Saturday, 30 April 2011

Queen's Day!

Since yesterday was all about the British Royals, today is all about the Dutch Royals. And I did fairly nothing about it.

Really, I should be doing this:

or this:

or maybe even this:

But No.

I spent my afternoon working on my sun tan. That did not even work; it's only April and I think my skin is as dark as April is going to get it. See, I'm not really such an un-fun girl; I just really wasn't in the mood and didn't have the right people with me. Plus, I'm broke. Plus, well... there will be a Queen's Day next year too.

We celebrate Queen Beatrix birthday every 30th of April, even though her actual birthday is on the 31st of January. Her mum's birthday was on the 30th of April and she wanted to keep the celebrations on that day in honour of her mum, and because, well, it's freezing cold on the 31st of January. It's a day of festivities, the colour orange (Because the Royal house is the house of Orange-Nassau), vrijmarkten where random Dutchies can sell their junk on the streets, and every year the royal family visits a different town or city in the Netherlands.

I did not entirely miss out on the 'fun' though. When I went to the shopping centre for bread and paracetamol I sort of innocently and involuntarily walked in on the local vrijmarkt where -mostly- kids sold their family's junk (mainly their old toys) and used their earned money to buy someone else's junk (because Dutch people like cheap things, even if it's completely useless). There even was a fanfare band (named the Pomme Toeters), followed, naturally, by a bulky, tall black man with cigarrette, bald head and staffie bull. Some people sold ugly cupcakes, one of the supermarkets had a stall with the unusual combination of candy floss and strawberries, a Hindustani woman sold traditional Dutch treats and this guy also earned an euro or two on his merry-go-round contraption:

Yes; it's a bicycle with a merry-go-round on it, and he provided the music himself too.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Bye bye life...

Sooo, I'm starting work on Monday.
Sooo, I'll be starting with an introductory course.
Sooo, part of the course will be Advanced Life Support; Paediatric Basic Life Support, ABCDE (wasn't this covered in med school?), immediate care for the sick child and some other stuff I don't see as a separate item.
Sooo, I suppose I'll be studying this weekend. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

House Hunt

Along with finding a job (check!) comes finding a place to stay. While it's OK to spend your extended holiday at your parents place, it's NOT OK to be in your twenties, working, and still living with your mum and dad. 

I can travel to work by train quite easily, but with a 48h work week, I think I want to live closer by. The city I'm going to be working in is a fairly small city in the (relative) countryside. The province of 'Zuid-Holland' has no proper countryside. It's close enough to the big cities anyway. So, I decided I'm going to move there. 

Finding an apartment turns out to be a little more trying than I expected. I'm just me, and I don't want to be spending all my money on rent. Problem is, 'all my money' makes me ineligible for subsidised housing, which means either I pay up, or I rent from a potentially dodgy landlord. 

Results so far:
- Apartments scheduled for demolition in 'medio 2012'. Cheap, and if they're still in good condition (built in 1960), well, might be an option. Only problem: 'medio 2012' could be anything from March to September, and I really need to be able to stay there until June. 
- The PERFECT place, not too expensive, close to the city centre and the hospital, big enough, with a fireplace and a WALK-IN CLOSET and a balcony.... but someone else thought it was perfect too, before I found it. 
- A cheap one-room apartment, rather small but with a complete kitchen and a balcony, but only one room and a bathroom (I'm dreaming of having a seperate bedroom, you know)...and it may already be taken. Near hospital and city centre.
- A mildly affordable place which might work, from a decent broker.... in a nice neighbourhood about 3k's from the hospital, only slight problem is that it's on or near the shopping centre where there have been some problems with youths hanging around causing trouble. (Look, if it's the same as here, I'd consider it)
-A nice-looking apartment in an adjacent small town (less tax), yet still only 3k away from the hospital. Not too expensive. Only problem is: 'only for rent to 2 people'. 


Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter Weekend

My sisters gave me the little sheep above for my birthday, almost a week ago. I can't bear to eat it, just look at those eyes!

