Placement blogs

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' students share their placement and year abroad experiences.

Topic: 2016-17

Pride in London and Final Days

📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies

It’s safe to say that when I first marched at Pride in London three years ago, I never anticipated that I would spend the parade on a giant purple NBCU bus whilst singing along to the Universal Pictures theme music in the wrong key. As it turns out, the Universal Pictures theme sounds a little like the Star Wars theme if you sing it badly enough – a thing I discovered when dancing on said bus at Pride this weekend.

Can you tell we like purple?

My role on the OUT London committee meant that I was plenty busy for the company’s Pride week celebrations, which involved a panel on LGBT+ representation in the media, a screening of Atomic Blonde and a party held on the 10th floor of our office. I was largely involved with the latter, initially motivated by a love of glitter and a good dance. After our first party-planning meeting, we were initially anticipating a struggle to get 100 guests. We were greatly proven wrong when the sign up page reached the 260 person capacity fairly quickly.

This year's company Pride slogan - "Love is Universal" - but in glitter.

One of the main issues was getting decorations on a tight budget (relatively speaking, certainly higher than my budgets when I was organising for MusicSoc) and so I had to go a touch DIY, spending lunchtimes sticking glitter onto heart canvases (Art GCSE clearly came in useful) and getting my team to help assemble a 5 metre balloon arch. Again, such a scale of event planning wasn’t something I had anticipated happening within my placement, and it was daunting but ultimately rewarding. Highlights including drinking an LGBT cocktail (Lemon Gin and Blackberry Tonic) and getting some incredibly unflattering photos in the photobooth I arranged.

 

I am so glad that this sits on my desk to watch me during work.

For the parade itself, my main role was to publish content on the NBCU International Twitter and Instagram pages. Whilst this wasn’t the first time I’d tweeted from a company account, the sheer volume of content expected from the event presented a challenge. However, it didn’t get in the way of me handing out branded flags, having a dance on the top deck of the bus and generally having a fantastic day.

It helps when your colleagues are willing to model for you.

This was my first march with a company, but it was honestly wonderful to spend the day with the people who have been such a big part of my life in the past year. I was also able to bring my sister with me for her first Pride ever – I think her enthusiasm is best shown in a photo where you can’t see my face because she is waving her rainbow flag too strongly – which meant that it was also the first time I spent Pride with family.

The snap my coworker took of the bus - I am second to the right at the corner of the bus. At least I can tell it's me.

All of this makes me think back to my second blogpost where I describe seeing the bus at the parade last year. In particular, how welcoming everyone has been throughout my time here. This makes the fact that this is my last week before my handover period with the next intern (another Bath student – the best option, of course) a little strange to me. Things are quickly becoming “lasts” when it often feels like my time with the company shouldn’t be winding down. Throughout my blogs, it might seem that I overuse phrases akin to “time has flown by” but it feels like this past year has simultaneously been immensely changing yet gone by in the blink of an eye.

My next post will be when I’ve fully finished my placement and I’ll give more of a wrap up of Digital Research. Until then, I’ll be enjoying my final three weeks to the fullest!

 

Year Abroad VIII – final thoughts

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📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies

 

Siena, Italy                                                                                        June, 2017

Ciao!

Today marks a month until I leave Siena, where I have been doing my Erasmus study exchange for five months as part of my Year Abroad. I’m getting all the feels. I don’t want to leave. And I’m thinking of all the things this year has taught me. Here are some of them.

The Year Abroad is more about improving yourself than improving a language.

I feel like there is a lot of pressure on the Year Abroad and returning with close-to-native language skills when the reality is a lot different. Not just because each one of us is doing different activities or spending it in different locations, but because achieving native levels just by immersion is very hard, even if you try to be as active and engaged as you can. If you’ve never spoken the language before, it is easy to track the progress: being able to order at a restaurant or sort out paperwork feels like a milestone. But when you are a language student and have been learning the language for a couple of years, improving in a way that is noticeable is hard. I personally don’t find my French to be much better than when I left the UK. I have definitely improved in listening and reading comprehension and have expanded my vocabulary, but not as much as I thought I would. So don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself and just have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to talk and make mistakes, but also don’t centre on having to improve continuously. The Year Abroad and life are more than that.

Siena will now have a special place in my heart.

Siena will now have a special place in my heart.

The best things I’ve gained this year are more confidence in myself and greater independence.

More than the language side of things, I feel like my greatest achievement this year has been to discard my shyness and put myself out there. I had to do that when I first moved to England for university and that already felt like a massive milestone. This year I’ve had to do it twice, in completely different countries and I’m proud of myself for doing it (introverts, do you feel me?). I’ve learnt to make mistakes without being embarrassed about it because that is how you best learn in this life. I’ve learnt that there’s nothing to lose by approaching new people, the worst that might happen is that they won’t be interested, but you will have given it a shot and have no regrets about what could have happened. If you don’t try, you’ll never win! I really encourage you to try to socialize as much as possible as, if I’ve realized something (more like, completely confirmed) this year is that it’s not about the place you are in - ok, it does make a difference if you are in a big city than a little isolated town but hear me out-, it’s about the people you meet along the way.

Fécamp was such a lovely place to experience France.

Fécamp was such a lovely place to experience France (also, I cooked paella for the first time!).

It’s the people you meet during this adventure that will shape your experience of the Year Abroad.

Clearly, the place you end up in will have a lot to do in creating a good or bad experience of the Year Abroad. If you are a very active and outgoing person and end up in a town in the middle of nowhere, it might not be the best experience. However, at the end of the day, it’s up to you to make new friends and meet new people (in and around the area), but also to choose who you want to become closer with.

Shout-out to Manu, Gillian, Moni and Liam!

Shout-out to Manu, Gill, Moni and Liam!

In France I was in a little coastal town in Normandy and my fondest memories will always be of those I met, be at the school or elsewhere. Parties at the Mill, funny classroom anecdotes, long evening dinners and exploring the town with the other two stagiaires.

Thank-you everybody for making my Erasmus a great one!

Thank-you everybody for making my Erasmus a great one!

In Siena this is even more relevant as most of my friends are other Erasmus students who, like me, are only here for a limited amount of time. My image of Siena is an image in which I’m enjoying the city with all those people I’ve met over the past five months, and that is an image that belongs in this exact moment and will not repeat itself, which leads to my next point.

Ancora degli amici a Siena.

Ancora degli amici a Siena.

Enjoy every moment and grab each opportunity.

