Ed. note: Jonah Levy '08 of Brooklyn will study abroad in Vietnam during the Fall 06 semester. He has agreed to keep a journal of his preparation and during his time there. This is his fourth installment.
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The immunization meeting last week proved to be thoroughly frightening. Malaria, yellow fever, hepatitis and many water- and food-borne diseases are high risk in South East Asia.
The main preventative act, aside from medication, is learning how to “think large and act small.” For example, three drops of contaminated water could lead to sickness, therefore no water in the mouth during showers, wipe the water from the rim of soda cans, and use no ice!
We were also informed that some vendors refill empty water bottles and then reseal the plastic cap-binding by melting the plastic together. Therefore, thinking large includes examining every water bottle you buy to make sure the plastic isn’t melted. Also travelers’ diarrhea will happen.
I feel a little bit better that I don’t have to receive the typhoid vaccination, which often results in a four- to six-hour period of extreme nausea and migraines. The kids going to India are required to take that one.
The pressure of school activities is taking a greater toll on me than I think I’ve ever received, considering my laid-back nature when it comes to grades.
My mantra of achievement has always been “When I get out of school and begin to work in the world of theater and film, my résumé will reflect my experience, not my grades.”
Don’t get me wrong, I still have enough self-discipline to maintain a B average, but I tend to spend my time on creative activities. Let’s just say that I may have overcommitted myself.
This just reinforces the desire to be away from this atmosphere, which will be achieved in Vietnam. Of course there will be lectures, meetings and assignments, but far from anything resembling the essential college experience.
Fortunately, I’ll have a more concrete sense of that when Tom Jewell, the Union College professor in charge of this whole shebang, meets with the HWS group to discuss issues as our semester abroad draws even closer.