A Culture Shocked Wendy

After spending a couple of weeks on one of our projects, no volunteer wants to go home. I know I would rather wake up with a baby elephant in my back garden, playing with children who appreciate your love more than anything or helping those who are much less fortunate than myself, than spending 9-5 in a stuffy office worrying about staplers, invoices and work politics.

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Mr Incredible, certainly has a hard time adjusting to office life

Heading home is never easy when you have been having the time of your life for the past few weeks. In the same way that volunteers have to adjust to the customs and everyday life of Thailand, they also have to re-adjust to their lives back in their home countries. This is otherwise known as;

Reverse Culture Shock

I know that I had a really hard time when I first went back to England after being in Thailand. I found Thailand to really fit my personality and the way that I think that people should treat each other. Being back in England with a culture I am not fond of, weather that is bad to say the least and people who don’t treat each other as nicely as they do here, made me genuinely sad.

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When I visit Suvarnabhumi Airport I see a lot of people not looking forward to going home

I found it difficult to merge myself back with the routines and expectations of a Western county. For some people, they manage to slip back into their lives very easily, being only enriched with their time as a volunteer but some people however, myself included, find life lacking.

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Reverse Culture Shock can manifest itself in many forms from;

– Boredom

– Reverse homesickness

– Misunderstanding of your behaviour from others

– Feelings of alienation

– Negative feelings towards Westerners and

– Restlessness and being irritable

There isn’t anything wrong with feeling like this, but it can be very hard to adjust to going to back to your previous life after having such a life changing experience. The best ways I found to deal with Reverse Culture Shock was to just leave the country as soon as possible. I understand however that this is incredibly impractical for most people though so if you aren’t able to just up sticks and move then you can always try some of the following ideas;

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Talk About Your Experience

When you first get home, everyone you know will be desperate to hear all about your experiences and the adventures you have been getting up to. Embrace this time. Use it as a means to relive some of your most incredible, hilarious and meaningful memories. Sometimes just talking about what you miss will be enough to stop you missing it for a while; just be careful not to turn into the person that is always saying ‘When I was in Thailand…..’, ‘In Thailand…’, ‘That reminds me of when I did_____ in Thailand…..’. Your stories can become boring for people when you constantly tell them 😀

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Skype to the rescue; as always

Stay In Touch

Make sure to keep in touch with all of the people you met on your journey that mean something to you. Who knows when you might be able to meet them again. Losing connections with people that were involved in an important part of your life is terrible and something I hope never to do. Talking and keeping in touch with the people you met along the way is also a great way of reliving your experiences together so that you don’t ever feel too far away from your adventure.

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Scrapbooks or Photo Albums

I know this is definitely more of a girly thing to do but I can assure you, that if you pick up lots of small trinkets during your trip, like napkins from restaurants, cards from hotels, postcards or even something simple like leaves and keep hold of them, then you will be able to create something that you can look back on in years to come and smile at. I keep everything, so I have a lot of scrapbook type things, but if you aren’t the hoarding kind like me then photos, quotes or even written notes can have the same effect. Writing down hilarious things in the moment will ensure that you don’t forget them and when you look back on it in a year, five years or even fifteen years, you will remember that ridiculous moment.

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Stimulate Your Senses

A great way to get over Reverse Culture Shock is to eat your favourite foods from your trip. For me that would be any of the food I eat at Gois everyday, she has the best Goi Djab, Salads, Pad Thai and dishes I don’t think even have a name. If I went back to England and managed to find somewhere that could make those dishes I know that I would feel like I was back in Thailand; something that would definitely make me happy!

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Be a tortoise for a bit 🙂

Take It Slow

If you really are struggling to integrate back into your Western life then take it slowly. I know it can be terribly overwhelming to visit something as normal as a Walmart or an ASDA, when you have been used to living in the Elephant Village, or spending time with children who will never even hope to have access to such a large amount of food. I found it difficult to adjust to how much the Western world wastes in comparison to Thailand, here people make a living from recycling, where as in England people don’t really care too much about what happens to their trash. Don’t try to push yourself to adjust quicker than you feel you can and let people know that you are having some trouble so that they can help you as well.

