Visiting Germany!

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On Thursday, our instructor invited us to his house for dinner as a welcome to the Netherlands. But first, he promised to show us a bit of Germany and that is exactly what he did!

Traveling to different countries is the equivalent of traveling to different states in America. To input some random facts, to get out of Arizona alone it took my family 8 hours by car. I could get to the tip of Italy in that time from where I am, and the Netherlands is at the top of Europe: it is so small! The entire country of the Netherlands could fit inside of half of Arizona and nearly every EU country could fit inside of Texas. Crazy isn’t it?

So back to the Germany story, it was about a 30 minute drive as we took a longer route to see some sites. After a “cattle guard”, we entered the city of Kranenburg, Germany! There was a lot of agriculture on this part and back in WWII, American soldiers landed in one of the fields and ran to the river to help prevent the German’s from crossing the Dutch bridge. Crazy isn’t it? I felt like I was inside of a history book and I am itching to go back and truly explore.

The dinner was also nice and it was interesting to talk to him and his wife about their travels. At one point, they lived in Africa for 10 years and it’s amazing the perspective they have. When we began talking about culture and communication, I was able to participate in the conversation because I related so much to what they said. The world is so vast but also the same and that common link is communication. Once you know their language, people light up and you are able to learn so much more about them.

While Dutch is immensely difficult to learn coming from English, I challenge myself everyday to read something new or speak a new word. It is hard, frustrating, and sometimes overwhelming but the things you learn, just can’t be learned anywhere else.

The power of the pants

As I pedal my way past the halfway point (get it, because of the bicycle?) I’d like to think I’ve gotten the basis of living in the Netherlands down. I know how my classes work, I can say basic Dutch words, and figured out how theonline grocery ad’s workto figure out what I’m eating each week! While I am adapting, this doesn’t mean I don’t miss home and how I’m used to living.

In the Netherlands, the people are much more reserved and direct: it’s just in the nature. They mean no harm but sometimes can come off rude and it happens every day. This is especially true when you go outside of the normal. If you couldn’t guess by the title, my best example of this is my brightly colored workout pants.

People here dress nicely, everywhere. I’m not saying suit and tie, but definetly borderline business casual, it’s just a cultural thing! This is not true of Americans whatsoever. While I personally can’t bring myself to do it myself, almost all of my friends walk around in their pajamas if they want to. This is just something that does not happen in this country, and as a result, I’ve been afraid to wear my exercise pants while biking to the gym.

It hit me today that while it is important to adapt, it’s also important to remember where you came from and keep those parts of yourself too. This can mean cooking your food at a certain time, splurging on your favorite shampoo or even wearing your pants to the gym, no matter how many looks you get. And despite the looks I received today, I finally felt comfortable enough to brave them all and wear my fun pants to my gym.
To my surprise? Someone else was wearing blue pants too. I finally felt at home.

Internship- We meet again!

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As nice as it has been having a more laid back schedule these last 5 weeks, compared to my hectic nursing 50- hours-a-week-on-20-hours-of-sleep thing I’ve had going on the last 2 and a half years, it was so nice to step foot into a hospital again. I think as I go through my program, I get caught up in the work and the stress. I fail to appreciate how incredible I actually am doing and in that, how incredible of work I am doing in my rotations. Not in a baggy I’m doing amazing way, but just the component of the work itself by caring for people.

When I put on my scrubs again, a piece of my soul ignited up and I felt at place for the first time in 6 weeks. At hospitals here in the Netherlands, uniforms are supplied to every staff member and you kind of scan them out each morning. My badge thankfully worked and let me be the first to say, their sizes run suuuuppppeeerrrr large. Scrubs run large in general but these uniforms run even larger. I wear an XS in pants here and an XXS in shirts here: fair warning to any future students. Also, my badge worked wonders for checking them out but not for getting into the locker room so I scurried my way inside to change.

