Sunday, June 30, 2013

Starting Rotations

E and I at the Student Clinician Ceremony

Like everyone else, I seem to have been insanely busy in the past few weeks. Two weeks ago, I finally took my boards. It seems surreal that it actually happened, like a dream (or if my score comes back subpar, a nightmare). Two years' worth of anticipation, one year's worth of anxiety, and 6 weeks of nonstop studying from 8 am to midnight, one horribly hard and grueling 8 hours, and it was finally just over. Coming out of the test, I didn't know what to do with myself. What was I supposed to do with this so called "free time"? Luckily, I didn't have too much time to dwell on the test because 18 hours later, I was off to Montreal, Canada with my two best friends from high school!

The road trip we took from Maryland => Baltimore => Boston => Burlington, VT (plus the Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory) => Montreal was honestly one of the best times I've had in a long time. So much laughing and so many inside jokes were had. It's cheesy, but we know each other so well (almost 10 years at this point!) that sometimes it would only take one word to send the rest of us into laughing fits. R's boyfriend of two years, D, also came along and fit in seamlessly with our little high school reunion group. We only spent about 2 whole days in Montreal, but hit all of the high marks: we ate Montreal's most famous foods (poutine, foie gras, Schwartz's), explored the botanical gardens, and went out one night to a speakeasy called Big in Japan (where I promptly fell asleep after 1 drink). It should probably stay unmentioned that the other night R fell asleep early and the rest of us stayed up until 1 am to watch Independent Day, and after that, Criminal Minds. Like moths drawn to a flame, we also went to Chinatown twice, got froyo and bubble tea every day and of course, had to eat dim sum. Poor D had to put up with our Asian antics the whole trip ;)

The day after J and I got back to DC (R and D flew out from Montreal), I started Third Year Orientation back in Baltimore. It was a whirlwind 3 days. Most of us, like myself, had taken the test about a week beforehand, and so we swapped storied about what we did in the week or few days off that we had. Some others had taken the test just two days prior or even the day before, unbelievably. Even just 3 days of orientation were exhausting. Like most other people, I had put off all of my errands and such until after boards, so orientation was the first time I had opened my computer in over a week and was the first time I had been in Baltimore in over a month. The first couple days of orientation were filled with various computer training modules and procedures during the day and happy hours with friends at night. One night, we went to Captain Jack's, an all-you-can eat crab buffet (only $30!) that captured the spirit of summers in Maryland perfectly: bushels of steamed crabs covered in Old Bay and butter, pitchers of Natty Boh, sunset on the dock, and catching up with friends with nowhere to be for the night (but a final round of 8 am orientation the next morning).
Maryland summers: crabs, Boh, Old Bay

The last morning of orientation, we sat through intimidating lectures about physician depression (3x as high as the general population), physician suicide (something like 5x as much as the general population, even more so for women), and sexual harassment  Necessary and important information, but it didn't do much to soothe my nerves for Third Year. Finally, we capped orientation off with our Student Clinician Ceremony, where we got a symbolic second pin for our short white coats and recited the Student Clinician oath, which represents our transition to the clinical years of medical school and the start of actually becoming a clinician. It's finally happening! The last few weeks have been so fast paced that I haven't even had time to process whether I am ready or not. I haven't had any time to prepare, order books, or supplies, or study in the past few days, just tried to enjoy the last few days of freedom before living my life in 4 day cycles ("q4 call," e.g. staying late in the hospital, from 6 am to 10 pm every 4th night). I have no choice--it's sink and swim. I just hope I don't sink too deeply tomorrow at my first rotation...in Pediatrics!

Bring it on, Third Year!

Montreal iPhone diary

The day after finishing the Biggest Test Of My Life (results pending in ~4 weeks), I took a road trip to Montreal with my two best friends (R + J) from high school and R's boyfriend D. R took most of the pictures with her DSLR, but here are just a few of my lowly iPhone snaps.

Spumoni ice cream at the Ben and Jerry's factory in Vermont. 

Lunch in Burlington, the most perfect and picturesque New England town. Don't be surprised if I just pack up my bags and open a small town practice there after residency. 

Interrupting D's peaceful slumber by the Burlington waterfront.  

 Homemade chocolate croissants and blueberry tart by our Airbnb owner Juliet. 

 Schwartz's, Montreal's famous deli place. 

 Les Deux Gamins, a cute little French bistro, but overrated on Yelp in my opinion. 

 Pictures from Montreal's Botanical Gardens. 

 We found Asia, where we belong (The Montreal Olympic tower is that leaning tower/crane looking thing in the background). 

 The tree of life! All made from living materials. 

 Posing with my friends

 Poutine at La Banquise. Cheese curls ftw. 

Me and R cracking up at photos of ourselves on her phone. This was t-1 hour before I fell asleep at a bar. 

I'm sure we'll be looking back on this trip for years to come and during all our future trips together (next stop: Barcelona during 4th year??). Thanks for coming with me, guys! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Boards studying update

I just took another "official" practice test today and I'm just too tired to study anymore--hence, a break.

After a couple of weeks in Baltimore in isolation, I ran with my tail in between my legs back to the comforts of home. Life is exponentially better in the green pastures of Gburg, with homemade food and after-dinner walks with Charlie every night. I still keep the same schedule -- wake up at 7:30, start studying at 8, eat lunch at 12:30 and dinner at 8, sleep at 12 and am actually on track in between (no Facebook or Instagram breaks even! I do check blogger occasionally though) -- but it's just so much better when you're not holed up by yourself with no outlet for breaks. This is the longest stretch I've lived at home since I left for college without a job or internship over the summer, so I feel like I've reverted back to high school (the USMLE would call that "regression"). Not that that's a bad thing. I could get used to my mom bringing me fruit and giving me massages and acupuncture (aka torturing me) every night.

I've only left the house once since I got back 1.5 weeks ago. It was right after a practice test, much like today, where I just mentally shut off after the test and needed to get out out of the house. Hence I rounded up J and we went shopping at the mall and out to our favorite restaurant for dinner. It's good to be home!

My "festival" look. If I were the type of person to ever attend a music festival (hah). Don't worry, I didn't get it. 

My new jean jacket and sandals for summer. 

 J's new 5" platforms purchased at the most surprising location.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

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