Onward to the next adventure

Naturally, as a graduating senior, a lot of people have been asking me lately what I will be doing next year. And I promised that I would update you all regarding my next journeys, so here you go! I myself wasn’t sure what was in store for the next year until a couple of days ago. Medical school has always been (and still is) the eventual goal. A little over a year ago, I was planning on going to medical school directly after graduating from ASU. But doing my own public health research around the world last summer changed a lot for me. So I pushed it off for another year. I feel very strongly that I haven’t learned enough in the world of public health to go to medical school just yet. I want to learn more about how to control infectious disease outbreaks, how to model them, and how to understand the sociocultural context of where the outbreak was occurring to develop the best interventions.

Unfortunately, getting a Masters of Public Health (MPH) isn’t exactly affordable. So, I applied for the prestigious UK scholarships including the Marshall, the Mitchell, the Gates-Cambridge, and the Fulbright U.K. Commission. All would have paid for a graduate degree of my choice across the pond so I spent months on all of the applications. In the fall semester, rejection after rejection rolled in. However, in the process of applying for these programs, I had researched a lot of incredible MPH programs in the UK. One of my favorites was the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. A couple minutes after getting my last rejection, I immediately started looking up other funding sources–I wasn’t ready to give up on it just yet.

I eventually found information on the the Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholarship which supports future leaders in one of the six areas of focus to pursue a graduate degree in another country. One of these areas is Disease Control and Treatment–sounds like me! After looking at the cost of attendance in Edinburgh, I found out the grant would cover all of my tuition/fees plus housing. So, I hesitantly applied, not expecting much after all my other failed applications.

If you’ve seen my mom’s Facebook status, then you already know the good news. In September, I will be attending the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland for one year to get my Masters in Public Health as a Rotary Global Grant Scholar.

I’ll definitely be buying an inflatable mattress for any friends that want to come visit, so start planning 😉 Until then, I’ll be defending my honors thesis (from my research trip last summer) on April 21st and graduating from ASU on May 9th with bachelor’s degrees in Microbiology and Global Health. It’s flown by but I’m excited to spend a year living abroad.

Lots of love,

Carlyn

 

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Stanford MedicineX: The Student Experience

On the weekend of September 16th-18th, I had the incredible opportunity to be a part of the Stanford Medicine X Student Leadership Program. Stanford Medicine X is a conference held at Stanford Medical School that explores how emerging technologies will advance the practice of medicine and empower patients to be active participants in their own care. MedX is a conference full of innovators, designers, physicians, students, patients, caretakers and many others that are inspired and practice “moon shot” thinking. It is a place where all minds in healthcare (and beyond) can intersect, collaborate and innovate. It was truly an Everybody Included experience.

The Student Leadership program offers scholarships for students around the world to attend MedX and actively participate in the conference. The SLP is for students who want to be forerunners in design-centered and patient-centered healthcare. We had the opportunity to connect with conference attendees, attend lectures, panels and workshops throughout the conference. Among the 9 of us, there were undergraduates, PharmD students and M.D. students. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend the weekend with. Thanks for all of the new friendships 🙂

As an undergraduate at MedX, I was wide-eyed and ready to soak in whatever I could. What I loved most about MedX was the emphasis on the patient experience and the patient story. There were tissues handed out at the front desk, and for good reason. Each of them had such impactful stories, some living with chronic illnesses that I had never heard of. Though I learned a great deal from talks from scientists and doctors, no one taught me more than the ePatients. Healthcare professionals must recognize that when a patient is living with a long-term illness, they are the expert because they are the ones living through every day. One of my favorite panels discussed mental health and mental health associated with living with a chronic illness. A standout quote from Mark Freeman on the panel was “If someone can’t swim and they’re thrown in a pool, they’re not diagnosed with a drowning disorder”. He mentioned that we need to start approaching mental health like we do physical fitness. When treating patients, mental health should always be asked on the Review of Systems. Sustaining mental health is an integral part of patient care and should be treated as any other condition. The patient stories I heard, both on and off the stage have changed the doctor I will be in the future and for that, I am forever thankful.

Another one of my favorite panels was the Design Thinking panel. A major focus was the importance of design-thinking in medical education. At the end of this one, I wanted to give a standing ovation. Dr. Bon Ku emphasized the fact that medical school widely hasn’t changed since 1910. The curriculum can exhaust students and can focus on regurgitation of information instead of critical thinking thinking. Medicine is changing fast, especially with emerging technologies; schools must shift their focus to ensuring that the next generation of doctors can be flexible with these changes by emphasizing design-thinking.

Hours after the conference ended (literally on my way to the airport), I already missed my new found family. Being surrounded by people who truly want to change healthcare for the benefit of the patient was inspiring. I loved witnessing the intersection of medicine, technology, academia, industry and patient voice. I owe a huge thank you and shout out to my friend and incredible patient advocate, Charlie Blotner who never stopped sending me the application link for the Student Leadership Program. I’m glad I finally gave it a shot 😉 MedX showed me that there are a lot of bad ass people ready to disrupt healthcare for the better. The minds and environment of collaboration and co-design at MedX were unlike anything I had experienced before. I can only hope that I can find people like this throughout my career. Thanks, MedX. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you next year.

One journey ends, another begins

After three of the toughest, most rewarding, incredible months of my life, I landed back in Phoenix on August 13th. I covered six countries on five continents, interviewed over 200 people and about 25 pharmacists, got in the water with Great White Sharks, bungee jumped off a bridge, met amazing friends, navigated new cities (including some sketch public transport), ate some delicious food (shout out to Amsterdam and their stroopwafel), shadowed infectious disease physicians, saw beautiful museums and monuments and learned how to embrace traveling the world solo. And that hardly scratches the surface of the experience I’ve had this summer. I’ve finally had the chance to settle down and write this last post!

