Category: Academics

Academics: majors and classes at UIC.

As happy as a Chinese girl learning Polish can be

Let’s break this past week down, shall we?

  1. Second exam of anatomy and physiology is over.
  2. Round two of MCAT is over.
  3. Submission of abstracts for RARE and SRF are sent.
  4. Spring break is here (although I am making up my hours missed in the research lab and scribing effectively).

I’m not sure what to feel at the moment, whether I should be relieved or freaking out. I won’t find out about my MCAT score for another month, and even if I felt it went OK, I don’t want to give my hopes up like last year. I did surprisingly well on the anatomy and physiology exam, even though the whole time I was going blank on less than half of the questions and I was worried I was going to miss over 10 questions! Phew. I still have to wait on my lab exam, but hopefully I didn’t miss too many. I’m preparing for my research presentation at the UIC Student Research Forum as well as Recognition for Achievement, Research and Excellence in the Kinesiology and Nutrition department (although I am technically part of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, but I guess my minor in human nutrition counts). Need to prep that poster up! I was also nominated to go to Posters Under the Dome where a select few undergraduates can present their research in Springfield, Illinois. I’m excited to sign up and go, but I would have to reschedule my final exam in BIOS 221 if I do since I’d be gone the whole day. I need to think about it a little more…

There’s technically only a little over a month until I graduate. It’s crazy how fast four years past! I still feel like I just got here, haha. Well, I won’t get mushy here yet. Perhaps closer to the end of the semester I will. I’m waiting to hear back from the Fulbright committee in Taiwan if I have been offered a scholarship. I probably won’t hear back until the end of April, the same time that I will hear back about my MCAT score! It’ll either be a yay-yay, yay-nay, or nay-nay day. I’ll keep you posted on the exact details.

On another note, I’ve been having a wonderful time learning Polish again. I can’t explain how much of a relief it is to go from reviewing kinetic and thermodynamic control of organic molecules for the MCAT to running through the layers of vessels and remembering the differences between large and small arteries or veins…and then peeking at my calendar for my list of to do’s with “oh man I still have Polish homework”, but then feel the rush of actually doing the homework and listening to the CDs that come with the textbook and end up saying “OK, one more time because I really want to know what they’re saying…” to inadvertently being all giddy when good grammar clicks in my head. It’s so fulfilling, and my advice to those who’ve always wanted to learn another language and have not had the chance to, it’s never too late! Never in a million years would I think that I would learn another language such as Polish. Spanish was an easy choice for most to choose, and while I will most likely have to learn it in the future, I didn’t have to learn Polish by any means. I already fulfilled my language credit with Mandarin (it’s a shame they do not have upper level language courses beyond 104 or 112!), but I was without the experience of learning an entirely foreign, new language. And how could I leave college without that experience?

I think about what it means to have a liberal arts education, and while it may or may not prepare one for the world ahead, it at least does its best to do so. I know many who pursue a liberal arts education do not find their career coming right out of college. Why? Well, it’s hard to translate philosophy, English or another humanities major into terms that employers can understand (employers, feel free to butt in with your own opinion on the issue). Apparently, and this is what I have gleaned from my peers, two things come into mind for the typical student pursuing liberal arts major: teaching and law. It boggles me, but after considering what we do in those classes, it makes total sense.

What is the skill that we are exercising in these classes? Critical thinking is the main one, and the second is reading and writing. Anything else? When I think about my “liberal arts education”, it’s a lot of the former with a vast amount of memorization of scientific facts and concepts. Do we learn to apply it here in college? I’ll be honest; I don’t think so. Until I met the MCAT, I did not understand what “application” really meant. The crash course with Kaplan helped, and my extra reading with the Berkeley Review assisted in formulating this idea, but in my actual classes? I can’t recall a time. Perhaps this is one of the cons of public education and the reason most private universities are labeled as “top universities”. The approaches are different. Here, we memorize like there’s no tomorrow and we cram like there’s no tomorrow. Over there (some magical place in a private institution), they read, apply and synthesize information. In other words, those students think much differently on many levels compared to how most students here think. And maybe this different idea of thinking is distinctly evident in the job market post-college.

