So this past week has been one of ups and downs, marked by a series of fortunate and unfortunate events. At the end of the day, however, the good memories will linger, while the bad ones will get joked about to make the good times even better!
Here, I’d like to share with you some happenings throughout the past week…
First, the good!
Meeting with School Administrators
On Tuesday of last week, the President of our school, the Chief Academic Officer, and the Director of Office of Clinical Student Affairs flew down from AUC’s administrative office in Miami for their semester visit of the Basic Sciences campus here in St. Maarten. As a part of the Student Government Association, we had the opportunity to meet with them to discuss issues and concerns of the school, the current state of affairs, and the school’s clinical contracts and other plans “in the works.” It was definitely nice to have an open face-to-face dialogue and to get our thoughts, ideas, and concerns across.
Although I’m not sure how much we actually accomplished during the meeting, I gained a new perception that there’s more we can do as the student government within the school that would not require us to go through the higher administration, like extending the library’s opening hours or opening up new rooms for extra study space. Nevertheless, I felt the meeting opened up an understanding on what is going on on both sides of the school, on the administrative side in Miami and on our side across the ocean in St. Maarten.
Meeting Mr. Tien
Before the SGA meeting, I had the pleasure with meeting Mr. Tien, our school’s president for the first time. He was actually the one who recognized me while I was having lunch with some friends in the Cafeteria. “Benji!” he said. I turned around, and there was the famous Mr. Tien that everyone’s heard about. I was quite surprised and didn’t know what to say. As he is the COO of our school, I was a little shy. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful informal conversation over lunch and it was really nice and inspiring to hear his story.
Group Study on a Friday Night
Then on Friday evening, I met up with some friends to go over some physio practice questions from several e-textbooks that we had. Already four days into the new block and we already had a lot to review. This is the life of a medical student. You start to realize that Fridays are just like any other days… we still got stuff to review over from lectures that day and first semester students still have tutorials to go to. There’s nothing really that special about Fridays anymore. Nevertheless, since I usually study on my own, it was refreshing and fun to gather with some friends to attempt some practice questions and discuss the material as a group, and it was the “special” thing that I did on a Friday night.
Now, the bad!
That Friday night when I walked home from after working out, I came upstairs to find a lot of music and noise on the roof terrace upstairs from me. As I walked up the stairs in my gym shorts, I saw a lot of students dressed up dancing to Latin music, having a good time on the roof under the stars. As I walked down the stairs in the dark, I missed a step, tripped, and rolled over on my right ankle. It was very painful and I laid on the ground for a good minute or so. Luckily Chris was there and he helped me get myself back on my feet (or foot, to be technically correct). My foot swelled to the size of a tennis ball and my foot was blue with internal bleeding that night.
Earlier that week, four friends and I were planning on taking a post-block rain forest hiking trip at Loterie Farms that next Saturday morning as well as participate in a volunteer community beach clean-up with the Honor Society. I was very hopeful that my injury would improve that night, but little did I expect that it was much more severe than I thought. The next morning, I could not walk at all, and any pressure that I put on it resulted in a sharp pain that lasted for several minutes. My foot was more swollen than ever and I was bedridden all of Saturday and most of Sunday. I had to roll around on my rolling desk chair to get anywhere in my apartment. I canceled the car reservation and called off the trip. My friends still went to the beach clean-up though, but I wished I was there.
USA vs. CANADA!!
On Sunday night, my foot was still very swollen but I could now walk slowly. That night was the Olympic hockey match between Canada and USA. I knew nothing about hockey, but as AUC’s student body is comprised mostly of Americans and Canadians, I thought it would be fun to see students showing their national pride and cheering for their respective country’s teams across from each other.
Limping slowly, I walked with my Canadian friend and three other American friends down the street to the casino, where they have a lounge lined with many plasma screen televisions all turned on to the Olympics. The room was packed with AUC students. Sure enough, all the Canadian students were sitting or standing together as a group, all wearing some shade of red, and several even brought their Canadian flags. The Americans were sitting together as a group, right next to our fellow neighbors of the north.
As the night went on, the room filled with noise as the Americans chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” and the Canadians chanted “CA-NA-DA! CA-NA-DA! CA-NA-DA” towards each other while each respective team scored their goals. We were all four time zones away from the Olympics in Vancouver, but right here in our own little St. Maarten, the spirit of international competition and camaraderie was brighter than ever. I couldn’t care less which side wins. As long as we had fun.
What an unlucky week it has been for my feet! As I mentioned before, I had injured my right ankle on Saturday. I had to cancel a fun hiking trip, grocery shopping (which I am in dire need of doing), a volunteer opportunity, and miss a day of class as a result of it. As if this weren’t bad enough, on Tuesday, while walking back home from the anatomy lab with Chris, a dog came from behind me and bit me on my left leg! As I was wearing scrubs, the bite was small, but nevertheless, I gained two distinct teeth marks in my skin, a little bleeding, and a bruise on my calf. Luckily, I don’t think the dog has rabies, since it was being walked by an owner and it looked healthy. Chris said the dog probably chose to bite me instead of him because I was limping and it probably thought it was a good opportunity to show its aggression. I certainly did nothing to provoke it. I did not even look it straight in the eye. The dog may be physically healthy, but I concluded some dogs just show abnormal DSM-IV-style aggressive behaviors, and that dog definitely needed to be leashed!
Despite all the unfortunate personal events of this week, it was a week when I realized how wonderfully caring and supportive my friends are. Throughout the past few days they have offered their help in bringing me food, letting me borrow groceries, and providing me with wrapping tape, gauze, and disinfectant for my injuries. They’ve followed up on my condition, offered to substitute for me during my shift in the anatomy lab, and made themselves available for me. I thanked them and turned down most of their offers, as I didn’t want to be a burden to them or take advantage of anyone. But I have realized that there are some wonderful people around me here at AUC. They are going to be wonderful doctors one day. I just know it.
To Continue, See Part II…