I’ve been back in the U.S. for 14 days now and every part of me wants to jump on a plane to a new place. As weird as it sounds, it’s like someone tied a rope to my stomach and just keeps pulling me to the airport. I’ve been so accustomed to packing up all of my clothes into a 21″ carry-on bag every two weeks and getting on a plane that it feels really odd to be settled into one place, sleeping in the same bed, using the same shower, hearing English 24/7 and knowing the contents of my next meal.

My journey around the world ended with my mom and sister coming to New Zealand for a week. It was nice not to worry about doing another survey or finding another pharmacist to interview; I was just a tourist in a beautiful country. First on my agenda? Bungee jumping. While my jet-lagged family stayed in the hotel room for the day, I headed for the Auckland Harbor Bridge. Luckily, it was a beautiful day with only a few clouds and no rain! When we got up to the bridge, I was the 3rd out of my group to make the jump. Never before this trip would I have bungee jumped. I’m so happy that this journey gave me more than just a bunch of data for my thesis. I lost a lot of fears and gained  a lot of excitement for life. I can honestly say I wasn’t scared until the instructor said “Okay, now scoot your toes right over the edge”. Then I freaked out a little but I knew the longer I stood there, the harder it would be. So when she said “3, 2, 1, BUNGEE”, I jumped right away. I thought I would kind of just flop off the bridge but I had just spend $50 on pictures and a video so it had to look good. Speaking of, click here if you would like to see the full video!

The next day, my sister and I went on a whale and dolphin cruise around the islands just outside of the city. Though it was windy and freezing, we Orcas, a Bryde’s Whale and hundreds of dolphins.

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If you know my sister and I, you know that we are polar opposites. Even so, I still laugh with her more than anyone else I know. We still have our sister language which mostly consists of Spongebob, Drake&Josh and Will Ferrell movie quotes and I’m happy she was able to experience New Zealand with me.

We also went on a day tour from Auckland to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves and to Rotorua. I didn’t take the picture below because we weren’t allowed to have cameras (I just lifted it from Google Images) but this is pretty much what it looks like! It was incredible.

Image result for glow worm cavesDefinitely my favorite part of this day was the SHEEP farm. Sheep widely outnumber people in New Zealand and they were adorable. Here are some pictures from that day. I was real excited about the lamb.

 

After Rotorua, we went to Te Puia to see the geothermal parks and the geysers. Not much else to describe about Te Puia than what is pictured below. Except that, as you can imagine, it really smelled like sulfur. Yuck.

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I am ecstatic my mom came to visit me this summer. She is seriously a perfect angel, so full of life and adventure. It’s no wonder that I can’t go a day without thinking about another international trip. This woman has circumnavigated the world 3 different times. Well, once down, twice to go for me!

On one of our last days, I also brought her up Mt. Eden, the highest point in Auckland and made her be my photographer so I could get some cool pictures with my Circumnavigator’s Club flag in the wind.

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While in Auckland, I also got to meet up with the Circumnavigator from Georgetown! He was researching policies surrounding indigenous education and we had the chance to grab some coffee and talk about our projects. It was so nice to talk to someone who knew exactly what I was going through with such an undertaking. He has some amazing pictures so I would encourage you to check out his blog here !

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On our last day in New Zealand, my mom, sister and I went to the incredible Waiheke Island which is famous for all of it’s wineries. We had a beautiful brunch while overlooking the winery and spent the rest of the afternoon walking along the beach.

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I feel like there is just so much more to say about this trip. I really can’t believe I did it and I’m back home.

What’s next for me? Well, I have one more year at Arizona State, finishing up my degrees in Microbiology and Global Health (graduating May 2017!!! ahh so weird. I’m going to get back to my research lab working with MRSA and will be doing some volunteer community health education at schools in Phoenix. I’m taking a gap year from medical school and right now I am applying for scholarships to fund a master’s program in the UK during that year. This trip reaffirmed my dreams of becoming an infectious disease physician and working with governmental organizations like the CDC to solve outbreaks around the world. But, really, who knows? For the first time in a while, I am excited to just enjoy the moment and not always be looking ahead.

Hopefully I will be updating this blog every now and then if I ever read any cool journal articles or see important news about antibiotic resistance and infectious disease outbreaks. I will for sure give an update at the end of the semester to let you know any patterns I’ve found in my data.

Thank you so much to all of the researchers and doctors that took time out of their extremely busy schedules to help a random girl from the U.S. with a dream to better the world:

Dr. Fernando Baquero (Spain)

Dr. Christina Vandenbrouke-Grauls (the Netherlands)

Dr. Sumanth Gandra and Raminan Laxminarayan (India)

Dr. Marc Mendelson (South Africa)

Dr. Heather Battles (New Zealand)

Also a huge shout out to my mentor and thesis director here at ASU, Dr. Jonathan Maupin.

Thank you to the hundreds of random strangers that trusted an American girl with a survey in her hand and the dozens of pharmacists that did the same. You will never know how grateful I am for the 15-30 minutes you lent me out of your day, with no benefit to you.

And of course, thank you to the Circumnavigator’s Club and Barrett for funding my crazy dream and being so supportive every step of the way.

Finally, thank you also to all of the friends I made along the way. There are way too many to list but I cannot tell you how indescribable you made my trip and how many countries I have added to my list because of you. I hope sometime in our lives, our paths will cross again. But until then, thanks for climbing mountains with me, for speaking Spanish with me, for Great White Shark Cage diving, for cooking with me, for telling me about your countries, for going out and showing me a great time, for keeping each other safe and a million other thank yous.

Don’t be afraid to travel alone or go into the unknown. The world is much smaller than many people think it is and I hope you get the opportunity one day to be immersed in a culture completely different than your own and attempt to gain a deep understanding of what that culture means for the people who embrace it. I have gained such a joy and self awareness from just letting myself trust the world and believe it is a good place. Though there is violence and hate and misunderstanding, it’s important to see the light in the world. I can’t wait for all of the adventures I will have. Thanks so much for reading and caring about me and my work.

