What Now

It’s been a while since I have updated this blog. Or at least, it feels like a while – although in my defense, I’ve been sick for a good two weeks now! Being an aspiring physician, I know it is sinful to admit that I usually avoid getting the flu vaccine. But when you’re hit with a strong bout of the flu for the first time in years shortly after agreeing to take the flu shot, you do begin to wonder. Anyway, enough of that tangent. My first round of midterms are coming up and I figured that as long as I am procrastinating memorizing all those bone diagrams for my anatomy exam tomorrow, I might as well churn out another post!

Where can I begin? To be honest, as soon as the MCAT was over, weeks began to blend together and before I knew it, we were in mid-March. It’s all one big blur of laughter, tears, and food. I did get my score back and initially, I wasn’t too happy with it given that I had a goal score in mind. However, after a few days of processing, as well as a few emails from medical schools encouraging me to apply, I have come to appreciate my score. Will I take the MCAT again? Maybe? It’s all up in the air right now, but since a new format of the MCAT is taking over next year, there are PLENTY of dates (like three in August!) left, if I decide to commit to an endless hour study marathon again. For now, I am content.

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As you might be able to tell from above, I also started/finished watching Happy Endings. I totally recommend it if you’re looking for a 30-minute “pick me up/study break” sort of TV show. Sadly, it only lasted for three seasons – more of a reason to check out this cult favorite!

Recently on Twitter, I’ve noticed numerous schools trending as high school students have been getting their acceptance letters (and I guess for the NCAA bracket). This past Friday, #UCLAbound began trending, putting me in a major flashback friday. It was just five years ago that I was in a similar position. I was a nervous wreck, but not because I was awaiting to hear from my “dream school” – more so because I just wanted to get into the schools I applied to. There was no real reasoning behind why I applied to the schools that I ended up applying to – some were from recommendations from others, some were from some internet browsing, and some were simply television-influenced (like Yale and Gilmore Girls). And when I decided to ultimately submit my ‘SIR’ to UCLA it was more for my family than anything else. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it is an amazing school; but I certainly didn’t decide to go there because of the athletics, or the Psychology department, or the food …. well, maybe a little bit because of the food, haha.

although we never had anything as fancy as this

although we never had anything as fancy as this

This is all coming back to me now, not only because it has been half a decade since, but come this summer, I’ll be going through another major application cycle once more. Sure, I sort of went through that process last year with graduate schools, but I had no idea what I was doing and my plan was haphazardly thrown together – sort of like when I was applying to undergraduate schools come to think of it. This time though, I know what I want, but even more so, I know what kind of environment I can thrive in.

I am currently taking classes at a community college for the first time. And not to offend anyone who has attended community college, but I was a little hesitant diving in given some of the horror stories I had heard. However, not only was it easier to sign up for classes than it was at a university, but these classes are SMALL. Compared to my Life Science courses ranging from 300 to 400 students, there are about 30-35 students in one of my biology classes. Amazing. My professors knew my name by week two and there was not a moment when I felt lost in a crowd.

As I begin to narrow down my MD/DO options for this upcoming cycle, I realize that the schools that I decide on must provide me the same sort of feeling that I have been relishing in community college. Regardless of school status or “fame”, the schools I choose must be on the smaller end when it comes to class sizes. Now I know that might be more harmful than helpful given that there are less spots to compete for – but at the end of the day, if I know I’ll end up drowning in a 500-person class setting, why place myself in one? Along with small class sizes, I also want to consider affordability and residency placement. Though I am a Southern California-bred gal, I don’t think temperature should keep me from applying – I think that’s more of a consideration when I (hopefully) am accepted and (possibly) narrowing down schools.

So what now? Well, at this point, I would love to hear if any of you have any pieces of wisdom regarding school selection or recommendations. All of the blogs that I am following have been incredibly helpful already and I am sincerely grateful, but if you find that you have anything to add, I would love to hear it. Until then, I’ll continue to work on my personal statement and relish this in-between year!

<3 A.

“What Now” – Rihanna

It’s a Journey

Following my grand gesture a little more than a month ago, when I voluntarily decided to opt out of graduate school, I made a promise to myself that I would use this “time off” wisely. I try to stray away from the words “vacation” or “break”, because in my mind, this year off is just as crucial to my applicant status as the years at UCLA were. So I need to be productive. Not busy, but productive. And likewise, I can’t indulge in this new-founded free time. I’m not saying that I have never had free time to myself when I was at UCLA. Realistically, I have so much time to spare that I finished seven seasons of 7th Heaven in a month during the summer, along with taking classes. But at the same time, I never had time to myself to be productive. I’m gluttonous when it comes to free time. I tend to soak it in – which means sitting in bed in my pajamas watching TV and being a couch potato. That’s what I have always done when I  have wanted a mental break from school, home, work, and life.