Sometimes I feel very “one path-ed” in my way of approaching problems, and that’s not going to make me stand out once I’m out there in the real world. Of course, I’m thankful for being insane and forcing myself into as many uncomfortable situations as possible to see how I would do and react (so that the next time it ever happened, I would know what to do or at least have a mediator). So, for the time being, I’ll be all right. For my peers and those still in school? I want to explore more options for them. Once you’re out of school, it’s very difficult to decide to change everything you ever knew about yourself and your goals, but it’s such a common blockade for people to go through because they didn’t understand while they were in college at the time what they wanted to do.

Or rather, they had their life all planned out. They’d go to school, get a job right away or get into graduate school and then get married, have kids and life a happy life with a nice standard of living than the one you were born into. And then, maybe senior year of college of post-college things instantly changed. You had to pay for your own rent, worry about paying off your college debt, budget for food and/or adjusting your resume and cover letters for every job opening you saw online. Shamed and did not want to ask for help, a hole was dug and anxiety built up. It’s crazy how typical this scenario is, and I wonder what the equivalent of this is like in other countries. I remember I was listening to my Mandarin language instructor here at UIC discuss what education is like in Germany. Apparently this is how it works: anyone can attend any class they want. For the class that they actually want to count towards credit, they take the exams accordingly and pass or fail them. It is not atypical to be an undergraduate student for eight years. EIGHT YEARS! I think FAFSA is available for a maximum of 5-6 years or something like that. I don’t know what I would do without governmental aid in paying for my education. I probably wouldn’t even go to college because it’s too expensive.

Have I gained more than what I have lost? I definitely think so. I suppose I can thank my uneventful high school experience as playing a role in most of what actions I took in college. I did sports, played instruments and studied, but it didn’t help me discover myself or challenge me as college did. While the quality of education was immensely different, there were pros and cons to all methods. In the end, college really is what you make of it, and if I was a freshman I’d probably do exactly what I did coming in. As for those who are past this stage and off to search for the next chapter in their lives with no clue where to go, perhaps they would want to return to school and do something different. The cons of going back to school may seem to outweigh the pros at first glance, but I personally think going back to school would open many doors and networks that were unavailable during a time that one is unattached to a university or academic resource. Then again, not sure what Master’s degrees can do for some people who may actually want to get PhD’s and they just don’t know it. There’s a lot of researching to do, but go with your gut and roll with the punches because this is life and we’re in it together.

Enjoy your spring break, UIC! One more month until summer (and that usually means really great weather!). I’m pretty psyched.

Never a dull moment

Busy, busy, busy.  That’s my life.  I don’t know if this semester is easier or I am used to having very little (and I mean VERY little) free time. It’s hard to believe this week is my last week of practicum.  I’ve been looking forward to this for EVER! But when we were on a bus coming back from our field trip, I told a couple of the students it was my last week, they got pretty upset.  The rest of the ride they just laid their heads on me.  Although, they could have been exhausted from me dragging them all around the Kohl Children’s Museum all day.  (I’ll go with they were sad because I’m leaving). On the upside, when practicum is over, I can work out every morning!!!

This week is also when Lollapalooza tickets go on sale.  Already? I’m still paying off LAST years Lolla tickets!!!  As much as I love the whole 3-day experience, I don’t think I can afford it this year.  Also, I’m not that into the headliners that have been announced.

I like Kings of Leon, but I’ve seen them multiple times already and I’m not sure that they have come out with a ton of new stuff recently, either.

Lollapalooza 2013

I’d see Eminem but it’s definitely not something I’ll be upset about missing.

Arctic Monkeys, they’re ok.

Skrillex….yea…I don’t really listen to techno or dubstep or whatever kind of music he makes.

Moving on…St. Pattys was fun! I had a blast with my cousin and my boyfriend.  We went to The Kerryman, Glascotts, and OF COURSE Pie-eyed Pizzeria!
Lastly, this week my favorite little guy in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD is turning 3!!!! I can’t believe it! I started nannying him when he was just 4-5 months old.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAM!! I love you stinker!


In defense of the English major

♪♫♪ Caught by the light, aware but asleep…

As a science major and pre-med student, something I hear often from my peers who are taking the same challenging courses as me is the remark that English majors will never know the difficulty of upper level biology, organic chemistry, or physics courses. During physics class the other day I heard a student remark, “It must be really nice to be an English major—you read some stuff and write some essays the night before they’re due for an A.”

