(a view outside the plane over the North Sea heading towards Stavanger)
A 03:30 start is never fun. The only time I have ever seen that time in the morning have been on the (used to be more frequent/I no longer have a life realisation) return of a night out. Failing that rowing or getting up for a shift (that is closer to 4:00/04:30 to be fair) would be the other moments when that time in the morning would be witnessed.
Having landed safe and sound, I discovered that the public transport here in Stavanger would appear to outdo that of the UK slightly in terms of frequency and being on time. I discovered that the cheapest way (this is going to be a running theme) of travelling was by public transport even if it does take twice as long and cost the UK equivalent of around £4 for a single. Makes buses in England now seem economical. Though I do now miss my car.
A more exciting discovery was the location of accommodation. Normally nursing students on an exchange here are located in the university campus accommodation which is on the outskirts of the city. I find myself in the city center and a lot closer to the hospital I will be on placement, which is based centrally. The campus is a fair 50 minute walk from our accommodation/hospital, so getting up for a placement starting at 07:00 would have been a little less desirable if I had been based on the campus. As with most city living, you pay for the location. The only downside of this place is that it is the most expensive accommodation I could have been given. I would like to point out here that I didn’t get any say in the matter you were just allocated where there was space. The room is pretty bare and basic, but after a trip to Ikea, and a rearrangement of furniture, I have managed to make the place look a little less sparse.
The accommodation is a house shared with around 6 other people on one floor (there are 2 floors, but my floor also has a separate but adjoining flat with 5 other people in it). Currently there are only 3 of us living on my floor, so it makes kitchen/bathroom sharing a lot easier. I did find out this morning that the shower is INCREDIBLE. Nothing beats a decent shower, other than decent heating (this place is also very warm), and coffee (I may have to curb my habit while I am here due to the cost of it. Not going to be easy. However I am living with an Italian who has already offered me the use of his cafetiere and coffee 😀 complete winner).
The basement of this house has been turned into 2 huge common rooms with table football, an out of tune piano and a laundry room (its free, another upside of this place despite the overall cost of rent, about £423 per month, which I know is better than London but not by much). Past residents have left infinite amounts of laundry powder so that is one expense I am not longer going to have to worry about.
Despite the majority of Norwegians being able to speak in English, I do feel guilty that I have none, even please and thankyou are an unknown. Cue a download of a Norwegian dictionary and a desperate attempt to pronounce the words properly to the great amusement of anyone listening. I can only hope that 3 months here is going to produce something that sounds like the language is supposed to. And not cause complete confusion and people just speaking back to you in English because you clearly have no idea.
This time next week I will have landed in Norway and the adventure begins! I will endeavor to update this more frequently while I am away however these last few weeks have been so hectic with planning, prep and generally living that this has fallen by the wayside a little.
So what do I know so far…. well other than the fact that I am going to need to budget to within inches of my life (Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world….thought that one through didn’t I) and their nurses wear white (WHITE, of all the ridiculous colours for 1. a ginger to wear, bit washing out of the complexion, and 2. nursing…in white…really?) I have recently found something interesting out abut the ED department in Stavanger…..
They don’t have (or rarely have) walk ins. These are dealt with in the community. Now this is a definite contrast from the UK. Any one who has watched 24 hours in A+E or been in an A+E themselves will be only to used to the sight of people pitching up waiting to be seen. Without walk ins this leaves the A+E in Stavanger for pretty much full use of RTAs, cardiac arrests etc etc you get the idea… (what the title actually says its for……) All emergency admissions arrive at the A+E department having previously been seen by a GP and/or brought into hospital via ambulance, similar to A&E Resuscitation Area. The department has 28000 major emergencies annually (road traffic collisions, medical and surgical emergencies) and 17000 Minor Injuries.
I cannot wait to see how they run this. It is going to be a really interesting contrast to that of a UK A+E. I would also really like to gauge an understanding of how they structure their community based treatment that we would normally have as walk ins.
To add to my visit, today I found out I will be able to visit the SAFER – Stavanger Acute Medicine Foundation for Education and Research while I am out there. The main goal of this place is to enhance clinical competence and therefore improve patient safety. This is primarily done through simulations. I really hope I am allowed to take part….. as I have found frequently ‘what I hear I forget, what I see I remember, what I do I understand’ I believe that is some adaptation from a Chinese proverb…. I think.
This post should also be titled what I don’t know….Despite being allocated accommodation I have not the foggiest where I am actually staying. For some reason the international office at the University of Stavanger cannot tell us until the day we arrive. This in itself is not so much of a problem, I quite like surprises, but, when the price range of options goes from £300-£450 per month, and Norway being the expensive place it is, it makes budgeting plans and finance planning a little tricky. Not a fan.
The only real challenge I face now is packing. Never been good at travelling light. With a 23kg allowance I may need to start getting good at it pretty pronto.
It is safe to say that anyone that knows me knows that I am not the most forth coming with writing (assignments bring me to a whole new level of procrastination). So please as a note, do not expect this to be beautifully written. I am far to dyslexic for that.
What this blog will hopefully do is bring into one place my time in Norway on the Erasmus program. For those of you reading this and thinking the what? The Erasmus in its most basic form is an exchange program for higher education students within Europe. 33 countries to be exact. My chosen destination is Norway which, as a quick geography pointer is nicely in Northern Europe on the western and northern part of the Scandinavian peninsula. That put in a more straight forward form; cold.
I will be based at the University of Stavanger, a university in the south west home to around 9200 students. Which has most recently become the first and only Norwegian university to become a member of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU). The current member base is 11 countries with the University of Strathclyde in Scotland the only UK representation.
My placements will be at the Stavanger University Hospital. It serves a population of around 300 000 being the local hospital for the municipality of Hjelmeland in the north to the municipality of Sokndal in the south, and it is the central hospital of Rogaland county.
The acute assessment ward (6 weeks) and the Accident and Emergency department (2 weeks) will be my specific areas for placement. Those of you any good at maths will realise that is only 8 weeks. I am away for 12. Fjords here I come.
That is the bare bones and basics for you. My flights are booked. I have umpteen numbers of thermals and counting and the lonely planet guide to Norway has just arrived on my doorstep. 4 weeks and counting.