Signing up in a community- oriented medical school is, to a certain extent, a tough decision for me to make. It would mean spending a BUNCH of time in remote, rural areas with people I barely know of. In other words, it would cause a disruption of my much-loved “comfort zone.”
I am not an avid-outdoorsy person. In fact, I am the complete opposite. For this reason, I strongly expected that my first ever one- month community exposure would be a difficult one. How would I supposed to survive in the “grand outdoors” without the comforts of modern living like the internet, refrigerator, television, and, oh yeah, plumbing?
Hence, a few days before setting out and after doing a LOT of self-pep talk, I decided to prepare the things that I needed in order to survive the month. Here’s how I was able to stay alive and live to tell the tale:
1 . I only brought a FEW set of clothes: The fewer, the lighter. In my experience in the community, “recycling” of not-so-dirty shirts and washing at least twice a week was a usual phenomenon. I had to wash my own clothes so I learned to be conscientious of what I would wear.
2 . I brought the NECESSITIES: As much as I wanted to be comfortable in the community, ‘essentials’ (such as first-aid kit, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, sunscreen, sleeping bag) were among the priorities in my to-bring list.
3 . I also brought some of the COMFORTS of home: My pillow and warm blanket helped me sleep comfortably every night. The place where we were staying in the community would get quite cold every night so, fortunately for us, there was no need for any artificial ventilation.
4 . Last but not the least, I brought something for amusement. - Some days in the community could really get mind-numbing and lonely (when homesickness and wistfulness hits you hard), so I brought my tab and stored with it quite a number of movies and songs for my sole entertainment and relaxation.
As you have already guessed, staying outside my “comfort zone” is my Achilles’ heel. The expectations which I had for a month-long community exposure, was low-down. Nonetheless, my actual experience proved me wrong. Community was not that bad. The time I had spent in the area brought me the realization that, among the many items included in my to-bring list, the key essentials in making one’s stay in the community a whole lot easier and worthwhile is the Respect and Friendship one has for every member of the team. As a quote that I have once seen in passing says, “Friendship improves happiness and abates misery…if a team is to reach its potential, each player must be willing to subordinate his personal goals to the good of the team...”