Sunday, November 17, 2013


Every time I tell people back home that I'm going somewhere interesting they seem to completely ignore the fact that I live in Europe. "She's going to Berlin? That must be expensive." Um...NO, I live two hours away! With London people think the same thing, but a round trip ticket is only around $100. It's not like I'm going on a 12 hour flight and paying $1000 like I have to when I go home!

Now that I've ranted about that...I went to London last weekend. It was my first time and it was amazing! My friends and I picked the perfect weekend for a last minute vacation.

DAY 1: We left Poland very early Saturday morning and got to London at around 8am. From the airport we took the train into the city and then the tube from there to our Hostel. Yeah, I said hostel, not hotel- worst idea ever. I've stayed in hostels before, but this was the dirtiest, smelliest, loudest one yet. On the way I made my friends stop at Kings Cross station, so I could see platform 9 3/4...yes I'm a Harry Potter Nerd. It was hands down the best part of the trip.

Once we got settled at the hostel we headed downtown again to Piccadilly Circus where we spent the rest of the day perusing tea shops, exploring M&M world, and being typical tourists. Our visit was planned perfectly because that night they were lighting the christmas lights and shooting of fireworks, so we stayed for that, which was lots of fun. My back was killing me though after all that walking.

We headed back to the hostel and were in bed by 11p.m. Our fellow roommates came in at around 2a.m. and lets just say they weren't very quiet about it, one also had a very severe case of sleep apnea.

DAY 2: Sunday morning we were out of the hostel by 9a.m. (What can I say, we're medical students, we're used to only 5 hours or less sleep a night). We took the tube back into town, but this time to London Bridge. Which by the way was the biggest disappointment of my  childhood.  Somehow based on the song I was expecting something a little more grand, not just a normal bridge. It was right next to Tower Bridge though, so we walked by the Tower of London and then across Tower Bridge to a tea place for breakfast.

We hung out around that area for a bit and then got back on the tube to go see Big Ben/Parliament, The London Eye, and Westminster Abbey - all of which are conveniently placed right next to each other. When we got there there was a huge parade going on, with Soldiers all dressed up in their fancy hats and what not. We thought we were going to get to see the Queen, but alas we did not.

Apparently it was a holiday - Armistice Day and then Remembrance Day on Monday, so there were lots of things going on. Either due to the holiday or the fact that it was Sunday we couldn't get inside Westminster Abbey, which I really wanted to see. So next time I go, I'm totally going to check that out.
From there we walked through Hyde Park and to Buckingham Palace. The flag was up, so the queen was in! Then we took the tube to Harrods, a really big, fancy department store. We didn't stay long because it was so packed!
We went back to Piccadilly Circus for dinner and to do some souvenir shopping and headed back to the Hostel and were in bed by 9p.m.

DAY 3: Monday morning at 4a.m we left the hostel after a very sleepless night. We took the night bus (yes, they're real things) to Kings Cross Station and then the train back to the airport. We were back in Poland by 10a.m.

I wish we could have stayed longer, but I'm happy to be home. That exchange rate is killer!!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


I love Halloween back home. I love dressing up, handing out candy, I love trick or treating (when I can find a younger person to uh...chaperone), I especially love the halloween TV specials and movies. The downside of Poland = No halloween. Yeah a few random kids celebrate it, I got three whole trick or treaters last year! But, it's not the same. There's no festiveness, no magic. So this year when I heard about my schools annual halloween party I decided that I wasn't just going to be a lump on a log, I was going to actually go!

Fortunately I talked some of my other equally introverted friends to come with me. The hardest part was costumes. Seeing as they don't celebrate it here, they're a bit hard to come by, so you have to be imaginative. Somehow my friend managed to wrangle a cat costume and I always wanted to make my hair stick straight up. I went from there and it kind of morphed into a "Spa Victim" ensemble, complete with the green mask, cucumbers, and bath robe. My hair is really long, so I'm surprised it worked, but it stuck straight up the entire night (with the help of a bottle of hair gel and half a can of hairspray). I even did some "head banging" at one point and it didn't even move.

After we were done prepping, which took quite a while. We headed to the dorms for a "pre-party" which was probably actually better than the real party. I haven't laughed that hard in forever.

Once we were done there we headed over to the "party zone" which was basically a huge club the school rented out. It was kind of a let down, there weren't too many people, I'm pretty sure half the people that were there don't go to our school, the music was all techno- though we did hear a few modern jigs including Michael Jackson, Psy, and Nirvana... But, it was LOUD.

Maybe I'm just a wimp, and maybe it's because I don't drink (at all). But, if I can't hear myself shouting at the top of my lungs to my friends the music needs to be turned down. Unfortunately loud noises that are sudden also have an adverse effect on my brain making any sort of music with a loud base and a heavy beat twitch central (a few years ago that sort of noise would have had me in convulsions...literally).

We mostly just sat around and people watched. There were some pretty cool costumes considering the lack of shops around. Watching the girl dressed as a puritan twerk was probably the highlight of my night, though the couple dressed as 'George and Martha Washington' weren't doing so bad themselves. There were also some costumes in pretty bad taste- the girl dressed as a Marathon Bombing Victim for example. I wanted to walk up to her and give her a piece of my mind (primarily using my fist), but you can't fix stupid.

