Friday, 24 June 2016

What you should know before your Antips trip!

COUNTRY: Cambodia
PROGRAM: Faculty Placement
WRITTEN BY: Lauren Cutuli

Expect to be challenged 
For many who have never been to Southeast Asia, this trip was an eye-opener. So expect a bustling, busy city with many things to do and see, but also poverty. This may be confronting for some, but use it as a reflection to realise how lucky we are in Australia. Despite the conditions here, the locals are very friendly and happy and if you wave and smile, they will return the gesture with the biggest smile you have ever seen- especially the children.

Expect to get sick 
I am not saying it is inevitable, but expect to. That way there is no disappointment when you are and you have come prepared. Pack paracetamol, stomach flu medications, any vitamins to keep you going (I brought zinc!) and if you need to, any antihistamines or cold and flu medication you usually reach for. Within the first 4 days here in Phnom Penh, 9 out of 11 of us fell ill with stomach bugs. For those affected it was not ideal so definitely be aware of this when eating out and drinking. In saying that, the food is amazing and there are plenty of restaurants to eat at so don’t hold back. Just be careful to only drink bottled water and plenty of it!

Expect to make friends 
I was so preoccupied with the trip and working abroad that I forgot I was going to be experiencing this with a group of likeminded students. The friends I have made have definitely been one of my favourite parts of this experience so far. Remember, you are not alone and if you are feeling homesick, uneasy, or anxious it is likely that so are some of your fellow travellers so support each other. If you don’t know anyone going on your trip, don’t worry. I only knew of one other person before going and by the second day I had private jokes with everyone! You are in a group of likeminded, adventurous people so making friends is easy and will make your experience even better.

Top tips: 

  • The environment here is very different to Australia so make sure you pack accordingly. Dress conservatively but also bring some casual clothes to wear on weekends away or out to dinner with the group. One of the things I regret most was packing too conservatively and being very hot. While it is recommended to respect the culture and wear clothes that sit below the knee and cover the shoulders, it is fine to wear shorts or skirts that are at the knee or just above.
  • Bring USD. There is no need to bring Cambodia Riel as Cambodians prefer USD. I would recommend bringing several hundred USD and then taking more out at an ATM if needed. You will most likely have a safe box in your hotel room to store your cash but check beforehand.
  • Bring a small bag that is secure. Be aware that pickpocketing is rife here in Cambodia so keep your belongings secure when walking the streets and do not bring your passport or large amounts of cash with you unless it is required.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Adeus Dili, Hello Australia!

COUNTRY: Timor Leste
PROGRAM: Faculty Placement
PROJECT: Health Science
WRITTEN BY: Aleysha Martin, Laura Young and Jemimah Waugh

As we sit in Darwin airport, we finally have the time to reflect on the past 4 weeks of non-stop therapy and activities. After a fast-paced last week, it is hard to believe this placement and inter-cultural experience has come to an end. All teams were up late into most nights creating resources and presentations in Tetun – it was a long process to brainstorm, gather materials, construct, type in English, and translate. We then had many laughs with the CNR staff while they generously helped us check our Tetun translations!

This was also a nostalgic week, as we knew that each day would be our final time in the Speech room, the Physio room, the OT room, and with the Community Based Rehab team. Each session reflected the culmination of all our experiences, combining our inter-professional ways of thinking with the CNR staff to deliver therapy together. Throughout this placement, the process of sharing our health and cultural perspectives has provided everyone, both students and staff, with more ideas to expand our practices. In Australia, we will always remember how our friends at CNR are able to deliver effective therapy with limited resources and we hope that the resources and ideas that we have shared stay with the CNR staff.

One such occasion was when we travelled just outside Dili to Hera on Wednesday morning. There, our whole team joined in the weekly gathering of people of all ages and abilities to participate in group therapy and to promote inclusive communities. This was the fourth week UQ students had been involved in running activities. A highlight was seeing the local volunteering university students continue similar activities after we had finished our program.

