The Last Chapter Of My Exchange

The last weeks in Northampton were so busy that I did not have time to write anything. Also after returning back to Finland I was busy with starting my new-old life (moving together with Mr. R.). Now I´m finally back and going to write about some sort of summary about the exchange.

If I would need to give some advices to a student who is considering to do the same than I did – be an exchange student and especially having a placement in Northampton – I would mention probably some aspects which I was not very prepared for.

Prepare to be alone especially if you are older / mature student and don´t live at the campus.

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It may be challenging or at least take a long time to really get to know anyone. It´s a good question how much this “keeping a distance” is a cultural character. All the people I met were very friendly and helpful, but I must say I felt myself quite lonely at times, even if I really tried to do something for it. Mentioning the cultural angle I know it would be probably much worse to be a British exchange student in Finland, where people sometimes hardly talk to each other.  In the placement I met a lot of lovely people, but I felt myself mostly quite an outsider. There were a lot of more formal discussion (like the reports in the morning) and informal discussions (like the jokes) in the office of which I did not get much. Of course I kept asking about those things from the educator, but sometimes we were just too busy to discuss about those.

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I know that this language barrier part of the loneliness would get better after a while. There was one team member in the ward who told me that he comes from Portugal and had been living in the UK about 15 years. I probably would not have guessed he´s not originally from England because his English sounded so good to me. He said it took about six months to get along with the language somehow. I comforted myself by thinking about his words in the moments I was struggling with my language after these less than 3 months.

Besides the rent (which is going to be probably expensive anyway) think about the location of your accommodation contra the university / to your placement. The house I stayed in Far Cotton, was not literally far from the uni (4,2 miles = 6759 meters), but still in the rush hour it meant one hour bus trip, 2 hours all together / day. The biggest cultural difference generally – which I never get very used to – was the huge amount of the people making many of the things quite slow and challenging. Going from one place to another (especially in the rush hour), standing in the queues, organizing your daily living and so on. I remember to wait 2, 5 hours in the mobile operator´s chat queue – and never got the answer to my simple question.

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I also didn´t realize beforehand in Finland that travelling is quite challenging and expensive in the UK. Actually from Northampton I found it pretty (=too) challenging. For example making a trip to Cambridge (about one hour drive by car) would have taken more than three hours by the public transportation. There were no budget hostels (or the ones were fully booked) and all the sofa surfing requests I send were declined usually by saying that the persons already had someone to host. During the three months I saw some places in Northampton, Wollaston (village nearby having Dr. Martens outlet-shop) and London. That´s it. I had some plans to make a trip to Cambridge and to Stratford-upon-Avon, but after finding out how expensive it would have been, I decided not to go, especially knowing that I would have made the trips by myself, alone.

Prepare to plan and organize your life in beforehand. Generally I think I learned something what comes to this aspect, for example meaning my daily routines or my trips to London. In the city sized like London, you need to have a plan A, and probably at least a plan B (at least) for managing to experience and see the things you want to.

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The best side of the whole exchange were the people I met. Although I was quite lonely at times, the people I was in contact with were anyway lovely and friendly. For example my fellow student Kerry who spent about 6 hours in the library helping me to translate my essay in to academic language… I think it was such a shame that I realized too late that this lovely person lives almost in my neighbour. Also the old (meaning already from Finland) friend James who borrowed his wife´s bike and helped me to make photocopies when I was crying with my flu, tiredness and language barrier in the very beginning at the university. Also my educator was such a fantastic person and a real professional in occupational therapy. I will always remember his great sense of humour and patient /calm style to deal with all kind of fast changing situations. I do appreciate his way to support the patient´s independence; not to do the things for the people, but encouraging them always to try by themselves. I am gratefull for all these (and not in here mentioned) people who shared some unique moments in my life giving their time, knowledge, bike, smiles etc.

