»An experience of a lifetime” – Erasmus exchange of two Scottish students
As Scotland is becoming more and more multicultural, we both realized the importance of preparing ourselves for professional practice in a culturally diverse healthcare environment. Based on advice from our lecturer, we chose to study in Jesenice, Slovenia to help improve our skills and become culturally competent in providing care.
As students with a minimum knowledge of Europe and foreign languages, our lecturer guided us towards a study destination. After researching the country, we realized the healthcare system was similar to NHS Scotland and had the added bonus of having beautiful scenery and was culturally diverse.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with extremely friendly and welcoming staff members from the Jesenice College of Nursing. They were always on hand to help with any questions or queries, always responding quickly to our needs. They were able to offer advice on both clinical practice and on local attractions within the local area and country. We were given the opportunity to take Slovenian language lessons, which proved very beneficial and interesting, helping to make our stay a lot easier.
Throughout placement, we were able to experience clinical practice within 5 different departments. This allowed us to compare and contrast the level of care provided in comparison to Scotland whilst learning new skills, working with the language barrier and improving our knowledge. The Jesenice College of Nursing were also able to provide us with experiences we may not have came across had we stayed in Scotland.
At times clinical practice was difficult and challenging due to the language barrier. We were able to work through this with support from our tutors, in particular, Marta Smodis who strived to help us on all occasions. During our time in Jesenice General Hospital, we both felt our favourite area was working within the Intensive Care departments. We were able to spend a lot of time learning about patient conditions whilst practicing our essential nursing skills. The staff was always friendly and allowed us to become independent and confident student nurses.
Due to our location, travelling around Slovenia and other European countries was extremely easy and accessible. We were in short reach of Lake Bled, Kranjska Gora and the capital city, Ljubljana. These were our favourite places to visit and where we spent most of our weekends. We also had the added bonus of visiting the Radovljica chocolate festival, which was a clear highlight of our time in Slovenia.
The Jesenice College of Nursing introduced us to student tutors who had previously participated in an Erasmus exchange programme. Teo and Suzanna were friendly, welcoming and great fun to spend time with. They were able to show us around and make us feel comfortable. We felt that we were able to discuss any queries about clinical practice and the local area. We were always given honest and helpful advice. We feel that we have made friends for life!
Overall this has been an experience of a lifetime that we will never forget. We will leave Jesenice as stronger, more confident nurses, which will definitely help prepare us for the world of work. We can’t thank the staff and student tutors of Jesenice School of Nursing enough for this unforgettable, positive experience.
To je bilo super!
Nicola and Ashley
If you are interested in getting more information on foreign students' experiences in different EU countries, and on multicultural competencies of clinical mentors and teachers, please visit Soulbus blog. Soulbus is a short name of the project "Building Social Capital between mentors and teachers by Improving Multicultural Competence in the fields of Education, Rehabilitation and Social & Health Care" funded by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme and coordinated by JAMK University of Applied Sciences.