Internship abroad- Obstetrics!

The day had finally come and yesterday I completed my first clinical abroad in the Obstetrics unit! I happened to be with a nurse on the delivery floor where mothers were transported when they are expected to deliver within a few days. Prior to coming to the Netherlands, I had completed rotations on every floor including Obstetrics so I was eager to see the differences between how the United States operated versus how Nijmegen operated and boy, was I surprised!

Backstory with my experience in Obstetrics in the United States. I only had one day on that floor and the mother I was in charge of remained at 3 cm dilation for my entire shift so I did not see or help with a delivery. I did, however, observe how they induced labor, assisted in giving medications to the mother, and learned all about the machines that track contractions and the fetal heart rate.

This being said, my mother on my clinical rotation in the Netherlands once again remained in a state of her water being broke throughout my entire shift. It was a slow day on the unit so my nurse showed me all about their “mom and baby floors”. The equipment was all the same but they did procedures differently! For example, the nurses were not responsible for delivering babies, the doctors were! Doctors are actually present on each unit which is something that blew me away.

Nurses are also responsible for different things. Back in the United States I am used to assessing head to toe, taking a history and using my beloved stethoscope but nurses are not responsible for that in the Netherlands! They are responsible for patient care, IV’s, fluids, medications, responding to call lights and documenting all they did in the patient’s chart. This makes it seem like less than it is and I’m not denying  it is a lot of work but it was unique to adapt to.

The biggest down and dirty facts that I noticed between the hospitals in the United States is that most babies are delivered at home. They do not schedule C-sections like America does and if a mother’s water breaks, she is not induced into labor and can even wait 7 weeks before delivering (assuming there is no infection present). In addition, all babies under 32 weeks that are being delivered in Nijmegen are required to go to the hospital I was at. This is due to the levels of Neonatal Intensive Care Units they have and the equipment that is readily available.

The staff is very kind over here and I am fortunate to have been placed at a teaching hospital. I missed not being around patients these past two months so it was nice to have my spirits lifted once again.

Multicultural class cook-off!

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Disclaimer: It wasn’t actually a cook off and Gordon Ramsay did not attend (sorry to disappoint). It was, however, a class in which we all cooked different traditional meals based off of where each one of us were traveling to for our internships! Seeing as mine is in the Netherlands, it was only suiting that Bailey, Zayna and I cook some good ol’ Dutch food! Other countries featured were the Philippines, Australia, South Africa and Indonesia!

We all split up into our groups and I felt like I was in cupcake wars for a second trying to grab the stuff that we needed. Our recipe was essentially mashed potatoes but not the ones I am used to! Our process went as follows!

We used almost a bag of potatoes and put them into two separate pots to boil and threw a bag of carrots in. We then sautéed a pre-minced onion and waited for our potatoes to be done. The moment came and we emptied out potatoes and peeled half of them (fun fact, if you rinse them under cold water immediately after boiling, the skin falls right off. Who knew!).

Two of us took mashing duty and we added in the onions, fried up some chives and added those in too. Let’s not forget butter (and lots of it) plus a little salt and pepper and bam! We were done! We then cooked up some sausage and left it on a side dish in case anyone did not want meat!

Our classmates kept coming up and asking us what we were making and they eventually deemed it “Stamppot” and it actually is something they eat all the time (score!). And turns out, it is actually very very delicious!

The feast began and there was a wide variety of foods available such as : veggie spring rolls, beef spring rolls, some form of cookie, beijing beef (or at least that is exactly what it tasted like), a fried veggie tortilla looking thing and many other spices & dips! Aside from a full belly, I learned how important it is to research and learn the country you are visiting, especially their food! I would’ve never of thought to make a dish like this and I am so so glad I did!

The “Uni”

Today I decided that I wanted to talk about my courses. Sophia, my friend from the United Kingdom, refers to our university as the Uni so I decided to embrace my inner British and follow by her example. Even though the dutch refer to it as a university as well, it is all well and sounds fancier.

The education system (specifically second-hand as they call it here) is entirely different from what I was raised with. I have talked about this before but I never once addressed how the set up, content, and even buildings are different!

Let’s begin with their desks. They like to have an outer square of desk that are just individual tables with chairs. Once this is formed, all other desks are placed on the inside of giant square and that’s where people that are late sit. I don’t know if that is because everyone seeks to sit in the back and by the outlets like I do but we all seem to be on the same page: avoid the center.

Secondly, the university is divided up into different buildings. This I am used to but in a different sense. I’m used to there being a Nursing Building, a Liberal Arts Building, a Science building but nope: I’m in the international building where every international course is held. This building I am in is divided into sections A, C, B and D. These are not in order because they are not placed in order, all the “sub sections” have no rhyme nor reason to them and it took me a solid few days to figure out where each one was.

Finally, the courses. We were not given a syllabus, an assignment layout or even anything much more than where to find our first class. From there, it was a whirlwind because, guess what, they still didn’t give us any of those things. I’ve had to figure out where my classes are by deciphering an online “Rooster” as they call it, figure out that each class is taught by someone new and they will all talk about different topics, and they won’t tell you about the assignments until that day and then act all surprised when we have the confused student expression on our face.

