The other side.

03 June 2017

Day two on the other side of the gangway; it's pouring down rain and I'm doing my best to catch up on a few months' of lost sleep.  Life is good. 

It was a sunny day on Thursday, and I kept my departure time somewhat quiet - I hate long drawn out goodbyes on the dock, preferring to say goodbye and give hugs throughout the day instead.  A few dear friends came to see me off and waved until the car was out of sight; while I didn't think I needed this, my heart argued and was filled with gratitude.  If I'm honest, as irrational as it is, I believe most people are just relieved to see me gone; so to experience the opposite was touching and brought tears to my eyes. 

I'm settled now in my temporary home on land; staying with friends in Cotonou for at least three weeks to do my thesis research.  I'm so excited to get started and that story is one of favor as well.  I officially started the thesis portion of my Masters in Public Health on April 8, and I have ten months to submit the final paper.  I'd be matched with an advisor who would walk me through the whole process of approvals first; proposal approval, ethics approval, etc.  I'd read some horror stories about this part of the process from other students who were five months into it and still didn't have an approved proposal.  I'm staying in country on my own dime, and have a job waiting for me back in the states, so I really pushed hard from day one to make it clear I have no intention of dinking around, and thankfully I got matched with a great, very responsive and encouraging advisor. I had my proposal approved in ten days and just yesterday got my final ethics approval, which can sometimes take months in African countries with less--than-straightforward approval processes. It means I can start contacting participants, our former patients, on Monday and plan to have all the interviews, about their experiences of surgery and perspectives of surgery as a result, done in three weeks' time.  

It's a lovely thing, to be focused on just one thing right now.  I've juggled multiple projects simultaneously plus being a student for the last several years; to be solely a student, to not even have to think about community expectations either, is such a breath of fresh air.  I get bored easily and won't be one to stay in this place for long, but for right now, I'm embracing this season for the blessing it is. 

Thank you, friends and followers, for continuing to read my blog. I've changed the layout about a dozen times, and think I'll leave it like this at least for a little while... let me know if you have any feedback! 

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