Self-Care in Med School

After four days of not studying and being back home in California, transitioning back to my med school life has been rough. We started our new block on Monday and it’s pretty much non-stop from now until winter break.

Since we wrapped up anatomy, those long hours in lab are now replaced by lectures. While I am used to having 7 or so lectures a week, we have double the number of lectures now, which is a bit intimidating. The amount of material and the level of detail we are expected to know is…a lot.
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A Reflection on Privilege (and other life updates)

In this season of gratitude, I have been thinking quite a bit about privilege. So much of what I’m grateful for is intertwined with the privileges I have. Having the opportunity to attend medical school to having a support system are two big privileges I am especially grateful for this year.

More recently, I realized what a privilege it is to expect to come home during Thanksgiving break. I didn’t think much about how expensive flights were, simply because my parents offered to cover my travel expenses. It wasn’t until a friend told me that she wasn’t going home because of costs (although her plane tickets were probably half the cost of mine) when I really checked my privilege.

Continue Reading“A Reflection on Privilege (and other life updates)”

Is it break yet?

At some point over the weekend, I opened my calendar and counted down the days until I fly home for Thanksgiving. My mom visited me last week and I’ve been feeling more homesick since she left. I keep reminding myself to take things day by day and in less than a month, I’ll have four glorious study-free days.

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What balance?

I was told from day one of medical school to take time for self-care. I am regularly encouraged to exercise, eat well-balanced meals, and maintain contact with friends in and outside of school.

I did make time for self-care during the first month of school. This was partly because of the reminders, but mostly because I refuse to spend the next four years completely miserable.

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October Update

“There’s no doubt in my mind that you can do this.”

My faculty mentor pulled me aside and said these words to me earlier this afternoon.

“This,” implying medical school.

We’ve had this conversation before, with me coming up with various rebuttals. Regardless of what I say, he reminds me that his confidence in my abilities to thrive are unwavering.
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A Reflection on Failure

Recently, I took my first set of medical school exams. I have been studying my butt off and was hopeful that my effort would be reflected in my grades. 

A few days ago, I found out that I failed both exams. 
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What my life looks like lately

Before I started medical school, I wish I knew that my schedule would be different week by week. It’s hard to make a daily routine when your schedule is constantly changing.

I’m still experimenting with what works for me.

As of now, I still go to lecture (attendance isn’t mandatory at my med school) and I’ve been trying to set aside time each day for self-care. Today, that was running in the morning, reading for a few minutes, and practicing yoga in the afternoon. On other days, self-care is taking a nap and/or going to bed at 9, instead of 10.

Here is what my day looked like today.

5AM: Alarm goes off. Slightly confused as to where my weekend went.
Is it really Monday?

5:15 AM: Actually get out of bed.

 Head to the gym downstairs. Continue Reading“What my life looks like lately”

Three weeks in…

After tomorrow, I can (somewhat proudly) say that I survived three weeks of medical school.

It’s Thursday night and I’m finally allowing myself to spend more than five minutes to write. Most of my recent journal entries consist of details about anatomy lab and how overwhelmed I feel with the volume of material I am expected to review and understand. No matter how long and efficiently I study, I still show up to class or lab feeling like I know absolutely nothing. While I know I’m far from the only 1st year med student that feels this way, this feeling can still be isolating, for me.

I’m homesick for California. I almost started a countdown for Thanksgiving, but decided against it, since that’s still awhile away. My anxiety levels have been all over the place. Some days, my anxiety wakes me up at 3AM. Other days, I am able to sleep in until 5 (not amazing, but two extra hours of sleep is better than none).

It’s hard being a student again. Having to study all the time, instead of working, volunteering and having ample free time to read and cook has been a rough transition. Of course, I’m happy and grateful to be here. For the most part, I enjoy most of my classes as well as studying 75% of the time. Yet, I miss aspects of my old life.

I also struggle with being in this bubble.

I miss having conversations about faith and social justice. I struggle with not having a faith community that I belong to. I struggle with not yet finding “my people.” While I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made so far, I feel like I haven’t exactly met my people yet. I’m hoping as I get more involved in student organizations, I’ll find my people, whether they are in my class or the class above.

All that being said, I am taking steps to help myself through this transition.

I’ve met with my professors and discussed study strategies, which helped with my anxiety. I’m working with a therapist on-campus, so I have someone to check-in with every week. I’m also looking into volunteering opportunities in my community. Lastly, I will be church-hopping until I find a faith community that I like and enjoy being part of.

I’m also reminding myself, multiple times a day, that I get to do this.

I get to be in medical school.

I get to study, day in and day out.

I get to become a physician.*

*If all goes well and I don’t fail out.

Med School Orientation and my First Week of Class

Before I start, I want to say that I’m hesitant to share this. It would be much easier to write a generic, “I’m having so much fun in med school and this is how amazing my first week was.” At the same time, it’s important for me to practice vulnerability and honesty in my writing. That being said, I wonder about what the professor who gave us the professionalism lecture during orientation would say about this post. Is my writing inappropriate? Is this considered oversharing?


