Where I Work


As I said before, I’ll be splitting my time mainly between a psychiatric clinic and an organization called Open Minds.

When asked about the psychiatric clinic, I really only have one word to describe it: Crazy.  A propos, I guess.  There is already a patient there I recognize–I don’t know if he recognizes me or not.  The very first day at the clinic, he was waiting to see the doctor while Alex and I were waiting to meet Dr. Cosman.  You know those single-servings of instant coffee?  He was eating them straight.  A lady asked him why he wasn’t putting the coffee in water.  His response?  “Who puts it in water?”  I’ve seen him every day now (ok, another two days isn’t long, but he has become a familiar face).  I think he may had been admitted, though, because today he was wearing pajama-like clothes.  The room that I work in at the clinic is the “multimedia room,” though there isn’t anything multimedia about it.  It’s more like an all-purpose/storage room.  When people come in who don’t yet know who I am, they sort of stare at me, but never say anything.  I guess because I’m sitting at a laptop and look sane they figure I am supposed to be there.  I’m starting to become familiar with Dana, who is one of the doctors there.  She speaks pretty good English, though I can’t tell if she is just shy or unsure of her English skills.  But, she is very nice.  All in all, I don’t know if anyone here at the clinic knows exactly what to do with me.  I’ll mostly be working with a man named Bogdan (did I mention him before?), the statistician.    Otherwise, I’m not sure how much I’ll be interacting with people at the clinic.  They aren’t really sure how much they are supposed to interact with me either, which makes for some generally awkward situations.  As the weeks go on, I’m sure everything will smooth out.  Until then, I guess I just have to look like I know what I’m doing.

In the afternoons, I am at Open Minds, which is a non-profit which deals with mental illness.  It is situated in a one-room house (one room plus bathroom).  There are four desks.  Alina, the founder, sits at her own desk in the corner, and the other three face her.  The four other employees (or are the interns? I’m not sure) sit at two of the desks, and I have a desk to myself.    Today is my first day here, and I think I am going to really enjoy being here.  Everyone seems really nice, and they are constantly joking and laughing.  Alina will mostly be helping me with the design and organization of my project, though, like the clinic, I think she still feels slightly unsure about what her role is supposed to be, exactly.  Also, there is construction going on next door/on the outside of the building, and so you hear constant scraping and banging.  It doesn’t bother me yet, but I can tell from how annoyed everyone else it by it that it will probably get on my nerves eventually.

One thing I’ve learned pretty quickly is that my advisor did not explicitly communicate what the expectations were for the different parties on this side.  It seems they were expecting a strict structure and schedule, which is not what I have.  I only know slightly more than they do.  My advisor basically told me I would have to figure out how I would want to split my time between the two sides, but I think they wanted an exact schedule.  I’m such a go with the flow person, I wasn’t particularly expecting them to be so structured.  Both the clinic and Alina want me there everyday, and so I guess my schedule has worked itself out.  Much of what I will be doing will be independent work, and so it doesn’t really matter where I am as long as there is internet.  The clinic has internet, but the wifi connection is not stable.  So, I’m glad I’ll be spending most of my time at Open Minds, which has a stable connection.

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