Semester at Sea in GIFs

Finding the words to describe a four-month around-the-world-on-a-floating-university experience is often hard. And also, expressing things in GIFs is so much fun, so here you go.

How you feel when the ship sets sail for the very first time:

(You’re going to have that song stuck in your head all day. You’re welcome.) Continue reading “Semester at Sea in GIFs”


Travel Throwback: Walking Aimlessly

It has been well over a year since Semester at Sea Spring 2013 and I find myself thinking about it more and more. It was fantastic, and I can’t wait to travel again.

wandering sas

Because I was on a fairly limited budget, I tended to stay in the cities where we docked and I tried to walk as much as possible. Of course I had plans and short trips, but I often spent some time just walking through the city without much of an agenda. I would like to say that I took really deep HONY-esque pictures, but most of those pictures are in my head, safely. Continue reading “Travel Throwback: Walking Aimlessly”

The Travelbug’s Medicine Bag

This post brought to you by wanderlust, a current severe bout of flu-slash-strep-throat-slash-gastro picked up in the Paeds ward (I washed my hands all the time I swear), and a day of reminiscing over Semester at Sea photos. I would say I packed pretty well for my four-month-long around-the-world voyage (and my previous trips abroad too), but there were some things I wished I had packed – or not packed. Here’s my list of medical stuff to consider.

travel health Continue reading “The Travelbug’s Medicine Bag”

Visiting Haiti through “Because We Are”

Ten-year-old orphan Libète has been hardened by the daily struggle to survive in Cité Soleil, Haiti’s most infamous slum. But when she and her best friend, Jak, discover a young mother and her baby brutally murdered in a nearby marsh, it’s unlike anything she’s encountered before. Though initially shocked, the adults of Cité Soleil move on quickly from the event; after all, death is commonplace in this community. Undaunted, Libète takes action with Jak in tow, plunging herself into a dangerous, far-reaching plot that will change her irrevocably and threaten everything she holds dear.

It seems I’m on a streak of reading thrillers that don’t entirely conform to the genre – although my ‘fraidy pantsness is not exactly complaining. Continue reading “Visiting Haiti through “Because We Are””

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.

Continue reading “Hell Week is Over. But I’d Rather Talk About SAS.”

“Water, Water, Every Where”


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.

Continue reading ““Water, Water, Every Where””

How I did Semester at Sea while at Medical School

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.

sas libary Continue reading “How I did Semester at Sea while at Medical School”

Book Review: China Underground

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 “Book Review: China Underground”

Africa Needs More Books

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.”

morebookstores3 Continue reading “Africa Needs More Books”