Melena is studying a Bsc in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Florida. She joined the VACorps program in May 2019 and participated in audiology internship.
“I chose Cape Town as a place to study abroad because of everything you hear about it- its the place to be, it changes people, there is no other place like CT, and it is BEAUTIFUL!! All of the above is true!!! I loved the people I met and worked with the most. People are much friendlier here, have their priorities straight (put family and friends above work and all else), and genuinely care about others!! This was the best culture shock about CT. There were several highlights at my different sites I will never forget. For starters, every audiology and ENT team I worked with became my second family and my home away from home!!! Additionally, each person I observed challenged me as a student, pushed me to try hands-on (the BEST way to learn) and really believed in me as an individual. For example, I would have never been able to observe and even assist with major things such as a tracheotomy, an endoscopy, and removing several hectic foreign objects from ears (i.e. maggots, cockroaches, etc) if my supervisors hadn’t believed I was capable of participating and attempting hands-on.
I did way more hands-on than expected, and loved it! I now have a much better understanding of a daily job of an audiologist in government versus private practice so that helps me decide where I want to work in the future. I have seen and worked with different populations and age groups and now have an idea of what and whom I prefer to work with. I now have seen nearly all fields of audiology to be able to learn what I do and do not like about the job, which is exactly what I wanted. And I pushed myself to ask questions and try new hands-on things even when I was scared, which pushed me to become a better future audiology student. I have reached my ultimate goal: feeling prepared and knowledgeable about audiology schooling and career.
I would advise people to come for 8 weeks. Any less is not enough time at all, and any more you start to feel homesick and life here can get too comfortable. However, if you come in warm weather you should come for as long as you can!!!!! Cape Town is so diversely beautiful and it really entices you in, you will never want to leave!!! I will miss passing the mountains on my way to work every day, strangers nicely asking me how I am doing, and always having new things to try the most. Definitely prepare yourself for “African time,” as this was my hardest adjustment. People move slower here, time passes quicker, but soon you learn to love the slower pace as it forces you to sit back and relax and enjoy the ride!!!
Looking back I can see how much this place has changed me. I am now much more open-minded, welcoming of change, more patient and calm, and less introverted. This place has changed me since day one, and it will change everyone who visit for the better!!!”