Semester at Sea: Happies and Crappies

sasfound2Yesterday 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!

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I MISS… Being surrounded by the ocean 24/7

I DON’T MISS… Not being able to dive in, when it 40 degrees Celsius outside and incredibly hot and the water is just inviting a swim. (Going overboard earns you de-merits). Usually it was so hot that when I walked from the air-conditioned interior to the deck, my glasses fogged up!

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I MISS: Three square meals a day, no effort or cash required from me.

I DON’T MISS: The three P’s: Pork, Potatoes and Pasta. Good quality, but tasteless food. Adding ketchup or peanut butter to everything to make it taste better.

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I MISS: Being welcomed to a new country every few days.

I DON’T MISS: Being so far away from the people I love.

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I DON’T MISS: Being the only South African student on board.

I MISS: Being a South African on board when the other South African is Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

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I DON’T MISS: Having to repeat myself a million gazillion times because people don’t understand my accent.

I MISS: Interacting with people who have many different accents (and therefore are from other places).

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I DON’T MISS: Being asked whether I am a “real medical student” (I am still registered with SAS as a “Public Health Major” despite all my efforts to correct it). YES I AM. I catch babies and work long shifts and do scut work and assist in long operations just like any American medical student. Maybe even more, because our hospitals are more under-resourced and so they need our help even if they don’t want it.

I MISS: People storming into my cabin at random hours of the night, asking, “Is this serious? Should I go to the doctor?” and preceding my answer with, “You know that I’m not a qualified doctor yet and can’t give you qualified advice.”

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I MISS: Our friendly cabin steward (who also cleaned our cabin every second day).

I DON’T MISS: Our incredibly tiny cabin, with half of my belongings in a suitcase underneath my bed.

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I MISS: Tasting weird and fascinating candies from every country with my roomies.

I DON’T MISS: “Cook it, peel it, wash it, OR FORGET IT!” Having to wonder whether amazing food was going to make me sick (it never did). And those times a candy was downright awful, like the wasabi-flavoured bon-bons… Then again, maybe I do kind of miss them because it means it HAPPENED.

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I DON’T MISS: Too little contact with people I love, and not knowing what was going on in my country while the currency just kept getting weaker and weaker. Feeling physically sick from longing for my roots.

BUT I DO MISS: Traveling the world. Oh, I do miss that.

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