Intern Abroad

Internship in the Republic of Northmacedonia

June 6th, 2023 | by
  • Practical Year in Medicine
  • Republic of Northmacedonia, Skopje
  • University Clinic for Dermatovenerology
  • 01/2023 – 03/2023

My experiences:

Preparation: To organize this internship was fairly easy. The person responsible at the university is very responsive and very organized. Within two days, I had the acceptance from the department of dermatology. Once you are accepted, start preparing for the visa. It’s nearly impossible to reach the embassy in Berlin via phone and I recommend to prepare all documents and then go there directly. They will then tell you if something is missing. Just a hint here: The criminal record needs to have an apostille and you will need to translate all documents into Macedonian. If you translate it from English, you can reach out to official translators in Macedonia. They are very reliable and work quickly.

To bring: You should bring scrubs, a coat and a stethoscope, etc. As a nice gesture, do not forget to bring some souvenirs from your city.

Language: I was amazed by the advanced level of English the general population has. As they do not dub their movies, nearly everybody understands English and speaks it. However, I recommend making an effort to learn Macedonian. A great book to learn it is ‘Macedonian: A Course for Beginning and Intermediate Students’ by Christina E. Kramer and Liljana Mitkovska.

Health: While technically the European insurance card is valid, I recommend getting a private health insurance. Prices for consultancies are affordable and you will not wait longer than a few days to see a specialist. I went to the dentist here and I got an appointment within one day. The quality of care in the private sector is very good.

Safety: Macedonia and Skopje are very safe. Even when walking through the city at night alone, I never felt unsafe.

Money: In most places you can pay cash or by card. It’s good to always have some additional cash with you as some places – especially in the rural areas – do not accept card payment. If you have an apobank credit card, use the atms from Hallbank. They do not charge any fee.

Shopping: The cost of food in the supermarkets is comparable to Germany. However, going out to eat is considerably cheaper and activities such as going to the ballet/opera cost around 5€.

Transportation: Skopje has very cute double decker busses which are well connected. However, as I lived close to the hospital, I walked there. As the city center is quite small, most of the major sights and places are in walking distance. If you plan to travel within Macedonia, check out the bus companies at the bus station. At very reasonable prices you can go nearly everywhere. Biserprom is a bus company that offers weekend or single day travels. Check out their Facebook page. I went to Mavrovo (a great ski resort) and back for 5€.

Communication: As Northern Macedonia is not part of the EU-roaming packages, you will need to buy a separate SIM card. I recommend choosing A1, which has monthly packages for 300MKD (approx. 5€) 20GB. The internet connection with the mobile phone is super stable and coverage is great. Even when hiking, I never lost network.

Accommodation: To find a flat, have a look at AirBnB, Facebook (group: Skopje expats) and reklama5. In general, prices for a flat should be around 200-300€ – you can of course find cheaper rooms in the outskirts. I lived in Kisela Voda, which was a great and quiet neighbourhood.

Travel and arrival: There are numerous air- and buslines that go to Skopje. I travelled with bus (32h drive) for approximately 100€. While they do take breaks every 1-2hours, it is not the most comfortable way to travel. If you decide to go by plane, you can take a taxi or a bus which runs every 3-4h to the city.

Work routine: The mornings start with a short round of patient visits and then a morning meeting with all staff at 08:00. Afterwards, you continue to see the patients together with the specialists. On Wednesdays, all staff does a round together to see all patients. After the morning round, you can choose which specialist you want to join. Most doctors are happy to explain everything to you while they treat the patients, which is very helpful to understand the conditions of each patient.

Free time: Skopje is a great place to be in the nature and hike. In walking distance from Skopje center, there is Vodno mountain which offers a great view of the city. Near Skopje, there is the Matka canyon which features underwater caves whose depths haven’t yet been explored fully. The Vrelo cave is with its explored 240m already one of the deepest caves in Europe and the world. Another place worth an excursion is Ohrid, a beautiful city three hours south of Skopje. It is bordering the lake Ohrid, one of the oldest lakes in the world. In Ohrid, there were 365 churches/chapels – one for each day of the year. While not all still exist, there is a significant amount of them one can explore. If you are less into nature, have a look at the numerous great coffee bars Skopje offers. At nearly any time, you can see people chatting and drinking coffee there. The old bazar is also a must see.

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