 

Te quiero,

Ik hou van je,

मैं तुमसे प्यार करता हूँ,

Ek het jou lief,

Kei te aroha au ki a koe,

I love you,

Carlyn

 

Cape Town: Part 2 and Kiwi Country

Sadly, my time in Cape Town has come to an end. Though, I can’t complain too much because I arrived on Tuesday to beautiful Auckland, New Zealand. I apologize for the lack of a more timely update on my remaining days in South Africa but I was so busy having fun, I had to scramble a bit to finish up my surveys there. Aside from my 40 surveys in South Africa, I spent my last couple of days shadowing infectious disease physicians in the hospital, going to a Saturday market and the Super Rugby quarter finals!

I’ve been going on in this blog about how large of an issue antibiotic resistance is. My entire summer has been dedicated to understanding people’s perceptions/ideas/beliefs about antibiotics and then hopefully being able to give some insight as to what educational interventions need to be made to fix it. But I won’t lie, this summer has been anything but easy. Every day, I go to a park/market/mall/other public place and approach person after person in the least awkward way I possibly can, hoping they can spare a bit of their day. Conducting the same survey with over 200 people can get overwhelming and repetitive, especially when people show no interest.

But shadowing the infectious disease physicians and residents on their clinical rounds and sitting in on their meetings re-energized me and reminded me why I care so much about this topic in the first place. I heard the stories of patients whose lives were affected by antibiotic resistant infections. One, in particular, a young male who faced possible amputation of his leg because there was only one more antibiotic left that could treat his infection. His body had been bombarded with course after course of antibiotic and the bacteria evolved to survive–just like any other living organism does. However, bacteria do it fast. As soon as you administer an antibiotic, the process of selection begins. Yes, the process of antibiotic resistance happens at a molecular level. But to some extent, we as humans are causing it.

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During the rounds, Dr. Mendelson reminded us of the story above. Before antibiotics, even a blade of grass could be a lethal weapon. Though it’s hard to imagine a time where this might again be the case, it’s not as absurd as it sounds.

The good news, though is that people are noticing. Recently, the US government’s Department of Health and Human Services, Wellcome Trust in London, AMR Centre in Alderley Park, Cheshire, and Boston University are parterning for an initiative called The Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X).

News release from the Financial Times: https://next.ft.com/content/8af200f0-54b4-11e6-9664-e0bdc13c3bef

This is an amazing collaboration between both US and UK institutions with aims to “bring new antibiotics, diagnostics and vaccines through early pre-clinical development to a stage where they can be taken forward by further private or public investment”. Unfortunately, there isn’t much mention of awareness campaigns or social interventions. And, even if we develop new antibiotics, eventually, bacteria will find a way to become resistant to those, too. It’s also important to recognize that antibiotic resistance is a problem all over the globe. When new technologies are discovered (especially diagnostics) they are usually expensive and require a lot of upkeep. It’s important to keep in mind how these technologies might one day be implemented in communities that aren’t prepared to sustain them. However, every piece of this puzzle is equally important and I’m glad to see funding go to it.

THIS STORY! This is so great and so interesting. These  researchers are harnessing the power of our human microbiome and good bacteria to fight antibiotic resistant bugs like MRSA! It’s such an interesting read and if you would like to talk more about it, let me know!

Anyway, Cape Town was incredible. I don’t know when I’ll be back but I really hope it’s soon. I cannot thank Dr. Marc Mendelson enough for all of his insight and passion for this global issue. Field work may get tiring, but you reminded me why I’m doing it.

Auckland, New Zealand

Two words: jet lag. Auckland has a 10 hour time difference from Cape Town so I spent my first few days making sure my body didn’t hate me too much when it came time to start my surveys. However, I don’t have too much time because MY FAMILY IS COMING NEXT WEEK! I started my surveys here on the 28th and aside from the insane weather variations and random rain, all is well 🙂 I am saving all of my adventuring for when my mom and sister get here so all of the beautiful New Zealand landscape pictures will have to wait. I remember reading somewhere that New Zealand is the 2nd most friendly country in the world. So far, I can see how that’s true. Usually, when I approach someone to do a survey and they don’t have time, they just say “Sorry, I’m on my way” and I smile and thank them for their time anyway. On my first day of surveys, I approached a woman and gave my normal speech and asked if she had 15 minutes to spare. She was on her lunch break and did not have time but instead of the normal one sentence response, she offered me her phone number to meet up with her another time because she felt so bad she couldn’t participate at the moment. I thanked her profusely but told her it was okay, there were others I could ask. Then she offered me some of her chocolate. Why couldn’t I do all of my surveys here??

I’ll have more updates in a few days when my mom and sister get here on Friday 🙂 I can’t believe I will be home in two weeks. It will be weird sleeping in the same bed and using the same shower everyday.

All my love

Carlyn

 

Cape Town Part 1 & Happy Birthday Dad!

I thought for sure that Amsterdam was going to be my favorite city on this trip. As I flew into Cape Town International Airport and saw Table Mountain and the ocean out of the airplane window, I knew Amsterdam had been replaced. For my first four days in Cape Town, I ignored my research and did all of the adventuring I could. I met two amazing girls from Stanford who were nice enough to let me tag along with their plans–s/o Kinjal and Sage 🙂  This post includes a lot of content and pictures so be prepared!

BUT before I start telling you about Cape Town, I wanted to give a very special Happy Birthday shout out to the most important man in my life, my dad!

Sometimes I wonder how I got so interested in research, so excited to make discoveries, collect data and put the little pieces of the mystery together to finally generate something significant. My dad was one of the best sergeants in his department when we lived in Michigan and one of the best detectives in Maricopa County when we moved to Phoenix in 2005. My bed time stories weren’t your typical princess in the castle stories. When I was young, I looked forward every night to my dad telling me a new story about how he caught bad guy and protected the innocent. I mean, I’m sure some of the stories were highly censored, but still. At the age of 5, I knew how to organize a drug bust operation so that gives you an idea about how colorful and unique my bedtime stories were. And for me, they never got old 🙂

My dad always loved a good mystery, a good puzzle, a good challenge to overcome and now, so do I. He always did such a great job of organizing evidence in a logical manner so that trials could run as smoothly as possible and the truth would be uncovered. So, it is without a doubt that I say that I would not be so in love with research if it wasn’t for my dad. I wouldn’t be across the globe living out a dream if it wasn’t for my dad.

I can’t put into words how much of an influence my dad has been on my life. The challenges he has faced in his life have been extreme and to see him fight all of the odds and overcome has been an inspiration. I know he’s constantly worried about me being safe as I travel the world alone but I think sometimes he forgets that the daughter of a policeman is never allowed to forget how to be safe 😉

I love you so much, Dad and I can’t wait to give you a big hug when I see you in only 4 weeks!!!!! Have an amazing birthday, you deserve it.

Now, on to my adventures in Cape Town!

Day 1 (7/12): Lion’s Head

Lion’s Head was a great, short and absolutely beautiful hike with 360 degree views of the city, harbor, ocean and the mountains. I did it a few short hours after getting off the plane and we were able to make it to the top by sunset. Apparently, it was the first day in a while the weather had been so nice (it’s winter here right now and the weather is normally chilly and rainy). Even though I was exhausted after a long day/night traveling, it was so completely worth it. I took a ton of pictures but here are some of my favorites!

Day 2 (7/13): Peninsula Tour

The next day, we went for a full day tour of the Cape Peninsula! We started in Hout Bay with a quick boat ride to Cape Fur Seal Colony on Duiker Island. There were hundreds of seals swimming and playing on the island. I actually signed up to snorkel with the seals this Friday but they had to cancel due to weather 😦 Anyway, it was so fun to see these fun animals in their natural habitat.

Then, we drove along Chapman’s Peak Drive to an incredible overlook of the bay and the mountains. The tour group even brought us a South African flag to take very tourist-y pictures with 😉

Then we continued on the peninsula and went to Boulder’s Beach at Simon’s Town to see the endangered African penguins. They were pretty adorable and they were everywhere! The residents in Simon’s town have to have gates or the penguins will come wandering into their yard at night! The penguins are now protected and cared for in the state park. There were way more than this picture suggests but I can only do so well with my iPhone camera.

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We then went to Cape Point Natural Reserve and did a short 5k bike ride through the park. After lunch, we went to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope (the most south-western point on the African continent).

The day was packed but the scenery I saw was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. If you are ever in Cape Town and want an efficient, fun tour of the peninsula, go with Baz Bus 🙂

Day 3 (7/14): Cape Town city and Hop On/Hop Off Bus.

My third day in Cape Town, Kinjal, Sage and I bought tickets for the Hop On Hop Off sightseeing bus so we could see as much of Cape Town as we could! We started at the District 6 Museum which told the heartbreaking story of the uprooting of 60,000 people from their homes during apartheid in South Africa. Here is more information about the museum and it’s history: http://www.districtsix.co.za/Content/Museum/About/Info/index.php

We took the bus to Long Street and visited an artisans market where I bought even more stuff that I will have to try to shove in my suitcase 🙂 Luckily, I only have to force the zipper shut once more because my mom will be in New Zealand and I’ll unload all of my crap on her to bring back home.

After the market, we had a picnic on the beach at Camp’s Bay. There was a thick layer of fog on the beach so we couldn’t see the ocean very well or the mountains behind us but it cleared once or twice so that we could see the beautiful landscapes.

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It started to get really chilly and rainy so we decided to go to the V&A Waterfront, one of the main shopping areas to window shop and then see Finding Dory. I was so excited to finally see it after how good I heard it was. It did not disappoint. It was also museum night at the Waterfront and the Two Oceans Aquarium was half off. I didn’t take many pictures there but here is one!

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Day 4 (7/15): Meeting my contact at UCT + Circumnavigators unite!

When Sage and Kinjal left, I decided it would be a good time to actually start doing what I traveled to Cape Town to do. I went to the Groote Schuur Hospital (this is where they did the world’s first heart transplant in 1967!) to meet Dr. Mendelson who has been incredible in helping me be successful in South Africa. We have been emailing back and forth since November 2015 and he has been so great and supportive. He is such an important figure in the fight against global antibiotic resistance and I feel so lucky to have met him. I met him at his office to discuss my project and print out some of my surveys. But THEN he invited me to come to their meeting to go over infectious disease clinical cases and I had to try really hard not to start dancing around the room. For those of you who don’t know, I hope to one day become an infectious disease physician so to be able to sit in a room with multiple ID physicians and clinical microbiologists was like Christmas morning. I really could not have been more excited.

After an exciting day at the hospital, I met my new friend Tara for dinner! Tara goes to Northwestern and won the Circumnavigator’s Club Travel Grant as well. She is traveling around the world to help advance the global conversation surrounding GMO’s. It just so happens that we had a few overlapping days in Cape Town so we met up a few times for dinner. If you thought my project was cool, you should definitely check out Tara’s blog because her project is so interesting and so important! Educate yourself about what GMO’s really are, their advantages and disadvantages and how communication surrounding them varies greatly depending on context. Seriously, check it out, you will learn so much! I know I did! Click here for her blog.

