I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to go on an overseas trip with DMU. DMU Global gives students the chance to apply to go on academic trips with their faculty. The title of of this trip was Public Health Strategies in Amsterdam. We had some amazing one in a lifetime experiences that I will never forget! I had never been to Amsterdam so it was even more exciting!

I felt like I was out of my comfort zone a little – I had gone on this trip not knowing anyone. The trip mainly consisted of first year nursing students from different fields of practice. I’m glad I was able to go out of my normal routine for a while, and it was fab to make some new friends!

Our first day consisted of some free time. We had arrived in Amsterdam just after 8am but by the time we had arrived in our hostel and sorted our bags and everything out it was just after 9am. I took it upon myself to go exploring. I took the metro into the centre on Amsterdam and let my feet take me wherever! I was able to get my bearings and find certain marker points so that I was able to navigate my way around. The one thing that struck me was how pretty it was. The way that they have canals through the city with all the boats and how open yet compact it all is.

On the second day we were split into two groups. Our group went to the Hash & Hemp museum. It was interesting to see how many objects can be made out of hemp! It was also brilliant to see the history of Hash and Marijuana, and how it has been heavily linked in health and well-being before being made illegal.

In the afternoon we took a trip to the Body Worlds museum. Body Worlds is linked with Gunther vin Hagan. He is famous for performing live autopsies! All of the bodies and anatomy on display at Body Worlds are all real! It was amazing to see anatomy and physiology systems in real life – something you don’t often get chance to see! All the bodies and parts had been through a vigorous preservation process. It was hard to process that they were all real (hair and nails included). The project that was the main focus in Body World’s was The Happiness Project. It was detailing the link between mental and physical health when we have positive reactions to situations and how happiness can have an affect on our physical and mental wellbeing.

On the Second day, we got chance to go to a drug consumption room. There are three services within Amsterdam that provide a safe places for individuals that consume drugs. The service that we went to was the o my one that had equipment and a place for people to inject drugs. Due to them providing a safe and clean place for individuals to use drugs – the rate of HIV has decreased to a whopping ZERO in a year! They say that you are more likely to catch HIV from an university student than a drug user or sex worker (wow!). Within this service, they provide social services, a bed for the night if they are homeless, food and drop in services such as form filling and CV writing. This wonderful service is partly government funded and partly ran through donations. How would this would within the UK?

In the afternoon of day two we had the opportunity to visit a sex worker – who was also trained as a mental health nurse! She was able to explain her story. How she had never been pushed or persuaded into sex work. She decided to just give it a try and enjoyed it! It was brilliant to hear her side of things so open and honestly. She described how her clients are those who cannot access sex services openly (such as attended the red light district). She is able to help being with sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction, and also provide sexual help to couples who struggle with their sex life. It was such an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity and for me that was the highlight of my trip!

After this we went and visited the Red Lights Secrets museum. It was brilliant to compare the tourist side of the sex workers after getting a first hand story from one!

On our last full day, we visited the NEMO Science Museum where DMU hosted a talk between every single student that went. There were a variety of Allied Health Professionals that came to Amsterdam that visited different places than we did and it was interesting to see where everyone else had been and for us to show our experiences with the other groups. I also had the opportunity to get up and speak – which is something I’m trying to build my confidence with, so this was something I was proud of!

From this trip I will take with me The importance of sexual health within a mental health setting. I sometimes believe that it can get sometimes neglected as we don’t seem to want to have these awkward and embarrassing conversations with patients (which is can be), and for some patients that have been through trauma and abuse, their sexual health may be the most damaged of all.