Volunteer Review: Samuel S., Medicine in Argentina
How I got started
Hola! My name is Sam Snyder and I recently returned from Córdoba, Argentina as part of the Medicine project through Projects Abroad. I was recommended to travel to Argentina by a Projects Abroad staff member based on two requirements. First, as a potential pre-med student, I wanted to gain work in a hospital or clinic to truly experience the lifestyle of a physician. And second, I wanted to visit a Spanish-speaking country so that I could practice and improve my speaking and comprehension skills that I learned throughout all of high school. Out of all the Spanish-speaking countries with Medicine projects, I was highly recommended the one in Argentina. Now that I’m back home after four weeks in Córdoba, I could not have imagined going anywhere else but there.
As part of the project, I volunteered and shadowed in a huge pediatric hospital in the city of Córdoba called Hospital Pediátrico del Niño Jesús, also known by its nickname “Casa Cuna”. Throughout my four weeks in the hospital, I spent one week in a department of my choosing, and then switched departments every Monday. My favorite placement was in the Kinesiology department, because that was where I seemed to connect most with the doctors and nurses who let me do a lot more hands-on work. But by far the most interesting placement was in the Surgery department, where I got a close-up view of a variety of different types of surgeries and learned a lot about the strict procedural aspect of medicine. This placement was a great experience for a young student like me who did not have many credentials and would not have had these kinds of opportunities back home in the U.S.
My Argentinian Family
One of my favorite aspects of Argentinian culture is the value people here put on relationships with friends and family, and I am happy to say that within just four short weeks I built an entire new group of friends and family. From the moment I arrived in Argentina to the day that I left, I was embraced by the love and care of everyone that I met throughout my trip. My host family was amazing. My host grandma, Betty, was the sweetest woman I’ve ever met, and was also a fantastic cook. Adriana, my host mom, was also very helpful with anything that I needed and very engaging to converse with when wanting to learn more about Argentinian culture. My 4 year old host sister, Lohe, and the three dogs were all very cute and entertaining to have around the house as well. Similarly, the Projects Abroad staff was also very welcoming and definitely made my experience as great as it could possibly be. They were always available around the clock to help with any questions or concerns I’d come across. And lastly, I will never forget the other volunteers that I met. Exploring a foreign country with a group of kids around my age from all over the world will always be a fun time. Every afternoon after work and weekends were a new adventure.
My Unforgettable Experiences
Some of these adventures included weekend trips to locations outside of Córdoba such as hiking in Mina Clavero and Capilla del Monte, or sightseeing around Buenos Aires. But most of my trip was spent within the city of Córdoba. Most days, I spent the afternoons with my roommate and other local volunteers. We would hang out at the park, walk around the city, play Padel (the Argentinian version of tennis), and most of all, eat. The food in Argentina is amazing! But no matter what your interests are, there is something here for everyone. One night we went to see a soccer match in a huge loud stadium, and later that week we took tango lessons at a local studio. Córdoba has so much to offer, so I highly suggest taking advantage of every opportunity that you possibly can!
Overall, I could not have asked for a better experience. Both of the requirements I was looking for out of this trip were definitely met. By being proactive and asking lots of questions throughout my time in the hospital, I was able to really learn about the lifestyle of a physician and confirm that this is the career path that I want to embark on. Additionally, I learned a ton about the culture and lifestyle in Argentina and got to practice and enhance my Spanish-speaking skills every day. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a single thing!
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.