Day 45 - Claudia

45 Claudia.jpeg

Day 45 - Claudia (1st person I approached)

February 14, 2014 - Claudia was born and raised in South Africa, near Johannesburg. Her family are of Austrian descent, and with this combination, Claudia has a rather unique accent. While growing up, the home base was in South Africa, however the family spent many vacations in Austria. Claudia and her sister, who is seven years younger, learned a lot about their European heritage, while spending time visiting relatives.

When Claudia finished her schooling to became a nurse, she initially worked with adults, then younger patients, and then infants. “I became a neonatal nurse, and through that, found my niche if you will. The field I wanted to specialize in - looking after premature babies. It’s hard work, and stressful, but I love it.” 

Through professional qualifications, Claudia was able to combine her other passion - travel, with nursing. Claudia accepted a position working in a military hospital in Saudi Arabia. “It was definitely a culture shock. The first thing that happened was our plane wasn’t able to take off. Perhaps that was a sign. Anyway, I got to Saudi Arabia, and I had to catch another flight to take me to Riyadh. It was a really small airport, and the customs official seemed to want to detain me, and keep my passport. I was very fortunate to see another group of nurses who were meeting with their employer and I begged the man to please let me go with these other nurses. He agreed, and with the customs official yelling at me in Arabic, we left. It was quite the first day!” Claudia made it to Riyadh and her new job and life working in the military hospital. “I stayed there for one and half years. It was very difficult culturally, for me as a women, and with the laws and regulations. It felt oppressive. An opportunity to go to the United Arab Emirates presented itself. I moved there, just outside of Abu Dhabi, in the desert, intending to stay for maybe two more years. One year led to the next, and I ended up being there for eight years. It’s kind of addictive, the lifestyle. You go out to buy milk, and come home with a television. And milk. Everything is of such high quality, and the money was so good. It’s a different way of living.”

Claudia wanted to travel again, and went home to South Africa, this time living in Cape Town. “I fell in love with Cape Town, the people are so friendly. I had always lived in Johannesburg, but after living in Cape Town for about a year, I know if I ever went back, that’s where I would go. I wouldn’t live in Johannesburg. I had been to Vancouver a number of years ago, on vacation, and I really enjoyed the city. It’s so beautiful. Sadly, I have not been able to continue nursing as I have to sit two exams and the schooling and documents are a complicated process. I work privately now, helping mothers with premature babies at home.” Claudia isn’t exactly sure what the next move is. “I have been looking at possibly trying a new field, still in medicine, working with hot and cold laser therapy. I may take some courses for that. Possibly working with athletes in a therapeutic setting. My heart really is in Europe though, so right now, I’m trying to decide exactly what to do. And I’m undecided!”

I asked Claudia how she had gone from looking after adults when she first qualified as a nurse, to specializing in neonatal care and premature babies. “Well, I tried a number of different things, as I said, and I spent some time in paediatrics, looking after little children. But they scream, cry and bite too much. Babies don’t, so babies it was!” #notastranger