Germanic Adventures Pt. III

Berlin, city of cool.
I love public transportation for many reasons. One of them is the fact that I get to people watch, and in Berlin I can do so without shame because germans like to stare. A lot. I have seem a myriad of different people in the trains and when I am looking at them I like to picture where they came from and where they are going. Sometimes I think maybe I'm in sort of Truman Show situation and everybody is there as an actor, getting paid to appear normal. Or not.

Public transportation in Berlin is especially interesting when you are using the S-bahn. Every train station is a microcosmos. Every station is filled with different people: turkish, then african, then hipsters, then rich people. The contrasts are very strong and it makes the experience that much wonderful. It's a new world to discover and a new adventure waiting around the corner. Oh GOD I WILL MISS THIS. 

It's only been 4 days but I am thinking to myself, "Four days already?! But... I just got here!"and then it makes me extremely sad that time is slipping away through my fingers and I am not enjoying this time here to the fullest because I get out of the seminars and I am so tired that all I want to do is go home and collapse. And then I get this feeling in my stomach: fear.

The streets of Berlin
As time cruelly passes by so quickly when you're having fun, I am afraid that I will forget everything. That I will forget the feelings I get whenever I am, for example, waiting in line for a burger and I simultaneously hear british english, french, spanish from Spain and german. And how we all just blend in, how our backgrounds mean nothing, and everybody wants the same thing: a juicy burger.

I'm terrified that I will forget how this all feels, and that when the time comes to go back home, I will not remember how I felt at this moment, right now: so full of hopes, dreams, expectations and all around happiness when I am here. Berlin might just be the coolest city on earth. And to think, that the first time I came here, I didn't think it was all that. But the more I get to know the city, the background, the inner workings, the history and what it has been through, the more I love it. The more I fall in love... and the less I want to go back home, because heck, this is home. And I never feel this at home when I am in Puerto Rico. I feel I never fit, or that I can't relate to my fellow countrymen.

But enough about my ramblings and feelings, and more about what happened today. It is my second day at the summer school and I arrive early because I never know when the train will be late and when the bus will not come. It seems that it takes me a solid 40 minutes to get to the building but somehow it feels like 5 minutes. Nobody is there and I get some time to cool off. It doesn't matter that this morning was 57F when I got on my way, I always seem to be sweating like a pig when I get to places. Soon, the rest of the students make their way to the room, new familiar faces and I get a renewed sense of actually liking my profession, and I care about saving lives once more.

One thing that stroke me as interesting is how much experience with patients these people get at their respective parts of the world, which makes me think about the way they teach us medicine in my part of the world. Whereas we're being educated to basically pass the licensing exam, these students are being taught about dosages, what to do in what situation and I am in complete awe. It's amazing how much I have learned in two days from my colleagues, and I feel like I will be a better doctor for it. Maybe a small part of me wishes we could all practice medicine together in the same place one day.

Trauma patient. He looked a bit pale. 
Another thing I liked about today was a simulation we did with a cardiac arrest inside an airplane. I've always thought about what to do if such situation arose and training in this in small simulations (even if it's with a mannequin that gives me the creeps), kind of calms me down because I know that deep inside I really know what to do.  Even though at most emergency situations I think I would freeze, maybe when it comes down to it I will be able to stand my ground and do something about the situation.

Exhibit 1: the creepy mannequin.

Exhibit 2: Airplane! 

Also, we were taught on how to triage. I never knew this was such an interesting thing! I learned so much. But what really made this experience memorable was learning how people do these things in Israel, or Egypt. Comparing cultures and learning how other people do things, will definitely make the medicine I practice better. I think we should all sit down together and work on how to have international standards and that way we can take the best qualities of everybody and do better medicine.

Finally, my favorite part: obstetric emergencies. We were taught how to deliver a baby. This was an amazing experience and I think I will treasure this one the most. It made me very excited about my possible career in obstetrics and gynecology. I can definitely say that this course, apart from all that I have learned in the academic aspect, has given me new strengths to finish what I started, get my stuff together and do it.
Delivering the fake alien baby. 


Germanic Adventures Pt.II

Ever since I got here, I have been trying to soak everything in. Every little crack on the sidewalk, every leaf, every little detail, since I know I won't be back soon. It's a very weird feeling, being here. It's a sense of blending in, because everyone else is from somewhere else, and at the same time, it's impersonal. There are so many people here, who do you call a friend? But, you do make friends, in the faces of strangers you find a kindred soul, because they, too, are foreigners, and everybody is dying to tell you their story. It's a sense of being home and at the same time of being anonymous. It's sweet and delicious, it's frightening and exhilarating. It's peace among the chaos of people. And there is nowhere else I'd rather be. How can you be homesick for someplace you have never properly called home?
One of the many Charité buildings

Today I started the disaster medicine course. I went in there feeling a bit nervous, being a first day of school and all. But I was so happy to be there, because I had a second chance at having a student exchange experience. After being here in 2009, only for one semester, I left wanting more... one more day, one more week, one more semester. So now, I would have, even if only for two weeks, the experience I cherish the most, my most favorite thing to do in the world: meeting new people from different countries, exchanging experiences, new friendships, new places to stay if we ever travel to that particular corner of the world.