This morning we had Easter breakfast; (with a few Beacon marshmallow eggs, from the two boxes my dad imported this week... what the hell do you do with two boxes of Beacon eggs??) and yesterday was just mellow. Went for a run with my sister, watched some TV, went to church with my family (and had the entire church queue up to talk to me)...

So, that was Easter Weekend.

And I'm starting work in a week!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

So, what did you do today?

It's a chilled, relaxed, sunny Saturday somewhere between, well, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Apart from chilling in our (kiddie) pool on one of those floaty beds (what, if you close your eyes it's almost like floating in a real pool!), I decided it was a good day to reveal the following picture of my belly: 

Friday, 22 April 2011

Signed, sealed, delivered

There. I signed my contract and am on my way to mail it. (Once the floor is dried up, Grandma did the floors). Along with it, I'll be mailing the MRSA kit. This means the job hunt is officially over... for this year.

If I'm MRSA positive, I might have to get treated and then find another job. Because I can't start work at this hospital if I'm MRSA positive.

I have a contract for 38h/week, plus 10h 'training and supervision', which comes down to 48h a week (EU norm). In the beginning it will probably take me longer to do the work I'm supposed to do in 48h; but essentially my work day is from 8:00 - 18:00/18:30; not taking into account shifts. When doing night shifts, I get to sleep during the day. When doing evening shifts, well, I forgot how this hospital did it, but either I work 'doubles' and get days off in return, or I just work evenings. I'll be earning enough to have to pay around 30% in taxes (we have a stepped tax system: the more you earn, the higher% you pay), and I'll be earning more than my friends who started work 2 years ago and who smilingly always had money when I had none. I also have 116.82 hours of vacation for 2011. If I worked a full year, I'd have 175.23 hours of vacation, which is just over 4 weeks. Mind you, that 0.23h is very important. I just don't know what I am going to do with 14 1/2 minutes of vacation.

That just to give you an idea, since my stats page says most of the people who actually read this are American.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

At the dentist

Me: No, sorry, I can't make appointments half a year in advance, I work in shifts. But can I get an e-mail reminder instead of the card you sent me like I requested last time? (Yes, we like to save the trees...but more importantly, I receive e-mail on my phone, which, coincidentally, I also use to phone them for the appointment)

Receptionist: Oh, sure, sorry, we must not have your e-mail address.
*checks my info*
Oh, right, something is wrong with your adress, please look at it.

Me (peeking at screen): Yes, there's no @.

Receptionist: Oh, right! No idea what egg did that!

(apart from the missing essential, I found it amusing that she called her colleague an egg!)

Work out details: tuesday run/walk workout 35min plus an hour cycling, yesterday none specifically, today 50min cycling and a zumba class. I need to work on my bicycle fitness, simply because I'm tired of struggling to get places!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

500km of my running history.

I've just logged my 501th km on my nike+ system. That's something, right? Despite 3 injuries in the last year, I've made it to 500k.

Total, that is. 

I 'seriously' started running on September 12, 2009, apparently. There were a few runs on there from before that, which I deleted. (I also have an estimated 50km which I haven't logged.)
Then, just as I was getting somewhere, the winter happened. Three months of subzero temperatures and crazy snow... and I couldn't face that. I went to the gym instead, but I hate treadmills.
Then I injured my lateral collateral ligament during a street dance class...
Then I injured it sort of again late last year...probably doing nothing in particular.
Then I finally got going, and then I hurt my IT band. 

Then we got to now, but 500k over and done with. 

Let's just make the next 500k more productive?

Today I went out for about 35 mins, starting with 2 mins walking, then 3 mins running, then 2 mins walking etc. I tried to actually run during the running bits but my cardio fitness dropped so fast while I was out. Nonetheless, I've managed to keep a pace of well below 6'00/km during the running bits, even below 5'30 on the first four runs, then about 5'30 for two runs and then 6'00 on the last one. I don't know if I'm being particularly smart. I just know that I can do this. 