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One example about the unique moment(s) was the group session I lead in the ward. Knowing the variety of the clients (meaning about their occupational abilities and motivation) I asked some tips for the theme of the session from my educator. He suggested I would have a mince pie tasting session – Christmas was coming – which would probably motivate most of the clients. I bought six different types of mince pies which are quite different than Finnish Christmas plum tarts. I started the session by asking the clients to share verbally or mimically what they like in Christmas. I gave an example about the simple mimic about the activities I like to do at Christmas: sleeping and reading a book. I think everybody was able to say something. They did not use mime, which was a sort of experimental and new task to them. Then I had the actual tasting session in the way I gave them personally a small piece of the pie A, then another piece of the pie B – and asked which one was the better one. I also asked them to taste carefully and slowly, because in the end we chose the Mince Pie of 2015. This way they had a some sort of sensory session, with smell, taste, touch and also need to make a choice. In the final end I told shortly about the real original Santa Claus in Finland. I even had some evidence material: a short video clip about Santa´s village in Rovaniemi. I was amazed how much discussion it raised; about the Santa, Christmas and even about the northern lights. I asked also if the clients remember if they believed in Santa Claus in their childhood. One client – usually a bit serious older man – said to me, that he still does. He also thanked for the session with a handshake. I was quite happy about the whole session, which I think went quite well. The clients usually having quite challenging behaviour were able to concentrate, share something about their Christmas, wait their turn and be social about the whole hour which is more than I expected.

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What did I learn? I think I learned a lot; probably I realize all the learnings after a while, little by little. Besides the language I learned of course about occupational therapy. For example some occupational therapy concepts got more practical sense in my mind (like the activity analysis and professional reasoning). I learned about the client group (brain injury patients) and about the variety of the effects, symptoms  and challenges they are having caused by the injury. I learned about the interventions and assessments, for example doing the interest checklist, road safety and orientation assessments, community trips, cooking sessions, morning hygiene programmes and news groups. I learned about the multidisciplinary team (MDT) member´s work and roles by interviewing them. I learned something about making notes. I got an idea about the hospital sized like St Andrews, saw some different wards and OT´s working with different client groups (for example the patients with dementia , Huntington´s disease and the youth with mood disorders). I got an idea about the relevant protocols and guidelines (NICE guidelines, Mental Health Act, Mental Capacity Act). I saw some different actitivities the hospital can offer to the patients (the activity center, Work Bridge, the multifaith room). Maybe one of the most important learnigns was that I got some brightened ideas what I want to do in the future as an OT.

This is the end of this chapter and this blog. Time to say goodbye and thank the random readers. Beside I´ve had to duty to write about the exchange it has been therapeutic to write. Definetely would recommend.

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Cheers,

Minna

P.s. The pictures with quotations are from British Library´s exhibition about Alice in Wonderland and the last one with Marilyn Monroe´s words is from the museum of Northampton. The piece of street art with owls is made by Dscreet and the one with two characters by Stik.

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Loneliness is my name

 

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I don´t know if there´s any song´s titles like this (title of this post), but if not I could easily compose one (would be such a patethic song, ha!). That´s how it has been lately after work and at the weekends. I have tried to entertain myself in different ways; gone to gym, done bikerides, went to see some quite good live music, but all these things I have done in my own good (?) company (well, the longer bikeride was organised). I am so happy about the new tecnology exists nowadays. The amount of my Facebook posts is directly proportional to the amount of my loneliness. Without the Skypecalls to Mr. Romeo, I would not have survived – probably. This does not mean I wouldn´t have tried to be social. It´s just the thing that most of the mature students seem to be quite busy with their dissertations, families and everyday life. Also the university societies I joined seemed either not to be very active or their activities are in the middle of week at the uni, and I am not able to attend because of  my placement. It does not help, that although I am able to communicate (mostly) in English, I don´t usually get the jokes (at the placement) cause those are often such language and cultural things. And I think humour is something which easily connects you to the others. Common laugh. Well, fortunately you can always create some DIY -friends (and laugh to yourself). Especially in Halloween.

Otettu Lumia Selfie -sovelluksella

Otettu Lumia Selfie -sovelluksella

Otettu Lumia Selfie -sovelluksella

Otettu Lumia Selfie -sovelluksella

Otettu Lumia Selfie -sovelluksella

Otettu Lumia Selfie -sovelluksella

The pictures above are from last Wednesday at the placement. I was trying on some Halloween costumes for the Rock Club, which is a social event for some of the local hospital´s brain injury wards / patients. We went there with four of our clients. It was a really nice and comfy nigth, everybody seemed to enjoy at least somehow about the Halloween costumes, disco, karaoke, raffle, pizza and pumpkin pie. I must say I´ve never heard such a unique interpretation of one rock ballad than happened to hear there. Even the one client of us (“always-happy-P”) was holding his ears with this personal talent…

About the clients. Like I mentioned all are men and adult, but these are probably the only common factors. The age range is from about 32-60.  Personalities, backrounds and the brain injury´s impacts vary A LOT. Severity of the injury depends lot about the location and extent of it.

