Post by Faizah Ramle, Medical Student from Penang Medical College (Malaysia) who completed a GEMx Elective in Internal Medicine at Kasturba Medical College Manipal (India)
Dates of exchange – November 7, 2016 to December 7, 2016
I had the privilege to conduct my elective posting for 4 weeks in Manipal, Karnataka, India. As a country that has established one of the world’s earliest civilization, India has presented me with nothing short of what I had expected. Colorful, loud, and vibrant- the whole nation has an energy like no other.
I was honored to be guided by Professor Manjunatha Hande, the head of department of Internal Medicine in Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal. Under his guidance, I had been able to join ward rounds, clinics and also bed side teachings with the final year medical students of KMC. I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to get to know local patients better, learn about medical conditions that I would have never seen back home in Malaysia, and indulge in the local learning environment in India.
Throughout my learning expedition in India, I was surrounded with a group of incredibly smart, confident and well-read students. They are cultivated to memorize and be hard-working from a very tender age. Being the second most populous country in the world, medicine is one of the most competitive and expensive field to get yourself into, and students there take it as no joke.
Being surrounded in a mentally challenging environment can be good. For one, it pushes you to step up your game to live up to their standards. You too have to be as confident and out spoken as the local students are. However, at times this can also be rather draining. More often than not, I felt very inferior to my peers. Being 2000 miles away from home doesn’t help either; you don’t exactly have your family and support system with you.
Challenges do not confide themselves within the four walls of the hospital.
No matter where you are in the world, another existential problem would be the language barrier. Either it is because of the disparity in education level, or in this case- you’re in a country with a completely different set of vocabulary and accent. Although discussions and teachings are conducted in English, it wasn’t until the second week of the elective posting that I was able to comprehend what was being uttered and became comfortable to participate in the discussions.
In the hospital, everyone will remain professional and I was quite happy with the hospitality I received. However, do understand that there will be miscommunications and frustrating moments in dealing with admins. There is still no clear policy being made to manage and guide the international students, and you have to be quick on your feet to solve issues that arise. Expect problems to be on a national scale even. I was unlucky enough to experience the government abolishing certain Indian rupees overnight to overcome the “black money” issue in the country. Despite saying all this, dealing with these problems was what brought me to experience the true Indian culture.