It was hard to believe Thursday afternoon was all of our teams’ final therapy session and we were reluctant to leave. However, we were excited to attend the Australian Ambassador’s reception, representing UQ as invited guests. This was a great chance celebrate the New Colombo Plan, to meet other professionals working in Health in Timor-Leste, and enjoy many delicious canap├ęs. We put work out of our minds for the night but this was short-lived as we needed finalise our presentations when we arrived home. All the effort was worth it on Friday when each group presented their topic to the CNR staff and the whole room was full of lively discussion. One of the staff members thanked our IP team for ‘a great presentation’ in the morning tea afterwards.

Our final night was celebrated by Paulo and his family inviting us to dinner in a beautiful beach-front restaurant. In this good company, with many memories and experiences to take home, we watched the sun set on our time in Timor-Leste.


Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Day in the life of a teacher

PROJECT: Teaching
WRITTEN BY: Anne Hu & Rose Anwa

The alarm staggers me awake so I groggily emerge out from under my 5-layer-alpaca-blanket cocoon. After dressing up with my eyes half closed, I run up the stairs to the usual Peruvian breakfast: bread with avocado and cheese, orange or papaya juice, quinoa porridge and of course, mate de coca.

My roommates and I meet up with the rest of our amigos to catch our Rapidos bus. After a therapeutic 20-minute bus ride, we snuggle into a dusty but cosy taxi, legally and logistically fitting 5 people in the boot, to drive up into the breathtaking mountainous terrain where our school is located.

I simultaneously listen to the three alpacas mowing around outside whilst cutting up a fruit salad. They always reject our advances but we feel them warming to us day by day. After our culinary efforts, we get ready to teach our classes of either: English, sport or art- I am teaching sport with three of my amigos.

Kindergarten is the first class of the day.
“AMIGA! AMIGA!” As soon as I sit on the floor there are at least 10 kids trying to make a pyramid on top of me. If they aren’t teaming up to squash you, they want to be carried. Their dislike for the ground and strong will to fly is really very motivating. Their enthusiasm really lights up my day!
We warm them up with a game of the classic bullrush, then duck duck goose, then several rugby relays and drills. Following our class, we finish with our normal routine of high-5s, and “CIAO AMIGOS!” salutations. Our energising morning class is followed by recess, a year 2 class and then a year 4 class.

2:00pm We return home with massive smiles on our faces from the kids’ boundless energy.
A warm 2 course meal of sopa de pollo and carne con papa y verduras awaits us at home. That is, along with a hot shower and much needed time for casual banter.

4:00pm Time for Spanish class! Our teacher goes through various grammatical rules and verbs in an intimate three-person class, with the occasional chuckle of funny translations and mispronunciations. It’s amazing how fast your language skills progress through living in a Spanish speaking country.

6:00pm Our class is finished and we have the rest of the night to chill.
Some of us head into the beautiful Cusco ciudad for some Chifa (Peruvian chinese cuisine), bagging a decent feed for just 12 soles (less than 5 Aussie dollars).
Some of us head to the local music bar, Quilla, to drink and chill with some live music including both Spanish and English hits, some of us head to the local skate park to practice some tricks’n’flips and the rest of us head back home for an early night to rest up after a long day.
So… this is what happens when it’s not a "day in the life of a construction worker/ gardener/ greenhouse builder/cement carrier (yes, it's exactly what you think, we have many qualifications and job descriptions)."
Interested in what the life of a construction worker is like? Well why not come to Peru to find out?!
There is never time to be bored in Cusco.


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Namaste in India, Thanks

PROGRAM: Faculty Placement
PROJECT: Physiotherapy
WRITTEN BY: Ali Thomas

No one can believe the trip is over already. We've had the most amazing experience - from meeting new people at the different placement sites to teaching others and learning so much ourselves and weekend getaways that don't always go to plan. All the things we've learnt along the way will undoubtedly help us in our future physio careers and in our lives. So I thought I'd finish off this blog by telling you some Do's and Don'ts we've learnt in India

Don't say yes to being in a photo with one Indian. This one Indian will soon become 100 Indians and instead of the Taj Mahal being the attraction, it will be you. We're still not quite sure what they do with all the photos of us but everyone seems to need one with the tallest whitest, blondest haired people in the group - special thanks to Swedish Giants Jack and Elise for taking the bullet most times on this front.

