Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tis the season?

I really dislike the holiday season.

Don't get me wrong, I'm totally okay with what it stands for, I know it's really an important couple of days for a lot of people. I just hate shopping, I hate those stupid Christmas commercials, I hate Christmas music playing 24/7, I hate that people spend money they don't have on gifts no one will use, and most of all I despise those goody two-shoes who decide that it's the season of giving and decide now is prime time to do food/clothing/money donations-and scoff at me when I refuse to drop a few cents in their tin or purchase a can to donate, when I've already done both about a million times already that year. And hey, what about the other 364 days in the year, why don't we show the same compassion towards people on those days??? It's just so fake. It bugs me.

You might ask if there's anything I do like about the holidays? Well, yeah, of course there is. I like having time off school, I like going home and getting to see my family, I like the food, and the lights, the colors, and the snow, I love the magic, I love seeing the look on peoples faces when they open the prefect gift that I spent hours shopping for (because I'm that bad at shopping and the mall was that packed), I like watching 24 hours of "A Christmas Story," I even like the feeling of somehow being closer to G-d that I only feel on occasion throughout the rest of the year.

One of the things I like about being in Poland around this time of year is that I can pretend there isn't a holiday happening at all. They don't go crazy here like they do in the States, they decorate a little bit, but the shopping, the greediness, and the general madness is nothing like back home. When I do go home in a few days it's going to be a serious shock for me I think.

The holidays are rough for a lot of people, but everyone seems to forget that this isn't the only time of year you can be with your family or help others! Family is always important, and there will always be those who need some assistance. I know the season is about family and giving, but if this is the only time of year that we hold "holiday ethics" in high esteem then we as a people are pathetic.

What I'm trying to say is, go enjoy your family, go to religious services, enjoy the good food and the bad music, but don't let this be the only time of year that you cherish the important things in life-  to really live life you have to appreciate what you have everyday.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chrismukkah 2012

The friends I have in Poland are the best friends I've ever had. I call them my "Polish Family," because that's what they are. Without them, I wouldn't be here right now. So as the holidays commence and we prepare to head to our respective countries it was only fitting that we had one last bru-hahah before we headed out!

We had a test in Pathology last week, so everyone was pretty much wiped, including myself, but we still had a great time! I had the party at my place and did all the food and decorating, which was a first for me. The party was on Sunday, the second evening of Hanukkah, and 16 days until Christmas, but I started preparing on Friday because there was so much to do!!!

Friday Night: I made all the dough for the pie and cookies, and made the baked beans. I also went grocery shopping and ended up with lights and art supplies to make my own decorations.

Saturday: I was dog sitting for a friend and also went to a local indoor Christmas Market. It was really great, and I got a ton of traditional Polish gifts for family members. I still have to shop for the 'men' in the family, unless of course they want embroidered tablecloths and porcelain nick-naks. The market had  so much stuff it was overwhelming! I told myself I wasn't going to buy anything for me, but I ended up with a new purse/bag- my reasoning being, "you're not going to find anything similar and at such a good price!" I'd write more about the other stuff I bought, but seeing as they're gifts and I'm not sure if my family actually reads this, I'm not going to risk it. After I came home, I started making cookies, realized I had no apples for my apple pie, ran to the store, and then dashed back to complete the cookie and pie adventure. You'll be pleased to know that I did not burn down my apartment complex or myself. Later in the evening I made a paper chain, hung the lights, cut out snowflakes, made Hanukkah decorations, and sprayed my windows with spray snow.

Sunday: I slept in, BAD idea. I was still dog sitting (a few of my friends went to Berlin and for the weekend), and I also had to go pick up a heating blanket I had bought. While I was out, I also had to stop at the grocery store and pick up rotisserie chicken for that evening. By the time I got back it was 3:00 pm and the party was supposed to start at 4pm. I very quickly, threw the beans in the oven to warm up, made up mashed potatoes, whipped up the instant stuffing, and put some corn on the stove. And because my apartment looked like a bomb had gone off, I also dusted, vacuumed, and bleached my bathroom in record time! I was just lint brushing the sofa when my first guest arrived! 

I had fifteen people come in total! And three dogs, including my own! The food all turned out great, and everyone had an excellent time! We mostly ate, and talked, but we also did a gift exchange, which was a good laugh.

Everyone left by about ten so I helped myself to the leftover dessert and watched a Miracle on 34th street before heading to bed. 
Take that Martha Stewart!!! 

My gift from the gift exchange; from the Berlin Christmas Markets! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Med School Doodles

Most people would like to think that med students are studious, diligent, and attentive during lectures. The truth is, we get as bored as the next person- yeah it's interesting as long as the person giving us the info doesn't drone on, and on about the same thing for hours on end in the same monotone, broken English voice.

The difference between us and other types of students is that we know how to make it look like we're paying attention when we need to.

Do you know how to sleep with your eyes open? Half my class has that down to an art!

How many games of chess/spider solitaire/bejeweled have you played while sitting in the front row of a lecture? I know a guy who plays at least five games minimum per one hour lecture (this obviously depends on the game and his skill level).

How many pages of a ridiculously detailed textbook have you read in class? We can bust out at least fifty pages per 2 hour lecture. (Most of the time it would have been better to stay at home reading anyway).

The best part is that we have it down so well that we can even take notes in this half awake semi-stuperous state. No one even realizes we're only half paying attention. This is probably because the professors are so wrapped up in what they're saying (yes, I'm insinuating that they enjoy hearing their own voices).

My favorite "not paying attention pastime" is doodling. I don't do it too much- just when certain people are lecturing; sometimes it's the ONLY way to stay awake.

