February 25, 2013

Playing Doctor

Matt got to play a real doctor today!

He had his first simulation. Simulation is a time where the students experience real life scenarios. They work with a variety of different simulation mannequins who are to represent potential patients and situations they will be faced with. The goals of Simulation Labs are to prepare the students for real time pace and real experiences. They will learn to think on their feet, deal with ethical situations, learn various procedures and most importantly, apply the knowledge they are learning in lectures.

Simulation is great way for first semesters especially to get their feet wet right away and have a great hands on approach  to learning.

Plus, you get to wear the famous blue scrubs and stethoscope.

He makes those look good.

In the first semester, they will only have two simulation labs. As he gets further along in his medical career, he will have them more often.

Matt loved it. It's a great learning tool for him as he is able to make mistakes, and learn from them, without extreme consequences. It's also helpful to learn how to handle yourself and learn your role as a physician.

In other exciting news, we have signed a new lease for second semester! We will be moving into Fletcher Luxury Apartments after we get back from the states.

Fletcher is quite a bit bigger than where we are now. Currently, we are in 390 sq. ft., while Fletcher is about 800 sq. ft. Although we love our cozy apartment, it will be nice to have a little more space to spread out. A friend of mine told me, that if you can stay married in your first year while living in a 390 sq. ft. apartment in a third world country, you'll be set for life. 

Comfort Zone is a great place to live, especially in the first semester. It's close proximity to campus, wonderful landlord and amenities stand out among some of the other living options. I would certainly recommend it!

Fletcher is a bit further from campus as it is off of Banana Trail. It's a new building, with two gorgeous balconies per apartment with an ocean view, queen size bed, American appliances (yes, a stove I don't have to light a match and pray for the best to cook), a real desk and a desk chair, and two giant TVs among other things. A big upgrade will be the bathroom. There's place to move around in there so you don't' have to shimmy in and out to use the restroom.

We will have to be out of Comfort Zone when we fly out on April 16. We can store our barrels of stuff with Fletcher, who then will move them into the apartment for us when it's available. In order to move those barrels, we will like arrange that with Alexis Taxi, so we don't have to carry those around!

The rest of our stuff will be stored with help from our friends. With the last couple of weeks being stressful for Matt with Mini 3 and his final, and then packing for our trip home and moving, it is going to be a whirlwind. Sounds like fun, huh?

And finally, for those of you back home experiencing this awesome winter weather, know you're always welcome to visit. We'd love to have you! And it's supposed to be 85 deg. tomorrow.


February 19, 2013

A Little Perspective

Living here in a developing country has surely been an eye-opening experience for us. In more ways than one.

Coming to a developing country was more than nerve-wracking for me. I love my car, central air, lush bedding and Starbucks on every corner just like you. So when we started looking at exactly what we were getting ourselves into, I was less than excited. Sure, Dominica is known as the Nature Island, but I'm not necessarily an outdoorsy person. Ok I'm not outdoorsy at all. I don't like to hike as my foot has never really recuperated fully from the last break, and my allergies to trees, grass, dust, mold and weeds make being outside a little less than fun. I know, I know. I sound like a major nerd, and I'm fine with that.

Sure, it takes getting used to, but we are acclimating. Open minds and invention are key. And you know what? We're surviving. Quite happily actually. Except for the lack of scolding hot showers. I could really go for a scolding hot shower.

We are constantly reminded of the amenities and luxurious things we have in the states, and how frivolous they can be. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely just as guilty of loving Chick-Fil-A, enjoying a lazy Sunday shopping at a plethora of superstores, reveling in my purse collection and more. These things make our lives easier and more enjoyable, so of course we value them. But living here, puts it all in perspective a little bit.

I was inspired to write this post from reading the blog of another spouse here, Elise. She shared this video, talking about the severe case of FWP or First World Problems.

Yes, its mocking many of the 'problems' we face. And when you hear them like this, it sounds just a little petty, right? Right. I'm not shaming anyone here. I've been known to complain that the AC was making me too cold. It happens.

Now, watch this video.

Feel even worse about complaining that your remote is on the table but your bed is too comfortable to leave and grab it? Or that your iPad isn't syncing to your iTunes fast enough? Yea, so do I. Any of these scenes from this video could be taken from Dominica. It's truly shocking to see some of the living conditions that we are surrounded by. But they are. And the people that live in them are happy. They find their happiness in a beautiful day, God's grace, sunshine, a garden full of fresh vegetables and more.

And then there's this little guy, that is so ridiculously cute, it's easy to miss the importance of the message.

I'm not advocating giving up all of your personal belongings by any means. I just think its important to be aware. Aware of what you have, how nice you have it and how so many more people are struggling so much more than you are. And most importantly, be aware of how you can help those who are less fortunate.

