It has been almost a year since I took a plane to Arusha for my Intern Abroad HQ Pharmacy internship in Tanzania, Africa to live and intern there for two months. At the time, I was a Pharmacy Student with only my final project left before becoming a Pharmacist in Spain.
I didn’t know what to expect of my Pharmacy internship in Tanzania. I was nervous and a bit scared but way more excited than anything. I arrived at night and from the moment Emmanuel picked me up, I knew it would be an incredible experience. And, oh boy, it was!
How this internship changed me
I didn’t want to write a blog the moment I came back because I felt that I needed some time to adjust to being back in Spain, but I guess I will never have that feeling 100% because a big part of me stayed in Tanzania… or maybe the “me” that came back to Spain wasn’t the same person that took that plane to Tanzania anyway.
I will never forget those two months. Never. The people I met, what I learned, the memories I made, it will all forever be a part of me.
Interning as a Pharmacist in an African hospital
I interned at the Hospital in the Pharmacy Department. Being one of the first pharmacy students that volunteered there as an intern, I wasn’t expecting much of it. I thought I’d just help wherever they needed me and maybe some of the activities I’d do would be related to what I studied. I was wrong. So wrong.
The Pharmacy Department is really well structured: the in and outpatient departments (IPD and OPD), the storage department and the pharmacy in the Care and Treatment Center (CTC) inside the Hospital. I worked in every Department but mainly in the CTC.
The pharmacists and technicians are not only very hardworking and super professional, but the nicest, kindest, loveliest, most welcoming people I’ve ever met. To this day, I still talk to them once a week and I intend to keep doing so until I go back, which I hope is very, very soon!
Settling into Tanzanian life
I was lucky that I felt at home in Arusha just a few days after arriving. We were a big group of interns and everyone was going through their own journey of adapting. But we knew we had a safe place to feel vulnerable, to ask for help and to share all the amazing and not so amazing experiences.
That brings me to the most important person you’ll meet in Arusha: Pearl. I still laugh when I think about myself in the plane, a few hours away from arriving at what would be my house for two months and thinking about a cute old woman welcoming me. I was wrong again. So wrong.
My home away from home
Pearl is a fiery young woman with the biggest smile and the most welcoming and fun energy and that’s when I knew: Family away from family. Home away from home. A woman who started volunteering just as we all were and ended up creating not only the best internship program there is, but a community of amazing people who help each other out, sharing and learning from each other. She will be your mother, big sister, best friend and/or boss depending on how you feel or how much trouble you’re getting yourself into. The conversations we’ve had will forever be my best memories and I go back to them way more than I might want to admit.
I could write a book about all the awesome people I met during this internship, the patients I had, the experiences I lived and the emotions I felt. I can’t wait to go back and 2021 better give me at least that!
To anyone considering interning abroad…
I guess, if you are reading this blog, it’s because you’re thinking about - or dreaming of - some time away, learning from a new culture and using your skills to do something different. Are you looking for a sign to confirm that it’s something for you (I remember I was)? Well, consider this your sign. You’re ready, you’re capable, it’s going to be worth it. This is it!
But to wrap this up, if you’ve managed to read the whole blog: Intern! Do it! I cannot recommend this enough! There is no way you will come back from it and not be glad you did it!
Asante sana Grace, Sameera(s), Susan, Nadia Michelle, Lonna, Jessie, Ibra, Godi, Mussa, Agnes, Joel, Musti … especially Happy, Emmanuel and Pearl for everything. Everything.
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