by Luxolo Mdolo

This year has been long. Students have literally seen flames. Many times, I find myself trying to exist in isolation from the world we live in because the show must go on. There have been wars raging in the streets on which I walk. Severe taxi violence incidents have left us fearing for our parents who commute to put food on the table. Strikes and looting have turned the country upside down to reveal a side that we have all been trying so hard to hide in the name of freedom. The COVID 19 pandemic just keeps coming at us in waves – meanwhile the people are so fatigued from trying to keep afloat. I personally do not know how other students do this thing of living each day as though these things do not concern them. I even pay attention to my colleagues in MBChB as they continuously talk about the lives lost to COVID in the wards they work in. I reflect at times and just wonder what form of normality is left to go back to when we have finally overcome this pandemic? How do we mourn the lives lost when we could not even attend their burials or night vigils? It has stripped so much from our understanding of what is important to society. Schools were closed and education of children did not mean anything to anyone. The churches were closed, and religion became an afterthought. Businesses were closed and the economy did what it does best. My grandmother said that the last time she saw so many restrictions was during apartheid. It is interesting how this life never ceases to amaze us.

Anyway, on a lighter note, this year in Honours has given me the greatest gift that medicine (MBChB) continuously failed to offer. Time. I have had time to sit, think and reflect. It gave me the time to do things that I always thought I would do immediately when I got to university. I joined the gym. I found some work to make extra income. I do spur waffle Mondays with my friends. I play soccer with other friends at 4pm twice a week. I go on double dates and baecations. I do educational talks. I run a YouTube channel of 500 subscribers. I love it here. The most amazing thing about this year though is doing an amazing research project with a Supervisor who cares.

One of the biggest fears among the people who are in the intercalated programme like me is the fear of detachment from your classmates in the MBChB class and having to integrate with a new group of students. It is more like a fear of the unknown really because you can easily assume the worst of what could possibly happen. However, I have met the most amazing, easy and outgoing people that just fill up your day with smiles and laughter. I never even thought I would be doing study sessions in coffee shops and building solid friendships with my Honours colleagues. This has been such a holistic experience. The hardship and the joy in my life are at such a wonderful reversible potential. I was even going to make a joke about allostatic load, but I realized that it was too soon. Thank you for reading though.

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