Don't get Om tattooed on your foot. The foot is a negative place and you'll end up offending your yoga teacher and have to be pulled aside from the class to have a "talking to." This chat will also cause you to be late to the only meat meal of the week.

Don't always believe your trekking tour guide's weather forecast. Although they dress and act like they're "one with the earth" and have done this hike over 1000 times, even if they say it won't rain, it might definitely rain... And hail... And be windy as anything. Your tent might collapse and they might not get out of their cosy tent to help you fix it or cook you a warm dinner. You might have to wait out a 7-hour storm while propping up your tent with your head. So yeah, just trust me, don't always trust them!

Don't try to understand the Indian head nod. It might mean yes, it might mean no, it might mean that they have no idea of what you've just said and it's the Indian equivalent of smiling politely because that usually suffices as an appropriate response to any question. Either way we never could quite work it out and generally assumed it was whichever response we wanted it to be!

Now on the flip side

Do take up the offer to visit a 150 year old tea plantation. We were lucky enough that our host dad's family owned a 100-hectare tea plantation just a 15-minute walk from our house. His father, the most passionate tea maker I've ever met, showed us around the expansive property full of bright green tea hedges while explaining the difference between the techniques of preparing green and black tea. We learnt about the sorting, packaging and exporting of this tea to many countries around the world. It was such a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.

Do try extreme sports. The views while paragliding were incredible and we can now all say we've paraglided in the same spot the world championships were held. We also tried our hand at white water rafting, arguably the best activity we did on the weekends. We set off from Manali in two rubber rafts and followed each other down the Rapids. Our guides were excellent and ensured our safety while sending us straight for waves ensuring we were soaked with the biggest smiles on our faces by the end of the 14km trip. All for only $12!

Do try paneer. And any other meal you're served for that matter. We ate predominantly vegetarian the whole trip with the exception of chicken on a couple of meals we ate out and chicken or lamb once a week at the house. Our wonderful chef never disappointed, to the point some of us (previously "carnivores") weren't even craving meat.. For the first week anyway! Paneer is the most delicious cottage cheese often in a tomatoey sauce with peas or spinach sauce. We also had a mixture of Dahl, chickpeas in curry and beans in curry accompanied by a variety of breads; chapati, kulcha and naan.

Do take up the opportunity to visit India! Whether it be for study, work or a holiday, it's a beautiful place to visit and the people aim to look after you, on the most part, and show you all that India has to offer. We've seen and learnt so much of the culture, their physiotherapy treatments and the attractions to see and unless someone is keeping really quiet about it, none of us regret coming here for our advanced physiotherapy practice placement. We're so thankful for the experience and now it's onto further travels around the world or home to rest, relax and enjoy our mid-year holiday!! Read More...

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Dust, hail and sweat with some physiotherapy in between

PROGRAM: Faculty Placement
PROJECT: Physiotherapy
WRITTEN BY: University of South Australia

We carried on this week at our respective placement sites in the morning and completing tutorials and case studies with our teacher, Julie, in the afternoons. One of Heidi's patients, a paraplegic post-surgery complication, is becoming more independent and we've ordered her a wheelchair that will fit her so she is able to get around more easily. One of Ryan's patients has progressed from not being able to sit for 10 minutes to now sitting for more than 6 hours with ease, which enables them to make the necessary travel requirements to see their family and friends. Luci enabled one of her patients to get out of bed independently using a rope attached to his bed so his wife now won't have to drag him out of bed using her strength. Alexa, Alice and Elise continue to improve the motor skills of the children at the Rotary school so they are able to socialise with other children in the playground. The other students at the private practices continue to minimise the negative impact of the various injuries they've been presented with.