That struck a nerve with me. I know several people who are majoring in English, and it is neither less challenging nor less important than any other subject. It bothers me that some students are so quick to criticize other disciplines of study because it seems easier than their own. A student’s goals are his or her own concern, so attacking someone’s education by dismissing it as easy or useless seems like a vindictive way to feel superior to someone else. Everyone is on a different path, so comparing yourself to others really helps no one.

There are a lot of aspects to the English major that I feel go largely unrecognized. On a surface level, it may seem easy to simplify the work level into reading books and writing papers, but what English majors are really able to accomplish is so much more impressive. A year ago as a freshman, I strongly considered double majoring in Biology and English, but my major choices have changed since then as I keep trying to trip my way to a major I’m most comfortable with. However, I still have a strong love for literature and writing that I defend most ardently.

First of all, I think the most impressive aspect of an English major is that nearly everything you are graded upon is done so subjectively. Unlike biology, chemistry, physics, or other science courses that use practice of formulas or other concepts, there is absolutely no way you could memorize or “practice-problem” your way to a good grade. Of course grammar and mechanics are important to use correctly, but those are just the nuts and bolts that anyone could learn. You have to whole-heartedly put your thoughts out for judgment by a new professor or TA for every class without knowing the values or ideals of whoever will be reading and grading your work. Moreover, these graders have probably read thousands of essays and analyses on the same topics with years and years of experience on the novel, poem, or play you are examining. In order to receive a good grade, the English student must somehow discern an original thought, support it, and put it on paper in ink. Their ideas are completely put out, open for judgment. There is no clear-cut right or wrong answer, which makes grading so much more difficult to predict. As someone who took ENGL 241 (English Literature I, Beginnings through Milton) last year, I know how nerve-wracking it was the first time turning in a pivotal essay and not really knowing what to expect for a grade. Was my writing style acceptable? Were my ideas and analysis developed, or were they too elementary?

These papers are a direct reflection of your thinking. While I have heard students say, “It’s just BS-ing some ideas about what this imagery and tone mean in this story.” But to demean this kind of writing as trite “BS” is drastically undermining what writers are doing. It’s extremely impressive to be able to write something that takes a stance that you may or may not even agree with. It may be even very obviously wrong and lacks proper support, but the amazing thing about English majors is that they will be able to effectively formulate a coherent argument on paper to make you believe it. This skill is incredibly important for everyday interactions – to be able to analyze someone’s argument without immediately refuting it. You are able to consider another side and truly understand someone’s viewpoint instead of just listening to come up with a counterpoint to argue with.

Another incredibly awesome part of studying English is that everything you do, see, hear, study, and experience is relevant. Whether it is directly literary or not, anything can be applied to the human condition and the world around us. Does that sound easy and generalized? Maybe, but it’s also so interesting to see something completely unexpected and unrelated somehow tied back into an essay. English majors are able to take the information from ridiculous places and relate it back to the topic that they are studying. Suddenly, the study of the momentum a car hitting a truck feels from physics could be worked into a paper on Shelley’s Frankenstein, or maybe the ancient Egyptian perspectives of beauty could somehow be brought up in a paper on Jane Austen…the possibilities are endless. Everything an English major student can be relevant. There’s no sheet of relevant formulas to memorize, no reagents or product patterns to commit to memory, and no definite A-Z definition of what might be important or not. These students have memorized information from their other courses to the extent that they are able to incorporate it into their everyday thoughts, interpretations, and writing in a seamless manner. That is probably the most impressive thing about the English major itself – that even though you can never memorize your way to an A, the heart of your writing is based on a much deeper level of memorization that you’ve relied on all your life.

Finally, the English major is a pursuit of passion. A student who chooses to major in English is doing so because they want to, not for the money. This may not be as true for many science, math, or engineering fields where many students are trying to secure a good job after graduation. When you walk into an English class, you’ll find a diverse group of people from all kinds of backgrounds with different interpretations of the content of the course. In this way, every single English class that is taught will always be a little different than any other. Each individual of the class will frame their experience into what they are learning.  In the end, that’s what I believe makes majoring in English the real challenge. It’s the experience of incorporating your experiences in the world around you into your writing in order to make it more convincing.

…In the memory it’s deeper, survived by a name ♪♫♪

(Caught By The Light – The Boxer Rebellion)

How to properly cram before your test

I am going to share with you all how I cram before an exam. Cramming for quizzes is the same method, but that it is done the night before and not a week before. My cramming for exams is ALWAYS going to start 1 week (okay, maybe 5 days before, but close enough) before test day, and here’s how it works!


