Melissa’s quick-fire guide to Thailand

Eye-opening hospital work experience
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As soon as you register for a Gap Medics adventure, there’s a team you’ll get to know well: the pre-departures team. Depending on your destination you’ll be assigned your own travel guru to help you with everything from visas to volunteer visits – and if you’re off to Thailand, you’ll be chatting to Student Experience Manager Melissa!

We caught up with her between phone calls and she gave us her top packing and travelling tips for Phitsanulok.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 16.22.18“I think Phitsanulok is a brilliant place for students to come on placement. It offers a completely unique experience of healthcare and it has a completely different culture to the UK and even the US! I think the best placement here is dentistry; our dentistry mentors love the students. They have been known to take students out for their lunch with the whole dental team. A student a few months ago was actually luckily enough to get invited to the dental team’s staff party!

In general, Phitsanulok is a really cool place and is the ‘true Thailand’ as such, with street markets every night. Every Saturday night there is a night bazaar which is huge, with loads of cool street food and souvenirs. You can also get a Thai massage alongside the river Naan. It’s off the beaten tourist trail, so there are mainly locals around you, and you get to see a lot of monks as there are lots of historical sites and temples nearby.”

Ring your bank before you go

“It sounds silly but it’s my number one recommendation. We always tell our students to ring and tell your bank that you’re travelling so they don’t put any blocks on your card. Sometimes banks will see you withdrawing cash in Thailand (or any other country far from home) as a ‘suspicious transaction’ – this has happened to our Gap Medics staff before as well as students!”

Show respect

“It’s really important to show respect when you’re travelling anywhere in the world, especially where the culture is slightly more conservative. When students come to Thailand we recommend that they have clothes with them that cover both their shoulders and their midriff. Lots of temples will also provide shawls and scarves at the entrance for anyone needing to cover up a little more. It’s important not to offend anyone and you wouldn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to see something beautiful because of your clothes. Obviously when you’re back in the Gap Medics accommodation you can dress as comfortably as you like.”

Things to pack

“When you register with us you receive a full packing list with everything we recommend you bring, but here are some of my top ones:

Sunglasses
Wet wipes (always useful!)
Sleep mask
Ear plugs (only if you want, though – you’ll have your own room)
Flip flops for around the house
Business dress for the hospital (we’ll tell you more about this when you register)
A torch (very occasionally there are power cuts in Thailand!)

It’s also good to bring bug spray or bug cream. We do have mosquito nets in the house but being extra cautious is always a good idea. I also always recommend some long loose trousers (‘travelling trousers’, I call them!); they’re great when you’re out and about during the evening and keep you cool as well as protected from bugs.”

Onward travel

“If you want to do some travelling either before or after your placement with us, I usually recommend purchasing a guide beforehand. You don’t necessarily need to book anything in advance as it’s cheaper and easier to do this in-country, but it’s good to do a bit of research first to find out where you would like to go and what you would like to see. Our staff in Thailand can help you with booking onward travel and would be very happy to recommend places to visit!

Many of our students go on trips to Chiang Mai, but there are places to explore further afield such as Bangkok, Phuket or Pai. Because of the huge numbers of tourists, it’s really easy to travel around the country, so make the most of it!

Our students always have an incredible experience and I know you will too.”

 

Love,
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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.

 

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