A Report About My Time In Cumbria, England
By Judith Ernst
My time abroad is nearly over now and I can’t believe how much I feel at home here in England, even after such a short time. During these last seven weeks I have lived in a small town called Maryport, which is in Cumbria, in the North of England. I’ve been working at the Victoria Cottage Hospital, which is very small and has just one ward for rehabilitation and palliative care.
Many things here were new to me, because I am training to be a Paediatric nurse and I hadn’t worked much with older patients. Having to speak English – especially with older people who like to mumble – was quite challenging. When I finally got here I was surprised at how different the general behavior and communication among people is compared with what I know from Germany. Everyone is extremely open- minded and friendly and they have a very close bond with their patients, which leads to a lot of fun and joking around with each other during a 12 hour shift.
I really had to change my German urge to act and look professional all the time and learn to relax more. I had to learn not to be surprised to be called ‘love’ or ‘pet’ by patients and to learn that it is okay here to have a little banter with patients and communicate in a more personal way. But I got used to it quickly and from then on I enjoyed the casual, funny atmosphere a lot. Because of the friendly and kind welcome we lost all our timidity really quickly and speaking English turned out to be no problem at all. Even if my grammar wasn’t always right and I sometimes couldn’t find the right words I was always able to communicate with my hands and feet and make sure I was understood.
We spent our working hours not only on the ward but joined other people who had different professions. This way we got an insight into a bigger hospital, home visits and residential homes and were able to exchange experiences about training to be a nurse with other students.
In our free time we explored the surrounding area, the beautiful Lake District and spent time with the wonderful couple we were staying with. On the whole, I learned a lot about working with older patients and how to support them as well as providing palliative care. I’ve had unique and wonderful experiences on the ward but also about living in a different country with foreign people as well.
I really came to love England and its people and I shall be back soon!