  1. IGNORE EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. You only have 1 week or less for that exam? Do not take any more commitments! I usually do because I’m super nuts and psycho, but I highly do not recommend this. You’ll regret it very much. Your focus needs to be on the exam.
  2. GOT MORE THAN 1 EXAM ON THE DAY OR THE WEEK? PLAN TO MULTIPLY THE HOURS OF STUDYING BY 2 or 3. This is a common issue that arises among taking classes that are not spread apart (for example, someone might plan their schedule out to fit four classes ONLY on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Is that smart? Well it’s nice to have MWF, especially if you are a commuter, but those Tuesdays and Thursdays are probably going to be the worst days of the week for literally every week until the semester is over (and this can totally be worth it if you need those huge time gaps to work or study for an exam like the MCAT, but again, not my case). Anyway, you’ll just have to repeat the steps I’m going to mention by each exam you are preparing for.
  3. TAKE PRODUCTIVE BREAKS. These include eating food, using the restroom and/or stretching and taking deep breaths. Beyond that, nothing is productive.
  4. LIMIT CHECKING EMAIL TO 2X/DAY. I can’t be away from email because it piles up so quickly and I have to respond to a million people, but when time is crucial and I really have to buckle down, I don’t even think about what I need to do. I just do it.


  1. PULL OUT YOUR CALENDAR AND MAKE THAT STUDY SCHEDULE. I don’t know what I would do without Google Calendar and my phone. It keeps my on track and makes me feel good when I complete tasks or get through certain things during my day (I delete it after so that I feel accomplished).
  2. STUDY SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN. Each day should be focused on a topic. While it’s a goal to cover everything each day, it’s way too much for your brain. So, for example, if you have exams every five weeks (like anatomy and physiology), your first day should be lectures from the first week, the second day should be lecture from the second week, etc. You will go over all of your notes and slides / lecture material by reading it out loud, especially with someone in your class if possible (so helpful). Review is always number one.
  3. PAST EXAMS. More likely than not, someone has a past exam that you can either find online or through academic centers / upperclassmen. I hope you got these prior to the semester, but it’s never too late to look around! If there’s 8 exams available, each day take 2 exams by yourself.
  4. THAT’S BASICALLY IT. You’d think I’d have some crazy magical way of doing it, but not really. This method is so straightforward, but the most important thing is during your studying that you review what you do not know (and if that’s everything, you better make flash cards or say it 100 times to yourself until it’s in your brain…draw if you have to!). Your confidence should boost near the end of the cramming week, assuming you really devoted the hours to go in the order that I explained. Listen to lecture capture if you have that for your classes. Rewrite your notes (waste of time after awhile, but eh).
  5. OKAY, ALMOST FORGOT. If the instructor of the class posted a study guide, DO THAT FIRST! That’s the single best source to study from, for obvious reasons. I don’t think I ever got a study guide from an instructor that was unhelpful. They didn’t make that to throw you off. That’d be kind of stupid (and please report it if you believe so because that’s not fair). They made it to help you, so use it to your advantage.

I hope this helps anyone who has their exams coming up. Papers are a different realm, but basically I recommend the same time frame. The writing center has openings so please make appointments there! You can do online appointments if you can’t go in person, and if a day is filled, you can drop in or sign up to receive texts when an opening arises.

Spring break in a few days! MCAT too. EEP! xD

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Everything is green today! Clothes, food, the Chicago River, beer.  I’m not Irish at all.  But I sure do like to celebrate St. Patty’s Day.  I never really knew anything about St. Patrick, other than something about snakes.  Snakes? Yea…snakes.  Let me start from the beginning.