Orientation was exciting, fun, anxiety-provoking, and overwhelming, all at once. Being an introvert, I was exhausted every afternoon from all the extroverting I engaged in each day.

I also realized how hard it is to meet “my people” during orientation.

During orientation, everyone was extra friendly, kind, and goes out of their way to make small-talk, including myself. The professors, while at times, are anxiety-provoking (they began talking about board-prep during orientation), are all nice and seem to care about supporting each med student so we all thrive in their courses. It was nice to have opportunities to interact with them during lunch and get to know them before classes start.

The 2nd years I met have all been really nice and friendly as well. One of the 2nd years I met yesterday during the Activities Fair waved and said hi to me when I was walking around campus today. Little thing, I know, but it still brightened my day.

Med School
Classes started yesterday and I already feel overwhelmed. While I’m far from being the only one in my class from feeling like this, I’m upset that two days in, I’m wondering how I’m going to survive the rest of the semester. In other words, I expected to feel overwhelmed at one point during this semester; I wasn’t expecting to feel like this right away.

At my med school, we start off with a scientific foundations course as well as anatomy. Our first block in foundations is biochemistry, a subject that I don’t have a strong foundation of. I also didn’t take anatomy in undergrad, so I feel unprepared and my anxiety level has been pretty high. Thankfully, there’s peer tutoring (and individual tutoring) offered, so I will definitely be using those resources starting next week.  

Figuring out how to study, establishing a study routine, and making time to enjoy guilt-free self-care/free-time is going to be tough. I worked out this morning and (almost) the entire time I was running, all I could think was, “I could be using this time to study.”

It’s always been hard for me to completely focus on the one task at hand, but I know this is something I have to practice. If I don’t, I’ll never feel fully rested and refreshed.

I know that I don’t have to be studying 24/7 to pass my courses (or so, I hope). If I want to remain somewhat human for the next four years, it’s important to take care of myself and engage in activities that bring me joy.

Someone I was talking to today made me promise that I will take at least half an hour every day to do something fun. I almost laughed since I was planning on taking more than half an hour, but it’s a nice reminder that on some very busy days, my self-care will be a total of half an hour and that’s okay.

I’m also not used to not having complete control over my schedule. For instance, this morning (Friday), one of my friends discovered that administration added a lab into our schedule for next Monday.

This wouldn’t be a big deal, except I had an appointment scheduled that day, at that time because when I checked my schedule earlier in the week, that time period was open. I remember a second year advising me to check our calendar the night before and the day of to check our schedule and I can now see why.

I hope administration does not make too much of a habit of changing our schedules last minute, but the silver lining is that I can practice being flexible and adaptable. I’m sure most people have little control of their schedule during residency, so maybe it’s a good thing I’m getting practice early on?

I also woke up feeling congested this morning. I didn’t think too much of it until my nose began running non-stop during lecture. It probably took two hours for me to realize that I was sick. While I made it through lecture, my mind was elsewhere 87% of the time. It’s frustrating to be sick so early on, but it was also a nice excuse to rest and take a complete break from studying (and life) today.  

I didn’t attend the social events my school hosted this evening and while I feel (kind of) guilty for not going, I know my body needed a rest and an introvert evening was exactly what my heart needed. I just finished The Book of Essie yesterday, which I highly recommend (it’s a fiction novel written by a physician!!). I’m currently halfway through Little Panic by Amanda Stern. I’m grateful that my university’s library has a small “Leisure Reading Collection,” but I hope they work on getting more titles, since I’ve already read about half of their collection.

It’s also nice that they don’t have a limit on how many books I can borrow at once. When I told my friends from home this beautiful discovery, they all joked that my school’s going to implement a limit eventually because of me.   

I feel well enough to review anatomy now (after a two hour nap and dinner). I’m hoping I feel 100% by tomorrow and that I’ll feel less overwhelmed next week. We have our first anatomy lab next Monday, so I’m looking forward to that!

Last thing: although I did feel overwhelmed this week, I’m still really grateful to be here.

Road Trip Recap

I’m back and I survived my road-trip!

Between moving and settling into my new apartment, writing hasn’t been a priority.

I’m attempting to restart my habit of daily writing and reflection.

I journaled this morning and will do so again later today, so that’s a start.

Moving your life possessions halfway across the country is incredibly fun and super exhausting. The process of packing was stressful, since not everything I wanted fit in my car. My mom and I made a list of things for my dad to bring when he flies in for my White Coat Ceremony later this week.

Looking back, I’m so glad my mom and I decided to take on this adventure. Of course, it would have taken only a couple hours to fly to the mid-West, but we split up a 39+ hour drive into six days, instead. This allowed me to bring my car and also see parts of the country I’ve never been to before.

