Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Frog

Today marks the official end of the 7 week Epidemiology-Biostats module. We spent three hours this evening taking a whopper of a final exam for stats, and now everyone is unwinding to the best of their abilities until our new module begins tomorrow morning. Health Systems Management is next, and I'm quite excited because this subject will be completely new for me.

Not really any other news. They've kept us extremely busy--so much so that I was feeling very guilty about neglecting both the camera and the blog. Tonight afforded me an opportunity, though, when Vanesse and I happened upon this frog (named Rashid, as you can see). He modeled for me for a while, and in the end I had a few pictures that I thought merited their own post.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

One Quarter, and Independence Day

It's now the beginning of April, meaning I've officially passed my first three months in Bangladesh. Time is flying and crawling at once--if I consider all that's happened since I arrived, it feels like I've been here a lifetime, but when I think that I've already passed one quarter of my time here, it feels like the next nine months will be over before I know it. In any event, my three month anniversary seemed to merit a post.

I'm now nearing the end of the fourth week (out of seven) of our Epidemiology/Biostatistics unit. We have had one exam in each subject now, leaving everyone quite drained. I have to admit, though, I'm really enjoying these courses. I had forgotten how much I liked math (excluding calculus, of course...), so that has made stats much more enjoyable. Most people are severely hating it right now, so I'm happy to report that I'm not in that camp. And epidemiology is incredibly interesting--we also have some excellent instructors from ICDDR,B teaching the course, making it even better.

There haven't been any more incidents of gastroenteritis lately, which is good news for the students. There have been many complaints about the food in general, however. Some say it's too spicy, some say it's not spicy enough; I think there's too much oil, and everyone is tiring of the lack of variety. Many have taken to escaping to Dhaka on weekends for breaks from the culinary monotony.

An announcement to everyone: I'm not neglecting to send post cards on purpose. I have not been able to find a SINGLE post card in this country. It seems they're just not available. Also, according to another American, the postal service in Bangladesh is not presently sending any mail to America (for reasons that are very unclear to me), so the only way to get a letter home would be to spend $20 to FedEx it. So, for both reasons, I haven't sent anything. I will try to think of a way to make it up to everyone--what's the fun in having a friend abroad if they can't send you mail?

The weather is getting progressively hotter, and I finally feel like I have adjusted. It is currently a very comfortable 84* F in my room. The rainy season is a few months away still, but we have had a few preview thunderstorms. At this point, I can say that I'm pretty excited for the monsoons to start, but the novelty will probably wear off quickly if the sun is absent for too long!

I don't have much else in the way of news, so I think I will end this post with a few pictures from Independence Day celebrations in Savar. Several of the students went to the independence monument in Savar last week on the holiday (March 26th)--just about everyone in the country has the day off, and thousands of people visit the monument. As we found out, a group of foreigners in the midst of all the nationals can attract quite a lot of attention. We were there for about 45 minutes, and every time we paused for more than a few seconds, we were surrounded (literally) by hundreds of staring people. Now imagine what happens when we all line up for a group photo (seen being taken by classmate Arif, who stayed with me the night I spent in the hospital)...

And here are a few shots of the monument itself:

And here's Vanesse and Yuko getting Bangladesh flags from Naznine (another national student):