For the next several days, I’ll be posting about how I spent my last six weeks. Hope you enjoy a taste of my time in Samoa. You can find more information here.
…before you come to Samoa
- The appropriate response to “where’s your husband?” is “in the States,” regardless of marital status.
- Corned beef mixed with canned spaghetti is just as valid a meal as fresh sashimi.
- Air conditioning is a luxury.
- Airport security shows up for work twice a week – when the plane lands.
- Umbrellas are for sun, not rain.
- There are 180.000 people in the country.
- Internet is fifteen tala an hour.
- Mozzies are not bad unless you forget your bug spray.
- The only safe dog is a dead dog, and that’s still iffy.
- The bus is built on an old sedan.
- Public Happy Fast Food is a very popular restaurant.
- Bars close at ten pm.
- Samoa has four inhabitated islands and four uninhabited islands.
- Triple rainbows are possible. The word ‘yes’ is not used in Samoan.
- A raised eyebrow signifies an affirmative answer.
- The beaches are the most beautiful in the world.
- A typical family will have at least three generations and four nuclear groups living in the same house.
- The sun rises and sets at six.
- If you want a mince pie, you better get to the grocery store early.
- The newspaper comments after the only riot in recent memory that the rioters are “very ashamed of themselves.”
- Literacy is about 90% in both English and Samoan.
- Cold niu is the best thing at the end of a long day.
- Raw tuna is safe. Raw beef, not so much.
|Siva Afi or Fire Knife Dance
…before you start rotation
- The anesthesiologist may run out of general until the next flight arrives from New Zealand carrying more.
- There are seventy four physicians in the country.
- There are ten hospitals.
- Three have doctors.
- You may see a blue haired expat, a unicycle-riding palagi and a rugby player in a typical day at the OP ward. In the middle of watching your first delivery you may be told to go deliver the baby next door.
- Lunch at the hospital might be taro and flour stew. Salt is not available.
- If you show up to hospital every day, and come back after lunch, you will be labeled ‘keen’
- There are twelve cases of HIV and one patient zero.
- Never trust a Samoan nurse when she says “Don’t worry.” She’s either about to stab you with a needle, cut you with scissors or abandon you.
- There is a lot of typhoid fever.
- Two attendings, one resident and one confused med student can handle a 42 bed ward, a 12 bed labor ward and a 40 patient clinic.
- Somehow, Irish medical students are overtaking the hospital with twenty of them visiting in one block.
- The only gloves are a size large.
- Good luck delivering a baby in gloves if you have small hands.
- It takes two months to get a pap smear read as it has to be sent to Australia.
- Do not walk through the labor ward at lunch unless you want to deliver a baby.
|To’onai or feast
attending – senior level physcian
block – a period of time in the medical school academic year, usually about six weeks
expat – expatriot, or a foreinger living in the country
general – general anesthesia, used to put someone completely to sleep for surgery
mince – chopped or ground beef or lamb
mozzies – mosquitos
niu – young coconut
OP ward – outpatient ward
palagi – foreigner, either an expat or a visitor
patient zero – one person who directly or indirectly infected everyone else who has the same disease
resident – junior level physician, still in training
tala – Samoan currency, currently trading about 2.25 WST to 1 USD
taro – a root vegetable, a little starchier and stiffer than potato, with less inherent flavor
ward – a medical division of a hospital that houses patients of a certain type
|Fautasi or longboats
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