Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Fall 2019 - 36

nmEEwdsi C&a lErv EE nC tosr d F E a t u r E

Learning to
be Friends
with a
Cockroach
by Ersha Kumar

U

pon entering our hotel room in Antananarivo 32 hours
following our takeoff from JFK, my roommate (who I had
just met the day before) and I were welcomed by a local:
a Madagascar hissing cockroach. After hearing our screams from
across the hallway one of our staff members-- an American-born
man who had been living abroad for the past 7 years - came in to
investigate what all the noise was and started laughing at us. His
response to us was: "Girls, you're going to have to get over those
fears quickly. You're not in the United States anymore."
At that time, his statement was of no comfort to me. In fact, it
made me rethink the choices that had brought me there. I regretted
not going to Italy, Norway, or any of the other dozens of places my
friends had traveled to, where I could have continued to live my
cushy Western lifestyle. I felt so far out of my comfort zone that if I
was offered a flight back to the US at that point, I would've taken it
without any hesitation.
I figuratively slapped some sense into myself as we drove
through the lush green foliage that lined the pothole-ridden dirt
roads after our group of 12 took off on the ten-hour bus ride
from the nation's capital to a research facility in the Ranamofana
National Park. "Are you going to keep complaining about the
things you can't control or start focusing on the things you can?"
I asked myself. When I allowed myself to let go, the surrounding
landscape and bright blue sky that were following us finally allowed
me to feel at ease during a period of time where all I felt was
anxiety. It made me eager, hopeful, and excited about what was yet
to come.
Throughout the first week we were at the research facility,
most of our days were spent exploring the national park, which we
lovingly referred to as our backyard, and visiting the nearby village
and poorly attempting to bargain with the locals. Our simple
encounters with the community convinced us that we assimilated
well within a few days. The routine of hanging out by the market,
window shopping for souvenirs, and buying street food had given
us a false sense of security that life in Madagascar wasn't so much
different than life in the States.

36

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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Fall 2019

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