Hogar Teresa de Los Andes is a home for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. In the morning, I would help with breakfast in the ward with the people who had the most severe difficulties and needed the most care. We feed them breakfast, help with cleaning, and changed the beds. Afterwards, we would go around the Hogar helping to dress wounds and other healthcare-related jobs. In the afternoon, we shadowed doctors in the local public hospital in Cotocca. This was very different from healthcare in the UK; both in terms of facilities and the range of conditions presenting to the hospital. We spent a lot of time in Emergency and in the wound care department.

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While on my internship, I lived in the volunteer's quarters of Hogar Teresa de Los Andes. Aside from a few fights with crickets, I absolutely loved living here! We had our own space to relax and socialise. There were 4 other people there while I was. Two of these were IAESTE trainees from Northern Ireland and two were German volunteers. We spent the evenings playing games, cooking and singing. Our employers even took us to the Bolivian X-Factor live shows. We were front row and met all of the judges and the hosts. The Local Committee in Bolivia were incredibly kind to me while I was there and I am still in touch with them. Every weekend there was a trip organised. We even took a trip to the opposite end of the country to visit the famous Uyuni Salt Flats. This was one of the highlights of my trip and something I will not forget. The local committee really made my summer and unforgettable experience. Also, the food in Bolivia is ridiculously good. Coconut juice and Saltenas are my new favourite things but unfortunately, a little hard to find in Belfast!


Spending the summer in Bolivia is an experience I will never forget. I am someone who likes to plan. Landing in a country, where you don't speak the language and most people don't speak yours helped me to become more adaptable and patient. There were situations when we didn't really know what was going on and we had to learn to 'go with the flow'. This placement also helped me gain an insight into a healthcare system quite different from the UK. This has encouraged me to consider pursuing a postgraduate degree in Global Health, something I would not even have thought of beforehand. The placement has taught and inspired me to stop over-analysing things and just go for opportunities that arise. I will be applying for another IAESTE placement this summer. Who knows where I'll end up!

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