It seems to be quite common to have some sort of executive dysfunction after brain injury.  It “is a term for the range of cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties which often occur after injury to the frontal lobes of the brain.” https://www.headway.org.uk/about-brain-injury/individuals/effects-of-brain-injury/executive-dysfunction/ . The frontal lobes are vulnerable due to their location at the front of the brain and their large size. The above mentioned Headway´s webpage gives a good example how this dysfunction may affect for example your ability to cook a meal. Normally people take these kind of everyday activities for granted and don´t really think how complex these actually are in the end. You really need a good variety of abilities and skills to prepare a meal  or to do other activities for taking care of youself; in OT languge “ADL” = activities of daily living.

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Many of the clients are struggling with their motivation (or lack of it), organisation (for example they are trying to do the things in the wrong order) or monitoring the performance (just forgetting to check the steak in the owen for example). The other common challenges I have met are for example challenges to concentrate, remember things, make decisions and initiate appropriate behaviour (need somebody to prompt). Often the clients  struggle with flexible thinking and problem solving.  Some of the patients have challenges in social situations; they say and do inappropriate things without any judgement (it´s quite handy to have this language barrier sometimes…) or they can not control their emotions (have seen some outbursts). Someones lack of self-awareness (having for example some sort of “grandiositet”) or they lack of insight about their condition and think they just could go home and back to work right away. These problems / challenges are not intentional of course, but the result of the injury. The problems also range from very subtle to major and problematic ones depending on the case.

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What do we do with the clients then?

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This far the inteventions have been much these for supporting and assessing these ADL skills; taking care of your hygiene, road safety, orientation and cooking. We have also done “leisure” things, had a nice cups of coffee in the cafes nearby and played snooker, which I always loose (and it´s not intentional). It´s anyway nice to notice that usually a bit chaotic (also physically) client is able to concentrate and play actually very well. We have also had choir rehearsals; These Boots are Made for Walking and Abba´s Waterloo are now stucked in my mind permanently. Unfortunately the choir somehow died for the lack of real interest, which is a shame, because I think there WAS some potential in it. We have had some Arts and Crafts -sessions in the Activity Centre. I have for example done some Decoupage -bracelets and wooden housemodels with the clients. There is also Workbridge, where the clients do different things and get paid (at least something), making for example ceramics and woodwork, which is then sold to the customers outside. The main goals in occupational therapy (at least I assume, need to check this!) are to support these clients independent life and also to improve the quality of their life. Of course the every client has his own personalized and specific goals.

One thing I´m probably quite excellent nowadays is pumpkin carving. I happened to visit the other wards just when they had this pre -Halloween pumpkin carving session, and I managed to do it also in our own ward. It was quite touching (and a bit messy) to do this activity with the women having Huntington´s chorea. I try to write something about my experiences in the other wards in my next post, hopefully soon.

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One very positive thing which brightens up my early mornings especially is my beautifull biking route to the hospital by the riverside.

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The other VERY positive thing, is that Mr. Romeo is coming for a visit to London soon. Makes me happy. So long!

P.s. I finally managed to have some social life in the last weekend, which WAS positive.

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The Intro to My Placement & The Uni Part of The Studies

It´s been a while. I´ve been busy with the studies and experiencing all the new things. Also had a short 5 day trip to Finland, but it´s another story.

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I´ve still met some pretty good challenges, but now it finally seems that there´s the light at the end of the tunnel. About the challenges, just to mention shortly, it´s been a heck of a process to get rid of the flu (took 2,5 weeks) and sleeping problems – and it did not help at all that it was pretty challenging to get to the doctor here. But it´s a story itself and not in the list this time. Now I´m fine anyway. Just challenging with the language but it´s hopefully getting better also – little by little…

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I promised to tell about my studies. Actually I MUST tell about my studies since this blog is a part of the reporting to my school about the exchange. So, let´s roll up our sleeves.

