Remember when I said there could be a win-win, win-lose or lose-lose? As luck would have it, I ended with lose-lose as my option–but there’s a bright side to this.
First, the “negatives”:
- I did not receive the Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Taiwan (side note: my mother is there right now and a few days ago when I came out from scribing at Rush around 2am, I received a text from my dad noting that my grandpa passed away. My mother went back earlier than September, the time we usually try to get her to go since tickets are cheaper and we have money saved up to send her, for the reason that he was not doing well health-wise. I think it was a mix of prostate cancer and maybe lung too since he used to smoke way back when. I shed a tear or two, but nothing compared to when my father’s father passed away here a few years ago (revisit that post if you’d like)…maybe because he was closer to me? I don’t know. I miss them both. Anyway, I’m really happy I was able to see him two summers ago when I went to teach English. I haven’t talked to my mom since she’s been there, and I’m nervous to talk to her about my plans for the future since I will most likely not live at home as my family would like for reasons I will say later in this post.)
- I did not score where I wanted on my second MCAT. I did improve, but only by a point. But, hey, a point improvement is pretty good! Jumping over 1 point puts ahead of thousands of people, but for where I want to be…I need a drastic jump if I want to still pursue MD/PhD.
I spoke with a pre-health adviser this past Monday and gave her the full load of what has been running around my mind these past few weeks. I decided (and she agreed) that I would apply next cycle and in the meantime restudy for the MCAT. I now plan to have a two-year gap potentially before entering medical school, and I’m totally okay with that. I have four exams this week and two for finals, and don’t get me started with my Capstone paper. While I have some worry about those things, I’m more concerned about life after graduation (as most of my peers may be feeling too!). Fortunately (here come the positives), I have many options in terms of jobs. I can continue working as a scribe in the ER, and I really want to keep the job because I have learned so many things that I cannot imagine ever being exposed to. I also want to continue doing research and learn more analyzing techniques / cell culture stuff so that I can understand the methods being used in the field (and thus interpret the data more accurately when I read scientific papers – I struggle with this still!). And I’m sure if I really wanted to find another job or try at a different field, I could…
But what exactly is it that I want the most right now?
That’s the question that makes me spin in circles. I know what I need to do to achieve what I believe is what I want to do in the future as a physician. And it seems silly that a score could determine my chances, but if I treat this third time taking the MCAT as a preparation for preparing for my USMLE Step 1′s later on in the future (that apparently determine what residencies you get to “choose” to apply and hopefully get – with higher scores being competitive for competitive specialties), then good things will follow – less stress and everything. Hermit crab may be the way to go, and my family thinks it’s the best method for me to ensure success (and some people really live by this method).
Who knows, maybe I can’t handle the two part-time jobs and really have to devote my every being to this test. I don’t know. Dealing with school, extracurricular activities, five part-time jobs and other stuff seemed to go OK for me, so why am I stressing out?
I think the whole “living at home” vs “living around school where my part-time jobs are” is probably causing the most stress. I’ve been living on campus for the past 4 years and it’s been great. Everything is taken cared of. I don’t have to worry about anything besides what time am I coming home and can someone bring me back safely…that’s it! And now…I worry about how I will have to work those 5pm-2am shifts when I am not living on campus, if I qualify for UIC services that I will no longer be able to use assuming it ends when I am not a student. Perhaps if I become an employee in the research lab I could continue some services, maybe even use the gym for once! There’s so much to think about and I still have to talk to my family about it. My dad got kind of angry over the phone when I told him via my brother that I’ve made my decision to study for the MCAT while working two part-time jobs (possibly three…but that’s pending since I need to figure out my living situation and make my MCAT study schedule for the summer). He and my brother think I should just stay at home. “Why are you working? Just quit! Stay at home and study.” Ugh, not a fan of that tone — and sure maybe they can help me find a job in the suburbs…but there’s like nothing for me there.
I feel so connected to UIC and the Chicago community that I don’t know what I would do going back to the suburbs. It’s like even the suburbs are in their own little bubbles (as I term U of I) with ignorance about poverty and disparities. I couldn’t believe how different the city was compared to the suburbs when I first entered, and it made me sad that I grew up thinking that we are all equal when we’re really not.
And so, I’ve made my decision to stay. I’m not sure how I will stay, but I want to stay here and grow whatever it is that is inside of me and a remnant of my UIC education. Whether it was good or bad doesn’t matter. I am ready to move on from the lectures, labs and homework to real-world application. These past few months have been full of crazy surprises, heart and headaches. I feel homesick not for my “home,” but for the innocence left in the life I live that wonders where the light at the end of the tunnel comes, if at all. Is it something we’re just chasing or can we catch up and open a door that releases from all of our nostalgic feelings of what makes us who we are?