I talked earlier about dealing with the unknown and this, this is it. After two weeks, I can confidently say I know where A,C, B and D are at and while the location of my courses change every day, at least I know which building I’m in.

Dealing with things outside of my control

While studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, this once in a lifetime opportunity inevitably comes with challenges. That’s the point of going to a new country: to step outside of what you know and embrace the unknown. Right?

I knew this before going into it and it was also why I wanted to go. I am very much a “Type A” personality in it that, I have a nick for organizing, planning, and having 3 different backups in case my original idea went wrong. It gives me joy and satisfaction knowing that I have backups for my backups! This being said, life is not always something that even my three backups can account for.

Since being abroad, I had been without internet, charged up $50 of data, gotten lost, had to buy a bicycle, figured out how to navigate a train, bus and school system, cooking every meal and deciphering grocery stores. I calculate before every purchase how much it is going to charge me in euros because the USD is worth less. I listen to the Dutch’s impressive English but am actively deciphering some sentences where it is fractured and even I cannot understand.

More recently, I am figuring out how to manage being comfortable with not always knowing the answer. I wait days for a response from a faculty member or department at my school, am casually waiting on immigration to get back to me about my visa to stay longer in this country, and have to learn how to structure a course by myself as the classes here do not come with a syllabus. I guess the point of this is that the uncertainty and “free flowing” attitude in the Netherlands is my biggest challenge so far.

No matter how much fear and anxiety this unknown lifestyle has caused me, I’m surprising myself with how flexible I have been. Even though that visa determines if I can come back to Europe once I graduate, I have learned that I cannot rush their response and therefore have no control over it. I have spent so much time of my life worrying about the next step and did not even know I could enjoy the present moment until I met Brandon who taught me that worrying about something does not change the outcome. I’m utilizing that immensely over here and it is paying off because no matter how many times things go wrong, something else is bound to go right.

Valentines Day

Celebrating holidays 8 hours earlier than everyone else is pretty darn goofy to me. Especially when you had gone to two classes, biked 3 miles, ate a sandwich and a bowl of soup by the time everyone you know is waking up. I know in all actuality it is not an additional 8 hours from what everyone else gets but I feel like a time traveler nonetheless.

Courses are going good! The education system is different from the United States in it that classes are rarely ever in format I’m used to which is: Show up- Take notes from presentation- Potty break- Leave. Amidst the potty breaks, they hardly ever use a powerpoint or other presentation to teach their lesson. It is all discussion!

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to talk and one of my favorite things (and reasons I came here) is to learn all about another country and see how it compares to the United States. And today was good as we finally touched upon my favorite subject: healthcare. Everyone in the classes with us are so willing to share what is positive about their system, what is negative, and where they wish it would be. It is even more interesting as our class is composed of students who will be traveling to other countries to complete their internships, just like I am completing mine. They are going to Africa, the Philippines, Australia and even Indonesia! So not only do I get to learn about the Netherlands, I get these bonus added countries to learn about too!

How neat 🙂

Class inside a church!

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Well folks, the end of week one has hit and we have officially arrived at week two! After I just figured out where my courses were, they decided to throw a wrench into the equation and we had to find an entirely new building. Thankfully our class was super nice and told us where to find it and guess what, it ended up being inside of a refurbished church!

There are very few statues around Nijmegen so it was beautiful to see so many in one location! It was at a place called the Albertinum Chapel and let me be the first to say, the architecture was astonishing. The classrooms, well, that’s for a different conversations.

Courses are going good! I have made a few friends from the UK and am slowly adapting an English accent and I am not even upset about it. I have taken it easy on myself and my jet lag and have been staying in my room in the weekends. This being said, the more I spend time in my room and adjust to the time, the most irroestiable urge I have to go and get lost in this country. We are planning on exploring Amsterdam this upcoming week and Germany shortly thereafter. Wanderlust is a real thing my friends and I keep reminding myself that the opportunity I’ve been given is a blessing.

Surrounded with a different language

As I approach the end of week one, I like to think I am getting the hang of this whole “being dutch” experience! I recently purchased a bike as that is the primary mode of transportation around here and ordered a smoothie with the help of my dutch friends! So I thought I’d take the time to write about some of the cultural differences I’ve experienced so far!

The language. Oh the language. Fun fact, most everyone in the Netherlands speaks English (90%) as their second language while the other 10% speaks German. This is a huge advantage to us as while they speak English, everything else is naturally in Dutch. Everyone speaks dutch instinctively as it’s their primary language so this was an advantage as someone tried to sell me something at the train station. They started speaking dutch and i said english and they backed away. Score one!

The music. The Dutch feel personally invested in America and as a result, they enjoy most of our music! They play it in grocery stores and cafes and it is so calming to hear a familiar language after hearing everyone say things you cannot understand all day long! In America, I sing songs from other countries that I don’t know the meaning too and it’s weird to be on the opposite end of that! They sing along without knowing what it even means most of the time. Crazy world!