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Plan Another Trip

This doesn’t always have to be back to the same place, for some, travelling itself it the thing that they miss. By having something to work towards that you know will make you happy will provide you with a distraction and also motivation; two things that will really help you with dealing with Reverse Culture Shock.

If you are wanting to experience our life changing volunteering projects for yourself then just take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page, there you will find everything you need!

After that you can always relive your Thailand experience or get excited about your impending one by following my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages.

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Fact Filled Wendy

After having so many ‘How To’ posts over the last few days I decided to do something different.

Thailand is a very beautiful country, parts of it are never seen by tourists or travelers and even now secrets are still discovered in abandoned temples. There is so much of this country that people just don’t know about so I thought that I would share a few of my favourite ‘little known’ titbits about Thailand.

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1. Thailand means ‘Land of the Free’ and is the only country in South East Asia that hasn’t been colonized by a European nation

2.It is considered uncultured to place your bag on the ground. This is because both the floor and your feet are considered filthy

3. It is illegal to leave your home if you’re not wearing any pants

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4. Thailand is one of the largest producers of pineapples in the world – good thing as well, as I LOVE me some pineapple!

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5. The Miss Universe pageant has been won twice by Thai contestants; once in 1965 and once in 1988

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตรโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

6. Bangkok is the Western name for the country’s capital. It is in fact the longest country capital name in the world… Krungthepmahanakhon Amornrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amornphiman Awa-tarnsatthit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. The name itself is a story about Thailand, when translated into English can be read as;

The Capital City of Angels, The Residence of The Emerald Buddha, The Great City of Impregnable, The Gracefulness of the city is steadfast and thriving, The Grand Capital which is abundant with The Nine Noble Gems, it is a Pleasant Capital, The City is abounding with the enormous Royal Palaces that resembles as the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated God, Home of the Gods Incarnate, which was Erected by Vishnu at Indra’s Behest.

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7. Thailand has around 35,000 temples! Better get yourself some good walking shoes to see that all

8. One tenth of all animal species can be found in Thailand

That’t about 870,000 species!!!!!

9. It is forbidden to touch a Monk if you are a woman

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10. The Beach starring Leonardo di Caprio was filmed on Phi Phi Island

If you fancy discovering more of Thailand’s secrets then you should take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for projects that will allow you to experience this amazing country yourself.

Once you have done that then take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see some of the unknown sides of Thailand that I discover everyday 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Solo Wendy

I realised after my post last week that all of our volunteers face different issues when they travel depending on whether they are single travelers, couples or even just weary females. So for the rest of the week I will be posting helpful advice for everyone else!! Hopefully they will be of some use to you and will make you less scared and more excited about traveling!!!

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Thinking lots about the places I want to travel when I get older haha

When I was younger I had dreams of travelling the world and visiting all the places in my history books, my fairy tale stories, and my fathers stories. As I grew up my body ached for travel. Coming from a military family, I never stayed in one place for very long and traveling gave me the remedy to the pain I felt from staying stuck in one place.

Many others feel this exact same thing but the thing is, they either don’t have anyone to travel with or they are terrified of travelling alone. Seeing nothing but monsters hiding down alleyways and long evenings staring into space with only your thoughts and perhaps a good book for company. These fears overpower dreams and comatose you into remaining stuck in the life that you don’t enjoy or feel fulfilled with.

These are valid fears.

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No one wants to be alone when they travel. No one wants to experience the time of their life without somebody to share it with. But just because you start out your journey alone doesn’t mean you will spend it or even finish it in the same way. You will meet people. You will be able to share your experience with others, even more amazing is that you will be able to experience them with people who have the same sort of attitude and ideals to you.

But, those who allow fears to prevent them from travelling, don’t understand this truth.

