I am reporting live from the beautiful country of Australia! I am one of the lucky students who have the opportunity to complete one of their clinicals abroad, so the past 6 weeks have been full of new and different experiences. How did I get set up in this awesome opportunity?! Elon has a program called Global Learning Opportunities that promotes study abroad experiences. One of the things that makes our graduate program so unique is the extension of that program to our studies as well. When I speak to students in other physical therapy programs around the country, they don’t always have these cultural exchanges so readily available. But Elon offers experiences in Australia, Belgium, Peru, Belize, Italy and many more!
It’s impossible to describe the massive impact of this experience in just one blog post. I arrived nearly 6 weeks ago with two of my classmates and we have made the most of this wonderful placement. Logan and I are working at BodyWorx Physio, a private practice with multiple locations in the city of Newcastle, NSW. We see a variety of patients from adolescents to older adults and acute trauma to chronic pain. Australia is known for having some of the best manual therapy in the world, and we have learned to master our hands on skills to improve the quality of our care. The best part is our clinical instructor allows us the independence to grow and improve, while the patients really trust our expertise. This combination has helped to boost my confidence tremendously, which is an area that students typically struggle to overcome. We have the knowledge and the skills to be competent, caring physical therapists, but there’s a learning curve to trusting your instincts and believing in yourself. Navigating the structure of physio in a foreign country and communicating effectively has helped cultivate my faith in my skills.
When I first arrived in Australia, I thought “at least there isn’t a language barrier to overcome” but boy was I mistaken. While the Aussie accent is lovely to listen to, their vocabulary is quite different than the English that I grew up with. All of the words are shortened:
Physical therapy – “Physio”
Afternoon – “Arvo”
Some words are entirely different all together:
Yeah definitely! – “Fair Dinkum!”
Gas Station – “Servo”
This may not seem like a huge change, but when you try to strike up conversation with a patient it can be quite challenging to follow the conversation. Especially because Australians are pros at speaking at the speed of light. Combine the accent, the vocabulary and the rate of speech and you’ve got one confused American physical therapy student. Jon, Logan and I have finally adapted and g’day mate has become our natural greeting.
While the clinic is absolutely the primary reason for the world wide travel, I have also had so many wonderful opportunities outside of physio that have been incredible. I got to feed kangaroos at a local zoo, snorkel in the great barrier reef, explore the coffee shops of Sydney and hike the incredible coastal cliffs. It has surely been a trip that I will never forget. We have a little over two weeks left and I’m certain that I would much rather stay at the beautiful beaches than return to the walls of the Francis Center. But graduation is creeping closer and closer and I certainly can’t wait to be a full-time physical therapist!
Hope you enjoy these photos of the journey!