I always use the phrase "Make the most of every opportunity” - and this opportunity is one I will never forget. In April 2018, I was delighted to be one of the nine students from Coventry University to go to Lithuania on a field trip for the week. In this article I am going to share my experiences, reflect and promote the benefits of working with other students around the world. I hope you enjoy reading!
We spent most of our time based at Klaipeda University to complete a Sensory Processing Disorder course and stayed on the university campus in accommodation. For three mornings in the week, we visited the children’s home using public transport. On our final day, we had the chance to visit Palanga, a beautiful town and beach in Lithuania. This trip gave us the opportunity to put on our 'sensory goggles.'
Meeting the Belgium and Lithuanian students
On our first day of the course, we had a welcome lecture and this was followed by a group task. Encouraged to find a partner from a different country, and discuss our sensory preferences. Including likes/dislikes using different senses. This gave us the opportunity to start communicating to the Belgium and Lithuanian students, and our task was to make a creative name badge for our partner. By the end of this task, I felt that I knew my partner and other students on the table well. It surprised me how quickly we all got to know each other, started to build friendships which developed over the week! Following day trips, evenings spent together and spending the days at the university, I think we can all agree we didn't want to leave each other at the end of the week.
This highlighted that even though we are all studying Occupational Therapy in different countries, we still have equal passion for the profession! #ValueofOT
Let’s H-OPP together
The Hasselt Occupational Performance Profile (H-OPP) is used as a framework to explore the clients daily functioning. The main components of this model include the client’s perspective, internal/external factors and considering the environment (Ghysels et al 2016). Gathering information using H-OPP helps us to form an Occupational Performance Diagnosis. At first, I thought it would be overwhelming to learn and apply it in practice in a short time frame. However, I used knowledge of models we use in the UK e.g. MOHO and CMOP-E and identified similarities/differences. Working in groups with the Belgium and Lithuanian students, allowed us to support each other when applying the H-OPP framework before creating the child’s Occupational Passport for our final presentation.
During the week we participated in several group activities and presentations. Each group had a mix of Coventry, Belgium and Lithuanian students. The image to the right shows 'Envir-OT'. This is a presentation based on our ideas for a new sensory app, highlighted areas of the environment which could impact an individual's sensory needs.
This showed different working styles, but also gave us the opportunity to help each other to understand the task while sharing ideas.
In the children’s home, the Lithuanian students in my group did an amazing job of starting conversations with the carers. Our task was to choose a child to focus on for our final presentation. We found it useful to ask the Lithuanian students to gather information regarding the children’s Activities of Daily Living, their likes/dislikes, and health conditions. This conversation was translated to us back in English, so we could record the information. The Occupational Passport helped us to consider the child’s sensory needs, and communicate these clearly. This is a document which could be used with the child’s family or for health professionals, and can be added to as the child develops further.
I think if I wrote about all my experiences from this trip, I would be writing for days! In conclusion, I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to go to Lithuania! Not only have I learnt more about cultures, students and Occupational Therapy in other countries. This field trip has allowed me to develop my own skills, especially my confidence. This will help me through the rest of my time at University, and for future practice. I would like to thank all the students and the lecturers for making this trip so enjoyable, and full of memories!
The image below is from our final day of the course, receiving our certificates during our mini graduation ceremony. Celebrating the amazing time we had during the week!
Any other questions about the field trip to Lithuania, I’m happy to answer these via twitter @bethjmOT or email email@example.com. I look forward to sharing and presenting our poster at the Coventry University 16th Annual OT Student Conference. Can’t attend? Why not follow the tweets by using the hashtag #CovUniOTconference2018.
Ghysels, R., Vanroye, E., Westhovens, M. and Spooren, A. (2016). A tool to enhance occupational therapy reasoning from ICF perspective: The Hasselt Occupational Performance Profile (H-OPP). Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 24(2), pp.126-135.