Reflections of the internship exchange I
I spent three months from January to April 2022 in Tenerife while doing my physiotherapy practice there in two hospitals. In these two essays, I reflect my experiences of the whole exchange mainly from a learning perspective.
One of my selected learning goals was to learn the Spanish language and improve it to the level where I could manage daily interactions and communication. Before the internship, I haven’t spoken Spanish almost at all. I had studied it just in one online course and on my own. So, my Spanish was very little at the beginning of the internship, but I had a lot of motivation to improve it.
From the beginning I took the attitude that I will speak Spanish as much as I could and try not to rely on English. I always tried to listen to what and how people say things in different situations in everyday life. In the practice in the hospital, I took a lot of notes of new and important words and sentences that physiotherapists used there. I studied on my own every day at least a little. I had a notebook where I wrote general and important phrases, words, and expressions. On Instagram I followed a few Spanish teachers who gave very good tips, especially vocabulary. By chatting and talking face to face with local friends learned a lot of spoken language, many Canary words and expressions. Before the take-off I already used to listen to a lot of Spanish music, but during the internship I started to listen to the words more and I also noticed that I could already understand them pretty well.
Now at the end of my internship, I feel like I have really achieved my goal with the Spanish language and maybe a little bit more. For example, now when I’m writing this essay, many of the words comes to my mind first in Spanish. I still speak very clumsy Spanish, but I understand it more, which is kind of typical, I think. Although I’m very happy and proud of myself for how far I’ve become in such a short time. And of course, I want to maintain and improve my level in the future. I have a plan that I will take Spanish classes for the summer or keep on studying on my own. Maybe I’ll go back to Spain for example on vacation where I can more easily improve my speaking skills.
My other learning goal was to get to know how the physiotherapy in Spain is, how the practice differs from Finnish practices, and I also hoped to get some pros and cons. My physiotherapy goals were not so high, and I wasn’t expecting a lot. Maybe because I thought that I won’t be able to do many things or understand new things that much in practice due to my poor Spanish skills. Fortunately, I was wrong with my doubts.
I completed my 10-weeks practice at two different university hospitals. I got to experience many different fields of physiotherapy and patients that I could not have imagined at first. Normally in Finland, you stay just in one department during your whole 5-week practice. But in Tenerife, I was very lucky that I got to know various places and many physiotherapists. I got to practice in the respiratory department, with amputation patients, with neurological and trauma patients in the ‘’gym’’, pelvic floor physiotherapy and in the end in the pediatric and infants. I also got to know occupational therapy for one week, which was also very interesting.
I noticed that there are many similarities between Finnish and Spanish physiotherapy but there are also some habits that are different. For example, the patients get physiotherapy much more than in Finland. Normally neurological and trauma patients came 2 or 3 times a week for about 45 minutes sessions to the hospital for months. They didn’t really do the exercises at home because it wasn’t so necessary when there was so much physiotherapy in a week. In Finland there are much fewer physiotherapy sessions and much more home exercises. I also noticed that some patients got physiotherapy very late. For example, like 3 months after the surgery. But the reason might be that there’s a long queue, partly due to the covid. In Finland we start the physiotherapy normally right away after surgeries, but I think that it doesn’t last so long time and it’s not so regular.
The second part of the essay: