Well, the past few days have been filled with school and settling into a routine here in Cape Town. My schedule is set and I typically have class at 10, 11, and 12, so I am technically done with school at 1 everyday which has been so, so nice! They are also all on upper campus, making everything very convenient. I will try to post a map soon and explain my daily navigation around this crazy, huge campus! UCT has a meridian period here, which is essentially an hour lunch break that basically everyone has. This certainly has its pros and cons as you get to see all of your friends and hangout for an hour but it also means that everyone is trying to eat lunch at the same time and the food places are packed! Fortunately there are quite a few places to eat on campus, all with excellent food, and they are pretty cheap (about $3)… so I have been eating lunch on campus and hanging out with friends before hitting up the library for a bit of studying then calling it a day and heading home. You have to pay for the bandwidth (amount of internet) that you use here in South Africa but we get free internet on campus, so I have been taking advantage of that and staying on campus a bit longer to do homework and such.
There are three parts of campus: upper, middle, and lower campus. From my house, I am only about a three minutes walk from lower campus so I catch the Jammie Shuttle to head up to upper campus where my classes are. This morning I was on the Jammie Shuttle heading up to upper campus like usual, passing by middle campus on the way. There was quite a bit of commotion as police, fire trucks, and ambulances were everywhere and the street was blocked off—but we had absolutely no idea what was going on. It turns out that just a few minutes earlier, a helicopter crashed… it isn’t everyday that a helicopter crashes into campus! I never heard the official reasoning for the crash but rumors suggest that the helicopter either hit a tree or ran out of fuel… either way, it was a little crazy but then again I’ve learned you never know what to expect here! Fortunately, there were no casualties involved.
My IES health-focused class requires 60 hours of volunteer work so tonight was my first night of volunteering with SHAWCO Health! Essentially, SHAWCO (Student Health And Wellness Community Organization) sends out six mobile clinics each week to nearby townships, offering medical care for free. The organization is student run and the medical students do most of the work within the clinics under the supervision of a doctor (who volunteers his time as well) that oversees all of their work. As I am still an undergraduate and don’t have all that much experience within the medical field, it is more of a shadowing and learning opportunity as I was paired up one-on-one with a medical student who performs the examination. The mobile clinic was quite squished as it is divided up into four very small rooms, separated only by curtains. Sanitation is also not such a priority as gloves weren’t used and there were no bed linens or anything covering the beds between patients. Obviously it wasn’t a full examination but it was enough of an examination that the sanitation in these clinics wouldn’t fly in America! It was also incredibly easy to volunteer here (especially when trying to volunteer in the medical field) as I basically just signed a form and was ready to go. In America there seem to be many loopholes to jump, especially dealing with HIPAA laws and confidentiality and such, just trying to volunteer! We left for Zibonele (the township) around 5 and we alone saw about 6 or 7 patients during the duration of the clinic… so the clinic itself probably helped about twenty-five to thirty people in just a few hours. The common cold seemed to be most frequent (as it is winter here) but we also saw cases of tapeworm and piles. We didn’t end up getting back until close to 11 so it was quite a long night but such an awesome experience for learning and seeing the action up close. I’m going to try to go out on a clinic every week, hopefully going to different townships though, so I will definitely be giving you some more information and experiences about these mobile clinics in blogs to come.
We have had some incredibly gorgeous “winter” weather here as it has been about 85 during the day… pretty comfortable and perfect for picnics during the meridian lunch period!
Hopefully tomorrow there will be a bit less commotion on campus—but it is Africa so you never know what to expect!