Erasmus + Success Stories

Stefka Stoichkova Faculty of MedicineOutgoing Student

Rositsa's impressions from Hospital General Universitario


Erasmus+ Period: 27/09/2018 – 02/02/2018

Hello, my name is Stefka, I´m 23-years-old and recently I personally took part in the process of taking a history from a patient, examined patients‘ physical statuses, diagnosed and planned the proper treatment for 3 patients. At first glance, all these actions may not seem complicated, but I had the opportunity to do them in Spainish. I could barely say my favorite color in Spanish a year ago, and now on my locker you can find Manual de Protocolos en Urgencias Pediátricas. Oh, and let´s not forget that I also participated in a PCR simulation, saw a broken femur and made 4 successful lumbar punctures (ok, that last one was on a dummy but everybody has to start from somewhere). At the moment I’m spending the last two summer’s months doing an internship in the paediatric department of Hospital Gregorio Marañón in Madrid. Nobody offered me or made me do it, I chose it and, although, I have to wake up every morning at 6.15 am through all 5 working days every week, it’s a decision I would make again. If you’re expecting a story about lots of parties and drinking or of some movie-like adventure, you could skip my story definitely. This is the story of how important role the Erasmus+ Programme has played in my growth and development into the person Stefka which I am today.

The first time I went on an Erasmus+ exchange Programme was in my 4th year when I spent the winter semester in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I was the only candidate for this location, but it was the perfect place – a beautiful capital with a large university full of young people. Immediately I regretted that I didn’t sign up for the whole year. You see, Slovenia has such a great social system public bikes, sport facilities, big libraries with all the books you need that you can carry home, THE BONI (a system that provides students with free meals in 500 locations around the city. It might seem a bit overrated but believe me there’s nothing that helps more with socializing with other students). But I forget about how beautiful Slovenia is (inexplicably!) and the whole personnel in the University how attentive were toward me. This Programme gave me, for the first time in my life, the opportunity to be myself! You learn how to make friends from all kinds of places; how to do shopping with a limited budget; how to communicate with personal and patients with a different sociocultural background; how to rent a car and drive it through the narrowest and most beautiful mountain road; how not to burn the house down while cooking; how to apply for documents for residency; how to turn yourself into the perfect machine for scanning the best deals for bus and plane tickets around Europe; how to do a one-week-long trip around Italy, visiting the oldest anatomical theatre and trying the best gelato; how to make and respect schedules for the bathroom and the washing machine and don´t be mad about it; how to celebrate your birthday and Christmas with the people you just met 2 months ago; how to overgrow your social awkwardness by going to all kinds of events (yoga in the park, vegan night with shared food, Portuguese classes, board game night, beer pong, swing dance classes, debate club, mountain hiking, music jams); how to hitchhike with that girl you met just yesterday from Ljubljana to Zagreb having the craziest trip together and form a lasting friendship; how to start a love relationship; how to end a love relationship. You shouldn´t focus on the artificial photos of people with perfect teeth from different nationalities having fun in the park or getting crazy at a party. Don´t get me wrong, you definitely have those moments too, but the beauty of Erasmus+ is that it puts you in a totally new and different, sometimes even uncomfortable environment and it really changes you and gives you a greater perspective on life!

Currently, I´m doing a second Erasmus+ interchange. This time it´s an internship in a hospital, I´m part of the team and I have a responsibility toward them. I decided to go on this adventure because as I´m approaching the end of my medical studies it´s time to make the BIG DECISION

– what do I want to specialize and where? First question is easy – paediatrics (it magically made its way into my heart). The second question is the hard part. Spain has been last years on the top of the best medical practices in Europe. I chose the opportunity to be in a Spanish hospital with 5 centuries of tradition and experience, from which I learn about the functioning of the healthcare system, about individual work and professionalism, gaining medical knowledge and research knowhow. I’m still not definitely decided whether I want to stay in Bulgaria or want to move to Spain, but I know that I want to develop lessons learned so far and I will not stop to develope himself as a doctor and person. I think this is a good end to my story. Not so much of a story, but a confession. Needn´t to say I advise all of you who are wondering what it´s like, not to hesitate but to go head on into this adventure no matter if it´s in a metropolitan capital or a city smaller than your original one, it´s worth it.

P.S. Finally, I would just like to mention one last thing that Erasmus+ Programme gave me – it helped me bring back my trust in the Bulgarian administrative body. Thank you to the staff at the International Erasmus+ Office of the Medical University - Sofia. You are really very open to help and very positive!