A brief history: St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.  Although, he wasn’t Irish OR a very devout Christian.  He was born in Britain but kidnapped at the age of 16 by a gang of Irish raiders. He spent the next years of his life in captivity. That is when he turned to religion. He ended up escaping and returning home to Britain.  Although, he later went back to Ireland where he began to spread the Christian word.  He is also known for driving snakes out of Ireland.  “Wait a minute…there aren’t any snakes in Ireland!?” Right. And there may have never been any.  However, many old pagan religions have symbols of serpents that they worshiped.  So, perhaps driving the snakes out of Ireland was merely symbolic of St. Patrick abolishing paganism in Ireland and converting the people to Christianity.  Did you know the original color associated with St. Patrick was blue? So, how did green come to represent the holiday?  Green became associated with St. Patrick due to the landscape of Emerald Isle and the shamrock.  A shamrock (or clover), having 3 leaves, is said to be how St. Patrick taught the pagans about the Holy Trinity. People would put shamrocks on their clothing which turned into wearing all green clothing.  St. Patrick’s Day is always celebrated on March 17th because it is said that was the day he died. So, where do the leprechauns come in? Well, our idea of leprechauns are very different than the traditional leprechauns that are connected to the Celtic folk religions that predate Christianity.  In the traditional sense, these beings, or spirits, would get angry if people went near sacred places.  So, how did our version of leprechauns become so silly? They are taken from cartoons that we actually used against the Irish in the 19th Century. St. Patrick’s Day History.

Favorite recipes: St. Patrick’s Day Recipes.

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins

Did you know…..? Irish soda bread gets its name and distinctive texture from the use of baking soda rather than yeast as a leavening agent.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins. Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

5 pounds corned brisket of beef
6 peppercorns, or packaged pickling spices
3 carrots, peeled and quartered
3 onions, peeled and quartered
1 medium-sized green cabbage, quartered or cut in wedges Melted butter (about 4 tablespoons)

Place the corned beef in water to cover with the peppercorns or mixed pickling spices (in supermarkets, these often come packaged with the corned beef). Cover the pot or kettle, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 hours or until tender, skimming occasionally. During the last hour, add the carrots and onions and cover again. During the last 15 minutes, add the cabbage. Transfer meat and vegetables to a platter and brush the vegetables with the melted butter. Serve with boiled parsley potatoes, cooked separately. (The stock can be saved to add to a pot roast or stew instead of other liquid.)

Have a lucky day!!












To the point you feel your cells moving against your nerves

I can’t define what stress and anxiety feel like, but I can describe it as the title states: to the point you feel your cells moving against your nerves. I get that feeling when I’m playing video games. Put me in Gears of War 3 and I’ll play until it’s done because there’s no time during the story for a break and you’re constantly shooting and firing away at aliens / mutants without a blink in your eye. It makes me shiver. I didn’t think I could have this feeling when it comes to school, but man do I have the chills right now!

A glimpse at Google calendar would say it all. There’s loads of colored boxes to indicate all of the MCAT studying I have postponed secondary to my inability to motivate myself each day to complete much more (red color) as well as all of my classes, quizzes, club meetings and events that require my attendance (or that I just badly want to go – in blue color). To top it off, there’s the occasional green color that lists the scribe shifts I work (and those are quite the time-space lovers).

If you forward to the future post-MCAT, it’s a wonderful week of spring break (slight sarcasm on the “wonderful”). I am working many 5pm-2am shifts as well as working during the day at research (since I need that time to study for the MCAT now, I have to move everything to that free week). As much as I miss my family and grandmother, it might have to be the week of graduation before I see them again! The pile-up of studying to do is enormous. I am starting to think it may even push the limits of everything I know. It’s crazy to think I have been here for four years and each semester just building on each other in regards to learning, implementing and application to the future. If this is what college is really about, then I’d say I got my money’s worth. Although, I’m not looking forward to paying $25,000 in loans post-graduating. I will need to apply to more jobs to sustain myself if I want to be functional!

I spoke with a Human Rights Campaign worker while on campus and he stated he has been out for 2 years now and stated he had more money during college than coming out of college. It’s so bizarre because you’d think you wouldn’t have any money (assuming you did not work) during school, but that post-college you’d be making more money (again, assuming you found a decent job) and not have as many problems with food, housing etc. Well, totally not the case because we forget about our loans and all of the people we need to repay for helping us get here. He said he still gives at least $12 a month to HRC even though times are tight for him, which shows he’s very dedicated to the group! Unfortunately, I am in no position to help out ANYONE financially. You’d think having 4 part-time jobs would bring in quite an income, but compared to someone working full-time at one job with their Bachelor’s degree and no loans, I make very very very little. This money I make just goes straight to tuition honestly.

And even though it seems stupid to work during school when you could study and get straight A’s on every single assignment and class and join all of the clubs you want, I still think working is really key to helping you find a job post-graduation. The skills you need at a part-time job are TOTALLY applicable to the skills in a full-time job, including but not limited to: communication, time management, multitasking, improving professionalism, etc.

I am totally rambling about unrelated topics into one, but that’s just how my brain works and it’s suited me very well so far! (; I somehow got a 98/100 on my genetics exam (the first one). The 2 points I missed were totally silly mistakes. I can’t believe it! This is my second exam in college where I actually got an A on the rest (without a curve) in a science class. Even though I heard genetics lab was easy, I felt that during the test the questions were VERY difficult and specific (who knows, maybe the added stress of having my Polish exam, which I also did very well on, helped me study for biology, lol!). Has anyone done research on that? Language learning helping with science? I wonder if finding relationships within words helps apply to relationships among numbers and such. Probably, but we need science to prove it, haha!

Because of this weird feeling I have, I think I’m going to need to start exercising soon. Burn off the stress. Just go out and punch something with my MP3 rapping in my ears. Perhaps this is how medical students feel when they study…

Preparing for student elections

This past week, I have been beyond busy getting materials ready for the 2014-15 UIC Student Elections. As a Undergraduate Student Government (USG) member, I am dedicating myself to get the word out to all students about elections.
In case you never heard of UIC Student Elections, let me give you an overview. Each year, UIC administration opens up elections for the entire UIC student body to choose their representatives in a variety of areas. Included in this election is the Student Member of the Board of Trustees and the entire USG assembly.
The Student Trustee position sits on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, representing the UIC student voice at the highest-level possible on campus for a full-year term. Furthermore, the USG President and Vice-President lead the undergraduate class in all decisions at the campus administrative level for a year-long term. The USG assembly members that run in the election are chosen to represent the undergraduate students in a variety of campus advocacy work for two full years.
This year, the Student Trustee and USG President elections are contested – two candidates are running against each other in the trustee elections and three in the presidential elections.
Elections will be held this year on March 12 and 13 at PLEASE remember to vote! It is important that you have a say so in who represents YOU in all UIC administrative levels. To get to know more about the candidates, their platforms, to hear them speak, and when polls are open, please visit the USG website here.
Share your thoughts on the elections in the comment section – I’d love to see them!
Until next time…

Spring Forward

The celebration for my uncle was just utterly amazing.  So many people attended and I heard so many stories from people whose lives he touched.  It was a very difficult day, but a very special one.  I hope that I made him proud with my eulogy.

The last night my family from Oregon was here, we all released sky lanterns into the night sky.  The lanterns were filled with things we wrote to my uncle like, “I love you,” or “I’ll always remember when…”  It was magical and yet my heart still hurts. But now, I have a sense of closure.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog feeling like I was in limbo and not sure what to do or feel after it was all over.  Well, I have stumbled upon that answer.  I feel grateful I had my Uncle Larry in my life.  I feel honored I was able to speak at his celebration of life.  I feel lucky to be surrounded by such amazing family.  And lastly, I am empowered and excited for my future.

A few days after the celebration, I received an email that I needed to get my student teaching application completed.  Already?! I jumped on it right away.  I wrote my essays, submitted all of the paperwork, and received an APPROVED email from my adviser.  Next step: placement.  I got a little nervous because I am hoping to choose a location that could potentially be where I am hired.  I looked to friends for advice and I think I chose a place.  It isn’t for certain yet, so I won’t jinx it.  But I am beyond excited.  I have worked so hard and I am finally almost there, and it feels GOOD!

In the next few weeks I will be placed at a school for student teaching, completing my practicum hours, starting a daily workout regimen, detoxifying my body, looking forward to the next year of my life, and hopefully the weather will start getting warmer again.  Nothing but positivity.  Nothing but determination.  I am springing forward.

                                                       I love you Uncle Larry.

March into Midterms

It’s that time again. I know a lot of people have had midterms already, but for those who haven’t, I have some tips I’ve provided my residents with as well. They are what helps me with studying the most. Hopefully you’ll try at least one of them out- I guarantee it’ll help you get higher scores!

1. Get plenty of sleep! Studies show that it is more effective to go to bed at a reasonable hour the night before a test than it is to stay up late or even all night to cram. If it isn’t possible for you to get a good night’s sleep, try to fit in a nap somewhere so you can get a boost of energy!