I spent one day on Obstetrics and two days on Cardiology at  Radboud Medical Centre. It is the largest in Nijmegen and they take all of the critical cases. There are some minor, but vital differences that I noticed in my experience here. First off, there is a plentiful amount of doctors available whenever you need one! One to three is stationed per floor which is just unheard of in the United States. As a result, the doctors are responsible for the physical assessment and observations while the nurses here are responsible for med pass and vitals primarily. This was a huge shock for me as I was ready to do head to toe every 4 hours and I did not even listen to a heart or lung sound.

Aside from the physician difference, their general way of operating day to day is different. Everyone works 8 hour shifts and the nurse before your shift pre prepares your patient’s medications for you. Depending on the nurse you are with, they will double check to make sure it is correct but some of them will not which I thought was different. Hand washing is not as common here and they don’t wear gloves for most procedures. They primarily use hand sanitiser and wash the nurse wash their hands *maybe* once a shift.Again, this varied on the nurse I was with but it appeared to be a common practice.  In my two years in the states, I was border line failed and critiqued immediately for not doing either of those things so I kept that practice when I did my rotations to ensure sanitation.

The last difference I noted was the lack of Caesarean sections, which I appreciated! In the United States, mothers are scheduling cesarean sections like they schedule a dentist appointment and that is not always the way to go. I believe in surgery and it is safe but in my practice, most mothers are signing up for it without knowing exactly what it all entails which can be dangerous. Here, they deliver breech, posterior position, and even omphalocele births, which is almost an immediate C-section in the United States. They also don’t deliver within 72 hours of a mothers water breaking and they will wait as long as 7 weeks! I learned that there is apparently is no evidence based practice for delivering immediately when a mother’s water breaks and she can wait to ensure adequate fetal growth as long as there is no infection present. The more you know!

 

London!

Last post about my trip but certainly not least, the beautiful city of London! Here we spent the most time (and the most money). After being surrounded by the Dutch culture for almost a month, hearing an English speaking society once again was immensely calming. I felt at peace being able to read the menu’s and signs which is why I instantly deemed the city “mini America”. Here is everything about London, the good,the bad and the tours!

The Arrival 

Oh lawdy, we were so glad to arrive. We waited 10 hours at the train station for our train to depart from the CDG airport in Paris and mind you, they do not heat their buildings. It was 47 degrees and we were by the doors. Once our train finally arrived, we then proceeded to wait another hour for our Flixbus. We arrived in Lile and then had to wait another 45 minutes for our next bus to come (in the same weather) at 1 in the morning. By the time our bus came, we were all tired, a tad cranky and ready to get into the warm.

Bailey and I prevailed and we arrived in the heart of London at 7:30 in the morning. Our check in was not until 2 so we decided to get lost. We found ourselves in this park, napping on a bench as it was the first sunny day we had seen in 4 weeks. There was even a zoo in the same park! We got ourselves some coffee and food and before we knew it, it was time to check in! For this portion of our trip, we stayed at the PubLove at The White Ferry Victoria Hostel and might I just say, I entirely recommend this! It came out to be about 20 pounds per person per night and it included breakfast, wifi, showers, bathrooms and a lot of coupons! Each sleeping area had 15 beds in it and you needed access codes to get into each and I felt very secure!

Day Two:

Alright, I’m off my soap box there. I passed out that day out of exhaustion so we woke up bright and early the next day. We did not have a set plan other than to go on the Harry Potter walking tour and to visit the Ripley’s Believe it or not museum so it was a free day! We again grabbed some coffee and went straight to Ripleys! It was astonishing to learn about who Ripley was! He was a very trusted collector and previous U.S. presidents sent him small keepsakes because they knew he would take care of them instead of selling them- how cool! The renowned three headed calf was there amongst all the other creepy crawly things Ripley’s is known for!

After this we grabbed lunch as this restaurant called Nandos. Sophia (our UK friend) recommended this one and it tasted great! We each spent about 10 pounds but we got a delicious burger (I opted to try their famous chicken) and a side. Totally worth visiting, do not leave London without going here! After this we found the Harry Potter walking tour and I HAD A BALL. I got to see some spots where they filmed, where JK Rowling got inspiration for her books, and so so much more. The tour was free and I still gave our tour guide Hagrid some money and a hug because I felt so complete after seeing my favourite series come to life.

