Next Step on an Exciting Journey
By the time you are reading this story, Brittin Oakman and her husband Ryan will be in Scotland beginning a year-long adventure. Brittin, who is from Mission BC, has been accepted into the Masters of Science Health Psychology program at the University of Aberdeen. She begins her studies in September. Ryan is planning on working and exploring surfing opportunities on Scotland’s east coast. Together, they are looking forward to a year of living in a different country, soaking up all that it has to offer them.
For the past several months, Brittin has been working at Communitas Supportive Care Society in Abbotsford, serving people who live with mental health challenges through Supported Independent Living (SIL). On her last day of work, she talks about how much she has enjoyed her experience at Communitas.
“It is one of the best companies I have ever worked for,” she says. “Communitas really invests in their employees and I got to work as part of a team of people who are passionate about what they do.”
She also appreciated the opportunity to work closely with individuals on their journey towards wellness, supporting each person specifically.
“Communitas really focuses on person-centred care,” she says. “It’s so important to treat the individual as a unique person rather than try and fit them into a box. It’s just easier, even on the hardest days, because your focus is on the person you are serving and their needs.”
She appreciated the freedom she had to use her creative side, offering art classes or working at garden projects with people in SIL. As she worked with people, she came to recognize that each person’s journey is different and the pace of that journey is unique to each person.
“Sometimes I found it a challenge to remember that healing and recovery is a life-long process. I had to let go of any expectations and just embrace each victory, focusing on what is rather than what is not.”
She knows that she’ll take these experiences with her as she begins her studies in Scotland. She is both excited and a little nervous. Neither Brittin nor Ryan have been outside of North America, so flying across the Atlantic and living in a new country will truly be an adventure.
“I’ve lived in the Fraser Valley my whole life and while we’re going to miss our family and friends, I’m craving a new experience,” she says.
She chose Scotland for a variety of reasons. She has Scottish roots (her maiden name is McKean) and she has always been fascinated by the culture, history, landscape and architecture of Scotland. At first, she worried about spending the winter so far north (Aberdeen is at 57°N) with limited daylight in a country with a reputation for grey, rainy weather. After talking to several people who have had experience living and traveling in the country, she’s reassured that it will not be as bad as she first thought. She’s also made some connections with a few expats who live in and around Aberdeen and one of her favourite professors from UFV, who is Scottish, put her in touch with a friend who lives there.
“That person is going to pick us up from the train and help us get settled,” she says. “If that’s the kind of hospitality we can expect, I think we’ll be in great hands!”
Brittin is really looking forward to all that she will learn while at university. Health Psychology is an emerging area of psychology and she’s excited about this holistic approach to care. She dreams of one day opening a wellness centre but is open to all possibilities. For now, she’s focusing on the adventure that awaits her and Ryan.
“This really is the right time for this,” she says. “I’m excited to embrace each step of this journey.”