Ram is a medical student from Canada who went to medical school in Croatia. He was a healthcare volunteer in Brazil with World Endeavors.
What did you to do in a typical day at your volunteer placement?
I volunteered at a cancer hospital. I would arrive in the morning and meet with the head nurse of the surgery ward, who would inform me of what was going on that day in terms of surgeries and which doctors would be performing them. I would assist the nurses in the setup of the room for the surgery, and then assist the doctors doing the surgery with certain procedures they felt I was capable of doing.
Where did you live while you were in Brazil?
I stayed with a very welcoming Brazilian family in their home, which was a few minutes walk from my volunteer placement. The family, which consisted of the mother and two daughters, welcomed me in as one of their own, and always made me feel at home.
What was your favorite part of your volunteer work?
I really enjoyed learning so much about medicine from the great staff at the hospital I worked at. The staff were always more than willing to teach me something new, and always eager for me to participate in any procedures they had on the go that day. Many of the things I learned in Brazil will not only help me in the present, in medical school, but also in the future, as a doctor.
Why did you choose to go abroad through World Endeavors?
When I was searching for volunteer opportunities, the one site which stuck out the most to me was World Endeavors. The chance to go to Brazil, and work in a hospital also played a large part in the decision, but the information the site provided, and the help of the World Endeavors staff is what made me choose them. Unlike others, they helped you get ready, and settled into your placement as an individual, and not a customer. This was something I really appreciated, and if I had to do it over, I would 100% go with them again!
What did you do in your free time? Did you get a chance to travel?
In my free time, I would spend time with my home stay family, doing things like watching movies, playing with the children, or helping them with English homework! Many days after work, I would tour the city, and often meet with friends for lunch or supper. I also did a bit of traveling on weekends, getting to visit the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Florianopolis, Foz de Iguacu, as well as a bit of the Brazilian Pantanal, Paraguay and Argentina.
What advice would you give to someone going to Brazil?
Try and learn a few Portuguese phrases before you go. Though many people know a little English, it will definitely come in handy, plus people will really appreciate that you are making an attempt! Like any foreign place, you should expect culture shock at first, but Brazilian people are very friendly and hospitable, and it will not take long for you to feel at home.
What was a typical meal like?
Most meals in Brazil consist of rice and beans, with some form of meat, usually chicken or beef. My favorite type of food in Brazil would have to be the famous Brazilian Churrascaria, aka Brazilian barbecue. Served at an all you can eat restaurant, by waiters who carve the meat at your table, it’s an experience in itself!
Do you have any funny travel or language barrier stories?
My first night in Brazil, before my Portuguese lessons had begun, was a little tricky. The youngest daughter came to my room and asked me if I wanted supper, except I didn’t understand her! So I replied yes, but stayed in my room. She came back a few minutes later, and asked me the same question, to which I now replied no, of course still not knowing what she was asking. She obviously knew I was confused, so she took me by the hand, and led me to the dinner table.
Needless to say, I immediately learned the Portuguese word for supper!
What are you doing now?
I am back in Croatia now, doing my 4th year of Medical School. My experience in Brazil was great, thanks so much World Endeavors!