Humanities & Social Sciences placements

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

Topic: Health

The quickest January ever in the history of ever…

📥  Health

Most people tend to have post-Christmas January blues, but not us!!!

Our return to the Netherlands meant more excitement for the second half of our placement year.

With the new year under-foot we decided to stick to the same old routine and make more tracks and mems with European day trips!!!

First on our agenda was Antwerp!

Antwerp

With some beautiful weather and super convenient and cheap transport (Flixbus for the win!) a day trip to Antwerp for some Belgian culture was exactly what we needed to look forward to (minus the early wake-up call once again!).

We had a very cultured day out and again managed to fit in a lot in a small space of time! Here’s the highlights:

Centraal:

We arrived at Antwerp Central Station which is simply a stunning building, let alone train station.

It can only be described as Europe’s answer to Grand Central.

 

From here we gathered our bearings (and a strong coffee) we headed to the castle on the banks of the River Scheldt.

Grote Markt:

A classic Belgian square with gold, stepped rooved houses and the Brabo fountain as the centre piece.

 

Antwerp, quite literally means hand throwing, and surprisingly enough we actually knew the story behind this!!

This European lifestyle is making us so cultured, who’d have thought!!

So, according to mythology Brabo is said to have killed a giant who would ask for money from people to cross the bridge. Those who couldn’t or didn’t want to pay would have their hand cut off by the giant and thrown in the River. But, Brabo defeated the giant and the statue depicts him throwing a giant hand into the river.

 

There is also a Giant hand on the main street… you can see us sat on it here!

me and my right hand man ...

Cathedral of Our Lady:

You really have to visit this to appreciate the scale and beauty of the architecture!

 

Shopping:

Shopping (Meir) Street, one of the main reasons of course that I enjoyed Antwerp was because of the huge street of every shop I could possibly wish for!! And even better when there are still January sales going on!!!

Chocolate fondue:

When in Belgium one must sample local cuisine and of course we had to try authentic Belgian chocolate fondue!!!

@oliviaperfect for the caption

Another day well spent experiencing the culture of this beautiful city!! Antwerp has definitely been one of our favourite cities so far, so much beauty and the same grand architecture that Brussels has to offer just without the hustle and bustle of thousands of tourists!

 

Research

Our return to BeLife after the Christmas break has given us the very exciting opportunity of undertaking our own research study!

As we previously mentioned we are getting to grips with muscle ultrasound technology and decided it would be a great idea to put this into practice whilst getting *hopefully* useful results!

Sprint Interval Training (SIT) is the latest phenomenon to sweep the active nation. The possibility of two 20s bike sprints inducing the same improvements in fitness as a 45-minute run seems too good to be true.

Living in a society where no-one has ‘time’ for exercise and everything needs to be shorter and faster, no more than 140 characters of effort, SIT seems to provide the answer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05w69pf - this clip features a work colleague and Niels who used to be a member of the physiology team at Bath.

Current research proposes that rapid glycogen depletion induced by ‘all out’ high intensity sprints is responsible for fitness improvements.

Glycogen is depleted during the first sprint and undertaking a second sprint in this already depleted state induces adaptation.

Although, muscle biopsy remains the gold standard procedure to determine glycogen depletion it is invasive and only a small area can be sampled. Ultrasound technology has been shown to be a potentially effective non-invasive method of assessing depletion.

We aim to explore the efficacy of ultrasound as a method of determining percentage glycogen depletion following SIT.

For us, this is massively exciting!

But, an opportunity for us to have complete responsibility for an entire project and organise absolutely everything does not come without its’ challenges!

So, keep your fingers crossed for us throughout February where we really get started with our data collection!

 

Groetjes,

Kate and Liv

 

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

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📥  Health

Although our last two posts may suggest otherwise, in between all the sightseeing and eating we have actually managed to fit in some work!

We have progressed to starting tests alone and have been given free rein in testing each other and colleagues, which also meant we unfortunately didn’t manage to put off doing our own CPET any longer.

A CPET assess an individual’s heart, lung and muscle function during exercise to identify possible weaknesses within the system. Every client at BeLife undertakes a CPET before their programme, and again at halfway and the end of their programme, which allows us to monitor progress.

The test usually only lasts around 15 minutes during which the client cycles at the same speed as the resistance on the bike increases.

The wires, stickers and tubes are excessive to say the least (there are 21, see below) but serve important functions in allowing us to monitor the function of the heart and lungs during stress.