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In fact, I think solo travel is one of the friendliest and easiest way to make friends – friendships that have a lasting and meaningful impact upon your life. Friendships on the travel road will broaden your horizons in so many way. Even as I write this I am waiting for a call from a girl I met a few weeks ago in Cambodia who has come over to Surin to hang out for a few days. If I hadn’t traveled alone, I never would have met her and forged the great friendship we now have.

Just remember when you meet someone new that they are feeling the same way you are, they are nervous, weary, scared even so be the one to reach out a hand and a smile to make them feel more at ease and to know friends can be made anywhere.

It’s tough at first, but as with everything it gets easier and soon you’ll find yourself stopping to share your life story with every new person you meet and asking them to do the same. This is one of my favourite ways to discover the undiscovered. My own wandering had led me to find some amazing places that aren’t always in the guide books, so if I share my experiences, and have others do the same with me, then everyone’s lives are more enriched.

Another wonderful thing about traveling is that no one knows or really cares about who you are, where you are from, what you do for a living, how many cats you have. They really just want to know who are you right now. It’s easy to not have defensive walls in place because you can be whoever you choose, you can be the better person you want to be.

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Another friend I made during my last Cambodia trip 🙂

So if you are worried about meeting new people whilst travelling then just follow these simple tips.

Take small steps every day to meet new people. Start with small conversations with strangers, it doesn’t have to be anything deep or meaningful, ask if they know a good restaurant or something, you might learn some insider local knowledge.

Attend any parties or get togethers that your accommodation is offering or that you get offered an invitation to. It’s a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the atmosphere of fun and freedom to meet new people

Go out on your own to restaurants and bars. Obviously be careful and keep your wits about you but you will end up finding other who are on their own and you just go from there.

If you have already made friends then don’t forget to be open to welcoming new people in. What you give out will always return to you. Remember the times when you were alone and others invited you in.

My last piece of advice is for anyone travelling or not, Don’t be a douche! Be nice, use your manners, show respect, be open and friendly to hearing other people’s stories and memories as well as sharing your own. Also remember that others have a voice and their own stories as well!

Finally remember the most powerful words on the planet

Thank you!

Thank you for asking me to sit with you and chat.
Thank you for inviting me out to dinner with y’all.
Thank you for helping me when I was lost.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you for listening to mine.

I have never been a shy person, I have been on stages from when I could walk so I was never able to be shy but I understand those that are. I have met so many people through my life who are shy, not because they want to be but because they just aren’t sure how to NOT be. I will always try to involve those who are a little quieter as I know the damage that can be done by being ignored by others, just because I am confident and loud doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of being ignored and shunned for the way I am.

Just give it a go, meet new people and forge new friendships, plus if it all goes balls up then you don’t have to worry about ever seeing them again anyway!!!

Take a second to look at the  Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for the most amazing volunteer opportunities in Thailand.

Then check out my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages for more of my silly face!!

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Questionable Wendy

Seeing as 99% of people who read my blog don’t know me and I am terrible at writing a bio I thought I would do one of those old Facebook question note thing instead 🙂 I found this on my own Facebook from nearly five years ago and cringed at the answers I gave 55

Enjoy 😀

Pick out a scar you have and explain how you got it – When my face gets wet you can see on my left check that there is a lot of scar tissue that came from a very bad ice skating accident with me being the only girl playing British Bulldog. Needless to say, I went about 6 feet on the ice, on my face, because a boy couldn’t face being beaten by a girl 🙂

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My resulting face – beautiful right

What is on the walls in your room? – I don’t actually have anything on the walls in my room at the moment, I am going to be filling them with all of my Thai language revision though

What does your phone look like? – It is a 64GB white iPhone 5 in a green edged case with a lots of blue heart stickers that Nikki gave to me yesterday

What music do you listen to at the moment? – I have developed a huge love for Thai and Asian music in the last few months

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Bodyslam, possibly the most famous band in Thailand

What is your current phone lock and home screen? – At the moment my lock screen is Rainbow Dashs’ cutie mark from My Little Pony, and my home screen is the reflection of water on a thatched roof at my friends lake house.