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SHARK CAGE DIVING

Yes, you heard me right! Gansbaai, South Africa is about a 2 hour drive from Cape Town and is the Great White Shark capital of the world. There was no way I was going to miss out on this experience. I got in chilly water into a metal cage and was face to face with one of the most amazing creatures I had ever seen. It wasn’t scary as I thought it might be, it was just incredible. I regret to say that I am not the proud owner of a GoPro or other underwater camera and I was not willing to dish out extra money to buy one BUT just trust me, I did it 😉 I did take a few pictures on my phone but none of them do justice to what I experienced under the water! The cage is attached to the side of the boat and 5 of us went in at a time. No scuba equipment was needed and we just ducked our heads under the water when a shark went by. We saw 6 different Great White sharks in the couple hours we were out on the water. The biggest one we saw was about 16 feet long and weighted appx 2000 pounds. There aren’t really words to describe the experience when a Great White is within an arms reach of you.

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I promise that I’ve been doing my research too but I wanted to get your caught up on all of the fun stuff! Even though I checked off a lot of the things to do in Cape Town and the surrounding areas, there is still SO much to see. This city is absolutely amazing and I’m already looking for a way to come back.

I’ll update you on my research in my next post 🙂 Only a few more days in Cape Town then I am off to my last destination: Auckland, New Zealand. It’s crazy that this experience is already almost over.

Until then, sending lots of love–especially to you, Dad!

Car

 

New Delhi

Hostel Life

“Where are you from?” “How long are you here for?” “Are you traveling, working?” “Where else are you going on your trip?” These are the questions in a hostel that are usually asked at the beginning of every interaction. It’s not until 20 minutes later that we realize we never even asked eachothers’ names. Living in a house with 40 other people around my age has been equally hectic as it has been fun. It’s the perfect environment to share stories, travel advice and make connections with people around the world. Whatever the conversation, my favorite will always be “Next time your in [insert country here], you have a place to stay”. It definitely makes the world feel a bit smaller.

I’ve met a lot of amazing people from the UK and I can’t help but ask them how they feel about Brexit. Most of them reply something to the extent of “Probably how you feel about Donald Trump”. Fair enough. Travelers from around the world (especially Europe) have also been floored with the lack of legislation regarding gun control in the US. The rest of the world is laughing at our idleness I couldn’t agree more! Though I don’t want to use this blog as a political agenda, I think it’s important to acknowledge and learn from our country’s recent events and how we might work to alleviate them. “Do you own a gun?” I’ve gotten that question a few times. I usually just say no and laugh it off.

In my hostel, people are usually only passing through for a few days on their way to see the rest of India. Being here for 12 days, I’ve been able to meet a lot of amazing friends but it’s always sad to see them leave! That’s the beauty of social media.

My hostel organizes a lot of great events and cultural activities. One day, we had an Indian makeover complete with henna, bindis, and dupattas. Here are some pictures from that day!

They also have a “Food Walk” where we walk around the city and sample Indian food from all regions of India. To be honest, I don’t remember the names of most of the food but it’s all delicious albeit my low tolerance for spicy foods.

Traffic and Transport

HONK HONK….HONK……..HONK. Walking down the street anywhere in Delhi, this is what you will hear. Every single second. When I hear a horn, I’m used to feeling tense and agitated because usually it means someone isn’t driving very well or I’m not driving very well. In Delhi, it kind of just means “Hey, I’m coming up behind you, don’t hit me”. There are seldom any traffic lines on the road to separate lanes and when there are, people usually just ignore them anyway. Traffic lights are also a pretty rare sighting. But what is REALLY rare is any concept of pedestrian traffic. Sure, in some areas, there are crosswalks drawn on the road but they are completely ignored. Eventually, you just have to learn to stick your hand out, put your shoulders back, speed walk and hope you don’t get hit. Absolutely zero part of me would ever want to drive in Delhi.

Delhi is the 2nd most populated city in the world and the traffic definitely shows it. During rush hour in Old Delhi, you’re lucky to move 20 feet in 5 minutes. Just as in Guatemala, New Delhi has Tuks Tuks (commonly called “autos”) as a budget transportation option. They look exactly like the ones in Guatemala but these are green and yellow in color. Usually, they try to rip of tourists who don’t know the rates but a reasonable price to drive 5km is about 60 rupees (about $0.90). Another good option for locals and tourists alike is Uber! Yup, Uber has a huge presence in India and was a great way to get around. And of course, the metro! I’m really loving all of this public transportation. Though nothing else around the city seems to work just right or be on time, the metro is FANTASTIC. It’s fast and it’s so cheap. Usually for a one way trip, it would cost around 16 rupees ($0.24) where as in Amsterdam, I was paying about $3.00!

On the metro trains, the first cart is always reserved for women. This is apparently to keep women safe and comfortable. One of the most interesting things I saw regarding gender separation in India was when a cab had the words “This cab is safe for women” or “This cab respects women” plastered across the back of it. I saw several of these. It kind of irked me that distinction even had to be made. There is a strong sense of a male-dominated society.

Surveys/Research

For my work in India, I was given help and resources through the Public Health Foundation of India. I met some amazing people that gave me all sorts of advice for navigating India and a quiet, air-conditioned office space if I needed it. The head of the show is pretty much the king of the world when it comes to antibiotic resistance. Though I didn’t get to meet him during my trip to India, I was very lucky and privileged to have his help.

The surveys in India were conducted primarily in Hindi. Because of this, I had the help of a wonderful PhD student at JNU (a local university) named Deep Jyoti. The research in India would have been absolutely impossible and a complete disaster without her. She took me to a different market/park every day to do the surveys, showed me around Delhi and even her university. I can’t even begin to describe how helpful she was.

In India, when we approached possible research participants, about half of the people we asked didn’t even know what antibiotics were. Only 2/40 people surveyed in India had even heard the term “Antibiotic Resistance”. Even they could not answer what it was. They could only say that it means antibiotics don’t work. There is very little public education on the topic in India and most people rely on their doctors and pharmacists to provide that.. Unfortunately, 3/6 pharmacists we interviewed had never even heard of antibiotic resistance. This is problematic as India has some of the highest rates of drug-resistant infections such as Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis. Without awareness as the first step, it would be hard to implement lasting change regarding prescribing behaviors.