2. Manage your time. If you’re able to find time to prepare for your exams ahead of time, you won’t feel the need to stay up late the night before and study. Time management and avoiding procrastination is done in a unique way by everyone, but I highly recommend keeping a calendar in your room as well as a planner that you carry around with you. Some are even broken down into hourly time slots, which is extremely beneficial for those who need a highly disciplined schedule, whether due to procrastination or an insanely busy schedule. By writing down all things that need to be accomplished in a day or in a set amount of time, you are holding yourself accountable and are more likely to complete the tasks. Additionally, you will feel less anxiety about trying to remember what you need to do.

3. Alternate study areas and find places that are conducive study atmospheres. It’s great when you find somewhere that you are able to study and focus really well. Even better is when you find multiple places where you can study. By studying in different places, you will be less likely to become quickly bored or distracted, and since memory is colored by location, you will be able to recall what you studied more quickly when you can also recall where you studied. Try to study one subject per location so that you are able to associate that space with studying that topic. Generally speaking, make sure that the spaces you are choosing to study in are effective. Look for some place that is quiet and free of distractions. Make sure to silence or turn off that phone, too. Every time you are distracted from your work, it takes even longer to get back on track again.

4. Study in groups/with someone. Nothing like accountability to make you do your work (since self-control isn’t always there…) By studying with someone, you are able to keep one another on track. Also, the most effective way to learn something is by teaching it to someone else. Make sure you aren’t studying with people who are slacking or not interested in studying; this will only slow you down. It’s a great idea to assign topics that will be on the exam to each person in the study group and later reconvene and teach one another the topic.

5. Take breaks. I know this is the most obvious of all tips, but I have always struggled with this. Breaks can turn into hours of pointless Facebook use, television watching, or just plain laying around. It has been proven that you can only fully concentrate for 45 minutes at a time, and for me, that is already too long. I like to work hard for about a half of an hour and then take a 5-10 minute break. The break does not involve the computer or tv; instead, try working out for those 5-10 minutes. Take a walk around the building. Do push ups. This is a great way to stay awake, energized, and will actually make you want to get back to studying when it’s all said and done.

6. Avoid music. So many people always say music or background noise helps them study. More often than not, I have seen this go awry, and quickly. Instead of pulling up Pandora or putting on MTV, try going over your notes or reading the chapter aloud to yourself. This may be more effective to you. If you absolutely need music, avoid anything with lyrics. This can be distracting and difficult for your brain to ignore.

7. Go to class. This is my biggest and most important tip. There’s no point to pay for school if you aren’t going to go to class, and there really is no point in taking the exam if you haven’t been showing up to class. Going to class is like a review session every time. It kick starts your studying since the teacher is talking about topics that will be on the test. It also gives you a chance to talk with other people who will be taking the same exams, and you can form study groups with them.

Good luck to all those during the midterms mayhem. Keep my tips in mind! Study hard.



The aortic arch in March

It’s March.

Not only that, but it’s the eighth week! The semester is halfway gone, and even though I predicted it’d come as fast as it always does, the pressure with a gazillion exams circulating my brain is kind of overwhelming. Just kind of.

To be specific, there are a ton of crazy structures we need to know on the cadavers for anatomy and physiology. The last class we had was difficult to see anything because there were 50 people crowding 3 instructors (1 TA, 2 UT’s) and there’s only so much crowding you can do around a normal person’s height (the “tanks,” they call them). I couldn’t see anything really, and neither could my lab partner who was standing on a high chair! The exam is the week of my MCAT, and I also have a Polish exam coming up (they come every 2 weeks, and did I mention I had to prepare a presentation?).

Luckily my brain is being exercised left and right, up and down, so no need to worry about Alzheimer’s (the occasional brain fart is warranted, however). Gah, and then those 5pm-2am shifts! I sacrificed working the weekends 9am-6pm for the 5pm-2am shifts Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings so that I can get more studying during the day (because at night, it just ain’t gonna happen after those tiring shifts). I can’t imagine what doctors go through because they have to work AND study all the time, even throughout their residency (and beyond that, they have to take tests every 7-10 years to keep up their certification or whatnot). I’m glad I’m conditioning myself to prepare for such a future! As much as I complain about all the things I do, I am relieved to at least know that I can handle very stressful situations and manage my time appropriately to do well in all academic areas.

But, alas, the semester is not over. I have half a semester to still prove my worth as a candidate for medical school, and while my grades are doing pretty good so far, the MCAT is a mystery (until the end of April when I know how I did for real). Until then, I need to buckle down and ignore everyone (not happening, but I try) until it’s all done with. THREE WEEKS! Then, slightly more freedom.

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