Apps Submitted, Studying for midterms, Dinner with friends

Hey! So if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that my last two months have been consumed by endless writing and editing. This morning, I finally sent the last application in. I feel relieved that I can have more time to study for upcoming midterms!

I feel like school just started not too long ago but we’re already a month in! Does anyone else feel like your September has flown by faster than you expected?  The fact that my next midterm is this Wednesday has helped me finally process that we are deep into the school semester already.

Today was a perfect day in many ways. My pharmacology and physiology lectures were interesting today. My friend, Amanda, and I then got a ton of studying done. I have been studying a lot in quiet places in the libraries lately so it was nice to study somewhere full of life. Then I had fun meeting a bunch of Amanda’s friends. They were all super funny and laid-lack. We had dinner at the Gallery on the 4th floor of the Nest. It was my first time and I liked it there, though their food is a little pricey.

Hope you have an awesome weekend!

Shanna

 

Quiche

Looking beyond setbacks

Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmed that I still have finish my applications but I don’t want to fall behind in school but there’s only 24 hours in a day and so on…  I struggled against writer’s block and asked myself, “What am I doing? It’s taken so much work to get here. Why am I faltering at this step?” I felt unsure of my own abilities because it seems that my belief that if I just try again and keep going, things would work out. At that time, it felt like that belief was wrong for once.

Today I remembered that school is my priority but it is not everything. It’s not worth getting too focused on. I had to turn down the invitation to today’s food tasting but stuck until two of my best friends (who are also food photographers) were finished to go home together.

We swapped funny stories on the way to the car and teased each other over the dumbest things. We even got wistful for a bit as we talked about our dreams and how we’re uncertain about achieving them but still going for it. The serious mood broke when the two broke into song to sing along with chorus at the same time. It was very fitting that it was the chorus of  Hedley’s “Perfect” that goes “I’m not perfect, but I keep trying”.

It was then as we laughed at how off tune the two were as we drove down past the beautiful darkness of the trees along Marine Drive, I remembered how lucky I am to have best friends that have had my back for the last 10 years. I remembered how lucky I am to be living my life that has been so full of precious people and experiences, and that I have so much to look forward to.

Most important of all, they helped me remembered that life is not going to be perfect, but it is still going to be awesome.

Yay! First Med School Application submitted

I am super excited to share with you all that I’ve submitted my very first medical school application ever. I keep reminding myself to be realistic that admissions is very competitive, and even more so for a third year applicant. As I said before, I’m going for it because I subscribe to “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” so you might as well take a shot. But I know there really isn’t a need to be too rush to get from one place to another.

The applications are taking up a fairly big chunk of time even though I tried to get as much done before school started. There are a couple more applications to submit so I’m going to get those done as soon as possible, and head back into focusing on classes, work and extracurriculars.

Speaking of applying to medical school, I want to recommend a MCAT test prep company that  called Magoosh. If you’re applying to graduate school or law school, they also offer tutoring for the the GRE, GMAT and the LSAT. Magoosh is offering  Save 20% on Magoosh test prep plans  to readers of this blog through that promo link – yay!

Have an awesome weekend!

Grateful for a friend sharing this journey :)

So if you read this blog, you’ve heard Veena mentioned in every other post – because we do some many things together and are so alike we should have been born twins. So today is a special post in honour of the birthday of my “twin” and the fact she is stalking this blog today (hehe!).

I cannot express how grateful I am to have a friend that always get me about things we worry about and things we want to achieve in life , always offering to help me justice when something bad happens, study together for hours with and lend mutual motivation to get things done!

The journey to getting to what we want to achieve with lives feels more like a difficult at times but it’s a thousand times better to have a friend climb the same steps with you side by side.

Look forward to getting to the next step together and have food adventures together for a long long time.

Happy Birthday to this super smart, driven, ambitious, hard working, and humble friend!

Getting ready to go back to school

Things I’ve been thinking about:

If you’re actively trying to pave a path to your dream career, you are happy to climb the little obstacles to get there.  

Today, one of my best friends, Veena, had a birthday party during which there was a lot of “wow schools starts again in just over a week!” and “back to the study grind!”. Veena and I had the same thought and glanced at each other at the same time and had a little laugh since we have been studying for our MCAT most of the summer. Yet we don’t regret it at all and we would sacrifice our summer all over again in a heartbeat because we choose to do this to chase our dreams. 🙂

Dreams are allowed to change one day, and I am going to stay open to embracing changes. 

As much I’m really determined to reach my current dream, I watched this video by Dr. Tooley and was reminded that it’s okay to have your goals change as you mature and learn more about yourself. Watch that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u471kd4hts. This past week, I’ve been asked multiple times about what I see myself doing 20 years from now, and of the times I mention I am interested in medicine, I always get asked what kind of doctor I want to be. People usually want a speciality as an answer. I want to 1) first cross the hurdle of getting into medicine and 2) be open to trying different specialities in rotations because you never know until you’ve tried!  Instead of saying a speciality, I would rather say there are traits & a work life and home life that I am envisioning for my life 20 years down the road instead. For example, a doctor that is committed to making patients feel like they are being listened to, feels comfortable with the skills and knowledge expected me for my level of training at the point, feel like my job is helping people and has meaning, a work environment with colleagues that support each other. In my personal life, I envision having a husband and children, settled in a neighbourhood that we’ll be living in for a while (as opposed to be temporarily living in a town for a few months or 1 year for training and constantly moving around). I bet that a good number of things I have just said will change as things happen to me and I grow and experience another 20 years of living.

I need to learn what is essential and what is not, and prioritize accordingly. 

I’ve been listening to the audiobook, “Essentialism”, as I walk to the bus stop, etc . It’s really made me start to think about how I can identify what is most important in my life and what things should I start saying no to.

I look forward to being a full time student again. 

The summer’s been fun but I look forward to the student life of classes, studying with friends, club activities, and all the other awesomeness of being a university student!Plus, I try to always remember that I am privileged to be a student whose main job is to study and learn!

Side note: I forgot that textbooks are very expensive. 

I seem to forget this every year. Booklists are out! I tried to hunt down my Pathology textbook on various used textbooks sites and Facebook groups but in the end, I’ve resorted to ordering the Pathology textbook brand new since the new textbook just came out. I figured that it’s better to buy the new version so that it will be easier for me to re-sell when I’m done the class. I am SO excited for my Pathology course in Semester 1!

 

 

Tips for preparing the Medical School Application

In Canada, you are allowed to apply to a handful of medical schools while in third year but the number of third years that get in is not very high because you’ve had less time to do extracurriculars, boost your GPA, etc.  I’m not confident that I’m competitive to get in but I’m still going to try because as Wayne Gretsky said “You miss all the shots you don’t take”. If I just give an earnest effort to applying, I still get a better chance than not trying at all right? Most importantly, I’m going to apply this year to get a practice run to familiarize myself with the application process. All the information I gather together, I can hold on and make applying to next year easier 🙂 Here are some things I learned so far – some of these are things I wish I did so I hope these help you : )

