U21 Summer School in Chile (Pt 3)

Where has the time gone? I can’t believe that the second, and final, week of the program has finally come. While we are all sad the trip is coming to an end, it has turned out to be one of the best weeks imaginable.

Just in case you have missed reading about our first week, click here to read about it now.


After enjoying our weekend getaway in Valparaiso, we headed back to the main city for our last week. There was an excited buzz among the group as we headed back to the university on Monday morning for a day of lectures. For the first topic of the day, we discussed oral health and we learnt about the three most common diseases within the dental field. We discovered that they are actually all related to antenatal, perinatal and postnatal stages of pregnancy. The aim of Dr Uriel Montenegro’s talk was to illustrate the ways in which we can help through our various professions, for example by offering assistance to mothers with nausea during pregnancy. It was a very interesting topic and it opened my eyes to the role that dentistry can play in a collaborative health care team.

The second talk for the day was delivered by a clinical pharmacist, Claudio Gonzalez, and focused on pharmacology and herbal medicines in pregnancy. This talk was interesting, mostly aimed towards the students who had limited pharmaceutical background.

After the lecture sessions, it was time for the groups to split up and head off for the first clinical visit of the week. Some groups went to learn about drug compounding, however, my group headed down to the dietician school to learn about preparing a nutritious pregnancy meal. Essentially the focus of our activity was to make one day’s worth of food for a pregnant woman and calculate if her nutritional needs have been met. The activity was really fun and allowed me to take part in something I otherwise probably wouldn’t have learnt about.


Tuesday was dedicated to speechies (speech pathologists), as both our education sessions revolved around the topic of speech therapy. The first session focused on how a speech therapist can address the issue of irregular psychosocial development in infants, as well as promote healthy development. As someone who doesn’t have much exposure to this field, it was extremely interesting to hear about how much of an impact communication can have on a person’s development. The overview information led perfectly into the next talk delivered by Daniel Guzman, another speech therapist who focused on how his profession can aid infants who present swallowing difficulties. As it was our last day of lectures, it was great to have such a heavy focus on a field that most of us were unfamiliar with.

After the presentations were done for the day, the group once again split up to head for our final clinical visit. For my group, we were off to a clinic in one of the poorer districts of Santiago, where we took part in an observational activity involving children who were born with motor and developmental deficits. It was an incredible experience seeing firsthand how parents, who don’t have much money or resources, look after their kids. Something which I found quite impressive was the fact that Chile’s government provides a free clinic which offers a multitude of resources to parents within a low socioeconomic status.


With education completed for the program, we weren’t too sure what to expect. We headed off to the university and were given a brief overview of a group project that we were to complete and present the following day. We were to choose between antenatal, perinatal or postnatal stages of pregnancy and, in our groups, we were to develop an intervention on a disease or condition of our choosing. The whole day was dedicated to working on the project, and my group decided to focus on epilepsy in pregnancy. Our intervention was to design a multi-functional app, titled Epilepsafe, for health professionals and the general public. The app provided an up-to-date database of valuable information about medications and various other aspects relating to the condition. After a busy day of planning our project we headed back to the hostel to get ready to organise a surprise party for one the students,  as it was his birthday. As our escape from the cold weather of Chile we decided to host a tropical themed party, complete with pineapple cups and Pina Coladas. It was perfect to have everyone together for the celebration.


With some cloudy heads we headed to the university to present our projects. There were a range of topics brought up by other groups, such as a food truck to tackle nutrition in pregnancy, and a pregnancy clinic focused on depression. The presentations served as a nice way to allow us to implement our knowledge learnt during the trip and allowed us to focus on collaborative healthcare. Once the speeches were complete we were given the rest of the day to ourselves, and so a few others and myself decided to go for a hike up Mount Manquehuito.

After walking for an hour we made it to the mountain’s base and began our hike up to the peak. It was quite challenging, especially in some areas where it became inexplicably steep and slippery. However, after about two hours we made it to the top. Taking in the beautiful views and breathing in the fresh air felt invigorating, and climbing the mountain instilled a sense of accomplishment in all of us. After a short break, we began our descent and then made our way back to the hostel. Even though we were slightly worn out, we still had one last event on for the night. The university had organised a night out at one of Santiago’s best bars, so we all got dressed up in and headed out as a group for one of the last times. 


Waking up on Friday was quite sad, as we knew it would be the last day we would all be together. The only scheduled activity for the day was to head down to the university for a closing ceremony where we would receive our certificates. This was the last time we saw the organisers of the program, so before heading off we made sure to give them all a huge thank you for organising such a great two weeks and providing us the opportunity to all meet new people and build some great relationships.

The rest of the day was ours to do as we pleased, so we all decided to head for a wine tour at one of Chile’s best wineries, Concha y Toro. As this was the summer school group’s final outing, it was one of the best moments of the trip, and equally one of the saddest. We’d all become such good friends and were sad to be saying goodbyes so soon. When it was time we headed back to the hostel and packed our bags, ready to leave the next morning. The night was full of reminiscing and goodbyes, as a few people were leaving early in the morning.


While most people were leaving throughout the day, a few others and myself weren’t leaving until late at night. We decided to make the most of our last day in Chile and head out to the snow in the Andes Mountains. We woke up early to take a long bus trip. When we finally made it, having never seen snow before, I was literally speechless. The stunning backdrop of mountain upon mountain was incredible, and actually being able to touch the snow is something I’ll never forget. Throughout the day we made snowmen, had snowball fights and simply had fun in the snow, making this one of the best days of the trip. This was definitely one of my highlights of the trip and a perfect last day.

Once we returned to the main city those of us remaining said our final farewells and left to head to the airport. The two week summer school program was incredible and is something I’ll never forget. For anyone looking to apply for the program in the future I can offer you one piece of advice - take the opportunity while you can, you won’t regret it.

Last updated:
19 October 2016