The course which I´m involved is called “Development of the Professional Practise”. It started with about 2 week’s orientation part including lectures at the university. The rest of the course is going to be practical; the placement including certain literal tasks and the final evaluation at the university. My placement is at St Andrews Psychiatric Hospital which is the UK´s leading charity providing NHS care and independent national teaching hospital. It´s a employer of over 4000 people at four locations and opened originally at 1838. http://www.standrewshealthcare.co.uk/ . The area is huge, the buildings and the atmoshpere are fantastic. When walking around I got the feeling to be in some of the tv-series like “Upstairs, Downstairs” or “Downton Abbey”. (Below the hospital´s main building and the church)

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I am in the men´s brain injury ward, meaning the 15 patients there have had a brain injury and the mental health problems either already before or /and after the injury. The condition of the patients varies depending on the injury; it´s location and measure. Many of the patients have challenges in executive functions and some of them have challenging behaviour. I´m happy to have the most super nice, pleasant, patient and professional educator called Fraser. The first  two weeks are behind and I´m excited and happy for my placement. I think it´s going to be just great and certainly I am going to learn something, probably quite much. (Below some eye-sweets like the small Tolkien -style Academic Library)

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First about the orientation part of the studies at the university. I must admit there have been quite a lot of information in the lectures, especially in the beginning, which I just did´t catch for the several reasons (tiredness, flu, and language barrier…). Some of the themes were fortunately familiar already from the studies in Finland, where we are in our 3rd year, when studying here with the 2nd year students – which is definitely enough for the language reasons. I try to list the themes of the lectures and mention some of the learnings and benefits.

Therapeutic Use of Self. Interesting and partly quite familiar subject. We had the group discussions and found out the challenges in therapeutic use of self concerning our placements. The first one coming to my mind was of course – the language barrier. We found out it would be actually a good opportunity to develop your non-verbal language; body language, facial expressions and also listening and watching. That´s actually something I´ve been doing quite a lot already during my first week in the brain injury ward. Quite many of the patients have some verbal and sometime also cognitive challenges caused by the brain injury. It means that some of them for example speaking / verbalizing things is difficult; they are mumbling or seeking the words. At least I am now very able to feel empathy in those situations for being in a bit similar position (at least some time).  (Below some facial expressions at the Emirates Air Line´s cable car in London).

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Workshops lead by educators. Mike Adams the Lead OT from St Andrews told us about the assessment and interviewing within a mental health setting. We worked in pairs in the way that we did some initial interviews to each other using the OT´s initial interview forms of St Andrews. We also had given patient cases, so that the one of us was a patient and the other one was interviewing. We did have some challenging and funny moments, especially when the patient had no insight about his condition. It´s not so rare for example in the brain injury ward. In the end we found; it´s not the form and it´s all questions from the beginning to the end, but more the people; the client and his / her needs and your relationship to him / her. Of course. It´s just sometimes easy to forget.

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Professional reasoning. Somehow I have been very able to adapt Mattingly and Fleming´s (1991) way of thinking “Three track reasoning” in my placement´s practise concerning especially our assessment -sessions. For example yesterday we had a short assessment for a client who had recently arrived. We took him to town for walking (about 30 minutes) to see his “road safety” and for a cup of coffee in the cafe nearby. In that short session the OT fluently and discreetly dealed with all the aspects of Three track reasoning: 1. Procedural: diagnostic, assessment, defining problems, factual procedures observed, 2. Face to face communication: individual approach and therapetic relationship, 3. Conditional: social, cultural and temporal consideration, imagination and interpretation of the clients perspective. Afterwards we discussed and she combined these three tracks into a nice narrative form. And all this happened in very pragmatic way based on the long professional experience. Admirable.

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Reflective practise and reflective writing. Occupational engagement. Safe practise and risk assessment on plasement. These themes were very familiar from the studies in Finland. Also gathered occupational diagnosis, it´s meaning and the difference from the medical dianosis.