  1. Keep all your emails, or else you’ll regret having trouble finding that exact day you gave a presentation.
  2. Keep meticulous records of all volunteering & employment. Record the date, hours, the contact information of someone that can be a verifier.
  3. Your application takes a lot of time. A friend of mine finished her application in a weekend so I thought I could finish it in a week working on it in the evenings after work. Nope. Nope. Nope. Some of you awesome writers probably can. The rest of us  need more time than that to write and revise.
  4. You will spend a lot of time emailing/calling to find a verifier.
  5.  When your old contact has changed jobs/disappeared/changed their email address/phone number, don’t panic. Spend your energy looking for an alternate verifier instead.
  6. You may feel feel like everything you’ve done so far sounds lame on paper or feel like you’ve so uncompetitive compared to the profiles of accepted applicants. I try to keep in mind that it’s NOT a competition of who’s better – you’re competing with yourself to present the best picture of yourself! If you feel a hit to your self-confidence at times, it’s okay!! I think it’s pretty normal. Talk to a friend that can cheer you up 🙂
  7. Ask for help if you need it. No one in my family has gone with through this application process so I asked some friends & colleagues to look over my application – which I am grateful to the moon and back that they are willing to do so.
  8. See your weak areas as places to grow 🙂 Filling in the application has made me realize what areas I am weak and what kind of experiences I should look to gain this upcoming year.
  9. It’s probably better to know your score before you start working on your application. I’m starting to work on it without knowing my MCAT score and I wish that I know my score so that I could know which schools I am eligible for and just focus on those. My scores don’t come out until the end of August. So if you have the luxury of choice, I would advise you to write the MCAT earlier in the summer, e.g. at or before mid-late June so that you know you stand.
  10. Make a giant spreadsheet to track deadlines.

Good luck!

P.S. Does the fact that I quote Gretsky instead of an European philosopher make it painfully obvious that I’m a Canadian? Hockey is basically a philosophy for living here in Canada, at least for hockey players (hahaha).

Post MCAT: what I’m grateful for

  1. I am grateful to be where I am right here right now. If I only believe that happiness is if I hold an acceptance letter, then I would be miserable! I am happy that I have the opportunity to chase a dream that isn’t possible for some people with different circumstances, such as those living in places where woman can’t attend school, or whose family obligations made it impossible. I’m lucky to have had the chance to study at university, to have the option of choosing my own path in my life, to be able to believe that I can make my dream a reality. And so, I am happy. Younger me said “one day I’ll write the MCAT”. I’m already at “one day” which feels crazy and I’m grateful to be.
  2. I am grateful for my friends who studied with me for 12 hours at a time for the MCAT, share advice and resources and all sorts of help, and be each other’s cheerleaders to remind each other that we can overcome things that seem scary at the moment but aren’t that bad once we can see past them. Super proud of them (special shout out to my smarty friend who score amazing on the MCAT!) and I’m so glad we’re in this together.
  3. Everyday I am so lucky to have a family so supportive of my educational goals. While I studied, I was very grateful to live with my family because they wanted to help me save time so another family member prepared dinner/let me off the hook for lots of trying-to-get-this-house-in-shape tasks, and so much more. They also offered a lot of cheerful “You do it!” and reminders that life isn’t perfect and that if things don’t work out, there are always chances to try again. I can keep going for pages about how awesome my family is, but I’ll stop here to not bore you readers to death.
  4.  On that topic, I am going to try my hardest to do what I can but I’m thankful that if things don’t work out (which is always possible but nothing is 100% certain!), I have chances to try again!
  5. That writing this blog has helped me reflect on what my life has been like often and helps me stay positive! When I think about what I write, I tend to think about what I am grateful for and what has made me happy.
  6. Thank you for reading and joining me on this journey! 🙂

What I’m up to: Finances!

  • I’ve been making a conscious effort to educate myself on managing finances. Early in first year, I wrote about how I started thinking about finances and that I went with Veena to the bank to learn all about different options for saving money. Now as I’m soon to start third year, I’m investing even more time into this now thinking about what I need to do to plan for at least 5 more years of tuition. In addition, if I have to move to another city, I also need to be conscious of potential housing costs, bills, and more. I strongly believe that even if we’re young, we shouldn’t wait to learn about these until we’re graduated to learn and plan. If we start learning now, we’ll be more prepared than if we start later! I know so very little so I have read a bunch of the White Coat Investor’s beginner series, which I highly recommend. He is especially geared to people in/planning for professional/graduate school, with the special challenge of a significantly larger student debt than a student only paying for one degree. I want to read my way down this list when I have time  http://astore.amazon.com/whicoainv-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=64  If you can recommend other great resources for learning how to manage finances, let me know!

