Once it came to booking a flight to Nairobi, I knew it wouldn’t be complete without an extensive layover in an extravagant city. After days of contemplating, I figured that 12 hours in Paris was the perfect amount of time to explore La Ville Lumière (the city of light). This was single handedly the best decision I had made in a while, in this blog post I will share a quick itinerary detailing the locations I visited in such a condensed amount of time.
The morning started early as we landed at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport at 8:45 am. By the time we had gotten past security, it was 9:30 am. We quickly changed into a fresh pair of clothes after which we hopped into a taxi straight to the Eiffel tower. Traffic was terrible, it took approximately 50 minutes to arrive to our destination. A pro was the fact that taxis in Paris had set pricing as opposed to a metered approach which would have run up quite the tab.
After grabbing a variety of images with the famous monument, we embarked on a 25 minute walk to the Arc de Triomphe. We spent around an hour exploring the various boutiques that lined Avenue Des Champs-Élysées.
Once the clock struck 12:45, we made our way to the closest subway station where we were able to get a day pass for as cheap as 10 Euros. About six stops and 15 minutes later, we were at the Louvre museum where we got to experience the atmosphere and walk around. We spent no more than half an hour here as we were on a tight schedule. Once we felt satisfied, we picked up on our journey once again, this time heading towards the Notre Dame.
Our final stop of the day was at the world famous Roman catholic church Sacré-Cœur. The walk up the hill was exhausting but rewarding once we reached the top. We spent our time here walking around, taking pictures, and having lunch.
At this point our legs started to give out and we decided it was time to catch a taxi back to the airport in order to have plenty of time to check in and make it to our flight. We had another long flight (7 hours & 35 mins) to Nairobi, Kenya which further exhausted us.
Once we had arrived to Kenya, we made sure to convert some money into shillings we could use towards food, transportation, and to purchase a sim card. Our arrival was met with some difficulty as we did not have the proper form filled out (to verify our vaccinations), thankfully the guards were nice enough to let it slide upon inspection of our Canadian vaccine certificates. We also had to deal with another instance where one of our checked bags was subject to a “random security check.” Upon finding some vitamin supplements, we were asked to pay an additional fee of $50, which we were also able to avoid once the guards had realized we were here to Intern at Aga Khan University Hospital. At this point, we were free to leave the airport. We quickly flagged down our assigned driver and made our way to the residence. Once we arrived, we slept for hours upon hours in hopes to recover from the past two days of travel.
At this stage of the internship, it has more so shifted from working on my objectives and deliverables to ensuring that I safely arrive in Nairobi. As I am writing this, I am in the midst of packing and gathering essential documents for my travel. The past week has flown by, I went from working on a new set of E-lectures pertaining to stress management to genuinely becoming stressed in the process of getting things together. With this in mind, I figured I would share a series of steps that I have put together for one of the E-lectures that might help improve your day-to-day mental health.
STEP 1: Reflect and Accept
⁃ Acknowledge where you are and how you feel about your current situation
⁃ If you are unhappy about something in your life, recognize and reflect on it
⁃ Take notes on your feelings
STEP 2: Analyze the Situation
⁃ After identifying parts of your life that are distressing or in need of change, begin to question them
⁃ Figure out who, what, where, when, and how
⁃ At this stage you are just gathering facts
⁃ You do not need to produce solutions
STEP 3: Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
⁃ Change your experience by going out and trying new things
⁃ You could check out a networking event
⁃ You could volunteer in something that interests you
⁃ The important part is that you do something different
STEP 4: Change Your Thoughts
⁃ By enhancing and expanding your experiences, you are creating new ways of viewing your life.
⁃ These new perspectives will ultimately help you determine what makes you happy and how you can continue that contentment.
Additional methods that work in strengthening our mental health:
⁃ Practices such as meditation and deep-breathing are known to effectively reduce stress and improve mental health.
⁃ Learning to limit stressors can lead to better mental health. Do not stress about things that are out of your control.
⁃ Make sure to take some time to recharge your brain.
⁃ We ultimately choose what we think about. The benefits of positive thinking can improve mental health
⁃ Building a schedule to follow on a daily basis can help alleviate anxiety
The first few weeks of this internship consisted of gathering information, signing agreements, and getting ready to leave to Nairboi, Kenya. As of date, we have had many meaningful discussions with our mentor Dr. Merali concerning our deliverables and objectives. Once we had outlined everything and made a plan, we started working on the first requested topic for our E-Lectures “mental and emotional health.” Given that May was mental health awareness month this was perfect, however, we are still awaiting feedback and the chance to present the lecture which has been pushed back due to many unforeseeable complications. In the meanwhile, Ariana and I have focused our time on getting a start on the next requested topic “Steps to mental Well-being.” Communication with our mentor has been an ongoing struggle, these issues do not simply arise from a bad connection, but rather inefficient time planning.
May 27th 2022: May is mental health awareness month, I place emphasis on how we must reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and illness by sharing our own experiences in the E-lecture.
On May 27th, we officially received confirmation that our internship permits have been approved. Since then we have been hard at work ensuring that we are prepared to leave for Kenya within the next 2 weeks. This includes;
- Getting the Yellow Fever Vaccine (received on May 31st)
- Booking plane tickets (June 12th – Aug 5th)
- Preparing appropriate clothing and housing arrangements
- Ensuring that we have transportation to and from the airport upon arrival to Kenya
- Confirming work hours and placement details