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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Reflections of the internship exchange II

Kirjoittanut: Moona Annala - tiimistä Motive.

Esseen tyyppi: Yksilöessee / 2 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 6 minuuttia.
The exchange destination & what I learned about it

I hadn’t been to Tenerife ever before I left for my short three-month exchange. My experience of Spain was very little too, I have been once to Ibiza for a week on holiday and that’s it. So I didn’t know much about the island. Before leaving I had mostly googled about the nature of the island, distances, the sights, and the great places I want to visit. I knew that I want to surf there and explore the island as much as I could. I had heard about siestas and relaxed time management in Spain, so I was able to expect those. I had also read something about typical Spanish food and drinks.


In Tenerife I got to know many things about nature and climate. The island is volcanic, which is reflected in the black sand beaches and large elevation differences. Teide is located roughly in the middle of the island and divides the island’s nature into two different types. In the north nature is very green and full of different plants, like bananas for example. There are also a lot of mountains. The south is a much drier and sunproof area, and the temperature is often higher than in the north. One meteorological phenomenon called Calima also became familiar to me. It’s a sandstorm from Africa and Marocco that is quite common in winter. During Calima the air is more cloudy, dusty and often hotter.


I got a chance to taste many good Spanish, Canary and also Venezuelan foods and drinks. I ate many kinds of tapas, risottos, Spanish bocadillos (sandwiches) and typical, super tasty coffee from Tenerife, Barraquito. I tasted Spanish beers and white wines. I also ate a couple of times in Guanchinche, which is a typical Canary Island establishment, more widely spread on the island of Tenerife, where a locally produced wine is served accompanied by homemade traditional food. I also got to taste the Venezuelan foods from one local friend, Arepas and Patac ns.


I noticed that in the Canary Islands live many people from Venezuela. Canary Island is kind of like the mix of Latin America and Spain, and you can notice it from the language, for example. In Tenerife there are many expressions and words which are used only in the Canaries. The accent was also different, which sometimes made it more difficult to understand what people said.


The workplace and working habits

Before leaving I didn’t know anything about the workplace, because it had not been told to us until maybe two weeks before the practice started. However, we had thought that the workplace could be some hospital. In the end I got to work first six weeks in the Hospital Universitario de Canarias and after that I changed to Hospital Universitario de Candelaria for the last four weeks. I really liked both places, workmates and also patients there.


I noticed that physiotherapy is advanced in Tenerife and the Spanish people work hard depending on the place. I learned that physiotherapy is kind of different when it comes to working habits. At my workplace, there was a big gym area with treatment tables where many physiotherapists worked at the same time and with many different patients. I mean that one physiotherapist could have three patients at the same time. At first, it seemed a bit clumsy and impractical to me but later I got used to it and I saw it working well. It was nice that patients and physiotherapists were able to talk and chat with each other and spread a good mood. Normally I didn’t see it affect the effectiveness of the training. In my workplaces, physiotherapists used more passives treatments like ultrasound, massage, and electrotherapy compared to how much is used in Finland. I also see that physiotherapy was sometimes quite routine. Often the exactly same stuff might be done from one therapy session to another.


Learning and adopting during my stay

At first, when my Spanish language level was very poor, almost everything felt a little bit difficult to understand. That’s why at first in the practice I watched the work of my physiotherapists for the most part. But it didn’t take a long time when I got punished to do things myself too, even though I didn’t have many words in Spanish. I was a lot out of my comfort zone, which was pretty heavy and usually I felt very tired after the day at work. The physiotherapists there used to teach and explain a lot, which was very nice. Actually, I didn’t really expect that. And some of them tried to teach even in English at first, which I appreciated a lot. Sometimes I considered it a bit difficult to learn the things that were new to me and that I haven’t studied earlier in Finland. For example, patients with amputations were new to me because we haven’t studied in school any of that subject and I haven’t come across them in previous practices. So sometimes I had a hard time internalizing what was explained to me, especially when it came to something unknown to me. By the way, in the Canary Islands there is many people with amputation.


The topics in the practice I was already familiar with were easier to understand even if the vocabulary was foreign. I adapted well to the work environment in both hospitals, and I felt really well received by both the workmates and the patients for which I am truly grateful. My expectations about my training period become filled and it went better than I had imagined.


Culture shock, conflicts, and misunderstandings

I feel like I didn’t experience culture shock when I arrived to the island. I am a very adaptable person and I got used to living there easily. Actually, I loved the life in Tenerife and the more relaxed vibe there. Even though the language was difficult for me at first, the people there were so friendly and encouraging that they helped me a lot with my uncertainty.


As many people know, time management is very relaxed in Spain and many things are often delayed. That didn’t cause me much stress, although as a Finn I am quite punctual. I knew that things work a bit slower in Spain and people don’t like accurate deadlines. Maybe because I’m a little bit similar person myself too it didn’t bother me a lot and I kind of liked it that it was totally okay to be a little bit late sometimes.


I can’t remember that I had come across any big conflicts or misunderstandings. Of course, there was almost every day some small misunderstandings with the language. But it was what it was, and they were part of it. I tried to avoid bigger misunderstandings by always telling openly if I didn’t understand something, especially when it came to something important.


How the experience changed me

I feel that during the exchange I have become bolder and more discouraging. I don’t think so much anymore about what other people think of me. Also, a certain kind of pursuit of perfection has disappeared. Maybe because I get used to a foreign language with the idea that the most important thing is just to try, not to speak perfectly. Usually, local people were very impressed and flattered that I spoke their language. I also realized that I don’t want to be so performance-oriented anymore. I feel that maybe even too much hard work is valued in Finland and people’s lives are quite accomplished. Spanish culture opened my eyes and I realized that there are more important things in life than always just aspiring to different achievements.


I realized that I don’t want to live my whole life in Finland. First of all, because the climate affects my mood so strongly. I have always been a 100% summer person and I feel like I’m more alive in the summer. One of the closest person there told me that I am like a Latin Canary girl, who comes from Finland. I pretty much agree with him. I love Latin music and dances like reggaeton, salsa, and bachata. I also like the Spanish language a lot and I’m very motivated to learn it more. I loved how Spanish people are so sunny, open and friendly. I feel like overall I adapted really well to life in Tenerife, and now when I’m back to Finland might be that I feel a little cultural shock.


Was it worth to go?

It was definitely worth to go to internship exchange to Tenerife, maybe one of the best decisions I have made in my life. In addition to being the best getaway in the Finnish winter, I really learned a lot about the new culture, about physiotherapy, about Spanish health care and also about myself.  I met awesome people and made good contacts. And perhaps one of the coolest things was that I learned a new language. I got a chance to explore the beautiful, special volcanic island of Tenerife. I tried many new things like different local and also Venezuelan foods and drinks, got a chance to surf for the first time of my life which has been my dream for a long time, and I also started to dance the bachata there, which I have continued in Finland as well. The only thing that I would change is that three months is a too short time. Time flew too fast there and I’m already missing the Canary sun and nature, the Spanish language, and especially the people I got to know there.


Ferienhaus Canarias. Calima on Tenerife – the warm & hot east-wind “desert-wind”.
Canary Islands Latitude of Life. Canary Islands culture.
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