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My lock screen

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Home screen

What do you want more than anything in the world right now? – To be fluent in Thai

What time were you born? – I think it was some time in the mid afternoon

What are you listening to right now?Kook Kao by Cocktail (click the name to check them out, they are really good; I promise)

Are you scared of the dark? – I am scared of the dark when I am inside but outside doesn’t bother me

What colour hair/eyes do you like on the opposite sex? – I have no real preference but everyone knows how much in love with Asian boys I am 555

Coffee or energy drinks? – Energy drinks, but I would always choose an ice smoothie over anything else

Cats or dogs? – Dogs are number 1!

What is your favourite pizza topping? – I can’t get pizza in Thailand sadly, but my favourite in England was the Chicken BBQ with bacon, sweetcorn and onion with a BBQ sauce base and stuffed crust. God I miss pizza!!

If you could eat anything right now, what would it be? – Well now I am desperate for pizza

Do you speak another language? – I am getting pretty damn good at Thai now

What was the last gift you gave? – I bought my big brother a crate of beer the other night

Are you double jointed? – In my thumbs I am yes

Who is the person you call the most? – Nangfa

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Miss her face so much!!!

What annoys you the most? – That it isn’t ok in Thailand to tell someone when they are being prat; sometimes people just need to be told that!

What is your biggest weakness? – That I am probably the most stubborn being on the planet

What is your favourite Western and Thai holiday? – Oh this is an easy one, Western holiday has to be Christmas and favourite Thai holiday is hands down is Songkran – the worlds biggest water fight

What were you doing before writing this? – Writing even more blogs 🙂

What do you get complimented on the most? – Thai people are obsessed with my skin being white and girls are always telling me how jealous they are! Western people always say I have nice eyes

What do you want for your next birthday? – I would really love a pair of high tops, sometimes I get tired of wearing flip flops and want to wear socks

Who are you named after? – I’m not so much named after anyone, it was just that my mum never knew a Wendy. My Thai name, Rung, is because I always have rainbow hair

Worst habit? – Definitely that I stay up for way to long on an evening

Where is your second home? – My big brother, Dooks house

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My big brother Dook and his beautiful niece, Per-sia

What was your favourite toy as a child? – It would have to be my stuffed lamb, very aptly named Lambsy

Most treasured memory? – I think that it would have to be when my sister and her family and my best friend, Aron, and my mum came to the airport to see me off. Everyone was in tears and I have never not wanted to stop hugging someone so much. My sister gave me a note that I read whilst waiting for the plane that made me bawl my eyes out!!

Best live music you have seen? – Speed hahaha But I think it would have to be Atreyu, they were so good, and made a huge effort to talk and interact with so many of their fans

Do you have any pets? – I did have a beautiful puppy called Skylar for a month or so but then was told I wasn’t allowed to have her anymore, definitely one of the worst moments during my time in Thailand.

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I miss my baby, Skylar, SO much!!!!

What is your favourite colour? – Always has and will be, green

What was the last book you read? – I have recently read every Game of Thrones book, which makes it very confusing for me when I periodically hear about events on the TV show and knowing that far worse things happen later on

What was the last thing you ate and drank?-Me and a volunteer called Alice went to Swensens, a beautful ice cream company, for dinner last night. The last thing I drank was water 🙂

Who was the person you spoke to on the phone? – I am always on the phone with Nangfa!!!

Do you believe in love at first sight?– I believe in love at first sight with Thai boys haha

Best present you have ever received?  – Even though they came from an idiot, the best present I ever got was my CCM Ice Skates

Do you have any siblings? – I have a beautiful older sister called Emi. A younger brother called Josh and my Dads wife is currently pregnant with a baby girl 🙂

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Sibling in progress

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Baby brother Josh

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Big sister. Emi, and her son, Reuben

What colour hair do you have? – I have every hair colour!

What was the last thing you watched? – I have been obsessed with Jeremy Kyle lately haha

Summer or winter? – I adore Winter but now live in a constant Summer state

What is your favourite movie? – Tangled is by far the best movie of all time, oh and Josie and the Pussycats, and Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves!

