Krishna Chauhan - Medicine in Mongolia
've always wanted to go into medicine but applicants to medical schools seem to have the same experience and I wanted something that gave me the edge over the competition. I did the usual voluntary work but I couldn't shadow doctors in hospitals in the UK nor see surgery as you had to be 18. The High School Specials medicine project in Mongolia, however, seemed to link two things into one trip, to experience medicine firsthand and gain knowledge of a culture that can only been seen on TV.
At first I was apprehensive about going all the way to Mongolia and whether or not I could handle it going so far alone which is why I chose to do the High School Specials. It was enough time to gain experience along with an insight into the Mongol culture. I must say it was the best time of my life. I met so many different volunteers from all around the world and different ages, not forgetting a crash course into medicine!
The first day at the hospital I remember seeing surgery literally a few feet in front of me! That was so good to see and I never would have at this age in the UK! Also I learnt a lot about how western medicine differs from the east as Mongolia is deprived, it did show in the equipment and rooms at the hospital. Nevertheless the supervising doctors gave us an insight into the life of a medic by allowing us to see a live birth where I got to hold a newborn baby!
In-between the daily visits to the hospitals we also had a trips and one was to the countryside outside the city where we stayed overnight in a Ger. With all the volunteers huddled up in a Ger, riding the wild horses and eating traditional Mongol foods it was a time for us to get to know each other and experience a night as a nomad. Even though it was a cold leaky Ger and having an hours worth of sleep it seemed to be worth it waking up to a peaceful atmosphere in the mountains.
From mountain climbing, to camel riding to seeing a woman give birth, my trip to Mongolia changed my outlook in life and only in a short period of 2 weeks!
I learnt how to communicate with my Mongolian family via hand gestures and yes at times I had to make the stupidest noises for them to at least guess what I'm near to saying. I took my family to a club with some volunteers which was err...interesting to see. Especially my Mongolian mother dancing to hip-hop!
Also be prepared for the food offerings, the first morning I woke up to a dead ferret like creature to have for breakfast and that was a shock to a jetlagged vegetarian like me!
This experience was short and sweet and I had good support from the Projects Abroad staff there so I didn't feel as though I was in the middle of nowhere. Going alone? Don't be anxious, I would recommend it as you get the chance to meet people from a broad-spectrum who are all in the same position as you. I can now say I've been to Outer Mongolia!