Fjolla Zhubi from Kosovo

01.12.2012 Introduction to IPPNW
The first time I heard about IPPNW was about a year ago at a lecture in Prishtina. Before us, the studentsof the Medical Faculty of Prishtina, Timothy, student’s representativeof the German affiliate of IPPNW, described the activities of thisorganization that seemed to have an amazing history and a very worthy purpose. I rarely had the chance to learn of such organizations of medical students so I got interested and did some more exploring on the Internet about the history of IPPNW. 

A year later, to have been given the chance to be a part of the Internship and Engagement Exchange Program was a big privilege for me. I was especially honored by the fact that I was the first person from Kosovo to be chosen for such a program. In a way I felt as a representative of our new country to such organization in Germany, and it made me assume a bigger responsibility.
IPPNW had chosen Göttingen as the city where I was going to do my medical training and social activity. I had never heard for Göttingen before, but I was really glad to find out that it was a university town with one of the oldest and the most prestigious universities in Germany.
The city of Göttingen
I landed in Hannover’s airport and traveled by train to Göttingen. During the travelling I was impressed by the greenery and the large windmill farms. Everything, including the landscape, looked really neat and well organized. Even the trees seemed to have the same distance from each other. Timothy, Katharina and Hannah were waiting for me in the train station, with their warm greeting and smile on their faces they made me feel relaxed after the long trip that I had and the anxiety of what to expect.
Göttingen had a feel of a dynamic city with a youthful spirit. Knowing that all those scientists and Nobel Prize winners used to walk on these streets, gave me a special feeling. Old cobblestone streets, small shops and cafes, streets full of students, calm people biking all around, where some of the characteristics of this city. These still remain some of the most vivid memories of this city where I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with IPPNW colleagues and do my one-month medical training.
Ganseliesel fountain was one of the most special monuments of the city, with an amazing story behind it. In striking a conversation with a women one day at the park where this monument stands, I learned that it has become a tradition that every student after they graduate they go and climb the fountain to kiss the Ganseliesel. So, apparently, she became the most kissed girl in the world.
Internship and Engagement in the Clinics
I began my one month internship in a private hospital called “Parkklinik am Hainberg”, in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery.  My main interest is internal medicine but at this clinic orthopedic surgery was the specialty and my experience there, the work ethic, the procedures, the care for the patients and the medical staff, was an eye-opener to modern medical service provisions.
At the beginning I was very confused about how my internship is going to be, how the staff will accept me, an intern from a foreign country in a busy clinic. I did not know what to expect and I was in a land I had never been before even though I’d heard only good things about it. On the first day, it took me 40 minutes to find the clinic. Biking with a city map in my hand, rushing to make it in time and consumed by mixed emotions had made me sweat by the time I arrived at the clinic.
After making my way in and meeting the nursing staff, I was introduced to my mentor, Dr. Hartmut Stinus, a very well-known orthopedic surgeon in that region. As I had read his biography before meeting him, it really was a great honor for me to be observing and assisting a doctor with all those professional achievements. He welcomed me with a warm smile and introduced me his team, the other doctors and nurses. The nurses, particularly, were really friendly and made me feel very comfortable during my one month internship.
During this time, I observed different kind of operations like: knee and hip replacement, nucleus pulposus prolapse or protrusion operations, foot and shoulder operations, and different ones that I have never had the chance to see them in my country. Dr. Stinus was very helpful as he took the time to explain all what he was doing during the surgeries and tried to make sure that I understood the procedures. After a few weeks of observation, he also offered me to assist him in two surgeries: Achilles tendon rupture and Halluces valgus surgery. I was really eager to assist because it was the first time that I was taking such a role in a surgery, even if it was assisting with very simple tasks. Some days when it didn’t feel like I was bothering him, I joined him in the coffee breaks and we had the chance to chat about different issues mostly medical procedures.
In addition to the orthopedic surgery department, I also interned at the patient’s station with Dr. Birtte and Dr. Anette, where I used to take blood samples from the patients and assist with the operative wounds. I was very glad as there I also had the chance to practice some procedures of internal medicine. Even though, in working directly with patients, language was a barrier, they were cooperative and made the effort to communicate with me in English.
