In Cochin, we provide internships and volunteering with Dr. Singh, a psychiatrist and a specialist in drug rehabilitation. You accompany Dr. Singh on his work with patients in various hospitals, and also carry out your own projects that he had started as part of his own, now discontinued for reasons of age, or do clinical research under his guidance. Read more about this in the tab "More Info" in a detailed report by Catherine to get a better idea .
Dr. Singh who is around 71 years old, is a psychiatrist and specialist for drug rehabilitation. On different days every week, he works at different hospitals in Cochin, including KIMS Hospital, Sudheendra Medical Mission and Gautham Hospital. He has given up his own private clinic in 2012 for age reasons.
Dr. Singh specializes in general psychiatry, persons with suicide attempts, alcohol and drug addiction, and adolescent mental health. Dr. Singh was a founding member of the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) in California in 1998. He has published many texts about the topic of addiction and developed a 4-step-rehabilitation program that he wrote a book about.
Interns can join him at the hospitals where there are also group therapies for addicts. Additionally, Dr. Singh wants to put interns in contact with former patients and give them insights into their medical records. The interns can then visit the former patients at their homes to see their current situation. Some of the former patients might require further therapy, but don't attend any counseling sessions for various reasons. Often, patients only seek treatment in particular circumstances such as the loss of a job or a divorce due to their addiction. In consultation with Dr. Singh, the further proceeding about these cases will be decided upon.
In the year 2000, Dr. Singh carried out a research project, asking 10,000 youth from 16 schools of Cochin to fill a survey. They were asked whether they had ever been sexually, physically or mentally abused and whether this has happened at home, at school or in public. This research was done as a double-blind study, without previous announcement and without the presence of a teacher. One student of each class was trained how to conduct the survey with his classmates. Training the student took 30 minutes, and 10 minutes were given the students to fill the survey. Dr. Singh wants to repeat this research and compare the results with the results of the first research. Therefore, the students have to be trained, the whole project needs to be organized, and the surveys need to be evaluated. This should happen in 2014 with the help of foreign interns/volunteers.
In Kerala, English is widely spoken, which makes communication with patients easier.
Location: Cochin, Kerala (India)
Availability: All year, Start date flexible
Minimum Duration: 1 Month
Maximum Duration: 12 Months
Language Requirements: English
Further Languages Of Advantage: Malayalam
Supervision Possible: Yes
Qualification Of Supervisor: Psychiatrist
Minimum Qualification Of Intern:
Relevant studies or experience
Further Contribution To Project: None
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: Relevant skills
Further Contribution To Project: None
Professional Conduct, Do you have the "right" attitude?
Internship Report by Katharina
I'm doing a two-month internship in Kochi (formerly Cochin), Kerala with the psychiatrist Dr. SD Singh. This 71 year old gave up his private practice a few months ago and now works "only" in three hospitals, of which I visit two: the Sudheendra Hospital in the mornings and the KIMS Hospital in the afternoons. Dr. Singh receives his patients for 15 minutes each, discusses with them their current state and takes a brief physical examination. Unfortunately I don't speak Malayalam, the local language, to understand completely and Dr. Singh speaks English only with some patients; I watch the body language and facial expressions of the patients and read the notes which Dr. Singh makes (in English). If there is time between patients, he tells me something about their medical history. It is interesting to note the differences, considering cultural and other conditions: The family plays a very important role, so the patients are usually accompanied by one or more relatives. The people are generally very friendly here and negative emotions are rarely carried out, so they always joke a lot in the talks. As the consultations are relatively short, there can be no intensive behavioral intervention; for example: as a physician, Dr. Singh relies on the effect of drugs, in my impression, in the short time, to help people through a conversation. Partially, he gives concrete advice on what is rather uncommon in psychotherapy in Germany. Dr. Singh is a very friendly, experienced and open minded person, so that you get an idea through his conception of mental illness, the culture of South India, which he willingly discusses. He also seems to know half of Kochi and has contacts all over Kerala, so that can also give you another interesting side project. Next week, I will make an analysis of records of those admitted in KIMS Hospital with suicide attempts and attend an educational institution for women with difficult life circumstances. The two hospitals are located in Ernakulam, the modern, more urban, more hectic part of the city of Kochi. From my Homestay in Fort Kochi, the old, cozy part with the classic sights, I drive a little longer in the bus. You can ride with the wind blowing in your face and watch the activity on the streets. My impression is that Kochi is a very beautiful city to stay. The people are extremely friendly and warm; it's safe, you can take the bike for a sunset drive to the beach, eat at local small so-called "family restaurants”, where you are the only white person and sometimes go to tourist areas, where you can have sandwiches and chocolate cake in western cafes, if so inclined. Excursions could be best for the weekend, to Munnar in the mountains, where you can go trekking and take tours of tea plantations, or sail with a small wooden boat through the famous backwaters, or go to Cherai Beach, where you can lie at the beach and can go swimming.