 

The data is used to calculate VO2, a measure of the ability of the body to take in and use oxygen during exercise and heart, lung and muscle function collectively. Independent measures of heart and lung function are used to determine possible limiting factors during exercise. These, alongside blood samples allows us to build a better picture of how an individual functions during exercise and create an effective treatment programme.

Kate: Don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to put someone else through a CPET but doing it myself is a whole other ball game. The worst part is there is nowhere to hide, all your data is right there on the screen. So far, I have done two CPETs, and both have been equally stressful. You might think that knowing exactly what is going to happen would help with nerves, apparently, I am an exception to that rule.

Kate, are you nervous?

-       No not too bad

Your heart rate is 135 at rest?

Okay, so maybe I was, just a little bit.

Despite my apparent fear, you can learn a lot about yourself and your health. I started the year relatively healthy, and now have a mildly obstructive lung condition ... and doesn’t everyone know!

Olivia: For anybody who knows me will know that the thought of me doing a CPET is quite laughable, so to say I actually enjoyed (?) the experience is a surprise, even to myself. I do feel like maybe because my results highlighted that I am (surprisingly) quite efficient and all of my graphs looked so beautiful (only something myself and Kate appreciate) the experience was of value. I have done two more CPETs since just to make sure that the results were accurate, and it seems to be the case. But, I’m sure there are plenty more to come …

Testing on ourselves has been an invaluable experience! Comparing our own tests with each other and our first test to the second has been helpful in improving our understanding of the data output and translating this into real life outcomes for the client.

Numbers often don’t really mean much in terms of day to day life, and for some clients the numbers don’t really mean much at all. We have to be able filter the data to select only relevant information and differs depending on whom we are reporting to. This has however, got easier with practice and we now understand 'normal' results and can suggest possible limitations for each individual.

We are also more self-sufficient and proactive in the lab. We know what needs to be done before, during and after a test and take an active role in giving feedback to both clients and colleagues.

Alongside CPET’s we have also started to get to grips with MuscleSound software. This ultrasound technology is a relatively new concept that allows us to gain an insight into muscle condition. A transducer probe creates an ultrasound image to determine glycogen stores and highlight possible muscular imbalances or nutritional deficits. Images can also be used to determine muscle and fat boundaries for body composition, alongside muscle size and catabolism. Although still in development, we have had to opportunity to see this utilised across elite sport, health and critical care environments.

 

Olivia: Understanding how to use MuscleSound has been interesting to say the least. Firstly, trying to work with the software in Dutch was a challenge in itself before getting technical. We did however realise (after nearly 2 whole days) that we could just change the tablet language settings to English…

We have a basic understanding of the histology of the muscle, however translating this into the image we see on the screen is a different story. It’s a lot of trial and error, every image looks invariably identical to the last, and working out what is what is taking us a little time. But persistence is key and I am sure we will get the hang of it soon.

 

Scarily, we have reached the halfway mark of our placement this week.

Looking back, we have both gained knowledge, confidence and self-awareness over the last four months which we hope will serve us well beyond both BeLife and Bath.

It is strange to think how much we have changed (for the better we hope) in the past 4 months. You don’t quite realise that there is a huge difference between being an adult at uni and being an adult in the workplace until you become an adult in the workplace.

 

This new year brings new challenges for the pair of us, but we’re ready as we’ll ever be.

 

Kate and Liv x

 

Just a Couple of Brits Abroad

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📥  Health, Uncategorized

Wow, what a crazy crazy 4 months it has been!!! We have a bit of a backlog of our trials and tribulations so here goes…

KORFBALL

So I will get you started with attempts to broaden my horizons whilst in the Netherlands outside of work. Since netball is not played out here, I have found the next closest thing. Korfball

Similar in many ways, but different in many more. In brief, it is played with a team of 8 players, 4 guys and 4 girls, the aim is to score more goals than the opposition. Seems simple right? Wrong

You change ends after every 2 goals, so the attackers become the defenders and visa versa, you can shoot from anywhere and 'achter' and 'voor' are important, although what they mean I am honestly not sure?

As the only English member (ever), I feel a responsibility to make an effort as everyone has with me, so I unwittingly agreed to attend the tournament that was to be held in Wageningen – a small town with little going for it other than the large specialist ‘farming’ University and a multi-storey cinema complex. A rather rash decision that I later regretted when I discovered that the overnight stay involved airbeds, sleeping bags and a gymnasium floor. An experience if nothing else!