Would I do it again? Definitely, if I could spread out what we did to 2 weeks. Driving 6-8 hours may not seem like a lot for some, but combine that with the heat (hello, 118 degree weather in Needles, CA), one is bound to be tired, cranky, and exhausted in a matter of days (or hours, for me.)

You can see all the cities I visited on my Instagram stories, saved under Frolicking.

Some highlights:

New Mexico

The inside of El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico

Before we made our way to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, my mom and I stopped by El Rancho Hotel,  to stretch our legs. It was a fun hotel to walk around and explore. The 2nd floor pictures of autographed photos of (old) celebrities who have stayed in the hotel. I recognized only a few of them, but it was still pretty cool.

Santa Fe!

I’m 79% sure this was taken in Santa Fe (but it could have been Albuquerque). I loved Albuquerque and Santa Fe. I loved it so much that I’m considering doing residency in either one of those cities after medical school. I know it’s still too early to be thinking about residency, but I think I would really love to live there in the (distant) future. If you asked me a month ago where I wanted to settle down, I would have said LA, but now, I’m not so sure.

I also met up with a dear friend from college in Santa Fe. As luck would have it, we were both in Santa Fe on the same weekend. I was thinking of visiting her when my mom and I drove to Colorado, but this worked out perfectly. Since we haven’t seen each other since we graduated a few years ago, it was really nice to spend time with her and her family.

My mom and I loved staying at the Old Santa Fe Inn. After staying in questionable (aka cheap) hotels the previous two days, it was really nice to stay in a pretty hotel that serves freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and chips and guac at 4PM. We also stopped by Kakawa Chocolate House for truffles. I sampled their drinking chocolate made of almond milk and it was delicious.

El Santuario in Chimayo, NM

Before we left for Colorado, we stopped at Chimayo, which is about 40 minutes from Santa Fe.  My mom wanted to collect some Holy Dirt, so we came prepared with a large Ziploc bag. Inside the chapel, while my mom was busy shoveling the dirt* into her bag, I took in the surroundings. The small room was filled with crutches, symbolizing all the individuals healed by the Holy Dirt.

While I was (and still am) skeptical of the healing power of this dirt, I was touched by the discarded crutches left in the room, as well as all the photographs people left behind of their loved ones covering every available wall space.

*It was more sand than dirt. I think Holy Sand sounds better than Holy Dirt, but oh well.

One of the shrines in Chimayo.

There’s something special about Chimayo and Santa Fe. I can’t figure it out yet, but I’m wondering if it has something to do with witnessing these cities embrace their artists and the visible signs of faith. Attending mass at the Basilica in Santa Fe brought me so much peace. All too often, I’m caught up with all the things that bother me about the Catholic Church during mass, but I didn’t feel that there.

Again, still don’t know why, but I think it’s something worth exploring later.

Colorado Springs


Frolicking in the Garden of the Gods
Balanced Rock in the Garden of the Gods

My mom and I fortunately found our way to Colorado, after almost getting lost in Chimayo. My friend’s mom warned me that we might lose cell service in Chimayo, yet I didn’t think to screenshot directions to Colorado.

We eventually found our way towards the right direction, but those two hours driving aimlessly through the mountains was pretty scary. It was terrifying to realize that we had no way to call anyone for help, due to the lack of service.

Princess living for the night.

When my mom found out that about Glen Eyrie Castle, she immediately decided we were going to stay there while we were in Colorado. However, she made this discovery only a few weeks before we were scheduled to leave. Between helping me pack and taking care of last minute tasks, she kept refreshing their reservation page every few hours in hopes that a room would open up for the night we were there.

Thanks to her persistence, she snagged a room that opened up just days before we left. We weren’t able to tour the castle or have afternoon tea while we were there, but those things are on our list for next time!

Frolicking inside the castle


Got to relax in the hammock before we left for Kansas

St. Louis

I wish we had more time to spend in St. Louis, but at the same time, I was SO ready to get to my final destination. We got to STL mid-afternoon and we first went to the the Basilica. After we were done frolicking in there, we didn’t know if it was worth going to the top of the arch, since it was raining, foggy, and cloudy. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and by the time we walked over to the arch (from our hotel), it stopped raining and the fog cleared up.

Forever frolicking in pretty Catholic churches
(Part of) the inside


The view from the top of the arch!!


Stumbled upon a yummy pizza place

We ended our St. Louis adventures with pizza at Pi Pizzeria. The thin crust was perfect and the leftovers were eaten in a Trader Joe’s parking lot the next day, where I obtained the Missouri bag. I’m bummed that I couldn’t get a Kansas bag (they didn’t have it at the TJ I went to in Kansas), but I’m happy that I can cross Missouri off my list!

My med school orientation starts bright and early tomorrow morning and classes start later this week. Thankfully, orientation is done by 2 or 3PM each day and my classes end by noon on my first day.


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