Week 3

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April 2nd 2011
Published: April 2nd 2011
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Sunday - Last sunday, although I said it would be spent going to church, was infact my day to recover from what can only be described as a fun-filled, crazy night out in Ruse's finest club, Oppium! We went out with the international students and met a few Bulgarian students out also. It was a brilliant night and was extreamly cheap. Buy one get one free BOTTLES of vodka sums the night up really, costing the group of us just 12 lev between us (£6). We spent the day with Elijah as he had invited us to his house for lunch with his grandma. She cooked the nicest Mussaka I have ever tasted and (to continue the alcohol flow...) we had a small shot of trditional Raki (50%!!!).
(I'd like to point out at this point that it's not all fun and games and drinking... It's just quite often needed after the busy week days we have!)

Monday - Went to the post office this morning to post some letters to home (I hope they have arrived safely!) then spent the afternoon at the children's home from 3-7. I spent a large ammount of my time with one of the
Traditional Bulgarian ritualTraditional Bulgarian ritualTraditional Bulgarian ritual

Attach these on the trees to wecome spring when buds appear on the branches. The park is covered in them - It's nice.
boys on my caseload, listening to Disney tunes and doing sensory related activities with him. While with him, I reflected on my time so far and feel that in order to make a valuable difference I'd have to dedicate my life to this place in order to make a worthwhile difference (don't worry family - I won't be!). It's very hard at times to fulfil the occupational therapy role as there are so many barriers standing in the way of these children's developement and progression. It's hard to accept sometimes.

Tuesday - Met with our educator at 8am to go to the Mental Health Centre where we were to start the first of our 10 week plan with the service users. We aim to do life story work through art related activities to allow them to explore their lives and gain an understanding of them and their situation. The outcome then is to review the service users current situation and try to get them to consider their lives in the future and make themselves goals to recovery. When we arrived we had a meeting with the two head psychiatrists of the centre and all the Bulgarian OT students who were helping us to run the group. We had to explain our plan to the group, using our educator as a translator, and attempt to justify our ideas as the staff were very sceptical of our work and tended to typically use avoidance tactics to discuss the sevice users situations and stories. It was very difficult to explain how exploring the persons life could infact benefit them and allow them to move on instead of being stuck in the situation they are in. The staff did allow for us to run the group eventually and we have been successful in establishing a role in the mental heath centre (if only for 10 weeks!)

Wednesday - We spent the day at the children's home from 9-7 (longest most stressful day ever!) We have begun to establish a routine there, doing weekly activities and groups with the children. We had a successful music group in which we sang 'Heads, shoulders, knees and toes' all in Bulgarian and were also able to get out the playdoh Emily had made the previous evening, to do some more fine motor skills work with the children. There were some very funny faces on the children
The view from Elijah's flat.The view from Elijah's flat.The view from Elijah's flat.

Romania and surrounding Ruse.
when they did however try to consume the playdoh and put it in their mouths - we had a good giggle! We also, after a lot of persuasion to staff, were able to take four of the children out into the garden to play on the swing, play football and explore the sensory garden.The rest of our time however was very stressful involving screaming and shouting, vomitting, and a lot of cleaning up. Although we are able to do some functional activities, there is still a lot of 'baby sitting' work being done by us as some of the staffs motivation to work and interact with the children is limited.

Thursday - Had a nice day today (it was needed after the stressful previous day) and went to the university from 9-12 for our first of 60 hours of Bulgarian lessons. There we met some more ERASMUS (the company who funded our trip) students; two Spanish lads and a girl from Romania. The whole lesson was done in Bulgarian with a lot of guess work and a lot of information to take in. I can however now count from 1-100 and can also have very basic conversation. For the duration of our time here we have 6 hours of Bulgarian a week so hompefully I'll come back fluent (although at the rate I'm going with it, its very much doubtful!) The alphabet is the hardest - it's so odd! They have 'sh' and 'ch' letters and also have a silent letter too! Madness! What's wrong with the simple 'A, B, C...' the rest of the world use!? The afternoon was spent planning as we aimed to go to the special school however it is school holidays. In the evening we met up with the students we had met at the languge course and went out for a chinese meal, meeting yet more ERASMUS students and making lots more friends! After the meal we went out to a bar and did Karaoke all night long - in Bulgarian, Spansih and English! It was brilliant. I think we had a representative from nearly everywhere in the EU and it was nice to speak to so many new people.

Friday - We were back in the university for 9-12 for our second installment of the Bulgarian language, revising more of Thursdays words and reviewing the alphabet. I think once I get my head around that, it will be a lot easier to understand. Had a nap after that till 2 (as the karaoke night ended up being Karaoke morning!) and went to the childrens home at 3. Unfortunatly we had another stressful afternoon cleaning up more sick (and other things!!!) from the floors, walls and tables. I'll leave out the disgusting parts although lets just say there were some interesting coloured handprints on the white walls (and in parts over us too!) The groups we had planned did not go ahead as, once again, we were babysitting rather than doing anything therapeutic and only one member of staff was present! Again, the barriers are so big, that at times it becomes almost impossible to have an enjoyable afternoon there, with everything going to plan. The children and the staff are so institutionalised from their backgrounds, it appears the blinkers are on to new ideas and possible solutions to the problems they face on a daily basis. We are planning a meeting with a few important people to see if we can try to change some attitudes and explain possible solutions to some things (apologies this isn't very specific - for confidentiality reasons I can't say much more!) Spent the evening planning and then met the ERASMUS group out again at another classy bulgarian club called Plattinum. There we met more new people (:D) and had a good dance, forgetting some of the issues this week has thrown at us and letting our hair down.

Got a few plans up our sleves for travelling opportunities - may be doing a day trip to Bucharest with some of the other international Occupational Therapy students. Also, there is talk of a three day trip to Istanbul at the end of April for a few days. We are working above and beyond our hours for university so this is possible.

Felt a little more home-sick this week however I'm still very much enjoying this roller coaster ride! Safe here and have a lovely support network from the church, the international and Bulgarian students, Emily and Claire and the university staff. Can't believe I've done a 1/4 of the time here already!


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