Despite the fact that I have one more semester of undergraduate college left, I can say with certainty now that I am done. I am done with the long prologue that precludes my medical education and ultimate career. Gone are the days of dabbling between courses and internships hoping to be a strong candidate to enter the privileged field of medicine– I am a medical student now!
Having expressed my anxiousness to receive a final word about my fate in my previous post, I consider it a blessing that I received word about my admission to the University of North Texas Health Science Center earlier than the established February date. I was certainly not counting on hearing back from the school early because they only extend admissions offers to applicants that they really want before February, so I was very pleasantly surprised. I now know that I will be spending my next few years in Texas, about an hour from my undergraduate university and in a nice area. I’ll likely lease a one-bedroom apartment, spend long days on campus, and perhaps even start opening my eyes to finding someone to share my days with. To look forward to and be able to finally imagine such a life… it is a peaceful thought.
I can still remember how the very first school I interviewed at rejected me outright– it was a group interview, and being one of the younger applicants, I guess I paled in comparison to some of the older interviewees. It was a tad disappointing especially because I felt that I had done the best that I could, but my luck turned around after I interviewed at Midwestern University in Arizona… On my birthday no less! Midwestern was my very first acceptance: an assurance that I was going to medical school. As I recall, I was idly checking the school’s online portal to see my applicant status when I was greeted with a congratulatory message informing me of my acceptance. Since I was chatting with my friend Balance at the time, he effectively became the first person to hear of the good news. I ended up waking up my parents (since it was past 11:00 PM) to phone them the good news and dropped everything to go on a nighttime walk around my apartment complex. At that point, my undergraduate college life suddenly became much more meaningful because I knew it would be ending soon.
As time passed, I was very thankful to receive acceptances in Oklahoma and Florida as well. Though Florida was my top choice as an out of state school, my home state of Texas remained an enigma with its eccentric applications process. It was a very frustrating thought to have to wait until February to know whether I would be attending medical school in my home state or in Florida, but two week ago, I was fortunate to receive some news.
Now, when important events happen to us, we tend to remember them for the rest of our lives or at the very least for a very long time. I can still remember how I sat in my art class in 5th grade during the September 11th attacks, how I was working on a project at a cafe when my father had a heart attack, and the first time the teaser was released for the eleventh Star Trek movie. I have a feeling that I will have a hard time forgetting the moment when I received the email notifying me of my acceptance to my in-state school of choice, despite the day being a fairly normal one. While playing the MMO Eden Eternal after a long day from having dropped off my friend at the airport (only to realize that he told me the wrong airport and then having to drop him off to the other one at the opposite end of the city), I hear Outlook’s new mail notification sound. Since I was in our guild’s town stalking my friend seris as usual, I was a tad annoyed to have to alt-tab and interrupt my stalking for what would likely be junk mail. Upon seeing the good news, seris actually became the first person to learn of this development (despite me not knowing her too well at the time) and was followed by my father, who I promptly called after excusing myself to be “afk” for a few minutes.
This winter break is certainly one of my most relaxing and satisfied breaks because of everything that has come to pass this year. As I move forward with my new life in mind, a part of me is a little sorry that graduation day will come however. At the moment though, I will revel in my peace of mind, and end this post with the beginning of my adventure this year– some thoughts that I would type on my laptop while beginning my travels to medical school interviews.
11 September, 2012. DAL ->TPA
As soon as my class ended, I rushed off to the Dallas Love Field airport, since I had exactly two hours to be seated on the plane bound for my first out of state medical school interview: Bradenton, Florida. To be honest, I was a little nervous because I had not flown for a very long time (since before 9/11) and here I was, flying on its anniversary. Especially with the mere two hours I had before my flight took off, I was a little skittish about how long safety and parking procedures would take.
