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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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Frolicking in the Garden of the Gods
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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.

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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!

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Frolicking inside the castle

 

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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.

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

 

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The view from the top of the arch!!

 

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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.

 

How to Prepare for Med School Interviews


Hi there! This is the first post of a three-part series on how to prepare for your med school interviews. After attending 5+ interviews this past cycle, I wanted to share my interview experience and advice for med school applicants beginning their interview season. From the types of interviews you will encounter to making the most of your interview day, I hope this series helps you prepare and thrive on your interview day. Not applying this year? Read my letter to pre-med me here

I remember my first interview invitation came in mid-July. At this point, I was not even done submitting all of secondaries. Some schools I applied to were still screening my application, deciding whether to send me a secondary or not. When I saw the words, “Interview Invite” in my email, I squealed, screamed, and proceeded to tell everyone in the car that I got my first med school interview.

Preparing for your interview:

1. Find out what type of interview it is
From my experience, the interview format was included in my interview invitation. If not, SDN interview feedback is an useful resource to check out. Some schools send out their interview day schedule a few weeks before your interview and other schools go over what the day will look like on your interview day.

Your interviews may be…
1) open-file, meaning that the interviewers have access to your file during your interview or have read your application in advance.
I had one interviewer that had my entire application (including the headshot I submitted) and highlighted parts of my application he wanted to ask me about. 
A faculty member at a different school only had my CV. I was asked to elaborate on one particular research program I participated in.

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Oh Seattle, I missed you.

I got back from Seattle late last night. I woke up at 10AM this morning, feeling absolutely exhausted. I have a bit more energy now, so I’m doing my best to do a combination of adulting tasks (unpacking, laundry, looking for a sofa bed, buying a new phone case) and some self-care (writing this post, journaling, and reading).

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A pretty view from our Uber ride.

 

A few highlights from my trip:

Continue Reading“Oh Seattle, I missed you.”

July: Life Update

This little guy has nothing to do with this post, but puppy picture > no picture.

Hi there! I just wanted to pop on here and give a quick life update (but actually, I’m really just avoiding packing, even though I leave in 3ish hours).

I only have five more days left in California! I’m leaving tonight for a quick trip to the PNW. I don’t really have much planned for this trip, other than spending time with my brother, the usual visit to Fran’s, and Pike Place Market.

After I get back, I have a few days to pack up my car with my life possessions to leave for med school!!! We’ll (my mama and I) be stopping at Santa Fe, Colorado Springs, and St. Louis (among other places). One of my college friends (who I haven’t seen since we graduated) will be in Santa Fe the same weekend, so hopefully I can see her!

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What I’ve been thinking about lately


I’ve been pondering this question for the last 48 hours; mainly because I recently borrowed The Courage to be Disliked from the library. I haven’t started the book yet, but seeing it on my bedroom floor makes me cringe. I’ve spent so much time over the years to be liked, even if it meant not voicing my own opinions for the fear of causing conflict.

I love being a like-able person and have a fear of being disliked. I pride myself with being the person 91.4% of the world gets along with (note: an A- on my self-created likeability scale). However, I recently realized that it must be empowering to have the courage to be disliked. I sometimes fantasize about confidently ignoring other people’s expectations of me, marching boldly into unknown territory (usually, a forest), and living out my soul’s desires. Maybe my need to be in nature to “find myself” is the result of reading three of Mary Oliver‘s collections of poetry within the past week, or perhaps, it’s something more. Deep down, I know my most genuine self is hidden from the world (and myself), as long as I intend on staying like-able.

Lately, my neural reward system has been relying heavily on external validation via Instagram and it scares me to see how much I thrive on external validation.

Why can’t all the approval I need come from myself?

I’ve thought about deleting my Instagram, but most of my blog traffic come from people finding it via Instagram, so I’m not quite ready to delete it just yet…

It’s weird to call this corner of the internet a safe space because it’s actually not. Despite that, I write as if it is. This is my way of practicing vulnerability: sharing my life through my writing and by being open to getting feedback that may not be pleasant. By not waiting until I deem myself a perfect writer, but putting forth my best effort, regardless of the final outcome.

