Katie Couchman - Nursing in Tanzania
I am currently a college student from Missouri, United States. I have had a passion for Africa and its people since I was twelve. I wanted to go overseas to see how nursing and medicine differ in a different country and knew Tanzania was my calling.
I started researching companies that I could go overseas with when I stumbled across Projects Abroad. I immediately fell in love with the idea that my dreams of going to Africa could come true, and I would have the opportunity to stay with a local host family. With these details, Projects Abroad seemed like the obvious, but I didn’t know the huge impact it would have on my life.
The support that Projects Abroad gave me in preparation for the trip as well was throughout my trip was phenomenal. Before I left for Arusha I received information about obtaining a visa and vaccinations as well as what to pack and how to prepare for culture shock.
When I stepped off the airplane into the hot Tanzanian air, I was ecstatic. When I arrived at my host family’s home I was welcomed with food and open arms. I stayed in a guest bedroom on my own with another volunteer staying one door down. My host family and the other volunteers helped me gain a handle on what living in Tanzania was like. The host family and I bonded instantly playing card games, telling jokes, and even watching movies together.
The city outside of the home was a bit different and slightly overwhelming at first. The people are so friendly and are always willing to talk. It didn’t take long for me to appreciate this city and the people who resided in it. On my first full day in Tanzania projects abroad took me to the market to exchange my money and give me a city tour. My guide showed me how to get places on various modes of transportation so that I would feel safe and comfortable with navigation. I then went to the hospital where I received my placement on the labour ward.
My nursing experience
At first I was very intimidated by the cultural differences between nursing. I quickly learned that my experience was going to be what I made it. I realised that asking questions was a good way to get involved. I associated myself a lot with the medical and nursing students as they were like me in many ways.
As I grew to know the nurses and the students, I started to get more involved. The labour ward is a very busy, but very rewarding. I watched countless births and even assisted with all the births one day. Their trust grew as I spent more days in the hospital and assessing and doing hands-on care for the patients became routine. Projects Abroad was incredibly flexible with placement and was constantly checking in to make sure I felt comfortable with where I was and who I was working alongside.
I was only in Arusha for ten days, but the impact of my trip is something that will stick with me for a lifetime. I conquered so many things that I never would have been able to without Projects Abroad help. I learned how to navigate in a new country, I assisted with countless births, I climbed Mount Meru to see a waterfall, and I made lifelong friends.
Without this trip I wouldn’t have the new appreciation for medicine that I now have, and I wouldn’t have been able to fulfil my dream accomplished by visiting Arusha. Without Projects Abroad I would have been totally lost and I never would have been able to have these experiences in a place so new to me and so beautiful.