Introduction to health and social care and Legal and ethical aspects of professional practise. I don´t find any big differences to these things in Finland (or maybe I don´t know enough about the law in Finland) Consent, confidentiality, documentation and duty of care are the key ethical and legal areas here. I have familiarized myself to Mental Health Act (1983 & 2007) especially in some certain sections suggested by my educator. http://www.rethink.org/living-with-mental-illness/mental-health-laws/mental-health-act-1983/sections-2-3-4-5. Section 2 means basically that you are detained in hospital for assessment of your mental health and to get any treatment you might need. Section 3 means that you are detained in hospital for treatment, which might be necessary to your health, your safety of for protection of other people; meaning you are already well known for mental health services and there´s no need for you to be assessed under section 2. Section 37 41  http://www.rethink.org/living-with-mental-illness/police-courts-prison/section-37-41-hospital-order-given-by-crown-court means the hospital order given by crown court; the criminal courts can use section 37 if they think you should be in hospital instead of prison; sec 41 is a restriction order which the crown court can add to a sec 37 if they have concerns about public safety and your level of risk. I have also been reading about certain suggested part of Mental Capacity Act (2005) http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=1327 which is designed to protect and empower individuals who may lack the mental capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment (for example people having a brain injury, dementia, learning disability etc.), especially the information about DoLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards).

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About the more practical sessions at the university included Hoisting (haven´t faced that yet in the ward) and some mandatory training like Basic Life Support, Patient Handling, Infection Control and Breakaway Techniques. The last one was great fun; we had a half a day rehearsal lead by the fantastic and jolly teachers at Berrywood Hospital. About the Basic Life Support. I needed to do the practical session by myself supervised by the teacher because the other students had been done that already earlier. I had some a bit surrealistic moments (after few hours sleeping at the previous night) when I was  rehearsing the resuscitation for the test with the dolls by myself in the classroom. Suddenly there was a fire alarm going on. I just had a few seconds strange moment when I thought; do this resuscitation and the fire alarm have a some sort of connection? Anyway I was the first one going out from the building to the yard where everybody gathered. I am still not sure was it a rehearsal or a some sort of real alarm. Anyway after that I managed to pass the practical test where I needed to resuscitate a baby and an adult. I probably got some adrenalin about the fire alarm – when otherwise would have been quite tired because of the lack of sleep.

There are still some things about the studies at the uni which I haven´t dealed with, but I try to adapt those things in the practical work at the ward and tell about those things in the later posts. I also try to tell something about the life at the ward, I promise to reveal the reason why I am always humming These boots are made for walking and Abba´s Waterloo nowadays. I also want to tell something about the people, the patients and the staff I´ve been lucky to met. Perhaps also something about my freetime activities includind some gym- and livemusic -hunting.

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Brain dysfunctioning and other challenges

I suppose in this post my English is going to be even much worse than in the first one (thanks for my professors M & T). Today I´ve been one week here and I think my English skills have probably regressed – at least I´ve got quite often that feeling. We´ve just discussed about this with the other Finnish girls; the feeling about your English skills is changing all the time depending on many things, for example how tired you are… And I must admit that I´ve been exchausted.

 

The best news first.

The People we´ve met have been just extremely friendly, helpful and hospitable. I feel SO grateful and impressed. Thank you Max, James, Danielle, Pat, Ann and all the wonderful classmates and teachers who have helped us with all kind of practical and not so practical things and also being patient, answered to our endless questions, spoken slowly etc. The list is long. And thank you the unknown man / family in the nearest park who found my mobile phone, answered it and brought it back to me! It´s quite amazing to find this kind of  sincerity in the world – does not matter if you are in England or Finland or anywhere.

I am very satisfied with our accomodation. Our “landlord” / housemate is  very friendly, helpful and “laid back” (borrowing his own words). The other two Finnish girls are staying here only for the first three weeks, before heading to Leicester to their placements, so there´s going to be plenty of room here especially after that. It´s by the way a great thing that the other girls Mirva and Maire are here, especially now in the beginning, when you need to find out and organize so many things. And just for the peer support, of course!

I try to add some pics about our house…

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Some specialities. Our floor in the living room is LEATHER (the material, does it sound luxurious?) and there are CHICKEN in our neigbour´s garden. Luckily there´s no rooster waking me up early in the morning, cause I´ve had some sleeping problems lately.

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Some challenges.

