Julia Wallin, Nursing Programme, Bugando Medical Centre, Tanzania

My name is Julia Wallin, I am a nurse student in the sixth semester. Last semester, during the autumn 2017 I went to Bugando Medical Nursing school in Mwanza, Tanzania.

I've always known that I wanted to study abroad during my time in Jönköping. The possibility to go to Tanzania to do an exchange was a uniqe oppurtunity for me. Places like England, the US or Australia is more likely that I will visit anyway, but Tanzania isn't. Therefor I'm very happy with my choice.

I was in Mwanza for a bit more than three mouths, October 2017- January 2018. I studied two courses, one course in HIV- & AIDS and one in Medical and Surgery Nursing. Both were really interesting and I learned a lot. The examination were both tests and group presentations.

It was only students from Mwanza in our class, we were the only exchange students in the whole nursing school. A normal day in school started around 7.30 and ended somewhen between 13-14 in the afternoon. Sometimes there was a lot of waiting, mostly waiting for the teachers but also for the students. If we had a group presentation and had decided to meet a specific time, they didn't show up until much later, which we considered a bit strange but something we got used to. Everybody in school should be able to speak english, although parts of the sessions were in swahili.

Our accommodation was better then expected, we couldn't complain. We had our own rooms with bathroom and a little fridge. The kitchen was tiny but it did work out good. The accommodation was for guest workers as well as students. During our time there it was mostly nursing- and medical students form Europe and the US. Our home was a safe place for us, we were told not to walk around alone during evenings or nights because of the risk of getting robbed. We never experienced anything threatening, but of course it's important to be careful. We also had a garden with mangos, oranges, avocado and bananas which was awesome. Otherwise there was a fruit- and vegetable market just two minutes walk from us.

The most common food in Mwanza was 3 different dishes. Chips mayai, ugali and rice with chicken. Chips mayai is a sort of omelette with eggs and fried potatoes and ugali is corn porridge. Ugali never become a favorite, but chips mayai was always tasty. By the schoool and hospital there was several canteens where you could by food, but only one of these three options. The food we cocked for our selfs was mostly noodles, fried vegetables and cans with kidney beans and chick peas. Since Tanzania is cheep we could also visit restaurants once or a few days a week.

Hospital and internship – after six weeks in school we started our clinical rotation in the hospital. The plan was at first to do two weeks in a row at one ward, then rotate to the next one. We had a great influence on our own time there and was able, more or less, to choose which wards we wanted to visit. The first two weeks we were at the CTC, which is the place for HIV patients. We tried to help with what we could, but it was hard to communicate since the patients didn't speak english at all. We had to write a little paper with translation from english to swahili so we also could ask the patient for their weight, if they had fever, cough och sweating during nights. It was tough, but learnful. Other weeks we visit a Burn unit, a children hospital, the surgery and the maternity ward and saw babies come to life.

The best way to spend a weekend -
On Saturday we always made pancakes for breakfast, with some fresh fruits from our garden. Later on we used to walk the way down Bugando Hill to the market, which is a huge place where the locals go and where you can find literally everything. They were selling lots of clothes, shoes, watches, purses, toys, jewelry, food and you could also get your nails done. You can also buy colorful cotton fabrics. Behind every corner in and around the market there are tailors where you can order clothes if you got the fabric. I ordered a jumpsuit, which fit perfectly!
Further on the day we usually either went to a pizza place or to other hotels to have some lunch.

In the evening you can go to Rock City Mall which is one of the biggest shopping mall in Tanzania. Well, it isn't that impressive since most of the area and shops inside are completely empty. They do have a cinema though, which shows American movie but without subtitles.

After you have finished your studies I would really recommend you to go exploring more of the country, we went on safari to Serengeti and Ngorongoro National park which was the perfect end to this incredible journey.

I had a blog during my time in Mwanza with a lot of photos and charing of experiences, feel free to visit -