Have you met any life changing people in the last year? – I think my two best friends in the world Aron Jackson and Anya Gartside would be at the top of that list, closely followed by my big brothers Dook and Tee.

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Aron on his recent volunteering trip to Africa

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My homeslice Anya

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My brothers, Tee, the one on the left, and Dook on the right

Morning or night? – Always night

What is your full name? – Wendy Ann Victoria Reece

If you could be an animal for a day, which animal would it be? – It would have to be a snow leopard as they are the coolest animal on the planet!

You get granted one superpower, what do you choose? – I think teleportation would be the best thing in the world, I could go to all the places I have always wanted to go!

What is your favourtie smell? – Bacon. Bacon and bacon.

Hopefully these silly questions will give you a bit more of an insight to me and my life and will mean that you understand my madness a little better from now on 😀

If you want to volunteer with a mad woman then take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page.

You can also always check out my TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages for more of my silly antics!

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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Take one Wendy Every Four Hours

This will be the final blog in the Project series, sad, sad times for us all right?? Following the same structure as I have done for the other projects Starfish has in Surin, I will now be looking at the hints and tips and other bits on information that you might find useful for the Medical Project.

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Apparently this isn’t a medical project appropriate face so I had to write this blog with the help of some ex volunteers!

Now I don’t work on the Medical project, strangely enough they aren’t too keen on visible tattoos, facial piercings and the fact that my hair changes colour every other week, so for this blog I had to turn to some ex volunteers and ask them what they would pass on to the next generation of Medical volunteers.

This is what we all came up with 🙂 In no particular order as well I might add haha

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Jesse feeling the ‘baby’ in this training dummy at the Surin School of Nursing

The first thing that each volunteer I spoke to mentioned was, to expect the unexpected. This is Thailand, you never know who will come through the doors that day, who you will go to meet or what you will be doing. Sometimes days will be regimented and organised into activities for the whole day and some days? Well, some days may be more free flowing and relaxed with some people going off to do one activity with others going in a completely different direction. Everyone here goes with the flow and takes everything in their stride so don’t be too startled if you don’t do everything you thought you would for that day and you do something else instead. It is all a learning experience and sometimes a change in plans can be an amazing adventure and experience in itself.

All Medical volunteers must be aware that they can be doing anything, from spending the day working in the hospital learning about how Thailand train their student nurses, to walking several miles between homes and villages in order to do health checks on villagers that have no means to get to a hospital. Everyday will be a new adventure and learning experience, just go with the flow and take part in everything that is planned, or not so planned for that day.

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We do work with all walks of life from monks to children

The work you are doing is real work. It isn’t a show put on to please the foreigners. This is real work that the hospitals and the clinics need doing on a day to day basis, you will become part of a working team of Thai medical staff that will expect you to work with them and help out in every way you can, to teach them about the culture of working of where you come from and to take on board how different things might be in Thailand. Naturally some days may be quieter in the clinics or the hospital might not be running any special classes, so it might be a quiet day but, take this as an opportunity to talk with the Thai medical staff and learn what it is to work in Thailand. You can learn some incredible techniques and diagnostic tricks just from hearing stories, one that the volunteers learnt that is very helpful is, that when drawing blood from elderly Thai people who work in rural areas, is that their circulation tends not to be as it was, so a little massage on the area you are going to take blood will make it much more comfortable for the patient and also bring up veins much quicker as well as stimulate the blood flow as well.

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We do regular work with the tallest man in Thailand, the check ups we do are very important on assessing his condition and his flexibility levels that will hopefully one day improve enough for him to walk again

One thing that Mary Gross, a nursing student from the Lane Community College of Nursing in Oregon, told me to talk about is pockets. Pockets are invaluable and provide somewhere to keep hundreds of pairs of latex gloves, hand sanitizer and also your camera; so if you don’t already, get some scrub trousers or travel trousers that have easily accessible and large pockets; believe me you will thank us later when you don’t have to be scrabbling at the bottom of your bag to find anything.

