First day of General Medicine

Sprawling ancient tree, University of Peradeniya

Sprawling ancient tree, University of Peradeniya

I’m officially homesick. I miss my computer and my friends and drinking and good coffee and decent films and TV and the English language. So today, I’m just going to complain on here.

So, I’ve finally started. *sigh*. I’m feeling exhausted, and it’s only lunchtime! I think I managed to join three ward rounds, during the course of which I learnt the following great lesson: Consultants make crap teachers, and registrars make good ones. For the uninitiated, consultants are specialists, and also at the top of the medical food-chain; registrars are specialists-in-training and do most of the day to day management of the ward. For whatever reason, the registrars seem to be a lot more interested in teaching and explaining and have a better grip on what sorts of things you should learn. My theory is that consultants just live in another world, really.

I suppose things will get better once there are other students around. For now, it’s a bit crap because I’m the only one. I already feel very much like I’m back in the grinding mill that is my chosen profession. What does that mean? I already feel stupid, having been asked a whole lot of questions that I should know the answers to, but don’t, on account of the fact that I wagged renal and neuro. It’s a bit crap when you work out that proximity to your future job is inversely correlated with your self-esteem.

On the other hand, I managed to see a fair few cases of dengue fever, something I’ve never seen before, as well as a case of Takayasu‘s Arteritis, something I may never see again.

I keep getting the distinct impression of a certain amount of hostility towards foreign-born Sri Lankans here. Something along the lines of how we’re all arrogant snobs with no idea of the local culture or the way in which people live. To add insult to injury, we also haven’t bothered with learning Sinhalese properly, because we’re “too good” for it or something. Whatever it is, it’s starting to annoy me. I’ve heard a couple of remarks about what foreign medical students are supposedly like already, as well as managing to overhear no end of comments made by other random people in Sinhalese, a language that I can understand perfectly well. I read a review of a short story in the Sunday paper which was about how one of the characters, a foreign-trained doctor, is totally out of touch with the local culture and dehumanises the patient, who is from a remote village. I find it outrageous to assume that because I don’t live here that I know nothing of the culture and have a high-and-mighty attitude. I’ve spent a fair chunk of time here, over many visits, I’ve spent a large proportion of that IN villages, and I certainly understand the culture here well, as well as being able to understand Sinhalese. To be perfectly honest, I’ve met many people from Colombo who have far less knowledge of the true state of this country and its people than I do. Hypocrites.

We (my uncle, aunt, cousin and I) went up to Nuwara Eliya on Sunday with Iresha, one of my second cousins. My 9-year old cousin, Sasika, kept trying to bully me the entire time. Heh. It was a fairly good trip. Nuwara Eliya is at a bit of an altitude, so is about 10 degrees cooler than Colombo. As a result, all of the European-type vegetables and plants are grown there, and it is full of pines and other coniferous trees. We went to a stuffy establishment for lunch, of the kind that is mostly frequented by rich tourists and rich people from Colombo. An oppressive silence hung in the air, as thick as a velvet curtain and just as old-fashioned (to use a Dire Assassin-ism). Our (whispered) conversation went a little like this:

Me: Are we allowed to talk in here?
Iresha: I have no idea!! It’s so quiet!
Me: I’m too scared to use my voice.
Iresha: Maybe we should whisper?
Random tourists on the other table giggle

Some woman also asked my relatives if I was Indian. Then we stole some cacti. The trip to Nuwara Eliya, one way, was 3.5 hours or so, despite it being only 80km from Kandy. As a result, we were exhausted by the time we returned home.

I’ve been alternately hot, tired and ridiculously hungry since getting here. I keep going to bed at 10pm, exhausted. I’m clearly not used to 8-hour sleep times.

I’m going to buy myself a calling card today.

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