The Year Abroad is all about new experiences and learning first hand, so it’s up to you to challenge yourself. Make a list or just head out of the door and explore. Try new foods, new hobbies, go to new places, talk to strangers, get out of your comfort zone. The Year Abroad is an amazing opportunity to push your boundaries – you get to live abroad and meet a lot of new people and you’ll learn to adapt to different lifestyles, so try to make the most of it. You don’t have to become a party animal if you’re the type who enjoys staying in for a chill night, but don’t miss out on events that attract your interest. I ended up joining the student newspaper here in Siena because I saw a recruiting event on Facebook. At first I wasn’t sure because I didn’t really want to show up on my own, but I pulled it together and went anyway and I’ve met a lot of cool people through it and improved my Italian!

I've joined a student newspaper, acted in a French short film and given an improv speech in Italian!

I've joined a student newspaper, acted in a French short film and given an improv speech in Italian!

That being said, you’re allowed to say you’re not having or didn’t have a great Year Abroad.

Hopefully this will not be the case, because it would be a pity, but everybody feels down and questions what they are doing with their lives at some point. Battling homesickness and culture shock is hard and sometimes (especially with the British Council Assistantship), you have no control over where you will end up. Maybe the idea you had of your host country doesn’t live up to your expectations, maybe you don’t really feel like you fit in. And it’s ok. You can ask for support if you need it, but honestly try to battle through. It’s also about being counteractive, especially in cities full of people or small towns. Perhaps it will only be a phase and it will get better, but you have to battle through in order to find out.

And, lastly, you will learn to value your own country.

I only started truly valuing the good aspects of Spain when I moved to England to start my degree. Things like the warmer approach of people in everyday life, the food I can find in the supermarket or the amount of daylight and sun we get throughout the year in comparison to the United Kingdom. Here in Italy I have learnt to value British education even further; oral exams seem like such an inefficient way to go about examinations when a two hour exam would save us all the hassle and long hours of wait for our turn. A lot of my British friends have told me innumerable times how they now appreciate the UK in ways they didn’t before: politeness, the punctuality of transport and efficiency of bureaucracy, just to name a bunch. You never know what you have until you lose it, right?

Thank-you again!

Thank-you again!

All in all, the Year Abroad is an opportunity to grow and have fun before the stress of final year and I hope to have captured that in my blog posts. Hopefully you will also fall in love with the countries that host you and perhaps you will be back after you graduate.

Year Abroad, you have been a great eye and mind-opening experience, you have taught me many things about life and myself and have pushed my boundaries, you’ve been a blast and I am proud to know I’ve made the most of it. Hope all of those embarking on their own adventure do too.

Peace out.

Zoe

 

End of a Lifetime

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📥  2016-17, Psychology, Uncategorized

Two weeks ago I finished my placement as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist with the Lifetime Service in Bath. After a tearful farewell to my colleagues with some amazing flowers for me as a thank you for all the work I have done, I have now started my summer job as a Personal Care Assistant for a PhD student with physical disabilities and have taken up some voluntary work as a Research Assistant at the University of Bath.

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As cliche as it sounds, I learnt so much whilst on placement and it was an amazing experience, even if it wasn't quite what I expected. I really enjoyed my placement and would recommend placement year and summer placements to everyone.

As this is my last placement blog I thought I would leave you with my top 7 tips for placement and beyond:

Time-to-Plan-H

1. Buy a Diary or Planner

When I first started my placement I recorded all of my meetings and events on my iPhone calendar, a perfect way to keep track of things as a student but not so much in the work place. Although electronic calendars are really useful, especially when you always have your laptop open and loaded, accessing them on placement when this isn't the case can not only be be slow but it can also come across as rude or unprofessional.

So buy an academic diary or planner for your placement year, you can get some really cheap ones on Amazon or some funky ones from Paperchase if you are going for a more upmarket look. Academic ones last for the university year, so you won't have to worry about buying a new one in January. I've found having a diary to be so handy that I have ordered one for next year too!

4-Questions-To-Ask-Yourself-Before-Starting-A-Business

2. Keep Asking

During your first few weeks at a new placement or job you may feel really confused and unsure. Don't worry! This is perfectly normal and employers expect you to ask a lot of questions during the first few weeks (and even after that). Once you know what you are doing you will have less questions and learn the best times to ask them, so no-one will get annoyed. You can only learn and get better at your new role if you ask!

Try to schedule times to talk to help answer your questions instead of just popping into their office every time you have a question as your supervisor and colleagues are likely to be quite busy. Even though they are happy to help it can be a bit difficult if they are answering a new question every few minutes after your first few weeks. I met with my supervisor once a week and then for the odd five minutes throughout the week to answer any questions about tasks I had been given and only spoke to her or other colleagues when I really couldn't do any other tasks without knowing the answer.

Help and support signpost

3. Supervision

One of the greatest resources whilst on placement is your placement supervisor. In your first and second years at university you may have turned to Personal Tutors, Peer Mentors or Lecturers for support. On placement you will still have access to these people and your department's Placement Officer but they will not be able to help you anywhere near as much as your supervisor at your placement. Try to meet with you supervisor at least once a fortnight to discuss any concerns you may have or even just to talk about tasks you have been set or need to be set. Before you go to your supervision make a list of all the things you would like to ask and of the tasks you have completed that week, this way you will be able to lead the supervision and will appear professional and organised. For me, supervision was where I picked up all of my tasks, discussed my development and asked about attending training or other opportunities.

Don't be afraid to say to your supervisor if you do not have enough work or are struggling with the workload or if you want something else from the placement! I was really nervous about saying to my supervisor that I found the workload to be too small and when I wanted to see if I could attend some home visits, when I needn't have worried. My supervisor was really nice and tried to meet everything that I asked for. Your supervisor wants to make sure you get as much out of your placement as possible, so unless you let them know that you would like something to change they will never know!

Supervision is also the time to start asking questions about your dissertation, such as 'Can I complete my dissertation here? If so, what kind of data could I have access to? Do you have any ideas?' It is best to find out as soon as you can if you can collect data for your dissertation whilst at your placement. Placement is an ideal place and time to collect information as most students are less busy, as work does not follow them home and so evenings can be spent working on this. Some placements also offer you a day or two a week to work solely on your dissertation, use this time to plan and conduct literature searches for it. If collecting or using data at your placement is not possible, you should contact the person in charge of the dissertation unit or your dissertation supervisor (if you have been allocated one) as soon as you can to discuss an alternative approach. Don't leave it until your final year to let your supervisor know that you really have no idea what to do!

to do

4. Become a Professional List Maker!

A handy tip that you will read about on nearly every placement advice blog is to make a list. This easy little thing takes so much weight off your shoulders and really is a life-saver! I spent a lot of my time at the beginning of my placement waiting for tasks, when I would suddenly be given 10 different tasks to complete at once. This was overwhelming at first but I soon adapted to the lull and rise of workload and managed to plan my time so that the work was spread out.