That's certainly one experience I'm hoping to take away from our journey here. I hope to fully appreciate having grocery stores fully stocked with food, a safe home with four walls, windows, clean running water, a real door that can be locked securely and more. Things as simple as sidewalks and paved roads - yea, those are nice.

Matt and I have started going to a couples Bible study that has been a wonderful experience for us. There are couples there that range from other first semesters all the way to fifth semesters. It's great to meet and chat with those who are going through what we have, can relate to our struggles, and are proof and motivation that it can be done. It was interesting last Sunday, when we were discussing appreciation at how many of the upper semesters talked about how much they appreciate the island - the slow pace, less stress than the 'go, go, go' attitude, the friendly conversation with those you meet and not being attached to cell phones just to name a few. And although we are enjoying our time here, it is encouraging to hear other positive experiences learned from this journey.

So next time that your air conditioning is running so much that you are shivering, remember that it's really not a problem. Just be grateful you aren't overheated. Go drink some clean water from the tap, relax on your overstuffed sofa with a plush blanket, surf your 843 channels and most importantly, just be thankful for what you have.


February 16, 2013

Matt's Birthday, Exams, Valentines and More

What a week!

Matt had three exams, a birthday and Valentine's all rolled into one. To say we are exhausted is an understatement. But, we survived.

So let's start from the beginning. We woke up early Monday morning, got ready, ate some breakfast.... Just kidding. I'll spare you the boring details.

Matt's pre exam meal was Taco Pie deliciousness. I'm sure that's his secret of success.

Matt's tests went really well! He was pretty well brain dead by the end of it. But at least it was all at the same time. As you know, his birthday was on Wednesday, too. So after he finished the Mini, we went to the Tomato for some lunch with the Womacks and then came back here for a bit.

Matt isn't huge on sweets, so instead of a birthday cake, I made him a strawberry pretzel salad. (I don't think salad is a fair term, but at least it makes you feel better eating it.) He loved it! And we ran out of propane just as the gelatin started boiling. Success!

I also gave Matt his second birthday present, an external hard drive. It's small and easily transportable so he can take it to class and store all of his books and notes. Plus I found this really neat case for it that protects the hard drive from falls, water, etc.

From there, we went to the beach with the Womacks and the Sorensons. The guys tried to snorkel, but the waves were pretty intense!

The water was a spectacular shade of turquoise that we don't see very often. It is usually more of a rich blue color.

Since the waves were rather rough, they weren't able to snorkel much. So they headed back in. It also started to rain, so we went in and spent the rest of the afternoon at home.

That's when I got to give Matt is last gift! I got help from many of you to for this one. I wanted to celebrate his birthday with all of you, so many of you submitted videos wishing him a happy birthday! Here's the end result (with some of them censored out.. Kean).

Pretty cool! Thanks to all of you for helping with this! It is so great to see everyone's faces and creativity. We love them and keep watching them over and over!

We ended the night with dinner at the Usual Spot. Which has quickly become one of my favorites! 

For Valentine's Day, we went to De Champ Hotel and Restaurant for the night! We had an awesome three course dinner and stayed in one of their rooms for the evening. And yes, I think we were most excited about turning the AC on full blast, and charging our electronics. Welcome to married life, right?

The food was delicious! We each had a filet mignon. It was the first I've eaten red meat in awhile - not to mention a steak. And of course we had the incredible view that De Champ provides being at the top of the hill.

Breakfast the next morning was served on a patio overlooking the Picard area. Of course, it rained, so we got to see this gorgeous rainbow! 

We made it a quick breakfast as I headed back work, and Matt had lecture. It was an abbreviated celebration med school style, but it was still so nice to spend Valentine's Day with my husband!

So now, we are taking it easy this weekend. Matt's back at studying. And I'm back to doing laundry in the sink. 

But I thought I would leave you with this video and images from the waves one evening. They aren't normally this intense, but it was just awesome to watch the power and force behind them.


February 10, 2013

Sunday Update

Whew! It's Sunday evening and I'm exhausted from, well, being in the sun all weekend. I know, I know, poor me. But the sun does take it out of you.

Saturday I went to Sunset Bay resort to the beach with the Spouse Organization. Again, it was great to get out of Portsmouth and share the day with the other spouses and families here.

Plus, it was nice to see a different beach. The water there was really clear, but still was black sand. So much different than the white sand beaches of Freeport.

Today, I enjoyed the pool on campus. I took a nice quiet afternoon to read and soak up the sun. Matt on the other hand, didn't get much beach time. Actually none at all. As he has his first lab practical, a histology practical than part two of Mini One this week. So you can bet he didn't get any sun in this weekend.

