Friday, June 7, 2013

Going Dutch

It's been another very long day- I woke up at 7:00 to walk to the Hospital, it's now 1:30am. I've walked for a little less than three hours of my day and I was just dropped off at my apartment after a very late dinner.

I should really sleep, but if I don't write now I'm going to forget. So...

The hospital was much better today, though I was still practically falling asleep for most of the morning. I haven't been getting much sleep. But even though it was a struggle to literally keep from hitting chin to chest as I was nodding off, I stayed in the patient's room throughout the whole exam- so that's a win in my book. Also, because I don't know most of the medical terminology Paige has been translating for me and explaining the different diseases/treatments which has made it a lot more interesting.

After the morning in the Hospital I went to a fruit & vegetable street market with Cami that is about three blocks south of the apartment and only open on Thursday mornings. From there I walked to class, which was once again slow. Verrry slow. But I like my teacher Jose more and more; he's hilarious and incredibly laid back. Every day he works into the conversation a joke about how his American students should make him chocolate chip cookies since he can't find them in Argentina. I think maybe over the weekend I'll try and find the ingredients and make them for Monday.

Sometimes I think he makes jokes at the expense of one of the guys in my class who is friendly, but gives off a very strong only child vibe. It's a little frustrating, he brags in a way that seems like he is completely unaware of what life outside of prep-schools and the private-liberal-arts-bubble is like (...sounds familiar). Every once in a while Jose will say something that I think only I catch. I can tell Jose is very liberal, and after a very political class yesterday I think that he probably realizes that my classmate who he has been joking with is conservative. Conservative by American standards doesn't really exist in Argentina. Northern Europe is considered very moderate and in Jose's words, "In Argentina, the far right end of the political spectrum is where the left of ends in America". I don't think that factors into their interactions in a very direct way, but I can tell by how they both speak that they have entirely different perspectives on life and I wonder how much of that has translated into politics...

While on the subject of politics, I was pretty surprised when the doctors told me that healthcare and education are completely free, even for foreigners. In the set of 5 vaccines I got before leaving the U.S. last month I somehow never got the basic flu shot. This is problematic when you're working in a hospital specializing in infectious disease where the flu (H1N1) can be lethal. I told one of the doctors that I never got the shot and he pointed me down the hall to a line of people. I stood in line for five minutes, told a nurse I needed the flu vaccine, they pricked my arm, I wrote down my name, and that was everything. I didn't need to pay, I didn't need an ID, they just gave me the shot.

The flip side to this is twofold; the lines are typically long, especially if you're looking for something more complicated than a flu shot, and the equipment and technology available is not what would be expected in the U.S. or even in some of the expensive private hospitals. Yesterday one of the doctors was drawing blood from a patient and asked if we used the same sort of needles in the U.S. His had a plunger and looked basically like what you probably think of when you imagine a clipart drawing of a needle. He told me that in the U.S. he thinks they typically use negative pressure (in english they might be called vacuum tubes or vacuum tube needles, I'm not positive) and that it's a much safer method because they aren't prone to user error the way his needle can be. Thinking back to the times I gave blood, I confirmed this, but because my medical background is so minimal I really couldn't say if it's the norm. In response he said that it's not important since 'jeringa básica' is what they have, it's what will be used.

From class I came home, and skyped until about 9:00 when I went to meet Paige, Eric and Sultana (the other students at Hospital Rawson, all of whom I like a lot) for dinner with one of the head doctors of the hospital. He had told Eric and Sultana that he wanted to take us out for Asado, which more or less translates to Argentinian steak at a nice restaurant.

It was one of the nicest places I've ever eaten. He ordered wine for the table, a number of side dishes and we all got HUGE portions of different cuts of meat and desserts after. We talked quite a bit and didn't leave until about 12:30 in the morning. It was a much nicer restaurant than we expected and much more expensive too, but I think we were even more surprised when the doctor who had taken us out for Asado asked us to pay when the check came.

140 pesos each. Not that that's an enormous amount of money, but it comes out to about $30 per person, so I'd consider that an expensive meal for college students. Especially in Argentina where dinner at a nice restaurant rarely exceeds 70 pesos. I wouldn't mind splitting the bill, but where he had driven us to the most expensive restaurant in town, ordered for us and never mentioned money beforehand, I think it was definitely not the best start to a month or so of working with him. Then again, like Eric said afterward, how could we ever go out like that in the U.S. for 30 bucks? And aside from a bit of an uncomfortable situation at the end of the night, it was fun.

Anyway, time to sleep. I've got some pictures I'll upload in the morning. Buenos noches.

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