So, I thought I'd share some of my latest "works." Hope you enjoy!

If anyone has any cool doodles they've done and would like to share, feel free to submit them and I'll make a special posting of all the best ones! 

Patho lecture...

This is normally a great class, I was just a bit tired so I figured I'd draw. 
Don't worry, we all make it a point to learn the material, something else that makes us different from a lot of other students!

Monday, November 26, 2012


No we didn't get off school for Thanksgiving, but at least the school threw all the English speaking programs a big Thanksgiving Party. It was actually really nice, considering some of the other things they've done to "help" us. The whole of the dentistry building was turned into a restaurant, there were buffet style food lines and tables on every floor, on the bottom floor there was a dance floor complete with lights and a DJ...not too shabby.

Seeing as it's considered a "black tie event" all the boys donned their best and so too did I. I bought a dress over the summer, but I needed heels and nylon. So, I went to the mall a few days before and here's the thing: do you have any idea how hard it is to find dress shoes that aren't stilts in Poland!?!? It's impossible. 

There was also the issue as to what to do with my hair. It's quite long and usually it stays in a pony tail as it's quite unruly. After some thought I decided to curl it for the occasion. I tried the day before using normal curlers but to no avail; I only succeeded in making myself look like I'd just got out of bed. The next attempt was much better (I rag curled it instead) and instead of looking half asleep I looked like I had just time jumped from sometime in the 80's. I guess you can't have everything.

Once I was all snazzed up I headed out with my friends. The main course I have to say was TERRIBLE, but the effort was appreciated (Turkey with cashews and apricots...YUCK!). But the dessert was AMAZING! (Sernik and Apple pie! I had about five or six helpings of the two). 

Finally, before heading out my friends and I did a few dances: including the macarena. This is a big deal, because I never dance. Not only am I extremely self conscious, but the music and the lights tend to have implications which are not generally desirable, but that night I was feeling good! Unfortunately, at about 11:00pm right when I was getting into my "groove" my feet started giving out from the heels, so I headed home.  

Normally, Thanksgiving would be a time to spend with my family- as annoying as they can be ;-). But, seeing as they're not here, this was definitely the next best thing. I'm happy that the school at least understands the importance of some of our holidays; and it was a good excuse to have a great time.

My friends and I did get together later in the week for a real Thanksgiving dinner and that was some good eating! 
Me begging for mercy. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Five Hours Later

It just gets better and better....

Today I spent two hours taking a pathology test, just to have the computer system block the remaining test questions (about 40 total) meaning myself and the rest of my class had to spend another two hours retaking the test (120 USMLE type questions with an impossible difficulty level and in terrible English- it makes USMLE world look like a cake walk).

You'd think this would be fine and dandy, and it would have been, had I remembered the reasoning I had used for the test the first time I had taken it! It also would have been nice if I had been as alert as I had been the first time I started. I was falling asleep by the end of my first go around! By the end of it all, I was just picking answers because I could barely see the screen and really didn't care. I hadn't eaten yet so on top of being totally exhausted from spending the previous night cramming, getting up at six to study more, then going to class from 8am till noon only to have to go right to the test right from class- I WAS STARVING. So when I got out of the exam at 5:30 I was not a happy camper.

On top of it there was a five year old girl prancing up and down the aisle between the desks and the TA's were involved in a riveting conversation.

This place needs to get it's head out of it's &$(#*. If they want us to be successful, they're gonna have to give us something to work with. If we're supposed to take a test on the computer there needs to be someone there that knows how the computer system works, in case something like this happens!!! Additionally, because we're taking a test EVERYONE should be expected to keep their yappers shut!

On a final note, if 40 people in a class of 50 fail a test (and no one who does pass does well) it should reflect badly on the teaching style and those in charge of the teaching; clearly something isn't working. Failing everyone does not make better doctors, teaching us what we need to know and how to apply it to real life situations is the hallmark of a good teacher. I'll let you know if we ever get one who's allowed to do more than stand in the corner and bow to the great head of the department - and no I'm not just talking about patho.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Teddy Bear Hospital

Yesterday might have been one of the most interesting days of my medical education thus far. Because they won't let us work on real patients...we worked on teddy bears instead.

Okay so it was for community service. But, it was so much fun and more medically oriented than half of the things that I've done since starting medical school. About ten people participated and we all met at one of the local international schools where the kids speak English. Someone had build little medical devices like an x-ray and MRI machine and we also had an excess of bandaids, gauze, tongue depressors and what not. 

So how this worked was that first, the twenty-five kids who ranged from ages 4 to 8 came in with their bears to the registration desk where three of us asked them their names, how old they were, what their bears names were and finally what was wrong with their bear. Some kids insisted that their was nothing wrong with their bears while another (boy of course) said that his bear had pain in the "femoral/groin" area. I about died laughing. 

The OR
Once they were done "checking in" we sent them with their registration slip to the next table which we'll just call the general care table. At this table we had a bunch of stuff you might find in a kids playschool doctors bag, we examined the bears let the kids try out the stethoscopes we brought, play with the blood pressure cuff, take the bears temperature, and even let the kids give the bears shots. Some of the kids immediately at the word shot ripped their bear off the table and insisted that their bear did NOT need one. If they needed it we put a bandaid on the bear or splinted its arms/legs with the stuff we had. 

After general care the kids were sent to imaging where we explained that this is how they take pictures of the inside of the bears bodies. Once the bear came out of imaging we had a few x-rays to show them of what the "bears" arms and legs looked like. The only issue with this was that we only had x-rays of the chest and skull and MRI's of the abdomen so when the bear had a broken arm or leg we kind of had to make it up and point to random things saying, "oh yeah looks broken!" Only one caught on and pointed out that the x-ray we were saying was the leg was actually of the lungs. Whoops. 

