“Water, Water, Every Where”

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I live in a water-scarce country on a water-scarce continent. I grew up with a little ditty, “Kinders moenie in die water mors nie, die ou mense wil dit drink” – “Children, don’t mess with water, the old people want to drink it”. Parts of my country has had water restrictions in the years that I have lived.

And yet, I have never really wanted for water. When I open a tap, there it is. Cold and ready to drink, albeit chlorinated. Cape Town has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. I could run through sprinklers as a child. I could swim in swimming pools.

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How I did Semester at Sea while at Medical School

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I have alluded to this before, but medical students rarely do Semester at Sea, and when they do, they are usually there for a short while. For example, the few medical students from the University of Virginia who spend a few weeks on the tropical leg of a Spring voyage; or inter-port students, like the Indian medical student who sailed with us from Myanmar to India.

The reason for this is three-fold: for one, SAS students are mostly undergraduate, and mostly from the USA, where medicine is a postgraduate degree. Secondly, the nature of medicine is such that it is very hard to leave temporarily to another institution – not to mention the difficulty in arranging to “miss” practical rotations. Lastly, I’ve not yet seen any SAS courses that are accepted for medical accreditation.

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Book Review: China Underground

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China Underground by Zachary Mexico was the third book I purchased on Semester at Sea. The book comprises a series of anecdotes of various Chinese citizens, whom the author met and interviewed while in China. These include sex workers, minority groups such as the Uighurs (a Chinese Muslim minority), art lovers, film makers, drug dealers (and users) and more. Their commonality is that they are outsiders, and that each sees their country and the world through a distinct lens.

The book is almost like a collection of short stories that can be picked up at any point and any time. There is something for everybody, although I would of course suggest reading the whole book. Continue reading

Africa Needs More Books

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I was walking through my home suburb (read:village) with my brother the other day. We went to the local library, sampled some books (slim pickings) and as we walked home, I asked about such-and-such a bookshop, and such-and-such a used bookshop. They were all closed down. Anyone wanting to purchase books needs to go to town (literally). A town which, incidentally, has only generic chain bookshops.

And I said to my brother, “This place needs more bookstores.”

And then, “Our country needs more bookstores.”

And then, “Africa needs more bookstores.”

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African Penguin Awareness Day: Boulder’s Beach, South Africa

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Penguins are one of my favourite animals (I also like geckos, and giraffes, among others). The boy made me get up super early yesterday morning to go to the Boulder’s Beach Penguin Colony. I was annoyed, because I really wanted to sleep more, but what a good day we (he) chose to go.

When we got there early it was really quiet and we got some good face time with the penguins. They are not domesticated, but they are very curious, and would prance around for us and sometimes even came quite close to us. I just wanted to cuddle them. But they’re an endangered species so I would probably get fined for that, heh.

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Image courtesy of The Boy

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Book Review: Hives in Paradise

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hiloThis was the first book I bought while on Semester at Sea.

Hives in Paradise by Midge Hill Mebane was sold to me at the Hilo Farmer’s Market on our second (and final) day in Hilo, Hawai’i by the author’s son. He also sold delicious macadamia nuts and home-grown cloves, and had a lot of interesting views about Hawai’i and their people. I wish I could remember his name, because the book mentions the children a lot. It is out of print, and self-published, and I got a signed copy, which was excellent.  Continue reading

What Travelling the World Taught Me About Patient Care

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sas pt care

When I heard about Semester at Sea for the first time, I admit it was the idea of travelling the world that attracted me. I knew from a little bit of experience that travelling would enrich my perspectives and teach me more than any classroom, but really I was just thinking about all the places I had always dreamed of visiting, that could now become a reality.

Justifying such a long absence from campus meant that I had to identify teachable moments the program could provide. I came up with a whole report which I presented to my faculty (and which they miraculously accepted). I mentioned the virtues of travelling, and the work I would have to put in to carry a double course load, and then I mentioned the research I wanted to do: experiencing first-hand the public healthcare facilities in the various countries, as well as visiting alternative healers and assessing their role in primary healthcare.

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