And I was not disappointed.

At first, not everybody would talk to me, since I got there a day late and nobody knew me. But then, slowly but surely everybody else was curious. And the most curious and daring of all was a group of lovely, charismatic italian girls. How easily did I feel at home, among these girls who come from a completely different background, but somehow, all the same. Maybe it's the mediterranean temperament as Mr.J likes to call it.

Got in there early because I was afraid of getting lost. 
Furthermore, being there the second day of the course and already behind, I was thrown into deep water and told to swim. I had no background and had to rely on others to help me out. Something I'm not always comfortable with, being the kind of person that likes to do everything by myself. I think I learned more about myself than Advanced Life Support.

Conversations were had, stories exchanged, cultures clashed with each other. It was amazing. And I can't wait to do it all over again tomorrow. That is, if I can get up in the morning! The jetlag, my anemia, me packing everything that I think I will need yet never use in my bag, my legs not being used to walking... well, you get the picture.

My colleagues: people who know more than I do.


Germanic Adventures

I have a love/hate relationship with airports. What airports giveth, airports taketh away. The airport takes me to Germany but also brings me back to Puerto Rico, away from Mr.J. When I was little, I used to love airports, because it usually meant one thing: vacations. Now that I am here in Germany, it has brought me close to Mr.J but vacations is the last thing I'll be doing here.

My most recent experience: Premium Economy
Before I go to the airport, I go through every little detail in my head, trying to anticipate what could happen. In my mind, I am a fabulous jetsetter almost hovering through the airport security and making it to the gate unscathed. This has never happened. For example, this time I did my hair before going to the airport in hopes of walking into Mr.J's arm with Pantene commercial hair... by the time I got to the gate I was sweating like a pig from carrying around my heavy computer (which is enabling me to write this!) and the myriad of things I think I will need but rarely use. My makeup had melted away, my hair was a mix of grease, frizz and I was hungry, but the airport was so warm that the only thing I could manage to eat was a gelato, my lactose intolerance be damned. To make things worse, the bronzer I had in my purse broke, filling my purse with makeup. I regretted the moment where my mom asked me if I needed napkins before we left and I said no.

And as always, I have something to tell about my experiences in the airplanes. Last time when I came to PR, I had the worst experience ever. I couldn't reserve online a seat, so when I got there at 6am (departure 11am), all the seats were taken. No window seat for me, no emergency seat for me, almost to the back of the plane and the airplane was packed full of people. I got a place next to a Spanish man who seemed uncomfortable to be next to me. Also next to me across the aisle there were some nice old ladies whom I helped stuff their heavy bags in the overhead compartments. The plane was full, I was super warm, and babies... lots of babies.

Good-bye Puerto Rico, and GOOD RIDDANCE! 
I don't know what I'll do when I have them, but having screaming babies in a very small space with absolutely NOWHERE to go, it can get pretty intense in there. And what I mean by intense was my hate of babies. Maybe they should have a separate area like they do on trains. Why has nobody come up with this yet? Maybe they have, but I am not aware of it.

So, being on the aisle seat, I had nowhere to rest my head, nowhere to run from the babies, puerto ricans screaming to each other across the aisles, a huge guy standing in front of me blocking the view from the TV thing. It was a horrible experience.

After this I had to book another ticket, and this time I said, NEVER AGAIN, and paid extra for the Premium Economy section. My pocket suffered a bit, and I really questioned my judgment after paying for it, buyer's remorse galore. But, after finally experiencing it yesterday, I can say it was worth every single penny.

Hello, cloud!
I didn't have any encounter with a passenger (except wanting to hit the lady behind me who was sneezing without covering her mouth, which is probably what gave me the cold I have now) , I was basically left alone... had my own big seat, could reserve ahead of time my window seat on the left side of the plane (because I normally sleep on my left side) and the food was amazing. How have I been traveling any other way? I may never go back to regular ol' economy again.

Appetizer, Entree, Dessert. YES!
I got out quickly, passed through customs quickly, waited for my bag and next thing I knew, I was hugging Mr.J. 9 hrs of flight were nothing. But my hair was nowhere near Pantene quality. And Mr.J, being the guy that he is, didn't even notice I had a little makeover done before I traveled and I had asked my mom not to put pictures on FB as to not to ruin the surprise. Well, I was the surprised one when after 20 min of being together Mr.J had not figured out a single thing with my hair. I had to point it out. Who got upset? I did. Quite. I could see Mr.J's face transform from surprise to OMGWHATHAVEIDONE?! when I pointed out the fact that my hair was indeed different.

To be continued...