Hello everyone, so although by Uni standards it’s a pretty hectic time of year with essay deadlines nearing and lots of exams round the corner, one of the things that lots of people are pondering at this time of year is what to do with that long summer. In medicine as the degree progresses the summers get shorter and shorter but fortunately given that I’m intercalating I have a longer one this year which means I’m pretty much off from the beginning of June until the first week of September which is a long time. So it’s a pretty big opportunity to do something interesting and different from whatever your studies. Though I did travel round Europe in my first year summer which was a great experience I’m wondering what to do this time. Fortunately, I pretty much have a fully fledged plan now but there are lots of options available to you and the University is actually really helpful as well with these things, if you make the most of them.
The University has an office called the global opportunities centre which is a fantastic service specifically designed to help students find placements, voluntary work or even just travel abroad for any kind of project and lots of my friends have taken advantage of it and used it to develop different interests including sporting interests and also develop language skills. A couple of friends from one of my rugby teams went out to Fiji in their second year to coach Rugby for an entire summer which they said was a pretty incredible experience. Another friend I know well is going to go and do a course in France this summer in Lyon to improve her French as well. Another group of students I know are going to India to do some voluntary work on cancer awareness and education which I’m sure they will get a lot out of! Another benefit of doing it with the global opportunities centre is that they also offer you a bursary as well, which can help cover your costs. This really is the tip of the iceberg because the global opportunities centre can offer you opportunities around the world and whatever your course or interest there really is something to suit you, so its worth taking advantage of if your interested.
There are some specific options for medical students as well, where lots of students have the option of pursuing a summer research project which is a really great thing to do. Often funding is involved as well and one of my friends managed to get a publication out of her summer project so it’s a pretty good option. Very much to the school of medicine’s credit, they have been really promoting it this year along with the student research society which is very encouraging to see! As far as I’m aware these are all in Wales but it offers you the chance to work with some dedicated researchers and increase your skill set which is pretty valuable for undergraduates. This has spread across all kinds of areas as well, with hardcore lab based projects for the budding scientists to clinically orientated audits and other projects that are closer to medicine or medical education. So whatever your interest, as a medical student, there is something to suit everyone.
What will I be doing with my summer? Well I considered quite a few things and the global opportunities centre where very helpful, but I managed to get in touch with a charity called Menter (mentor) Patagonia. So if all goes to plan I’ll be going out to teach Welsh for 6 weeks to school children in Welsh Patagonia which should be a pretty great experience. I will have to cover my flights but it looks like I’ll be able to get reduced accommodation while I’m there so it’s a pretty good deal! I’m just straightening out some final details now. So what you dodoes not need to involve the University by any means. If you do medicine of course there is an inbuilt elective period in the course that allows you to undertake a placement in any part of the world which is also a great opportunity. Whatever your course though there are always options to travel abroad whether its part of your course or as part of an extracurricular project during the summer holidays. Its one of the great things University can offer you. Lots of my friends have also undertaken some pretty interesting Erasmus periods. One of my friends on my course spent a term on placement in Madrid and another friend who studies German spent a year in Berlin. So there are all kinds of opportunities you can really take advantage of at home and away whatever your into!