One of the first things I noticed when I started traveling was international differences in public restrooms. In New York City I was met with the conundrum of a city that has everything except restrooms. In China I saw squat toilets for the first time – and refused to use them. Working in a hospital with filthy restrooms has given me a strong bladder. Then, when we hit our first official port for Semester at Sea (Japan) I saw the smartest loos alive.
What a pleasure, then, to read The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters while traveling. (The cover caught my eye – isn’t it wonderful?) Rose George literally goes everywhere with this book. She plunges into the depths of sewer systems in New York and London. She exposes the dirt and grit of the water we consume. And then she travels to the corners of the earth to see how other countries compare. Continue reading
Yesterday was a whole month since I have been back in South Africa. That means that my whirlwind circumnavigating-the-world experience has been over for over a month! And I have written painfully little since I’ve been back. (What, I did have good reasons – namely exams and clinical rotations, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am.)
I spent a lot of time on the voyage missing home, but I also spent a lot of time having an incredibly rare experience. Needless to say, there are things I miss and things I was so glad to see the back of. Here are some of the things I miss… and don’t! Continue reading
I took this picture at Elmina Castle in Cape Coast, Ghana, during my visit there with Semester at Sea in April this year. We learned about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in high school history class, and it was incredibly educational to visit this castle in the flesh. It was harrowing too. What a dark time in human history this was. I could almost feel the desperate yearning for escape that those in the slave trade must have felt – and very few of them would ever escape alive.
Linking up with The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.
In my Semester at Sea reflections, I return often to Vietnam. I think it was the first country to shock me, well and truly. It was not very easy to make my SAS experience medically-oriented, and I had to do a lot of hard work to learn about medicine in various countries. Vietnam was the country where the medicine came to me without having to be asked (much like the vendors, and the traffic).
We had a field lab for my Illness Narratives class (definitely one of the best classes OF MY LIFE, but more of that later). We visited an orphanage for disabled children and an elderly women’s home.
It is the eve of my examinations, and I have been back in South Africa for exactly a week. It has been incredibly difficult to focus on studying. Fortunately I don’t start with the most difficult subject (which is not to say that I am not incredibly nervous).
Anyway, taking a break, this week’s theme for The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge is “From Above”. I did not anticipate difficulty in finding a good picture taken from above, but it was difficult! The picture here is from our visit to Vietnam in February. We went to a large floating market on the Mekong Delta one morning. It was a little quiet, because it was the end of the Tet holiday. Many people sell in bulk at this floating market, and many, many little children help their parents with the daily work.
It’s amazing how few places offer free wifi. But San Francisco does, and I’m super glad!
One of my (sponsored, not self-paid) tickets is First Class. It’s a first for me (see what I did there) and it’s pretty cool. I’m so full on good food that I don’t have much else to do during this layover but be on the internet (because I’ve already ogled all the lovely book stores).
Upon saying goodbye to the boy at the airport (I said bye to la familia 1000km before that), I had to suppress an unexpected bout of tears. I thought it was happy tears. But on the plane I got pretty anxious. I realised, wow, this is happening. Oh my holy cow, THIS IS HAPPENING. Continue reading
Taking a quick break from last minute packing and working on school projects to share this: I was in the paper! 4 January 2013, in the Daily Dispatch. The image is a little blurry, so you could read the text here. This made me kind of happy.
P.S: So. Exhausted. So. Much. To. Do.
P.P.S: This is actually happening! Squeel!
*This post serves as my entry to As We Travel’s competition in conjunction with MoneySupermarket.com, who is giving away £1,000 to one lucky frugal traveler! The entry must explain our destination and what we would do to stretch said money as far as possible.
If you’re new to this blog, I have been given the amazing opportunity to travel for four months with Semester at Sea. It’s a big ship (not a cruise) and while sailing, students take classes on board, and participate in lots of clubs and societies. When we dock in the various countries, we get to explore. We have the opportunity to do trips with Semester at Sea, but those are super expensive, so I will opt for independent travel in port.
SAS is super expensive though, in terms of tuition and room&board. I managed to get some financial aid, but still had to take out a substantial loan, which means that I am now well and truly broke and worried that I may not have much with which to explore the countries.
Thus, drumroll please, the itinerary and plans – dates are omitted for internet safety, suffice to say this begins early January:
We have to be medically cleared for Semester at Sea. One of the questions is, Have you been recently exposed to TB? WELL. I’m a medical student. In South Africa. In the Western Cape. You tell me if I’ve recently been exposed to TB.
1. I hate money. Like, really, its existence complicates things. Long story short: that sponsor I spoke about doesn’t seem to be working. You can imagine the distress that caused. A very kind company is having a meeting on Monday and hopefully they can help me. If not, my parents, who are amazing, might take out a loan for me. Which I’ll have to repay once I start working. Which is not ideal, considering I already have a fat student loan leering at me. But considering the circumstances, I’m happy.
2. My plane tickets were booked today. I’m going to have lots and lots of stops along the way, but that’s okay too. In exactly one month minus a day, I’ll be on that plane.