As a Sri Lankan, the scent of cardamom and cloves is as familiar as the rhythm of the ocean against our shores. So, stepping into the sterile halls of a medical school abroad was like diving into a different world, one where stethoscopes replaced sarongs and textbooks replaced the whisper of coconut palms. But amidst the cultural shift, I discovered a treasure trove of unexpected joys—joys that enriched my medical journey and painted my life with vibrant hues beyond the white coat.
Tea and Empathy: Bridging Cultures with a Smile:
Growing up on a diet of hopper and dhal, I wasn’t used to the aroma of freshly baked croissants wafting through the cafeteria. But it was over these contrasting lunch breaks that I discovered the universal language of a shared cup of tea. My broken Russian, peppered with English, became a bridge, connecting me to classmates from across the globe. We swapped stories, shared laughter over mispronounced medical jargon, and learned to see the world through each other’s eyes. This cultural tapestry, woven with patience and a steaming mug of chai, taught me the most profound lesson – empathy transcends language, and it’s the cornerstone of true patient care.
Spice Routes to Self-Discovery:
Living abroad in Belarus is an adventure, and mine was spiced with the vibrant chaos of a foreign city. Navigating unfamiliar streets, deciphering confusing schedules, and bargaining for fresh produce at bustling markets—each challenge was a lesson in resilience and resourcefulness. I learned to trust my instincts, embrace the unexpected, and find my way even when the map felt useless. These daily adventures, far from the sterile confines of the hospital, became my personal laboratory, where I discovered a strength and independence I never knew I possessed.
From Curry to Cadavers: Embracing the Mosaic of Medicine:
Back in Sri Lanka, Ayurveda and Western medicine danced in a graceful tango, their philosophies intertwined like the threads of a silk sari. Studying abroad, I witnessed this mosaic of healthcare approaches on a global scale. From traditional Chinese acupuncture to ancient Mayan herbal remedies, I saw the beauty and efficacy of diverse medical practices. This broadened my perspective, reminding me that healing is not confined to a single textbook or a single system. It’s a tapestry woven from the threads of tradition, science, and cultural understanding—a tapestry I’m now eager to contribute to.
Finding Familiar in the Foreign:
Despite the miles separating me from the turquoise waters of my island home, I found pockets of Sri Lanka scattered in Belarus. The warmth of a fellow Sri Lankan’s smile in a crowded cafeteria, the aroma of freshly brewed Ceylon tea in a hidden cafe, the rhythm of a Sinhala song echoing in a stranger’s laughter – these were the unexpected anchors that kept me grounded. They reminded me of the resilience and spirit of my people, a spirit I carry with me into every patient interaction, every diagnosis, and every struggle.
A World of Possibilities, a Universe of Hope:
Being a Sri Lankan medical student abroad is not just about studying; it’s about breaking stereotypes, building bridges, and carrying a piece of my island’s vibrant spirit to the world. It’s about learning from diverse medical traditions, adapting to new cultures, and discovering the unexpected joys that lie beyond the familiar. It’s about becoming a doctor who sees the world as a tapestry of experiences, a doctor who embraces the unexpected, and a doctor who carries a little bit of Sri Lankan sunshine wherever they go.
So, to aspiring Sri Lankan medical students, I say this: don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. The world is your classroom, and the unexpected joys of learning abroad are waiting to be discovered. Let your journey be a blend of curry and cadavers, of sarongs and stethoscopes, of familiar smiles in foreign lands. Let it be a journey that shapes you, not just as a doctor, but as a global citizen, a bridge between cultures, and a beacon of hope for a healthier world.
To schedule your appointment, please get in touch with Dr. Harry Prasad, MD (Belarus), MBA (UK), CGMA, Dip. Russian Language, Dip. Counselling & Psychotherapy, an SLMC Registered Medical Practitioner, and the official representative for Belarusian State Medical University in Sri Lanka. He also serves as the Sri Lankan President of the International Graduates’ Association – Belarus. You can contact him at 0777 55 66 66.
ISC Education: 4A Cambridge Place, Colombo 7