AMSTERDAM

Whilst we are here we have decided we should be making the most of what’s around us and take in as much culture as us Brits abroad can manage.

Until now we had managed to avoid the (mainly irritatingly British) tourist capital that is Amsterdam. Our loyalty to Rotterdam had thus far kept us away from the pretty but narrow suitcase filled streets and stag dos. But we could only be kept away for so long …

Arriving in Amsterdam is a culture shock. Locals don't greet you in Dutch instead everything is in English, from the menus to the information signs and leaflets.

Once we had figured out what we wanted to do, we decided that we would make the most of the canal network and used the hop on hop off boat to get around to all of the sites (with the added bonus of not having to walk around in the rain).

1.        Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House offered an incredible insight into the life of Anne Frank and those that she had been in hiding with for just over 2 years.

Throughout the exhibit you heard of the tales Anne's father, family and friends. I found it a sobering exhibit and would highly recommend if you are in Amsterdam.

 

2.    I Amsterdam Sign

I mean, obviously we had to visit the sign purely for the insta opportunity! With more people than letters a photo-bomber is inevitable with absolutely no chance of getting the whole sign free. For us to have even three letters is nothing short of a miracle.

See below for our attempts.

 

3.     Chocolate Crepe

Shock, once again we are eating!

Or 'embracing the culture'. An eye-wateringly overpriced chocolate crepe at €10 a piece.

 

4. Ice skating

So when a festive ice rink is around OF COURSE we just had to give it a try!! I had actually forgotten that I was ok at ice skating so for the first 10 minutes I was pushing a green plastic chair around like Bambi on ice and then once I had found my feet, I was off! I even managed to not fall over. I think there’s a figure skating career for me if all else fails …

 

All in all, we enjoyed Amsterdam!! And despite the fact that these 2 cities are just a 30minute train journey from one another, they really are worlds apart!

BRUSSELS!!

Seeing as we are so experienced with Dutch culture, we decided it would be a great idea to take on some more and hop over to our neighbour Belgium for the weekend! Also to visit a friend who is currently on placement over there (s/o to Megan for putting us up for the weekend).

Okay so this trip started with a 7am coach journey i.e 6:15am wake up call on a Saturday!!!!! This went along the lines of: ‘KATE HUN ARE YOU FOR REAL? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?????’.  However, as much as I may have moaned, it was a good idea as we got into Brussels at around 10:30 had a coffee, met with Meg and then had the rest of the day to explore.

-       Arcade du Cinquantaire: situated in a small area of parkland the impressive arch is topped with a sculpture of a woman holding the national flag. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side, but had it been less cloudy we would have gone to the the viewing bridge at the top of the building which gives a fab view of Brussels!

 

-       Grande Place: the name says it all! This absolutely stunning, grand square formed from beautiful gold buildings has a Gothic appeal. Another must see if in Brussels.

 

-       Belgian Waffles: embracing culture again, all I have to say about this is that I endorse this aspect of Belgian culture greatly. They are delicious!!

-       Chocolate: it would be rude not to sample some of the finest Belgian Chocolates when in Belgium. They passed the test, officially delicious.

-       Manneken Pis: the Pissing Boy. I am not sure quite what we were expecting, but it definitely wasn’t what we got! We needed binoculars to see the statue, through the sea of iPads and iPhones. Quite a strange and SMALL exhibit, however he was dressed up for the occasion although what occasion that was we aren’t really sure…

 

-       Delirium: Beer! MORE CULTURE! Authentic Belgian beers only though.

-       Maison Antoine: chips certified by Angela Merkel, branded the best in Brussels. If they are good enough for Angela, they are good enough for us. Again, extremely delicious and not good for the waistline!

SINTERKLASS!

So, the official Sinterklass event is not until 5th December, but Sinterklass and Zwarte Piet arrive in the Netherlands in the middle of November.

An event predominantly for children (and English students) this is a national celebration like you wouldn’t believe. Whole towns show up on the riverside for the arrival, and the bid to host the official televised Sinterklass rivals that of the Olympics.

As someone who until last month had never heard of Sinterklass let alone celebrated it, the whole concept can only be described as bizarre.

In short, Sinterklass or Saint Nicholas and his helpers Zwarte (black) Piet’s deliver presents to the children in the Netherlands in the run up to Christmas. Children place their shoe under the chimney for the presents. Usually this is sweets, commonly a chocolate letter in the first letter of their name and kruidnoten which are small cinnamon cookies. The sentiment was nice, albeit questionable hygienically.

