On arrival in Pula the programme manager and the housekeeper met me. Although the housekeeper was very welcoming, the programme manager was not, as when I arrived at the Gap Medics house he gave me a very brief tour of only half the house and just left me to it. I understand that food is not provided at weekends but he made no effort to explain where I could buy food considering I had a long journey.
Food was a serious issue as Gap Medics gave me the impression that there would always be some sort of food in the house. However, this was not the case most of the time. There were no bottles of water and no one explained whether I could drink the tap water. In the end I had to drink the tap water from the bathroom. During meal times there were also no fruit juices, etc. Breakfast was okay, but most of the time not sufficient. Often there were days where there would be no milk or the milk would be warm. On one particular day there were no teabags even after reminding the chef on the previous day to buy them. There would always be fruit in the house but it was always rotting and never edible and the food in the fridge had clearly been there for a very long time therefore I was always scared to eat anything. Lunch option was ridiculous, as you had to make your own lunch, which was 2 pieces of small bread and a piece of cheese every day. There was never anything to eat in the day. The kitchen was dirty and very small and I was expected to wash my own dishes, which seems unfair seeing as I paid so much for the placement! However, the evening meal was great!
Gap medics gave me the impression that someone would always be in the house at all times. However, this was not the case and the programme manager would often leave for ‘an hour or two’ this meant that if I needed anything there would be no one to contact. I think this is ridiculous as there is no form of security! Also, when Leila came to stay, she didn’t even ask my name or introduce herself, therefore once again I felt like there was no one I could approach.
Taxis were a big issue. I understand on the first day that we had to walk to the hospital so we can get a local tour but the next few days taxis were not provided unless is was ‘very hot or raining’ This is really unfair seeing as everyone the previous week were provided with taxis! The hospital was around a 45 minute walk, which meant I arrived sweating as it was very hot and I felt uncomfortable and faint all day due to being so tired. There was no sense of organization. I couldn’t deal with this and ended up having to pay for the taxis myself.
Although I saw some pretty valuable things on the actual placement, the mentor didn’t understand English properly. The nurses always talked about us students in Croatian as they believed we didn’t understand. They were rude to us and deliberately blocked our views. Most of the time there was nothing going on and I had to sit around doing nothing. This is so unfair considering how much I paid for the actual placement! I believe the staff should be more welcoming!
The whole placement seems very overpriced and not worth half of what I paid for it. I don’t understand why we should have to pay extra costs for things like scrubs and the return taxi to the airport. There are a lot more hidden costs than Gap Medics make out.
I sent my complaint to Gap Medics but they have not done anything about the issue therefore I am going to escalate this further. My overall experience of the trip was much worse than I expected. My friends are looking to travel with Gap Medics soon and it is a shame that I will have to share my experience with them. I also requested a breakdown of the cost I paid to see where the money is actually going, but again I was ignored!