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Very long dead fellow countrymen

Today another holiday tale.

We also went to visit the historical Stellenbosch in South-Africa. It's really a gorgeous town, idyllic almost, set in South-Africa's wine country.

I think maybe my memory of this part of the trip is slightly blurred by the fever I had, and the murderous sore throat, and maybe the horse-dosages of pain killers I took... but I do remember that it's a fascinating place to go and home to Stellenbosch University, one of the country's best uni's.

A few years ago, I was an elective student at Stellenbosch University's Tygerberg campus. Tygerberg is in Cape Town, technically, but it's Stellies' medical faculty. That's my teeny tiny history with the Cape; in reality I'm from Gauteng. Originally, that is, I've spent half my life abroad and the result is that I'm not really from anywhere in particular anymore.

At the Mother Church in Stellenbosch I found this:

Tombs of dead, well, fellow countrymen. They're dead Dutchmen from the 1700's; which makes me unsure if they're dead old or new fellow countrymen. As a white South-African, I have Dutch ancestors, probably not the ones buried here, but still. Some of these buried here would be first-generation South-Africans, from before the Afrikaans were the Afrikaans and before the English discovered how much fun South-Africa is. I'm an expat in Holland, but I'm a Dutch citizen since I think 2008. These tombs made me aware of an odd cycle I'm running (or cycling) around the Dutch: I'm not a 'real' Dutchwoman, but yet, these dead Dutchmen are double fellow countrymen.

Exercise: Pilates work out DVD.

Friday, 15 April 2011

My Legs

Second work out of my 'getting back to running after IT band syndrome' plan.
Run-walk-run in 2min intervals for 30 minutes. I took my sisters with me. They're seasonal runners; and the weather is improving. The work out is by no means challenging, but I think my IT band begs to differ but doesn't say too much.
I'm faster than they are, but they are fitter than I am. They describe us as the soldiers and the floating alien, I'm the alien.

The only problem with my plan is that it's not really a plan. It's just something I came up with after my 2 runs in South-Africa, and the plan was to make a plan.
Part of the plan was to count Zumba as 'running' for now.
The plan might be to see if I can do part of the 'Nike Walk To Run schedule.

Maastrichts Mooiste is in 2 months. I'm considering doing the 5k run; well, mainly because it would be a good excuse to hang with a friend. All I need to be able to do is run for 30 minutes straight, right? I'll have to see what my work schedule is like first; I've decided that races are no priority for me now.


In terms of not-so-recent weight gain I realised that I have one pair of black trousers to wear to work; that's it. Actually, come to think of it, this not-so-recent weight gain trouser problem goes a bit further back than the cardiology kilo's: I own two pairs of jeans and one pair of black trousers fitted to my post-recovery body. For the record: I went through weight restoration in 2008.

Don't ask me what I've been wearing for the past 2.5 years. I don't know.

I decided to find myself a pair of trousers suitable for work today, and preferably a light brown or beige pair. I did buy two pairs of jeans before going to South-Africa because I sort of just grew out of my old ones; a light grey pair and just blue jeans, forgot the latter in SA. Not relevant. Relevant maybe, is that I lost a minimal amount of weight in SA. I was sick for a few days.

I aimed for something less than 30 euro's. I'm low on cash. In the H&M it turned out that that minimal amount of weight was enough for me to need the same size I needed last year, before the whole cardiology-weight-gain thing. I'm pretty close to my set point weight. I found the size thing very amusing. Even more amusing was that I forgot that H&M trousers are too short for me, and only realised that after pair nr 4. I can't remember the last time I tried on trousers there. I had better luck in the Zara, where I found a pair for 26 euros.