 

Sinterklass arrives on a large steam boat, with many Zwarte Piet in tow including Elvis, circus and musical renditions. They arrive onshore all in costume, with a large brassband playing traditional Dutch songs that everyone knows word for word apart from the bumbling British tourist’s.

Despite the controversy associated with the event, I could appreciate the importance of the tradition in Dutch history and its unrivalled ability to bring people together!

 

MAASTRICHT

Of course being in Europe the Christmas markets are spectacular and we just had way too many to choose from! Hearing many people’s recommendations, we opted to stay semi-local by heading south to Maastricht. A short 3 hour train ride (it would have been quicker to go to Belgium) we arrived at Magical Maastricht. A day filled by wandering the markets, sampling the glühwein and churros and a (slightly traumatic) ferris wheel ride. I can think of worse ways to ring in the Christmas break!

 

Groetjes,

Kate and Liv x

 

 

Rotterdam or Anywhere ...

📥  Health

Getting Here:

Liv: Anytime that somebody asked me if I was excited to go on placement my face most likely said I'm not sure even though I was so excited!!! Obviously I was apprehensive and nervous!! Moving to a new city,  having an actual job, meeting new people, making new friends (again), not having my dinners cooked and my washing done for me like I’ve just got used to again living at home for 3 months and of course the big question, will there be a local Zara in this new city?

Kate: I am not afraid to confess I lack culture. Cheshire is renowned for footballers and their wives, although unfortunately I can’t claim to be either. As much as I love home, I will be the first to admit it is hardly a bright lights, big city. That had always suited me and before arriving in Rotterdam I wasn’t sure city life would be for me. I am not the most streetwise, even in Manchester I could only probably only direct you to the Arndale and back on a good day. But maybe that is all the more reason to take the chance and see what the next year holds.

Kate: My parents flew out with me, mainly just so I could utilise the extra baggage allowance. Flying to Schiphol in under one hour (taxiing the runway was definitely longer than the flight itself), we then had a short train ride to Rotterdam. This turned out to be stressful viewing as the Dutch apparently don’t feel the need to put all the station stops on the information board, only the final one. So unless you know that, you aren’t going anywhere quickly.

Liv: Okay firstly, packing is stressful, but packing to live away from home for 10 months that is practically breakdown worthy. “Only the essentials”, “packing lightly” and “baggage allowance” are not words that work well with me so 6 suitcases later we’re eventually travelling the short and sweet 185 miles from my home to my new city: Rotterdam.

Views from the 8th

Let’s get this adventure started…

First Week at Work:

Liv: After a tearful goodbye on a sunny Sunday afternoon it was time to settle in, meet my flat mates and be prepared for our first day of work.

So, we are working at BeLife which is a specialist rehabilitation centre / human performance centre where we are working as Clinical Exercise Physiologists (we’re not quite sure what it means yet either). Our first day did not go quite as we had planned, BeLife had taken on one of their biggest projects to date, and no that wasn’t us! We had plenty of people to meet but just not quite the time to do it!

Day 2 went a little more smoothly and by day 3 we were proficient lab cleaners and had started with real work … kind of!

Modelling our lovely uniform

Understandably we were not let loose on the clients straight away, so we did some experimenting of our own in the lab…

Here’s the evidence, some went better than others….

When working 40 hours a week is too much...

Allergic to this working life!

A Little Bit of Culture:

Experimenting with the culture obviously means … FOOD!!!

A quick introduction to Dutch cuisine from the friendly faces at work include:

  • Stroopwafels
  • Chocolate sprinkles for breakfast - with bread and butter obviously?
  • Speculaas - basically a unbranded Lotus biscuit
  • Liquorice - affectionately known as 'drop'
  • Herring - which surprisingly enough we have chosen to avoid

Thank you to Stefany for supplying our first food parcel!

Shouldn't all food be bigger than your face?

Besides clogs, the colour orange and of course tulips, the Dutch are also renowned for their love of cycling! Something that we have fully embraced and actually become rather fond of! It took some of us more time than others… I’m sure you can figure out who!

Liv: Unfortunately I didn’t get the memo that helmets are a no go zone here, but it was ditched after a week (sorry Mum).

So all that was missing after our first few weeks was the Instagram to prove that we are officially living in the Netherlands!

CUE EXPLORING!

Travels:

Liv: So as you may have already guessed, this Essex girl and rain are not a very good combination and so a trip to the Hague in the pouring down rain was exactly what I did not have planned on my lovely day off! Especially after struggling to cope with working for 40 hours per week!

