Report 1

Reporter: Hirst F

Contact at destination Pr. Philippe Parola

Year of visit: 2013

Country: France

Region: Marseille

Institution: Hopital Nord

Department: Maladies Infectieuses

Work / Study undertaken: 4 week attachment in the infectious and tropical diseases department. I arrived every weekday morning before the ward round where I and the other medical students would clerk the patients, look at their biochemistry/blood/virology etc results and write up a small paragraph about them in the computerised notes ready to present to the other doctors on the morning ward round. I also attended seminars on Friday mornings where other students and doctors would present a case from the week for discussion. That was followed by a presentation on a particular infectious disease such as Hep C, Jap B encephalitis, rabies and so on.

Description of destination: Marseille is a beautiful port town on the southeast coast of France. It is the second biggest city in France after Paris. There is a large Arabic influence there and as such the city has a very multi cultural feel. There are lots of beautiful sites to see including Notre Dam de la Garde, Palais Longchamp and Le Vieux Port. There are also great places nearby to visit such as the port town of Cassis and my personal favourite, a beautiful stretch of coastline Les Calanques, easily the gem of this part of the world.

Were the local people friendly? Yes. In particular I met a great group of French boys who were really keen to show me and my friend their beautiful city, and as such made the trip unforgettable.

Did you feel safe and if not why not? Yes, although as a young girl, the men do stare a lot in the street and shout things out to you. But I never felt threatened, I would just exercise caution as you would alone at night anywhere.

What did you do in your spare time ? Visits to Les Calanques, Cassis, neighbouring small villages. Went to the beach, saw all the aforementioned sites. Spent lazy days in the park reading or having picnics with friends. When I was there there were many festivals on including fete de la musique and fete du panier where everyone takes to the streets with alcohol and music. It is really lively and fun. Summer is a fantastic time to be in Marseille.

Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? As mentioned previously, Les Calanques are 100% not to be missed. You will maybe need someone who knows where they are going as you have to get out the car and walk a good way down into the bay. But the ocean is beautifully clear and you can pick a really remote section to spend all day on if you desired.

What was the climate like? Hot and sunny nearly every day (June)

What was your accommodation like? I stayed in a flatshare (collocation) very much in the centre of town (around cinq avenues longchamp metro) It took only 20 minutes to walk down to Le Vieux Port. The flat was really lovely. I originally had planned to stay in the hospital accommodation for financial reasons but then changed my mind on advice given from locals. I am very glad I did as the hospital is a good 25 minute bus ride away along a huge motorway and I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself nearly half as much living all the way out there in that less enjoyable neighbourhood.

Was it provided? No

If not who arranged it? Myself through Airbnb

How much did it cost? 450 euro per month, all inclusive.

Did you enjoy your visit? Very much so

Did you find it useful medically? Slightly in that I learned a lot of medical French terminology, however my lack of fluency meant that full participation was very challenging and I did a lot of standing around trying to grasp what was going on.

Has it improved your french? By a great deal yes, although I would put that down more to socialising, than being in the hospital, where I lacked confidence to speak.

How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? Yes

If you went back would you do anything differently? I would like to know more French before going. I had only learned it in school and for 2 years of a previous degree, however I hadn’t spoken it for 6 years when it came to going!

How did you get there? Flew with easyjet, 50 euro one way.

What was the approximate total cost? 500 euro plus spending money

Is there any other information that you think may be useful? No