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Med Uni Graz is temporary home to exchange students from all over the world. Kevin Cristopher is the first student from Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC) in the Dominican Republic who participated in the four-week Paediatric Educational Course at Med Uni Graz and rotated at the Department of Paediatric and Adolescent Surgery for one month. He is also the first incoming student completing a traineeship funded by the Erasmus+ Programme KA107 International Credit Mobility that Med Uni Graz together with partners worldwide successfully applied for in 2019. We met Kevin Cristopher to talk about his experience in Graz, the differences of medical treatment in the Dominican Republic and Austria and what studying in Graz is like from the standpoint of an exchange student.
My name is Kevin Cristopher, I am 28 years old, and I will very soon finish the INTEC medicine program. Since the beginning of my career, I have always been involved in exchange programs serving as a translator and mentor for students who decide to perform rotations in Santo Domingo.
What motivated me to come to Austria was my interest in experiencing new cultures, making connections with other doctors from different parts of the world and for personal growth. I hope to strengthen my knowledge in patient management, clinical and surgical treatment of different pathologies as well as to acquire a new vision of the international health approach.
Graz is a small city full of cultural, gastronomic traditions and impressive architecture. It is also the preferred destination for students within Austria due to its large number of universities and multiple exchange programs.
One of my main challenges was being able to communicate with patients and part of the medical staff, because most of them only speak German but because Graz is a culturally diverse city I had patients as well as doctors who speak English perfectly and even Spanish in some cases.
Yes, I had the opportunity to be the mentor of the students who traveled from Graz to the Dominican Republic for their clinical rotations last year. Now, I met them again in Graz. I was also able to meet students from different nationalities during the Educational Course in Paediatric Medicine I was able to connect with them as well as create memories that I would never forget.
One of the differences that I noticed between the two hospitals was the protocol used to handle certain diseases; in Santo Domingo we used the American protocol while in Graz they used the protocol of the European Union. Additionally, the different endemic pathologies seen in both centers due to environmental and demographic differences.
I would like to share that feeling of empathy that we feel for our patients; we treat them like our family and the joy that characterizes us in the world as well as our gastronomy.
First of all, to graduate and receive my diploma, completing the medical internship to obtain my license as a doctor, to learn German as it is a goal that I set myself during my stay in Graz and finally, to apply to my specialty in pediatrics in Santo Domingo or Austria.
My advice to students who want to study abroad is to keep an open mind, to learn as much as they can about the country they are going to before arriving so they don’t feel out of place, and to leave a good impression of themselves and their work because they will be representing their university and country.