Placement blogs

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


📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Urtare means “to bump” and I learnt this after experiencing first-hand the craziness of Neapolitan traffic. I know they are crazy; red lights mean absolutely nothing even if you are halfway through crossing a road, and one way systems have no significance whatsoever for a Naples driver in a rush, even taxis…

But today I was crossing a road at a zebra crossing with a large bunch of people and a car actually drove straight into me and bumped my leg. I had had a bad day trying to work out things for my course at the horrendously disorganized university, and I was not impressed with the selfishness of these drivers. It wasn’t a bad hit, just a bump thank goodness, but still, it is wearing fearing for your life every time you step outside a door!



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

This means strike. Today after Uni I was greeted by flares and armed police as the taxi drivers of Naples were striking and holding a protest down the main road by the university. I didn’t hang around to see why they were protesting as it was a very tense and scary atmosphere.

I don’t like looking at the news here any more, because people seem to be shot in the center every night.



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Today I was waiting at the station and a man approached me asking for money. If you stand too still or even hesitate around the station you will be approached by someone. He was being aggressive about it, and I know that sadly most people who ask for money here just wait for you to get your purse out before they run off with it, so I said ‘no, sorry’. He persisted for a few more minutes, and then called me a “stronza cattiva” (stronza is a swear word for women and cattiva means evil) and walked off. I love giving to charity and people who need it in England, and I have always said the way to fight hate is kindness, but it is impossible here. I really don’t like Naples for that.



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

This means sunburn! I somehow managed to sunburn my eyelids today, which is a really bizarre feeling and I’m not quite sure how that happened but the rest of my face is okay. Naples is certainly hot; it has rained more than we thought it would but the pollution, dense population, crazy traffic and southern sunny location makes it a very warm place to be indeed! Somehow everyone except me is still wearing a coat…



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Learning a course in another language will always be interesting, but I questioned I was even in the right class when my Modern History teacher was referring to Cinquecento, which means 500. Naturally, I thought he meant the year 500AD, but, of course, he meant the year 1500 instead.



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Fra is Neapolitan for Fratello, or brother; kind of like we would say “bro” or something in English.

I learnt this from our two friends we met on the beach, and they are genuinely nice people who don’t have an ulterior motive when they talk to us. They told us we had been lucky to find two “angeli” like them!



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Since it is hard to make friends here, one way I have been doing it is by trying to talk to people on my course, and most of them are really nice. They are not used to having anyone foreign in the class as all of the students here are born and bred Neapolitans!

The group chat I have been added to was a welcoming gesture but my phone pings non-stop. I have learnt that they use the word “raga” here instead of ragazzi (the equivalent of “guys” in English).


Ad essere onesti...

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

= to be honest

I won’t lie to you, reader, I am aware that my posts about Naples have been pretty short and fairly boring. I could say that that is because this blog is supposed to represent the day-to-day life of a year abroad student which is not always as exciting as a tourist or holiday maker’s, but that isn’t really the whole story.

If I am painfully honest, I haven’t felt comfortable here in Naples at all, and I am trying my hardest to love it, but it is getting difficult. I don’t want to be moaning about this and make all my posts negative, because there is a bizarre rustic charm to the city. But for the good of future students at this city’s university, there should be a few negative points you are aware of…

– the university does not seem to have much in place for Erasmus students, especially language or politics ones. There is no kind of Erasmus support or network to meet students, I have never met my tutor, if he exists, and there are no relevant politics, history or language courses to speak of.

– the city is dangerous, yes, but the people are not as welcoming as I had hoped. I am only speaking in my personal experience, of course. A few people we have met have been absolutely lovely! But even my landlord, who I trusted, has tried to be inappropriate with me, as well as the men we get running after us in the street who refuse to leave us alone. I know many people who have visited the city and been mugged, and I am lucky it has not happened to me yet.

This has meant I cannot go out in the day without being hassled either by people wanting to steal from me, or men being aggressive. Going out at night is completely out of the question.

However, the sea is beautiful, the nearby places are gorgeous and as I said, it does have a strange charm in all its chaos. You have to realize though, that Naples is pretty much a different country from the rest of Italy, with different people, language, and culture. It is not for the faint hearted!



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

My friend Emilia came to visit me in Naples today which was so lovely as I haven’t seen her in ages (shout out to you Emilia )

I showed her round the town a bit, the nicest parts at least, and then we sat by the rocks on the beach in the evening.

We were then inexplicably approached by a group of boys aged around 12, who really seemed to think we would be keen to… get romantically involved with them. They even offered us a condom. We did wonder if they were talking about gum. To be honest I’m still not really sure. In any case, they kept on asking us if we would kiss them, even though we said no, we’re not interested, we have boyfriends, etc etc etc… This is a very, very strange place…


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!