March 11, 2007

I am now a sunburnt beast!!!

Talofa my lovelies!
Well, since I last wrote, I have the most amazing sunburn…I’ve done the Brits proud! We went kayaking on Friday (took the day off hospital…!) around a little slice of paradise called Virgin Cove. Imagine, if you will, the most idyllic tropical, white sanded, palm fringed beach and then triple it and your’e not even close to how beautiful it was ( for pictures follow the link and go to the ‘beach and nature’ page). We had a guide, a guy called Morton from Denmark. We kayaked right along the cove (a good 3/4 of a mile) and then into the mangroves – a maze of fresh water ways bedecked with trees that dipped their braches on either side. Having never kayaked before, I had slight problems steering around the narrower parts and managed to crash into every available bush/rock/branch that was remotely sticking out from the banks. Special needs! I was mocked considerably! When we got back to the Virgin Cove resort we ate lunch and then crashed out on the beach for a while and had a dip in the sea – seriously, Ive had colder baths at home – it was lush! The weather had started out quite cloudy, but despite my factor 40, I was slightly frazzled on my right hand side – very attractive as you can imagine. I think we all underestimated the strength of the equitorial sun! Today is Sunday and Im still in significant pain…don’t worry mum, its not THAT bad!

Wednesday night was one of the funniest of my life so far. A group of us went to Aggie Grays resort to see the traditional Fia Fia dance that is held every week for tourists. It was breathtaking! There was a 10 strong music section consisting of classical guitars and traditional drums, another 10 or so male dancers and the same number of females. They were all dressed in traditional costume and the ladies had fantastic headresses, grass skirts and actual bras made of coconut shells – comedy value!!! The music was wonderful; they all sang in full harmony to alternate male and female led dances. The female dances were very gentle and soothing with strong hawaian influences, whereas the males performed mostly dances of war – the rhythms were edgy, strong and loud and the dancing was like the haka but better – it was absolutely stunning! Within the row of women, there was very obviously a shim (lady man) who was dressed just as the other women, but not blending terribly well. I was told by one of our friends, which was later backed up by the lonely planet guide, that the shim was infact a fia fia fina (not quite the correct phrase, I’ll change it later). This is basically a guy who is bought up as a girl. It is tradition in Samoa, that if you have 4 sons and your 5th child is also male, that 5th child will be raised as a female so that there is someone to cook, clean and act as a mother figure…RANDOM!!! HOWEVER, the real fun had not yet started. At the end of the main dances, they asked for 3 volunteers to come up on stage and compete in a Samoan dance-off. There weren’t too many willing volunteers so one of the women came down into the audience and dragged up 3 men…Dave being one of them. What followed was pant-wetting comedy genius! There was a lot of hip wiggling and tusch shaking on Daves behalf, but, alas, despite his best efforts he was first out of the competition. However, he was competing against a Tongan and a Kiwi, whose hips had obviously jiggled more regularly in the past! He did come away with the most beautiful garland as a consolation prize, so it was all good…I was so proud! Don’t worry, I have photograpic evidence and intend to use it for blackmail purposes in the future!

Yesterday (Saturday), a group of us hired a taxi to ‘The return to paradise’ beach, which was apparently made famous by some Garry Cooper film…we were less than impressed (SNOBS!). It just wasnt up to standard; the sea was too choppy, the sand wasn’t white enought, there were’nt enough palm trees… I could go on! We realised that we had SOOO been spoiled by Virgin Cove and demanded that the taxi driver take us back to the real paradise immediately! We spent the whole day just Lolling on the beach and in the sea – it was heavenly!

When I write next, I promise that it will include more about hospital…i.e. the reason why I’m supposedly here!
Love you all tons and am missing you. Loads and loads of love xxxxxx

March 08, 2007

Samoa…I am a sweaty beast!!!

