Well, my trip has come to a close and I am back in Chapel Hill! I left on July 12th and reached Charlotte on July 13th (took me a bit to get back and have time to settle down to write). In summary, it was an incredible clinical and personal experience. Travelling by myself was a really unique and special opportunity that I am already grateful for. Of course, just because I traveled by myself does not mean I did this trip on my own – there are many, many people who made this trip possible. So, ahsante (thank you) to these people for this incredible experience!
- My parents: my dad for supporting me the whole time and helping me get my visa/airline tickets figured out & my mom for not believing that I was actually going to Tanzania on my own until the last month of planning, but still swallowing her apprehension and supporting me anyway. Also, they both helped me through the tough times and were always reliably just a phone call away regardless of the time difference or cost of calling internationally.
- My friends: I was very, very close to calling off the whole trip before I left purely because of my nervousness, but my friends took the time out of their days to talk me off the metaphorical ledge and coax me into remembering all my reasons for planning the trip in the first place. The last few days before I left, I was certifiably crazy and I really would not have gotten on that plane without them. A special shout out to those who kept in touch while I was abroad – I missed everyone and it was so great to have contact with good friends while I was on my own!
- Dr. Justin Myers, Kari Corker, and Shay Slifko – These 3 people put in a lot of work to arrange my trip, working with the University of Arusha and ADRA to make sure I had a place to stay and a place to work during my time there. Again, in the last few weeks before I left, they made sure I felt as comfortable as possible by putting me in contact with various people who had travelled extensively before.
- Dr. Akech, Dr. Koshuma, and the nursing staff – Dr. Akech was the adminstrator who allowed me to come to work at the university and Dr. Koshuma and his entire nursing staff really made me feel at home and gave me the privilege of seeing the real Tanzania by inviting me into their homes. They helped me through every step of the clinic experience, explaining things and allowing me to practice my handiwork at procedures even though I know they could have done everything twice as fast. I learned a great deal because of their patience and because they made me feel okay if I made a mistake (which I did plenty of).
- ADRA, Leah, and Aziza – ADRA’s guesthouse was a great place to stay for my trip. Leah was always ready to help me with anything, from finding an ATM to arranging airport transportation when I left. Aziza, the cook, made excellent meals every day and I never had to worry about where my next meal would come from because of her. She watched over me like I was her own and I will be forever grateful for it!
- My drivers – Even though I was nervous on my first day, I fully appreciate the people who drove me back and forth from clinic and around town. I was completely at their mercy, but they taught me to trust and that a little conversation in someone’s native language goes a long way! They were reliable and my trip would not have been possible without them.
- Saumu – my first friend in Arusha, she showed me around town the first weekend I was there and introduced me to her family. Her quickness to take me under her wing was so sweet and I appreciate it so much!
- It Started in Africa – I had an excellent safari with them and I know I will treasure that experience for the rest of my life!
- My Kindle – although it stopped working the day I left for safari (sad face), it was my best friend on this trip. I got to read all the books I had been wanting to read and it was a great reminder (and encouragement) of how much I love reading.
- Dry shampoo, Simple face wipes, and pocket hand sanitizers – for keeping me remotely clean as I went without power/hot water for days at a time
- You – for keeping me accountable and following along as I blogged my trip because I know I will look back at this a few years from now and treasure the memories it brings!
So it has come to an end, but my life in medicine is just beginning! Ahsante!