Sunday, May 31, 2009

Arrivederci America, Salve Italy!

The end of my first year of med school was a whirlwind- I enjoyed our end of the year medical school party, packed up all my belongings in one night and stowed it painfully into the basement of my apartment building at Pitt. I jetted back to Boston and was whisked almost immediately away to my sister's graduation at Yale. Talk about pomp and circumstance, there were 3 days of festivities to send the graduates off... and yes I begrudgingly went to all of them (jk, mei). I have to say my favorite part of the weekend was their "Class Day" (day before graduation) where all the seniors wear crazy hats (betsy wore bunny ears) instead of their graduation caps and they have a yale alum as a speaker (clever guy, but i fell asleep nonetheless). It was pretty chilly weather and I wore two jackets most of the time, but the sun finally showed up on Class Day!
Family at commencement ball, congrats mei!

The rest of the week I wrapped up by seeing old highschool, college, and med school friends. An album of end of the year pictures!

So Boston had pretty freezing weather, miserable for May!, most of the time I was back, and in many many ways I was in need of a change of pace and some warm Italian sunshine. On Saturday I packed my bags and my parents drove me to Logan- off to Italy I went!

This summer I'll be doing cardiac stent research at a UPMC hospital in Palermo, Sicily. A few Pitt Med students go every year, though this year was definitely a struggle with funding. Thanks to numerous sources I was finally able to scrape up the moola to go! I'll be living in the green region above, and at Point A below for the next two months. I'll commute to Point B (via taxi or bus everyday) which is IsMeTT hospital (Mediterranean Institute for Transplantation and Highly Specialized Therapies). Note how close I am to the ocean! (bwahaha, although I will note that we are at a port with tons of cruise ships, and not a beach).

The beautiful city of Palermo- I was particularly struck by the proximity of mountains to the shore. You can see them off to the distance all around the city.
When we arrived in the area of our apartment we were informed by our friendly driver that Palermo is currently undergoing a rubbish strike. Unfortunately, that means that trash has not been picked up for awhile = unpleasant stench everywhere. There's overflowing rubbish on all the curbsides... I only hope that the city resolves this fast!
Otherwise, the drive in was wonderful- the ocean is a cerulean blue, our apartment is beautiful- clean and outfitted with kitchen supplies including home-made pasta sauce by our landlady, and Xiao and I enjoyed pizza/pannini and gelato our first night in. Buona Notte Italy!

French Fry Pizza (made me recall a certain Pittsburgh style of sandwich... ;)) and panini and the local pizza shop!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reflecting back on MS1

I know the posts have been sparse this semester, but I will say that coursework definitely picked up (and became more interesting, amen!) and that extracurriculars consumed anything left of my spare time, well that and spending time with friends. :) <- they really do make the world go 'round!

As I look back on this year, I'm so happy I came to Pitt and medical school. I've met some of my best friends ever here (to add to all my wonderful friends that have stuck with me from high school and college) and I've also learned so much. Though some days are long and coffee makes me irritable, I'm always invigorated after a patient interview and exam and monotonous days of studying don't get me down anymore. A lot of my classmates have experienced doubt over their decision to come to medical school- the hours, the memorization, the little importance you feel as a first year- yet I haven't doubted my decision to be at medical school at all. It was just meant to be.
I've never felt more at home among my classmates, the more I get to know everyone, the more I'm so happy and privileged to be in the same class as them all. As diverse as medical school student bodies are (there are 150 or so of us after all!), I still think we all are intuitively a little bit similar in one way or another, and I can sense that I'll be true friends with a majority of my class before the end of the next year. When I first arrived in Pittsburgh, after that 12 hour drive of misery from Boston, I was in a horrible mood and could not have been more turned off by the cloudy and suffocatingly hot city that laid before me. However, through the seasons, the exams, the party weekends, I've explored the city a good amount (more than I've explored Boston!) and I've fallen in love with it unexpectedly. My top five favorite places in Pittsburgh are:
  1. Favorite Zen Study Spot: The bamboo garden at the Carnegie Public Library (Oakland), when the weather's warm and the bamboo's swaying in the wind, it's like going on a vacation :D
  2. Favorite Hipster Study Spot: The second floor at Kiva Han, my home away from home with occasionally "ok" music selections, thought-provoking angry hipster quotes in the women's room, and delectable carrot creme muffins
  3. Favorite Brunch Place: Zenith in Southside, this antique shop turned vegan brunch extravaganza is like you just landed in Alice in Wonderland... with at least 10 vegan cakes to choose from.
4. Favorite museum/gallery: A tie between Phipps (their gorgeous spring flowers) and the installations at The Mattress Factory.
5. Favorite place to soak up the sun and chill: Schenley Plaza, on the lawn if you're in need of some sun, and under the tent if you need some shade hehe.
6. one extra one! Favorite Bar/Neighborhood Grill: Harris Grill, though you didn't sponsor our date auction, we still visit you at least once a month, we love you harris.

Goodbye MS1, and MS2 I'm not quite ready for you yet.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

circle of life, cliche i know.

restarting the blog a bit-

this past weekend was a wonderful one- everyday was sunny and in the 70s-80s. College kids all over Pittsburgh just enjoying the sun :). On Friday I went to go talk to local high school kids at a Career Day, attended our remembrance ceremony for the families of all the people who donated their bodies for our anatomy studies, and then attended a baby shower I helped organize for the PALS program (Pregnant Adolescents Learning with Students) that I'm now one of the coordinators for. Talk about really feeling the extremes of both joy and sorrow in one day!
the interior of heinz chapel, all the med students sat at the back, the families were at the front
Heinz chapel on a sunny day

I felt our class did a spectacular job with making the remembrance ceremony something really special and touching for all those who attended (all the families of the 75+ donors were invited), it was held in the gorgeous (non-denominational ?) Heinz church right near our school. Many of my classmates attended and a core group of them organized all the details of the ceremony which had poem readings, singing, and music. The cello, violin, and piano piece was so lovely, I'll never forget it. It's been awhile since I sat in a place of worship, but I liked the feeling. Also- I can't imagine a more worth cause to donate your body too (besides organ donation), but I'd like to donate my body-not sure how that process works though.

PALS coordinators 2009-2010 :)

The PALS baby shower went off without a hitch and I was able to see my PAL with her 4 month old beautiful baby boy! PALS is a program where you mentor adolescent mothers and go to all their third trimester appointments with them/attend the birth(!)- I was so fortunate to have a PAL that allowed me to share such an intimate experience with her and let me be her friend. It was basically a super exhausting Friday, but I was beaming by the end- from the culmination of experiences.