Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Instant replay, by June blogger of the month Renata Mazurek

Across the hospital grounds, BGU main
It’s June! I still haven’t quite taken it in. My usual first reaction to this month is that summer is well on its way. And somehow this year, it feels different… I have not been able to quite put my finger on it. I can’t exactly attribute it to the weather. Despite a popular notion that it is always hot and seems like summertime here, I have not forgotten about the amount of layers I would put on during the winter months (which, considering I grew up in upstate New York, was ridiculous for me). The second thing that comes to mind is just that I’ve been here for such a long time. Not having been back home since early last July, it’s been a long stretch. Besides the time off during holiday breaks, being in school for close to a full year maybe delays the feeling of getting into summer, especially since I’ve been used to the end of May as being finals period. That’s when I think, Well, welcome to medical school, or rather, Welcome to life. From now on, I should not expect to have a summer break of two and a half months. Then again, I recall that last year I hardly had a summer break at all, almost not at all, going right into beginning medical school. So, even though it has occurred to me that perhaps the most valuable thing I currently own is my return ticket, the anticipation for going back home does not entirely account for the difference I’ve sensed. And after all, I am in a completely different place like I hadn’t experienced before. I have begun to consider that maybe this has something to do with it…
the Pathology building (where we are when not\
on the sixth floor)

Thinking back from the beginning here, I admit that my view of Be’er Sheva has not changed that much. To be honest, I did not have a “culture shock” coming to Israel, even though this was my first time. Nonetheless, having to navigate within the mode of living has posed challenges (some of which have been illustrated by other bloggers) since the first day. One might think that the passage of time has a way of softening rough starts, but months and months later, I still find myself dealing with the same frustrations, inwardly disapproving every time I see that there does not appear to be a way around the inefficiencies. Frustration seems to come up as a common and frequent theme. This thought crossed my mind when I was waiting in the main post office yesterday. It’s not that I ever regret my trips there because I always am able to take care of what I need to, but I avoid having to go in there if I can, on account that the length of time spent is always undeterminable, even as one of the only places that actually has an orderly system (there are three different number series based on which service you are there for). Taking a ticket, I noticed that I was three numbers away from my turn. At one moment while waiting, I looked around and figured that with a total of about fifteen people there (as opposed to usually being packed), not all of them having come in before me, and not all of them there for the same reason as me, there was  a chance that it might be an easier in-and-out this time. I still ended up being at the post office for an hour. And yet I continue trying to comprehend these things. 

Faculty of Health Sciences (the Negev
brigade memorial is in the distance)
Then I thought about it again- why would it be any different this time or any other time? Things run as they do, so even after months, an expectation that they get “better” is not reasonable. If anything, the change that could make for a better experience is in my attitude. But my next immediate thought was, why should I just accept what I disagree with? I’ve not been considered to be an unreasonable nor intolerant person, but it does not seem justified to simply accept inefficiency- especially since I generally aim to make things efficient myself. Therefore, the position I’ve arrived at has been more along the lines of coming to terms with things, because I still have to work with the situations that are presenting. This has established an interesting personal dynamic from my point-of-view, in which I feel that I am constantly pushing back within also trying to integrate. I often need to remind myself that I live here now, even if temporarily. Some people have said that when they return to Be’er Sheva from traveling, it does carry some sense of “coming home”.  I have to say that while it’s been a relief to just get back sometimes, I cannot say that it’s ever had a “home” feeling, and maybe it never will. So often, I still feel very much like an outsider. I’ve noticed more and more especially with communication (the classic struggle) that when I’m not getting away with passing as native, people try to have me default to English, if they pick up on my accent in Hebrew. Mostly, it seems that it’s because I present an opportunity to use English, while to me, any encounter is an opportunity to practice proficiency in Hebrew… when this happens, I typically hear “you know you can just say it in English”, and each time I respond with “…I know, but I like to work on my Hebrew…” after which I am “allowed to” until I stumble across not knowing a particular word. I think these interactions often rub off as cordially amusing for the other person, and I’m not bothered by them, but they do have a way of reaffirming that I am a foreigner.
Initial glimpse of the Bet
neighborhood exiting the hospital
on Rager Blvd

But maybe that’s okay. From the 6th floor of Soroka, where I’ve spent a considerable amount of time for about ten months, looking out on the familiar territory that I see on a daily basis, it may not be much more impressionable than it was on day one, but it’s certainly given me a lesson about what it means to learn to find my place.

(By the way, as a side note, a statement that is heard repeatedly by upperclassmen  is that at least within MSIH, it gets better and better with each year…although I haven’t doubted this statement, having just finished our first ‘second-year’ system in Hematology and starting Endocrinology, I would now say that this is, in fact, true)  - blogger of the month Renata Mazurek

Photo(s) caption: The four corners of my ‘world’ in the past year: the view from Soroka 6th floor.
                Across the hospital grounds, Ben Gurion University main campus
                Faculty of Health Sciences (The Negev Brigade Memorial in the far distance)
                The Pathology building (where we are when not on the 6th floor)
                Initial glimpse of the Bet neighborhood exiting the hospital onto Rager Blvd.