ME: Hi, I’m M, I’m a fifth-year medical student from South Africa-
HIM/HER: So that’s like a Public Health Major?
ME: Not quite, I do an MB.ChB. which is a Bachelor’s of Medicine and a Bachelor’s of Surgery-
HIM/HER: So you’re pre-med?
ME: No… I a medical student. We do Medicine as a six year undergraduate degree.
HIM/HER: Will that make you a real doctor one day?
I try very hard not to get frustrated. This is one of the things I really should have anticipated, being on a ship where the vast majority of students follow the USA College Model. Even the computer system has me registered as a Public Health Major, which tells me that I may be the first honest-to-God undergraduate medical student that’s done a full voyage. Which makes me worry if maybe there’s a reason they’ve never done it before: maybe the plate is supposed to be full enough as it is. I know I’m already struggling to keep up with work from back at home and work on the ship.
I try not to place my worth in being classified as a medical student, but it has taken many years for me to become comfortable with my place in the medical field and it’s hard when that’s questioned so often now.