The culture. Even though most things I write about are influenced by the culture, there are some differences between America and the Netherlands I have to write about directly! In America, we value privacy and personal space and that is a whole different story over here. I like my “bubble” circumference and that, well that is just not existent over here. In addition, they are very direct and honest in all that they say. This takes some getting used to as blunt statements in America typically indicate anger and that is not the case here. They are highly efficient in the way they talk and want to get to the point.

Two entirely different countries yet all in the same world. Environment plays such a huge role in the culture in which you live and it is so enlightening to be learning all of this!

Super Bowl Sunday… on Monday!

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Greetings! A bit has happened in the last couple days but of all first sites, watching the Super Bowl 8 hours later on the internet has been one of the most interesting things!

First off, I had to avoid social media like the plague and despite my efforts, one snap said it all. This did not discourage me from watching the highlights and yelling at the screen as I normally do! What a game! And this one was especially unique as I got to watch the last bit with my friend Ellis who is from England! Her American friends were Patriots fans so I had to quickly educate her that most of America did not want them to win because they ALWAYS win.  Ellis then compared them to some popular “football” team here and changed who she was rooting for.

It is interesting to watch and participate in one of my beloved traditions from a different country. There was no party, no chips and dip and certainly no screaming fans (aside from myself). But it made me feel apart of my country and I took pride in our traditions after spending all day learning about Nijmegen’s!

Navigating Nijmegen!

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Bailey and I had finally arrived after 20 hours of travel to this beautiful city of Nijmegen! We stumbled our way through the airport and let me be the first to say: They are the yellow booths. Select the center city and look at the screen to see what gate you are at.

We got lost and took the “lift” down to station 2 when we needed to be at 3 and like our hustle to the plane, we made it with Dutch spewing off in the background announcements. Once we arrived to our destination, representatives from our university met us there! We were greeted, driven to our housing community, got our keys, and arrived at our homes for the next three months!

I eagerly unpacked my luggage full of shoes and clothes and was full of excitement to tell my family and friends I had arrived. I was then encountered with two problems: one, it was 1 am back where I was from and two, the only internet connection available was via ethernet cord and my computer was without a port.

WHAT KIND OF COMPUTER DOESN’T HAVE AN ETHERNET PORT. Apple, I was very mad at you. With the help of exchange students that studied at my university last semester and our “buddies”, they told me the name of the store. Defeated and exhausted after being up for two days, I sucked it up and paid $50 in data for the night.

The next day was spent at our university at the “International Welcome Day” they hosted for all 70 international students! I met students from London, Amsterdam and Greece and learned all about the Dutch culture. I learned that buses only can break 20 euros and I learned the proper way to eat a croissant. I learned how passionate other countries are about U.S. affairs and I learned how to stay up when it was 3 am where I was from.

With Bailey and three of our new friends, we travelled to the city center and I found my $40 converter cord for my computer to allow me to use an ethernet cord. Pro tip: Check to see if your computer has an ethernet port before traveling 6,000 miles away where your amazon does not work.  We got groceries, explored, picked up some necessities and traveled back for the night. I am now content, with wifi, and classes will begin Monday!

And away we go!

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It was time to go! February 1st came and the next thing I knew, I was being driven to the airport at 7:30 am sharp to catch my first flight! Here I met up with the other student accepted into the exchange program, Bailey, and we anxiously awaited our flight! We were traveling to LAX, from there to Amsterdam and there to our final city, Nijmegen!

What good travel experience goes as planned right? Within 20 minutes of sitting outside of our terminal, Bailey received a notification that our flight to LAX was now delayed by 5 and a half hours. That’s right, FIVE AND A HALF HOURS. We had already notified our university that we would be arriving at 9am locally in order to catch a ride with them to our housing and this set us to arrive at 2pm. I instantly jumped onto the closest Delta phone and explained our dilemma.

I just have to thank Delta as they instantly got us onto the next flight out of there, with us flying to Georgia instead of LAX. The representative got us both switched over and we now only have 40 minutes to get across one of the largest airports in the world. In addition, we were no longer sitting next to each other and I was sitting in the near back of the plane on both of our upcoming flights. My mantra of  “It’s fine, everything is fine” kicked in and I refused to let this get to me. We buckled our boots and boarded our plane because I was just thankful we still had one.

The first flight was smooth. I sat next to some nice people and I watched my Disney movies in peace. The plane landed and it was go time. We of COURSE landed in the terminal farthest away from the international terminal with 40 minutes until our flight left and to remind you,  I was in the back of the plane. The row in front of me graciously allowed me to leave ahead of them and I ran. I ran through 35 gates and hopped on the train. 6 terminals later, two hurt shins and more heavy breathing than I care to admit, I arrived at the gate just as they announced “Last call to Amsterdam”!

Call it luck, call it cardio, but we both made it. We both now had middle seats on opposite sides of the plane (me, once again, in the back), but I buckled up and made small talk with the people beside me. One was an aspiring doctor and the other going on a trip to see Orphans his church had been funding so if either of you stumble upon this, I hope you both arrived safely!

Once again, flight was great and I got dinner, breakfast and non-stop entertainment with the screen in front of me.