When I was an undergraduate student, I was ambitious, to say the least. I double-majored in Nutrition and Psychology, I was President of multiple organizations on campus, and I worked at my university counseling center. I had wanted to be a psychologist who worked with clients who suffer from eating disorders. As I was preparing for my junior year of undergrad, I knew I had to begin organizing my internship as part of my Psychology degree. As I watched my coursemates around me, I noticed a disturbing trend- they were arranging internships based on convenience. While I recognize that convenience can be a big factor, the point of an internship is supposed to be challenged, to be motivated to continue in the field, or inspired towards something else. When I came across Panrimo, I told them what I had wanted to do, thinking there was no way they could find an internship for something that specific. I was left dumbstruck when they found my perfect internship; an opportunity to fill the role as a Volunteer Assistant Psychologist on a new eating disorder unit at St. John's Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland. I thought this was too good to be true. I remember thinking it was too good an opportunity, that it must be an elaborate scam. After many hours of investigating, I had to accept that it was indeed real. I got to not only sit in on clinical ward discussions with the care team but also contribute pertinent patient information as well. I was able to co-facilitate therapeutic sessions focusing on topics such as mindfulness, nutrition, art therapy, stress management, and emotional regulation. I had the opportunity to be able to provide support during meal times, periods of the day patients found to be particularly distressing. My internship experience was unique because I felt like someone thought that I was capable of doing more than intern cliches, such as make photocopies or fetch coffee. The work I was doing was a valuable clinical experience I don't think I could have had anywhere else. My advice to future participants is to trust yourself. For anything. Trust that you will be overwhelmed. At times, in an intense hospital environment, it can feel like you have gone from 0 to 60 in a blink of an eye, but in time you will catch up. Trust that you might not know everything, and that's okay. If you knew everything already, then this internship was not the challenging experience you needed. Trust your capabilities, your ability to learn, and most of all, your perspective. After I completed my internship, I left my new home feeling it wasn't "good-bye," but "See you later." That feeling turned out to be accurate. After a few years, I ended up coming back to the UK. I came to York to complete a Masters in Public Health and afterwards now work as a Health Science Researcher for a local company. I don't think I would have the life I have now if not for Panrimo and their amazing opportunity of a lifetime.
What would you improve about this program?
I feel that the staff who arrange the internship are very supportive. I like the idea of having a support person in the internship city. However, in my situation, I would have liked someone who was a little more attentive. Especially when it comes to the change of coming from a small, rural university in Pennsylvania to a major Scottish city. I think this role could be easily filled by a local student in the city for the summer. I feel this would be a good way to have someone who would be present, help them navigate the city, and support them during difficult periods- like when you're feeling homesick.