Friday, July 13, 2012

The final countdown - July 9 2012

Time in India is winding down super quickly now. We have less than two weeks to finish up our research and get the data that we need. Luckily we have made some good connections and are flying through surveys. Nate and I have talked with the principal of Nirmala, an all womens college, and obtained permission to give surveys to a few of their classes. We went in this past Monday and administered 100 surveys to 100 females. We have also made connections with another University in Ettimadi, which is a super nice university of Engineering. He has given us permission to come in this upcomming Thursday and hand out more surveys. Lastly, we talked with another college, Bishop Amrose College, and have obtained permission to come back to it as well next Tuesday. With all of these surveys, we aren't forgetting to still pound the street. We have obtained surveys from many of the villagers, both male and female. We will also continue to obtain surveys of people who sit next to us on bus rides, one by one they add up. As long as we get the necessary information that we need from the surveys and a decent number, we should be okay to compile our data and come to some conclusions. In order to understand the data I will most likely be using statistical analysis of number comparison. I will be using percentages and pie charts to express how Indians within my age range's dental habits are influenced by economics, education, and their family size. I haven't had time to heavily look through my surveys, but I've glanced briefly and I am excited to look at the results.  As far as our post travel of India goes, we are super excited. We will be hitting up a lot of locations and going from one site to another will keep us very busy. The south doesn't have as much to offer when it comes to site to see. We have seen a lot of them, which was fine, but they aren't as recognized and grandeous as the ones up North. We also know that there will be a lot more tourism up there so everything will be super busy which will suck. Were putting together our schedule and getting ready to book our plane and train tickets so that we can for sure make it to the places that we want to go.  Anways, I'm really busy keeping up with friends that we have made here, research that is taking place, fighting off this weird body weakness that my body is battling, and getting my dental job shadow hours completed

Mid semester retreat - June 25 2012

We had the opportunity to go on our midsemester retreat which ended up being way fun after we left the first location we planned to go. We ended up taking a train from Coimbatore to Kanyakumari, the most southern point of India where the three seas meet, at midnight. We didn't end up pulling into the station down there until noon, 12 hours later. We walked towards the main stretch of hotels that Lonely Planet recommended and found a place to stay. We got a room on the top floor of a hotel with decent acoomodations and access to the roof which was sweet for the location. It overlooked the entire city, overlooked the whole sea allowing us to see the sunrises and sunsets, and we could see the nice mountains behind us. It was cheap and when split between us ended up being nothing for a hotel. Things turned south though as the weather wasn't very nice, there were lots of people trying to sell us stuff and they were super persistent and annoying, there was no beach, the sunsets and sunrises didn't end up being too nice since it was overcast, and some guy tried hustling us for what we thought was a free tour of a Gandhi memorial. We met a few Europeans while down there and your just pulled towards them because of their white skin and the ability they have to relate with you. We took a boat to an island where a monk had meditated and received revelation. We were ready to leave Kanyakumari so when the time finally came we were ready at the train station. We then took a sleeper train that night to Rameswaram. We picked up a parcel dinner and left around 1:00AM in the morning. We pulled in to Rameswaram around 6:00AM, walked off the train, and started walking to where we thought the ocean was. We wanted a hotel close to the beach and what we got was quite an adventure. There were hundreds of people dripping with water. We found out that Hindus come to the ocean to bathe and then walk into the temple a hundred yards away and wash from 22 wells. It was exciting seeing all of this going on, the city was very bustling at 7:00AM. We found a guy who was willing to take us around to some of the local sites. This place is actually very popular because of its religious sites. One spot is where Rama is believed to have fought Ravana. They also have Adam's bridge and Rama's foot. The last place that he took us to was the beach. It was beautiful. Blue waters and nice sand. The water was very warm and enjoyable. We layed out in the sand for quite some time and I ended up getting fried after a few hours. A few days later my skin started really peeling and I looked like a monster.  Our last trip was to Madurai. We left Rameswaram at 5:00PM in the evening and pulled into Madurai around 9:00PM that night. Josh and I went out looking for a hotel. We were ready for a place that finally had wifi and a littler nicer accomodations so we forked out a little more for it. We found a boss restaurant that served all of this food that we had never tried before and it ended up being way good. Something that we have found hard to find is customer service and help with the menu, but this place was willing to help and make our experience enjoyable. That next day we woke up, ate our complimentary breakfast, fell back asleep, and then went to the temple later that day. This temple is one of the largest in Southern India and it really is beautiful. We got lots of pictures and ended up doing a lot of sourvenior shopping for friends and family back home. They had some pretty cool stuff. One of the groups favorite parts about the place was that they had a tailors market. You could get anything that you wanted tailored. If we had more time, Josh probably would have gotten a whole new warddrobe. The girls picked up some tailor made purses and then our time was winding down so we had to take off. We went back to the hotel, crashed or emailed for a few hours, packed, and took off to the train station. We ended up leaving around 1:00AM and getting home around 7:30AM. Overall as the trip went on we had more and more fun. It was an enjoyable mid semester retreat. Everything else including job shadowing hours, research, and adapting to the culture is going well!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Blog #4 - June 11 2012

These past few weeks have been lots of fun. We have been able to get a lot of work done as well as enjoy our time here. This week has been a little bit more chill than most because at first I had to run around and get a lot of things set up and started. Now that I am established, I have a little more free time. I go to a dental college M/W/F from 8-1 where I am able to job shadow all sorts of dentists with a wide range of specialties. At the dental college I can also hand out surveys so it helps me knock out two birds with one stone. Those same evenings I job shadow at Dr. Stephen's dental clinic. He does general dentistry. On Tuesday evening I job shadow an implant specialist from 5-8 and that is great as well. In my free time I try to catch up for the week, do homework and read, as well as take time to relax and enjoy everything around me. During my free time I also talk with people on the streets and invite them to take my survey. As far as what I need to accomplish, its all going great. We have been able to try a lot of new restaurants and to me they all seem pretty similar. One night one of the restaurants had the name bbq in it so we were excited. Surprise, all the same items. I am pretty sure I have settled in on my favorite foods now. I am definitely more of a fan of North Indian cuisine than South Indian cuisine, although I have definitely developed a liking for South Indian food since I first came out here. After throwing up a few times and realizing that a few things give you the "motions", your list begins to grow narrower and narrower of what you can eat. I would say in America that we have a wide variety of foods to pick from. One of the Indians here that I was talking with thought that they had a large variety of foods, after thinking and thinking I am still trying to understand this. The people here are great. Nate lost his wallet at one point and a guy held onto it until he saw me, another white guy, at which point he returned it with everything still inside. We have gotten invited to play sports. When we talk with anyone we are treated very courteously. When we have questions that person will drop everything they are doing to help us out. We are offered rides all the time. The other night it was late and pitch black because the power was out and a man offered to take me to Chavadi Pudur which was really nice. Finding places to job shadow and interview have not been a problem because everyone has been so helpful and friendly. If we are on a bus and need to find a place but have no clue what the stop is called, half the bus will chime in to tell the conductor where we want to go. Our neighbors in the village love us. They fill up our water for us with a hose when we are gone. The neighbor boys all around the village love to come and talk with us when we are home. This past Sunday there were 8 or 9 new boys that I had never met before just chilling on our veranda. The women next door offer us food and try to help us out when we need it. However, most of the time we get home late because it takes an hour by bus and then you need to walk home. Plus our appointments and time spent in Coimbatore go a little later into the evening. As of recently I started going to KG Hospital to observe doctors. I have been able to watch a surgery on the kidneys, brain surgery, brachial plexus surgery, and a few other things. It is amazing to be able to watch these since I dont think I would get the opportunity in the states. It doesn't have to do with my research but since I have some extra time it will be very helpful and unique to share these stories as I teach anatomy class. Plus I love the human body so it just fills my heart.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Blog #3 - May 28, 2012

This past week I ran off into the unknown parts of the city that I had never been to. I was searching out specialty dentists. The hard part is that directions are very general. For instance, one of the directions of the dentist was the name of this huge and long street with the adress being "opp old Shanthi Theatre, Shahi Grill". So when I got to what I thought was the right part, I just had to look around and ask people. If I wasn't close to where I needed to be then people often looked confused, had no clue what I was talking about, or would point in different directions. The closer you get to right location, the more people start to recognize the name and when you are pretty much standing on it, the people can finally point you to the clinic. What may be seen as a polite gesture is if they do not know, they will just sort of point or say its a certain way. They may think I am talking about something else, but I have been led the wrong way various times. This process happened for a day, where I would ask for directions and be led all over the street until I could find it myself. It was fun being able to completely find things on my own, but there was also a feeling of uncertainty because I was in areas that I hadn't been to, looking for things I wasn't sure if they were still there. We got our surveys professionally translated and typed. We put together consent forms to help the natives understand our seriousness and professionality. We also purchased business cards to give the informants so that they could feel free to email or get in contact with us if they had questions after taking the survey. We are pretty sure we know where to begin finding informants for our research. The job shadowing is going great. The general dentist is teaching and showing me a lot. They love having me there which is evident from the food they bring into work for me, the regional treats they bring to have me try, and all of the information and help they give me. I am going to try and set up a few other clinics to go to so that I can compare and contrast. It will help me to see if people go to those clinics for the same reason, or if different reasons spring up.  We have made some sweet friends from the local branches. One of the guys speaks great English and he goes around with us helping us so that we don't get hustled and showing us sweet places to go. He is going to sit us down next Friday and go over anything that we want to cover. He will explain culture and customs, religions, history, and anything that we want. It should be good and I'm sure it will help us with answering the questions for our IAS class.  Our neighbors in the village love us, as much as they can. We can't speak to each other but they will fill up our water tank with a hose while we are gone. They say hi and bye to us. Some of the kids that can speak will come up and talk with us. They have tried to teach us as much as they could about how to do things.  The buses are great. You get a good 2 hours each day to read or listen to audio books. We are getting some good reading done. It's a little awkward how close you all are to each other, similar to being thrown into the middle of a mosh pit, but you get more and more used to it. Especially because they try to help you to find a seat when one opens up so that you can sit down. Once you sit down, its easy coasting for the rest of the trip. While standing people are bumping into you, the bus conductor is trying to walk past you to collect tickets, people are going in and out of the bus, so it is just pretty hard to get comfortable.  All is well in India though. We are having lots of fun. As doors keep opening and we keep finding opportunities, it becomes more and more fun.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

