Psychology Student

SLVeteran Olivia

Education: Psychology - Sheffield Hallam University, UK

SLV.Global Placement: Mental Health Placement, June 2016

Current Role: I am currently studying Psychology at University

Tell us about your SLV.Global experience: 'When I had received my offer for my five-week mental health placement and I didn’t really know what to expect! I was keen to get experience in the area of psychology and loved the idea of doing in a country which I knew very little about, although I was nervous! However, all my worries were soon forgotten when I arrived in my homestay, where I lived with 14 other new volunteers. I know that all of us would agree, without a doubt, that they were the most welcoming and friendly hosts we could have asked for, and their family, like most of the Sri Lankan people, were some of the kindest people I have been fortunate enough to meet (and the most amazing cooks ever!). 

No two days were ever the same during my time in Sri Lanka (apart from the fact it was always swelteringly hot). Some days you could have a placement which could be quite intense and difficult on one of the wards in the psychiatric facility, and then in the afternoon be teaching the universe to a class of twenty, twelve-year-old girls who were so enthusiastic and eager to learn. It was such a varied placement which gave me the opportunity to learn different skills and ultimately give me more direction on what I want to do in the future.' 

Tell us what you gained from the placement: 'Sometimes you may feel like you don’t really know what’s going on, (or which bus to get), but it is all part of the experience and brings you closer to the people around you. I learnt so much from the 14 other people I lived with as we went through the journey together. We travelled and explored the beautiful country and saw some truly awesome things along the way. I found that it wasn’t till my final week where I finally felt I had got the hang of things, and then it was time to say goodbye to an adventure which had all happened so quick.

Some of my favourite parts of my placement were the field trip I went on where I shadowed a psychiatrist in the community and the meditational therapy workshop we attended, ran by a monk from California, now living in Sri Lanka and working with Samutthana. Both of these were real eye openers and gave me valuable insight into how different mental health is viewed and how it is treated in a different culture. Not to mention the conference I attended, where I received my certificate and got to wear my saree! During my time on the five-week mental health placement I learnt so much about the beautiful country of Sri Lanka, myself and Psychology in a non-western country. I also met some wonderful people who I still talk to on a day to day basis. It was an experience I would recommend going for if anyone was unsure about whether to or not.