Placement blogs

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

Topic: Uncategorized

Accident in the Ice

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So soon after the rest of the Christmas break I found myself back at home for a week, nursing a very sore head, a lovely black eye and balancing a pair of broken glasses on my head. The one thing so many people fear will happen to them whilst they are on placement happened. However, the bad news did not stop there.

On Wednesday the 25th of January I ended up in A&E after cycling to my placement and going down in a crash. I turned onto one icy road going down a steep hill, braked and my back wheel went out from under me. I landed head first on the cold road, with my glasses cutting deeply into my head. What I first thought were tears from the pain turned out to be a torrent of blood. I ended up needing 17 stitches, with five of those being deep ones where my glasses had cut so deeply. They even pulled out a bit of metal from the wound that had snapped off of my glasses.

Accident in the Ice

(Resting at home a week later)

Thankfully, a mum stopped her car to help me, she called an ambulance whilst I sat there clutching my head feeling very dazed. Her son walked around picking up bits of my glasses and bike that had fallen off. Conveniently, she worked at the RUH and said she would drop my bike there so I could pick it up later. My thoughts then turned to my placement: 'Oh No! I am going to let them down, they were counting on me organising their sibling group today, everyone else is too busy to do it'. I started worrying about that and asked the lady to call the Lifetime Service and let them know about it.

But I needn't have worried.

One of my colleagues came to see me in A&E and sat with me until my flatmates arrived to look after me. She reassured me that everything would be fine and another colleague would sort out the sibling group, telling me that because they had started organising it so late I should not worry about getting it done. My colleague even told me that I should take the rest of the week off. My placement was so understanding, they encouraged me to take as much time as I needed. They even called to check up on me later on, on the day and during my recovery time to make sure the wound was healing ok.

Unfortunately, on the evening of the day of my accident another bad event happened. My Great Grandma passed away at the age of 97, after suffering a stroke caused by her Dementia. The following week, my dad was hospitalised with three kidney stones and my mum went in for a planned operation. Those two weeks were really the hardest in my life. So many bad events happened.

I called my placement supervisor the following morning, to let her know about what had happened to my Grandma and ask if I could have the following week off to attend her funeral (and nurse my mum and dad back to health as I found out on the Monday, whilst looking after my own injuries!). My supervisor told me to take as long as I needed, there was no rush and no pressure for me to return any sooner than I was ready. One of my colleagues even got me a little get well gift and left it in my tray for when I got back. They were all so supportive and it helped me realise that if you do suffer an event like this during your time on placement you shouldn't worry or feel like you have to return to work in a couple of days. Yes, being on placement is like having a full time job, but the pressure of having to come back right away or put the job first is certainly not a similarity.

And this isn't just my experience. A friend's best friend passed away after a long battle with cancer near the start of her placement, she is still struggling with this, having grown up with her friend. When she found out what happened she asked if her placement could be postponed to give her some time to recover, her supervisor said that was absolutely fine and moved her start date to a month later. After my friend had started the placement, she was continuing to struggle with her loss, and broke down in tears to her supervisor one day telling her everything. Her supervisor arranged for psychological support around bereavement to be given to my friend and also changed her working hours so that she could have shorter weeks, giving her much needed time. My friend has told me her placement were 'Amazing' and that she has no idea what she would do without her supervisor who has been so supportive with her on-going difficulty.

So, if you do have an accident, illness or an unfortunate event during your placement, please do not worry about asking for the time off or support you need. As you are working for free at most Psychology placements they really want to make sure your own wellbeing is put first and not the placement. After all, you will not perform well if you force yourself to work when you are ill or too stressed. You do not need to suffer alone whilst on placement. You can still access support through the university Counselling Service and most work places have access to psychological support for their employees (even unpaid ones like us). See more about the University Counselling Service here: http://www.bath.ac.uk/groups/counselling-mental-health/

RUH

Now that I am well on the road to recovery, with two new scars to adapt to. I joke that as the Lifetime Service is based at the RUH, I made it into work on time that day - but just in the wrong department!

 

Life as a Sciences Po student: New Year's Eve Reflections

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This year I have the exciting opportunity to study at Sciences Po Paris for two semesters. So far it's been a great time filled with making new friends, studying interesting topics, and getting acquainted with the beautiful city of Paris. As we come to the end of 2016 it seems an appropriate time to reflect on what I've learnt and some pieces of advice that I'd give to others embarking on similar trips in the future! 
Quick disclaimer: in giving these examples I don’t mean to say that all French people identify with them, merely that they’re some things I have noticed in my time here so far.

