Busan is the second largest city in South Korea, with a beautiful harbour, beaches and quality seafood. “It’s a very diverse and vibrant place. People are active, passionate and hard-working. There’s a popular film festival called BIFF (Busan International Film Festival), now in its 22nd year.”
Growing up in Busan, Ms Lee liked to draw and make things. “All my hobbies were arts and crafts – and after high school I completed an interior design and architecture degree,” she recalls. “I worked in an architect’s office for two years before embarking on an overseas adventure with my partner.”
Her first impression of Australia was its culture of freedom. She loved the environment too, and the weather. “I met so many nice people. I travelled all around, from Sydney to Byron Bay, Brisbane to Stanthorpe, Melbourne to smaller towns like Cobram and Shepparton.
“I enrolled at CSU Albury in 2013, initially majoring in occupational therapy, then transferring to physiotherapy. I wanted something more challenging. It was hard at first, I didn’t have much free time. I was studying long hours. With English as a second language it can take twice as long to process the reading and consolidate the information.”
Ms Lee has now completed medical placements at the Goulburn Valley Health Hospital in Shepparton, Ryde Aged Care and Rehabilitation Centre, and Nepean Hospital in Penrith.
At Prince of Wales Hospital she has been working in the Outpatient Physiotherapy Department with a small group of students from various universities. While she finds the heavy workload challenging, she appreciates the supportive environment and collaboration with other health professionals.
There are different specialisations within the physiotherapy field, Ms Lee explains. “In Ryde I focused on rehabilitation with older patients, including falls prevention and strength exercises. At Prince of Wales I have cared for patients who’ve had a fracture or are in need of post-operative rehabilitation, and some who’ve suffered musculoskeletal injuries.
“I’ve led hydrotherapy classes at Ryde and individual sessions at Prince of Wales. Hydrotherapy is good for patients experiencing persistent pain – the buoyancy can be really helpful in assisting the patient to exercise.
“At Nepean Hospital I’ve worked with inpatients who have cardiorespiratory conditions.”
In June, Ms Lee will travel north to McLean, near Grafton, where she will undertake her fourth placement, focusing on professional competency. She aims to graduate in December.
“This time in Redfern has reminded me of why I wanted to be a physiotherapist in the first place, why I started this journey,” she says. “The people here have been so warm and supportive and the experience has confirmed my most positive regard for people. I chose physiotherapy as a vocation so I might be able to help people, to connect with people from all walks of life, and to really improve their quality of life.”