overview 4 JANUARY - 1 MARCH 2019

"I was even asked to apply for a job"

Valérie Staelens
Different hospitals and health Centres, Chiang Mai, Thailand

From a professional point of view:

 " The MC Cormick Hospital (a private clinic) where I did my first work placement can be compared with a hospital in Belgium. The main language of the staff is Thai but many staff members also spoke English. It's a huge academic hospital situated at a big medical campus. I started to work at the emergency department for 4 weeks and after that at intensive care. The last weeks I worked at different departments. The type of care that was provided is comparable with Belgium however some techniques and equipments are a little bit odifferent. After the placement in that hospital, I worked in a community hospital. We focused mainly on wound care to avoid infections. Besides that we also provided health education and prevention in about 10 villages and communities around the centre.


For me this internship was a great experience and I didn't regret it for a minute. Furthermore, it was a great opportunity to learn the Thai language.  I've worked in diffierent units and departments but I preferred to be placed in one department for at least 2 weeks so the local team gets to know your abilities and skills. It makes it easier to work together.  For me it was also an opportunity to build a network in Thailand. I was even asked to apply for a job after graduation. Finally, I also got insights in the Thai health care system, had a wonderful international experience and made some great friends." 

 From an intercultural perspective:

"For me, the experience in Thailand was not new. I visited Thailand several times before, so I was more or less already familiar with the cutlure. There are differences between the Thai culture and the my own culture but I also think that Thailand is an easy destination for a first intercultural experience. People are very friendly and helpful. Arriving in Chiang Mai might be overwhelming: different smells, chaotic traffic, etc. But I think the language barrier is a bigger challenge during a work placement.  I had learnt a little Thai before I arrived which really helped me working with the local team and the patients. Another cultural experience was the Thai food: I really liked it how everyon wanted to make me familiar with the different types of Thai food. It's spicy so watch your tastepallets, they could get heated easily! The intercultural experience that I will remind the most is a merit and blessing session in the intensive care unit. The whole unit got blessed and we all chanted and prayed together with five monks. This was really a unique experience."

My recommendations for future ASEM candidates:

"I would truly recommend Friends for Asia to other students. It is a good company and the coordinators are really there for you if you need any support. They ask you how you are doing and how the placement is going, every week.  If something is not going smoothly you can talk to them and they try to find a solution or even change your program to your needs or preferences, if possible.  The house is nice, local and has a very good location in Chiang Mai. THe introduction weekend is very well organised.  As the placement is rather observation based, I would recommend to do it rather early than late during your studies."