As a first-year medical student, I was searching for a summer experience that would both enhance my education and challenge me to step outside my comfort zone. Because of Cape Town’s unique socioeconomic, cultural, and medical landscape, it was the perfect setting for these two things to be accomplished. My group and I spent nearly a month shadowing healthcare workers both in a public hospital setting and at a home for chronically ill children. There, we gained insight on how the challenges caused by minimal resources can be overcome and how one’s personal health and their social circumstances are deeply intertwined, something that is often veiled in the United States. We learned many other lessons while in Cape Town, and I am confident that this experience will allow us to develop into more understanding, humble, and caring physicians in the future.
In addition to the professional and personal growth my colleagues and I attained, we were able to travel around and enjoy some of what South Africa has to offer, including a multi-day safari, shark cage diving near Shark Alley, and wine tastings at some of the best vineyards in the world. Traversing a country for the first time can be a daunting task, but Carla at Connect-123 helped to make our time there stress-free and enjoyable. She was extremely helpful with scheduling excursions and always available to answer any questions we had. The invaluable education, the gorgeous sunrises, but most especially, the amazing individuals I met along the way, made this opportunity truly unforgettable.