I’m also reminded by this space that my thoughts do matter. I like to think I have the potential to create something truthful and beautiful and this blog is my attempt to do so.

A Letter to Pre-Med Me

Teal Triangle Pattern Birthday Pinterest Graphic

Dear Pre-Med Me,

Hi there! This is my way of going back in time to let you know that things do truly work out in the end. You’ll be beyond ecstatic to know that the 2018 you is starting med school in a month. I also want you to know that you got into multiple schools all over the country, including one of your dream schools.

While I address this letter to you, this is really to help any pre-med student needing some advice and reassurance.

Now that I’m transitioning from pre-med to med student, here are the five things I learned during this time:
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Book Recs From Your Favorite Bookworm

Happy July! Since it’s no longer June, I wanted to make a post on the books I’ve read this month and write a blurb about what I thought of them. I’m not writing summaries, since those can be found Goodreads or Amazon. I’m also forever traumatized by writing lengthy summaries for book reports back in elementary school…so again, no summaries.*

Book recommendations are always welcome and appreciated! Let me know what else I should read this summer!

*If you would like to pay for my med school tuition, I will gladly write a summary or two.

What I finished:
1) I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
Ever since the Golden State Killer was caught, I’ve been on my library’s waiting list to read this book. I had high expectations for this book; My Favorite Murder raved about how amazing the book is, as well as several people at the yoga studio I go to approached me when they saw me with this book. However, I was disappointed when I finished the book. While I enjoyed reading parts of it, I wasn’t a fan of how choppy the book was and I found some chapters to be incredibly dry. (Note: I know other people complied Michelle McNamara’s research and writing to create this book, but still). Definitely an unpopular opinion, but I’m hoping someone else felt the same way I did.

2) Life Inside My Mind by Maureen Johnson et al.
This book is a collection of authors sharing their experiences with mental illness. I loved each and every single one of these stories because there would be a sentence or two or even a paragraph, that deeply resonated with my own personal experience with depression and anxiety. I was shocked to find out that some of my favorite authors have mental health challenges. I think I still buy into the idea that if one is successful, their lives must be perfect…which is obviously wrong and often far from the truth. I am grateful for their courage to share their struggles and am inspired by their resilience to continue producing meaningful work, despite what may be going on in their lives. I wish there was a book like this with physicians writing about their physical and mental health challenges.

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SF Daycation and First Time on a Sailboat!

Hello, Alcatraz!

Growing up in the Bay Area, I’ve never spent much time in San Francisco. The last time I was in SF was when a friend from Maryland came to visit. That was back in October 2017. Whenever I’m in the city, I do the usual touristy things. Go to Pier 39, get a clam chowder in a bread bowl from Boudin, say hello to the sea lions, spend a few minutes watching street performers, and end with Ghiradelli sundaes. I’m not a fan of SF traffic and overpriced parking, but the cool breeze and being by the water always makes my heart happy.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my friend about how I hope to eventually move to southern California. Ever since I went to college in LA, I have wanted to live in LA for the long-term. My fellow Bay Area native friend was offended and shocked to hear this. Ever since then, he has made it his mission to find ways to convince me that the Bay Area is so much better than LA. Which led to this sailboat tour in SF.

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Where I Stand Today

If someone had asked me how I’m really doing today, I would have said that I am struggling with anticipatory anxiety with a side of imposter syndrome. The closest I got to saying how I really felt was “I’m good, just a little stressed.”

I feel like every little thing bothers me when I’m not feeling my best. For instance, I forgot my towel today when I went to yoga session #1 and had to rent a towel. I was still annoyed with myself hours after the class for forgetting my towel. I didn’t even let myself fully enjoy the class, because I kept thinking about the towel I left at home.

Continue Reading“Where I Stand Today”

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