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The Lane Community College Nurses always had pockets stuffed with useful things like gloves and sanitizer

Another thing about clothes as well is that you need to make sure you have light breathable clothes, cotton preferably, and if possible invest in some travel clothes or scrubs that are meant for humid climates; these will be invaluable to your stay and keep you cool in our VERY hot and humid weather!

Don’t forget that Surin is also a normal bustling town with bars and a club so don’t forget to bring non work clothes with you as well!

It is super useful to bring several small tubes of hand sanitizer with you, you will be seeing several ill people who have a multitude of different conditions so making sure that your hands are sanitized is always incredibly important and some places might not always have sanitizer available.

Also have on hand lots and lots and LOTS of latex, preferably non latex, gloves. Some clinics may be running low or not have any spares at all so having your own is always a good back up.

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Even inside with air conditioning it is still hot for the girls on the baby unit!

Thailand is hot. You will be walking around and travelling around in several different places for the entire day so staying hydrated is incredibly important, being medical professionals or students you will know how severe dehydration can get if left unattended or ignored. The volunteers I spoke to used to drink big bottles of watered down Gatorade every day in order to keep high levels of hydration; you obviously don’t need to bring over the massive bottles with you but the powder or any other re-hydration powder would be an amazing idea to have everyday. Even when you aren’t on project you do need to keep on eye on your hydration levels; just follow the advice you would normally give to any patient that was travelling to a very hot and humid country for several weeks.

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Here you can see Marys very full pad of BP measurements; efficiency is very important when you see as many patients as we do

Another item that is always helpful to have is a pen and a paper pad, this is an efficient and easy way of communicating to the Thai staff on the project, sometimes they read better English than they understand and is also a great way to communicate BP or sugar levels as well as height and weight; the last thing we want is for information to get lost in translation at the expense of the patient. Its also a great way to make a note of any interesting things you have learnt that day, fun anecdotes or events that happened. I always like to write down place names of everywhere I have traveled and if I didn’t have a pen and some paper I would never remember them all!!

Something that Racheal Willingham mentioned to me is that you don’t always need to be taking pictures. Yes they are an amazing way of capturing memories but sometimes it is better to just let the experience happen and effect your soul, let your experience change your life and your outlook on the world.

Photographs are perfectly fine but do always make sure you are asking patients, monks and parents as well as the medical staff if it is OK to take pictures. Sometimes there won’t ever be an issue but the fact that you asked will show that you respect others and will also gain a lot of respect for you as well.

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Group photos are a great way of remembering every single person you worked with on your trip

We always need to make sure that we constantly show the highest level of respect for the Thai culture and way of life, this also extends to their medical practices as well. Things will be different here, same as they would be if you went to practice medicine in any other country, but Thailand especially, is a very spiritual and culture loving country. You are very lucky to have a Thai with you as your coordinator and translator that will be able to educate you about all of the different practices, their reasons and their relevance, they will also inform you if you accidentally make any cultural faux-pas that you other wise might not know about.

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This is the way in which some of the beds at the hospital are raised and lowered, it probably isn’t what you are used to but sometimes this is all we have to work with.

Another area that will always need to be respected is that Thailand isn’t as developed as other countries in the world, at times the facilities you visit might be very basic and often very old fashioned with out dated equipment that you may not even know how to use due to is primitive nature; this however does not match the expertise and the intelligence of the healthcare providers, every nurse, doctor, physio and other members of medical staff are trained to the very highest level with an incredible level of detail in both modern and traditional methods. All of the staff and students you will work with will be taught to the same level as you, they just learn in a different environment that’s all; they do get taught some areas that other countries don’t even think about though such as massage. Each student is required to be proficient in massage in order to provide the very best care possible for each and every patient; something which I think is amazing and should really be included in other countries.