Take a notebook you've dedicated to your placement with you where ever you go and write the tasks you need to complete on one page each week. This way you won't forget anything you are told and will always have something to write on. You never know when something might come up!

When you are given tasks ask when the person would like it completed by, this way you can then prioritise your tasks so that you can attend to more urgent ones first. Try to plan out when you would like to complete a certain task by if you are feeling super organised! This way you can adapt even the smallest of workloads so that you have something to do every day and make the largest of workloads seem manageable. When you are scheduling this, try to allow some time to look back at the task later in the week, you will be surprised how many times you may be asked to change things on a document. This isn't bad, this is really normal and every professional will experience it.

read

5. Read the Placement Handbook!

Once you have started your placement, as a Psychology Student at least, you are asked to confirm your initial placement details. Once you have done this you are sent what will be the equivalent of a placement holy book: The Placement Handbook. This is specialised to your cohort's placement year and will provide you with all that you need to know about the year's assignments and also provide some useful tips for placement, our Placements Officer often had so many questions directed to her that were answered in the handbook so please do read it.

But remember, this handbook will be sent to whatever address the university has you down as, so make sure that it is being to sent to your address whilst on placement.

For students where their department does not offer a specialised placement handbook, the university does provide a really useful general placement handbook that provides some tips for placement and also offers an induction checklist which is a great basis for your first supervision meeting. Departments offering a placement year should have them at their Undergraduate Office.

save

6. Save Everything

This probably goes without saying but save everything that you work on in a personal folder and another relevant folder if necessary (NOT TO THE COMPUTER) and DO NOT DELETE IT! After I had finally finished a task and several months had gone by I sometimes felt that it was safe to delete something, however I soon learnt that an old audit questionnaire can make a surprise reappearance months after it has been completed. So do not delete anything without backing it up somewhere else. Having all of your things saved in one place makes it really easy for your colleagues (and you) to find a task you have been working on, it also can help you to see what you have accomplished during your time on placement, making writing those placement reports that much easier.

On your last day at placement you may be asked to clear out your electronic folder, so transfer tasks you have been working on to relevant folders or email them to relevant staff. Send anything about your dissertation to yourself and have a good hunt for any literature searches you have completed whilst on placement, you never know how useful they will be.

mobile-experience

7. Experience, Experience, Experience

Placement year provides an amazing opportunity to really discover yourself and develop your professional and personal skills. But, relying on your placement to provide you with enough experience to apply for any job or placement opportunity is not a good strategy. If there is one thing that my experience on placement has taught me, it is that no experience seems to be enough. A pessimistic truth of the era where the number of graduates is increasing with not enough higher-level jobs to meet demand. Gain as much experience as you can whilst at university through volunteering and paid work, no matter how small the opportunity may seem to help you find a good job after university.

If you cannot see any jobs or volunteering opportunities being advertised contact the organisations you would like to work with, you never know what they might say! As a third year student I was not initially able to take part in the Research Apprenticeship Scheme run by the University of Bath's Psychology Department but after taking the initiative and contacting as many researchers at the university in my area of interest I soon found three projects to help on, each providing amazing opportunities in different areas of Clinical Psychology.

 

 

Good luck with your placement!

 

 

 

Year Abroad VII – tips on travelling around Italy

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📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies

 

Siena, Italy                                                                                        May, 2017

Ciao! When I decided to do an Erasmus study exchange in Italy as the second half of my Year Abroad, one thing was clear: I wanted to travel as much as I could. In a country like Italy in which every region is so different from the neighbouring one, it is amazing to be able to go and explore new areas, as there is such diversity. But, how to do this on a student budget? Here are my tips for travelling around.

Choose the right time

First of all, the ideal Erasmus situation is having a timetable in which you have a long weekend. That is, you have either Mondays or Fridays free and so end up with a three-day-long weekend. This would give you more time to travel, but is not always possible. In my case, I don’t have a long weekend, but I can catch up on my Friday lessons easily so I can miss a Friday once in a while… Try to find the timetables for each module when choosing your units, but don’t fret if you can’t do a long weekend – you will find the time to travel anyway!

In addition to that, the time of the year also affects the prices of the tickets. I’ve been in Italy since the end of January and back when it was still winter it used to rain a lot, which is not ideal when you plan on walking around new cities. I’d say the best time to travel is probably late-March to early May: the weather is a lot nicer but the ‘tourist’ season isn’t full-blown yet. Now, you will always find tourists in Italy, no matter the time of the year as it is non-seasonal tourism, but in order to avoid the masses and extortionate prices definitely avoid travelling in late Spring-Summer.

Travelling during the official holidays can also be tricky. First, because obviously everybody travels then so there is a ridiculous rise in prices during that period, but also because it can be hard to nail down the actual dates. In Siena’s case, our Easter holidays were actually only four days long and were followed by a few school days before a pause in the lessons during the April appello or exam period. In theory, the lessons would be on during those days in between, but in reality, a lot of the teachers cancelled their classes and so we actually had around a week and a half of holidays if you were not planning on sitting any exams in that appello period. I’d suggest trying to speak to local students in years 2 or above, as they have more experience of the system, so you have a clear idea of the dates and can book your holidays in advance and save money (whether it be travelling around Italy or going back home).

Transport

There are many ways to travel around Italy, but choosing the right one will depend on the distance you are trying to cover and the time you have available.

For example, if I wanted to visit the Tuscan towns around Siena, the ideal thing would be to have a car. Car Rental companies are incredibly expensive for rookie drivers, so unless you are a big group in which all chip in or you know a local person with a car, this is an option available but hard to realize. You can also travel by bus, which is very cheap, but at least in this part of Italy the public transport connections are poorly structured, with journeys taking a couple of hours to cover only a few kilometres and very limited timetables.

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If you are planning on visiting places in nearby regions, try the coaches or pullman services which are very popular. They are generally cheaper than trains and sometimes even take less time! I’ve been using FlixBus quite a lot, which covers a huge range of different cities. From Siena, I’ve been able to go to Bologna and Perugia using FlixBus and spending around 20 euros both ways. Another coach service that seems to be popular here is Baltour, but I haven’t used that one yet. It’s just a matter of looking into routes and prices! And, of course, booking in advance!

Another option is to use Blablacar. I personally can’t review this service as I’ve never used it, but I’ve heard good things about it. However, use your common sense – it might not the best option if you are travelling on your own, as it involves a car share with strangers.