1. The 1789 French Revolution is everywhere.
Being a country with a fascinating history, France is somewhat justified in being proud of its ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. When studying politics in Paris it is basically a given that you will have reference to it in the majority of your classes.

2. Let’s talk Brexit.
“What do you think about Brexit? How did you vote?”

If you’re British and in Paris at the moment it is likely you will be asked these two questions, and understandably too. When asked you are more likely to get an approving response from your European neighbour if you voted ‘Remain’ (as I did). If you voted for ‘Brexit’ I wish you all the best in the rest of that conversation (unless the European Union citizen you are talking to is Eurosceptic in which case congratulations!).

3. Presidential Elections.
Another hot political topic is the upcoming 2017 presidential elections. A lot of Parisians are already predicting a second ballot dual between the far-right and centre-right candidates. As these elections are coming at a difficult time in the country’s current affairs, it looks set to be (and already is!) an interesting pre-election debate.

4. Laïcité
One of my professors has noted that French news is talking much more intensively about the country’s constitutional state-church separation than in the last few years. There are big divides between liberal secularism and combative secularism. As a Christian engaged in politics, this is something I find both interesting and often difficult.

It seems like there’s a re-awakening of discussion about religion generally too. Big associated topics in the mainstream being the ‘Burkini’, immigration, and national security.

5. Bonjour!
It is seen as common courtesy to say ‘Bonjour’ to staff when entering shops/cafés. If you don’t do that you can be interpreted as indifferent or rude. Make a mental note to do so if you’re prone to forgetting.

6. Bises xx
Don’t be caught off guard! If you come from a culture of hugs and hand-shakes, it may take some time to loosen up to kisses on the cheek as regular greeting. But it will probably gradually become normal.

(Also Parisian-style is normally two kisses, one on each cheek, with the left cheek first – just to avoid any awkward possibilities!)
7. Tutoyer ou Vouvoyer ? THE dilemma
One of the quirks of the French language are the two ways of saying ‘you’ – ‘tu’ being the more informal and ‘vous’ being the less so. The dilemma is when to stop using ‘vous’ (vouvoyer) and switch to ‘tu’ (tutoyer).

Amongst students, ‘tu’ is the general way forward – ‘vous’ might be seen as a bit distant. But with professors or anyone in authority, use ‘vous’ unless they say otherwise.

If in doubt, vousvoyer.

8. Serious style
It may be a stereotype but from what I’ve seen so far, it seems largely true. Parisian people have STYLE. Not really outlandish style but a simplistic ‘chic’ style. I am definitely a fan.

9. Skyscrapers?
Paris has noticeably less skyscrapers in its city-centre than London. Yet, it manages to fit an impressive number of apartments in and with them a lot of people. And in doing so, it doesn’t compromise on its aesthetic aspect. Very cool.

10. Coffee
Generally much more expensive and also much smaller than the UK equivalent. However, it does taste very good. Definitely a treat to be indulged with every now and then.

So there’s my list! A mixture of light-hearted and more serious things. I’m sure it will continue to grow over my time here. Both excited and curious to find out more.

 

It's Christmas Time

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The past few weeks have gone by in a blur and now it is time to break up for Christmas! I, like my flatmates, seem to be somewhat more excited for Christmas this year than any time in the past. Whether the reason behind this is that we've had our Christmas decorations up since the first, I've been to Bath's Christmas Market twice or that my family have come up for 'teaser' visits that lasts only a day (my mum even brought our new puppy up!) I do not know. But I am as excited as I remember being when I was just a little girl.

Which is one of the best things about having my placement in Bath, you get to take part in all the amazing opportunities that Bath has to offer over the Christmas period. Such as the Christmas Market, the beautiful lights and the Hipster Christmas Bus on the High Street where you can go for a unique alcohol drinking experience.

You can also use your Placement Year in Bath as the time to fully explore and appreciate the city and do all those things that you've wanted to do for the past two years and just do not have the time for. I've accomplished the Skyline Walk, finally seen the famous Sham Castle (basically a pretty wall made to look like a castle that a fancy land owner built to improve the view from his home), and have been able to do the tourist scenes in Bath, like the botanical gardens and the Royal Crescent. There is so much to see and do in and around Bath that you cannot say it is a disadvantage to stay here. Many of the placements the university and nearby companies have to offer are just as good as those abroad or in other parts of the country, so do not overlook them in your search for a placement.

