Acclimation Awkwardness

Sunset in Uganda - Photo by Carter Martens

Whenever you are going to a new place, there is always an adjustment period. The first couple of days can be a little awkward and cause some anxiety as you figure out the lay of the land and try to make a good first impression. This is especially true for each new rotation of PA school. So far, being in Uganda is no different. We are all trying to figure out how the clinic is run, who is who, and where we fit into the organized chaos. The big difference with being in Uganda is that all of that awkwardness is multiplied by being in a new country, learning a new culture, and being around people that don’t always speak English well. 

With today being our first full day in clinic, I found myself feeling the normal confusion and misunderstanding of exactly what we were supposed to be doing and where we were supposed to be. When we started with rounds in the morning, I found myself having to ask Dr. Enoch or Vincent what they were saying multiple times. They would switch from speaking Runyoro to English mid-sentence, (I find it very impressive that they do this so easily) leaving me even more confused about what was going on with the patient and their plan of care since I only understood about 1/3 of what they said.  Granted they didn’t always understand what we were saying to them, so the communication barrier was a 2-way street. But by the end of the day, I noticed that the repetitiveness became (a little) less necessary and I was starting to pick up on a few more words that they were saying.  

Learning the Roads - Photo by Christina Curtner

When starting out at any new place, the learning curve is steep at first and then you start to get the hang of how they operate. As long as you can get over the first hurdle of that acclimation awkwardness then everything starts to fall in line and the rest of the time is usually smooth sailing. As they say about rotations in PA school, “You get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”