Sleeping problems. I havent´t been sleeping too much for a 1,5 week now, which means that I can barely sleep 5-6 h / night with some melatonin & sleeping pills, which I´ve tried to avoid… I guess it´s just all these new things which I seem to organize 24/7 in my head. Anyway this slight sleep makes me brainless, and it´s is especially challenging when I should take part in the lectures from 9 a.m. to 16.30 p.m. in this foreign language. This not-enough-sleep-thing also makes you sometimes less inhibited, which is not allways particularly a good thing…

I found some herbal aid from our Tesco-trip.

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Flu. Does not make it any easier. Yesterday´s addition: stomach problems /diarrhea.

Language barrier. For the reasons mentioned above understanding and communicating feels even more difficult. Challenging thing is if the person speaks fast or has a bit different accent you are used to. Of course you can always ask the person to speak slowly, but it´s not that easy, especially if you are in a 30 students group as an only person having not English as your mother tongue. About the title of this post… In the first day here (after arriving late at night -our flight was 2 hours late) we had a lecture about searching the literature for your research. I just said to the librarian that “I have a brain dysfunction and I don´t understand anything anymore”. She was very friendly and understanding, knew that we had just arrived, and let us go. Actually we have now a Whatsup group called “Brain dysfunction” with the other Finnish girls now. I also started to regret that I did not wrote / put tick to the place (in the form for the new students) they are asking about the learning difficulties and possible need of some assistance, cause that´s what I would certainly need in this situation. At least sometimes.

The other challenges, not all that big – but plenty. I think after this I am going to feel much more empathy for all the immigrants and refugees especially arriving from the totally different cultures to the western countries . I have been two times (exchange studies as well) in East-Africa so I have some slight experiences about the feelings to visit in a quite different culture/s (than our Finnish one/s). Of course it´s totally different when you are a refugee, needing to escape from your own home, leaving your family, not having the same language at all etc. There are anyway plenty of small things which you need to learn and adapt yourself. I try to mention some.

1. The left-side traffic. Quite often near-disasters…

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2. the rush and crowds which makes you move slowly (Finland is EMPTY – I think, and that´s something totally different comparing these two countries), 3. the noise which all that traffic and crowds make (Finland is silent like a grave), 4. to learn to pay with the new money in the way you are not collecting all the strange and heavy coins, 5. to learn to open your home´s door with a key (not simple!), 6. to learn to use a new kind and complex can/ tin opener, 7. to learn to have a shower in the way you won´t get either very cold or hot water… Fortunately we have got some good tips for example from our friendly landlord.

Anyway this situation needs some patience (which I do not allways have too much). Moving from place to another takes time and so do the other daily things. The things get organized little by little. Learning takes time. The most important thing is anyway the helpful and friendly people, which make you feel a bit cozy – and also relieve your homesickness,  which I feel at times – must admit. And finally I am believing – or at least trying -in this: what does not kill you, makes you stronger.

Some positive things in the end. James is lending me a bike, which is just fantastic. Just need to fix the height of the saddle. Here is the picture of Mrs. Bean riding a bike with a saddle very low (haven´t found an alan keys yet…)

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The nature. Very nearby is Delapre Park, a huge green area with a lake, gardens, greens for the golfers and horses. I´ve just seen a glimpse of it, but when I get better I want to do some jogging and bike riding there.

http://www.northampton.gov.uk/info/200244/parks-and-open-spaces/306/delapre-park.

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Also there is a river Nene nearby in the route to my placement, St. Andrews.

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In the next post I at least try to write something about the studies, a course called “Development of Professional Practice”, hoping this brain dysfunctioning gets a bit better. And sorry for all the a, an, the, in, on etc. -mistakes…


Preparations – a huge amount of stress and hint of excitement

Hi Friends & Enemies!

This is going to be a story about my three month Erasmus -exchange period in Northampton. Starting after 5 days, which seems to be too soon if thinking about all the preparations and left-over tasks for the school… But I will come to the preparations later.

About myself. I am Minna, (already or just…) 43 year old occupational therapy student at Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences.  In fact I already have some other professions and work-experience, but for many reasons I´m here now, studying for a new profession again.

