Over a third of Semmelweis University’s students are international who have been in a particularly difficult situation since the onset of the coronavirus. Unable to travel back to their home countries, they stayed in Budapest continuing their studies. Despite the extraordinary circumstances many of them voluntarily undertook to play an active part in PCR screening. In our article Mustafa Ghulam, a student from Pakistan shares his experiences studying and volunteering at Semmelweis University in the time of the coronavirus.

Mustafa Ghulam from Pakistan is a holder of the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship and studies physiotherapy at the Faculty of Health Sciences. He is proud to be a Semmelweis Citizen and enjoys meeting new people from all around the world, going to varied events, travelling and using the university’s top quality services and facilities when circumstances allow him to do so.

“I heard about the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship from my friend and I decided to give it a go. Stipendium Hungaricum offers an exceptional opportunity to students who otherwise would not be able to afford to live and study in Hungary. Hungary has an amazing culture and history, a great education system, and it is especially strong in medical and health sciences higher education. I chose Semmelweis University because it is the oldest and largest university of health sciences in Hungary with high ranking among the top universities of the world.”, Mustafa said.

During the first wave of the pandemic he did not have the chance to return to Pakistan to continue his studies online from there, so he stayed in Budapest. As for someone used to the buzzing student life, he found the period of distance education and the lack of personal contact not inspiring enough. That was when he saw a post on Semmelweis University’s Facebook page calling out to students to do volunteer work at PCR screening points.  

“I immediately volunteered, because I wanted to play my part in the fight against the coronavirus. I was also eager to share my skills, gain new experiences and try myself in a new setting in addition to making new connections and meeting new people.”, he said.

He was stationed at Szent Rókus Clinical Block, the Department of Pulmonology and in Duna Aréna swimming pool to doboth PCR sampling and administration. Based on his experiences, Mustafa has benefitted from volunteering in many different ways.   

“I liked to work as a volunteer as I learned a lot about administration and gained new communication skills. The work at the PCR screening points has also improved my time management skills as well as my interpersonal skills with patients, who often feel uncomfortable during sampling. Thanks to the devoted work of my colleagues working at the hospitals, I have also gained motivation and strength to face the challenges of the pandemic.”, Mustafa said.

His experiences of PCR screening have encouraged him to seize future volunteering opportunities and to motivate his friends to follow his example.

Ágnes Raubinek
Photo: Mustafa Ghulam