The most amusing thing of all maybe, considering my past, was my legs. I'm pretty thin, and I think my legs are pretty thin too. Not too thin, just, well, like they should be. I don't look in the mirror thinking my thighs are fat or big. (I do look in the mirror thinking that running actually works for cellulite though! I have less of it now than I had at my lowest weight!) My thighs are right-sized in my humble opinion, and I love that I finally have calves. Thank you, running.
However, whoever sets the standards for confection clothing seems to disagree with me about my thighs. I either have too much thigh for my bum or too little bum for my thigh, either way: it doesn't fit right. And apart from having handed my sister a pair of annoying jeans (too loose at the top, meaning it got pulled down by the sheer force of my gigantic thighs...), I find this extremely amusing. My thighs don't even touch. Maybe the proportions are correct in the sample size. Maybe other women my size have booties but never exercise.

I don't care. I'm proud of my legs.

And I suppose the good news is that my new beige trousers (slightly tighter over the thighs than over the rest) will still fit at my personal, healthy set point.

And maybe the best part is that I have seemed to 'reset' my attitudes towards food, leading to something closer to my normal pattern of intuitive eating. It feels so much better.

Cheers to my legs.

Good night.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Today is not my day

Allright, because I promised Africa stories:
One of the ironies of South-Africa is: new cars are programmed to automatically lock when you drive. I suppose too many people have been hijacked or robbed at traffic lights: South-Africans lock their car doors when driving, it's safer.
Yet, the back of a bakkie is considered a completely legit place to transport people and stuff. (I deliberately looked for a white-people shot, because foreigners seem to believe that only black people ride there)

Anyway. Woke up with a headache and a fight with my mum (at least, it feels like it, but I probably woke up with just the headache). Took two paracetamol and went to a big market with my grandma and sisters, paracetamol wasn't doing it's job. Yes, they sold cheap clothes there, but I didn't like it. I like cheap clothes if they don't look cheap, you know? I don't want to look cheap.
So really, not much more sensible to say.

Work out: apart from walking around the market, none. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

HR interview

I had my appointment with HR today. You know, the guys who do the paperwork and so forth when you get hired.

This morning, I woke up more or less fresh and fruity and ready to go. I had my day planned out, but it turned out to be one of those days that don't go entirely to plan.

I sorted out the remaining paperwork, signing all the forms and making photocopies of documents. Then I got dressed and put on some make up. Getting dressed turned out to be a bit of a challenge as I don't have much to wear, literally. I wore my floral blouse (very trendy) with a black waistbelt and a black lacy skirt and ballerina-pink ballerina pumps. I calculated that I'd need about 20 minutes to get to the train station, as I didn't have to buy a ticket because my public transport card had money on it.


I forgot to plan in idiot time, which I needed for the following:
- somehow between 11:30 last night and 11:30 this morning some family member had managed to move my bike in such a way that I can't get it out easily
- I have forgotten that getting said bike requires 5 whole minutes of locking and unlocking
- I could not find my watch between someone else's laundry, which was conveniently placed on top of my stuff
- Naturally, my public transport card would be blocked. Naturally, all my attempts to get rid of the student-free-travel tag were in vain, with the result that 'they' found out it's still on there post graduation and apparently blocked my card. 'They' were supposed to have it untagged on the 1st of March after I requested them to do so.

The result: I missed my train. Not in the acceptable way, where you'd be 5 whole minutes late, but in the frustrating way where the train is still standing there but you can't get the door to open any more. Then it stands there for another half a minute without letting you in, before leaving.

I planned to take a relatively early train, to make sure I was on time. I ended up being there at 1 precisely...
after which the lady at the reception (the correct reception) sent me to another building, where I found out, at 9 past 1, that I had to be in the first building and the man with whom I had the appointment was waiting for me. So I sort of missed out on the interview with him, and went straight to the formalities with another lady. Which I find frustrating, because apart from not leaving a sharp impression, I don't know exactly when and where I start.

Plus, I have to take time off almost immediately for the driving test (the medical one, not the one that will get me my licence, well, ok, that one too) because OF COURSE it could not be done in these last few weeks I'm off. I really don't want to take time off immediately.

