Our arrival into Kuwait was a swift one. We were very relieved that the clinic had provided a meet & greet service to assist us through the visa process making things very simple. As we exited the customs area we walked into a sea of flower petals and confetti! Children were shooting off confetti guns and there was lots of cheering and celebration. Though I told Becca they must be very excited we arrived (jokes) we soon learned that this was a very traditional welcome for a person recovered from an illness or recently graduated. We were greeted with warm hugs by the President and Medical Director of the clinic, Dr. Elham Al Hamdan. With so many questions and uncertainties about how our arrival would go, we felt so relieved and immediately at home in Elham’s company. She came bearing gift bags with maps, keys to our apartment, and phones to get us started for our life here in Kuwait. She conveniently lives on the same floor of our building so she was able to help get us settled our first night. We spent a couple of hours starting to unpack and of course face timing everyone to confirm our safe arrival before crashing.
There have been many questions regarding our time and clinical experience in Kuwait so here are some of the things we already know:
Why are you going to Kuwait? And for how long?
- Becca and I are completing our final physical therapy (physiotherapy) internship at the Fawzia Sultan Rehabilitation Institute for the next 12 weeks. We have not been to the clinic yet but it is a multi-disciplinary institute addressing a variety of rehabilitation/health care needs. You can learn more at this website http://fsrikuwait.org/index.html and of course by following along here 🙂 There are a lot more questions we have about the day-to-day in clinic that we will begin to answer Sunday after our first day. P.s. the work week is generally Sunday-Thursday here. However, the clinic does have Saturday hours, so TBD on our schedule.
What do you wear? Do you have to wear a Hijab?
- Nope! we do not have to cover our heads unless we find ourselves entering a mosque or perhaps some other religious environment. Clinic dress is similar to home. Dressing conservatively is recommended at all times which includes modest neck lines, and covering between shoulders and knees. You will not be reprimanded for tanks and shorts, but likely attract unwanted attention so we are avoiding that. Like any place, there is a range of liberal to conservative attire and beliefs and there is a large expatriate community in the country which adds to the diversity of the area.
Is it safe?
- As safe as anywhere. We have encountered no concerns thus far and have been reassured that it is completely safe to be out in the city, but like anywhere, don’t walk in dark alleys at night and bring a buddy. There are no restrictions on travel to Kuwait and we plan to stay on top of any changes in that status.
Where will you live?
- We have a great 2 bedroom apartment in Hawally, a suburb of Kuwait, where many of the clinicians live. We feel very spoiled that it comes with most everything we need and is located immediately next to a mall complete with grocery store, pharmacy, Starbucks and Tim Hortons 😉 There is Mosque about a block away keeping us informed of the time by announcing the call to prayer throughout the day. We will have to carpool or call a taxi to clinic but it is a close drive and luckily we avoid rush hour (so I’m told). We are hoping to find a gym in the neighborhood or near clinic soon.
Are you nervous?
- Not any more than every other rotation. I’m of the anxious variety and so I overthink every detail. I was worried about things like bringing prescription medications, getting travel insurance, making sure our flights were on time, etc. But that is not unique to Kuwait. Aside from new clinic jitters we feel completely comfortable and at ease after some assistance getting to the apartment and finding groceries. We are still figuring out things like getting a consistent wi-fi signal, understanding all the light switches, and getting our toilets to flush consistently…but that could be anywhere.
What are you most excited about?
- Being pushed to grow as a clinician and as an individual. I have improved in my clinical skills but every site is different and this one will come with an extra nudge. I am so excited to learn from clinicians trained around the globe, work in a multi-disciplinary environment, connect with people and help them feel better, and to be humbled as a guest in this country. I know we will continue to hone our technical skills but I am also looking forward to the challenges of enriching my skills in communication and cultural competence. And getting better at my exam skills…still need to get better at that 🙂