Social Activity
The IPPNW exchange program has also a social activity aspect to it rather than just the medical internship. But unfortunately during that time that I was in Germany the social organizations and the students working there were on their summer break, so I couldn’t realize my social project. However, the IPPNW students that I met: Timothy, Manon, Katharinas, and Hannah, told me about the activities of these social organizations. They described to me the “Medical Peace Work” which is an emerging field of expertise in the health profession and combines it with violence prevention and peace building. Also about “Medinetz” which is a project group that provides medical care for refugees and immigrants without medical insurance. They work without compensation or government support and anyone who is treated there will remain anonymous. Both of these organizations are related with IPPNW. “Medinetz” and “Medical Peace Work” are good examples how medicine knows no border between people, regardless their ethnicity, religion or social status. Kosovo, as a multiethnic country need these kind of organizations where multiethnic teams of medical students and doctors can exchange their experiences in the field of medicine and this also can be as a beginning for other cooperation in different fields between communities. They also can provide medical services to the discriminated groups, like the unemployed people and those without any social assistance.
While it was a bit unfortunate that it was summer time and little social activities, during this time, the Global Health Conference “Stuffing and Starving” took place in Berlin. It was held in Charité. I have never heard of Charité before, but it was one of the largest university hospitals in Europe. More than half of the German Nobel Prize winners in medicine came from Charité. So, naturally, I went with Timothy of IPPNW to this global conference.
The conference was in German, but thanks to Timothy and Katharina, who translated for me, I managed to understand the main issues. Apart from the conference, I had the chance to meet Ulla and some IPPNW students from different parts of Germany, with whom we exchanged different experiences.
The next day I took a Berlin tour with Timothy, who introduced me the main parts of Berlin. Compared with Göttingen, Berlin was more crowded, with different kinds of people in the streets and trains, a lot of tourists roaming with the maps in their hands and others taking pictures. Thanks to good timing we managed to visit enough places for a short time, like: Bundestag, Brandenburger Tor, Museum Island, Holocaust Memorial, The Berlin Wall, etc.  Visiting the remaining of the Berlin Wall was impressive, because as I come from a divided city (ethnically divided) I know very well how it’s like to live in such circumstances that Berlin was found itself. To have seen only the remains of that wall, now, gave me hope that one day our “imaginary wall” in Mitrovica may fall as the Berliners experienced decades ago.
During that weekend in Berlin I stood at Lena’s and Juan’s apartment, a really nice young couple.  I was amazed by their hospitality. Their friends Miriam and Sandra invited us to their apartment. I really enjoyed that typically German youth night in those tiny cute apartments. Everyone helped with cooking and enjoying the food together while chatting and listening to great music. It was a very educational and joyful weekend in what seemed a characteristic atmosphere of Berlin.
One day, with some of the IPPNW activist and a group of students from Göttingen I embarked on a one-day trip to visit the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial in Nordhausen. Nordhausen is a town in east Germany, more precisely, it is where the border between West and East Germany used to be. It was interesting to see how things change when you enter the Nordhausen and compare it with the west side of Germany. You can notice the differences in the architecture, people and a more communist feel of what used to be East Germany.
The concentration camp, being one step closer to the dark history of the mankind, made me have an unusual feeling to walk through a city that had seen some much grief. Being from Kosovo, a place where not too long, we had experienced our own period of war, grief and sacrifice, it reminded me of some of those days as I walked through the roads of  Nordhausen. Even though it was a bit hard for me as most of the descriptions of the place were in German, I was thankful to have Timothy and Manon of IPNNW who help translate the main part for me.
All in all, I was really lucky to have a chance to work in German environment. I was really impressed of their hardworking spirit and the willingness to help the others, which you can notice everywhere, hospital, at student’s home, even at the people in the streets when you ask for orientation. Being friendly and open-minded were some of the features that characterize German people.
Based on my experience in Germany, and in conversations that I had with students of IPPNW in Germany, there is a desire and a big willingness to cooperate and exchange experiences with much more students. Their focus of cooperation is in clinical practice, social activities and attending in conferences that IPPNW organizes regularly.
My experience that I had, people that I met, had and will have a huge impact in my future.