However, my personal tour guide Kate had different ideas…

Kate: Anyone who knows me knows I am stingy with my money, if I have paid for something I will get my money’s worth - even if that does mean traipsing round in the pouring rain! Ok yes it may have been nicer if it wasn’t torrential rain, but bit of water never hurt anyone right? Wrong … whoever said this clearly hadn't met Liv.

Smiling through the rain!

EUGH!!!!!

Finally though we stumbled across some culture Liv would get involved in! An inside shopping centre!!

And we even saw the girl with the pearl earring ...

 

The Netherlands is very similar to the UK in terms of its weather, it’s just that the people moan a lot less than we do!

But it does rain ALL THE TIME…

Liv: So on a rare but welcomed sunny Sunday Kate took it upon herself to take us exploring once again! This time I really couldn’t complain! We cycled to the local park where there is a lovely lake with sailing boats, watersports and lots of picture perfect families all enjoying a lovely late summer afternoon!

We cycled around the park (the excitement of finding 2 windmills was way too much for me) and stopped off for some lunch with a view, which topped off the end of a crazy month perfectly!

Could think of worse places to spend a Sunday!

Groetjes,

Kate and Liv

 

 

 

 

 

The winners of the 2016-17 blogging competition announced!

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📥  2016-17, Communication, Health, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Psychology

As our placement students are gradually returning back to Bath for their final year, it is time to announce the winners of our annual blogging competition!

The Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences thanks all students who dedicated their time to write so many fascinating and adventurous blog posts throughout the year they spent on placements both in the UK and all over the world. Their stories are a true testimonial of how challenging, rewarding and life-changing a year on placement can be. As a recognition of our bloggers´ commitment to report on their placement expecience, the Faculty has awarded following students a number on departmental prizes, and an overall Faculty Prize.

The Faculty Prize of £100 as well as the prize for the Best Health Department blog of £150 goes to Emily Fallon (Sport & Exercise Science) for her captivating and exciting blog posts from the South Australian Sports Institute (SASI). She spent her placement year supporting Australian Olympic athletes and discovering new talents in Adelaide.

Photo of blue sky and placement student

Emily and the kind of view you only get on a placement in Australia with SASI.

Charlotte Harris (Psychology) receives the departmental prize of £100 for her dedicated work as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist with the Lifetime Service (and a Cyclist of the Year) in Bath.

The Department of PoLIS awards Zoe Amador Martinez (French and ab ignition Italian) a prize of £100 for sharing her experience from her teaching placement in Fécamp, France as well as giving her fellow students authentic report from her Erasmus+ experience in Siena, Italy.

Group of students with Erasmus+ flag

Zoe and her friends on the Erasmus+ programme during their year abroad.

The next awardee of the PoLIS department is Katy Wallis (French and ab initio Italian). Katy spent one semester studying in Aix-en-Provence, France and the second in Naples, Italy. Katy also deserves a Blogger Dedication Award for posting every single day.

Natasha Jokic (Politics with Economics) spent her placement at NBCUniversal International as a New Media Research Intern. She met Jamie Dornan on the red carpet AND also receives the PoLIS departmental prize. Where do you go from there?

London Pride bus

Natasha and her NBCUniversal colleagues taking part London Pride.

Last but not least, Maighna Nanu (Spanish and Politics) also receives the PoLIS departmental prize for her adventurous and colourful blog from Guadalajara, Mexico. If you want to know how to get on a university-organised trip involving testing tequila, then read her posts.

Congratulations to all winners and thank you to all bloggers for their authentic and valuable insight provided to our first and second year students preparing for their placements. Soon, we will be also getting new and exciting reports from our current third year students. Do sign up if you're embarking on your placement year!

Written by Julie Fulepova, placement student and Marketing & Events Assistant within the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

 

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.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Spot the wannabee SASI cyclist.

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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!

 

Keeping Rad in Radelaide

📥  2016-17, Health

After being pretty quiet on the blogging front recently, I am back with lots of exciting things to report on! The past few months have been great fun - Adelaide, as always, has been the heart of constant enjoyment and lifetime memory-making opportunities. There has been an array of fantastic events recently such as the Fringe Festival, WOMAD Festival and various food and drink events and tasting festivals such as ‘Taste Australia’ which has been on this weekend.

