I spent the past 5 weeks of my final summer vacation in India before I become a slave to boards and clinical years and get buried alive by books. It was also my first time traveling abroad and navigating independently, away from the clutches of my Asian mom and dad. At first, I was anxious about traveling by myself, to a foreign country outside of my comfort zone. I was entering malaria-mosquito-beggar ridden-poverty-typhoid fever-contaminated water territory. I’ve been warned consistently about not drinking the tap water there. I’ve had to get drugged up with expensive medications that my insurance refused to pay for because they were prophylactic; my insurance would only pay for meds if I get sick with the disease. How ridiculous is that??!! Paying for sickness but not prevention huh? I left the country with mefloquine, an expensive anti-malaria drug, some antibiotics for Montezuma’s Revenge (lol), nothing for typhoid fever vaccine because it was taking a hit to my butt pocket, and without MedEx, a health insurance program covering medical expenses in case things go awry abroad and repatriation in case of a disaster. I was treading shark-infested waters, while trying to save on incurring expenses. Going to India I was crossing my fingers (and toes), hoping I would not come down with dysentery, typhoid fever, animal bites, rabies, dengue fever, weird tropical diseases, accidents, lost limbs, or lost head. Ok, I’m going over the top, but India was a foreign land far far away so my imagination could not be blamed completely for wandering to Pluto.
In the end, my trip to India was still worth it. Dirt cheap as hell and living the simple life, what more could I ask for? With $1500 funded for me, I had my plane ticket and most of my tuition covered. That meant I lived in India for a mere $500 for a good full month: apartment, cheap utilities, cable TV, travel channels, endless round of movies, traditional Indian cuisine, continental food with a tikka twist, desserts, gelato, cocktails, smoothies, milkshakes, assortment of fruits, MANGOES, coconut trees, beautiful beaches, seaside resorts, waves, sun, seafood, elephants, crocodiles, wildlife, waters, mountains, backwater cruises, rickshaws, and much much more.
Of course, my purpose was not just fun in the sun. I was there on a study abroad program with Stony Brook University, working as an intern rotating through the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram (what a mouthful). There, I had a unique experience from surgical oncology to radiation therapy to crowded outpatient clinics (head and neck, chest, breast, gynecologic, gastrointestinal, pediatrics). I saw whacky clinical cases and worked with amazing, personable doctors. I stood next to mighty surgeons, watching their every dissection, chatted with otherwise bored anesthesiologists, and sat back and absorbed what the kind doctors were teaching me. A spark went off and now I have a renewed appreciation for anatomy, radiology, stitching, and much much more. Stay tuned for an educational course through the clinics of India.
Get VERY envious now, because I’m going to write a series of blog posts documenting a very luxurious, eye-popping time in Kerala, India, one of the greenest and most scenic places in South India.