back to the ward and start their morning patient visits. I usually accompanied the doctors to all rooms where they would take a close look at each child and do examinations, if needed. Blood sampling and venous catheters are usually done by the nurses. The doctors then make a diagnosis and suggest how to continue the therapy. The doctors usually take a lot of time for each child and the parents. I was lucky to have a great supervising doctor who was always happy to answer and translate all questions. Most patients only understand Swahili and no English, which made it difficult for me to get a detailed medical history from them on my own. Med schools in Tanzania teach in English and local students therefore speak very good English.
Mostly, the morning visits ended between eleven and twelve and depending on how you felt, you could either spend the rest of the day at the beach or stay at the hospital a little longer and see if you were needed for more tasks. I have rarely stayed longer than noon, since there are fewer medical activities in the afternoon.
What did you learn during your elective abroad?
I learned a lot from my medical elective. It was less of technical knowledge for my studies, but a lot of knowledge for my future life that I gained. As I had hoped, I made many new friends and also improved my English skills a lot. Honestly, I was quite proud of myself being able to manage my elective and everything related to it on my own and in a foreign country. African culture and life in an African country have made me appreciate a lot of things here in Germany, for instance not to take seemingly normal things for granted.
What cultural differences have you observed between the medical systems / treatments / doctor-patient relationships etc. in your host country and your home country?
It was very exciting to see other diseases compared to Germany. For example, there were several children with sickle cell anemia in the pediatric ward, a disease which we rarely have in Germany. Another common disease for children in Zanzibar is malnutrition, whereas in Germany we struggle with obesity and high blood pressure. I also learned how different our medical resources, diagnostic and therapeutic options in Germany are compared to Zanzibar.
If you break your leg in Germany you might be able to play soccer and do sports only a few weeks after. Locals in Africa say that they don’t dare to play football because if they break their leg they may never be able to walk again. On the one hand because the standard in the local hospitals is very different and on the other hand many cannot afford the therapy.
How did you spend your free time in Zanzibar?
There are endless opportunities for leisure activities only in Stone Town/Zanzibar Town. Locals will be happy to give you recommendations, so I’d like to encourage you to speak to people and to mingle with the local community. Always remember to bargain if you want to shop on local markets. If you want to travel on the island, my recommendation is not to book the standard tours for tourists. Zanzibar Town has a Dala Dala (public mini bus) connection to almost everywhere on the island. From here you can do a spice tour, visit the Jozani Forest or take a boat to Prison Island. I highly recommend the night market and the numerous bars in Stone Town where you can even sing Karaoke. Once per week, World Unite! arranged a joint event for all volunteers and interns from their different projects, e.g. a meet-up for coffee in the afternoon or a pizza dinner. It’s not mandatory to join, but great fun! I highly recommend you to plan in some extra time after your placement and to travel the island. I would totally do my elective on Zanzibar again at any time and recommend it to anyone!
Visit us on our website to read more about Pia’s placement on Zanzibar and how you can apply!
Taking an English course in Zanzibar – is that even possible ?! Certainly! Tilmann from Germany took a 30 hour English course on this island paradise and enjoyed his stay to the fullest. Here he tells you about his experiences.
Tilmann from Germany about his stay:
The support from Abdi, my World Unite! Coordinator in Zanzibar, was excellent. He picked me up at the taxi stand, took me to my host family, took me on a tour through Stonetown, and then introduced me to my language teacher.
I really appreciated the SIM card that I got from Abdi right at the beginning that allowed me to use the internet and to make calls. Throughout may stay Abdi was always available and – if we happened to meet in Stonetown – ready to talk. I felt very well looked after by him.
Sarah, my language teacher, totally adjusted her teaching to my needs. She found out about abou my strenghts and weaknesses in English very quickly and took it from there. Sarah is a very pleasant person, is incredibly flexible in terms of times, meeting points and learning content. And most importantly, the lessons with her are so much fun, so it was never just studying vocabulary and grammar. In addition, she has an incredibly extensive knowledge of the island, the history of Tanzania and Zanzibar and also about the current political events there. So the 30 hours with her were much more than “just” learning English. I can only say thank you again and warmly recommend her as a language teacher.
I had my accommodation with Mama Munna in Stone Town. An incredibly nice family and very interesting woman. The food was simple, but absolutely top notch. The insights into family life were unique and unforgettable for me. The room I stayed in was very simple. Ultimately, however, completely sufficient, because in the end you only sleep there. If you are looking for Western European comfort, you should better go to a hotel, but then miss a very exciting and above all unforgettable experience of living with a local family.
Last but not least, I want to thank World Unite! for the very good care before and during my stay. The arrangements with you worked perfectly and the instructions and information on the homepage are complete and accurate. At no time did I feel that there was a lack of care or information. Thank you very much for the great work. I will recommend World Unite! to anyone who’s looking for a learning experience abroad.
Here you can find out how to register for an English course in Zanzibar.
Can you imagine to live inmidst of the stunning nature of a South African National Park? To join the only exclusively female anti-poaching unit wordwide to protect the animals in the park? Or to monitor the fascinating animal and plant life of South Africa? Manuela from Germany did exactly that! Read about her experience volunteering in a South African National Park below.
The Balule Camp is a wildlife reserve which is part of the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa. It is known for its abundance of wildlife, including the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo). Tourist safaris are organized within the wildlife reserve, but it is largely used for research work and so you will find many doctoral and master students there as well.
The projects’ main tasks are connected to collecting data for their research. During my time, these included looking for snares, finding rhino clues in the reserve and attaching cameras to marula trees. What I liked best was the simplicity of the camp and the closeness to nature – I would return there anytime!
I really enjoyed my time there and I am still missing the camp today.
Manuela from Germany
Join us at the Balule Camp in the Greater Kruger National Park and apply now!