New school, new opportunities

A major life transition like starting medical school is an important opportunity to become who you want to be. Because nobody comes in with preconceptions of you, you have the power and flexibility to shape a new social identity. In a time of many changes in your life (change in financial situation, new living space, different sleep habits, different eating habits, new social network), it is easiest to convince yourself that you can be a better you. This is the best time to fake it until you make it, as one of the second-years here advised.

I am not a social butterfly. In fact, I have always been an introvert. But I like people and hate being alone. Without T by my side, I’m left to fend for myself. I found a roommate who is very social and brings the party to our place. I’ve gone to way more social events than I imagined I would. (First year is all about drinking, according to second-years.) I just haven’t let myself say no at chances to go out to dinner, play pick-up basketball or ultimate or volleyball, or grab a casual drink at the bar. I signed up for all the sanctioned class-wide events (like a public health pre-orientation, a diversity retreat) purely for social purposes. Importantly, I didn’t let myself fall into a comfortable group of people who were similar to me. Sure that means I don’t have a regular set of friends yet, but I can savor this chance to hang out with a diverse, cool bunch of people. There’s at least one clique in my class, and everybody recognizes them in a not-so-positive light.

The way I see it, there is a limited time in which people are comfortable meeting new people. The last time I had this much fun was freshman year of college. After all, it is only the second week of classes. Studying can definitely wait. A second-year who is in the med student government said he didn’t study at all for the first month of first year. I reckon he poured his energy into making friends with everyone, which eventually paid dividends when he ran for office.

This feeling is definitely not shared by many at my high MCAT-powered school. I’m impressed at how hard-working my classmates are, how many of them pre-read, attend lecture, and review notes when our first quiz is weeks away. Whatever floats their boat. I’ll buckle down eventually. For the time being, I’ll savor the security offered by the (two-tier) pass/fail grading system.

Pass/fail grading will be the topic of my next post.



Summer wrap-up – Asia and Europe

It has been a loooong summer, probably in that it is the first in which neither C nor I had any real obligations (read: research). In that way, 2.5 months has felt very long, but we’ve been so blessed to have parents who support us in our interests to travel.

T: Went to Asia to dutifully visit grandparents and extended family. My grandfather’s elderly dementia has been worsening over the last few years, and so now I must reintroduce myself every time I visit, and sometimes many times each visit.

Cooed over new little nephews and nieces (adorable, but reaffirmed my decision not to go into peds of any kind – they are such a crazy handful. Crying, throwing up everywhere, using you as a climbing post – and that’s when they are fine and healthy). Did nothing medically related but did meet up with the hepatologist I shadowed two years ago…to karaoke with her and her high school-aged kids who berated me about my SAT score.

During my visit to Asia, parents also took me to South East Asia for 2 weeks, which was gorgeous but very hot and humid. Met many a gorgeous transvestite in Thailand – very very curious about how they work physiologically. I wonder if their gender reassignment surgeries/regimens are better than those in the US?


C: Also went to Asia to dutifully visit grandparents and other relatives. Went to tour Beijing near the end.

In July, we went on our Eurotrip: Prague, Berlin, Paris and Barcelona (3 days per city). Other than visiting the regular tourist sites we also had some medically related fun – most of it in Berlin. On the third day in Prague, C-who-sleeps-with-his-contacts-in got a superficial cornea infection. Silly C. Luckily my mother (a former psychiatrist in the asian motherland) is super cautious and gives me a goody bag of drugs before I leave on vacation. This goody bag happens to include a little bottle of Tobramycin 0.3% opht. solution, which tides C over and keeps his eye from eating itself overnight, and on our 5 hour bus ride from Prague to Berlin.

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