Taking Notes in Malta

Two occupational therapy students on practical training in Malta, Spring 2017

Back to Finland

 

It has been couple of weeks now since we have arrived back to Finland. The first things and differences we noticed when landing to Finland was the quietness, fresh air and the green nature. And how little there was traffic, hardly any cars anywhere. Even the morning traffic jams didn’t felt that bad as before.

 

The springtime had just began and it was nice to see how the scenery was turning green day by day. It was still quite cold and what we missed from Malta was the warm weather and the absolutely guaranteed sunshine.

 

We also enjoyed the warm and dark evenings and possibilities to join outdoor events, like music festivals and concerts. And now in Finland we can do that as well with the endless sunlight due the Midsummer and Summer Festivals.

We found that Maltese people are so nice and friendly. Especially our hostess and her daughter were very warm-hearted and made us feel most welcoming, a home away from home. And the personnel of the LiveLife were cheerful and easy-going, and also the most professional people. We will miss you all!

All in all, we found our internship very good experience to work and live in another country and culture. It gave us more courage to speak and write in English. We will definitely recommend this kind of international internship to every ot-student! Because after this kind of experience it feels like you are ready to go abroad to work as an occupational therapist, anytime and anywhere! Just do it! #otpower

 


Nature, sights and sceneries

On one weekend we decide to go to the Poppey Village. Yes, Malta have true Poppey Village in North part of Malta. In Poppey Village you can meet Poppey himself and his wife Olive Oyl as well as Brutus. The Village was ordinary built as film set for the movie. The Village is very much like finnish Moomiland. There is different activities to adults and children. 

Malta’s nature is very different than in Finland. When we arrived to Malta in March, spring was just started. New green was everywhere! After few warm days and couple of rain days the wind changed the direction from North to South and the air change more dry and warm. Most of the outdoor plants here are used in Finland as the indoor plants. And of course beside of sea air and wind are more salty than in most part in Finland. In beginner of our internship we spend one wonderful day in Dingli Cliffts. It is situated in the East part of Malta and there are small caves in cliffs. It was beautiful and windy day.

Traveling by bus was very cheap (but not so easy) way to see island. One of our favorite and crossroads place was Mdina, the silent city. Mdina is old city middle of Malta. You can not drive there at a certain time of the day. There has also filmed a few movies and television series e.x. part of Game of Thrones. Otherwise Malta has been popular filming land e.x. Gladiator, Troy and Kon-Tiki has filmed there. 




Our last days in Malta we just spend in Sliema near to sea just sunburning ourselves. 🙂

Places where we got to possibility to know a little; Golden Beach, Pretty Bay, Marsaskala, Tas-Sliema, St Gilians (Julians), Mdina, Mellieha Bay, Valletta, Cirkewwa, Birkirkara, Is-Swieqi, San Gwann, Gozo, Il-Gzira, In-Naxxar… And many more..  🙂

 


A Quick Visit to Gozo

During our stay here in Malta, we had one week off the work. Then I travelled to Gozo island for a couple of days and Minttu visited the place later on with her friend. Gozo is certainly worth visiting if you are in Malta. There is an easy and quick ferry connection to the island.

Because the island is quite small, it’s called Malta’s “little sister”, you can see a lot even in one day. It has cozy and calm atmosphere comparing to the vivid and busy Malta. No wonder that the story goes that it was Gozo’s glorious Calypso cave where the beautiful nymph Calypso keeps Odysseus as her “prisoner of love” for seven years.

There is still lot of rural areas which makes the island very verdant. I met one Australian woman in the hostel where I was staying, and she said that there are also beautiful hiking trails in the island.

The biggest town Victoria is situated in the middle is the island and it takes only 10-15 minutes to go to beach by bus. It doesn’t matter which direction you are heading for, there is always a beautiful beach or scenery waiting for you.

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An Ordinary Day in Malta

How do we spend our days here in Malta?
Let’s take a little closer look at our ordinary working day…

6:15 a.m.
Waking up, shower and breakfast

 

7:00 a.m.
Packing working clothes and other stuff in back bags, checking once or twice that everything in with us. Fortunately, we have our own survival pack which includes:

  • Keys
  • Mobile
  • Laptop
  • Notebook and pen
  • Water bottle
  • Sun glasses
  • After work banana (never go to work without a banana)
  • Working clothes: white t-shirt, black trousers and socks, shoes are already in LiveLife
  • Extra socks
  • Orbit chewing gum

7:15 a.m.
Start walking to the LiveLife. Sometimes we walk as fast as the bus drives, or even faster, due the traffic jams.

 

7:50 a.m.
Arriving to LiveLife, checking in and changing clothes

 

8:00 a.m.
Starting morning shift with Occupational Therapy Aid. Meeting some clients and carry out ADL (activities of daily living) sessions, like bathing, toileting or dressing.

10:00 a.m.
Breakfast in personal’s dining room

 

10:30 a.m.
Continue morning shift and carry out sessions or writing occupational therapy notes to the patient files.

12:00 a.m.
OT aid finish his shift and we do some planning for the next day and make report to Occupational Therapist who will meet us during the evening shift.

1:00 p.m.
Lunch time

1:30 p.m.
Having a break and go for a coffee or just walk around the embankment. Some days we stay in the garden or the lobby and continue write our study assignments.

 

4:00 p.m.
OT starts her evening shift and first we give her report about the work we have done in the morning. If there is new in-patients we carry out initial assessment with them. Then we do some follow-up sessions and plan what we are going to do in the next day with OT aid.

6:30 p.m.
Finish work, change clothes and eat the banana!

6:45 p.m.
Check out LiveLife and start walking back to our apartment. On the way we stop to do some shopping for dinner.

7:30 p.m.
Start making dinner and have a chat with our host and her daughter.

8:30 p.m.
Go to our room and do some homework or watching Netflix. Or take an evening walk and go to cafe Roberto.

10:30 p.m.
Time to go to sleep.

 

 

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Food Glorious Food

In the beginning of our internship we went to eat in Valletta. We found one very small and lovely restaurant form small alley. It is called Tap room. It was miracle that we get chance to go in because usually, as they told us, you need to book the table to get in, lucky us!

 

Maltese traditional food is rabbit. Rabbit is not Malta’s original animal but is has been here for so long that it is part of Malta’s nature. Rabbit probably came by Romanians or by phoenician. Rabbits that maltese use for food is not wild rabbit like in Finland. Here there are grown rabbit. However we were consider should us to try it or not. Lucky us our host decide on behalf for us. Therefore one lovely Sunday morning we wake up delicious smell that came from kitchen. She was early bird and but the day before red wine marinated rabbit cook in low heat. At afternoon we got a wonderful dinner with wonderful friends.

 

One of our favorite places in Sliema has been cafe cuba. There is easy to go after work or middle of shared working day. Just sit down and look at the people, chill out, and then back to work.

 

Some other places after work…

 

And of course we were making our own food. Then we have had pasta salad, green salad, tuna salad and sandwiches.

  

 

We decide to make for our lovely host and her daughter Finnish pancakes! Fitting day was last Saturday therefore we got fun together to eat stomach full of pancakes and watching how Portugal win Belgium’s beautiful Blanche.

 

And in work… Breakfast

 

Lunch

 

One that we have not tasted yet is baked rice ball. Lucky us we have still time and remarkable Roberto might have those.

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Working Hand in Hand

What we have done in our internship here at LiveLife is to monitor and assist client’s independence in their activities in daily living. That means we usually meet them in the morning or at lunch time in their own rooms. We do for example bathing, toileting, feeding, and dressing assessments and write notes about the sessions to the client’s file. Then we have discussed about the assessments with OTs and decided together what kind of occupational therapy sessions and interventions we are going to carry out next. When the new client is getting on admission, first thing we do is to read his/her file and medical history and then carry out initial assessment with the OT.

