Hell Week is Over. But I’d Rather Talk About SAS.

I survived Hell Week. Not sure what that is? Check this post, right at the end.

I don’t really want to talk about it though. I’m pretty traumatised. Thanks to a huge amount of prayers and support and motivation from my family and friends, I survived it. I honestly did not think I would get past Tuesday.

My worst subjects, Surgery and Orthopaedics, went really well. My best subjects, Ophthalmology and Anaesthetics went REALLY badly. We only get our results in like a century though.

Exactly one year ago today, I disembarked Semester at Sea’s MV Explorer in Barcelona. I can’t believe it’s been a year. I miss falling asleep on the rocking ocean. I miss the countries – all of them. It was a great experience.

Watch this spoken word by Stephen Brown, whom I met in the Illness Narratives course we both took on the ship. I tear up every time I watch this. It is the best representation of that voyage. Transcript below.

by Stephen Brown:

Look at this body.
Wait.
Now, look.
Look past the arms raised,
The hips dipped
The knees bent
Now, look past these things and see the bow’s wake
See the ship breaking eight-meter swells
See this body leave that word and become something
new
See it become a voyage
Bon voyage….

Look at these feet, these toes and these nails
Remember the miles they have walked
Remember the dirt, the cuts, the blisters
Remember the gravel roads they traveled
Remember the houses, countries they reverently entered

Look at these knees, these joints
Remember the temples, the kneeled deference
Remember the squatting to see children’s faces smile
Remember the bus rides, wedged hard into corners

Look at these hips, this round, sturdy meat
Remember the cramped trou-trou’s, the motorbike adjustments
Remember the twerking of transit hours,

Look at this stomach, encased in metal
Remember the street food, the impulsive cravings for food
Remember the questionable water, the stirrings of acid
Remember Doc Micah saying “no,” but remember saying, “yes.”

Look at this chest, peeling away to give light to a heart
Remember the crew, their faces and stories in early hours
Remember the students, faculty, staff, Lifelong Learners coming together as ubuntu
Remember the recognition of humanity, from each laugh, each smile, each meal shared

Look at these hands, smooth yet rough
Remember the hand held in silent solidarity
Remember the first and last embrace
Remember the touch of a friend’s fingertips, grazing, almost as if to say “I’ll remember you”

Look at this smile, wide from ear to ear, digging deep into cheeks
Remember the seminars, mouth wide, eating each lesson
Remember the hollering, yelling out in case we forgot that this was a moment

Travel up, one last time.
To these. To my eyes.
To these brown ovals in quiet acceptance.
Remember this look.
Remember their expression, aged with sights and sounds
Remember their creases, squinting as if asking silently, quietly, why?
Remember the tears, tracking dirt down this face

Because, it’s looked towards the horizon each morning, each night
Because it has hoped that this won’t end.
Because these eyes, this heart, this body, it cannot bear to think of a time without family
Without ubuntu.
Without you.

For you have made these feet, hands, knees strong
You have stopped the aches in this chest, this smile
For you have given a face, a beat to each pump of my heart.
Listen to these hands that shape these words, their words
Their “I love you”
We do not leave it behind with the last embrace
Not love lost
Not love misplaced or forgotten
We know where it is
Love given
Love received

So look towards these eyes, follow their gaze.
Towards the horizon, we watch, we wait for forever to continue until a voice whispers back
It rides the waves, as quiet, as secret as the crests of the Indian Ocean
It finds its way to our eyes and pulls a current with each word, saying
That if this be the end of things, if this truly be the end, a midnight signal of stating finality,
Then let it reach deep into us
Let it take hold of our souls
Let it shake our foundations
And, when the earthquake settles
When our souls can finally catch a breath
Then,
Then,
Then, let it feel like infinity

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9 thoughts on “Hell Week is Over. But I’d Rather Talk About SAS.”

  1. You’re so nearly there! Well done! I’ve just finished fourth year exams and I can’t imagine managing finals, this was bad enough. I’m really intrigued about this semester at sea. it sounds wonderful; is it something anyone can do?

    1. Thank you 🙂 I still have another set of finals (Bachelors of Medicine portion) in November, but granted the results end up looking good, it does feel good to be so close!

      As for Semester at Sea: YES! SAS is open to all undergrad students and then also to post-grad students up to a certain point (I’m not too sure what that point is, because I’m classified as undergrad, but the admissions counselors will know). They also have a group of American med students for a portion of certain voyages and also have something called Life Long Learners, but I think you have to be over 40 for that.

      But basically there is always a way of finding your way into going, even if you get paid to go as a residence-hall director. I would highly recommend going in whatever capacity you can!

  2. This was incredible! I sailed on Spring 2014, and it brought back so many memories and tears to my eyes! Never let your adventure end.

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