Name: Yvon Kanters
Degree: Bachelor in Social work
Internship Period: January 2020 – April 2020 (intentionally May 2020)
Going abroad to study, that was a dream. A dream that seemed impossible. I always knew the option was there within my education, but very few people really managed to go. When something seems impossible, I really want to try. So I started looking for a graduation internship in January 2019, without expectations. Soon I came into contact with White Cloud Internships through school. I still had no expectation that I would be able to actually go to New Zealand. I had this disbelief until I was standing in front of the plane. I was going to write my thesis in New Zealand!
During the Skype conversations I had met Cecilie a couple of times, and once I landed in New Zealand late in the evening it was really nice to see someone familiar. Once I arrived at Whale Road (accommodation for White Cloud interns), my flatmates had prepared a note to welcome me, because they were asleep. I could not have wished for a better welcome.
Actually, that is how my whole time in New Zealand went. It immediately felt like coming home, even though the environment was completely new. The people you meet have experienced the same as you and know how it feels. This ensures that there is already a bond at the beginning of the contact. And that bond only gets stronger. Not only with your co-students, but also with your co-workers.
Writing my thesis at Spectrum Care was a very special experience which gave me the opportunity to get a look behind the scenes as well. I completed my internship at Spectrum Care’s head office as part of the Aspirations Team. This meant that I had four close colleagues with whom I had meetings, and who were always willing to help me if I had any questions. The Service Manager for Aspirations was my supervisor and I highly valued his input and support. It was motivating and inspirational to work with such a creative soul, full of ideas and with the ambition to improve the services provided by Spectrum Care every day.
During my writing process, I got the chance to meet people working in the field, but also the people who were working at the office. During my weekly conversations with my supervisor, I could ask him questions and also discuss the next steps. Even when I got back in the Netherlands, I still had contact with him through Team Meetings. Eventually, everyone was looking after each other and helping out where ever they could. I can only say that I had a great experience writing my thesis at Spectrum Care.
In the months that I’ve lived in New Zealand, I’ve not only gotten to know myself better, but also the fantastic group of interns around me. All different characters, who have broadened my view on the world and taught me things I would never have learned if I had stayed in the Netherlands. The bond that has been created between us is strong and will always remain so. Because we have experienced the most beautiful time, but also one of the toughest time in our lives.
Because in February the infamous Covid-19 turned up in Europe. New Zealand, too, slowly grew in numbers. Enormous doubt and uncertainty was the result within our group as well. Some decided to stay, others decided to go home early. We were able to share this sadness with each other and Mia, Cecilie and Brett took care of us very well. The choice was entirely up to us and they supported us where necessary. In the end, I also made the decision to go home and I had to finish my New Zealand adventure early and incomplete.
But this certainly doesn’t outweigh all the beautiful memories and adventures I did experience. And I deliberately say ‘already’, because my adventure is certainly not finished there! The parties we had, the road trips, Valhalla, the glow-worms, the weird Danish 25th cinnamon celebration and so on. The openness of our group and the fun we had was unprecedented. In my first weekend I was immediately invited to go to the Cathedral Cove and I found that so special. I got to know so many people there, so I didn’t feel alone for a moment. I enjoyed all the spontaneous and organised activities in New Zealand to the fullest – a lifestyle that I would like to keep in the Netherlands.
It’s hard to be back in the Netherlands, because I lost my heart in New Zealand, even though I wasn’t able to see much of the country. Still, I have no regrets to be with my family at this time. That’s why I think it’s important to always follow your heart. My heart led me to New Zealand because I wanted to achieve ‘the impossible’. Then it led me home. And who knows, soon it will send me back to the other side of the world.
Because the saying is true:
Home is where your heart is.