At the end of July I will be travelling to Moldova to spend a month volunteering with an occupational therapy service in the capital, Chişinău. It will be similar to a traditional placement where I will have a supervisor who is an Occupational Therapist, and I will gain experience of applying the Occupational Therapy Process (Creek, 2003) to a setting that works with children with learning and physical disabilities. The differences? Well, I can only predict, but I imagine that my clients and colleagues speaking Romanian will be a noticeable difference to the placements I’ve had so far. I also anticipate that the cultural differences, as well as the emerging nature of the occupational therapy profession in Moldova, will mean it’s a very different experience to anything I’ve encountered so far. I can’t wait! I’m also going to be living with a host family, which will allow me to experience ‘normal life’ in Moldova and hopefully they’ll help me develop my Romanian language skills.
Well, the plan came about pretty quickly. I’ve just completed second year of my occupational therapy studies. It’s been a very full year, with 16 weeks on placement and 10 weeks in university (with related assignments). It’s been full AND great, I particularly loved my placements. And then it stopped. I had 4 1/2 months ahead of me with no great plans. Yes, I had plenty of my ‘subsidiary occupations’ to provide a bit of meaning and structure, but just not enough purpose. We’d been advised by university staff and 3rd year students to start 3rd year well rested, but I knew that I needed something like this to break up my summer, while providing plenty of time to relax either side of my trip. I also felt that the time was right to push myself into something a little more challenging. Just over a year ago I was about to undertake my first placement, and I believed I’d not be very good at it. Three placements later and I’m beginning to believe I’m capable of a bit more than I give myself credit for, so while my initial thoughts were ‘only mature, competent, strong people could do something like this’ I’ve come around to thinking ‘actually, maybe I could do this’.
I don’t have details yet, but I’ll update when I do – hopefully in the next two weeks.
Oh, and for those people about to Google Moldova – it’s nestled between Romania and the Ukraine (about 50% of the people I’ve been talking to have asked about its location within the first two questions).
Creek, J., 2003. Occupational Therapy Defined as a Complex Intervention. London: College of Occupational Therapists.