Recommended Blog Post:

  • Reading other blogs. I read a post by fellow blogger Kate. Check out this post because it’s SO relatable if you have ever taken Organic Chemistry/tend to over stretch yourself/like to subject yourself to crazy busy schedules all the time

Realizations T-3 days to the MCAT

  1. My study buddy is the best. Thanks for keeping me sane!!
  2. Lots of deja vu. I think that I’ve seen passages before but I’m not sure if this is true or I’m imagining it.
  3. Making a long list of things that need to be done and that I want to do after the exam
  4. Too much coffee today was a mistake — *jitters*
  5. Trying to change my sleeping habits is hard.
  6. Looking at how awesome it is to be around the friends around me, I dream of one day all of us working our butts off to get into med school will one day all get in together and keep supporting each other towards our dreams of becoming a doctor. It would be so awesome. 🙂  As Kala put it, this summer is our “sacrificial lamb” so we can strive towards our goals. We can do it, Kala, Jeremy, Veena, Andrew, Brandon!! 🙂
  7. Much much love to my non-mcat writing friends who have been so understanding about about me vanishing from our social sphere for most of May/June/July. So thankful for their late night phone calls and texts so they can still keep me up with is going on in their lives, while they’re being considerate of my need to study. love them X 10000. special thanks to Amy.
  8. Love to my family as usual X 1 million
  9. awkward moments when you forget things/people/to dos because your brain is crammed with facts. (i’m still sorry)

Wow, this blog post is really incoherent. I’ll probably take this down in August hehe.

 

What’s difficult about MCAT studying

What’s been the most difficult about studying for my upcoming MCAT exam has been:

  • Balancing other obligations with the amount of studying. Even though during the year, I, like every other student, juggle multiple commitments but in the end, I am a full time student with dedicated time to attend class and learn. In the summer, I am a full time worker and studying is wedged into the remaining pockets of time, and it has its pros and it has its own challenges. I now have a much deeper respect for individuals that work full time and work towards a degree on the side – if that’s you, you’re incredible! It’s totally do-able but not a walk in the park!
  • Staying motivated through the whole study period. Re-finding energy and motivation day after day, week after week, month after month. It’s a good exercise though because it forces me to remind myself why I want to go into medicine 🙂
  • Feeling bad about having to turn down time with your family, friends. And missing out on fun summer activities.

The content is not too bad. It’s actually super interesting! I feel like I have learned so many useful bits of knowledge.

I’ve been changing my study spot every day after I realized studying at home is not the most effective for me. This morning I studied at McDonalds which made me nostalgic for high school. My elementary and high schools were near a McDonald’s so I socialized with friends and studied at a McDonald’s quite a bit.

I have an awesome study buddy who keeps me motivated. I’ve been back and forth about caffeine. When I have tea, I’m pretty energetic but I don’t like relying on any substances. I am way too jittery when I have coffee.  But for example, today I went caffeine-free and I had a slow, not as productive as I would have liked study day. My hypothesis is that when I have tea to flavour my water, I drink a healthy amount of water and that helps keep my energy up. (Sidenote: I am in love with Tetley’s raspberry white tea! ) When I just have plain water, I drink much less and it’s dehydration that is making me sluggish rather than lack of caffeine. Anyone else think that’s plausible?

Hope you’re all enjoying July so far!

Shanna

MCAT, new major, what I did in May & June

Hi Blog Squad readers,

I have not written a new blog post in a while but I am still alive. I’m juggling work, studying for the MCAT with some other stuff. The rest of my time has been devoted to doing things to keep my life functioning and taking real offline breaks to spend time with my family and friends.  It’s been so busy that I’m amazed that it’s already mid/late June!

