When I started my doctoral journey at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ostrava in October 2021, I was filled with excitement about gaining international experience at such an early stage in my scientific career. The choice was clear: I had the opportunity to intern at a prestigious hospital in either Paris or Lausanne, Switzerland. Switzerland had always held a special allure for me, with its breathtaking natural beauty and stellar reputation, making my decision an easy one. The head of the hospital’s cerebrovascular center and deputy head of the neurology department kindly approved my request and supported my application for financial assistance through the university VIA PhD programme. In January, after successfully passing the selection process, I began preparing for my adventure in the picturesque city of Lausanne.
My primary goal for this internship was to acquire the valuable skills of conducting high-quality systematic reviews and performing meta-analyses – a skillset that was lacking in our medical community back in the Czech Republic. While this remained my main focus, I also was eager to delve into the inner workings of the neurology department.
Lausanne, nestled in the French-speaking region of southern Switzerland along the serene shores of Lake Geneva, is an enchanting historic city. It offers a unique blend of attractions, from its captivating historic center to its modern cityscape, delicious gastronomy, intriguing art galleries, global sports prominence, renowned university, and easy access to both the lake and the mountains. It comes as no surprise that Lausanne is often celebrated as the finest small city in the world. Likewise, the local university hospital, CHUV (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois), boasts an esteemed reputation in the realm of medicine, consistently ranking among the top fifteen hospitals worldwide.
In my very first week, almost the entire department embarked on a journey to the nearby city of Lyon, France, to participate in a four-day European conference dedicated to strokes. I felt fortunate to be part of this experience, which marked my first major international event. It proved to be invaluable, offering me fresh perspectives and helping me build stronger connections, not only with my fellow colleagues from the Lausanne neurology department but also with their esteemed collaborators from various corners of Europe.
Switzerland offers many beautiful places, and I had the privilege of exploring many of these gems during my leisure hours. One major advantage was that I brought my bicycle along, being an enthusiastic cyclist. This allowed me to not only thoroughly explore the immediate vicinity, but also to cover hundreds of kilometers across the country. Over the course of two months, I had the opportunity to visit many of the Switzerland’s major cities, including Bern, Geneva, Lucerne, Basel, and more. I also ventured into the beautiful mountain regions, explored the picturesque lake, including its French part, and took part in numerous cultural and sporting events. Even with more free time on my hands, I could hardly have exhausted the possibilities to explore the natural beauty that Switzerland and the neighboring southeastern parts of France have to offer.
As I reflect on my experience, I can’t help but highlight the overwhelmingly positive aspects of it. This internship has undeniably enriched my doctoral studies, equipping me with skills that are quite rare in our field back in the Czech Republic. Moreover, it gave me the remarkable opportunity to collaborate with excellent scientists and forge connections that hold the promise of future collaborations. Additionally, it significantly improved my English proficiency.
From a professional standpoint, the internship exceeded all expectations. On a personal level, I couldn’t have asked for a more stunning location to spend those two months, and I can only hope to have the opportunity to return there someday. My only minor regret is not planning for a longer duration for this truly enriching experience.
If you are interested in a VIA PhD mobility or any kind of international opportunity, do not hesitate to contact our Centre for International Cooperation at the email adress firstname.lastname@example.org.