Starting off in Botswana

6 10 2010

Hello everyone. My name is Paul Sonenthal and I’m a med student at Duke. This is the first post about my third year research project.

I am just starting my fourth week living in Gaborone, Botswana. Although it’s still pretty early into my 8 month stint, I’m already having a great time.

At the moment, I’m living in a 3 bedroom apartment with four other people. In the bedroom next to mine are a medical student and his fiancé, and across the hall are a dermatology resident and her husband. And then there is me, the fifth wheel.

On weekdays I walk about 20 minutes each morning from the apartment to the office where I spend a lot of my time working. Most of the researchers at the office where I work are Batswana (factoid: “Motswana” is one person from Botswana and “Batswana” are multiple people from Botswana) and they have been taking me out to clinics and showing me the ropes.

So what exactly am I supposed to be doing? The Doris Duke Foundation (maybe you have heard NPR thanking them for their donations) gave me a fellowship to learn how to be a clinical researcher. Basically, they are footing the bill to send me here and develop my own research project on HIV treatment. My work has been coming along nicely and I think it is almost off the ground. But I’ll save the details of my study for another post.

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