By Diane Heart MACN (Undergraduate)
The beginning of this article starts with what appears to be an introduction to a travel blog, however, it is merely an introduction to the significance travelling has had on my choice to study and become a registered nurse. The following article will look at the importance of travelling and how exposure to living in different communities has helped me create my own values and beliefs.
My travels began in England in October 2010 when I embarked on an adventure, riding passenger on a motorcycle through Europe to the tip of Africa. The trip took eight months to complete and, on arrival in Cape Town, we could see no reason to head home. We had sold everything to complete the journey, said our goodbyes to friends and family and became comfortable with simply living minimally. Travelling became a way of life, and we decided to continue our adventures and ship to Australia. On arrival in Oz, I brought my bike (a Honda Transalp 650) and to keep a long story short we continued to travel together for a further five years throughout Australia and South, Central and North America.
During our travels, we integrated into communities and got to experience daily life in each social setting. Some communities and families were very poor. There was little food, clean water and Illness and disease was apparent, with no real hope of the situation changing soon due to lack of resources and access to medical centres.
It is fair to say many would consider this to be a sad experience, and I can’t argue with that. However, as I became an experienced traveller, I learned that acceptance is a virtue and can be a saving grace where there is so little hope for improvement. As human beings, we only know what we know because we have something to compare too, after all, this is how we learn and progress. But in some remote communities, this is not an option and people cope with what they have which is often only each other. However, these communities were never unhappy places and people always found a smile, an experience which has taught me so many valuable lessons. A smile is comforting, warming and costs nothing but it can turn anyone’ day into a brighter and more positive place. Smiling is the easiest thing and naturally, part of my nature which I will incorporate into my nursing career when caring and offering therapeutic interaction with my patients.
During my travels, medical centres offered valuable medical treatment and medications to remote communities. Whilst they were often few and far between, the importance of them has never left me. Some places had nice buildings for medical centres but others had small shacks or even popup tents. I remember a time camping on the grounds of a medical centre (due to getting lost and they let us stay the night) in a remote province in Ethiopia. A young African lady wearing African attire and little on her feet walked into the centre in search of medical aid for the small child tied to her back. I asked the nurse where she had come from (she appeared from nowhere) and the nurse replied from the mountains and that It had taken her days to get there. . I never knew the outcome but was astonished that she had travelled so far for something so simple that most of the world takes for granted. This memory is one of my favourites because it reminds me of the natural resilience this lady had to get treatment for her small child. It will, therefore, stay at the forefront of my mind, and a constant reminder of the importance of developing good skills to provide basic care. Remote communities depend on this and it is something that I passionately wish to be a part of because it is truly what it means to be a nurse.
I recently completed my first year of a Registered Nursing and science Bachleor’s Degree, and, despite being intense and hard work, I have thoroughly enjoyed my first semester at university. I owe my choices to study nursing to my travel experiences. This, combined with my first-year study covering primary nursing principles, has opened my mind to the importance of perfecting basic skills. Good luck everyone with your future studies and career developments and I look forward to sharing more of my story with you in the future.