Finally, after imaging we sent the kids to surgery. Where we had gloves and masks and even smocks for them. We explained the importance of washing hands here and all about how germs can make you sick. And then we let the kids "operate" on their bears with fake scalpels and forceps. I think most kids enjoyed this part the most. 

When all the bears were treated and healthy we sat the kids down and did an assembly teaching them about what do do if they get sick and how to avoid getting sick, we also went over what to do in an emergency. 

Overall, it was a GREAT experience. It was nice to catch a glimpse of why I wanted to become a doctor in the first place, which is something that I seem to be forgetting quite often these days. And the kids were just so darn cute!!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

"Did you got?"

My patho professor is a very interesting person. Apart from the fact that in every lecture/seminar/lab we have with her she goes over her time by about two hours , she also has a tendency to talk about deadly diseases which both herself and former acquaintances have had. In case you were wondering, most of those acquaintances died of the afore mentioned diseases, occasionally someone lives, but not often. This usually causes a total teary eyed breakdown on the behalf of the professor near the end of class. At first we wanted to comfort her, but now everyone in the group has become immune to tiny old women crying- granted she brings it on herself. Right now we're averaging about three deaths per class most are repeats, but we get to hear the story anyway.

During lectures if you're not taking notes, or if you happen to take a short break from taking notes she will look at you and say incredulously, "Did you got?" To which most people would reply, "yes." She continues on giving you this beady eyed stare, "why you not write!?!" At this point you're thinking because I already know it lady, but obviously you can't say that because she's the all powerful. She takes this pause as you think it through as you having no idea what's going on so she says, "You write!" In defeat you pick up your pen and start to copy some bit of common knowledge which is on the board only to have her change the slide as soon as you start to do so. 

And heaven forbid you like to follow her in the book or check something she's saying. I think I mentioned before about what happened to one guy who did that- he was thrown out of lecture for, "bringing a cello to an orchestra concert." Don't ask... 

So the reason that I brought this topic up is that as a medical student doing other activities apart from going to class and passing tests is important. In the United States and in other countries participating in research and doing community service is the basis for medical education. In fact, most residency programs want to see that you were active outside of class. One of my classmates and myself are members of a pediatric club which is one such organization that does research and community service. This coming Monday we are invited to go to an event called Teddy Bear Hospital, where kids from a local school bring in stuffed animals and we basically play doctor with them to help them be less afraid of going to the pediatrician. The deans office has issued both of us official excuses so we can miss class. 

Thinking that this benefits not only the kids but us as well, my friend and decided to speak to the professors to tell them we wouldn't be there on Monday. The first professor who we have four hours of lecture with had no problem with it and offered to give us the power points so we didn't miss what we needed to know. 

The second professor (yours truly) who we have only a forty-five minute lab with which covers only two lab slides (unlike the usual seven or eight) was mortally offended that we would even ask. The conversation went something like this, "what you think of a doctor who went off to do their own activities when you have an appointment." My response, "the doctor wouldn't have made the appointment if he/she was busy." She continued on briskly after I explained we have an excuse saying, "I do not agree with this! You have class."Also added in the conversation somewhere, was that no one would want to see us as doctors because we put our personal gains ahead of our patients- which made both of us chuckle.  

I can understand her response, but it's not like I was asking to go on vacation! I was asking to go do community service. On top of that we have three absences we can use anytime (neither of us have missed a class yet), and this doesn't even count as one because the deans office has written excuses for us! I think in most places trying to get out of class (when you're allowed to not come anyway) to do something to help people or further your education would be easily accepted and the professor would be happy to help you make up any information you might have missed- but not here. 

To sum this story up, my friend and I are both still going to the Teddy Bear Hospital. We're not going to let an old professor stop us from doing community service just because there is a forty-five minute class with her smack in the middle of the time we'll be there. I'd like to thank her though, for reminding me of the type of doctor that I DO NOT want to become.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


The best part about going to an international school is that most of my classmates are not from the United States. There are people from everywhere! Canada, England, Ireland, Ukraine, Lebanon, Israel, Cameroon, Germany, Nigeria, Russia, Norway, Somalia, India, Sri Lanka... the list goes on. Half the time I forget that not everyone is from the same place, because for the most part we're all so similar and after a while you can't hear the accent anymore.

One of my best friends just happens to be from Dublin, Ireland so when he went home for the All Saints Day Break, he was nice enough to bring myself and a few others to stay at his home. This was the second time I've been to Ireland, the first time was last spring with the same person. But, this time we stayed in Dublin the whole time and did way more touristy things.

Day 1: We left at about 10pm on a Ryanair flight, lucky most of us got to sit together despite getting on last. The flight was two hours so we got there around midnight. Just in time to see the most grumpy immigration officer ever (the way he acted, you'd think that illegal American immigrants were a common occurrence in Ireland). And then we headed to my friends house where we all promptly passed out.

Day 2: We woke up a bit late but headed into town around noon to meet up with some other friends and go on the viking splash tour. If you've never heard of it, the tour takes place in a retired world war two vehicle that can convert from a bus to a boat. While on the tour everyone is obliged to wear viking hats and roar at passerby's. It is really a good time and the tour guide gives an excellent tour of the city. On our way to the next attraction we stopped at a Chipper for a late lunch and then headed off to the Guiness Factory where we saw how Guiness is made. I wasn't much for the stuff, but it was a good tour.

Day 3: Lazy day. We went to see the new James Bond film and went for Indian food. I'd highly recommend both.

