Zeny Santos

I travelled with a friend to do our nursing training at Herrison Hospital in Dorset, England. After a long flight from Manila we landed at Heathrow Airport in the early afternoon. Everything was white. There was snow on the ground. We were greeted with snow everywhere. The first time we had experienced such cold. We were unprepared with only light coats. We successfully negotiated ourselves through Immigration and left the terminal building to catch a coach to take us to Waterloo Station.

At Waterloo a kind porter helped us to carry our luggage, and directed us to the right train and coach for Dorchester.

We were glad to be on the train to Dorchester. It was a lot warmer than outside. We had no idea how long the journey would take. We hoped it wouldn’t be a long one. A man and his wife were sat opposite us. The man asked where we were going and we told him Dorchester. He told us he as going to Wool which is 2 stops from Dorchester and the journey would take about 3 hours. He was an army officer returning to his base at Bovington Army Camp. They befriended us and we felt reassured we were on the right track.

His wife went to the restaurant car and bought us hot drinks and sandwiches. We were very grateful as we were hungry and thirsty. As they were getting off the train he gave us his phone number and said to call when we were settled in, which we did. It was very kind of them. 2 stops later we arrived at Dorchester Station.

It was dark and there was lots of snow on the ground. There was nobody in the station to meet us. Outside the station we noticed a parked bus. The driver got out of the bus when he saw us and asked us if we were going to Herrison Hospital. We got on and were taken another 3 miles (away from Dorchester) to the hospital. He dropped us off at the Nurses Home where some Philippine nurses were there to greet us. It was a huge relief!

We settled in well. It was a multicultural environment at the home with nurses from Spain, Mauritius, Ireland, Jamaica, and Germany and we soon fitted in. We got involved with the social life in and around the hospital and local villages. We Filipinas also created a group to perform native dances and to share some of our culture and food with local people.

We were invited to perform some of our traditional dances at local garden fetés and events around local villages. We were fortunate to have a hospital chaplain who took us under his wing. He and his family treated as though we were an part of them. They took us everywhere locally to show us the beauty of Dorset. When we felt homesick we had somewhere to go.

I finished my training successfully and actually enjoyed my mental health nursing. I continued to work at Herrison Hospital after training. We went on coach trips all over the country. During that time the Hospital in association with other local hospitals organised an annual Ball for their staff. There I met the man who was to become my husband. We married 2 years later and settled in Dorchester. To this day I feel blessed to live here. It has become the home I love.