Initially, I took time to get used to the traffic, especially in Ernakulam. The horn is practically on continuous use, the bus drivers give full throttle, even if they have to brake again for a bus stop in 50m and traffic lights are largely ignored. But within one week, it felt quite natural. Also eating by hand, you get used to it and develop a certain skill. The food is actually quite delicious and you get vegetarian dishes in any restaurant. You have to get used to the attention that you forcibly get as a white person. In most cases, I personally feel that it is curiosity and not just a "stare”. You smile at a person and you get a bright smile back.
All in all, Kochi is a really wonderful spot and I can only recommend everyone to spend a little lifetime there!
Dr. Singh is a very friendly and open person, so the days are always pleasant and I really like to entertain him.
Mornings at around 8.15 a.m., I go to Sudheendra Hospital, who also issued me a Letter of Invitation, where I remain until 10.30 a.m. I try to follow the patient cases and when time permits, Dr. Singh tells something about their medical history to me. Sometimes, when there is no patient, we talk or I read while he does his work.
The people here speak English because of a good education, but the interviews are 95% of cases in Malayalam. Especially in the early days it was still totally interesting, easy to observe the people, but if I'm honest, it gets a bit boring if you understand just nothing. For future people it might be quite helpful, to attend a language course. I've heard that you can learn rudimentary language relatively quickly. So you could benefit more from the content of therapeutic conversations.
At 10.30, we take the car for half an hour drive to a more distant hospital, KIMS Hospital, which has a more upmarket, international standard.
There the working day goes like this: Dr. Singh talks to the patient, while I listen or research. We have now enough cases that I can also write an analysis of records on suicide attempts. Tomorrow I visit, as it was planned, a patient of Dr. Singh who is recovering alcoholic, for lunch. If I know the hospitality of the people here, that will be more festive food than a psychological interview :D. I believe that the couple has invited the whole group of dry alcoholics, which is definitely a nice morning!
One thing I have forgotten: Sundays from 3.00 p.m. – 4.00 p.m., there is a alcoholics group meeting at Sudheendra which I attend.
So to sum it up: I feel very comfortable here, am fascinated by the cultural subtleties that you will notice by the talks, and very much appreciate Dr. Singh professionally and personally. I was twice invited to the Singhs’ home and have stayed there and felt comfortable. Tonight, they visit me at my Homestay and we go eat. He and his wife are really nice people. Didactically and technically, it was not at times quite as productive as I had hoped, because of lack of knowledge of the language. If future trainees had time for a language course (for example, 2-4 weeks only in the mornings at Sudheendra and afternoons, a language course), you can certainly take a lot more back. Since Dr. Singh has various contacts, you can also work in other areas such as at the women's home; but you'd better organize this at the beginning of the stay or discuss the same, since the time needs to be sorted.
Accommodation in Cochin
Guest House in Cochin:
You will be accommodated at one of two Guest Houses of middle standard, which belong to the same family and which are located next to each other in a quiet residential area of Fort Cochin, two minutes to walk from the "Maritime Museum". Most rooms have a private bathroom. There is a cleaner once a week and WiFi internet. The rates vary slightly during the year, depending on the season. You can book breakfast for an additional around 80 Rs./day. At one of the Guest Houses there is also a small kitchenette that can be used from participants living in both Guest Houses.
Bed sheets are provided but you should bring your own towels.
I. World Unite! Service Package
Mobile/Cell Phone Users: If you don't see the rates for your desired duration of stay, hide other (shorter) durations of stay.
|up to 31 Days||32-60 Days||61-90 Days||91-120 Days||5 Months or longer|
|450 EUR||600 EUR||700 EUR||750 EUR||850 EUR|
(Rate per Person)
|400 EUR||500 EUR||600 EUR||650 EUR||700 EUR|
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The World Unite! Service Package includes:
- Individual Consultation and Preparation prior to your arrival
- Access to the World Unite! Online Resource Centre which has Preparation Materials including Intercultural Preparation, compiled particularly for your destination (PDFs, Videos)
- Preparation Session via Skype, together with further participants
- Arrangements of the Documents you need for your Visa Application and assistance with local registration (if required) but not the official government fees for the visa (See costs below)
- Pick-up and Transfers from/to Cochin International Airport (COK) on arrival and departure
- Personal support staff at your location and at our international office
- Orientation and Introduction in Cochin
- Accompanying you to your placement on your first day
- 24 Hours emergency support by local support team
- Local SIM Card with 600 Rs. airtime credit
- Issuance of Confirmations/Certificates for your university, scholarship, insurance, etc. and filling out/signing Internship Contracts for your university
- Donation of 50 USD (in domestic currency) to your placement organization (in case of charitable organizations)
The Rates do NOT include:
- Accommodation and Meals (see below)
- Travel to/from Cochin (you book it on your own; we can assist you)
- Official fees for Visa (see below)
- Insurance (Travel Health Insurance, Liability Insurance, Travel Cancellation insurance; you book it on your own, we can assist you)
- Personal Expenses
- Local Transport (Estimated amounts see below)
- Please note that for supervised/mentored internships, some organizations charge further contributions. You find this information in the "Info Box" below the respective internship description.