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Sometimes volunteers work in the most rural of locations with equipment that is not the most up to date but they always make the best of what they have to work with

This experience is a way for you to gain experience and expertise that you can’t get in a classroom, working in the field in another country really does test you and everything you know, don’t be scared to learn from our Thai staff and the way in which they do things as well. They are so incredibly experienced and have so many tricks in order to make healthcare in Thailand extremely efficient and effective; take every new situation as a chance to learn something new and you will go back home positively brimming with amazing experiences that you will want to incorporate into your own practices.

Mary Gross told me to let all of you reading this know, that no matter how much you put into Thailand and the project, that you will get more back than you could ever imagine. The staff both at Starfish and the hospitals and clinics we work at love having volunteers who are open and passionate about wanting to learn and experience a different way to work and live; be that and you will have the greatest experience of your life.

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Also don’t be too shocked if a patients BP is particularly high if you are the first white person they have ever seen, been close to had touching them!!!

If you haven’t already signed up to the Starfish Volunteers Medical project and want to know more information then take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook pages. Also have a look at the Starfish Tumblr to see photos from across every project that we do.

Make sure you also look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram, I am constantly updating with stories of what we get up to everyday including blog updates, photos and my own silly adventures as well!!

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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Wendy and the Doctors Bag

We always get questions from incoming and prospective Medical Volunteers about what exactly they will need to bring with them when they come to volunteer with us, the answer to this question is very much the same as it is for Childcare and Teaching.

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Whitney sporting a very fetching tye dye scrub top that is exactly the right thing to wear whilst working on the Medical Project; you don’t HAVE to wear tye dye if you don’t want but it certainly brightens up everyone’s day 🙂

The best thing you can wear whilst being on project is a normal pair of scrubs, any colour is fine just as long as they aren’t too open necked and they cover both your knees and you shoulders. We always need to make sure that we dress appropriately when we are on project so if you don’t have any scrubs then just a t-shirt of the same description and trousers of some kind are perfectly fine. When it comes to your footwear I would make sure that you have something that covers your feet, crocs are probably the very best thing you can have or something similar and along the same lines.

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The lovely Will doing health checks on some monks; as long as you have your knees and your shoulders covered you are totally fine and don’t HAVE to wear scrubs

Crocs might not be the coolest thing in the world but they are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and they can also cope really well with all of the different terrains that you will traverse whilst being on projects. You won’t be climbing mountains but you will be anywhere from rural villages with mud and stone roads to the clean slick floor of a hospital or clinic so do make sure you have clothes and footwear that can work across the board.

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This was the trail that some volunteers had to walk in order to get to a rural clinic they were working at, so those Gucci shoes might not be the right thing to be wearing

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Lee-Anna and Lou doing some blood test on the kids and staff from a local school; certainly brought in a pretty big crowd!

In terms of required elements for your project that is pretty much it, you are always welcome to bring anything you might feel would be a useful donation with you, clinics and hospitals are always in need of new supplies of everything from needles to gauze so anything you might be able to get hold of or fundraise for will be so unbelievably appreciated.

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Volunteers also help out with education and care of whole communities as well as the individual patients. Here the volunteers are helping to build a garden that will grown medicinal herbs and plants that locals can use to heal minor health issues.

Another thing that you should bring with you along to all of our projects, not just medical, is an open mind. This is Thailand, it isn’t the States, England or Australia. Thailand is far from being a third world country but it isn’t as developed as Western countries so some practices or standards may be completely different in every way to what you are used to but I promise you that they are all safe and regulated. All basic techniques are the same, so stitching, suturing and dressing wounds for example but sometimes local people will try several herbal or holistic methods before they trouble a clinic for help; this can often mean that wounds or conditions are in a worse condition than you might usually be used to so do make sure you prepare yourself for some pretty interesting conditions and wounds.

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Also expect to have kids pull the ‘I hate you face’ when you do their vaccines 🙂

So as long as you hide your bendy bits and come to volunteer without any preconceptions about what the medical care and coverage is like here then you will do just fine 😀 You will have an amazing time and gain some priceless experience that very few people ever get to receive, not only that but you will make such a difference to the lives of each and every patient that you work with, no matter if that is stitching up a wound or doing an hours worth of pyhsio, the work that you do has a lasting effect that will educate the patients about how not to get into situations where they get into trouble in the first place. Education is so important but extremely lacking here so you are an integral part of improving the knowledge of local rural people and how to better care and look after themselves but also their friends and family.