The heat and humidity made it tough to get the surveys done without feeling miserable. I was constantly soaked in a layer of sweat and drank water almost constantly. Aside from that, the people that we were able to interview were very generous and kind. I think most people were just really curious about me and the questionnaire. During every interview, a group of 8-10 men would form around us, peaking at the survey and and give me suspicious glares. After a while, it really got old. One of the last surveys we did was with a 26 year old woman in the street selling her handicrafts. A young man had been hovering over us, watching us for the entirety of the interview. Finally, the woman said “If you’re so interested, why don’t you just come sit down?” He was taken aback, shocked that she had said anything. He was embarrassed and walked away but I was quite pleased that finally someone had said something.

Another issue we ran into when interviewing women were their accompanying husbands or sons. After giving our little introduction about why we were there and why we were doing the survey, many women would be interested and agree. But many times, her husband/son/other male would say no, she wasn’t allowed to participate. Frustrating as it was, I knew it was a part of their culture and eventually adjusted and learned not to be annoyed when that happened.

Taj Mahal

I’m gonna be honest when I say that I don’t have too much to say about my trip to the Taj Mahal. It is about a 3.5-4 hour drive from New Delhi to Agra, depending on the traffic. Since we left at 5am, I slept nearly the whole way. We drove through Agra and saw a lot of livestock roaming the streets–cows, chickens, goats. And there were monkeys everywhere! The Taj Mahal itself was absolutely breathtaking. The first time I saw it, it looked fake. It looked like a green screen or something I was just watching on TV. But there it was! One of the 7 wonders of the world. I touched it a few times just to make sure it wasn’t just a cardboard replica 😉 Here are some of my favorite pictures!

Lotus Temple

After I finished all of my surveys, I had a chance to visit some other places around New Delhi with some of the girls from my hostel including Lotus Temple! The Lotus Temple is a Bahá’í House of Worship and is beautiful! Like the Taj Mahal and many other tourist destinations, many families asked me and the 4 other girls to take pictures with their children, take selfies with them, etc. We took a picture of the 5 of us in front of a pool at the Lotus Temple and within 1 minute, there was child after child jumping in so their parents could take a picture.

 

Here’s some misc. food pics

Bye Delhi, hello Cape Town!

I’m currently almost done with my 14 hour layover in Doha, Qatar. At 2:45am local time (4:45pm AZ time), I’ll be leaving on my 10 hour flight to Cape Town, South Africa. I paid $55 USD to relax in the Oryx Lounge in the Hamad International Airport in Doha and it was the best $55 I’ve spent in my life. With that price comes unlimited food, drink, a TV, plenty of outlets, a quiet room for sleeping (definitely took a 5 hour nap) and a shower! The weather in Delhi has been pretty unbearable to me. When I land in Cape Town, it will be 70 degrees and sunny so I cannot wait. I have lots of fun adventures planned for Cape Town outside of my research and I hope I will be able to accomplish them all. Only 4 more weeks of research and then I get to enjoy a 1 week vacation with my mom and sister in New Zealand. I can’t believe I’ve already checked off 4/6 of my destinations. Another day, another continent. Excuse any probably typos that occurred during this blog post. I’m a tad sleepy 🙂

Lots of love!

Carlyn

 

 

Happy Birthday Mommy!

India is going well and I promise to post a very long blog post soon about my surveys, adventures, new friends and of course, some pictures of me at one of the 7 Wonders of the World. But today is a day to acknowledge THE wonder of the world. Without her, I wouldn’t be on this trip because I would never have gained this sense of adventure and wanderlust on my own. I have never before in my life been so inspired by one person. That sounds kind of cheezy but it’s 100% true. My mom is my soul mate, my best friend and the person I call whenever something happens in my life because I always want her included. If I had it my way, she would have moved to college with me (and trust me, she would have been a LOT more fun on Mill than I).

Wherever I am, I always seem to bring my mom up in conversation. Somehow she just always fits in! It just slips out, like word vomit! (If you got that reference, good job). Whenever someone brings up a certain destination in conversation I find myself saying “Oh, my mom says that places is amazing! When she was there she….” This woman has been to almost every part of the world and I’m excited to be on my way to doing the same.

My mom is someone who genuinely cares for others and would do anything to make their lives easier, no matter the inconvenience to her.  She is the hardest worker I know and has never given up, even in the toughest of times. She has shown me how to be independent, how to love, how to laugh at myself, how to adventure and how to be resilient. If only she could’ve shown me how to be as good looking as her 😉

Being a mom to two girls who are complete opposites is no easy task. But with a lot of humor (like you really need a sense of humor in our house or you won’t survive) and love, she made our little family of 3 (plus 4 the animals that outnumber us) work.

Whenever I receive a compliment, my first thought is usually “Yeah, my mom taught me that” (unless it has to do with bacterial cell wall structure, sorry mom). Growing up, I remember my friends telling my how cool my mom was and in college, since I talk about her so much, I hear “your mom sounds so cool”. She is definitely one of the coolest people I know but she is so so much more. She deserves the absolute world. My life is so full of love and happiness that started with her (and my dad of course). She is the ultimate parent and the ultimate human being who never lets me forget how much she loves me. To this day, one of my favorite things to do is lay down on top of her when she’s watching TV on the couch until she can’t stand the weight 😉

If you know my mom, I hope you can send her some love today. I would also love to hear some memories that you have shared with her (leave them in the Facebook comments!). I’ve only been lucky to know her for 21 years but some of you have known her longer and I’m pretty jealous.

There aren’t enough words or enough time to describe how beautiful, soulful, incredible and inspiring my mom is. I could honestly write a book. So, here are some pictures from the past couple of years to show you just how much fun she is! Even though she is super independent and in no way needs a man, if you are interested, you have to contact me for the initial screening process 😉

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Love you always and forever, Superwoman!! Happy Birthday!!!

