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In the second year of my nursing degree, I took a big step and went to Zambia in Africa for a three-week nursing placement.

We arrived at our accommodation in Zambia and I quickly got talking to the other students I was going to live with. It was great listening to how everyone was getting on. Sharing experiences was a big part of life in the house.

Living with the other students was a lot of fun. We were all from different clinical fields, so it was a learning opportunity too. As we were all from different parts of the world, we learnt things about our respective countries. I made so many friends.

Lusaka Hospital Placement
The hospital placement was fantastic. I was made to feel part of the department team from the beginning. Local nurses and doctors did a remarkable job, especially considering the lack of resources. Nurses and doctors had this knack for improvising, using what little they had to care for and treat their patients.

I spent a week on a surgical ward and saw lots of pre-op patients, and post-op patients with various surgical wounds. I also spent a week in A&E. I was on triage and observed in casualty. There were so many unique conditions and problems, and it was fascinating to see how staff dealt with them.

One patient I triaged didn’t speak any English. “Muli bwanji”, I said, “How are you?”. The patient smiled and replied, appreciatively. Embracing the local language and culture was beneficial for both the patients and I.

The local nurses and doctors often asked how the care in the UK differed from the care they provided. They told me that they wanted to promote their own style of nursing and introduce up-to-date technologies to give patients the best possible care.

Exploring Zambia
My housemates and I really did make the most of our time in Zambia. We went to Livingstone one weekend and it was magical. We went on a sunset river cruise, spent a day at Victoria Falls (words cannot describe), and we saw more wildlife than you could shake a stick at. There were different trails to follow at Victoria Falls and we followed as many as we could. The ‘Boiling Point’ path was hard work but worth it.

We also did a safari in Botswana. The route ran through Chobe National Park, and we saw a lot of animals up close in their natural habitat. We camped out for the night and heard hippos outside the tent. When we left the next morning, our guide spotted lion tracks just a couple of meters from the camp.

I spent my final week in a rural African village. I lived with one of the families in the village. They were welcoming, and I soon felt at home and part of the family.

The mother cooked delicious meals for us, so we asked her to show us how to make them for ourselves. She obliged. It was exciting to think I could bring a little bit of Zambian culture back to the UK.

Village Hospital Placement
We spent mornings in the village hospital. It was a lot smaller than our main placement hospital in Lusaka. That said, it did a brilliant job providing care for patients.

My placement was in maternity. One nurse took my friend and I under her wing and she was brilliant. She involved us in everything. We built a relationship with her and came to think of her as a friend.

The mother of the family we were living with happened to be a midwife. It was great to see a side of her different to the one she presented back at the house.

I can’t pick out a favourite experience from my time in Zambia. I enjoyed every part of my trip. I made so many memories and learned more than I could have imagined. It was all amazing, and completely exceeded my expectations.

The experience changed me as a person and I’m looking forward to going back.

Travel Through Your Course

If you’ve always wanted to travel, there may be the opportunity for you to do so through your course; allowing you to see the world, whilst developing new experiences within your subject.

If you’re interested in study abroad opportunities within the field of nursing, please contact the Faculty of Health and Social Care to find out what may be available. For a wider scope of what study abroad opportunities we can offer at the University of Chester, please contact our Study Abroad team, who help organise an extensive range of exchanges and overseas opportunities for students.

Robyn’s placement was organised with Work the World, who specialise in tailoring overseas nursing placements in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their destinations provide eye-opening insight into the challenges associated with delivering healthcare in the developing world.


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