Dust and sweat 
Two weekends ago we travelled as a group to Amritsar, in the nearby state of Punjab. As the hours crept up on the bus ride so did the Celsius outside. 6 hours later we arrived at our hotel in 44-degree heat. It was a struggle to leave the comfort of our big fluffy beds and aircon to head out and drive to the India/Pakistan border. Our driver got us as close as he could then we were on our own. Outside and covered head to toe for cultural purposes, we squished in between the crowds of thousands who lined up to get through the first gate towards the border. Two gates further on, lots of sweat, plenty of selfies and we were sat down in the special "foreigners" section awaiting the spectacle. It was an hour wait in the sun once we had our seats but, definitely worth the wait!

Each country had an MC whose job was to hype up the crowd and dance along to the loud music blaring from the speakers. Then the guards from each side appeared and essentially had a dance off! Swinging guns around, jumping up and down and carrying out high kicks better than a cheerleading competition. The ceremony lasted for about 45 minutes with a confusing combination of the guards shaking hands to show friendship and threatening each other to show who's boss.

We followed the swarms out of the ceremony to meet our driver to head back to Amritsar and visit the beautiful golden temple. This Temple is open 24/7 and serves food for free but don't forget to walk through the water on your way in or you'll be smacked by the security guards with a stick, Alice learnt the hard way!

Hailstorms for hours
I'll start by saying we're all safe and alive! Just last weekend we set out for a blissful hike up the beautiful Himalayas to a well-known camping spot called Triund. We were prepared for spectacular views during the day and cool weather at night but that's not exactly what we got. The hike up was magnificent, with the view getting better and better at every turn. We shared the hiking path with donkeys and were greeted by thousands of cows and goats when we reached the campsite after the 9km trek.

We found our tents and the storm set in. Strong winds, hail and thunder had one tent collapsed within minutes and 12 of us bunking into 3 tents suitable for 7. We had a few laughs and made the most of the situation until even stronger winds, more hail and a broken zipper meant the second tent collapsed and 12 of us squished into 2 tents for the remaining few hours of the storm (7 in a 4-man tent and 5 in a 2-man tent). We held up the remaining 2 tents until the first storm passed. We ran to the closest market for snacks and drinks and feared worst. The second storm hit and we were bunked down in our overpacked tents once again! We missed dinner and packed like sardines to attempt sleep and waited out the storm which ended up lasting from 3pm to 10pm. Wet and cold we exited the tents at 5am for sunrise and trekked back down the 9km path. A quick look at the markets, some lunch and a visit to the Dalai Llamas monastery and we were on the bus for the drive back home. It's safe to say we all enjoyed warm showers and sleeping in beds with fans more than ever before!


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Almost time to say Adeus

COUNTRY: Timor Leste
PROGRAM: Faculty Placement
PROJECT: Health Science
WRITTEN BY: Nicola Brickness, Maathangi Karunaharan & Maddie Pan


So here we are at the end of our third week living in Dili, and we can’t believe how fast our time has gone! The CNR staff greet us everyday like old friends, and our relationships with our clients are growing. It’s sad knowing that we are going into our last week and will have to say goodbye soon.

Its been a busy week as each inter-professional team has been working hard on projects ranging from modified utensils to wheelchair arm supports. Additionally, we are each presenting educational workshops on our last day at CNR to handover valuable experience and information to all staff. A lot of preparation has been going into developing these workshops and creating resources that can be used by all departments within the centre. This also includes designing culturally appropriate handouts and posters that can be distributed to the rural communities and centres that the Community Based Rehabilitation team visits weekly. These resources can be used well into the future, even after our time here has finished!

It’s been an eye-opening experience getting the opportunity to work with an array of clients who present with such varying conditions. Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder and post-stroke patients are just a few of the common presentations we have been seeing. Having exposure to such a wide range of clinical and cultural experiences has definitely seen us develop both professionally and personally. We know we still have so much to learn as we come into our final week at CNR.

To finish the week, we visited a community medical clinic in Hera. It was here that we met the practicing doctor and traditional midwife who work to provide health promotion and community livelihood projects to the local people. We were so fortunate to have a tour of the centre and have our many questions answered. We learnt so much about how health care is provided and the cultural values that underpin these services.

