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Africa & The Middle East

Week 5-Phillipi

It was no exciting to finally be able to get back to the clinic after a two weeks off for vac and exam preparation. I was even more excited when I found out that I was going to be paired with a sixth year medical student. South Africans become general practitioners after six years, so this meant that the student I was with would be a certified M.D. in two months. There was an insane amount of international students with us tonight, which one the one hand is a great […]

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Week 4-Masi

I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to go to the clinic after an armed robbery of SHAWCO volunteers in Khayelitsha the week before, but we received news that we would still be able to attend clinics. I arrived at the bus tonight at 6pm as usual, hoping to have some interesting patients. I didn’t even realize until we were on the road that I had gotten on the bus that goes to Masiphumelele, a township in Fish Hoek. It was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve had […]

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Week One-Khayelitsha

Tonight was my first night working at the clinic in Khayelitsha, and I was looking forward to getting to see if I liked the work. On my way home from my last class, I got a message from my mom saying I needed to call her. She told me that my grandma had passed away that morning. I felt so awful and disconnected from home at that time, but made the decision to still go to the clinic. I figured it would keep mind busy and prevent me from sitting […]

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Week 3-Philippi

After taking one week off from the clinic to celebrate Women’s Day, I was feeling very anxious to get back to it. I decided to try out another night and ended up going to a different clinic than the one I’d been going to in Khayelitsha. This clinic was in Philippi, and instead of being a building was a trailer that had been transformed into a makeshift clinic. We didn’t have a lot of fourth years, so I ended up with a third year medical student in a cubicle. I […]

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Week Two-Khayelitsha

My second week working for SHAWCO Health, I felt less anxious about going and more excited to get to the clinic. I was hoping to have more exciting cases and learn more that night. We went through the same process of loading onto the buses and driving to the township. It was warmer this week, so we had a lot of patients to get through. Luckily, there were a lot of students there to help that night, so we were able to run all of the cubicles and have extra […]

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Saying Goodbye

My last day in Senegal is quickly approaching, which means this is my last blog post of the semester. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to read this blog. I hope you gained as much from reading it as I did from writing it. Goodbyes. I try so hard to avoid them, all of the discomfort and sadness that they bring. Sometimes, though, I think a goodbye turns into something more. Sometimes goodbye isn’t really a goodbye when you know you’ll be taking something with you. […]

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Integration

Last night my sister asked me to come with her to the boutique in our neighborhood to buy bread for dinner. I put down the book I was reading and bounded down the stairs two at a time, aware that she was already halfway out the door. I reached our front door and just as I was reaching around to close it I realized something. “Tabara,” I asked, “Est-ce que je peux porter des shorts?” (Can I wear shorts?) “C’est pas grave,” she said with a smile (it’s not a […]

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Collectivism

This past week I found myself returning from another forum hosted by my internship organization in a village on the outskirts of the city. Scrunched in between two others in the backseat of an old pickup truck, I was tossed around like a rag doll every time our driver unsuccessfully tried to maneuver around a pothole. Wind whipping flyaway strands of hair around my face, I closed my eyes every now and then, pressing my palms against my eyelids to keep out the dust that threatened to make me regret […]

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Kaolack

Ah, Kaolack. What a place you are. I’m a week and a half into my life and internship here and it has been quite the experience. For one, it is hot. VERY HOT. Sweating doesn’t faze me much anymore, and mosquitoes and flies are batted away lazily; even my high-intensity DEET bug spray can’t do much to keep them away sometimes. Fans are a small luxury, though luckily my mom has one in her bedroom. Multiple nights I have dreamed about snow-covered mountains. That is not an exaggeration. Yet, life […]

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Snapshots of Gambia

I think the best way to give a glimpse into my past week in the Gambia is to make a bullet point list of notable experiences. I thus name this list: Gambia Snapshots. The people: very, very friendly. They reminded me much of the Senegalese, though I would say the hagglers are more aggressive as a result of the large tourist industry that caters to foreigners in the area I stayed. One day I spent the entire afternoon sitting in the alley outside our guesthouse under a large shady tree […]

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The Halfway Point

As the halfway point in my semester approaches and my time here in Dakar comes to a close, I think it’s only fitting that I give a short synopsis of what it is exactly that I have been doing and plan to do over the next couple of months. I spent the last couple of months here in Dakar, taking a full schedule of classes through my program (for those who don’t know, the program is MSID Senegal: Minnesota Studies in International Development.) My main classes have been Wolof, international […]

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La Lutte

I spent this past weekend in the village of Toubacouta, part of a four-day trip with my program to get out of the city and supplement classroom learning with real-life experience. The village was small, located about a four hours’ drive South of Dakar. We may as well have traveled for days though because, as any Senegalese will tell you, village life in Senegal is entirely different from life in the city. So too are sporting events different in the village, and for the first time I got to watch […]

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From Westerner to West African-er

Many of the European and French students that I have talked to think I am absolutely crazy when I tell them how much traveling that I plan on doing. To me, it doesn’t seem like that much since I’m only here for one semester. To them, “oh yeah, Spain, I’ve been there before.” Like it’s nothing. I just had the most exciting week of travel I have ever had in my life. I went to 3 cities, 2 countries, 2 continents in 10 days and yes, one of those countries […]

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Language Mistakes

I’d like to start this off by saying that I was originally hoping to write about another part of Senegalese culture in this blog post. After my latest language mistake, however, it’s only fitting that I share some (painful) stories about my language speaking abilities. I like to think I’m fairly adventurous when it comes to learning and practicing languages. Unfortunately, this also means I’m particularly prone to saying things I didn’t originally mean to say (my apologies in advance for the crude language.) In another post I mentioned that […]

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On culture shock

Culture shock: that feeling of stumbling down a dark hallway and frequently running face-first into a wall. Difficult, yet thrilling. I like to think that crashing into this wall, so to speak, helps me to better orient myself to my surroundings. I find that culture shock most often occurs when I am least expecting it. This is how I discovered that my host father has a second wife. This past weekend I was sitting next to my host sister, Fatou Kiné, at her birthday party. “Where is Papa Samba?” I asked. “He is […]

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