Killmainham Gaol

Day 4: Our Irish "tour guide" had to go see some people so we went into town on our own. We saw quite a bit this day. We started with the national museum and then saw the Oscar Wilde statue and home where he grew up. After that, I stopped for a burrito (a rare commodity in Poland) and then stopped at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the campus. Our last stop of the day was the Killmainham Gaol which is one of the largest unoccupied jails in Europe and has a ton of history behind it! It was nice to finally feel like I understood another countries history almost as much as I understand part of my own! We were supposed to have dinner at the Arlington Hotel, but they failed to mention that all of us had to purchase dinner (which was 30 euro a piece!!!) so we skipped out on the step dancing show and went around to a few different bars instead.

Day 5: After getting in at about 3am most of us were exhausted so we slept in and my friends mom made us a very nice proper Irish breakfast fry. We then went to the grocery store to stock up on things that we absolutely can't fined in Poland; for me this meant lined notebook paper and about ten packages of card-stock note cards. At about 4pm we headed to the airport and had a fairly uneventful flight home! (Oh gee I just called Poland home...YIKES!!!)

And now, four exams this week and two next week!!! Only a few more weeks till winter break!!!

Robbins Pathology First Edition

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Long Run

This week has been full of ups and downs. I don't know if terrible is the right word, but it definitely wasn't a good week either. Sunday I ran my seventh marathon. I can safely say that there was absolutely no training involved. For those who have never ran a marathon before, it is possibly one of the most stupid decisions you can ever make. But, when you finish it will be one of the proudest moments of your life. This race was not one of the proudest moments of my life by a long shot, especially in comparison to former races. 

Race highlights: 
  • Mile 3 I start thinking I'm going to die and my knee already hurts 
  • Mile 8 a bunch of monks with guitars are providing race music
  • Mile 13 I realize I'm halfway there and already feel like someone hit me with a bus.
  • Mile 14 I contemplate actually stepping in front of a bus.
  • Mile 17 I meet some dude from Poznan and we chat and after doing the math I also decide that I'm not going t
    o run anymore because my leg isn't bending anyway.
  • Mile 20 I think I could be having a heart attack (someone did back at mile 4, poor man was 34 I found out later that he had died). 
  • Mile 22 I meet my future surgery professor and drags my very sore and lazy behind to the finish
  • Mile 24 I'm fairly certain I'm going to die.
  • Mile 25 If I had any issues praying before, I don't now. 
  • Mile 26.2 I decide that sprinting the last 0.2 like I usually do could work, and it did up until my knee pretty much buckled under me --> I hopped on one leg across the finish. 
  • In sum worst race ever (worse than my last race in Krakow which was bad enough that I had to sit in the medical tent for about 30minutes afterwards). But, not to bad considering my lack of training and equal lack of optimism. But hey I got a free t-shirt!!!
I finished the race and walked home where I proceeded to throw myself into bed. It was AMAZING, there is nothing like an after marathon nap. 

This really wasn't the bad part of my week, so obviously it got worse. In Pathology I was told by my lab professor to, leave if I didn't find her information useful. I was taking notes and had looked up for a split second in between writing and apparently she thought I had looked at the clock. Heaven forbid I look up and not at her. So she was pretty cold to me all week. Old bat. She kicked one of the students out of lecture later in the week because he was looking up what she was saying in the text book so that he could mark it to read later- yeah, I know I said I liked her before, but she's batty. 

Mr. Peanut Butter
Then, on Wednesday I got a call from my step dad who told me that the family dog Peanut had been killed. Poor guy was five years old. My mom had let him out with the other dog (Jelly --> Peanut Butter and Jelly) to go to the bathroom in the morning, but she hadn't been expecting anyone so she went and grabbed her coffee. While she was gone one of my stepdads employees came up the driveway which is quite steep and he got hit. He died on the way to the vet. My mom was obviously devastated and my sister even more so. I was upset too, but more because he was a good dog and he didn't deserve to go like that. It really made me for the first time in a long time want to be home.

At least I have Copper here to make me feel better, I don't know what I'd do with out him most days. He's always good for a nice laugh or a furry hug. 

Copper hamming it up for the camera

I know life is full of ups and downs, it's kind of like a marathon (excuse the bad simile). When you're running the race you have good miles and bad miles and you never know what's going to happen in the next stretch; you could pull a muscle or run spectacularly. I don't know what tomorrow's going to bring, but no matter how bad things get, eventually I'll find the finish line.     
Peanut (left) and Maggie

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I should really take more vacations, going to Bratislava was so much more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined. I didn't get any work done- but I didn't really expect to. That's the beauty of vacation! 

Let's start from the beginning. I dropped Copper off at the kennel on Wednesday and on Thursday right after class I flew from Poland to Munich and then to Vienna. Once I got to Vienna it got kind of interesting. I had gotten instructions on how to take a train from Vienna to Bratislava off the internet and intended to do that as it was only an hour ride and 14 euro. So following the instructions I took the train from the Vienna airport to the main train station in the city.

