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Liesa is a final year BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing student. She took the opportunity to visit Tanzania as part of a 4 week international placement and answered a few questions to tell us about her experiences both on placement and studying Adult Nursing at Bournemouth University. 

1.  Tell us a bit about yourself and the course you study

I am a mature student, or a vintage student (as I call myself) as I am 50 years of age. I decided that I wanted to do something with my life before it was too late. From a work perspective, I found myself stuck in a rut that I really didn’t want to be in any longer and needed a different sense of direction. So, I looked at what was available to me and that was where my journey to becoming an adult nurse began.

2.  What was your placement?

From day 1 of uni, I was interested in the opportunity to complete an international placement. Due to the pandemic, this was not possible until the end of my second year. What a rush that was! From when we were advised that placements could continue in May to to the moment I boarded my flight to Tanzania in August, was such a busy time as I got everything organised and put in place. It was exciting waiting for responses to emails, phone calls, visa applications and then booking appointments to become a human pin cushion for all the vaccinations that were needed (boy were there some vaccinations needed).

3.  Is there anything in particular that you’ve enjoyed most about your placement?

What I enjoyed the most was being able to spend 4 weeks in a foreign country and experiencing a different culture fully as it should be experienced. I wasn’t there as a tourist at a beach resort, which made the experience a little more special. I got to experience opportunities that I would not get in England as a nurse. West Africans are of the opinion that if you don’t do, you don’t learn. Each hospital/clinic I worked in, gave me some amazing opportunities to do just that – learn. I wasn’t bound just to adult nursing either, I had the opportunity to work within the paediatric departments also and any other department I fancied. I took every opportunity I possibly could, to enhance my learning, not only within adult nursing but other areas as well. I found this to be invaluable to my learning. I also learnt a lot about myself and my resilience.

Then when the work/learning is done, there is of course playtime. Playtime needs to be made the most of. For me to be able to get the best out of what I wanted to achieve, it meant some late nights and very early mornings and planning of the activities I wanted to do. Luckily with some of the planning we had a lovely tour guide one weekend. We said what we wanted to do via WhatsApp and he arranged everything – all we had to do was ensure we didn’t sleep through our alarm. I highly recommend Alawi Maalim if you ever visit Zanzibar and if you’re female, for peace of mind, he will ensure you get back to your accommodation room safely…. it’s the little things!!

4.  What about any challenges that you’ve come across?

The language was a challenge. However, the placement company I was with arranged weekly Swahili lessons. These were fun and engaging and enabled at the very least, basic communication. Getting a tuk-tuk was another challenge, as they are not always reliable. It’s advised to hook up a card payments through an app (which you will be given details of) and pay that way rather than using cash. Just be traveller savvy and as much fun as it seems, never get on the back of a motorbike, these are not regulated and there is no guarantee the rider even knows how to ride safely. As a medical/nursing student working in A&E, that’s mostly what you will see and it is harrowing.

5.  Have you had any thoughts about future careers or what you’d like to do after graduation?

I would love to be able to travel and work my way around developing countries assisting with their health care needs. This trip taught me that there are so many more who are less fortunate than ourselves. Although it’s show in the media, it only actually hits home when you experience it. I’m undecided whether to work in disaster relief medical assistance or make the permanent move to another country. I do however know, that there is still scope, even at my age.

6.  Have you got any advice for anyone thinking of studying Nursing or thinking about coming to study at BU?

Education is a big decision, especially when costs are taken into consideration. I began my journey during the pandemic in September 2020 and studying during that time has thrown in additional challenges. Despite this, Bournemouth University has worked tirelessly to overcome and adapt to meet the needs of the students. I would just say, make sure you choose the right course for you and really enjoy your time because that’s your family for your degree duration. A nursing degree is not a walk in the park, it is intense and even exhausting at times but it’s also fun and rewarding. I am looking forward to graduating this year. If I can do it, anyone can. Enjoy!

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