What’s been happening

  • My last final exam was not until the very last day of finals so summer break has started pretty late.
  • I gave a research presentation to the entire department the day after my last final.
  • Then that weekend dove straight into studying for the MCAT! Which to be honest, I enjoy studying for! There are a ton of reasons why I enjoy studying for the MCAT, including the fact that my learning is all self-directed and the content and questions are genuinely interesting! (And I got to make a new friend/study buddy!) I hope to write a full length post on tips after I write my exam but for the meantime
    • Disclaimer: I highly prefer self-directed learning and learning from making mistakes so these tips are most suitable for someone with a learning style like mine. I’ll try to ask a good friend of mine who did take a class and recommends taking the class to lend her perspective some time.
    • Don’t take a class. Just study on your own.  Given the choice between didactic lecture and self-directed learning, I would much rather learn on my own. I love professors and they offer fantastic perspectives on material but I honestly retain not too much when I just sit passively in a lecture hall. So I knew that paying for a $9000 class would not be the most effective way for me to learn. On that note, I also did not want to spend $9000. That’s 1.5 years worth of tuition at UBC for only 2 months of class!
    • Questions, questions, questions. I jumped into doing questions and got most of the questions wrong and then learned from my mistakes
    • Keep switching your study routine up. Don’t let yourself get bored and burned out. Studying for the MCAT is a marathon not a sprint.  Make studying feel like an adventure!
    • Switch up your study location
    • Switch up your study music
    • Study alone, study with friends, study in crowded places, study in isolation.
  • Work all day every day during the week – busy but very fulfilling
  • Got to see my cousins and have a good time
  • Fell in love with the healthcare field all over again with the most incredible hands-on clinical experience I have had so far and met amazing people
  • Reconnected with one of my best friends who I have not seen for years and had fun adventures in Toronto
  • Reconnect with other old friends
  • Presented at a conference while soaking up the sun in Florida
  • A new parttime that I started in February has become second-nature to me now and I finally got to meet all my co-workers at our summer potluck. We always work alone on our shifts so we don’t get to meet each other.
  • Go on food adventures with fellow food bloggers – follow @indecisiveeaters on Instagram 🙂
  • So thrilled that I’ll be joining the Integrated Sciences program in the fall! As I took classes this past year and gained cool experiences outside of school, I realized that I loved Pharmacology and Neuroscience/Psychology and I went through an extensive process to create my own custom degree! I found and got guidance from a faculty member who was generously willing to back-up my proposal to create this custom major (thanks Dr. H!!), wrote up a statement on what my educational and career goals are (lots of thinking about what I want to do with the rest of my life -eek!), and rationale for why each and every one of the courses I plan to take from now until I graduate is important for achieving my goals, and checking and double/triple/quadruple checking that my custom degree fit all the graduation requirements and Faculty of Science of requirements and all that jazz. Lots of fun but I am beyond excited to part of a program of such supportive staff and faculty and of older students willing to mentor (special thanks to Kristen, Campbell, and Cody) and of other students like me who took the initiative to build the major of their dreams!
    • This program is so sweet that they have courses where you and your class can travel to Iceland or Hawaii for course credit! Y’all should rush to apply.
    • The Integrated Sciences program is all about combining different science disciplines. If you are more interested in blending Arts and Sciences, check out this post by my fellow Blog Squad writer on her cool blend of Behavioural Neuroscience and English! http://blogs.ubc.ca/reveries/2017/04/29/pursuing-a-double-major/
  • highly recommend a book I bought in May called “You are a badass”. I literally keep this on my desk where I can see it so I can look to it when I need a 1 second shot of inspiration. 10/10 best book I’ve read so far this year.
  • Misaki’s birthday party – we hand made panda themed planters and ate too much food and had fun

I’m looking forward to my upcoming weekend and next week!

 

Picture perfect until S & T & P started talking about the Zika virus (haha)
We tried to look like adults. I don’t think we fooled anyone though.