II. Accommodation Costs
You can choose between the following options:
| All Rates in Indian Rupees! |
|Any Duration of Stay|
|Shared Apartment/Guest House|
Guest House, Room without AC
January-March 1000 Rs/Day
April-September 800 Rs/Day
October-November 900 Rs/Day
December 1500 Rs/Day
|2 Persons p.p.
|January-March 750 Rs/Day
April-Sept 650 Rs/Day
Oktober-Nov 700 Rs/Day
December 800 Rs/Day
Guest House, Room with AC
January-March 1500 Rs/Day
April-Sept 1200 Rs/Day
October-Nov 1250 Rs/DayDecember 2000 Rs/Day
|2 Persons p.p.
January-March 900 Rs/Day
April-Sept 700 Rs/Day
October-Nov 750 Rs/Day
December 1000 Rs/Day
In case of 3-4 person: Same rate as in case of 2 Persons. 5 or more persons: Contact us for group rates.
Overview of other costs:
- Visa around 60-130 EUR (75-160 USD) depending on activity and duration; to apply prior to your travel
- If meals are not included: 40-100 EUR (50-130 USD)/Month (Estimate)
- Small local expenses (Internet, Local Transport): ca. 20-40 EUR (30-50 USD)/Month (Estimate)
- Insurances around 20-40 EUR (30-50 USD)/Month
How do I pay?
Once all your questions have been answered and you confirm that you want to participate, we will email you an invoice. You can pay it via bank transfer, credit card or via Paypal. You will pay a deposit of 200 EUR / 250 USD when the invoice is issued. One months prior to your arrival you will pay the remainder for your Service Package.
The payment modalities for rent and possible further costs (e.g. internship supervision fees, as stated in info box of the respective project description) depend on your host country and placement. We will inform you beforehand. In many cases these costs are paid on site, but for some countries and placements they need to be paid partially or fully in advance.
Other Projects That Might Interest You:
These projects are suggestions for alternatives that may interest you or those that could be chosen as COMBINATIONS. The combination of projects in different organizations is often possible and usually cheaper than two individual bookings. Please contact us to know more! Check out our other listings in the areas of "World Learner" and "Active Travel" at your travel destination to make your stay even more interesting.
Malayalam is the language of Kerala. Although there are many people with good knowledge of English (much more than Hindi), it is always helpful to have a basic knowledge of Malayalam. You can take lessons (5 times a week for 2 hours each) with a single teacher. Classes are held in Fort Cochin, on the terrace of your property. Just mark in the registration form, "Language Training Required", and let us know your desired number of hours.
The price for 10 hours of lessons: 50 EUR.
Travel Health Insurance
We recommend the following travel insurance that is meant specifically for participants of internships, volunteering, language study, working holiday, and courses abroad. It is available for travelers of all nationalities and usable for all countries, except your home country. You can also add a journey liability insurance.
Just click on the link, fill in the form and you will get a confirmation email.
Check out our video on Cochin!
In this video, you see our volunteers, Sophie and Claudia in Cochin and our coordinator, Antonio. Also featured are some activities that you can do in and around Cochin.
Kerala - the Land of the Coconut Palms:
In Malayalam, Kerala means "Land of the coconut palms". This tropical state in the south west of India is strong in traditions and culture. Ayurveda, the Kathakali, and Kalarippayat (probably the oldest martial art of the world), all come from Kerala. The society of Kerala however, has also been shaped by the trade and cultural exchange facilitated by sailing vessels on the Indian Ocean. As early as in the 4th century, traders brought Christianity and Islam to Kerala and therefore, these two religions have far more followers in Kerala than in other parts of India: around 55% of Kerala's population are Hindu, 25% Muslims and 20% Christians.
Kerala is very attractive and interesting for travelling, offering tropical beaches and islands, house boat tours on the "backwaters", impressive mountains (such as the tea plantation area of Munnar) and National Parks, as well as a rich cultural heritage.
Cochin - Historic Port Town
The coastal city of Cochin, with around 600,000 inhabitants, spreads over several islands and peninsulas which are all connected via bridges. Ferries can easily bring you to the other parts of the city. An important island is Fort Kochi, the historic old town, where you will be accommodated. In the past, Fort Kochi was an important Indian Ocean port. The Chinese in the 13th century, the Portuguese in the 15th century and the Dutch in the 17th century left their remains. The town of Fort Kochi with its old courtyards, walls, churches and palaces, has a compelling flair which attracts cultural and wellness tourists; therefore there are many restaurants, hotels and guest houses, handcrafts and esoteric shops, as well as events. At night, it is particularly safe in Fort Kochi, as the Indian police operates its own "tourism police station" with a quirky police uniform museum. The modern and big city part of Cochin is Ernakulam, which is situated on the mainland and has a railroad station, many offices and large shops. Vypin Island is popular for beaches.