Despite having all this free time to explore Bath in more depth, this past week has been so exhausting, how someone can work five days a week on placement and then go on to do a job on top of that I do not know! I am going to bed at 21:30 most nights to wake up at 7am and am still tired. Placement is such a step up from degree, yes you get the nights off and things, but do not underestimate the strain of having what is effectively a full time job. So, future students, if you can try and save up as much money as possible for placement just so you can enjoy those treasured days off. If this really isn't possible, try to see if you can only work on holidays, I will be working over Christmas but not too many hours. You really will be exhausted (Patricia Sechi, our placement officer, was right about that!).

Regardless of where you go, loneliness will probably be an issue especially if you are not going to be living with your old friends or seeing them most days. Even though I stayed in Bath and have been seeing my friends who are not on placement I still feel a little homesick and lonely. This has been helped by my family coming up to visit me individually over the past three weeks, along with some of the pets from home. This was great fun and really boosted my mood which had fallen a little following a break up from my long term boyfriend and other issues. So really do try to make the most of the free time you have here and meet with as many people and relatives as you can. Life without Uni work or clubs at the weekends gives you a lot of time to think about things so finding a new hobby or something near where you work is a great way to fill that hole.

And I will leave you on that, I hope you all have a happy new year and a good Christmas!

 

Atterrissage d'urgence - emergency landing

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Today, I went to lectures as normal and then to the airport to catch my flight to Madrid to see my boyfriend. I arrived about 3 hours early because I’m far too keen about these things…

After I’d checked in, we were taken to a big hot hall where we waited for around two hours to board. This was around 11-12 at night. When we finally boarded, we could all tell something wasn’t right on the plane. I made friends with a French guy next to me as I translated what was being said over the speakers into French (we were flying Ryanair so it was mostly English and Spanish). I was mostly just nervous giggling, some people didn’t care and some people were a little more stressed. We were told after about an hour and a half that we had to do an emergency landing, we’d not really left Marseille and the flight would be cancelled. The only information we were given was that a man had been violent on the flight before or something. Those poor air stewards…

So we landed again at around 1:30am. Then we were taken back to the airport where staff ran around madly trying to get everyone into accommodation for the night. The flight was rescheduled for the following morning and we were all feeling a bit dead. What was lovely, though, was a group of teenage street dancers who were going to Madrid for a competition started performing one of their routines in the airport and it lifted everyone’s spirits a bit.

So at around 3 we were taken by bus to a hotel. They sorted our rooms out slowly, and when I was given my key I entered the room to find some guy asleep in it. I must have terrified him! I went back downstairs to find out they’d run out of rooms. At around 5 I found myself sharing a bed with no sheets with a previously unknown but very nice Chinese girl. We woke up the following morning, went straight to the airport and that flight was fine.

It was stressful and tiring but it happens, and it worked out okay. Next time I’m bringing a phone charger with me, but other than that it went fine in the end. And I had some of the best few days I’ve had since arriving here visiting my boyfriend in Madrid and exploring a totally new country. It was worth it in the end

Some pictures from Madrid:

madrid1 madrid2 madrid3 madrid4

 

Winter is Coming

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All I can say is why go to Iceland or fantasise about joining the Night's Watch, when you can stay and freeze in England.

The temperature in Bath has dropped significantly, and as someone who cycles to their placement (due to the ever worsening 20A/C bus service), this is not what you want to hear. For the past two weeks I have been cycling to work with a thick woolly hat stuffed under my helmet, gloves and mountain style jackets, not the most attractive look. There were even forecasts that snow might hit Bath last week! (To save you checking, as always, they were wrong).

In the past couple of weeks a lot has happened, and to be honest, going to a far away mystical place with white walkers doesn't seem that much worse than staying in a world where Donald Trump was elected as president.... After all, a really big wall will be in both places!