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A pricier option is taking the train. However, high speed trains are worth it if you are planning to go somewhere that is far away – they are quicker than coaches. Trenitalia works quite well in my opinion, but delays and trains being cancelled is not something unheard of, so beware if you are going somewhere that requires a couple of changes along the way. Another alternative is to fly to your destination. If you are in Siena you will know that your closest airports are in Florence or Pisa though, requiring you to take the train or bus in order to reach it anyway. So, unless you actually have a few days to spare, I wouldn’t choose to go anywhere too far away – it is worth staying somewhere nearer and having more time to explore!

Accommodation

In terms of finding where to stay, hotels are clearly an option but not the most budget-friendly. If you are travelling in a small group, look into youth hostels – they can be a fun experience if you are not too fussed about sharing rooms with strangers and you can meet all sorts of people.

However, my favourite option is Airbnb. I’ve used this platform a few times now and I find it the most convenient for me as it gives me the option of finding a private room within a flat – sort of like a hotel – but cheaper. I always look for an Airbnb with access to a kitchen, so I can have breakfast before heading out or cook dinner and save a few euros. If you’ve never tried Airbnb, it’s definitely worth a shot! All the experiences I’ve had so far have been great and you can find real gems out there.

This particular Airbnb in Bologna had an amazing library!

This particular Airbnb in Bologna had an amazing library!

Of course, if you know someone in the area, they might be able to host you for a few nights too – that would be the ideal situation as you would also know a local to suggest things to do!

Travel companions

In my opinion, the ideal group would either be a couple (2 people) or a larger group of 4. Of course, the amount of people travelling will not only influence your options for travel and accommodation, but will also make it harder or easier to decide what you will be doing each day. I wouldn’t try to put together a group with more than five members because, unless you are in the same mind-set and financial situation, it will probably be hard to get organized and make decisions on what to do, where to eat… My travel buddy in Italy is Megan, a course mate from Bath who is also doing her exchange here. You will probably end up travelling with somebody foreign, because not a lot of Italians seem to have the time or interest in travelling as much as you plan to over your Year Abroad, which is understandable. We make a good team because we both have similar interests and expectations about travelling in Italy. Also, she is the foodie who does the research on local food to try and where to go, whilst I do the cultural research on sightseeing itineraries and museums – great combo!

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To sum it up, think about whom you want to travel with and the pros and cons of your group size. Of course, solo travelling is also an option and, by all means, I would encourage everybody to travel on their own at least once in their life, but use your common sense and be safe about it.

Extra tips

A couple of extra trips I have about travelling around Italy:

·         Write a bucket-list. Usually it will not be a very realistic bucket list (at least mine isn’t), as you will probably jot down way too many places for the amount of time you really have. However, it will give you an idea of where you want to go, if you can join different destinations that are close together (for instance, I went to Bologna for a weekend and spent one of the days in Parma) and ticking off places is always satisfying!

·         State Museums or Musei Statali are generally free-of-charge on the first Sunday of each month, so make the most of it. For instance, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence is free, but the queue is massive so set aside some time!

·         Always ask for student discounts – use your Italian badge or student ID to get discounts at most museums. I’ve found that, in general, there are fewer discounts than in the UK, but it’s always worth a shot!

·         Do your research – look online before your trip and make a list of places you want to visit or recommendations for places to eat. There are so many blogs online written by locals that can give you a great insight into the place you’ll be visiting. Alternatively, don’t be afraid to ask your hosts or if you know anybody from the area (which is likely, since at University you will encounter so many studenti fuorisede) on their personal suggestions! It’s the students who know where to get the best apericena in town!

·         Make a rough plan of what you will be doing each day, particularly if you are only going away for the weekend. This way you will use your time efficiently and make the most of your stay.

·         Finally, and in contrast with the previous point, don’t be afraid to improvise! The best stories usually begin with a change of plans!

Look out for local food - the panpepato in Pisa is so yummy!

Look out for local food - the panpepato in Pisa is so yummy!

Hope you’ve found this post useful. Travelling is one of the best opportunities the Year Abroad offers you, so try to make the most of it! Happy exploring!

Alla prossima!

Zoe

 

 

The Australian travel bug

📥  2016-17, Health

Explore. Dream. Discover.

As you will all now be aware, I have been lucky enough to spend my placement year, and the last 10 months, in the beautiful city of Adelaide in South Australia. I’ve enjoyed exploring the city and visiting the stunning scenery of SA. I think it is pertinent if on placement overseas to really throw yourself into the country’s culture, and see as much as possible! As you can probably appreciate, this is pretty tricky in Australia, as it can take hours to fly interstate, so for a full time and unpaid intern, it’s hard to see the whole country. That said, I don’t think I’ve done too bad so far!

I wanted to use this blog to share with you all where I’ve been this year, to give any future overseas placement students, or avid travellers, some ideas on where to go, what to see, and show you how incredible Australia is.

Here’s a breakdown of the states of Australia, and a mixture of my experiences and what I would have like to have seen in each state.  Who needs trip advisor!

South Australia

My homeland! Adelaide, one of the best cities in the world to live in yet seemingly somewhat undiscovered, is in the lovely state of SA. It is home to some great attractions including the famous Adelaide Wine regions, including but not exhaustive to the Adelaide Hills, the Barossa Valley and the McLaren Vale. I have definitely had my fair share of trips there! We also have some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, such as Noarlunga, Maslin, Willunga and Second Valley. You can hire paddle boards, kayaks and snorkels to enjoy the serenity of the beaches. Adelaide is also famous for its beautiful natural scenery, mountainous regions and hiking trails. Some of my favourite spots include Mount Lofty, Morialta Conservation Park and the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Some other definite must-sees are the lovely towns of Victor Harbor, Hahndorf and Port Lincoln. In Port Lincoln you can go shark diving! Sadly I didn’t get to do this, however there’s been enough shark spottings in the sea here, that’s close enough for me. Another gem in South Australia is the incredible Kangaroo Island. This is a short 1.5 hour drive from the city and 40 minute ferry ride away. I went for a weekend away to KI on an Adventure tour and was one of the best trips I’ve ever done! I enjoyed sandboarding in Little Sahara, kayaking in the Harriet River and soaking up the breathtaking views of Remarkable Rocks, Vivonne Bay and Admirals Arch. Would definitely recommend as a must see in Australia!

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Above are some photos from Kangaroo Island: Remarkable Rocks and Vivonne Bay.

Victoria

In Victoria I’ve been fortunate enough to see the Grampians, St Kilda’s beach and Torquay (all which I spoke about in my blog ‘Trip of a Lifetime’) and the city of Melbourne. Melbourne was a great city to visit; I really felt the busy hustle and bustle of being in a major city. It is very modern too, and has really interesting architecture. I loved the massive food culture there, they have so many quirky street food places to eat, and cool bars – definitely great to check out. Also, the shopping is amazing! Some of my favourite parts of the city were the MCG stadium, which is the biggest sporting arena in Australia, and one of the biggest in the world and the Crown, which is a huge casino in the centre of town, it was very glamorous! I’d recommend also checking out Federation square (the heart of Melbourne), the Yarra River (there are some really cool statues along the river), and Phillip Island if you get time. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit Phillip Island but I’ve heard it is a great trip, there is beautiful scenery and you can see penguins in their natural habitat – pretty cool!