Our Coordinator in Cochin
Our coordinator in Cochin is Antonio.
Recreational Activities in Cochin
As a tourist destination, Cochin offers many ways to spend your spare time. These include the famous boat trips with houseboats on the "backwaters", which is available as day trips or as a multi-day offers, in which case you sleep on the boat. A beautiful multi-day trip and a welcome climate change, is also a visit to the tea plantations in the mountains of Munnar. There are several beaches in the area of Cochin, where you can swim.
In Cochin itself, there are many places for Ayurvedic massages, demonstrations of the traditional theater "Kathakali", the martial arts "Kalaripayattu" and folk dances and music performances (as "World Learner", you can even learn these), as well as take yoga or cooking lessons. In Ernakulam, there are large shopping malls and many shops with great deals; Fort Cochin has many tourist shops and a large number of restaurants and cafes. In the late afternoons, locals, Indian tourists and foreign tourists gather on the beach promenade of Fort Cochin to see the sunset.
Getting To Cochin
You book your flight to Cochin/Kochi (COK). There, you will be picked up and taken to your accommodation in Cochin.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No, you can arrive at any date and you can hence, plan your trip according to your availability and the prices of flights. We can pick you up from the Cochin airport even at night.
Yes, this is possible and we will give you our best rates. Just let us know when you arrive and leave and we will let you know the costs.
Of course, you can do this - most of our participants do so. However, when the travel destination is too far away, it may not be possible over a weekend; these, we would recommend you keep for before the projects begins or after the completion. You could even plan these out during holidays. Even with an internship visa, it is possible to travel around India.
The monsoon begins in early June in Kerala, Mumbai, in mid-June and the Himalayan region, early to mid-July and ends in September. The Thar Desert in Rajasthan (location Setrawa), barely gets rain during the monsoon and Jodhpur is rather dry.
During the monsoon, it usually rains heavily for several hours every day. As a result, there are often floods in the streets of the cities, because the drains cannot absorb the amounts of water. An internship or volunteering is possible during the monsoon, and the only nuisance will probably be wet clothes and shoes, which are often difficult to dry because of the high humidity. You might want to carry a few extra shoes and a change of clothes with you (or buy them locally). You can even buy an umbrella or a raincoat locally. An advantage to traveling during the monsoon, is that the fares are cheaper and accommodation during the off season is cheaper.
Can I travel to India as a young woman alone? The media constantly reports of rape - how high is the risk?
For decades, India has been a safe country for women and now the impression, given by the media, is that the number of rapes has skyrocketed and India is unsafe for women. More cases are coming into light now, as women previously would not speak about rape, but are now empowered to do so. Compared to the number of cases in relation to the huge population of India (almost twice as many as the whole of Europe), even if projections of unreported cases are included, there is much less rape than in many other countries. There are 2 cases that happen per 100,000 inhabitants in India (in comparison: Central Europe: 8.1 cases; 14.7 cases in Latin America; 28.6 cases per 100,000 population in the US).
Of course you have to be careful as a woman, as far as the style of dressing and dealing with local men are concerned. In schools, boys and girls are often strictly separated and many young men have no experience in dealing with women who are not their own mother or sisters; your behavior, based on dealing with Western men, might be misinterpreted as “easy” or “loose” behaviour.
The total number of participants that participate simultaneously with an organization depends on the size and activity of the organization and responsibilities of volunteers/interns. We try to avoid too many volunteers/interns in an organization at the same time. It may be that you are alone in your work site, but usually there are, throughout the year, other participants in Cochin, who you can meet in your spare time, if you desire so.
Our Info - PDF that you get as a participant, gives detailed information on health care. Also refer to Recommended Vaccinations
In the tab "Accommodation", you see the housing options.
Yes, the accommodations in Cochin provide wifi at no additional cost.
Watch our video about Cochin (in the tab "Cochin"). In it, our coordinator, Antonio shows us a laundry service, where the clothes are washed by hand. For a pre-decided price per garment (fixed price for trousers, tops, towels, underwear, etc.), your clothes will be collected from your accommodation and neatly ironed and returned the next day.
Yes, you can cook at the shared accommodation.
Yes, India is a paradise for vegetarians. Almost all restaurants are clearly marked, whether they are vegetarian ("Veg") or not ("Non-Veg"), and there are separate menus. About 40% of Indians are vegetarians.
You should be able to understand and make yourself understood in English.