We're Halfway There

I have officially been in Europe for 3 weeks. I’ve finished an entire course, took a few weekend trips around the country, and even stayed in Stockholm, Sweden for a few days. I’ve eaten great food, terrible food, and had some interesting experiences while watching Danes drink in the streets at Distortion, one of the largest music festivals in Europe that spills socialization into the streets during the longest summer days. I’ll be honest in saying this post is as much for me as it is for my readers: whether you’ve enjoyed reading about my experiences or not, it has been an excellent way for me to keep my thoughts straight through my adventures. So, This is going to be a small weekly review, from arrival to the start of my second session.

Week 1 (May 24-30)

Talk about jet-lagged. The first couple of days here were rough. Denmark is 6 hours ahead of home and there is only 6 hours of night here during the summer. So going to bed at 9 pm means the sun is directly in your windows. I landed on Monday, went to orientation on Tuesday. It was very “FRESHMAN WELCOME,” but it was fun and really helped me learn my way around the city with some new friends. Class started at 3 the same day: naturally, I missed the bus to the hospital where we were having class and found my way there alone. But, whatever.  At the end of the week, I went on my sailing ships tour, which you can read about in a previous post.

Week 2 (May 31-June 6)

This week, I get to experience clinical trials in Copenhagen. We learned to do several types of procedures with current medical students at the largest hospital in Denmark. First, we worked on Laparoscopy using a training tool with beads, “grabby hands,” and an iPad.

Ultrasounds were next: students worked on each other, viewing their heart, liver, stomach, and kidneys in the ultrasound. We paid extra close attention to the aorta in this activity, show how it flexed with the body. It was amazing to be able track it with the ultrasound sensor. Thankfully, we didn’t find a baby in any of our ultrasound volunteers. Wouldn’t that have been awkward.

Male urinary catheters was next. I have never seen such a realistic dummy before (on the left, that is appropriate penis handling at its finest), but the catheter dummy was…something. It was a cool experience, though, and I never realized how difficult sterility can be in a hospital setting.

We worked on suturing wounds, something I was moderately comfortable with already. The dummies for that exercise weren’t realistic in the least and were actually quite hard to work on. But, I have a new technique to show off at the lab!

And finally, we learned how to run an IV with a blood catheter in a human arm analog, the tool I felt that was most useful to the group. Weather you’re becoming a doctor, nurse, technician, or animal studies, IV administration is an important part of your career. And the arm analogs we used were very realistic. The blood-syrup they used was also very lifelike, a useful medium for discovering how precise a stick has to be to have good circulation.

I also went to Den Blu Planet: the aquarium here in Copenhagen. I’ll be honest: I was a little disappointed. The shark tank was pretty cool and the piranhas were super creepy, but otherwise it was pretty standard fish stuff. That being said, had a blast with one of my new friends running around Kastrup.

Week 3 (June 7-13)

Human Health and Disease was an interesting class, to say the least. Every student (but me) was pre-med and acted pre-med: they were driven, hard working, and looking forward to their future. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the lower 40% of scores in a class in my life, but this was a positive experience, in my opinion, being surrounded by such passionate people. Adam, Iben, and Mads were excellent instructors due to their vast experience in the field, and their unique quirks allowed them to connect to students on a deeper level, even while pushing us into some very intensive studies. The tests were hard, but open-ended, leaving room for imaginative answers for most questions. As students, we evaluated multiple patient cases, gave diagnoses, and learned about paraclinical examinations and treatments for a variety of cardiac, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and neurological disorders with a special emphasis on ischemic heart failure, edema of the lungs, liver failure, pancreatitis, epilepsy, and gall stones.

To round of the hectic studying that was needed for this class, I left with a few of my friends from the course to Stockholm, Sweden for the long weekend between sessions. All in all, we had an absolute blast. I will have to write a separate post for all of the adventures in Sweden, but I promise to put it up soon on the blog.

We have had amazing luck with weather here so far, experiencing everything from low 50’s to mid 60’s, a fine spread for Denmark’s typical weather. I can’t thank Denmark enough for the experience it’s given me, as well as all the people who pushed me to travel here. While I am starting to reach a point where I’m ready to go home, I know that I’m going to miss this place once I leave. A piece of my heart will always be in Denmark, spread between the Isefjord and Bornholm, sitting at the tip of the spiral church and at cruising across the canals of Christanshavn.

Mange tak skal du have, Danmark