The directions said to buy a ticket for Bratislava and then get on the train from here, I bought the ticket at an automated ticket machine because the office was closed and then looked to see what platform I needed to go to. I stood baffled for about fifteen minutes trying to find where I needed to be by looking at a big screen with all the departures listed- this is when I realized there was a problem. There were no trains going to Bratislava from this train station. So I walked around until I found some guy selling newspapers and asked him where I was supposed to be- my German being nearly as bad as my Polish got me as far as take the tram to (Insert weird German name of stop here) and go to the office and ask. 
So I went downstairs asked another person to make sure I was going in the semi right direction and got on the tram which took me across the city to the train office. By now an hour and fourty-five minutes has passed since I landed at 8pm so it's 9:45. I get to the train office wait in line like a good little girl and then ask the biggest jerk in the world what train station I need to go to. The response I get is a very rude thrusting of the train schedule in my face and another name of a station I can't remember the name of and him telling me that I'm going to miss the last train because it leaves in 15 minutes and I'm all the way across town. I ask him for a refund because it's late, I'm tired, and I've decided at this point to take a cab no matter how much it's going to cost. To which he rudely replies, you'll just have to go quickly. I then make him write down the trams that I have to take to get to this new station which he does begrudgingly and then thank him for being an arrogant asshole (I didn't say that...but I wanted to). The time is now about 10:10 pm the train leaves at 10:26 pm I sprint to the tram and then pray for the thing to go faster and hurry up! At 10:24 I make it at the station and sprint to the platform where I find the train waiting. Thank goodness I made it on time!!!! 

Anyway, I got to Bratislava at about 11:30pm happy to see my stepmom - Sharon and even more happy to see the back of my eyelids. In the end I spent nearly three hours underground Vienna because the MAIN train station had no one working at it. In addition to this, why in the world would you sell a ticket for a train that doesn't even come to said station? 

The next day I got to meet the kids that Sharon was chaperoning at the European Union Competition for Young Scientists (EUCYS) as well as a few of her friends and colleagues from other countries. Basically, if you've never heard of it before EUCYS is big science fair for the best high school science projects from all over the world. It's not as big as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, but it's still a nice size. Because Sharon was working, most of the time I was there was spent in the Incheba Convention Center; but we also got to walk in the old square and down town a bit too. 
The city itself surprised me quite a bit. I was expecting something out of Euro Trip (the movie- if you haven't seen it, it's quite a good laugh). Instead it was quite nice and very clean; much cleaner than where I live in Poland. They also have a huge castle which can be seen from most of the city. I didn't get up to it until the last day I was there. But, I took took the self guided tour and got to see a bunch of cool stuff, not to mention the spectacular views of the city. 
\Speaking of views one the the highlights of Bratislava is a huge bridge, which arches over the Danube river and has a huge UFO looking thing on top where there's a restaurant and viewing platform. Sharon and I went up with a few of her co-workers- which made for a good time (as you can see from the picture of us...). The UFO was really neat, but I wouldn't recommend it to those faint of heart; I could feel the thing swaying back and forth and every now and then it seemed to lurch in one direction or the other. 

Besides these two attractions, the town square and a few museums there wasn't too much to see right in downtown Bratislava. But, there were certainly quite a few German tourist groups on river cruises. Our hotel which must have anticipated this had a very nice spa facing the river. In the window was not your normal spa day activity, but fish. Now, I've seen this before on National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, but I've never actually seen it in real life. Fish, which clean your feet and give you a 'pedicure.' Sharon was amazed by this and insisted that we all go in and try it. The kids while not as gung-ho about it as Sharon were more than excited about it, I on the other hand couldn't even stand to put my finger in the tank. Needless to say, that as they sat with their feet in the water letting the fish attack them like hungry sharks, I simply watched and took pictures. What can I say, I'm a wimp!
The last day I was in Bratislava, I got to eat some of my favorite food- Weiner Schnitzel! And I did some sight seeing on my own. It was a Sunday so not much was open, but I saw some churches and walked around the town square. It was all very nice. I even talked to a Slovakian woman for about twenty minutes, speaking only Polish while she spoke Slovakian (apparently, they're very similar languages). When I was done being a tourist, I bought myself ice cream and headed back to the hotel for one final business diner with Sharon.

St. Martins Cathedral 

Monday morning I left at 3:00am to ride back to Vienna and catch my plane which left at 5:50 - the first flight to Germany that morning. From Frankfurt, Germany I flew to Poland, hopped in a cab and then rode to a pathology lecture.

Talk about no time to relax! ;-)

This is what Copper did the whole time I was gone. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crazy Dog Lady

A lot of people though I was totally crazy when I got a dog while in medical school. My parents thought I was joking when I showed them the first pictures, and my classmates were convinced that I was going to flunk out. Not only did I get a puppy, I got a puppy that was going to become a BIG dog (a german shepherd) and I happened to live in a 6th floor efficiency apartment at the time.

It really wasn't that hard though! I enjoy running, so instead of running everyday I usually just take Copper for a walk. He was also good motivation to get up early on weekends. Vet bills are much cheaper in Poland as was the cost of the dog in general (a pure bred german shepherd with an actual german line for $300...that's a steal). I've also since moved into a much nicer and bigger apartment on the first floor (and I don't have neighbors who harass me on a regular basis for being American).  

I can safely say that getting Copper while in medical school has helped both my sanity and my happiness. Whether or not he's helped my grades, is still debatable.

Unfortunately, Poland doesn't seem to have very many BIG pet stores where they sell BIG bags of dog food. I need at least a 30 pound bag for every month. There are a few places that have bags big enough, but I never know when they'll be in stock, which is annoying. I've even tried ordering food at the store, but they take two months to order it, or don't order it at all, which leaves Copper kind of hungry.

The remedy: order dog food online. The food comes within the week and they deliver to my door for free - so I don't have to carry two giant bags of dog food a mile back to my apartment. Also with the website I use, they give discounts and have deals where if you buy one bag you get a free toy. This time I bought four 30 pound bags of food and in return got 4 stuffed vultures.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with four vultures, I think I'll give them to my friends with dogs. But, they are so cute and Copper loves them!!! He's currently prancing around squeaking one in his mouth.