From our tour, Hagrid pointed out where they sell discounted theatre tickets. Fun fact, there are 50 theatres in one square which is the most densely populated theatre area in the world! We had looked at prices throughout the day and they averaged 75 pounds a seat so we almost had given up hope. On a whim I decided to go and look and I found tickets to the Lion King for 26 pounds each! This was almost 75% off and I gave Bailey the ” want to be impulsive because why not” grin, and she was just as in as I was. We then booked it to the theatre, tickets in hand and stood for the show of a lifetime.

The Rest:

Day two was an adventure and jam packed day and was hands down the best part of our trip! For the rest of the 4 days, we booked the Big Bus Tours once again as they were having a special buy one day get one free so we got 48 hours of tours for about $40 a person. It seems pricey but it includes three different routes, live commentary, hop on hop off, discount vouchers and a river cruise! We took advantage of all of this and it made the ticket so worth it!

I saw all the sites: the big ben, the river, the london eye, the millennial bridge, St. Pauls Cathedral, the works! Every time I saw the big ben I couldn’t help but fall more in love with it. It is so intricately designed and is truly a work of art. I will never get over it.

And this was pretty much the rest of our trip! Once Sunday came, we grudgingly got back onto our Flixbus and headed to Amsterdam. From there, we caught the train and a bus back to our home away from home: Nijmegen. I spent more money than I wanted and used about all of my travel budget on this trip, but I have zero regrets. I bought experiences and memories I will never forget. And most importantly, I felt at home in London and it made me feel so so much better. Until two days in the future my internet friends!

 

Paris!

As I mentioned a few days ago, I just got back from our holiday in which Bailey and I went to London and Paris. This one is about specifically Paris and pardon any typos, tangents, or more cheesy jokes than usual as this is also our midterm week and I have not had much sleep this week! But here is everything that we did for 3/9 days of our trip!

The Excursions: Heart of Paris 

We took an overnight greyhound  (called FlixBus here) to CDG Airport in Paris. The CDG airport is one of the most frequently used ones but fun fact, it is actually an hour away by train to the “heart of Paris” (aka the eiffel tower and touristy things I wanted to spend my money on). So we hopped on the train half delirious from lack of sleep (because who can really get comfortable on there, right?), and we arrived in the heart of this town. May I just say, the sheer amount of art and architecture was enough to make me stand in awe numerous times. Someone hand crafted a slab of marble with metal tools and formulated a work of art; that’s just incredible.

Once we got off of the train we got our crepe with Nutella (of course)! While we were eating it, we quite literally were asking where the eiffel tower was and then we turned a corner and BAM. There it was, just… there. One of the 7 wonders of the world right in front of our faces; it almost wasn’t real. However, as the closer we got the more realistic it became and I opted to sit in the grass and just take it all in as the sun was rising. I think seeing the 7 wonders of the world is now on my bucket list because each one of them truly are a wonder that makes you stop and stare.

Now prior to coming to Paris, we had pre booked a Big Bus Tour for this city so after our awe was halfway done, we walked on over to our bus! The awe continued. Here we were driven to all of the landmarks I had learned about in history and French class. We walked on the Champs-Élysées swhere Napoleon, Vincent Van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway stood. We went underneath the Arc De Triumphe and were told about guillotine locations where thousands were beheaded. We walked inside art museums and inside the theatre that inspired Phantom of the Opera. I felt like I was inside a living history book and I am so humbled to have gone.

The Excursions: Disneyland!

Once we got back to central Paris and made our way to our hotel, we just about collapsed in relief to have our backpacks off. Snoozeville soon followed but no sleeping in for us AS THE NEXT DAY WAS DISNEYLAND (my excitement still has not gone down). Tickets in Paris are much much cheaper and they are currently having a sale on them as it is the 25th anniversary of their park! It only cost $140 USD for both of us for a one day park hopper (that’s not even a one day park hopper for one in Disneyland California). Our hotel was affiliated with the park itself so we hopped on our free shuttle and were there when the park opened at 9 am. Off to Sleeping Beauty castle we went and I headed underneath as they have a dragon under there!