Like I said, his first lab practical is Tuesday. It's 50 stations of structures pinned on a cadaver. Each cadaver is a different station. You have 50 seconds at each station, and it is all fill in the blank as to where the pin is located. They had a 'mockital' on Saturday to practice and to make sure everyone was clear of what the process will be.

He also has a histology practical Tuesday morning. He will be shown a slide of a tissue and they have to name the part or type of tissue that's being displayed. This will be 50 questions, and they have roughly an hour or so to complete.

Wednesday is Mini one part two. This mini will consist of carbohydrate metabolism, chromosomal abnormalities, muscles of the upper limb, embryology and more. It will be roughly 92 questions with two hours to complete.

But more importantly on Wednesday, is Matt's birthday! I took the day off, and so after his test, we are going to go snorkeling with a group. Well, they are going to go snorkeling while I enjoy staying dry. Something about searching for creatures that I try to avoid just doesn't sound appealing to me.

We've also got some exciting Valentine's Day plans to end out the week!

Since it's been so long since I've updated you all, I thought I'd fill you in by way of pictures.

Our barrel came! And yes, that's three jars of nutella, lots of peanut butter and lots of coffee. And that's just a glimpse of our goodies!

We saw this! The most stunning double rainbow I've ever seen!

I tried my hand at Mango Salsa with my new food processor that came in the barrel. I also made up some cinnamon and sugar chips to go with it. Delicious! We are already on our second batch.

We celebrated Jon's birthday at De Champ, a hotel/restaurant. They also have a private deck you can rent that comes complete with hammocks, sofas, lounge chairs and a hot tub.

De Champ is located near the top of Banana Trail, so they have a great view. And they have a truck that will come and pick you up, so you don't have to walk up the hill!

 These sunsets don't disappoint!

I've been having some major internet trouble at home, so I've had to get creative with my internet options since I wasn't able to connect on campus. This is down at the beach by our apartment where I can connect to the hotel's wifi. Awesome view!

And of course, Landon! One day he randomly asked us if we had mango trees. (What four year old knows about mango trees?!) Anyway, oddly enough, we do have mango trees. He asked to see them, so we took some pictures and sent them to him. Unfortunately, he got rather upset because he wanted one for himself. So thanks to Mommy, here is he eating a mango from Aunt Mimi and Uncle Matt! It might have been a mango from the grocery store in Indiana, but that's ok. It's the thought that counts!

Beyond that, we thinking about our plans for next semester's living arrangements and beginning to think about our trip home. It's coming so quickly. It's crazy to think that this duration of semester one is about the same as our entire time in Freeport. Time here is going by much more quickly!


February 1, 2013

School First

It's Friday. Another week down in the Caribbean.

And no, I haven't started a countdown.

That's a lie. Of course I have. 10.5 weeks till we're back in the States. Scolding hot showers, quick service, and no sweating here I come! Let's hope I remember how to put make up on. Because clearly I haven't really worn any here. That melting make up look doesn't do me any good.

It seems fitting we will be going to Vegas direct from here. One extreme to the other. Go big or go home right. I'm not sure how we will adjust from the laid back pace of Dominica, to city that never sleeps, but we'll sure try!

After spending 10 days, yes 10 days, in Vegas (which is really like three months in Vegas time) we will head to Indiana for six or so days before heading back to Dominica. Oh Shipshewana how I have missed you. That's something my 16-year-old self never thought I would say.

Speaking of Indiana, remember this face?

Or maybe you remember him better from this video. 

Of course you do. 

He's cute and adorable. How could you not.

He's also hilarious.

Example.  Christmas day we were at my grandparents house. Poor kid got a little bit of a boo boo. Now, he knows that Uncle Matt is moving to Dominica to become a doctor and make people feel better. So we asked him if he wanted Uncle Matt to look at his boo boo. He replied with a straight to the point answer of, "He's not a doctor. He has to go to school first."

What do you say to that? Leave it a four-year-old to put Uncle Matt in his place. 

He was also very concerned when we started packing. We were explaining again (because what child asks something one time) that we had to go across the ocean on a big airplane so Uncle Matt could become a doctor. He got this sad, concerned look on his face, and he asked Sheila (mommy) "But if Uncle Matt is leaving, when will Aunt Mimi see him again?" 

Doesn't that just melt your heart?

We told him I was going, too. Which he then thought that meant I was going to be a doctor, too. Instead of telling him there's no way I'll do blood, I told him I was going to help take care of Matt, to make sure he's eating and sleeping and being a good boy, so he can stay big and strong.

That answer seemed to suffice. I love the innocence that shines through him.

So if you're reading this Landon, Aunt Mimi and Uncle Matt miss you! We'll be home in a few more sleeps!

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