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Here are some photos from Melbourne.

New South Wales

NSW: the home of one of the busiest and most popular cities on the planet, and definitely one of my favourite places in Australia – Sydney! I’ve been lucky enough to go to Sydney twice this year, and definitely been the most stereotypical tourist each time, getting the selfie stick out on Bondi Beach and in front of the opera house – I couldn’t resist! Sydney is a great city, it is full of things to do and great sights to see. It is extremely busy, and full of tourists (like me) but I love it! Top things to see in the city are undoubtedly the Sydney Opera House, which still remains to me one of the coolest buildings ever, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Westfields observation deck / sky tower and Darling Harbour. Also, if you want a good night out or a few drinks, definitely check out The Rocks. I spent New Years Eve in Sydney with some friends from home and went to a gold party at The Argyle and had the best night out ever! It is full of cool bars and restaurants – a great place to be. Also, whilst you’re there I would recommend getting a ferry from Circular Quay (where the opera house and bridge are) to Bondi Beach. I promise this will give you THE BEST view of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge! So definitely get your phones at the ready for some awesome selfies and potential Facebook profile pictures. Bondi is also great! I think that the actual beach is a bit disappointing, compared to some of the stunning beaches we have in SA, but it is a really great place to be. They have a strip of great shops and places to eat and drink, and of course the famous street art which cannot be missed! You can also spot some awesome surfer dudes ride the waves. If you have time definitely do the Bondi to Coogee costal walk where you will pass by the beautiful surfing beaches of Bronte and Tamarama. Also, try catching the ferry to Manly beach, another great surfing beach with a busy atmosphere and full of backpackers! So that’s all the stuff that I got up to in Sydney. If time permitted I would have loved to check out the Blue Mountains, some of my friends have hiked up there and the views look incredible!

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Above are some photos from Sydney. The second was climbing the Westfield tower and the third was at Bondi.

Australian Capital Territory

ACT is the second smallest state, and I think I’ve seen most of the big attractions there which are all in Canberra. I have visited Australia’s capital twice now, and outlined my fun adventures in my previous blog ‘Trip of a Lifetime’. Another thing that I didn’t get the chance to do would be to go in a hot air balloon at sunrise, this looks amazing! I would definitely recommend going to Canberra, there is a lot more there than people first think, and you can’t be the ignorant tourist going to visit a country and not seeing their capital city!

Queensland

QL is the home of the popular traveller’s city, Brisbane. I’m disappointed that I haven’t had the chance to get to Brisbane this year, but it will definitely be a reason for me to come back to Australia. I’d love to see be Surfers paradise, the Sunshine Coast, the street beach, and Nusa. This could finally be my chance to try surfing, one thing not ticked off the Australian bucket list yet! As well as Brisbane, QL also homes the famous Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia’s most iconic and stunning sites. I am fortunate enough to have a trip planned there for my 21st birthday next month. I’m flying to Hamilton Island from Adelaide, spending a night there before catching the ferry over to Airlie Beach for a week. On my birthday I’ve got a snorkelling trip planned where we will see the Whitsunday islands and the famous Whitehaven beach. So I’m super excited for that, which will mark my last trip in Aus before I sadly head home.

Northern Territory

Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to get up to NT, however that is where the iconic Uluru is, known to tourists as ‘Ayers Rock’. This would have been an extraordinary experience, but is a pretty pricey trip, as it is in the middle of nowhere! It is definitely on my bucket list though for when I come back to Australia: to see sunrise at Uluru and camp under the stars in the amazing Australian outback.

Western Australia

I haven’t visited WA this year, however I went a few years ago to visit a friend from home that moved out there. I stayed in Perth, and loved it! It reminds me now of a busier version of Adelaide – there are great beaches and things to do, such as walking around Kings Park and the Botanical Gardens and up and down Swan River. It was also in Perth that I saw my first ever kangaroo, so I have fond memories of my trip there. Some recommendations for WA would be to get to the beautiful Broome, and see some of the natural beauties of the Pinnacles and Kalbarri National Park.

Tasmania

Tasmania is by far the place that I would have liked to visit the most that I haven’t yet. Unfortunately I just haven’t had the time this year. I’d love to travel there to check out the city of Hobart and climb Mount Wellington, do some of the amazing hiking trails in Freycinet National Park and see Wineglass Bay, and of course see the Hazards. That will be the first place I visit when I come back to Aus, but maybe not in the winter, we have enough cold weather in England, and I heard it can get pretty chilly there! From Adelaide you can fly to Melbourne and get the ferry to Hobart so is easy to get to.

I think a general rule for visiting a new city would be:

  • Do the open top bus tour, especially if you are tight for time as you get the chance to quickly see the cities best sights before deciding what you want to see more of
  • Check out the sky observation deck, as most cities these days have one these days and they provide the best views
  • See the botanical gardens, as they always promise to be beautiful!
  • Take lots of photos, because they speak a thousand words.

 

A Placement in London: The Pros and Cons

📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

Before another post updating about life at NBCU, I thought I’d write a piece on what it’s like to be a POLIS placement student in London. I had always figured that I would live in London at some point in my life; I grew up in Reading (30 mins away from Paddington by train) and my sister has lived in the city for a number of years. All of my media work experience has also been in the city, albeit only for sporadic weeks at a time.

My first work experience when I was 16 - has anything really changed?

My first work experience when I was 16 - has anything really changed?

For me, a huge pro of London life came before I had even moved. I found searching for a flat incredibly easy in comparison to Bath, setting aside a day to look at suitable apartments and finding our perfect place by lunchtime. Now, I have to caveat this by saying that my flatmate (a friend from school, who I’d already agreed to live with a year before even getting my placement) was quite keen on living in Clapham; the issue of where to live in such a huge city was fairly immediately resolved. However, I definitely recommend looking in the Clapham area to any prospective Londoners as there’s a thriving young-professional community and it’s relatively affordable. I live literally opposite the Clapham North tube station, which definitely helps with any morning laziness. There was hardly a shortage of two-bedroom houses and flats in the area, which is immensely useful for anyone to find a place at short notice.

Featuring scenic views of the tube station.

Featuring scenic views of the tube station.

