Stephanie’s international placement was a life-changing experience

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Stephanie Joy Evans

Physiotherapy student, Stephanie Joy Evans, talks about her once-in-a-lifetime experience of her clinical placements in Rovaniemi, Finland.

The land of Santa Claus

UWE Bristol’s Study Abroad made the unimaginable my living reality!

Moving to Finland, the land of Santa Claus, to complete two physiotherapy placements was beyond my wildest childhood dreams.

Waking to wild reindeer outside my window and sleeping with the glow of the northern lights peeking through my curtains, was certainly a unique opportunity.

Horse riding through Lapland’s famous woodlands, camping in its wilderness and swimming in its vast lakes; I’ve never felt so close to nature. All this, alongside my degree. I assure you, I can now spell phenomenal!

New opportunities and challenges

Sometimes it’s easy to think that your normal is the only way of life, but this experience exposed me to completely new opportunities and challenges that I never thought I would face.

It’s reinforced the idea to me that diversity needs to be embraced, not just with people, but also in workplace practices.

We can learn so much more if large groups of people collaborate together, sharing ideas and professional opinions, with enthusiasm and respect.

Using this approach, we can make positive changes to healthcare, driving an ambition forward with the goal being to provide the highest quality of care possible to those who need it.

Teamwork drives change, but a team celebrating diversity, strives towards positive change for all – I know which team I would rather be a part of.

Embrace the unknown

This opportunity has urged me to embrace the unknown, welcome change and challenge and to remain optimistic in all situations. In healthcare, these skills are assets to overcome the daily complications that so commonly arise.

My confidence in my ambition to strive forward, to achieve my career aims – to create the greatest possible impact upon those in need – has strengthened.

This experience has given me the courage to believe in myself and my ability to make my goals a reality.

The development of my non-verbal communication skills has progressed to beyond what I originally thought possible. Leading exercise classes independently and motivating individuals through their rehabilitation, without any common language, has advanced my use of facial expressions and body language in physiotherapy practice.

A priceless learning opportunity

This learning opportunity has been priceless and upon returning to my next clinical placement, I plan on progressing my ability of reading and responding to a patient’s body language. I will achieve this by associating a patient’s spoken words with their use of body language, which I can then apply if an absence of language becomes present in my future career.

This opportunity took me far outside of my comfort zone. As an individual with limited international travelling experience, the idea of moving abroad for any length of time was a daunting thought. However, this trip has taught me the wonders of diversity and encouraged me to embrace differing cultural traditions and ways of life.

My appreciation towards planet Earth has grown enormously. My aim upon returning to the UK is to reduce the negative impact that I make upon the planet and to encourage others to do the same, in aid of the whole ecosystem.

Advice to other students: Just go for it!

What are you waiting for?!

Just apply and think about the practicalities and logistics later – filling in that application form will be the best decision that you ever make!

Don’t think you’re not good enough, because you are! Just go for it!

I applied thinking – I would never be chosen – and here I am now, in my third year of university, having travelled for the past three months – funded and everything!

I wish I had known

Unfurnished means no curtains! Turns out the midnight sun literally means the sun never sets, meaning that I lay in broad daylight waiting for the possibility that it might just set – even for a minute! It didn’t, so I lay and watched the birds outside of my window wondering if they ever slept and how they maintained their energy levels!

Once in a lifetime opportunity

My lasting impression from this once in a lifetime opportunity, has been to actively encourage both myself and those around me to take a leap of faith into the unknown.

As long as the experience is approached with optimism, an open mind and a hard-working nature, your personal and professional development will progress far beyond what you could ever imagine.

A truly phenomenal experience that will stay in my heart forever.

How the experience has changed me

This experience made me realise that life is made to be lived and enjoyed, so I’m going to face challenges head on, with a drive to reach my career ambitions.

There are so many people in this world, all with different stories to tell, and I want to work in the most multicultural environment as possible to expose myself to new learning opportunities. I feel like the hospital is the best place to start!

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