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GEMx Elective Reflections – Student Exchange from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (Mexico) to American University of Beirut (Lebanon)

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Latife Salame Khouri, Medical Student at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (Mexico) who completed a GEMx Elective in Family Medicine at American University of Beirut (Lebanon)

What have you gained from this exchange experience offered through GEMx?  What were the benefits?

The benefits are both academic and personal. I gained a broader view of how Medicine can be practiced. I gained responsibility and maturity for living alone for a month in a different country than mine. I gained contacts in Medicine and friends for life. GEMx gave me the opportunity to be part of one of the best Medicine Schools in the Middle East.

How did you prepare for your elective exchange?  Were you prepared?

I prepared through life for my elective exchange. I didn’t get through a special preparation for it. Before my elective I already knew the languages I needed to go to the country I chose. I went to a multicultural school so I was used to be immersed in a culture different than mine. Academically, I felt that I was well prepared to learn and work in my elective.

What did you learn from this experience both personally and professionally? 

GEMx is a great opportunity to know how Medicine is done in countries with different cultures. I am from Mexico and I did the exchange in Lebanon. I practiced Medicine in arabic and english which was a great intellectual exercise. I learned a different anthropological approach to diseases. I learned to live in a city different than mine. I also met a type of public health system and I was able to compare between Mexico’s and Lebanon’s system.

How did you feel when you returned to your home school?

I felt satisfied because I represented well my home school in another country. I realised that my home school gave me the tools to practice good Medicine all around the world. I felt happy because I met great people in AUB and I kept in touch with them. I was very proud of my home school for being part of this project.

How is this learning relevant to you now that you are back?  Can you give any examples?  Will you do anything differently now?

My elective was in the department of Family Medicine of AUB. Lebanon and Mexico are similar in the lack of a strong primary care system, but the department of Family Medicine of AUB actually does a great job in primary care. I learned from my elective exchange that good primary care is possible in the health system of my country and I hope to make a difference there.

Can you share your story on this experience and how it has impacted you?  Were there any unexpected outcomes that you would like to share?

I was very lucky and everything went great during my elective. They weren’t any unexpected outcomes.

Is there anything you would recommend to students who are planning to go to this university for an elective?

I recommend to participate in the activities that the university offers to its community, as concerts, art and sports events, conferences. I also recommend to find a room in the campus or near it because transportation can be difficult in Beirut if you don’t have a car. I recommend to enjoy Lebanese culture, its food and the historical monuments and turistic places.

Were there any faculty, students, or administrators from your home or host school that helped you prepare for your trip – before, during, or after your experience?

A student from my home school that also went to AUB helped me telling me her own experience and encouraging me to go there. In the host school, the girls in charge of the university bedrooms were very supportive, also my roommate and all the staff in the department of Family Medicine.

Did your school grant you credit for this elective experience towards your medical school graduation?  If no, then why did you not receive credit from your home school?

Yes, my home school granted me credit for this elective.

How did your experiences compare to your expectations and what are your thoughts?

I was expecting it to be a great experience but it went even better in reality,

What advice would you give to students who are planning to go on an elective exchange?

It is one of the best academic experience you will have. Learn a lot where you are going, academically and personally. Be open to new adventures and ways of doing things. Be respectful to the new culture you will meet. Be a proud representative of your home school.

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