Workout: total of 1,5h cycling just to get places, and a 55min zumba class. Legs still sore from my 15x2min work out alternating running and walking... or maybe it has something to do with the cycling. I'm not used to it anymore. 

Monday, 11 April 2011

In the Land of the Zulu

As we drove towards the luxurious Cathedral Peak Hotel, the scenery was breathtaking. We turned off the main road, and drove through a really rural area. The shrill contrast between the sheer beauty of the country and the harsh poverty of the people in the small towns didn't seem to make sense. There were hundreds of school children walking home at the time. Hundreds of school children in an area with no jobs. Children with goats; a few cattle, some thin. Most of the colourful houses were brick, that's a good thing.

The hotel itself was gorgeous; I've never been in such luxury. But then again, I've only been in a hotel maybe twice before. There was a small wedding party present; and a few other guests. We had buffet breakfasts and dinners, and while we were off to dinner the housekeeping staff would open our beds for us, and leave a story and a chocolate on our night tables.

The next day we went for a guided walk. Our guide was Wise Man; a local Zulu. He was a tall, skinny man with upside-down tear shaped scars all over one cheek. They didn't look like accidental scars.

Wise Man was in his early 30's and unmarried. He's unmarried because he can't pay the lobola (bride price) of 11 cows for his girlfriend of 7 years. He doesn't earn much but he tries to save up for the cows, but it's hard because his parents died and as the first born child it's his duty to take care of his younger siblings. There are six of them, and three have finished school but can't find jobs.

When my dad said he should marry a city girl because then he wouldn't need to pay lobola for her, he replied:
"No man, city girls are lazy. They don't want to carry firewood or 20litres of water on their heads"
and under his breath he valued them at 5 cows. (The irony is: these city girls are important for the development of the country!)
He didn't have any children because he's not married. Sadly, I doubt the girl would still be able to conceive when he saved up for those 11 cows.

Wise Man grew up in a small village with no electricity and no running water in a place with no future for the few thousand who live there.
I grew up in the suburbs in relative luxury and had the opportunity to study and had three jobs to choose from.

Underseas Adventures

Right. Part one.

I've already half posted about this, but it was fun.

I spent my first week at the seaside in KwaZulu Natal, getting my diver's licence and enjoying family time. Apart from my right hand, I also managed to get my ears sunburnt. Human Anatomy 101: ears are covered with skin too, remember when applying sunscreen. Apart from that I only got a mild tan; wetsuits don't let through much UV light.

Diving is fun. The course is interesting, and I've learnt interesting things. Among other things: it's complicated to breathe through your mouth underwater without a mask on, water gets in your nose. This might be slightly terrifying when there's 12 metres of water above your head. I've also learned that, despite being a strong swimmer and not weighing that much, I don't float. You have to be able to swim 200m and keep yourself afloat for 10 minutes in order to do the course. The Swedes who did the course with me floated, I had to tread water.

We went for a total of 4 ocean dives; which included practising skills. Aliwal Shaw is a gorgeous place to dive, and apart from the already mentioned white tip reef shark I saw thousands of fish which I can't identify... and a giant potato bass, and two stingrays. One of the stingrays had take-away dinner in it's mouth. It was really gorgeous!

On the last morning I went for a run on the beach with my dad. OK, maybe I overdid it a tiny bit, but it was good. Nothing better than barefoot running on the beach... and it's good for my calves and feet too. I might do a bit more of that when the weather gets better here in the Underworld; after all, the beach is just a tram ride away.
It was incredibly humid though.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

I am back

Hello, I am back from South-Africa.
Right now I don't have time for blogging, but I'll catch up soon.


Travel stories, all the way from Africa...
Running, yes, I started again!

and of course, I'll be starting work as a real doctor in less than 3 weeks!

Speaking of which... I had a bit of a fright on the plane last night when they called for a medical doctor. Fortunately there were 3 medical doctors and my services were not needed.....