Incoming Stories | A Colorful Month in Surakarta

Greetings, SCOPE! My name is Danaja Gnilšek, an IFMSA International Exchange Student from Slovenia. After 3 days of traveling, I finally arrived in Solo on the 4th of August for my exchange program. My Contact Person (CP) was absent and another CP waited for me at the airport and picked me up. He took me to the store, where I bought some water and the toilet paper I could not live without. Then, I went to the apartment. I met the lady of the house and the first two other incomings, one from Slovenia and one from Hungary. We went to the market together where we tried different fruits and it was delicious, affordable, and all in all amazing.

On Monday, I had been waiting to meet the supervisor who did not come, and a similar thing happened the next day as well, but then we were sent to his office and he was there. We agreed that I will spend the first week in the Neonatology Department and change departments every week. In the first week, I measured the vital signs of the babies and even had a night shift, where I watched a cesarean section and resuscitation of the babies. I learned about and saw the babies with rare diseases in which I did not have the chance to see in my country. The resident doctors explained the diseases and the co-assistant students were very nice to me as well. On Monday evening, we had a delicious Welcoming Dinner. We went to eat outside to different restaurants or at the mall every day. We also went to the cinema to see The Lion King, there was a karaoke night on Thursday, and a trip to Grojogan Sewu Waterfall on Saturday. We went to see monkeys, visited the temple, and had a great Balinese lunch. On Sunday, there was a Muslim Holy Day and all the tourist attractions were closed. We managed to get into the Old Palace and had a whole-body massage at a salon in the city afterward.

Week number 2 began by visiting the Department of Tropical Diseases. I have waited again and no one had time to at least meet me and show me around. Therefore, co-assistants took me to the polyclinics where there was not even one patient. To see some cases, I went to the Pediatric Emergency Room and was there from Tuesday to Thursday, where I saw a patient with peritonitis, Tetralogy of Fallot, respiratory failure, and a few others. On Friday, I joined the Infections polyclinics again. Our evenings were spent in the restaurants and at the famous AGRA rooftop, where we saw the sunset. During the weekend, we went to Yogyakarta to see many famous monuments and buildings, including Borobudur temple, the history museum, and the Palace. On Saturday morning, we went rafting and it was amazing. In the evening, we tried exploring Malioboro street. However, since it was Indonesia’s Independence Day, everything was too crowded, so the stores began to close when we arrived.

There came week number 3. This week, I met the supervisor for my Pulmonology Department, where I had my presentation. On Monday and Tuesday, I stayed at the polyclinics but there were no pulmonology patients, only neurology ones. I saw many cases of epilepsy, but the children were just visiting the polyclinics as a part of their monthly check and there was no pathology to be seen. On Wednesday, I started my day at the polyclinics and I had a chance to follow the doctors visiting Pulmonology patients in the afternoon, most of which had pneumonia. Until now, no one cared about my case presentation, no one told me anything about it, and I did it after an example provided by the co-assistants. In the evening, there was an NFDP, where the Italians prepared spaghetti, the Spanish girl did potato Omelette, and us – Slovenian girls and the Hungarian one –  prepared thin pancakes with jam. All the food was delicious, including the Indonesian food, which was ordered by the contact persons. On Thursday, the day of my presentation, I followed the doctors visiting the patients. Then, one resident asked me about my presentation and gave me suggestions on what to change around 3 hours before the presentation itself. With the help of the co-assistant girls, I added a few additional slides about the day-by-day follow up of the patient. My presentation went good and afterward we took group pictures. From Friday to Sunday, we spent our free time in Karimunjawa Island. On Friday, we visited Sunset Beach and we went snorkeling the next day. Sunday was spent mostly on the ferry and inside the car, where we finally arrived home in the evening.

Time flew by very fast, but I wish I could stay here longer. On Monday, I met the main supervisor to thank him. Later that evening, we will be doing the long-expected Solo Tour, visiting Batik Market, and a dinner. Tuesday was our last day at the hospital. We departed to Malang and then I will be flying home. I am very grateful for being able to spend 1 month living in a country with the most amazing people and their colorful culture. Thank you for everything, Indonesia. I am sure one day I will visit you again