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As part of our introduction to the new regimen we’d signed up to, our systems were in for the shock of a lifetime. During the orientation period a scenario was put together to brace us for the chaotic nature of the journey ahead.
Lo and behold the dreaded car accident scene on a country road was awaiting. Although it was a fictional representation of what would actually happen, our freshman minds were not ready for such a storm. The only training any of us had undertaken beforehand was a first aid course, which was all this situation would assess. However, the nerves it took to keep calm cannot be underestimated. The description of the case may allow you to fathom why many found it difficult to deal with what was at hand.
Before that, an understanding of us as a cohort may provide some context as to the kind of people dealing with this in the first place. Many of my peers, including myself, have science backgrounds. As you can imagine, scientists are a very unique kind of people. They live in a world of microns, nanometres and even pictometres, which are so small that in some cases they can’t even be seen under a microscope! The world of science, is a world of order. Everything follows a particular process, there is a system that our predecessors, through their research, have determined these micro-particles follow. So the plan is to continuously look for new systems and processes to find order in and amongst disorder.
Therefore, a structured mind that typically is in control of everything it encounters cannot fathom such chaos that is the rural accident scene. The scene was set out on the freeway with a body thrown away from the car, and a family in the car with differing severity of injuries. Of the family, there was a frantically screaming woman that needed to be reassured, an old man with a massive cut across his forehead that was very needy and a young man whose breathing sounded like Darth Vader. There was also the added issue of the screaming woman indicating that she had ‘lost her baby’. Let us not forget also the man (represented by a dummy) that lay on the floor lifeless and unconscious.
Now I hope you can see that orderly minds, see no order in such a situation and that is why many of us struggled to deal with what confronted us at the time. It indeed was a valuable learning experience, but also an indication of the turbulent nature of times ahead. To me it spelled out in bold letters ‘Welcome to Chaos’.
After being accepted into medical school, we were to spend our first year in a rural town. I had never previously lived outside the metro suburbs, so I could feel a huge learning experience coming. Boy did it come, and when it hit it almost knocked me off my feet.
The reality of country life is that what it lacks in population, it makes up for in serenity and natural beauty. This exact reality is what I failed to appreciate and it hindered my ability to make the most of the circumstances. The view of the never-ending greenery took your breath away for a split-second. Once you remembered the isolation of the town, all of that was quickly forgotten. Being accustomed to a large extended family and regular socialising with friends, I encountered probably my toughest challenge to date: independent living.
It sounds crazy, but when you’re used to being surrounded by people almost all the time, getting used to your own company for large parts of the day is difficult. It also proved to be extremely rewarding because I learnt so much about myself in the process. In fact, I matured in that year more than I had in all the years preceding. Mind you, by no means did I have it tougher than my colleagues. There were some who moved from interstate and even overseas. Those students had it much harder than I did, I could still drive a couple of hours down the freeway and visit family. They needed a flight home to see theirs.
One of the memories that is entrenched from my drives to and fro, is a particular road near the town that was always covered in thick fog. Coming off the freeway you pass through the fog and then almost like a gateway into the surrounding natural beauty, the road becomes engulfed on either side by livestock, lush green grass and rows of trees. Automatically tuning one to become tranquil, at ease and relaxed.
On a lighter note, the following video is an insight into the routines of the time.