‘Mad March’ has been my favourite time since living down Under. I enjoyed attending the Adelaide Fringe Festival watching a wide range of world-class acts and covering my face in glitter for the entirety of the Fringe! Some of my favourite shows included the infamous and utterly hilarious ‘Dragapella’ (yes, this is a real show AND they have multiple albums on Spotify), '360 All-Stars', a theatrical acrobatic group consisting of world renowned athletes, dancers and musicians and ‘Critically Will’, a fantastically entertaining comedy show by Australia’s most talented comic, Will Anderson. I’d definitely encourage checking them all out if you are thinking of heading to the Edinburgh Fringe – I’ll see you there!

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On the first night of the Fringe, there was a brilliant opening parade show. To get in the real Aussie spirit I thought that this selfie on the left was a must. The tent in the photo on the right was the venue for the first Fringe show that I saw which was called ‘Best of Ed’, a stand-up comedy show by 3 talented comedians from the Edinburgh Fringe.

As well as seeing some great shows, I loved the buzz of the city whilst the Fringe was on. There were heaps of pop up bars and amazing street food trucks. People from all over the world had come to Adelaide to watch the Fringe, it really was the place to be. Also, as part of the Festival, there were venues all over the city with live music, more food and drink places and a great excuse to catch up with friends, have a few drinks and a boogie, or see a last minute show after work! My favourite venues were the Royal Croquet Club and the Garden of Unearthly delights. One night I went to one of the venues for some food with a friend after work and very luckily bagged some free tickets for a show called YouTunes! It was hosted in a small but quirky tent in the Royal Croquet Club and ran by one incredibly talented musician with a mixture of instruments who made music out of the interactions and noises the crowed made, such as laughing, cheering and even speaking. It was comical, interactive and thoroughly entertaining!

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Here are some photos from the Garden of Unearthly delights, Royal Croquet Club, and ‘Secret Garden bar’!

So, big advice for anyone coming to Adelaide, or even Australia, on placement next year – be sure to check out the Fringe and all associated events, and save your pennies for what I guarantee will be the best month of your placement!

 

Santos Tour Down Under 2017 - Girls Pedal2Podium

📥  2016-17, Health

We are currently half way through the Santos Tour Down Under 2017 in Adelaide, and I am absolutely loving it! What a fantastic event that I have had the pleasure of being a part of.

SASI Talent Search have been here all week talent search testing to find Australia's next female cycling champions! I have been running the initiative called 'Girls Pedal2Podium' where we have been testing strength, endurance and power in females aged 12 - 20 in a series of tests on stationary watt bikes. I have really enjoyed running this project as we have tested over 150 girls in the past week, and found some incredible talent. We have also promoted the importance of female participation in sport, which is very important to me.

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This was our testing tent on the first day of the Santos Tour Down Under 2017, busy and raring to find talent!

SASI Talent Search works mostly by testing athletes in secondary schools around SA to see if they have the potential to participate in one of the 4 talent search sports at an elite and international level. We test athletes' physical and physiological ability for Canoe Sprint / Kayak, Beach Volleyball, Rowing and Cycling through a range of tests and if we believe that they have what it takes, we invite them to SASI for further sport specific testing and then if they perform well, invite them to be a part of a SASI Talent Search development program. The program has been incredibly successful, with a large number of athletes representing Australia at the recent Olympic Games being identified at a young age from SASI Talent Search.

As well as running Talent Search testing this week, we have organised a series of talks and presentations in the Tour Village from some of our successful SASI cyclists that have gone on to or are working towards national and international selections. They've provided great insight into the life of an elite cyclist, ie what the training and commitments involve, and some tips for the sport!

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The SASI Talent Search testing team, with the addition of two-time Olympian and ex- SASI Talent Search athlete, Annette Edmondson. 

I have also been responsible for the marketing of the event by making the promotional advertising material ranging from logos, flyers and posters to help get the message out. In addition, I have been actively promoting the event through social and digital media; I arranged a press conference at SASI last week where we had a live TV crew, assistant minister to the Premier, representatives from SA Task Force Women in Sport, some of our current Talent Search athletes and SASI management attend, which was a great success. I am in the process of trying to get the message out to local radio stations and newspapers, to encourage even more girls to come down to be tested, and also, just give cycling / sport in general a go!

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This was at the press conference at SASI that I organised.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the week to see what other talent we find, and I'll hopefully get the chance to watch some of the race! My set target was to test 80 females; I have definitely exceeded this, so I am now aiming for 200!

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#GP2P2017