When I arrived at Cardiff Met in my first year, I had no idea the amount of opportunities that would be offered to me. Their focus on developing practical skills and emphasis on gaining hands on experience to test them out has been a huge influence on developing my confidence as a potential psychologist and has definitely made me more employable once I graduate.
Last summer, I was fortunate to be accepted on a mental health placement with SLV. Global in Bali, working with vulnerable and disadvantaged children and adults all across the island. Before starting the placement, each volunteer was required to fundraise just over $1000, but applying for the Cardiff Met Go Global bursary halved this cost for me which I’m hugely grateful for! The placement I was selected for lasted for 4 weeks during September and I have to say I wholeheartedly recommend this hands on experience.
One of the major concerns I had arriving on placement was whether I had the skills to produce sessions that the service users could actually benefit from. Our training week quickly put an end to my doubts; it was a great way to be introduced to how the placement runs and I really found that the practical focus of my degree at Cardiff Met really helped me with applying my knowledge to sessions.
During the orienteering week, we learned how to run sessions such as meditation and yoga mindfulness. It was not only hugely valuable to develop new skills but to also apply the kind of knowledge learnt at university to real world situation, especially in a different culture. At the end of this initial week, we had some well-deserved weekend adventure break where we could get to know all the other amazing volunteers better. We had a great time white-water rafting, playing mud games and camping out in the jungle. I remember being amazed at how good the food was, I still have no idea how they managed to cook up such a feast for all the volunteers in the middle of the jungle!
The first session I ran was with three other volunteers at a school for children with special needs. The group of service users were classified as low functioning down syndrome children younger than 14-15 years old. This was an incredibly challenging session to run to start with, especially considering the language barrier between the volunteers and service users, but seeing the small improvements in focus and engagement and the pure enthusiasm of the service users meant it was never a struggle. Every time a session went well it was a hugely rewarding experience.
At the weekends, we were given the freedom to explore the island. I loved the variety of experience Bali has to offer, from the hustle and amazing markets in Ubud, to the traveler’s paradise with surfing culture and beaches in Uluwatu, there’s no end of options to spend your weekend relaxing! Everywhere we went there were amazing places to eat, my favourite place was a beachfront restaurant where we could enjoy happy hour cocktails and Spanish style tapas in front of a sunset. This is definitely an experience that I’ll remember for a long time.
My time on placement gave me unbelievable hands on experience, the likes of which is almost impossible to get in the UK. The fact I was able to gain such incredible knowledge of working within the mental health sector whilst in the beautiful island of Bali is still something I can’t believe I got the opportunity to do. To anyone considering gaining work experience, I cannot recommend it enough. If, like me, travelling and experiencing new cultures is something you have a passion for, SLV. Global offer amazing placements that I hugely recommend.