Name: Quinty Adriaansen
Degree: Bachelor in Social work
Internship Period: August 2019 – April 2020
Aotearoa (New Zealand) changed my life in a personal and professional way. It is hard to explain how great my experience was. You have to experience it yourself to really feel it. But well, I love to feel this time over and over again, so let me tell you about my journey in Aotearoa.
In August 2019, I arrived very early in the morning in the beautiful Aotearoa. Cecilie, my future supervisor, picked me up from the airport. I remember feeling embarrassed after sitting 35 hours on an airplane, smelling and looking like crab, and then meeting the person that was going to evaluate me on my professional skills. But well, I couldn’t change that anymore.
I was surprised and excited when I arrived at my new house and home for the coming 10 months. I could not believe I would be living here. It was perfect – everything you needed was there. Dishwasher, pots and pans, drycleaner, little garden, plenty of space and a beautiful wall of pictures of places that previous interns had travelled to. I had chosen a double bedroom with my own bathroom which was at the end of a long hallway. As I walked to my room, Cecilie suggested for me to take a little rest to recover from my long trip. But yeah, I was so curious, that I just took a quick shower and went on a trip through my new neighbourhood.
During my first week, I got to know my housemates, who were all from Denmark. I visited the other houses with interns from White Cloud Internships and bought my own car – I felt I was off to a great start.
I completed my internship in one of Spectrum Care’s residential homes for young women with an intellectual disability and autism. During my first day at work, I felt a bit overwhelmed. Everything was so different compared to what I was used to. My colleagues came from different countries, which meant that we all had different norms and values. A little example of this was that I did not get a handshake, when meeting everyone in the house for the first time. At first, I didn’t really like my workplace, but soon after I got more familiar with the place and the people, I was very grateful for the opportunity to support the four beautiful young women, and equally grateful for the opportunity to work with people from different cultures.
My internship was at times challenging. I sometimes struggled to understand some of my colleagues’ approaches to the people we supported and didn’t always know how to communicate my thoughts and opinions. But through supervision and conversations with both Cecilie and Mia, I felt encouraged and supported to communicate professionally with relevant people. It was personally and professionally challenging for me, but I learnt and grew a lot from the whole process.
Besides the internship, I also had the opportunity to take part in fortnightly group supervision sessions facilitated by Mia and Cecilie. As interns we had the opportunity to join either morning sessions with free cake, fresh fruit, nuts and juices or evening sessions with free beers, wine, chips, New Zealand’s best chocolate and liquorish. You can probably guess which of these sessions that was always full?! During the sessions we discussed different professional topics including; My personal luggage at work, The 3 p’s at work (personal, professional and private) and about being a professional bystander. It was not only an opportunity to learn about different topics, but also to open up and share own experiences. The food and drinks and the professional supervision were all covered by White Cloud Internships. Personally, I have never learnt as much as I did during my internship and from supervision with Mia and Cecilie.
Enough about the internship and supervision. Living in New Zealand was like living the dream. Mountains everywhere, huge waterfalls, beautiful beaches and lovely people. Living in New Zealand is a lot more laidback than the Netherlands. We lived in a suburb just outside Auckland City, which was very nice. I had my own car, which I used getting to and from work and to go on trips exploring the country on my days off. White Cloud Internships helped me schedule my working hours perfectly, so I had enough time to see New Zealand. In the beginning I travelled with my housemates, later on with students living in other houses from White Cloud Internships and eventually I also went on trips alone or with Kiwis that I met along the way.
I experienced New Zealand from the sky during skydiving, from under water during scuba diving and from the highest mountains during beautiful hikes. The nature in New Zealand really has it all! I also ended up with my very first surf board which I used every time I had the opportunity – driving to the beach after work for some late-night surf experiences.
I made a lot of new best friends for life, we had laughs, sleep overs, parties, celebrated Christmas in a Danish way, a Dutch way and of course in the way Kiwis do it with BBQ and beer on the beach. These moments were worth of gold.
I ended my internship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Believe me, it was awful. We had to make decisions whether to stay in New Zealand hoping for better times or to leave New Zealand as soon as possible, in order to be close to our friends and family back home. It sounds weird, but I made my decision very quickly and I initially decided to stay. It felt like I had my friends and family here in New Zealand and I could not leave having to say goodbye to everyone after 9 months through FaceTime. Although I was certain about my decision at that moment, I ended up having to leave a few weeks later because of how the situation developed.
During this difficult time the positive thing was that I was not alone in this. We were one big Whānau (family) that supported each other no matter what decision people made. Also, Mia and Cecilie were a big help during this time! They had their own families, work and personal things to take care of but they always made us feel so supported and looked after during this weird and difficult time. During my 10 months internship in New Zealand, it never felt like I was alone; I had my own White Cloud Whānau.