It's easier to buy four bags of dog food than buy them one at a time. So right now I look like a crazy dog lady. I emptied one bag into a big container to keep it fresh when I use it. The other three bags are hanging out in my kitchen because I don't have anywhere else to put them.

I hope I don't have too much dinner company anytime in the next four months!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Relaxing Dinner Conversation

Sometimes, I get so busy I never leave my apartment. Most people would take that statement and assume I'm either a recluse and don't like people or I'm a workaholic. The truth is I'm neither in comparison to some of my classmates. I enjoy a good time just as much as the next person, but I'm also realistic when it comes to getting things done. I'm here for medical school and that comes first, unless of course I'm procrastinating in which case everything else comes first. 

So, when I do get to go somewhere it's kind of a big deal. Even going to lunch or down town is a reason for celebration! 

This past weekend I finally got to go out for the first time since I've been back.  It was great to finally let my hair down ( hair was in a pony-tail). My friends and I headed off for sushi and a walk around Stary Renyk (old market square). I had beef teriyaki not being much of a sushi person; though I have to admit they have a way of making raw fish look wonderfully appealing. One of my guy friends put away almost thirty small plates full of the stuff! 

The thing is despite the fact that there were six of us and no one wanted to talk about school. The main topic of conversation always seemed to about something school related. 

There was the general school related conversation: 

"How far have you read" "I think I'll finish that chapter by tomorrow and start the next"               "Do you think it'll be like the first test, I think it's a trap. They're going to get us."  "I'm going to the library tomorrow." "I don't like the library, it's too loud. All the Polish students are on there cell phones." 

And then there was the MEDICAL school related conversation:  

"CD4+ is with MHC class II right?" "I heard there's a question about a deficiency caused by eating too much goat cheese." (I have no idea what deficiency it could be). "What was the cause of death for that person in autopsy?" 

Yes, unfortunately much of our conversation could be  considered anything less than normal or appropriate for dinner conversation. I don't think we'd have anything to talk about if we weren't talking about school or complaining about Poland. Lucky for us, most people don't understand English when we're jabbering away so quickly. 

Like your conversations during dinner are any better... 

The big news is, that not only did I get to go to lunch this past weekend, but in two weeks I'm headed to Slovakia to see my step-mom in Bratislava. Lucky for me she comes to the European Union Competition for Young Scientists every year, and this year I can actually go! I just bought my ticket yesterday, so I'm ready to fly out! I'll post picts of course, but I just wanted to share how excited I am that I get to LEAVE and go on VACATION for three whole days!!!

Todays question: what is the strangest dinner conversation you've ever had?   

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cost of Attendance

So a lot of people have asked me why I chose to study in Poland, and the answer is quite complicated really. Most people think it's because I was too stupid to get into a med school in the states, the truth is I only applied at two schools in the states, and I didn't even finish the application for one of them. The other one was through the military at their medical school in Bethesda, MD (and yes, in case your wondering I didn't get in- but, that was to be expected). The one other school I applied to was St. Georges in the Caribbean, I got in despite royally pissing off my interviewer.

My #1 reason for applying at these schools was, cost of attendance. The military medical school was free, but required me to serve in the military for a few years after graduating (they also would have paid me while I was studying). St. Georges cost between $23,000-$32,000 depending on the term. Making it one of the more expensive schools in the Caribbean, but also one of the more well respected. The school that I currently attend in Poland is dependent on the exchange rate so last year I paid $17,000 for tuition, and this year I paid only $15,000. The average cost of medical school in the US is between $28,000-$47,000 depending on if the school is public or private. And remember this is only tuition we're talking about! You still have to calculate in cost of living! Which at minimum I would say $10,000 to be on the safe side depending on where the school's at, more even if the school is in some big US city where rent and food prices are more expensive.

To pay for school I usually take out $30,000 per year via Sallie Mae and I use the money left over at the end of the year to pay for the interest built up on the loan. So in sum I'm going to be in about $120,000 worth of debt when I finish (excuse me while I go cry). But, in US schools the total debt when finished is quite a bit more and ranges from $150,000-$180,000. That's between $30,000-$60,000 worth of difference! I could put a down payment on a house or buy a really, really nice BMW with that money!

There a a few other important facts as to why I chose Poland, all of which are good reasons, however in the end I do agree that you get what you pay for. Looking back, I might have considered the quality of education and my job prospects when I'm through. But, what a person can think in retrospect, cannot change what has already been done. What does make me feel better, is that after all this is done, I will be in less debt than most, and I can practice anywhere in Europe without jumping through insane hoops. Plus, by then the euro will probably be worth more than the dollar and paying back my loans might not be so bad.

There isn't a day goes by that I want to be out of here but, medical school isn't always about graduating and being finished, it's about the journey to becoming doctors and better people. What we learn here will not be the end of our education, a good doctor is always learning, always trying to better themselves and where or how much you pay in medical school shouldn't change that.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Emergency Fail

So uh...interesting run tonight. 

I was running by the park and saw a bunch of kids knock an old guy down who had a crutch, I ran over to see if he was okay (because everyone else was totally ignoring him). Only to find that he was unconscious with a lacerated scalp. 

I ran to some lady and told her to call and ambulance and ran back to the guy to start CPR if need be-he was awake by then (thank goodness). I started talking to the guy (in small pathetic Polish sentences) and he was obviously drunk, but still obviously hurt too. Meanwhile the woman takes 5 minutes to get anyone on the line and then comes over to tell me that an ambulance will be there in another 5 minutes and that she has to go because her baby is getting fussy. 

I'm left standing there like an idiot with Copper trying to make sure this guy is okay, and he's now at this point trying to sort himself out and roll over and stand up and of course there's the band of kids who knocked the guy 
over in the first place laughing at us.