But this “time off” is not a mental break. It’s more mental preparation for what is to come. Especially now that I have decided that I am really, truly, whole-heartedly going to dive into this doctor thing. In the past month, I have started shadowing doctors to gain a better understanding of what to expect. Per my primary care physician’s recommendation, I have looked into osteopathic, along with allopathic careers. Three months ago, if you had asked me what the difference between a DO and MD were, I would have looked at you with complete and utter bewilderment. Fast forward to now, and I am shocked at how little I really knew of the medical field. Maggie Gyllenhaal once commented that her Columbia education taught her to

“acknowledge that I really know nothing”

Well, you can say that this time spent researching and shadowing has done just the same in my case. I have wanted to a pediatrician since kindergarten. Why a pediatrician? I liked children. I liked being surrounded by fresh faces and young minds. Great personal statement for what motivates me to be a doctor, right? So as much as I am drawn to pediatrics, I have decided to look at other specialities via shadowing. Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, OB/GYN, to name a few. And so far, every occupation I’ve looked into has strengthened my resounding want to become a health professional. It is not about one speciality, it is about the whole package. And being a doctor is not just a “job”. It is a lifelong journey that I need to be emotionally, mentally, and physically ready to take on.

“You’re too lax”

This was told to me in 10th grade by a girl who was extremely gifted. When I first heard her utter these words, I was in complete and utter shock. I, of all people, lax? Are you kidding me? I have never been as tightly wounded as I was back in high school. So I took in those words and promised myself that I would some day meet up with her again and be able to throw them back in her face. Petty? Extremely – especially now that I realize that she wasn’t completely wrong. I may have been a “tight-ass” in high school, but at the same time, I had such idealistic/naïve views of the medical field. They told me it was going to be hard. They told me that I would meet thousands of crazy pre-med students in the same scenario. But I sort of half-listened as I charmed my way out of high school, not really knowing how to study, and optimistically thinking that becoming a doctor meant taking a test and getting into a school.

Thankfully, I have been given the time to really discover how being/becoming a doctor is multi-faceted. And through this knowledge, comes acceptance and understanding of what I must overcome – not only in this year or next year, but for years to come. It’s a bit hilarious really, thinking of how, a month ago, I cringed at the thought of disappointing so many people by not carrying out a false dream of mine. Now I cringe thinking of all I might have lost if I decided to blindly follow my mind.

Sometimes it pays to consult your heart. As corny as that may sound, I really think regrets stem from solely following either your brain or heart and not allowing a dialogue between the two. Sure, I don’t have the hustle and bustle of a city. I can’t call myself a graduate student or revel in the immensity of Columbia University. But I do wake up every day at 7 or 8 AM. I learn more about this field that I am dedicating my life to and I get to read often. I have become a regular at Planet Fitness with my two best friends. I have fallen in love with the guitar. I get to find the beauty and importance in the little things. Sure, it’s not New York, but I have never been healthier or happier.

And with that, I leave you with this hilarious comic:

My personal favorites are Pediatrics and Radiology [:

My personal favorites are Pediatrics and Radiology [:

<3 A.

Gilmore Girls

Did you know … that freshman year was the hardest year in high school for me? I loved sophomore year, thought junior year was merely challenging, and thought senior year was hell because of college apps and IB. But the year I hated was freshman year. Why? Because it was the first year of hardcore Color Guard combined with subjects that weren’t quick and easy. There wasn’t any of that fun, middle school stuff. It was long practices from 3:30 to 9 at night with tons of homework afterward. And of course, constant yelling from Michael, the squad leaders, Mr. L, etc.

So what kept me sane? Coming home after 5th period every day (even though all the other kids stayed during 6th period for practice), eating a quick lunch, and turning the TV to Gilmore Girls from 2 – 3 pm. That little hour between school and practice made everything THAT much better. It was definitely my antidepressant for the year. And I think a well-deserved kudos goes out to my mom, who willingly drove me from school at 2 and dropped me off again at 3:30, knowing that that hour of Gilmore Girls helped A LOT. You might think I’m crazy. But I bet you didn’t know how much of a fan I was. (:

Finish Line

I still haven’t cried as I am nearly approaching the finish line. I don’t know why, but this entire experience just seems surreal. It doesn’t feel as if my last day of high school was last Friday, that this entire week was Senior Week filled with graduation rehearsals, and that tomorrow is graduation. Actually, I know quite a few people who feel the same way too. It honestly has not hit me yet, so I wonder when it will. Tomorrow, during graduation? When I see all my friends and families? During the summer when it is ACTUALLY the last time I see those people? When I go off to college? Haha, we’ll see when the waterworks begin.

For now, see you at the finish line.

<3 A.