One of our most common occupational therapy sessions here in LiveLife has been the hand exercises. The physio therapists are concentrating more on the mobility and functional transfers of the client and we have done exercises to improve client’s muscle power and range of motion of the upper extremity. It has been interesting to think about what exercises to carry out with the clients. Here are some examples of the aides and instruments we have been using:

Coins, playing cards, theraputty, hand gripper, stacking cones, therapy band and skip rope.

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This and that about Malta and Maltese

Like our host said, it seems that Malta island is eventually going to be just one big city. If you think that the population density in Malta is around 1,350 inhabitants per square kilometre, it’s no wonder. In Finland the same number is an average of 17 inhabitants per square kilometre. The Republic of Malta is actually a group of seven islands. The largest is Malta itself, followed by Gozo (about 6 kilometres away from Malta). In between Malta and Gozo is the tiny island of Comino and the other four Maltese islands are uninhabited.

One reason why we do our practical trainee here in Malta is the language. There are two official languages here in Malta: Maltese and English. And furthermore many people speak also Italian. Then there is a lot of immigrants from Europe, Africa and Asia, and of course tourists from all over the world, which makes this country really multi-lingual and multi-cultural place to be. And the Maltese themselves are very open, friendly and helpful.

Most Maltese are usually more than happy to help you with whatever you need. So the best tip to give you is: If you’re unsure of anything, just ASK!

It’s not only lot of people you see in Malta, there is also quite a number of cars in everyday traffic. The Maltese love their cars. Over 329,000 vehicles are registered in Malta, which is a big number considering the 425,000 or so inhabitants and relatively small road network.

When we have told our fellow workers that we usually walk 2,5 km to work and back home, people are looking at us little funny. We have also travelled around the island by bus, and that has always been a little bit adventures. Just look at the route map of public transport in Malta:

There is lot of historic places to see in Malta. We have seen many temples and visited medieval city Mdina. Did you know that the remains of the Megalithic temples that Malta is known for are the oldest free-standing stone structures in the world, older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt?

Knights of Malta are most remembered for successfully defending the island against the Ottomans during The Great Siege of 1565. The eight-point Crusade cross often associated with the Knights of Malta later became known as the Maltese Cross.

Along with Maltese Cross you can easily recognise one, even more ancient, custom – the Maltese fishing boats. They are often painted in bright colours and there are a pair of eyes on each side at the front, a tradition which goes back to ancient Phoenician times. These are the Eyes of Osiris which are said to protect the fishing boats from evil spirits.

Maltese has been long time under the Britain. They have had independence in 1964. However, there is still observable long history with British. Malta have left sided traffic so when you are crossing steer cars are coming to the wrong side or your friend is going to drop you e.g to the airport remember that the steering wheel is in other side! Power plugs are like in England and have double backup in each.

Malta is Catholic country. You can clearly recognize that just walkin around the island. Almost every street have their own churches. Every second houses and flats haves their own Saint’s statue or reliefs. Virgin Mary and Holy family are most popular… You can see nuns and monks come from churches and go shopping. In parks big crosses are most popular decorate in trees.

Malta hosts 75 local village feasts (or ‘festa’) between June and September, which is a festivity in honour of the town’s patron saint and is originally a religious celebration. The three phrases that summarise such events are fireworks, religious processions and band marches. Last week there was one big festa in Floriana and it was combined with the Malta International Fireworks Festival

 

If you want to read more facts about Malta:
http://www.maltauncovered.com/malta-island/top-facts/

 

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About the LiveLife


We are doing our occupational therapy practical trainee at the Physical Rehabilitation Centre which is called LiveLife. It is the first private specialised Physical Rehabilitation Centre on the Maltese Islands situated in Sliema. At the moment we are working mostly with the adults and elderly who have been transferred to the LiveLife from the main hospital Mater Dei. Typically the clients have had joint replacement surgery,  traumatic brain injury or some other physical injury. They will be staying at LiveLife few days or weeks before they will be going home.

