Isil Tatlidil from Turkey

01.12.2012 Dear IPPNW,
Exploring different cultures, learning about different viewpoints from all over the world, seeing how the life is going on the other side of world have been my some of interest. Since I was a second year medical student, I've attended several student-exchange-programs during my medical education. I have a lot of nice memories from all of them, I learned a lot, I had a lot of foreign friends from all over the world which makes me feel like I know some people from many countries. But, my IPPNW exchange program was one of the most remarkable one which I like the most.

All student exchange programs I attended was quite similar to each other... First you find the city and arrive the place meet the local committee taking care of you.. then they take you to a dorm, flat or what ever.. that the other foreign students and you live together. You start to hang out with those other foreign students and Some friendships begin. You share a lot about the viewpoints, learn the some of the aspect of their cultures, discuss a lot of ideas with them. Sometimes the hosting committee takes you to some social activities and you spend some time with them. But, most of times this doesn't make you closer to them than your other foreign friends. Because you spend almost most of your time with them and you are sharing the similar conditions. Also this is the first time that you see that country and deal with the daily matters in that country like all of them. Those similar conditions make you closer to each other.  And you support each other for each's problems they confronted. You spend almost all of your day speaking in English and sometimes teaching and learning some greetings and swears in each others' language, doing a lot of gossips about the daily life in the hosting country without asking point of views of the people of the hosting country. And if you have a good local committee making all communications for the daily life instead of you, nobody cares about the home country's language!!!! Then seeing all the highlights of the country and doing your clerkship, you back your home. but all you have is friendships that belongs the other countries, cultural knowledge that belong to other countries but not the hosting country... it's also for the hosting committee that it's easier to be in your normal daily life and with your daily friends as usual. and If the foreign students don't feel themselves alone. Then everything is alright. This is also a great experience that you learn about a lot of cultures... but not the host country's... You just watch that country like a documentary with a lot of comments of other foreigners and never get involved in ongoing life there.

What I experienced with IPPNW in Leipzig was completely different from this and amazing!!!!  After having an accident my decision to attend the exchange program was quite difficult. When I received the first e-mail from Ulla I still had a broken leg and hip with walking sticks, and I was planning to tell Dr. Bulent Kilic to choose another student for this Program. My family insist me on asking the doctor's advice operating me. After asking to the doctor I decided to attend it. He said I would be get better until that time. Now I'm  so happy that I was lucky to join this program.

The word 'punctual'
was completely right for the German peoples and it was clear before I visit Germany.. I have received all my mails in-on time And during my income to Germany every thing went precisely alright. That rarely, happens in Turkey. From the beginning I was really impressed with the collaboration in IPPNW-Germany. I was so happy that everything was going on as we planned before. After meeting Ulla at the airport we spend some time together with talking in a few hours we shared a lot of thing while leaving I was happy to see her again at the end of the exchange program. Then Clara was really helpful to take me to the train station to go to Leipzig. It have never had such help and care in any other exchange program before.

When I was in Leipzig, Marie was also perfect. She was the one taking care of me there...We shared the same flat. Even if She's so busy with the internship in her faculty. She was every time helpful and motivated. My two week in social project was an extraordinary experience for me. I had never seen that kind of places before. I was in a home for Asylum Seekers and there was a help office in the home for them to consult their daily matters. I was with the people working in that office. They were not only friendly and helpful but also quite enthusiastic in their job and put a great effort to help all the asylum seekers.  But seeing the situations of the  asylum seekers was totally upsetting. They were living in hard conditions. Beside this, knowing any German and anything about German culture they immigrated to this country to escape a persecution in their country. They didn't know most of the public rules.. Most of them were coming with a number of envelop and letter saying that they have to pay fine and some of them doesn't even know what they did to have this. Most of them had signed a lot of contracts in German without knowing what is written in the paper.  the communication with some of them was impossible. Observing all of the these thing was quite sad. What a pity!!!
After having a great time with the officers in the home the hospital started a little bit disappointing.  An assistant even asked me that knowing few Deutsch why I was there in the hospital. My first day was boring I had no idea about any of the patient and there was nobody to make an English explanation. At the end of the day I meet another assistant, Maria. She was quite nice and was explaining me everything for all the cases. I really liked the health system in Germany. They were having approximately 8 patient in ambulance and taking care of 3-4 patient in emergency service during the working hours which is only could be in your dream in Turkey... In the outpatient's clinic in Turkey we are lucky if we have 25 patient during the day. And the number of patient is generally like 40-60 patients. So German doctors was taking care of the patients with more details. I liked it...Then Stephanie, Neurology asistant in IPPNW taking care of me was in the ambulance and everything turn into fun for me.  I really enjoyed the time I spent with her both in ambulance and also in the city...It was how smart of Stephanie that more than explaining patients she got me involved the ongoing patient care.  She gave me an German-Turkish  phrase book for the hospital. And wrote me some sentences used for  examinations. After studying them I started to meet the patients and did their physical examination with Stephanie! It was perfect for two week exchange period. It was totally  amazing and all are my unforgettable memories now. Hospital part with Stephanie was excellent.

Life in Leipzig out of the office and hospital
was completely different. Leipzig was not an industrially developed city compared to the other cities of Germany. It belongs to Eastern part of Germany and Few knows English in Leipzig. All the middle aged and elderly people has Russian as a second language. Only the youngsters speaks in English. So you have to know some German to maintain your basic daily life.  It was an opportunity to me to speak basic Deutsch. So I tried some even if sometimes I was quite not understandable. But I was pretty sure of that If I had had my exchange experience in the western part of Germany. I wouldn't have practiced my German Knowledge, Because most of the people in Western Germany can speak English. Moreover, there is a huge Turkish population in the big cities of Western Germany...

My weekend trip to Dresden
was excellent. Dresden is a remarkable city with a lot of tourist attractions. But, I enjoyed the time I spent with Jana and Rebekka more than Dresden. We had fun together. I will never forget my days with Rebekka and Jana there.  We talked and shared a lot.  
I attended several IPPNW meeting. IPPNW student were all nice and they did their meeting in English just because of me. Thus, I got involved the ongoing events of IPPNW. Thomas was the one arranging me a canoe tour in the canals of Leipzig. It was a trip providing me to see the different, mostly natural aspect of Leipzig. Admiringly, Thomas has a huge knowledge about the near history of Leipzig and the local houses, restaurant and other places... And he explained a lot. Learning that the place nowadays a lake  was once a coal mining was surprising to me.

My IPPNW exchange experience was far more different than my other exchange experience... I really got involved the Saxonian culture.. I learned how to cook some German food.. I had meal with “Spargel” and had cakes with “Rhabarber” which we don't have in my Country and I like them. I learned a lot about the German people's point view. I actively worked in the hospital and I had chance to practice my Basic German both in the hospital and in the street. It was completely an exchange program. Before going back home I felt that I didn't watch a documentary about Germany but I lived in Germany for a month!!!!
Thanks to all IPPNW group for  my unforgettable experience in Germany!!!!
Alles Gute,  Isil