Being Sick Abroad

Alright y’all, just as a warning, this post will certainly not be as fun as my last post, but if you read to the end I’m posting some amazing photos I took from the top of a waterfall we hiked to the top of last weekend. They’re worth it, trust me; the top of this hike revealed one of the most incredible views I have ever been so lucky to see.

Back to the real news, though, I got sick this week. Since I don’t personally know everyone who is reading this blog, I’d rather not get into detail about what all my body was experiencing, but I can assure you it has been thoroughly unpleasant. My illness came to a peak a couple of days ago in my Swahili class, in a rather unfortunate way as well. My Swahili instructor, Frank, went up to me at the beginning of class and asked me in Swahili where I was from. I, having been too sick to review my Swahili, had no clue what to say, and as I struggled to figure out what to say in response started to feel horribly sick. Once he moved onto the next student, I left class to lay down and give myself some time to rest and try to forget about how sick I felt.

I find, in general, that it is very easy to focus on the negative when I feel sick. As I was laying in my bed, staring up at my mosquito net, I definitely started to have some more doubts about having decided to commit the next three months of my life to this program. Like, crap, what have I done? I started to worry that my only association with Tanzania would be with constantly feeling weak and sick. To be fair, the elevation here is quite a bit higher than at home, so even just running around in soccer felt like running a freaking mile.

But I think the hardest part about being sick is watching everyone else on the program having a good time, enjoying the activities, buying beautiful fabrics at local markets, and playing sports with people who live in the village our camp is in. I felt like I was missing out on such a crucial time to experience Rhotia and get to know the other students and staff in the program. Finally, I gave in and asked to be taken to the local clinic.

And holy crap, the clinic nearby is so nice! I wish it was my normal hospital at home (no hate, Dean). The outside was beautifully landscaped, full of flowers and colorful ramps and staircases. Apparently, there are some really cute dogs there? (I didn’t get to see them). They saw me way quicker than my doctor at home—without an appointment—and the whole clinic was super well organized. To top it off, with the visit and prescriptions together, I only had to spend $15. I’m only describing these details so much because I think there are a lot of generalizations and stereotypes about the “country of Africa,” that invade the minds of Americans when we think of any African country. I’m also describing this because it’s whack how expensive medical care is in the U.S. According to my Student Affairs Managers, it costs less to fly to Tanzania, give birth to a baby, then fly back to the U.S. than it does to have a baby at a local hospital in America.

Well, that’s my sickness rant. In case you’re wondering, I’m feeling much better and have a substantially more positive outlook on the rest of the program now. Word for the wise—look up where nearby hospitals are when traveling; you never know when you’ll need to go. Asante (thank you) for reading my words. Here are those pictures I promised.





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