The reasons for this exchange. I am especially interested in working in the mental health / psychiatric field in the future. In Finland there are still quite a limited number of occupational therapists working in that field.  Also the practical placement possibilities are very limited especially in my home town Jyväskylä. In the UK and at least in Northampton the situation is quite different, which I got to know when I visited the University of Northampton for one week´s course in the last spring. I understood that there are a HUGE number of  OT´s (occupational therapist) working in the mental health field – and it has also the long tradition and appreciation in the studies. From a fellow student in Northampton I also got to know about St. Andrews Hospital, which is the largest private psychiatric hospital in the whole Europe (or at least somebody said so, afterwards I heard it´s not – probably largest in the UK anyway). The country girl started to feel dizzy after this information… The exchange and practical placement at St.Andrews Hospital seemed to be actually the perfect idea – professionally,  and of course – for brushing up my clumsy English.

About the preparations.

1) The Paper Work (a lot): the application, the grant application, the learning agreement, the blog order and the study aid and loan application to Kela (which is a provider of social security benefits for all residents of Finland). I might have forgotten something from the list. Thank God(s) we have a wonderful international coordinator at Jamk (our school) to help us. Without her I would have been lost.

2) Looking for accomodation. Must admit, I got some grey hairs for this. Accomodation at the campus means sharing the place with other fellow students; mostly about half my age and just finding their freedom after moving from their parents. It is  just wonderful for them, but I am in a situation where I just NEED to sleep my nights (otherwise I would soon need some psychiatric treatment for myself…). I also appreciate some privacy. I tried to find a place through some of the friends and fellow students in Northampton, but it seemed to be tricky. The rent and costs made me a bit hopeless at first. All the rooms seemed to be almost twice as expensive as my current flat in Jyväskylä. There were some webpages I found through friends (for example http://www.flatshare.com/), but the problem was that I would not dare to pay anything before actually seeing the place. There´ve been too many experiences about the situations where the pictures and words are beautiful, but the reality is something else.  Finally I happened to find a room throuhg a friend of one of the OT -students (thanks Danielle) friend (thanks Max). The place is a bit far from the Park Campus (3,7 miles = 5,9 km), but fortunately nearer to the hospital (1,6 miles = 2,6 km). And fortunately one of the friends (thanks James) has promised to lend a bike – which is brilliant!

3) Completing the studies here before leaving (still in the process a bit…).

4) Searching for a subtenant to my appartment + all the moving and cleaning (done – thank God(s) again!).

5) All the purchases and packing (very much in the process). For example the suitcase, which I don´t have. This far I´ve managed with the backpack, but now I need to take one extra package (suitcase) for warm clothes for the rainy and cold (hope not) weather in England. Fortunately my parents found one second-hand individual from the flea market.

6) Completing English Erasmus+ Online Linguistic Support language assessment. I was better than I thought, but maybe I should not advertise it here, cause probably they or He/She (The President of Erasmus) is going to lower my result if seeing this blog.

7) Kissing my “boyfriend” (lets call him Mr. Romeo here, because I´m usually called Julia abroad because they misunderstand my last name “Jutila” like that) about 5 million times for the 3 months longing and separation… (sigh and sob!).

8) Starting this blog.

About the title of the blog. It was HARD to name this blog. Also Mr. Romeo was employed for this hard effort. All the names coming to mind sounded boring or confusing or just too kinky for this blog. There is a title now – which need to be opened a bit, I guess. Action therapist = occupational therapist; coming from the Finnish comic strip Fingerpori made by Pertti Jarla: http://www.hs.fi/fingerpori/s1349763448224 .  I guess it´s not going to open to native English speakers. Anyway it comes from the words: Finnish word “toimintaterapeutti” can be literally translated also as “action therapist” although the correct translation is “occupational therapist”. “Abroad” just sounded good starting with letter “A” also. And there is also a tv -series called An Idiot Abroad (made by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant). I hope not to be TOO idiotic in Northampton, but let´s see how it goes. Probably I am going to be a bit of an idiot. That´s how it usually goes when you jump in the totally new world using not your mother tongue and trying to behave (The Etiquette!) and survive somehow.

The next post is going to be from “the scull place”.

P.s. If someone wonders how I´ve already managed to brush up my English; I did some editing and corrections, because I was asking and I got some advices from my dear relatives. I am gratefull, thank you my teachers there far away! It seems that it´s going to be a long way, and first I should  probably to go to the “Article School”. And I guess – I am going to repeat the same mistakes in the coming posts…

Attaching pictures seems to be a bit tricky. Anyway, here´s one about the writer practising to drink tea instead of coffee. It IS hard for a heavy caffein user like me.
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