10 minutes later and the man is back up and hobbling away (still bleeding, and who know's what type of mental state he was in after that smack in the head).  The ambulance had already been called, but lucky for me a pair of cops walk by and I flag them down. But, of course first they have to yell at some other poor guy who was sitting near by first. And then I have to explain to them with the handful of words I know what happened and that a woman called the ambulance, but the guy walked off...they were helpful...NOT. 
And then because the ambulance never showed up I left after about 20 minutes. 

SO moral of the story don't get hurt in Poznan, especially if you happen to be drunk: people will totally ignore you despite the fact that you're face down, unconscious, and bleeding severely.

In any normal country people would be telling the guy to sit still and stay put and there would be about 10 good samaritans (at least), all of whom would have called the ambulance, which would have shown up in about 2 minutes tops.

Friday, August 31, 2012

No More Studying!

So I can't study anymore, I have a legitimate excuse I swear! 

When I study I get stressed out and my body temp increases. The change in temp signals all of these neutrophils and what not and they head for the source of infection (my brain) once there a respiratory burst occurs releasing reactive oxygen species, which cause lipolysis of the cell membranes, blebbing of the ER, increase intracellular Na+, and most importantly damage to the cellular DNA. Which begins the process of liquefactive necrosis. But, then after a day of freaking out over an upcoming test the macrophages come in and are like "OH NO, DAMAGE" and they continue the mayhem started by the neutrophils release cytokines, growth factors, and more stuff and bring in more leukocytes. When I take a break repair is able to start, but it doesn't matter because the next day I have to study...and so the condition becomes chronic!!!! And then fibrosis begins, because there really aren't enough stem cells in the brain to make any difference.

Thus, slowly I become less able to focus on what I'm doing, and I forget things I've just read making me more stressed and causing another increase in temperature which as it happens could be causing brain that is why I can't study or take the test.

They say it's a terminal condition...I hear it could also be a contagious environmental factor....

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

So Happy and yet so Insanely stressed out!

I passed my first pathology test!!!!!!!  I'm so happy!!!! After two weeks of what seemed like 24/7 studying and reading about 200 pages of everything, I finally get to take a break! It's short lived obviously, as I have another test tomorrow and one on Friday as well (and maybe one on Thursday now that I'm thinking about it). But, I don't care!!! The amount of people from previous classes who said that pathology was insanely hard and terrible was enough to have me rocking back and forth in worry. They said that no one ever passes the first time, and yet most of our class succeeded in doing so (and I did excellent for a change). I know it was only the first exam, but I think it says a lot about our class or a little about theirs....

Of course they also said that the head professor was a terror, and I think she's great. She's the nicest professor we've had yet! She's volunteered on more than one occasion to help us out and she tells the greatest stories. Yeah she's yelled at some people and can be strict, but she's old school and she just wants us to learn. You give her respect, she gives you respect. Of course lot's of people in my class and in others have no idea what respect even means.
Some say she's a wolf in sheep's clothing, I think she's my grandmother in disguise. After all she's done for me and my lab group, I'm more than happy to stand up for her!

Okay, relaxation time is over time to figure out the kidneys for my pathophys test... now where did I put that book?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Starting Second Year

We started classes two weeks ago at the end of July. Unlike most US schools we only got about three weeks of actual vacation, and when we returned we had a test in our first new class of the year - pathophysiology. Seeing as we were only warned about this test three days before it took place, and seeing as no one had the text at that point it's easy to surmise that a majority of the class failed. I guess that was our "Welcome Back" gift.

Usually, I like classes that are medically oriented but the professor for pathophys is interesting to say the least. Last week, because he was mad at the world, he gave us a particularly difficult worksheet about the kidney and gave us about five minutes to complete it; which was only enough time to complete the first question (and even then barely). Upon returning he began to question us about the sheet and when someone asked for more time he exploded. Basically, he told us that we were dumb and didn't deserve extra time because we obviously don't care about the class. Lovely man. Anyway, he proceeded to read the remainder of the questions and then stormed out of the room without a backwards glance. We were stunned.

This year also has some other changes. We've lost four members of our class. One couldn't get a visa, one was removed from the university under mysterious circumstances, and another is going into another less stressful profession. The final person, one of my best friends has decided to transfer to a school in the Caribbean.

Personally, I can't blame her, the school has done more than enough to make everyone want to leave at some point or another. My friend severely broke her leg the first year she was here and apart from ending up with MRSA and having an allergic reaction to the vancomycin, she also had a pulmonary embolism, and almost died on more than one occasion in the various Polish hospitals. On top of that she was given no pain medications for the duration of her hospital stay and when she returned to the US they had to basically reconstruct her ankle. The school was little help with this situation seeing as she slipped down the school's tile stairs while it was raining, and there was no hand rail or anti-slip grips. And then last year the school "misplaced" about $10,000 from her loans which was supposed to pay for rent and food and miscellaneous; she got it back after threatening to call a lawyer. Finally, during this summer the school expelled her and four others for allegedly not passing anatomy because they hadn't taken the test yet (which coincidently was scheduled for last week). After they all got reinstated to the university all of them also put in applications at other schools.

So you can see why she left. Even so I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do without her here. She was my study partner and we did everything together. I hope that I'll be able to see her again, and that she has better luck than the rest of us!!! One of my other friends who helped see her off yesterday morning made a statement that while morbid, reflects the truth of the situation, "It's like someone has died, but in this case she really has gone to a better place."

Welcome back to Purgatory...

Friday, May 18, 2012


I realize I haven't written much insane amount of exams have seen to that. 
I actually have one tomorrow: a neuroscience practical =-) Can't wait!!! 

