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Serena’s Diary

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Dear diary, This road to becoming a doctor is a frustrating one.  It is so for many reasons, first of all there is the length of your stay in school which feels like it is never going to end. Then there is the physical exertion, the unending tiredness and the numerous nights of sleeplessness. There is the fear and the uncertainty as every new day brings with it a different challenge and you have to conquer. Because the littlest mistake can cost you an extra year and that will just be terrible, I mean is it not already long enough? Then there is the alienation, all those you entered school with graduate after 4 or 5 years but you stay on, after some time you have no friends left outside the medical school. Your visits home become fewer and fewer as the workload increases. You wake up one day and you find that you are a stranger at home and all your friends have moved on. Medical students are forced to stick together, whether or not we like each other is irrelevant, we are all we have. Who else will understand the crazy hours you keep? Who else will understand why you spend all your time in the hospital? Who else will not question your constant desire to study? Who else will understand the hurt your tears carry when you fail? A medical student will never tell you ‘it is just an exam’ because they know that it is never ever just that. I have not even talk about the emotional implications of being a medical student, the things you see. It is so easy to stop believing in God. So easy. It is also very easy to believe frantically and desperately in God because there is no other way to make sense of the hopelessness and despair and death that you see every day. There are days when you are lucky enough to see a miracle, or even luckier to have been a part of it. See, my point is been a medical student in this country is hard. Managing all of it and trying to find the balance is exhausting enough, so why make it harder for female students? We are already at our wits end, doing all we can to survive and find ways to make up for the physical strength we lack so why do you old men have to make it harder? Why do I have to wake up in the morning and think of ways to dress to divert attention from me? Why do I have to buy my ward coats in bigger sizes so when I wear it and walk around the hospital my curves will remain hidden? Why do I have to hide behind the boys, hide my smile and whisper my answers so you do not see me and notice me and want me? Even with all that done, even with my ward coats big and my skirts long, even with my face void of make-up and my voice reduced to a whisper, I still get the ‘come to my office later’. No, that should not be part of the struggle. It pierces my soul that we have to deal with that. What do you do about it? Report to the authorities? They will tell you to just be careful and try and dress more decently. Like, my skirts already swallow me, how more decent can I get? Medical school is hard enough. I should not have to sneak around like I am in a jungle. Not just medical school, life is already hard. Give us a break.

 Love,

Serena.

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