October, 31st 2023
Hello world! Let me introduce myself first: I am Charbel Zgheib, a Lebanese senior biology student with a pre-medical focus at the Lebanese American University (LAU). In June, I had the pleasure to take part into the unique two-weeks shadowing experience that was offered by Doctors in Italy in Ferrara, Emilia-Romania. It is noteworthy to mention that this remarkable program has had a profound impact on my life. Throughout this journey, I had the privilege to gain a valuable experience in the healthcare field, meet new people from Italy and many other countries all over the world and discover the incredible Italian and Ferrarese history and culture.
I still remember how excited I was when I first received an email from one of my teachers at university in which the program offered by Doctors in Italy was introduced and briefly explained. As a person who had never travelled prior, I immediately thought that this experience would undoubtedly have a profound impact on several aspects of my life. This is why I instantly filled the information required and applied! After an interview and several interactions with the team Doctors in Italy, I was accepted into the program. Even thought I was immensely looking forward to this experience, I did not know what to expect back then. Ultimately, it was my first time travelling outside my homeland and I had no previous knowledge about this adventure. Nevertheless, I had a precious company as my university friend, Ghida Zock, was also embarking the same journey!
My first eye-opening experience was when I first arrived to the Bologna airport and was picked up by the amazing Beatrice, our city manager in Ferrara. I was finally in Italy! Subsequently, I engaged in a two-weeks shadowing journey at the renowned Ferrarese hospital, Arcispedale Sant’Anna. Those two weeks can be summarized by three words: inspiring, challenging and memorable.
I had the opportunity to meet incredible doctors, medical students and assistants who made me feel at home and provided me with unique information. Additionally, I was able to shadow within a multitude of branches in the hospital including gynecology, neurology, pediatrics, cardiology and others! Each one of them provided me with valuable knowledge. Nevertheless, I would say that the most memorable moment in my shadowing journey was when I had the opportunity to assist a breast tumor removal surgery the day of my birthday! What a wonderful gift I received from the team.
One of the most enlightening experiences I had was the realization of Italy’s distinctive cultural characteristics, with a special focus on the city of Ferrara. Having the chance to live within the Ferrarese community for two weeks and discover what this city offers from historical monuments to enchanting architecture was certainly the most marking experience of my life. Additionally, we had the opportunity to explore many Italian cities. In other words, not only did I discover Ferrara, but I also visited many neighboring cities like Venice, Ravenna, Verona and Bologna. Beatrice also gathered us –the students- twice a week to all dine together. It was extremely fun!
Now that I came back to Lebanon to start my senior biology Fall semester, I still hold in my heart the memories I collected, and the incredible friendships I made along the way. I am preparing to apply to medical schools in Lebanon and hopefully pursue a medical career. Looking forward to all this! I am also very grateful that I had the opportunity to live this life-changing journey, and it surely exceeded my expectations. I highly encourage every student in the healthcare field to apply and take part in the Doctors in Italy shadowing program.
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