 

Vaarwel, Amsterdam

Just like that, my time in Amsterdam is over and so is half of my adventure!! I am very sad to be leaving such an incredible, unique city and I will undoubtedly be back again. Even though the weather was a little poopy sometimes and rained quite a bit, I was able to find the sunny moments and finish my surveys.

For the past week, I’ve been pretty hard at work and don’t have too much to elaborate on. But, I definitely have had some interesting conversations with people. In Amsterdam, I interviewed quite a few people that believed 100% in the natural approach to treating disease. Some even to the extreme. Between interviews with pharmacists and people, it seems Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general have their poop together when it comes to antibiotic prescriptions and public awareness.  Though there were a few that had never heard the term “Antibiotic resistance”, most had. Most people told me they heard about it on TV, which I think is amazing! If not from their TV, they have heard it from their doctors. I have also had the highest amount of people in Amsterdam answer correctly to what antibiotic resistance is and people have had a lot of ideas on how to alleviate it. There is a question on the survey that asks people to agree or disagree to the statement “Doctors prescribe antibiotics too much”. Pretty much everyone said that in other parts of the world, yes, but in the Netherlands, no. Many told me that doctors are very hesitant to give an abx prescription unless it is absolutely necessary. The Netherlands has overall very low antibiotic usage and also low rates of antibiotic resistance. Must be doing something right!

If you’re still a little confused as to what antibiotic resistance really is and why it’s a problem, watch this TedEd video with a cute little animation. I love Ted Ed.

When I asked people what they think could be done about the problem of antibiotic resistance, there was definitely a theme of regulating the meat industry–both in my surveys and in my interviews with pharmacists. One pharmacist had the opinion that even if we completely fix human antibiotic overuse and misuse, that it will hardly matter if the meat industry isn’t regulated. Pigs, cows, chickens, etc are all loaded up with antibiotics without ever a sign of illness. This leaves bacteria with a strong evolutionary pressure to mutate, develop genes for antibiotic resistance and pass it on to their little bacteria friends.

Speaking of bacteria, on Sunday I went to Micropia! It’s a museum in Amsterdam completely dedicated to microorganisms. It was so fun and very interactive! It was definitely a nerd moment and I loved every second of it!

I’m now waiting in the airport to board my flight for Delhi! Not really looking forward to the heat and humidity but I’m excited to experience all India has to offer. I’ll be staying in a hostel room with 5 other people so I also hope to make some friends from around the world! For the first time on the trip, I had to check my little carry on suitcase because of Qatar’s luggage regulations. When I saw my back get sent away on the conveyor belt, all I could think of is when American lost my bags for an entire vacation in Costa Rica. Can’t really afford to lose it this time or I will be parading around New Delhi in sweatpants for 2 weeks. Has anyone ever been to New Delhi? Any things I should see? 🙂

Oh, I can’t believe I didn’t include a picture of this beauty in my last blog but this is a stroopwafel. It’s basically just two thin waffles with some syrup/caramel in the middle. This one was home made from the famous Albert Cuyp market in Amsterdam and was particularly delicious because it had chocolate. I pretty much bought one where ever I saw them after that…

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It’s been a wonderful month in Europe but now on to the next adventure!! I hope you all are having a great summer.

Lots of love,

Car

Amster-DAM I love it here

Not sure if it’s because I did nothing but tourist-y things and relax for 3 days or I got to spend time with friends or it was relieving to speak English but Amsterdam has been one of my favorite places to visit so far! I spent Tuesday-Friday exploring the city and checking of the top sites in Amsterdam.

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On Tuesday night I met up with one of my friends Winnie who is traveling Europe after graduating with her masters in Chemical Engineering (yeah, she is pretty awesome) and we walked around to find some dinner. We found a great Italian restaurant but had a little trouble with the menu…Though the majority of locals in Amsterdam speak English and the waiter could have easily translated, we decided to take it into our own hands and spent about 15 minutes on Google Translate with sub-par cell data. Luckily, we could decipher a few words (tomaat=tomato) but dinner turned into a mini-Dutch lesson. Lunch the next day was pretty similar except this time there was an English and a Dutch menu so we used the opportunity to learn even more random food words! As for the pronunciation…get back to me

  • cucumber=komkommer (our favorite word)
  • cheese= kaas
  • chicken= kip
  • bacon= spek

I still don’t know how to say “Do you speak English” or “Where is the bathroom?” or “Where the heck am I?” but as long as I know how to say cucumber I should be okay, right? Survival Dutch.

Later that day, Winnie’s friend (and now my new friend :)) Gina arrived to Amsterdam and we stood in line 2 hours at the Anne Frank house. Though it was cloudy and a little chilly, the long wait was more than worth it. Anne Frank’s story is undoubtedly one of the most powerful to come out of the Holocaust. 8 people hid for over 2 years in a tiny tiny annex in the back of her father’s business. One of the most striking things to me was that during the day time hours, they could not move around or go to the bathroom so those downstairs wouldn’t hear them. I remember learning all about Anne Frank and the Holocaust in school but visiting it was far different.

After the Anne Frank House, we were definitely in need of some laughs. We went to a comedy show with a tour group called Boom Chicago. It was hilarious! I mean, there was a table of super annoying guys at the table next to us shouting stupid suggestions for the improv acts but it was fun nonetheless 🙂

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Outside of the comedy show with Gina and Winnie!

Thursday we went to Rijksmuseum  and a huge outdoor market (Albery Cuyp Markt). We had homemade Stroopwafel (YUM) and some chicken sate. Then we took a 1-hour canal cruise through Amsterdam and ended the night with going to an Ice Bar! It was 14 degrees and I was wearing flats–my toes thawed about 30 minutes later.