As it was our final weekend in Timor-Leste, we made our way over to Atauro Island! We had a relaxing weekend of snorkeling on the coral reef, sleeping under the stars and swimming at sunrise. To top it off, the food was amazing! At 5:30pm, 3 giant Trevally’s were caught and by 7pm, were on our dinner plates, YUM! The group also travelled on tuk tuk’s to Hospideria Faca where we got to see the most amazing handiwork in the process of being sewn, stitched and woven by the local women’s cooperative. It’s safe to say that many bags and trinkets were purchased! While we fit a lot into our short time on Atauro Island, we left feeling refreshed and ready to head into our final week in Timor-Leste.



Helping Hands

PROGRAM: Faculty Placement
PROJECT: Physiotherapy
WRITTEN BY: Ali Thomas

Karan hospital
Amanda and Ryan have been completing placement at Karan hospital physiotherapy clinic. In the morning, they look forward to a refreshing fruit box on arrival and greeting their Indian physiotherapy educator who is "Indian Fonz" says Ryan. There is no strict appointment schedule like we're used to in Australia and gradually, the waiting rooms fill up with patients. "Indian Fonz" does the translating and asks the patients what their main problems are (ranging from lower back pain to old fractures, paraplegia and tennis elbow) then Amanda and Ryan are able to practice manual techniques they've learnt at home to treat pain, stiffness or weakness. The techniques we use at home are quite different to India where they tend to use a lot of electro therapies. Amanda and Ryan have found it interesting to teach the Indian physiotherapist a few of the manual techniques we use in Australia and educate him about the evidence of their effect.

Goenka private physiotherapy clinic Heidi and Jack have been at Goenka physiotherapy clinic from the start of the placement and Kath and I have joined for the last 2 weeks. It has been an interesting experience with only a handful of the patients speaking English and no Indian physiotherapists around all the time to translate. One Indian physiotherapist wanders between the rooms to check in on patients and treatment techniques. The experience here is quite similar to the other private practice with the Indian physiotherapy course focusing on electro therapies and minimal manual techniques. Each patient receives their electrical modality from the Indian physiotherapists and then they are seen by the students from UniSA for manual therapies. At this private practice, there isn't an appointment schedule either and we filter through the patients throughout the morning. At both private practices, the students are able to practice their clinical reasoning for different patient presentations and practice a variety of manual techniques.

Rotary children's school Kath, Luci, Jacquie and I attended the Rotary school for the first half of placement and now Alice, Elise and Alexa are attending the school for the second half. The school has 20 boarding students and 20 who arrive by bus each morning. All the students are mentally and/or physically disabled, with the most common presentations being cerebral palsy and Down's syndrome. The morning is spent with select students who need a physiotherapy focus to improve their ball skills, fine motor skills and general function of everyday activities so they can interact more easily with other children. The children have already made so much progress in the first half and we all can't wait to see their overall progress at the end of placement. The last half an hour is spent dancing with all 40 of the students to traditional music. The children are so sweet and the pure joy on their faces while they jump around together is one of the most rewarding images. A photo of the girls with some of their students they've been working with can be seen above. 

Home visits Elise, Alice and Alexa attended the home visits for the first half of placement and now Jacquie and Luci are carrying on with the same patients for the second half. They attend three homes of patients who would find it too difficult to leave and make their way to a physiotherapy clinic. This placement site takes on a rehabilitation focus for patients who have had strokes, leg fractures and other long term physical issues. The families are all so lovely and welcome the girls into their homes with traditional tea, juice and snacks throughout each of the treatment sessions. The patients in these sessions have already made such great progress as well with one in particular being able to get down stairs for first time in 3 months and almost ready to return to work. A photo of the girls with some of their clients and families on home visits can be seen below.

All the sites have shown a completely different side of physiotherapy to each of the students and seeing something so varied to the hospitals and sites in Australia has been an experience we've all learnt so much from.