On the subject of the tube, there’s a bit of a mixed blessing when it comes to transport in London. On the one hand, it’s (usually) quick and frequent, meaning that darting from one end of London to the other isn’t too much hassle. However, it can be unbelievably unpleasant. I take the Northern line every single day (fun fact – the Northern line goes to the most Southern tube station in London) and, subsequently, I spend far too much of my time pressed up against a stranger in the tube equivalent of sardines. There’s also the case of heat; on the two or so days of summer that London actually has, I’ve been so hot on the tube that my makeup has melted by the time I’ve gotten to work. This is an aspect of London life that I’ve simply had to put up with, but I know it isn’t for everyone.

How my housemate feels about getting the tube all the time.

How my housemate feels about getting the tube all the time.

Of course, it’s also expensive. Everything is eye-wateringly expensive. Coming back to Bath makes everything feel cheap – the complete opposite of when I first moved to University.The extent of which this hits you will ultimately depend on how much you are paid. Without going into details, I have friends who are in other ends of the country who are paid less but are still able to save money overall. Admittedly, I have made a decision to enjoy London life as much as possible which, unfortunately for me, does come at a cost. Still, generally speaking, unless you’re on a banking placement, it’s a lot harder to save money if you’re living here.

And viva London! Nights with glitter and free signs being one of the things I spend my hard-earned money on.

And viva London! Nights with glitter and free signs being one of the things I spend my hard-earned money on.

However, there’s so much going on in the city that it makes shelling out money on events easy but worth it. Some personal highlights of the year have included attending an interactive Great Gatsby performance, going to a Secret Cinema event in black tie, playing ping pong in a UV bar and much, much more. Furthermore, as there are so many other POLIS students on placement in London, I am able to attend these events with a similar friendship group to what I had at university. Whilst this isn’t to say that I haven’t met people here, it certainly makes moving to a new city easier when you’ve got a lot of familiar faces on call.  If you’re even slightly interested in the arts, London will always have something new and quirky to offer you.

 

Fresh out of the 1920s.

Fresh out of the 1920s.

Whilst this is just a small overview on a big city, I hope it’s been informative!

 

Branching out and making things happen

📥  2016-17, Health

I have just got back from what’s been a great 10 days at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. A key part of being an intern or placement student is to have a proactive approach to all elements of working life. Seek out extra learning and networking opportunities, express interest in projects, and who knows what you could end up getting involved in!

This is exactly what I did at the Australian Institute of Sport when I first visited and I consequently ended up going back to help out as a lab assistant in a top sports nutrition study led by world class researchers and dieticians testing some of Australia’s elite triathletes.

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The study was looking at the effect of carbohydrate periodisation on performance and iron and bone health in elite triathletes, some of which represented Australia at the Rio Olympics last year. The study was being used by Triathlon Australia, the Sports nutrition team at the AIS and made up two PhD projects. The premise of the study was manipulating athletes’ diets to elicit positive performance changes and improvements in their iron and bone health. It consisted of two 6 day training blocks whereby half of the athletes in each block would sleep on a low carbohydrate intake, and train after a high carbohydrate meal – the notion of “train high, sleep low”.

My role in the study was to help whenever and with whoever. When I first arrived I observed a performance trial, which was a simulated cycling race performed on stationary bikes in the lab. I then soon got really involved in the testing by assisting with taking blood from the athletes’ fingertips and earlobes before, during and after exercise to analyse blood glucose, ketones and lactate and helping to run blood samples in the lab centrifuge and pipette droplets of serum into small tubes before they are sent off for further analysis to look for certain markers in the blood for example to indicate iron metabolism. I also assisted with the collection of gas from athletes to look at the volumes and components of inspired and expired air to help us determine what substrate they were metabolising, strictly carbohydrate or fat. After the testing I helped to collect ratings of perceived exertion, power output and heart rate to help quantify the session intensity.

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Outside of the lab I assisted the sports nutrition team too by helping to prepare and weigh snacks for the athletes as they were on a strictly monitored diet. I also got to observe training sessions, ran by world famous coach Jamie Turner, which gave me an excellent insight to the life of a triathlete and the high demands of the sport.

5.2

The study definitely opened my eyes to research and really inspired me to become immersed in Sports Nutrition, potentially at a Masters or PhD level. I have started by choosing Nutrition and Metabolism for my final year unit, and I will be work shadowing the Dietician at SASI at her private practise next week. This will give me insight into the life of a Sports Nutritionist and see if it is something that I may see myself doing.

This has been an additional component of my placement, and completely outside the work that I have done at SASI. I would really recommend doing this when possible for any placement students out there, as it is great to widen your experiences, work with new people and in a new environment.

5.7

 

Year Abroad VI – culture shock and different ways of life

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📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

Siena, Italy                                                                  April, 2017

Salve! I’m back with a new post, this time about culture shock, which is a term many of you who have lived abroad or are soon going to have definitely encountered. Here’s a little break-down of what culture shock is, how to recognize it and deal with it, and how I have personally experienced it.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary (1), culture shock is “a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation”. Basically, when you move abroad it takes some time to feel comfortable in the new country, and this period of adaptation is when you generally feel the culture shock. Everybody experiences it different as it depends on where you are from, where you are going, previous experience of living abroad, preparation before moving… Some people don’t really go through culture shock, or suffer it later on (it can hit at any point, even well into your time abroad), some are very vulnerable to it – everybody is different.

cultural_shock

 

General consensus is that culture shock has three to five different phases:

·         Honeymoon Phase: you’ve just arrived in the new place and everything is different and exciting, new food, new people, new places – you’re loving life!

·         Post-Honeymoon Phase: you start to notice the little (and not-so-little) differences between your culture and the new one, and you’re not too keen on them. Maybe you dislike how people act in a certain situation or you are missing your mum’s food, so you start feeling upset and unhappy.

·         Negotiation Phase: probably the most important as it is the turning point, you decide to give into the negativity and unhappiness or to adapt and make the most of the experience. Hopefully the latter.

·         ‘Everything will be fine’ Phase: you finally feel more comfortable in the new culture, enjoying the differences. It doesn’t mean you have to adopt all of the different traits, but you can recognize them and act accordingly. You no longer feel unhappy or upset and you might even decide to immerse yourself completely in the new way of life and actually end up loving it.

·         Reverse Culture Shock Phase: you can actually go through the whole process of culture shock again once you return home, particularly after a long period of time. Just pointing that out, because it’s a possibility even though it might sound crazy!

Culture Shock final. jpg

 

How to deal with culture shock

The best way of dealing with culture shock is to educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about the new country in preparation for it – before you go and after arriving. This can range from knowing how the political system works or how to go to the GP, to smaller things like knowing if you can drink tap water.