We finally arrived on Monday night, which was actually Tuesday, but could have been Wednesday for all I knew. The journey itself was like some sort of outer body experience which involved us experiencing night time way too often. People seemed to get friendlier the further we got from England…the check in guy at Auckland got us bulk head seats and recommended places to visit in the South Island.
I stepped off the plane in Samoa and was convinced I’d die of suffocation at any minute – the heat and humidity were horrendous, and I’m not even joking when I say that my hair instantly transformed into one big fuzzy fluff ball that slightly resembled Wendolene from Wallace and Gromit! Ever since then, I’ve not stopped sweating and am currently showering up to 4 times per day. It was 26 degrees C when we touched down at 11.30 pm, so it must be nearing 35 during the day with a big heap of humidity thrown in, just in case we werent uncomfortable enough already!
Samoa is beautiful. Everywhere is so colourful and tropical and lush. The people are lovely – very friendly and layed back, and wear the most amazing clothes. I’m trying to convinve Dave to invest in a lava lava which is a unisex traditional sarong. All the men wear them, but I’d pay good money to see Dave in one. If I manage it I’ll take plenty of photos and mock him considerably!!!
The outrigger hotel is great – clean and comfortable and housing no less than 7 other medical students, all of them girls, much to Daves delight!
I am feeling decidedly ropey due to the intensity of the heat and the jet lag. I’ve been wandering around slightly detatched from reality like a proper space cadet, and constantly feel giddy. Dave is the same, but we’ve been reassured that this is the wonderful world of jet lag.
We ventured into hospital for the first time this morning (wednesday), following a torrential downpour. The hospital is basic but covers all of the main specialities. Dave and I opted to do obstetrics and gynaecology first (babies and womens nads), bearing in mind that we are yet to do this rotation and thought it may stand us in good stead for when we get back to Warwick. Needless to say, we have a combined knowledge of O&G that would fit happily on the back of a postage stamp. So we pitched up to the ward round this morning and were humiliated within the first 5 minutes. When I didn’t know what a ‘foley catheter induction (!)’ was, I was asked what year I was in…I havent felt so small in a long time, and my pathetic retort of ’ I’m sorry, I’ve never done O&G before’ didn’t really help matters. Ah well, shit happens. Apart from that little encounter, everyone seems very friendly and Ive heard on the grapevine that there is the potential to deliver some babies…very exciting!
The Samoan way of life is extremely relaxed; for example, we get to hospital at about 9 am and we leave at approximately 12pm, so that we’re not late for sunbathing round the pool. It’s a hard life and I fear I may not survive another 5 weeks of this.
On the other hand, I was munched to within an inch of my life by every goddam mosqitoe on the goddam island last night…slight exaggeration – I have 12 bites so far, and Dave has 1…git!
I am missing you all very much and promise to write again soon. Lots and lots of love xxxx

September 16, 2004

Describe the way you currently learn taught course material.

My previous degree focused mainly on taught lectures and practical sessions. The lectured part of the course encouraged me to combine both the superficial and deep methods of studying in order to perform well in both MCQ's and essay type questions. I believe that in order to succeed in a biological science based course such as my previous degree in anatomy&cell biology and indeed this 4 year medical course, one will need to adopt both skills in order to attend to the sheer volume of knowledge required of us. Obviously, understanding a topic is crucial in terms of being able to apply the knowledge to other areas and it is working within a group that I feel will really help with this aspect of the course.

In practical sessions and especially revision periods I worked very closely with two other people, so in effect it was a small group. We would question and test each other on all areas and more often than not, if one of us was struggling with a particular area, we all were. Having three individual brains working on a problem rather that just the one was an invaluble experience; each person would be able to bring a new idea or way of looking at things to the discussion or be able to explain the problem using a slighly different slant, the outcome being that all three of us benefitted because not only did we then understand the problem and were able to discuss it, we also had a variety of angles with which to approach the topic in future.

I find group work, therefore, very useful. Obviously there is great need for individual study but it's no good for me personally to just read something and hope it will stick in my head: if I can explain something to someone who doesn't understand and also answer questions on it then I learn the material on a deeper level and am therefore more likely to remember it…which is always good!

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