'My clinical placements are helping me advance my career as a music therapist'

Dominique, from the US, is in her second year of her master’s in Music Therapy at Anglia Ruskin University. She reflects on the impact her first year studying in the UK has had on her, including her clinical placement at a world-renowned children’s hospital in London.

'The thought of leaving my home in the US was scary, but I took a leap of faith and have no regrets'.

‘If you’re considering studying in the UK, just apply, and then you can decide’

The advice I would give anyone considering studying in the UK is to just go for it. Just try to complete the application, and then you can decide. I had wanted to do this for a long time, but I was nervous and scared. I had never been to the UK before I moved here. I had no friends and didn't know anyone, so the thought of leaving my home in the US for somewhere so far away was hard and scary. But I did as much research as I could, and I took the leap of faith, knowing that this was what I really wanted and that it would work out.

My friends encouraged me to just apply and get that first part done, and then I could decide what to do next. Once I received my offer, I was so excited, and I didn’t have to think twice.

'Anglia Ruskin has its own dedicated research institute and building'

‘Anglia Ruskin has one of the longest and most established music therapy programmes in the UK’

It was a lifelong goal and dream of mine to study in the UK, and I chose to do my master’s Anglia Ruskin University because it has a world-renowned music therapy programme. It’s the longest-established master’s music therapy course in the UK. It has its own dedicated research institute and building with multiple therapy rooms and a larger classroom where I spend most of my time in lectures. I feel honoured to attend this university and learn through the different approaches they teach.

Before I came to the UK, I had already studied music therapy at undergraduate level in the US and worked for a few years. I am having different learning experiences here than I would have in the US and am benefitting from a different structure, which is helping me become a well-rounded practitioner in my field. This programme is more focused on a psychodynamic approach to music therapy. Psychodynamic approaches tend to look at the underlying factors affecting emotions and behaviour in a person, particularly the subconscious mind. My placements at a children’s and mental health hospitals respectively have offered me clinical experience in the field, and I feel more confident working in different settings now.

''I've been able to share my indigenous culture during my studies'.

'Playing my native flute in one of the music rooms at the dedicated music therapy building on campus'.

‘I’m the first in my indigenous tribe to pursue a master’s abroad and want to pave new ways and make them proud’

My indigenous tribe back in California is called the Kashaya Band of Pomo Indians. They have been supporting me through my master’s with scholarship funding. It means so much to me to have their support and know that they believe in me and what I am doing. I am one of the few within my tribe who is privileged enough to pursue higher education, especially a master’s. I am the first to do so internationally. I want to be able to pave new ways for my tribe and make them proud with the work I am doing.

‘As part of my degree, I had the opportunity to do a clinical placement at a world-famous specialist children’s hospital in central London’

One of my favourite experiences so far was my first clinical placement at Great Ormond Street, a world-famous specialist children’s hospital in central London. Because I am already a music therapist, Anglia Ruskin wanted to challenge me and give me a harder clinical placement to fit where my professional and clinical development needs were. I worked in the respiratory wards with infants with severe breathing needs and concerns. I have previously worked with many different populations, from children to older adults, in hospice care, but never with infants. It was life-changing for me.

‘I used music therapy to help provide the infants with positive sensory stimulation’

With the infants, I primarily used music therapy to help with their development through music and musical games to provide some kind of positive sensory stimulation. In the hospital, things like lights and different colours, for example, can be really stripped down and it is usually not a very pleasing or stimulating environment. These infants regularly experience medical touch (like ‘poking or prodding’) or light medical procedures, which can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. I’d come into that space to support them, hold their hand, and just be a reassuring voice and additional support system for these infants. I'm very passionate about this.

'I loved the hustle and bustle of working in central London''.

‘During my placement, I learned how to better serve my clients and patients’

During my placement, I learned so much about myself and how I can be a better music therapist and serve my clients and patients better. I met so many people and made a difference in the lives of the kids and their families who I worked with. I now feel so much more prepared clinically and working at the hospital. But I’ve also learned a lot as a ‘grown-up’ person through travelling to London to work every day and experiencing the hustle and bustle of being in such an exciting city.

'As well as using music therapy in my work, I just love to play and perform'.