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This looks wonderfully medical – you can tell I am more used to treating animals as opposed to people huh??

To see what else you might be doing on the Medical project take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook as well as the Starfish Tumblr page for looks at project across Thailand.

As always make sure you look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages, they are always being updated with everything that I am doing and fun pictures and anecdotes from my own adventures in Thailand as well 🙂

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Very Healthy Wendy

So this is the final week of looking at the different projects that we here at Starfish Volunteers do. These last few posts will be about one of our most intense projects, and that project is Medical and includes project work for every side of healthcare from physio to nursing and ER to home visits.

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Getting ready to help deliver a new born!

In order to work on our medical project volunteers must have completed at least their first year of their relative degree, the reason that we require volunteers to be first year qualified is that on our project, volunteers do undertake practical work which is important to both the health of the patient and the reputation of the hospitals we work with. If volunteers have no knowledge of medical procedures then they would end up being more of a liability as opposed to the amazing benefit that they currently are.

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Volunteers really do get stuck in so they must be first year qualified in order to do this

Healthcare is so paramount in Thailand as many people either don’t have the money or the transport to be able to get to the healthcare that they need, another huge issue that faces many Thai people that we work with is their education. The majority of the people that work with us are unaware of why their back hurts or what exactly the bump in their arm is and why it could be life threatening to them, Thai people are notorious for just getting on with life and doing what they have to in order to make their lives livable; this often means that people will just leave their health until the very last and critical moment.

This is often too late for many people, meaning that they live with excruciating conditions that leave them unable to do anything, not only is this incredibly saddening to see but it also makes the patient increasingly more depressed and feel as though they are a burden on their families.

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Rachael doing some stitching on a patient who should have attended a clinic much sooner than he did

The way that we here at Starfish are helping these local people is by working along side local health clinics that have been set up by the government. These clinics require volunteers to do health checks, immunisations, sexual health clinics as well as lots of different locally required clinics such as diabetes, hypertension and blood test clinics.

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Whitney health checking a baby who is only a few days old! So adorable!

Day to day, volunteers will also work in local clinic buildings which will be visited by villagers who often have work related issues as well as common and sometimes not so common diseases and conditions.

As well as the clinics the volunteers are also very lucky to be able to have the opportunity to work within the local community itself by visiting the homes of patients and some very sick people who are unable to or have decided that they don’t want to attend hospital.

The work that volunteers get involved with is very typical work for medical staff which means that our volunteers get a true feel for healthcare in Thailand and gain experience that many people in the industry do not get to have. Every volunteer we have had on our medical project speaks very highly of the work that they have done and the incredible experience they have gotten.

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Whitney giving new supplies of medication to clinics whilst also ensuring their current supplies are in date and up to the standards they should be

Volunteers do need to keep in mind that they are in a second world country that is not as developed as the West and works to a different set of ethics and rules that may at times be confusing or completely different to what they are used to. We do have a member of staff on hand at all time to help you adjust to the new way of life and the way of working within the healthcare industry in Thailand.

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The Lane Community College Nursing students on a home visit with a woman who felt the need to bless each and every one of them as a thanks for the incredible donations they gave as well as the free healthcare they provided.

As long as you are open minded and ready to experience the most incredible learning curve then you will have a wonderful and life changing experience with us that you won’t ever forget.

To see what volunteers experience from their own voice take a look at the National Student Nurses Association President, Jesse Kennedy’s blog that he wrote whilst him and his class came to volunteer with us.

Global Nursing In Action

To take a look at the Starfish Website to find out more information about our Medical project as well as the other that we do. Have a ganders at the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page or the Starfish Tumblr to see some photos of what we are up to everyday.

Definitely make sure you check out my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages which are constantly being updated with everything that we are doing and lots of my own personal adventures as well!

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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