While studying for this next experiment in memory I realized how important memory is, and if you have a bad memory how miserable your life can be. My memory could probably be classified as fair, I mean I am in medical school. But, I'm most definitely not the top in my class! Nor would I probably ever want to be...I like having a life. 

So given my predicament (which is more of an issue than you'd imagine the normal person would encounter with their brain) my friends and I have come up with several memory devices otherwise known as mnemonics, which help us remember. Sadly most of these are the most immature and provocative sayings you will ever hear civilized people say. But, the fact is the more 'dirty' or ridiculous the saying is the more likely you are to remember it. 

Some of the most useless things I learned in high school were due to horrid mnemonics. For example in the 10th grade my biology teacher taught us the classification of species using the mnemonic: 
Kids Put Condoms On For Good Fun --> Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species 

I haven't forgotten it since. 

As you can imagine the mnemonics for medical school aren't much better:

(Make an X with your arms and in your best heavy metal voice shout) TRIPLE X --> Kleinfelter's disease 

Vladimir Putamin --> To remember the Putamin of the Lentiform nucleus of the Brain

*Censor Warning* Oh Oh Oh To Touch And Feel Virgin Girls Vagina And Hymen --> The cranial nerves in order 

The Egyptians live next to the Greeks --> Referring to the location of the pyramids and olives on the brain stem. 

The list goes on. But as you can see we can come up with some fairly interesting stuff when put under enough stress!

So the next time you go to the doctor's and the doctor says something that sounds kind of quirky, just pass it off as a mnemonic that will help diagnose you not as sexual harassment or insanity.   

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Sleep is the one thing that I'm usually pretty good at...until it comes to actually sleeping at night or falling asleep. Then I usually just lie there thinking about everything else and how miserable I am.

I'm very good a being miserable =-)

That's why I'm writing this at 2:15 in the morning. Because I can't sleep. And like most people I have to be somewhere tomorrow. However, unlike them who are well rested from their weekend I will be half asleep. It's going to be AWESOME! Thank goodness I only have one class tomorrow and for the first time in forever NO tests!!!!

This weekend I got a pair of Rollerblades. I used to love to Rollerblade when I was younger. I would drag my sister to the skate park and we would spend hours there. This pair isn't quite what I wore when I was fourteen. But, they're going to be perfect for going to class and walking with the dog (or having him walk me). As to why I got a pair of Rollerblades and not a bike the answer is very simple:
       1. They just re-did the sidewalks for the euro cup this summer.
       2. Bikes have to be ridden on the road
       3. Have you ever seen people in Poland drive? It's terrifying!!!!
I have seen one too many car crashes to get on a bike and be one with the cars in this country. I thought drivers in the states were bad, but they take bad driving in Poland to a whole new level. I once saw a guy run a stop sign and the guy he almost hit honked the horn (rightfully so) the guy who ran the sign stopped his car got out and proceeded to rip the other guy out of the car for honking at him. And apparently this is a common occurrence.

To name a few of the most recent crashes I've seen: a Toyota cut a Mercedes off from behind at an intersection, a city bus plow into a turning car, and a VW hit another parked VW and a pole. I've also been in taxi's that have purposely gone down the wrong side of the road to avoid the line of traffic and who run red lights because stopping is inconvenient. On top of this I see ambulances everywhere so I know there are more crashes happening that I don't see...I can only imagine what the highway is like!

So next time you ride your bike think of how dangerous it could be. You could end up a hood ornament...and the best part is somehow no matter what it would be your fault. (That's this country for you.)  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

From Hell back to Purgatory

The month of Hell is officially over with my last BIG exam taking place yesterday.  Fingers crossed I passed so I don't have to deal with the misery that is anatomy anymore!!! It's probably a subject that I will need the most of being a doctor and all...but oh how I hate it. What ever happened to head, shoulders, knees, and toes??? Being a Polish medical school even the test itself had to be bizarre; the test which was supposed to start at 11:30 on Saturday didn't start until 12:30 because someone couldn't figure out how to make the test system work (it's all computerized, but they give these tests about 7 times a month for the different years and classes so you'd think they'd have it figured out....guess not). Ah well at least IT'S OVER!!!! =-)
So today instead of being productive I'm still lying in bed (at 2pm) watching videos on YouTube and writing this. I never realized how good those Disney channel original movies from the 90's were until now. Ha ha.
An update on my resolutions which given that I just realized it is now lent are now called my lent resolutions despite the fact that I am not Catholic or any religion remotely associated with it.


1.    Studying for 3 hours/day --> Have you ever tried this when you've been studying 7+ hours a day it stinks! 
 My version of studying is more read 2 pages watch 10mins of Recess on YouTube, read 5 pages go make a sandwich, read 1 page go play with the dog. You get the picture...ADD at it's best. 
2.     Walk Copper at least once a dayà; If you don't he'll wake you up at 3 in the morning.  

3.     Exerciseà; As soon as I catch up on much needed sleep. 

4.    I will not get totally miffed at the microbiology professors à Hard to do as they locked one of the guys in a room and yelled at him for an hour for recording the lecture. They then proceeded to go through his phone and camera deleting EVERY picture even remotely associated with the school. Which I'm fairly certain is illegal. 

5.    Eat healthy à This involves grocery shopping. Grocery shopping involves getting out of bed. I like bed. 

6.     Dishes get washed when they're put in the sink à Gonna have to do this one today. No more plates. 
I suppose I should start my day now. I have people coming over later to study and my apartment is really out of control messy right now. I'd also like to go outside at some point, it's so sunny, even if it is freezing.