‘I love that music therapy is so diverse’

I love that music therapy is so diverse and so easily accessible to so many groups of people. It can look so different depending on the population that you're working with and what individuals need. So, for instance, music therapists could work in schools with children with autism or learning disabilities like Down syndrome – it's great for their social and cognitive development. They can explore their feelings through music exploration through different instruments. Especially if they're nonverbal, they can still take turns in musical games and things like that, which builds confidence. And it's a space to regulate themselves. I've also used music therapy in hospice and palliative settings, where I was using it more for life review, spiritual care, quality of life care, or pain management as a distraction tool.

‘Volunteering has been a great way to gain experience and network with professions in my field’

In my first year, I volunteered for a few months on a research project that the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research was conducting. I absolutely loved the work, getting to be part of the study, and meeting music therapists in my field. That volunteering experience helped me go on to get their summer internship. I assisted with a handful of their research proposal bids that will support diverse communities around England.

In my second year, I am hard at work on my master’s dissertation and new clinical placement at a mental health hospital. I already feel incredibly proud of the research writing I have done and can’t wait for the final result and to have this major achievement accomplished. The work I am doing at the mental health hospital is an exciting challenge, and I feel like I am supporting people through their hardship through music therapy.

'I love having the opportunity to share my story as an international student'.

'Posing with some of my student colleagues from the international office at Anglia Ruskin'.

‘By working for the international office at my university, I’ve connected with incoming international students and enjoyed sharing my own story’

Working for the international office at my university has been a highlight of my time here. I have had many opportunities to share my story as an international student. I enjoy connecting with incoming students in relation to my own experiences and opinions, writing blogs, and creating videos for their social media pages. Anglia Ruskin cares a lot about my voice, and they have created spaces for me to share that, which I’m really grateful for. A few months back, it was Indigenous People’s Day in the States, and it had slipped my mind. My supervisor asked if I had anything I wanted to share for the holiday, and that meant so much to me. She and the university remembered that a day that is important to me, and they wanted to help me celebrate and give me a platform to share my culture.

'I love being part of an international community of students'.

'When I came to Cambridge, I was inspired to finish my yoga certification'.

'I've enjoyed exploring the UK, including getting involved with some pumpkin picking with one of my friends over Halloween'.

‘I’ve made such a great community here’

Living in Cambridge and getting to know and make friends with people from all over the world has been so special. Going back to university and moving to a new place after working for a few years has opened up so many opportunities for me. I’ve been able to branch out into things I’m interested in beyond my studies. When I came here, I was inspired to finish my yoga certification. I've started teaching at some studios and getting to know more of the community around me. I’m really committed and excited about my teaching practice. By moving to the UK and building relationships with the people around me, I’ve explored creative opportunities I might not have in the US.

'I thought I'd only ever get to see places like Stonehenge in a photograph'.

‘Anything that you’re interested in, you can find in the UK’

There are so many things to do in the UK. Whenever I thought of the UK before I came, I imagined London, Stonehenge, or castles. I thought those were the kinds of things I thought I’d only ever get to see in photographs, and coming here, I’ve been able to be there. In person. Taking it all in. But something that I’ve really been enjoying as well is the seaside towns. There’s the ocean. Whatever you’re interested in, you can find. Earlier this year, I visited a beautiful beach in north Norwich. I remember telling my friends back home that if I didn’t know where I was, I might think I was in California, where I used to live, with the long sandy beach and the forest behind.

Anything's possible when you study in the UK

Find out about the endless possibilities that studying in the UK has to offer. And why 500,000 international students choose to study here each year.

Open doors to limitless opportunities

See more

What are work placements?

Undertaking a work placement as part of your degree help you to build academic expertise and gain real-world experience.

World-famous universities

With world-famous universities and quality teaching that’s government-guaranteed, the UK offers a higher standard of education, whatever you choose to study.

Scholarships and funding

Would you like to turn your dream of studying in the UK into a reality? There are many funding and scholarship options available for international students.

Hear stories from international students

The Study UK blog is the home of real-life, personal stories from current international students and alumni.

Read our blog

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest updates and advice on applications, scholarships, visas and events.