India - Post #2 - May 15 2012

India is awesome. I'm not going to lie, eating with my hands at first made some of the food unappealing and I even lost interest for eating. I can finally say that those feelings have left. I love eating with my hands. You can pick up exactly the size of bites that you want to put into your mouth, you can mix the rice with the correct amount of curry ratios, you can pick up more chicken or drop chicken depending on how much you want in that bite, it's great. We have had some great food and the more I eat, the more I enjoy it. At first, I despised the style of food and conned myself into thinking that I only like North Indian food, but that is adjusting. I keep trying new things and keep liking them. Aside from the food, we are all settled into the house and it feels great. Although it's not exactly like home, it is pretty darn close. In fact, the change is rather fun and enjoyable because it breaks the routine. I love camping and I am not even joking, it partially feels like we are camping. We have to pump for water, light mosquito coils, sweep the dirt away, cook on a kerosine stove, and squat to use the restroom. The nice features are that we have electricity, a closed brick house, neighbors, etc. I had my research translated by a younger member in the family. After finding an individual who is great at English and Tamil and who writes novels, he said the translation was okay but it could be clearer and more precise so that when people take the survey they don't get frustrated and confused. I agreed and I asked him to retranslate my survey so that I could gather the best results. I am going to pay him for his work and it will be totatlly worth it. He is actually a good friend of ours now and we see him often. Once I get this finalized, I can really begin pounding the streets and malls for individuals to take my survey. I will also ask a lot of the individuals who I have become friends with to help me by taking the survey as well. I hopefully will be able to find a lot of people who are willing to take it. They may be willing to do it for the simple reason that I am white, which is a good enough reason for me, as long as the data that I gather is accurate. It's fun though because we have made a lot of friends without the intention of having them take our survey so they have a friendship with us and trust us. We are staying active and trying not to get burnt by the sun. It scorched my face yesterday so I should probably be a little more careful to wear sunscreen or stay in the shade more. What can I say though, playing sports was totally worth it.  Everything is going great in India and time is flying by. If it weren't for the freezing cold shower that I take right before I go to bed each night, I might go crazy because of the heat. Otherwise, the bugs are finally beginning to leave me alone and my skin is healing from all of the bites!

Monday, May 7, 2012

India - Post #1 - May 7 2012

India! I can't believe we are finally here. As much as it is nice to see pictures of what India is like, there is nothing like actually experiencing it. Taking in each breathe filled with all the fumes from the hundreds of cars, auto rickshaws, and taxis, the piles of trash letting off their rotting smells, the jasmine stands that provide beautiful smells of flowers, and the food stands each competing for your stomachs attention. It truly is an amazing place. At the same time you find it to be an amazing place, you also realize the other side of it. The extreme poverty, the poor conditions, individuals begging for food and money. As far as my courses are concerned they are going well. I am already established in a dental clinic with a great dentist that has agreed to have me shadow him. I have already been able to observe some great things, from root canals to extractions to fillings. I have already clocked in 9 hours and need a total of 90 hours over my stay in india. They are great because they speak great English and are very easy to learn from. They were born and have grown up in India so I can ask them questions about anything and they are great at answering them.  For my research I had to get a footing on the culture before I started to give out surveys. I feel like talking with people and settling down has helped me a lot. I understand a lot of the norms and what people do or do not do. I understand things that are okay to ask and others that are not. I know how to word questions so that they will understand them. I have also gone through and Edwin has helped me to translate key phrases in case I need to use them to help the informant to understand. I haven't done a full translation but I hope to work with people that will be able to help me to explain words.  Once I get my survey finalized it will be easy to find boys to take it. We talk to them all day, every day. I am still trying to figure out how to approach girls or if it is even appropriate for me to do so. If it is appropriate, we have a hard time even finding girls that we could approach to talk to. If anyone knows proper ways to approach girls to take my survey that would be helpful. Maybe I could approach girls in Brookefield Mall and request their assistance.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Learning Journal 35

For class on Monday we went over what would be on the test. It's surprising how much we have covered. Some of the topics apply more to me and my project than other topics that we discussed. While we reviewed interviewing, I realized that there were a lot of good points brought up and they would be very helpful if I was sitting down to interview. I remember reading that article and thought that the interviewer was great at interviewing because the informant was talking away. The interviewer also made it very easy for the informant to talk because their conversation with very easy to understand questions. It was interesting to see how much of the material came back to me and how much seemed foreign because I had forgotten it all. The hard part is that we will talk about something and then it won't come back up again until the final. I have a lot to study for to prepare myself for the final. The cool part is that I'm not only studying for the final, but I am studying and reviewing things that can be helpful for me while in India.
I am putting together the last of my proposal and wrapping up the last of my survey questions. This whole semester of preparation is coming to a close as we get ready to actually go out and apply what we have learned. It will be interesting to note how many things I do in India that I realize came from this prep class. Or it will be interesting to see how all the time I put into study or understanding the culture becomes beneficial when talking with people.
Here we go! India in 17 Days!