Other things you can do are to be open-minded and eager to learn; I’ve found that most locals are happy to explain how and why things are done a certain way in their country, so don’t be afraid to ask questions (speaking the local language helps a tonne – and this is relevant even if you have all your courses in English or aren’t necessarily a language student!). Also, try to be as involved in the community as possible, don’t lock yourself in your room because this will encourage homesickness and limit your opportunities of meeting new people and making friends who will help you settle in. Finally, it’s ok to bring things that remind you of home and will comfort you when you are feeling down, as well as keeping in contact with your family and friends back home – the point is getting over culture shock, not completely separating from your previous life-style!

My experience

Here’s a little background knowledge about me. I’m Spanish, I grew up and spent all of my childhood and teenage years in the Canary Islands (save for one year back when I was 7, when I lived in Portsmouth with my family). So the most distinguishable experience of culture shock that I can fully remember was moving to Bath in 2014 to start my degree in Modern Languages. Yes, I’d lived in the UK before (even though I couldn’t remember a lot of it), so I already had a fairly precise idea of what living in the UK is like: the weather, the way people act, the different food, the different language,… but I still had to deal with culture shock. As much a fan of English life-style as I may be. It was indeed a drastic change: first time I was living on my own, in a new country, with a new language, where I didn’t really know anybody. Culture shock hit me a little after Freshers’, when I was still settling into the routine and figuring out the new place. I remember one of the most clear examples of culture shock for me was the way young British people approach drinking – I was definitely not prepared for drinking games or binge drinking. The drinking culture I had experienced in Spain was different and it took me a while to understand (still trying, actually), this cultural difference. I had a positive attitude and was adamant on making the most of the opportunity of studying abroad, even though dealing with culture shock and homesickness was pretty hard at times, but following the advice mentioned earlier helped me cope. Eventually I ended up feeling at ease in England and now I love both my homeland in Tenerife and studying in Bath, each for their own unique reasons.

This year, as part of my Year Abroad, I’ve had to live in France and Italy. Sounds like a chore but it really hasn’t been. I’ve had (and am having) a blast. Fortunately for me, the information sessions in Bath in preparation for the YA are quite extensive and I already had experienced moving abroad once before. It was just a matter of doing the same thing with the two new countries. So far it has been alright. I was in Fécamp, France, for four months and fortunately for me I was so busy I had little to no time to dwell on culture shock or homesickness. I think the fact that my colleagues were British and I lived in a small town was also helpful as I felt really welcomed and supported. When it comes to Italy, I’ve noticed Spanish and Italian cultures are pretty similar, so I feel quite at home in Siena. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t noticed cultural differences, by any means. Here is a short list of anecdotes.

·         Greetings - it might sound silly but I’ve experienced quite a lot of awkward situations in all of the countries I’ve lived in because the way you greet someone when you see them varies not only from culture to culture but also from person to person. In Tenerife, men shake their hands or hug if they are close, while women will either shake hands with men or give one kiss on the cheek, leaning into the left. In other parts of Spain you give two kisses, one on each cheek, again starting from the left. In Britain there is less physical contact and the hand shake or wave is usually the norm, whereas the bisou is big in France; you give two, one on each cheek starting from the right. In some regions you only give one or you might even give three! The fact that you lean first to the right confused me so much when I first arrived in France, and still towards the end of my placement I would forget to start on the other side which would result in a weird moment avoiding the mouth and changing to the right side – I’d laugh it off but it was quite embarrassing! Same in Italy, usually when you first meet people you shake hands, and later on you give two kisses on the cheek starting on the right. I still find myself caught off guard sometimes – fortunately I’m quite short so I don’t usually have to make the first move.

·         Smoking – smoking is quite popular amongst young people all over Europe, but I was surprised by the fact that every single young (and not so young) person I met in France smoked. Might have been a coincidence as I know of other people with different experiences, but it surprised me nonetheless. I knew cigarettes were popular, but I didn’t expect people to leave the dinner table and go outside in order to fumer une clope!

·         Aperitivo/aperitif- this is a cultural difference I’ve grown to enjoy. In France it is custom to have a glass of some sort of strong alcohol – calvados, Campari or whatever takes your liking – with friends before you sit down for dinner. It is quite a social thing to do and something I was not aware of until I moved to France. In Italy it is also very popular- it is quite usual to go to a bar that does aperitivo, usually starting at 6 or 7pm, with some friends to have a drink (aperospritz and Negroni seem to be the most popular options), usually with access to a food buffet where they serve dishes like pasta, couscous, focaccia,… Aperitivo is a great invention!

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Aperitivo is great!

·         Finally, I think it’s worth mentioning Italian men from the point of view of a foreign girl living in Italy. Of course, not all Italian men are the same and I don’t want to generalize, but it did take me aback how straight-forward and adamant some Italians can be, particularly when going out, so be aware of that.

There are obviously many more cultural differences between these four countries than the ones mentioned above and I’m yet to discover even more but I hope you have found this post helpful. As a language student I love discovering new cultures, but it is fair to say this is not always positive so raising awareness about culture shock is a very important point for those planning to live abroad and if you’re currently going through it, just know you are not alone!

A presto!

Zoe

 

(1)    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/culture%20shock

Images: https://www.hastac.org/sites/default/files/upload/images/post/cultural_shock.jpg

https://eap.ucsb.edu/sites/default/files/Culture%20Shock%20final.%20jpg.jpg

My own.

 

Trip of a lifetime

📥  2016-17, Health

7 days, 4 states, 3 planes, 2 sheilas, 1 car, a whole heap of exploring and some work. Road trip over!

I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog for a while, as I have just got back from what has been the most amazing trip I’ve ever done! I was fortunately asked by SASI to be an athlete chaperone for the Oceania Road Championships as some of our cyclists were competing. As part of this role, I had to drive the SASI cycling car to Canberra from Adelaide. For those of you that aren’t overly knowledgeable with the map of Australia (very much like me until recently), that is one heck of a drive; 750 miles, and a very boring route through the middle of nowhere, known to Aussies as ‘Whoop Whoop’. Consequently, I asked SASI if I could do a slight detour to see some of Australia’s most beautiful sights that I probably wouldn’t get the opportunity to do again.

So, Shannon, another Bath placement student, and myself set off, for what was to soon become one of the best, and most memorable weeks ever.

4.5     4.6

On the first day we drove from Adelaide to the Grampians, which are a stunning mountainous range in Halls Gap, Victoria. If they aren’t already one of the wonders of the world then they definitely should be! We arrived at the Grampians National Park just before sunset, so got to see a sneak peak of a lovely view of dusk at MacKenzie Falls. However, the drive down the steep mountain in the dark was slightly scary! Good job we’d already done a treacherous 7 hours of driving that day, so we were used to it. We woke up early the next morning to make the most of the beautiful scenery before setting off again, so we drove up to see Reid’s Lookout, Pinnacle and the Balconies. We were lucky to arrive before the mass crowds of tourists, so really got to soak up the tranquility and stunning beauty of the Grampians, and of course take some awesome (and very generically touristy) photos!

