This week has been full of ups and downs. To start with the worst, I am sick. I started feeling ill Wednesday night and it hit me full on Thursday morning. I have an upset stomach, fever, and lots of weakness. I’ve spent the past two days lying in my bed, which means I had to skip a few classes. I went to the CIEE doctor this morning and got some medicines, so hopefully I’m on the road to recovery. Dr. Elaine said it could be something I ate, a general bacteria, or perhaps my body just telling me to slow down. Being sick and so far away from home just really sucks. I don’t know if anything else can make you more homesick. I want nothing more than someone to take care of me and cook for me and bring me my pills (thanks Mom!). It’s tough trying to cook yourself meals when you don’t have much energy to stand up. But I’m getting through it and feeling better already.
In other news, I had my first two tests this week. I was extremely nervous about my Toxicology test Tuesday, but it was a piece of cake. The questions were essentially word for word from the Power Points. I’m just so relieved to have that over with. I also had my Setswana mid-term on Wednesday and that was pretty easy too! I’m surprised at how much I’ve already learned. We switched clinics this week, so I went to the Block 6 clinic, which focuses on Diabetes. It was actually larger than the others I have been to, which I found surprising. With all of the focus on communicable diseases, it’s easy to forget about the non-communicable ones like Diabetes that are still very prevalent. I observed in the eye screening room and learned about the effect Diabetes can have on the eyes. It was so cool to see the back of an eyeball so close up that I could see the hemorrhages, blood vessels, and even cataracts. I also sat in with the dietician and learned about the very individualized diet she advises to patients. There was still more to see (consultations, the lab, patient education, etc.), but I’ll be going back for two more weeks. My clinic group got pretty lost trying to find our way back to campus. People kept telling us different stops to stand by and different routes to take and we kept walking back and forth. At the time it was frustrating, as it ended up taking us around 45 minutes to figure it out, but looking back, it’s pretty funny. I guess sometimes the best way to figure out where you’re going is to get lost!
The highlight of my week would have to be the Rosh Hashanah service I attended Wednesday night. L’Shanah Tovah! After emailing a few people, I was put in contact with some local Jews and decided to check it out. One of my CIEE friends, Sara, is Jewish too so it was nice to have a companion! The services were held at someone’s house, not too far from the university. They turned their living room into a sanctuary. We arrived around 5:30 and helped with some of the final preparations of the food. The house belongs to an Israeli family who welcomes the community into their home each Shabbat. The mother, Nurit, was so kind and welcoming and even offered to let us spend the night there. Her sons were so sweet and helpful at translating some of the Hebrew. They even invited us to come hang out with them a different day! There were about 30 people in total, which was more than I expected (especially for a night service). I know you’re wondering if any of them were Batswana and the answer is no. They were all Israeli Jews, most of who have moved to Botswana for work. There were a few peace core volunteers too. The congregation was Orthodox, so that was one big difference right from the beginning. The men and women were separated and though I’ve seen that at my grandparents’ synagogue, it still took me by surprise. We also weren’t allowed to use our phones or cameras so I didn’t get very many good pictures. We used a specific Rosh Hashanah prayer book. I recognized most of the prayers, but I still had trouble following along. I’m used to everyone singing along at my temple, whereas here the rabbi was the only one to speak and all the others just muttered the prayers to themselves in the breaks of silence. Another interesting difference was the Rosh Hashanah plate at the beginning of dinner. It reminded me a lot of Passover. There were apples (of course), beets, dates, butternut squash, fish, onion, a bitter sauce I can’t remember the name of, and pomegranate seeds. Each one represented something, but it was all spoken in Hebrew so I couldn’t understand. We then had a lovely dinner and dessert. Nurit and her family keep strict Kosher so they have to get all of their food from Johannesburg. Now that’s dedication! It was overall a very interesting night and I’m so thankful for the experience. Though it wasn’t what I typically experience on Rosh Hashanah at home, it was still nice to be surrounded by people who call you their own. I think I’ll definitely try to go back for Shabbat services in the future.