Main Street Paris was as magical as one could expect. Shops, balloons, people, screaming children and stressed parents, the works! They had their city hall, meet and greets with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy right at the entrance and that was before you even reached the rides! Bailey and I decided to go on the ones that they did not have in the United States, including Crush’s Coaster, Ratoutille, and their version of Indiana Jones (which did not include a jeep)!

They hold one parade a day and a fireworks show at the end and I teared up. Disney is a very special thing to me as it makes me stop and think that life comes from the small things in life. A story may start out bad and with the odds against you but at some point, in some way, things will get better and a lesson will be learned and it makes me believe in this. I lit up when I saw the mini Cinderella’s  and Tiana’s and swelled with joy at their smiles once I called them Princess. Disneyland spares no expense, forgets no details and leaves you with a little more magic in your step when you leave. 🙂

Backpacking Paris and London: Planning

*phew*

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It has been a long time I’ve posted on here but for good reason- I’ve been backpacking and busing around Paris and London this week past week and a half! This is because it was our “holiday” which is the equivalent of our spring break! So Bailey and I planned this trip, packed our two backpacks and hit the road. Here is the journal about planning this trip, I will talk about the trip itself in two different posts as it would be WAAAYYYY too long for one!


Planning Phase:

Oh lordy, the inner planner in me screamed with joy at organising this. I took to my keyboard and scoured the internet. There is a travel company called Flixbus which is like our greyhound! Roundtrip tickets to Paris was 65 euros and Bailey had a voucher from a previous student so that one was paid for. Next, I found a company called Big Bus Tours per Trip Advisor which is a hop-on hop-off tour of all the major tourist traps in Paris. May I just say, TOTALLY WORTH EVERY SINGLE CENT. You get to choose when to get off, there is headphones you plug in to get a tour of each monument and the buses circulate to every stop about every 15 minutes. Absolutely stunning. Anywho, back to planning phase.

After that, I figured out the train system and we booked some tickets via the train route to get us to and from Paris and then to and from Disneyland. Yes, thats right. Disneyland. I can’t believe it myself. Disneyland… Okay, I’m good. Bailey found a good deal on tickets and we got two park hopper tickets for about $140 USD total. I then booked a hotel with a free shuttle service and va la, our transportation was taken care of!

I then applied the same train system to get us back to Paris and off on another Flixbus to London. It traveled via the English Channel and while I was asleep getting there, we took the same bus back and it was astonishing! For housing once we got to London, I found a hostel that was within walking distance and we spent about $220 for the both of us for 5 days and it was actually a decent hostel!

Alrighty. now for my wise tips from travel (if you can call it that):

  1. Figure out your budget before
    going. Studying abroad is expensive enough so ensure that you know what you can and are willing to spend when you travel. I personally set aside a travel budget before coming here and stuck to that budget. I withdrew the cash I wanted to spend and brought my card because things always pop up ( and it did). Know what you have, what you have in case something happens and go from there!
  2. Buy experiences, not objects. I could’ve easily paid to tour the eiffel tower or buy a t-shirt but we decided to get a tour to gain that experience. We went to Disneyland and went on rides that aren’t available in the United States. We walked around London and saw a broadway show. Anything you can get where your from, don’t spend your money. Get things that stand out to you and buy memories!
  3. Be prepared for traveling! Each European country typically has a different charging port so get a universal charger (or find someone who has one.. Thanks Bailey!). Pack a towel, two changes of clothes, a rain jacket and a warm jacket. Pack your toiletries and some shampoo. Especially with backpacking around the cities, nothing is better than some small comforts of home away from home
  4. Bus travel- have a blanket and headphones. You will be cold, warm and frustrated at the two screaming children who take turns yelling.I’ll just leave that there.
  5. Hostels are not bad but get one that has breakfast! You are going to be spending enough money on your travels, get one that gives you a free meal and you can even snag some Nutella and Jam packets for quick snacks or quick sandwiches for lunch!

I have many more but I will leave it here for now. It was surreal and I will post much much more about it this week!

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.