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After a fantastic morning, we left the Grampians and had a short drive to Port Campbell. This was the start of the famous Great Ocean Road! We had both seen lots of photos of some of the sights you can see along the way, and had a meticulously planned schedule so were very excited. We stopped at London Arch, Loch Ard Gorge and the 12 Apostles, and again saw some really breathtaking views that depicted Australia’s stunningly picture perfect natural beauty.

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Great Ocean Road – definitely a huge tick off the bucket list!  

We then set off for Torquay, and arrived late in the evening. The next day we woke up and drove down to Bells Beach – a world renowned surfing beach, 100km south-west of Melbourne. Whilst unfortunately it was too chilly to try surfing ourselves, we definitely enjoyed watching top class surfers ride the waves, unbelievably in awe!

4.17

After spending a short time at Bells Beach, attempting to get a suntan which didn’t end too well, we drove to Melbourne. Our first stop was St Kildas beach, where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and swim in the sea. St Kildas was a great spot, full of cool restaurants, cafes and bars, and was jam packed. Being so near to the city, and as one of Melbourne’s most popular beach, we definitely felt the city buzz, slightly new for us Adelaideans! As Melbourne is famous for its food culture, we enjoyed a tasty Pho from a trendy Vietnamese restaurant before getting an early night in preparation for our long drive the next day to Canberra.

4.18  4.19

 

This marked the end of our road trip, and start of our working responsibilities. The next day was a long grind, we drove for 8 hours, but after multiple repeats of Ed Sheeran’s new album, a few games of I spy and lots of snacks later, we finally arrived in Australia’s capital city; Canberra. This was the fourth and final state that we had visited, Australian Capital Territory, preceded by South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. We met the SASI athletes at the airport the next day where we accompanied them to their training, and helped when needed. We also managed to soak up some culture and explore the city, visiting Old and New Parliament House, the Telstra tower at sunset, the War Memorial, Australian Institute of Sport, Lake Burley Griffin, the National Museum and had a fun night at the Enlighten Festival and Night Noodle Markets with some friends we made on our travels. To top it off, SASI cyclists won a gold medal in the Women’s time trial, and a silver medal in the Men’s road race.

4.11  4.15

Spot the wannabee SASI cyclist.

4.16  4.20 unnamed

So after 2,000 miles of driving and lots of sightseeing, we did it. And what a week!! Definitely a MUST DO for any avid travellers!

 

Moving on Placement

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📥  2016-17, Psychology

Earlier on in the academic year, the Lifetime Service went through a tendering process - where the companies managing the service change hands. This was quite disruptive and ended up in two members of the team remaining with the original company (Sirona) and the rest of the team changing to Virgin Care. Splitting the team in two along the lines of where their caseloads were based. On top of this, the change of hands meant that the Lifetime Service had to move out to a new location.

But, no one knew what was happening. Not even those higher up in the service and Sirona knew where we would be moving to or what this meant for the staff and their jobs. So as you can imagine, everyone was really stressed and confused. We only found out a month before the move where we were moving to, and the moving date was only announced two weeks before we were due to have everything packed up in boxes and shipped off to the new location. No easy task as the Lifetime Service has a lot of stores and medical supplies for the various young people they care for and activity groups they run - so much that they take up three storage rooms!

So, after many months of enjoying the commute to the Royal United Hospital and my placement, the Lifetime Service found out they had to move to St Martins Hospital in Odd Down. With only two weeks to make sure everything was labelled and ready to go, whilst also continuing to provide a safe and effective service.

With all these changes going on, it gave me a chance to experience a very different work situation that most people would never have expected to happen whilst on their placement. The service was quite disrupted and overwhelmed with the move, so my role changed quite a lot from assisting the Psychology Team to also helping the Nurses with their work. I was also involved a lot in the moving process of packing up boxes and labelling them for the new office.

In the two weeks before the move, I spent my time going through old files and uploading useful information to our shared computer files that would be coming with us when we moved. - Most things had not been looked at since 2004 so there was a LOT of weird and random stuff buried in folders and boxes across Lifetime that people had forgotten existed. A lot of things were thrown out just to save on space, what wasn't thrown was squished into boxes and sent to the new offices or to an old abandoned church for storage.

With all of this going on, my role as an Assistant Psychologist took a back seat and I was not able to have as much contact with my supervisor. This was OK as it was only short term, but I had to be more aware of thinking of jobs to do and not asking to be given work. This was a little difficult at times but there was so much to go through and sort out to help with the move that coming up with tasks to do was easy.

What you are probably thinking is 'How on earth do you cope with moving during placement?'

I've come up with some top tips to help with moving placement locations:

  1. Check out Transport - As soon as you know where you are moving to look into how you will get to your new location (can you get there with your current bus pass or do you need another one? Can I cycle there 0r walk? Could someone give me a lift? Do I need to move? -hopefully not for the last one). Having a few options to get to your new location can really help take away some of the stress of the move.
  2. Supervision - Meet with your supervisor before the move and ask for a list of what they would like you to do to help the move. Your supervisor may want your help packing up different stores and offices or they might prefer you to work from home for a few days whilst things are most chaotic.
  3. Get all the Knowledge - Try to find out as much about the move as early on as you can, knowing what is going on is a huge relief for you and those around you (When is the move happening? Where can you find boxes to pack up your things? How should you label up the boxes?).
  4. Finance - If you know the move is changing your commute time or route it might be useful to have a look at whether the move will make things more expensive for you. Knowing whether you have to spend more money or not will help you to plan a new budget or organise some extra hours for a job to help fund the change. Some companies may even reimburse you for travel if it is more expensive than before, so have a look to see if this is possible for you!
  5. Be Aware - my last tip is to try and be aware that staff members are likely to be stressed with the move and tensions may be running high. With everyone preparing for the move your role may be side-lined a little, so make sure you ask around for some jobs and expect to do things that you would never normally do as part of your role. If there are not many tasks going, try having a think about other things you could be doing, like your dissertation or coursework - I spent a lot of time calling up different hospices and services to see if their staff could take part in my dissertation research.

It can't have all been difficult. What was the best part of the move?

Definitely having Thai Food delivered to work for a last lunch as a service, with lots of free cakes and chocolates being brought in by different teams to wave goodbye to the different teams in Bath NHS House.

Finally, congratulations to the Lifetime Service. We made it!