 

On Friday we went to the Van Gogh museum and then went to our long-anticipated attraction. A 75 minute canal cruise with all you can eat Dutch pancakes on De Pannenkoeken Boot (Pancake Boat). Though we tried hard to learn how to pronounce that, I think I’m still falling short. I ate more fully loaded pancakes than I am proud to admit and kinda hated myself after but they were real good and I can kinda use the vacation excuse 🙂

I started my surveys in the park on Saturday and Sunday. It felt really strange to do the surveys in English. I found myself stumbling over a lot of words and accidentally saying “Si” instead of “Yes” but I think I’m back into English-mode for now. Unfortunately, this week is pretty rainy so I will have to find another indoor alternative to completing them. I have scheduled all of my interviews with pharmacists, though so that should go smoothly. At the end of the trip, I plan on going to a museum called Micropia which is dedicated completely to microorganisms and their role in disease but also their essential functions in our bodies (aka my heaven).

Amsterdam is such a unique and incredible city and I’ll definitely be sad when I have to leave. Love you all!!

Carlyn

2 countries down, 4 to go

(Posting this late! I’m already in the Netherlands but I started writing this beforehand)

Thanks to my mom’s voice constantly in my head, I am sitting in the Madrid airport with about 3 hours to spare before my flight to Amsterdam. But I can’t complain, I’ve always loved being in an airport. It’s fun to people watch and guess why everyone is here and where they are going. Are they going on vacation? Reuniting with loved ones? On business? Traveling the world to research antibiotic resistance? It makes me remember when I was small and my mom worked for the airlines (free flights! woohoo!!) and we traveled pretty often. I loved getting to pull around my little suitcase and scream “Weeeee” upon take off and landing. I still love pulling a suitcase around but I try to refrain from the “weee”s now that I’m 21 years old. Seeing the world definitely makes me wish my family was there to experience it with me but I’m counting down the days until my mom and sister join me in New Zealand 🙂

I didn’t realize how much the jet lag would actually affect me so I am thankful that Amsterdam is in the same time zone as Madrid. I feel like there were definitely times these past two week where I was walking around the park collecting surveys like a zombie. But they’re done! I am continually grateful that people willingly give a stranger 20 minutes of their time whether or not they were interested in what I am doing. After a month of speaking Spanish, it felt great to hear people ask “Where did you learn to speak Spanish so well?”

I was also able to complete four interviews with pharmacists around Madrid. When I asked each pharmacist about their relationship with healthcare professionals in the area like doctors and nurses, 3/4 of them told me “muy poco” or very little relationship. This is in contrast to the interviews I did in Guatemala where all 5 pharmacists told me that they have a pretty close relationship with clinics and health care providers in the area. This difference came as a surprise to me. However, this is a very small sample size and so I cannot make generalizations about each country as a whole just based on these interviews.

In Spain, you must have a prescription to receive an antibiotic. However, according to my interviews with pharmacists, people will still ask for them over-the-counter. Sometimes, people’s friends, family or neighbors have taken an antibiotic for a specific ailment and it worked, so people self-diagnose and try to self-prescribe. Bad bad!! According to many people in the park that I surveyed, even though antibiotic sales OTC are illegal, you can still find them if you really want to. So many times I heard the words “Es una empresa”/”It’s a business”. One of the questions on the survey asks the respondent to state whether they Agree/Disagree with the statement “Pharmaceutical companies are trying to help the average citizen”. Many people didn’t give me a black or white answer out-right. More commonly, people told me that of course, pharm companies should be trying to help the average person but again they said “Es una empresa” and that they have to make money first.

Anyway, enough research talk! In my last few days, I also had a great time exploring more of Spain! I was able to visit Museo del Prado, which is home to the famous Las Meninas painting by Diego Velázquez. If you really want to get through the whole museum and enjoy it, you need to give yourself a couple of hours. It is enormous and houses so many artifacts, sculptures and paintings from history’s most famous artists.

I was also able to visit another museum that is around the corner from Prado—Thyssen. It was more manageable to work through—not quite as overwhelming but still had some great pieces! But my favorite tourist attraction in Madrid by far was Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid). It was stunning and enormous. I was ready to move in!

On Sunday the 12th I took a half day tour to Toledo. By bus, it is only about 50 minutes South of Madrid and has some of Spain’s most interesting history and most beautiful architecture. Here are some pictures!

For my last full day yesterday, I spent some time in the hospital entering surveys into Excel, said my goodbyes and took a last walk around the beautiful city. I had dinner at Plaza Mayor and got some of the best coffee ice cream I had ever had. Coffee ice cream is my favorite in case you were wondering 😉 Oh, here’s an embarrassing story for you. I was sitting at dinner at this pretty nice restaurant in Plaza Mayor enjoying the sunset and great weather. The waiter brings me a loaf of bread, olive oil, salt and a little glass bowl to pour the olive oil in. The bowl looked a little strange for olive oil, usually it’s a small plate but I went with it! I glanced around the restaurant and saw a couple with the same little glass bowl on their table that I had on mine. Only, there’s did not have olive oil in it. It had cigarette butts. Apparently, I had poured olive oil into an ash tray. It was clean and it my bread didn’t taste like cigarettes but I felt like a real dummy so I quickly poured the olive oil into the bowl of olives so no one would know. Pretty sure the waiter still saw it but oh well. Anyway, it was funnier in my head 😉

Overall, Spain was a success. I was able to get my research done and also do some fun, tourist-y things. I will be taking the first 3 days or so in the Netherlands to hang out with my friend Winnie who is also here and see everything we can possibly see in the city! Including the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House and taking a boat ride through the canals! I will be working with faculty at VU Amsterdam during my time here. I’ve heard so many good things about Amsterdam and I’m so excited to share my experiences with you!

Hasta luego, Madrid!

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Xoxo,

Carlyn