Life Lately: Transitions

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Hey, guys. I’m alive. I feel like I need to say that because I’ve dropped off the face of the internet in the past half year, which usually spells imminent death (of blogs, anyway*).

It was an unintentional dropping off because I had plans to blog more than I had in the previous four years because for once in my life I wasn’t in school (but a year later, here I am again back at school). I sometimes wondered how I managed to blog back in 2012 because I don’t feel like the amount of free time I have is different than I had then yet I blog way less. I have drafts that are currently sitting on Drive waiting to be edited and published.

But of course in times of high stress and expectations, I turn to blogging because I find it stress-relieving. I told someone recently that I’m restless. I like doing things, especially things that require different skills and parts of my brain. It’s the reason why I write and the reason why I continue to write in spite of medical school.
Stethoscopes through the ages at the Dittrick Museum of Medical History in Cleveland, Ohio 
In that vein, medical school is part of the reason why I’ve been silent lately. It becomes a built in excuse for questions from friends-- “med school” becomes the catchall response to everything from why I’m eating a peach to my personal life is the way it is. I took a gap year after graduating from undergrad and worked during it so I thought I’d potentially focus on my blog but then life happened, as it does.
Mitchell's Ice Cream makes me happy. 

I traveled a bit during my gap year as it wound down and I went to China as well as Taiwan. I perhaps had a Crazy Rich Asians moment (or just a Chinese-American moment) where I fully realized I wasn’t Chinese in China because I couldn’t relate to Chinese in China culturally and I’m not fully American either in the US. I’ve always known that I hover in an in-between but it hit me in the face during this trip and I was okay with that.
In July when I returned from traveling and started school, I found myself sitting in my room itching to blog because stress was hitting me and wasn’t in a mood to run. There’s a quote that people like to say when they talk about med school, “It’s like taking a drink from a fire hydrant,” and I never truly understood what that meant until I started. Material is dumped on you and the studying morphs into “how do I study all of this material efficiently with the limited time I have" rather  than the simpler “when/how do I study.”

It’s a lot to take in, not only because of the information that’s being taught, but also the whole experience in itself. Here are some things that helped:

1. This LEGO Grad Student post & advice from my mentor

Grad school is overwhelming and I was talking to one of my mentors about how I felt overwhelmed. She wrote back to me saying:
“The first semester of graduate and professional school is always overwhelming, no matter the field and one's preparation. It is a combination of new information, new people, new rules, and a challenge to even the best time management skills. Take each day as it comes, and make sure to give yourself short breaks to assess and organize your thoughts. It's also important to forgive yourself if you do feel overwhelmed or don't get something right away. Everyone is feeling the same way (even the confident folks!) and you have all the skills necessary to succeed.” 
It made me feel better about the way things were going and that I was going to be okay.

2. Friends
I see this all the time on lists about transitions and how to make the most out of them but having friends (both old and new) is so important. Talking to my friends and having a semblance of something familiar and regular was so helpful as well as hearing from other classmates/friends that they felt the same way that I did about school. Also, doing “normal” things like going out to eat, vegging out with Netflix with friends and shopping helped.

3. Lists
At the end of the day, I still have to study and take exams. I use an agenda to keep daily to do lists and other lists to keep my life on track. I follow Amanda, a general surgery resident on Instagram (@coffeeandscrubs) and she has a checklist for studying that she used when she was in medical school. Basically she lists out the lectures for each block, the lecture hours, readings and more with checkboxes for when you review them. Lists are a way for me to keep myself on track and know what still needs to get done.

*Do people even read blogs? That’s a question I ask myself a lot but I still do so I will probably continue blogging as long as I read blogs.

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