My name is Job and I am an exchange student from Finland. I study bachelor in Health Care at Turku University of Applied Sciences. Originally I come from Uganda, but I have lived in Finland since August 2009. Now I am taking a three month nurse practice at USN, campus Drammen.
The application process was not complicated. I got a lot of help from the coordinator at my home institution. I applied, signing all the forms, booking a ticket and a room. It was very easy. To live in Norway is not cheap, so besides the national funding we have, funding from Erasmus helps out. I also worked before to earn money.
Finland and Norway: Similar, but different
I came to Norway in the beginning of January, and I will be here until the beginning of April. So far I have been in practice in the home based care, “hjemmesykepleie” in Fjell area in Drammen. I started my second practice now at Konnerud area in psychiatric ward from 22nd February. This is my second year of this degree, but this was my first practice in this education. I am already a Nursing Assistant, “hjelpepleier” in Norwegian, so I did not go through the same clinical practice as my fellow students. I had a lot of different practices as part of my nursing assistant education, which I graduated from in 2012. I have been working all along as that, and then I decided to study more in 2014.
The reason why I wanted to come for an exchange period in Norway is that I wanted to see different things and to experience different cultures. I knew that if I went to another Nordic country it might be of the same standards to learn the techniques I need to learn to use back home in Finland, and to learn to use some of the same machines that we are using in Finland. That was important to me.
The first impression of Norway is that people were so welcoming. The first day I went for a meeting with the coordinator at the faculty at USN, and the supervisor from Fjell. He showed me everything that I needed to know, where to find things and get familiar. It was a good first impression, people were interested in getting to know me.
Similarities that I have seen with the system in Finland regarding home care, is of course that the clients are home, and the nurses come to their home. In Fjell there is a good system with many experts from different departments, and responsibilities are spread between different roles. There are a lot of similarities to Finland in general. But at the same time, many processes are new to me, as I have not been part of practice with that before.
It is good for students to challenge themselves, and try different environments. Even though Norway and Finland is very similar, I learn a lot here. And a lot of things, like for example dialysis, are done in the home in this practice place. My experience from Finland is that this is done at dialysis centres. I have noticed the differences and I have learned a lot being in this practice a there. I hope that my in next practice placement at Konnerud, I will have the chance to learn more Norwegian, and more about the culture, since I will be with the same patients throughout the whole day.
I make people speak English although they don’t feel very comfortable with the language. That is the main challenge I have faced. It seems like they understand me most of the time, if not my supervisor willingly translates for me. Some clients have been very interested in communicating with me, using body language.
There are some activities for international students that I am joining, especially in the weekends. Sometimes it can be boring in the evenings in the week days, when I am back from practice. I go to the gym a lot, and there are some events by the International Student Union.
When I talk to people about Uganda, they associate the country with whatever news and stereotypes they have seen on TV about Africa: Like slums, children on the street, poverty. But the country is so much more than that, it is a beautiful country. We have a lot of tourist attractions, and this is a growing industry. I want to advice people to go and see the country. I have never worked in the health sector there, the care provided depens a lot on the persons economy. My dream is to take the knowledge that I have gained in Norway and Finland and make quality health care more accessible to all people, regardless.
To tell you about Finland, it is a beautiful country, - it's flat country. It is beautiful both summer and winter. In Finland every house has sauna, so that is a difference from Norway. Turku University of Applied Sciences is a good university with a lot of different courses.
Go on exchange!
I will not regret being here on this exchange, even if it is a short time, and I do recommend other students to take the chance and go on exchange.