Intern Abroad

My practical year in France

October 25th, 2022 | by
  • Staatsexamen, Medizin
  • Rouen, France
  • Hôpital Charles-Nicolle de Rouen
  • May 2022 – September 2022


The preparation began about a year before I started my Practical year (Praktisches Jahr- PJ). For the registration and application, I contacted Ms. Watteel directly, who is responsible for Erasmus stays at  Université de Rouen Normandie. She was my contact person during the entire Erasmus stay and took care of all formal requirements and certificates in a timely manner.


Accommodation can be found at (something like Ebay in Germany) or Facebook. There is also the possibility to apply for student residences, but I did not do this. Furthermore, there are many real estate companies in Rouen that rent both furnished and unfurnished apartments. It should be noted that if the apartment is rented through a company, a fee of approximately one month’s rent must be paid. For students, the right side of the city is warmly recommended, because most of the activities and parties are on this side of the city. There are good bus connections to other parts of the city, but they are very limited at night. The university hospital is located almost in the city center and is easily accessible by public transportation.

Job and everyday life

© Lara Gubeljak

© Lara Gubeljak

I completed a PJ tertial in the clinic for general surgery (chirurgie digestive). There I was in the OR every day and was allowed to assist most of the time, be it directly on the patient or administering the instruments. There were many opportunities for me to actively participate. I found it very good that I was allowed to sew up, that I could participate in organ donations, and that I was also able to perform some tasks beyond the student tasks. A normal day started at 7:30 a.m. and ended between 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The visceral surgery team was very nice and had a lot of patience, especially when I occasionally didn’t understand things because of the language barrier. There were some doctors who also explained things in English, although this is not the rule in France.

For the internship, you get a reimbursement of about 250€ per month, but you must check with the HR department often and have a French bank account. All students who are currently doing their internship in a surgical department share the 24 hour duties among themselves. These services are additionally paid but are not obligatory for exchange students. During the night duty you have to do instrumentation and assist in the OR. You get your own room with your own DECT phone. If you are lucky and there are no emergencies, you may (and should!) sleep.


© Lara Gubeljak

© Lara Gubeljak

I was very fortunate to have a large circle of friends in Rouen, which made the stay overall very social and gave a different perspective to the busy PJ. It is very common to end the evening in a bar or café, although it must be said that due to the early working hours this was often not possible. Rouen is a student city and there is always something going on. In summer there are concerts every Thursday, there is the daily Cathederal de Lumiere, which was exciting every time again. It is a beautiful city from the Middle Ages, so there is a lot of history to see. The numerous museums are free until the age of 26. The surrounding cities like Paris, Le Havre, Étretat or Vernon are very worth seeing and easy to reach by train.


Rouen should and can definitely be recommended for tourism as well as for the PJ. I learned a lot there, was able to do a lot of practical work and strengthened many social skills in the professional setting. The beginning of the PJ was very exhausting, because a lot of things happened very quickly in the hospital and the medical terminology is clearly different, plus it contains many abbreviations. It was a great opportunity to deepen my French and to get an insight into general surgery. Four months were enough to settle in well and to get a little insight into the rest of Normandy.

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