There are many professionals working in LiveLife as Multi Disciplinary Team: doctors, nurses, carers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologist, exercise physiologists and psychologists. Also many students from different countries are doing their practical trainee in LiveLife. We are working with two occupational therapists and one occupational therapy assistant. OT’s are Maltese and OT assistant is Italian. All together the atmosphere in LiveLife is very international, vivid and lively, and we enjoy it a lot.

Some of the clients speaks only Maltese but most of them speaks perfect English. It makes things easy for us, to communicate and do therapy-sessions with them. Above all the clients are mainly very pleased about the treatment and rehabilitation they are having in LiveLife. It is a really rewarding to work with them.

The facilities in LiveLife are good. All the clients have their own rooms or they share it with one another client. The rooms are all furnished and they are light, spacious and include big bathroom. The hallways and lifts are big and wide, so it’s easy to move around with wheelchair or frame walker. On the ground floor there is a garden area which is a nice place to go with clients when the weather is good. For the therapy-sessions there are gym and assisted kitchen which can be used. We are doing most of our sessions in the client’s room. For cookery sessions we use the assisted kitchen and dining room. Sometimes we borrow some equipment from the gym which is mostly used by the physiotherapists.

Clinics & Specialists in Live Life

Chiropractic
Foot Clinic
Musculoskeletal Screening
Neurology
Occupational Therapy
Orthopaedics
Physiotherapy
Rheumatology
Speech Language Pathology
Sports & Exercise Medicine

Take a virtual tour around LiveLife

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Welcome to our neighbourhood!

How we live in Malta? In Finland we were considering what would be the best way to found place to live. So we decide to book room for first week from Airbnb and then find apartment when we arrived to Malta. However, when departure started to get closer and we were sometimes looking for rooms, we noticed that flats and rooms started to be booked specially in May. Therefore we started to be a bit nervous and decided to book room rest of time as well. Airbnb isn’t the cheapest way to live but at the same time we get an opportunity to live with a local family. Anyway, now we live with single mother and her seven years old daughter in a small flat.

 

Our home is in town called San Gwann which is nearby Sliema were our workplace is. From San Gwann to Sliema is 2.5 km so we could easily walk that way to work. Usually we stop by small shops to buy food after work. In our neighbourhood is large cat army. Every cat lovers should live here. There is black, white, with striped, colourful, honey colour and so many more. Our neighbour actually feed them therefore it’s not wonder why we couldn’t even count them.

Coffee is cheaper here than in Finland especially in cafes. We really enjoy cafe’s here. Actually in very next street from us is very lovely cafe. There you can order remarkable tiramisu. We recommend that for everyone who would like to have tiny piece of heaven.

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Greetings from Malta!

Hello, we are Minttu and Asta, two occupational therapy students from JAMK and we are doing our practical training at the moment in Malta.

It was almost a year ago when we first time discussed together about going abroad. Our idea was to go somewhere in Europe where you can learn and speak English, and where the weather will be sunny and warm. Both of us had already done one practical trainee period, Asta with elderly people and Minttu with stroke clients. This time we were looking for the place where we could do occupational therapy with adults or with children.

We met International Coordinator Armi Hirvonen from JAMK International Services in May 2016. She gave us information about different options in Malta. After we had visited LiveLife and Inspire webpages, we were convinced that Malta will be perfect for us.

After sending couple of emails we got the answers from both places. Inspire was already having OT trainees for the springtime 2017. Fortunately we got really welcoming message from Rehabilitation Centre Manager Robert Grech from LiveLife and they were ready to accept us for the traineeship.

Therefore, we met Armi again (thank you for your patience!) and filled in necessary application forms etc. In the end of January 2017 everything was done and organized, the learning agreement for traineeships were signed, and we were ready to book our flights!

The adventure is about to begin…

We are not the first JAMK students here in Malta, just take a look at these blogs too:

Bonswa Malta!

Exploring Malta

 

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