But it isn't all bad! The work load at my placement has picked up. I have become the Audit Queen for my placement provider, completing three audits from scratch over the past couple of weeks. Audits are a way for companies to assess the performance of an area of service. They always start out with questionnaires sent to staff and then an analysis of the data received. So far, the audits I have completed have ranged from understanding why people most commonly seek psychological help from the Lifetime team to a review of why staff do not use their tablets to record patient notes (with a lot of money having been spent on this it is important to know why they aren't being used).  I have also taken on new audits, looking into how complex the referrals to the Lifetime Service are and about how well the transition from child to adult services is. This is very good practise for my dissertation and future research as I am having to design surveys from scratch and analyse the data.

In addition to this I was also put in charge of designing a database for the Psychology Unit of a Paediatric Diabetes department. I was responsible for designing the best way to present the outcome of quality of life surveys the young people has completed so that one can easily see what has changed, what is significant and make graphs. I did so well at this that the psychologist passed on praise to my supervisor, which made me feel that I am really helping around here. A great confidence boost.

I have also been helping to further the research project. Last week I looked over information sheets I had designed with the lead researcher, although the bulk of the writing remained the same a lot of the information was reworded. Showing just how specific the wording of things needs to be. This is great practice for when I will be let loose into the world to conduct my own research (under close supervision, of course!).

So overall, placement appears to be going well. Things are picking up and I am completing a wide range of tasks.

But, that's not the highlight of my past two weeks, though it is part of them!

Last week was Bonfire Night, which for all those who aren't British is where we celebrate a guy called Guy Fawkes failing to blow up parliament, by blowing up fire works. As I am staying in Bath this year, I was able to see the RAG fireworks with my flatmates. They were spectacular. It was  a really nice weekend. However, our neighbours did not seem to get the memo that it is  Bonfire Night we celebrate (not a Bonfire Fortnight), and so we spent the past two weeks with fireworks going off every night. Even the most passionate pyromaniac can't love the bangs after this long.

I have also started to learn Spanish in preparation for a trip to Peru. It took me three hours to read a newspaper article in Spanish, but hey, I felt so proud afterwards. I truly deserved those chocolate brownies I baked afterwards.

 

 

Verano nunca termina

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

Location: El Puerto de Santa María, España.                                     Day 141

Being so aloof, I realised I never mentioned what I am actually doing on my year abroad in my previous post. For the first six months, I am working for Spark Languages, a language school in Andalusia which does Spanish classes for adults and English classes for children. Most people would put two and two together: languages and school environment= look's like she wants to be a teacher. Funny enough i don't want to nor am I teaching but actually my emails are signed Poppy Millar, Spark Client Attention and Administration (Fancy I know).

The novelty of working for a small business is you can see how your attitude and impact affects others and why taking iniative and being pro-active is rewarding in the long term when you have returnee clients, successful school group trips and plenty of positive and personal feedback from clients. I have never worked in a setting like this before and I have learnt so much all ready. On the surface, I could never exceed my bosses expectations because they set the bar so high, I'm already up in the clouds and still haven't reached it. This, however, does not mean they are unfair, in fact they push me and this experience will guide me for the rest of my working career. I have always looked up to my dad as my role model but Inge and Doug definitely take 2nd and 3rd place in terms of work ethic and dedication. On top of everything, I have picked up some teaching on the side and am currently teaching 7 year olds the difference between 'are you ___?' and 'have you___?'. Spanish niños are just the most adorable munchkins ever but after one class I am exhausted by them. There is never a quiet moment around here but I love it.

Apart from working all day everyday, my life abroad continues to exceed any idea that existed before I moved across the pond. Endless warm summer nights (even in Novemeber!), fiestas and really recognising the Andalusian culture as something truly special- I don't know whether I'm just lucky or if this is reality. As much as I love being a student and enjoying everything #unayyyyy has to offer, I also love living this new independence. Working 8 hours Monday to Friday really puts into perspective this 'living for the weekend' vibe. By Friday, I am impatiently waiting for the clock to turn 6:30 and then I'm freeeeeeeee! Also knowing I just have over a month and half left of my time here in Spain, I am desperate to see everything I can! These past two weekends have been Andalusian adventures: hiking in the Sierra de Cádiz, exploring the pueblos blancos of Arcos and a last minute getaway to the gorgeous city of Granada- which in fact BLEW MY MIND.

I think I have finally got the hang of this so called 'Year Abroad' and if I could, I would make it a life abroad. We shall see...

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C'est quoi le bail? What's the plan?

