Tuesday, May 26


Just a quick note to let anyone interested know that Tim has now arrrived safely in Launceston as of this evening. He had his last day of work at his former employer in Hobart today and starts a new job tomorrow! He's starting off at head office in Devonport tomorrow for induction and so forth but mostly will be in Launceston office or in 'the field' - which could be anywhere Northern Tassie direction I gather. Its the job he hoped for and hopefully will go really well - they seem like a great bunch from his reports - and many of them graudated around his time. They also have offices elsewhere - like in Hobart, so future options are promising.

He'll be living back at his parents for the next few months until we start looking into a place to live down the track which he may move into earlier! It's great to have him here already - seeing him only 1 day since the weekend is a treat these days! Tonight we even made it to the 2009 Uni Revue which was entertaining, crude, political and all the rest you expect!

Tuesday, May 19

Africa: Social side of things!

The conference wasn't all serious hard work! There was quite a fun social program - although it was hard to keep up with. Each evening after dinner there were plenary sessions where the presidents of each member country voted on various things - and the social events didn't start till after that. If there was a big issue, things might not get going till around 12, and certainly didn't stop till around 4. I think I probably averaged around 2am - skipping one event, and staying later to the last few! I was actually surprised by how I managed to get up each morning for 8:30 sessions - sleep deprivation and uni don't seem to work nearly as well.

One night was the International Food and Drink night - everyone was prewarned by folks who'd been before so each country brought along something of their own. Most countries did focus on the drinking a bit more than the eating! (Czech Republic had dangerous looking stuff in a plastic bottle!) As Aussies, we had Tim Tams, vegemite on crackers, fairy bread, furry friends and Bundy. We also had Aussie flag tattoos!~The food was well mostly received though people weren't so keen on the straight rum - not sure why!! (Some did ask how we can like it - I think I said, don't be stupid I'd never drink it straight, and I don't drink it much anyway!).

Aussie stall with Austrian stall behind. Yep it was alphabetical.

The Austrians also had a good set up - flaming Mozarts! Mozart balls (which are awesome anyway), cut in half, hollowed out a little and filled with some kind of alcohol and set on fire. You have to pop it in your mouth and shut it quickly before it gets too hot and so the fire goes out!! It was good!!

Another favourite of mine (although maybe biased) was Sweden - they made you sing a drinking song in Swedish and then drink something, but they also had yummy Kaviar past, and Bils - little car lollies which I'd had before.


Recently I went on a trip to a conference in Tunisia of all places. It was in a place called Hammamet, near to Tunis which is the capital of Tunisia. The conference was one of the two general meetings a year for the International Federation of Medical Students Association, IFMSA. The theme was conflict and health - so some of the meetings focussed on that. Other sessions were stream specific - I joined 'SCORP' which was the standing committee on human rights and peace - sounded more interesting to me than medical eduation or professional exchange - reproductive health and AIDS was another one that sounded interesting though. It worked out quite well, because out of the 15 Australians, we were reasonably well spread between the streams and we got to hear updates on each day at the 'NMO hour'.

I went to most of the sessions I could - some were not so good, but overall they were pretty interesting. It was cool to see what some of the different student groups are up to around the world. Some had started initiatives like breast screening/awareness for breast cancer, changing nappies in orphanages, or promoting paper bags and recycling - most of which were great to hear about and a good reminder of how good we have it in Australia! The UK team, Medsin, had some good programs and I did some sessions run by one of them about setting up primary health care systems in countries with role plays of refugee camps, the UN and other parties involved.

One of my favourite sessions, was an interative art workshop. I partly like the idea because of its potential, rather than its actual outcome - but I did have fun playing with clay while thinking about conflict and health!

The place we stayed was pretty wacky - a fake medina resort/conference centre! There was a wierd indoors area with fake trees stuck on the walls, and real touts selling stuff - real stuff but not sure about the real prices - perhaps real resort prices. I still bought a few things because I rightly predicted I wouldn't have much other time for shopping.

The last day when everyone was leaving the conference centre and there were no sessions, I managed to join up with some US guys I'd met and join them on a little exploring. Two of us had a flight later that day, and two were sticking around till the next day. We got the 6am bus to the Carthage/Tunis airport where we failed to check in our bags early - but our back up plan fell into place nicely. The boys who were sticking around got a hotel in Tunis and we left our bags for the day. They'd had a day in Tunis pre-conference, and had randomly met an American who they then had dinner with - so they got a hotel near to his place in order to catch up again. By chance as we set out to find the train station, we met their new friend's flat mate and he gave us a semi-guided tour to the station. He also answered our question as to why everything was so quiet - it was Mohammed's birthday and a public holiday. But fortunately it didn't stop us getting tasty almond/chocolate pastries for breakfast!

Our agenda for the day was Carthage followed by lunch in Sidi Bou Saíd - which we managed to do nicely. We did a fair bit of walking around Carthage - added to unecessarily by not realising the price of admission was for all the sites of Carthage! We went to one place, thought it was a bit expensive just for a museum, and tried somewhere else - then had to go back! The museum was well worth going back for with some amazing lamps, pottery, sarcophagi, and a good collection of mosaics. We also looked into the Roman Villa, and failed to find any archaelogy in the 'parque archeologique' or something. It was just a trail through some bushes...

We had a great lunch in the 'ridiculously romantic' though slightly touristy place up on the hill in Sidi Bou Saíd. I had a 'Tunisiain Specialty' - delicious stuffed squid, as well as a Briq (thanks Big A!). We'd had a big week, early start, and lunch was slow to arrive. The four of us were pretty quiet as we waited for our food to come, and did well to stay away, but it was certainly worth the wait. We also grabbed a freshly fried donut/pastry thing of some kind on the way back down the hill to begin out train-taxi-via hotel-taxi trip to the airport. At my request we jumped out of the first taxi a little early so I could spend a few extra dinar/look in the supermarket. As well as tissues to stem the travel cold dripping nose, I found some tins of halva, Turkish coffee and 300% harissa to take back home (these puzzled customs slightly as all the writing was French/Arabic, but they were allowed through!).