This post is long overdue. I will provide some background information around what lead me to where I am now – sitting in my home for the next three months in Ayikudy, India. I have just finished my last block of courses in the Queen’s Master of Occupational Therapy Program. To say I have loved it would be an understatement. I have met some of the most amazing people and learned so much about the world of occupational therapy that makes me very excited about my future working as an occupational therapist.
Approximately a year ago the opportunity to complete my final clinical placement (usually 8 weeks) along with my community development placement (a placement designed to focus on a community or population as the “client” rather than an individual) internationally was presented to us in class. The program acquired funding through the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Scholarship that supports international learning opportunities. They had funding to fully support 8 OT students from my class to complete their last two placements internationally. At the time it was presented, the plan was to go to Bangladesh and work at a partner organization in the capital of Dhaka. To make a long story short, I applied to the opportunity and was accepted 🙂 Unfortunately, we later found out that Dhaka was not a safe place for us to travel to, and in order to leave enough time to figure out a plan B, they decided to cancel our placements to Bangladesh. Thankfully, Queen’s worked hard to find alternative international placements, leading to the opportunity for 4 OT students to go to Tanzania, and 4 to go to India. Since I have already visited Tanzania, I wanted to have the opportunity to learn about a new culture and country in India.
We only found out about our new placement details in mid-January of this year, and the placement start date for me is April 4th. Although two and a half months seems like plenty of time to prepare, keep in mind this timing coincided with my last school term, and boy was it a busy one. Thankfully we only had classes Monday-Wednesday, leaving Thursdays and Fridays available to prepare for our adventure. These days were taken up with multiple medical appointments to get a number of vaccinations (Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, Hep A, Typhoid, and I’m probably forgetting something), pack, get our Indian visa (that was a process in itself), and the seemingly endless paperwork required for both Queen’s and the organization in India.
The mental aspect of the transition from classes in Canada to placement in India is a difficult one to express. The last couple weeks before arriving were probably the most difficult. I had a whirlwind of emotions ranging from excitement from being done classes and preparing to leave to India, and stress from trying to complete the requirements of the program along with getting all the last minute things reading for India. I also was sad knowing that many of the people I met in the program over the last two years would be dispersing back to various cities across the province and country.
I am very excited to be here in India now though, sweating just from writing this blog. The average temperature right now is between 38-40 degrees Celsius, and it feels much warmer! To make things worse at the moment (I’m being selfish), we have had to turn the fan off while the floor is being swept so it doesn’t blow the dirt everywhere – but it makes the heat almost unbearable! I am going to post another blog shortly of our first few days here, as first impressions are something I always like to remember – especially since I will be spending three months here and things will likely seem normal soon.