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This means ‘what’s the plan?’ I spent loads of time with my housemates today. Me and one of them went to get supplies for another housemates birthday and we went to get a drink together and eat a cake. It was lovely to spend some one on one time with him and sit outside in a cheap bar enjoying the sunshine. The cake was pretty good too…

 

Intoxication alimentaire - food poisoning

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I had to learn this word to explain to my housemates why I was sick… My friend and I went to this strange little restaurant since it was the only one with more than two veggie options, and I ordered mussels (can hardly say the word) and it gave me horrendous food poisoning, with pretty bad timing considering I’m supposed to be showing my friend around and taking her on a night out. Would not recommend. Maybe vegetarian people have a point…

 

Training Commences: Placement is Real

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📥  2016-17, Psychology, Uncategorized

Ever since I was 11 years old I can remember being dead set on becoming a Clinical Psychologist, someone who helps those with mental health problems. For the past few years I have been collecting as much experience as possible, volunteering with Suicide Awareness For Everyone - raising awareness of mental health in secondary schools and at university volunteering with Student Minds to help run a support group for students with low mood and depression. All of it leading up to my placement.

SO I am living the dream, or at least I hope to be.

This year I am working as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist with the Lifetime Service at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, helping to support children and their families with life limiting illnesses. I hope it will give me the opportunity to learn if I am suited for such an intense and emotionally demanding job as a Clinical Psychologist.

I have just finished my first week! Yay! I thought it would never arrive after having problems with checks and induction training dates. But here I am!

Most of this week has been taken up by training courses. There is so much to learn about the company and how I can help support others. I have learnt about Dementia and how people with the condition are eventually robbed of their latest memories, often becoming trapped in a past time so that they no longer recognise their loved ones. We watched a harrowing video entitled 'Darkness in the Afternoon' where a beautiful 20 year old woman in a red dress strolls down a street and ends up being chased and harassed by an old man. In reality this woman is actually 80 and is wondering around the town in her nightie, the old man is her husband who is trying (poorly) to get her home. For me this was shocking, especially as two of my family members have now been diagnosed. It taught me that you should try to live with their 'mental time' and not assume they remember what actual time period it is. With the lady in the film clearly believing she was 20 and not 80 years old.

I also learnt about delivering first aid, such as choking, to individuals with learning difficulties. For this group they often do not understand that if they are choking their carer is trying to help them by delivering back blows, all they think is that it hurts. So it was really interesting to learn strategies that will help me to apply my knowledge to this group, taking into account their disability.

I have only had two full days at the Lifetime Service so far! In my first I learnt about delivering Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which aims to help improve an individual's well-being by mindfulness and making small actions that aim to help the individual reach their main value in life, i.e. to be social or healthy. This was fascinating as so many other types of therapy may overlook the need to personalise therapy, for example one individual might feel their main value is to get a good education, not necessarily to recover from depression -the doctor's value. ACT is all about working towards this value through small actions, which here would include addressing the depression so the person can go to school or university. By taking the individual's main value into account the therapy seems so much more engaging to the patient.

I was then told about a research opportunity I can take part in, which aims to investigate the impact of having a child with a life limiting illness on the parents mental health and how the support provided by Lifetime and other care packages impacts the parents well being. I am so excited to be a part of research that hasn't been investigated before, I can't wait to get fully stuck in.

As cliche as it will sound I have found myself feeling truly grateful for all the opportunities I have been given to take part in so far at placement. Although a lot of it has been training, meetings or organising work, it has all been so eye opening and informative. In the coming weeks I am sure it will become more challenging and hands-on.

Here's to another good week!

 

Corrida - Bullfight

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

This morning, after a little lie in, I got the bus to Arles with some Erasmus friends. The bus was baking hot and took around 2 hours and when we got there, after refreshing ourselves with crêpes, we realized the picturesque town was totally rammed with people wanting to watch a bullfight (corrida). I didn’t stay too long, as I didn’t particularly want to watch a bull get mutilated, and I had a housewarming party of my friends to attend to. On the way back my friend needed the toilet so we stopped at a restaurant and I bought an orange juice to not be rude. I was charged €5 and we were both shouted at inexplicably. I do think the people here are generally lovely, but it seems to be a bit all or nothing. Later that night I taught my housemates some classic English drinking games, and extended my French vocabulary a great deal with words I can’t really write on here. All part of the year abroad experience!