This month, we are featuring two London work experience students for our Student of the Month series. We are proud to introduce Thjalda Kerkstra, who arrived in London with the Internship Prorgramme last November. Together with her friend Laura Klok, she is working at Copland's Nursing Home in Wembley for nine successive weeks. The two girls, who are originally from Holland, have received lots of praise for their nursing skills and continue doing great in their work placements. During their time here, they are documenting their journey in vlogs on Youtube - you can watch them here. Is your Dutch a little rusty? Keep reading her story below.
My name is Thjalda and I am 19 years old. I was born and raised in the north of Holland and in 2015, when I was 17, I started my nursing studies. I am in my third year now and only have one year left until I can go on to level 5, which is another four years of studying.
I have always cared for other people. I like to help people and at the same time study something that is complex. It is important for me to give people the feeling that their health matters and that they are listened to and understood.
Everything is really awesome here. London is beautiful and the people I have met are really kind. The work Laura and I are doing here is so different from back home. People are very relaxed, there is no need to hurry, and our colleagues at the nursing home seem very excited to have us here. When we came back from our Christmas holidays, they were so happy and said how they had missed us and gave us a hug. It was such a nice moment and it made me feel very welcome.
In the morning, I start at 09.00 AM. The first thing I do is help out with the medicines and breakfast. I assist the care workers with the hygienic routine and later on, during lunch, I make sure the residents eat their food. In the afternoon I go on a break and after that, it is tea time. I help the nurse with the daily report and after that it is already five o'clock and time to go home. I think they appreciate my work at the nursing home because I try to be myself and have my own opinion about health and social care. I am patient and I see that the residents are responding well to that. I am always kind and try to see the residents as people and not as someone with a disease.
On our days off at the weekend, we go on trips around the city. The best I saw so far is the Sky Garden, a huge building in central of town with a 360’ view. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
Although things are great now, it took some time to adjust. Work here is very different when it comes to how things are structured as well as handling residents. You could say that the residents are treated like a part of the family and that there aren't the same limits between the residents, care workers and nurses like there are in Holland. The nurse is the one who calls the shots, hand out medicines and does the paperwork. The care workers manage the practical work, for example washing and meals. In the UK you can work as a care worker without studies, which to me is strange as it takes three years to become a care worker in Holland. Secondly, the residents and staff speak to each other in a different way here, which I found rude in the beginning and now realise is just the way of communicating. It was the hardest thing for me to accept, as I am used to a different kind of language.
Saying that, London now feels like home. I hope I could go here again sometime for another internship. Being here has inspired me to speak more English. I have also learnt that it is important to have your own opinion and stay true to yourself also in situations that are really hard. Follow your own feelings and don't change the way you work if you don’t want to.
In my graduation year, I am planning to study to become a dietitian and when I finish I would like to move to another country.
Thjalda visited London with our Internship Programme, a project eligible for funding from Erasmus+. Now we are also arranging work experience projects in Dublin. Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about what we do and how to get funding. Call a Country Manager today on +44 2084249424 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.