Because my return flight would likely arrive in the evening of the next day, I decided to leave my car at one of the airport parking services so that I would not have to bother someone to pick me up at an undesirable time. I chose a cute looking lot called The Parking Spot (I am fairly certain it was because their shuttle buses had actual spots on them) and parked my car in a shaded space. The shuttle took about 5-8 minutes to arrive and took me to the departure terminal in cool air-conditioning. Since I had already printed my boarding pass the night before, I was able to go straight to the security checkpoint. The line at the checkpoint was a bit longer than I anticipated (especially for a weekday afternoon) but it steadily moved forward. I was unfamiliar with the new security regulations so I had to ask quite few questions to the TSA officer who was actually rather energetic and polite. In short, my laptop, packed liquids, and pocket contents had to be placed in a bin, even though everything went through the X-ray scanner anyways. Since they still functioned on the plane, it was nice to know that these machines no longer disrupt flash memory or magnetic fields. After my carry-on baggage went through, I went through the new body scanner machines (which was actually optional, but they would pat you down if you chose not to use it).
When I finally got to Gate 9 where Flight #41 was set to depart, I only had to wait a few minutes before boarding began. Since I was registered as an Early Bird, I was in the ‘A’ Group so I got to board before most of the other passengers. Since my airline did not assign seats, I picked a seat close to the wing-joint. Despite the fact a lot of people claim they are able to sit “next to the wing,” (which is pretty visible no matter where you sit) I opted to sit right where it connected to the cabin, adjacent to the jet engine. It was a wonderful feeling then when the turbine began to power up as the plane taxied towards the runway– the hum and vibration from the engine gave me a sense of the power in the plane’s engines.
As the plane approached V1, the plane began to go just as fast as I remembered (something that also, in a somewhat sad manner, made me recall the Gotta Go Fast! theme from Sonic X). Especially because our runway was next to a glittering lake, I really wanted to take a picture of the tilted Dallas landscape as the plane lifted off and began to enter Vr, but had to instead turn off my electronic devices. As the plane climbed, I caught myself thinking about all the forces working against our ascent skyward. I amused myself by matching the forces I felt and the noises I heard to their sources after having taught Physics, but also noted that it took much longer for the aircraft to reach V2 than I remembered. As I lost myself in my thoughts, I found myself thinking how little airplanes have actually changed since I flew over a decade ago– sure, the plane now had WiFi and had automated panels/elevators on its wings, but it was using the same oddly primitive technology to hurtle through the air. My thoughts paused when the hostess came by to offer a drink. While I do not ever drink sodas (not even “occasionally”), I did opt for some Ginger Ale which I remember drinking when I was little– besides, it would settle my stomach which was somewhat discomforted because of the changing pressures.
Before I knew it, the flight arrived for my layover at the Houston Hobby Airport as this portion of the flight was only one hour long. As I sit here at Gate 42 bound for Tampa, Florida, I am grateful for the glass windows in front of the seating area so that I may watch aircrafts arrive and depart. As I started typing this post, I had over an hour until my Tampa flight, but the announcer just mentioned that they will begin boarding in 15 minutes. While I am thankful to be in the ‘A’ Group again, I really wish I had more time to write before boarding.
My flight towards Tampa was actually somewhat uneventful after I had sat in a 737 once already that day. I did enjoy watching the sky turn from blue, to grey, to pitch black though. I appreciated that they turned out the lights in the aircraft because as we neared Tampa, I enjoyed seeing the city lights below. When the airplane reached its destination, it was 10:00 PM EST and the airport was fairly quiet. I found it neat that Tampa International Airport had a little shuttle train that would actually stop inside the buildings to shorten walking distances. After speaking briefly at the Hertz rental car counter, at 10:35 PM, I had in my possession a compact Chevy sedan that I promptly took to the freeway. My hotel was one hour from the airport (to be close to campus) so I was driving through the night for a while. For some reason, there were not many lights along the freeway so a large portion of the drive took place in darkness with only the light twinkling in the surrounding water. When I finally reached the hotel around 12:30 AM, I was finally able to sit down for a bit to rest from my journey. While at home I may have stayed awake longer, it did not take long for me to phone the front desk to schedule a wake-up call at 6:15 AM and turn in for the night.
While my sleep was not particularly comfortable (the bed’s covers were not to my liking), it was adequate and I was ready to start the day when I heard my wake-up call in the morning. I went downstairs to fetch an iron to press my suit and also to grab the hotel’s continental breakfast. When it was finally time for me to go home after the long interview day, I managed to give my father a phone call while waiting at the departure gate. My dad was really, really happy with my experiences and independence; he told me that he almost had tears in his eyes last night thinking about how much I have grown to be able to move about the country completely on my own.
Images from my travels: