Wednesday, April 13, 2011

getting to world spru

sometimes one can find that once on has arrived at a place, one isn't really there yet. i, myself, have had this experience, and thus i will tell you all about it. it all starts with my decision to participate in unc som's (university of north carolina school of medicine) advanced-practice selective in porto (oporto), portugal, and the following chronicle's my arrival in said city.

the evening of april 2, 2011, i'm making the final leg of my journey to portugal, flying overnight from toronto. i sat in the airport right before boarding the plane, gearing up for this journey, i take a special concoction of medications that will prepare my body and mind for the experience. first is taking some anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), as being cooped up and cramped in the sitting position for 6 hours straight is no fun time at all on an old guy's knees and lower back. for the mind, to aid in my adjustment to the five hour time difference, i managed to acquire some sleep aids: one in the form of a long acting benzodiazepine and the other simply (or not so simply, depending on your level of knowledge of chemistry) melatonin. it's key to take melatonin several hours before you want to start your new sleep-wake cycle so that your body can make the proper adjustments, but i'm going to go into too much detail about that. you can ask your doctor about it... so, fueled for the glorious six-hour slumber i'm about to embark upon, while on a plane crossing the atlantic ocean, i take my seat and promptly pass out... six hours later, "hello, portugal!"

now, i had skimmed over the blogs of my "predecessors," as one preceptor so interestingly described them, and the directions to get to the lodgings (i.e. world spru, which you should absolutely look into) seemed pretty straight forward:
step 1 - fly to porto
step 2 - take metro from airport to campaña
step 3 – take a right out of the metro up to world spru (only taking about 2 minutes and something or other about a glass wall and some taxis and buses)
it is on this third step where an inglorious journey began. step 1, check. step 2, check. step 3… i make a right out of the metro and head up the street. coincidentally, or providentially, i run into a missionary, a group the missionary’s working with, and the missionary’s wife who happens to be from shelby, nc (my hometown). i kid you not. as i would ordinarily stop here and make commentary about shelby, this is neither the time nor the place for such. just google and/or wikipedia it.
“where are you trying to get to?” says the missionary
“world spru…?” i reply. he goes and takes the flabbergasted i-have-no-idea-what-you’re-referring expression, then he calls up someone on his cell who further has no idea to where i’m referring, even getting nowhere when asking the members of his group, some of whom are from the area.
“are you sure you’re going the right way?
“sure. the directions say make a right and go up the hill on the street where the taxis and buses are.” but i don’t really see any taxis or buses.
“oh, but there’s another main road over by the metro that also goes up the hill…”
if ever God had given me a sign, and i refused to acknowledge it, that was the time.

longer story shorter, i ignored a pretty fair warning from the universe that i was going in the right direction, and please spare me the gross-overgeneralizations about men not asking for directions. i ended up walking in quite the circuitous route to basically end up exactly where i had gotten out of the metro, which is where world spru is located. right beside the campaña center, the residence is literally connected to the metro. maybe it was the benzo still in my system. maybe it was the fatigue of not having slept well for the previous week and a half finally catching up to me. maybe it’s the fact that i’m not the sharpest crayon in the box (i know i’m usually not a fan of clichés, but i particularly like that one for some odd inexplicable reasons). when i think about it now, it seems so simple. “when you get off make a right… taxis… and buses to your right behind the glass” doesn’t mean get off the tram and make a right. it means when you get out of the metro station (campaña) make a right, onto the road that is parallel with the glass wall…


  1. Very funny... NOW, that is! Thanks for the clarity on location!

  2. Hey, is it a good place to living in? Perhaps I'll live there? What Would you think?
    I'm gonna study near from Hospital São João...


    1. It's a good place to live, mostly because of the proximity to the metro. You're close to Continente, and you only have to change stations once to get to Hospital São João. There are many international and grad students who stay there, so in that regard it's a good community. That being said, it's more for a short term living arrangement than anything, as in an exchange or something of that nature.