My first term at Cambridge has already ended! It flew by and I’ve been busy exploring, studying and getting in the holiday spirit.

Novemebr was a whirlwind of travel and celebration. Two of my best friends from San Francisco visited London and we had an amazing time trepsing around, bicyling through hide park, eating amazing scallops and cheeses at Borough Market and wrapping up the weekend with a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal!

Then headed back to Cambridge where I had 2 more Thanksgiving dinners. At home, Thanksgiving was always a great respite from school, a chance to hang with family, see friends and have a nice dinner. But in Cambridge suddenly every American I know was hosting their own Thanksgiving. It was fun to sit around trying each person’s own family recipe or telling stories of our family traditions. I found Thanksgiving in Cambridge suddenly held much more weight than it ever had for me in the U.S.

After Thanksgiving I had a few days off from lecture and ventured to Budapest! I had never been to Hungary and was fascinated by the unique history and mixing of cultures. I learned much about their history, from the Mongolian occupation to the massive Austrio-Hungarian Empire and then the fierce rule of the Nazi’s in WWII and the USSR during the Cold War. Budapest was a city that had experienced invasion and rebellion time and time again. The Christmas Markets were just begining when we visited and we loved walking around, warming up with mulled wine and hot goulash (stew). Much colder than Cambridge, but much sunnier, it was fun to explore the little piece Eastern Europe.

Back in Cambridge my boat crew had our biggest regatta of the season, Fair Barns. We came in 6th place our of 30th crews in our divions and as a novice crew we were ecstatic that we didn’t crash or capsize! Then came finals week with an epidemiology exam and submitting my final paper.

My 30-page paper was entitled “A Descriptive Epidemiology of Hearing Loss in HIV-Infected Individuals in Africa.” I found that Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the countries most impacted by hearing loss in general with more and 15% of the population reporting some degree of hearing loss. This figure was comparable in HIV-Infected Adults, but much higher in HIV-Infected children. Among the studeies that I reviewed for my paper, HIV-Infected childen in Africa had much higher rates of hearing loss than the general pediatric population. It’s unclear why this is, but some hypotheses include that HIV-infected kids are at higher risk of chronic ear infections and ear drainage, or that the HIV anti-retroviral medication itself may be toxic to the auditory system. More research is needed to elucidate the cause, however it is clear that screening children early and often for hearing loss is of vital importance, especially in HIV-infected children and in Africa. Diagnosing hearing loss early in kids can help learning and school participation.

But now it’s Christmas Holiday! Instead of going home to Los Angeles I’m taking this time to travel within Europe, which is usually so far away from California! I’ll be visiting friends in London, Oxford and Leeds before heading south to Spain!

I have some free time to explore while in London, but have also contacted a few of the South London Rotary Clubs about volunteering with them this holiday season to give back with my new Rotary Family.

Cheers and Happy Holidays from the UK! See below for a few photos!