We left after about three hours. What can I say, we're getting old! I did have fun though. Will I ever go to a club like that again? NO. But, I'm happy I can at least say I tried it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ped's: Week 1

So I FINALLY started classes. Yep, after almost 3 1/2 months of nothing- I'm back! And wow it's terrible! I haven't woken up this early in ages, you mean I have to actually eat breakfast before the sun comes up??? Haha, it's great. I love it!!!

How do you like my horribly large yellow scrubs? Schnazzy right? 

I'm in pediatrics right now and so far so good. Our half of the class is divided into groups which go around to each of the departments of the peds hospital in 3-4 day shifts. We started in the cardiology ward. I feel like I learned so much, the doctors were really great. Yeah, it felt like a few of them didn't want us there, but they were all very helpful. It was almost felt like we did more knowledge-fact based learning than actual hands on stuff, but I think it's because our teaching up to this point has been lacking in any actual clinical usefulness. (That's what happens when you have people who are so specialized in their subject that they can't apply anything to real life or even speak English- But, I digress).

I feel like they taught me the things I should have known ages ago! I can now almost recognize a murmur, I can sort of read an ECG (by sort of, I mean I can tell when somethings not right but not exactly what), I still have no idea what I'm looking at on an echo, but I assume that will come with time. All in all it was a great three days, we even got lucky and spent a day in the cath lab watching them put in coils and what not for PDA's and other congenital defects. And everyone was so nice- did I mention that?

After peds we had a surgery rotation that we're still in the midst of. I like surgery, but I can't see myself fixing hernias and resecting bowel's all day. Maybe it's just Poland that's making me feel that way, we'll see what the next few days hold, but I don't get the greatest vibe from surgery. We got to be in the room  during the first day, but got kicked out today because one of the nurses started complaining about there being too many people in the room. Yes, with our group of 5 there are a fair few of us, but she wasn't being very nice about it. In the end we just watched from a television in the other room. The view was better and we were able to sit down! I should have brought some popcorn.

Side note: I get the feeling that nurses here think they run the show. I've seen them yell at doctors, chat it up in the OR's and in the hallways, and 'bitch' at patients (who are all children) all week.  Nurses are important to making a hospital work, of that I have no doubt, but these nurses seem kind of nasty.

All in all, it's been really great. I thought we'd be more 'hands on' than we are, and learning procedures like how to put IV's in or do sutures instead of pretty much 'shadowing' the doctor and having seminars in the hallways, but I suppose it depends on the rotation and it will come with time!

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Hi all! I know it's been a while since there's been a proper post, but really nothing special has been happening. I start class in about a month so I'm just hanging out studying for the most part. That is until the past two weeks, when I took a trip to Prague with my step-mom.

First she came to Poland and visited me and toured around. Then we hopped one of the most expensive flights I've ever booked to Prague where she had to do some work.

Day 1: Flight to Prague. And then a late dinner with my mom's contacts in old town.

Day 2: We walked ALL OVER Prague. We started at the castle and St. Vitus Cathedral (quite possibly one of the most amazingly beautiful cathedrals I've ever seen). Then we walked down the hill into the city and across the Charles Bridge. The bridge was nice, but I don't think it was as awesome as some of the other stuff in Prague - too many people and bad artists. Then we went to dinner and some mall that used to be a military barracks.
I thought my feet were going to fall off by the end of the day.

Day 3: Our friend from Prague took us up north to see a glass factory and school of glass making to see how some of that famous Czech glass is made. The best part was that we got to try blowing glass as well.
This is also the day that my mom had to start working so when we got back we headed to the convention center and met up with some of her colleagues that also work with science fairs.

Day 4:  We slept in a bit and then went back to the convention center to check things out and make sure the student she was watching out for was all set up for the contest. 
In the evening was the opening ceremony for the competition which was actually pretty cool. They used a really old fountain that was choreographed with music and gymnasts and fire twirlers (I think that's what they're called anyway). At the end all of the competitors went up on stage to represent their country and there were kids from all over Europe as well as North America, China, New Zealand, Israel... and a plethora of other places!
Day 5: The student we were with had judging for his project and we weren't allowed to stay so we went downtown with some of my mom's colleagues for another tour of the city and some coffee. This time we walked UP the hill to the castle so it hurt even more after.
On our way back to the tram we came across a bunch of owl's and eagles and guess what...they let me hold one!!! It was totally a Harry Potter moment.

Day 6: My mom had meetings most of the day so I slept in, and then went for coffee and did some studying.
That night there was a dinner party for everyone at the science fair held at the senate building garden, so we hung out there for a while and mingled.
Day 7: More meetings and studying.

Day 8:  All the kids at the fair packed up their projects and judging finished. They went off on a tour of the city and my mom and I went downtown to run an errand and then stopped for a bratwurst and a Thai massage. I didn't think it was possible, but a little Asian woman picked me up and cracked my spine from top to bottom- it felt amazing!

Day 9: The awards ceremony was in the afternoon there was a choir and some really neat rope circus performers before the show. And our "kid" won something so that was pretty awesome too!!!
After that the week was pretty much over and we said goodbye to everyone and headed back to the hotel for one last dinner meeting.

Day 10: My mom left at 3 a.m. to head back to the States!!! I stayed and slept because my flight wasn't until 2 p.m. It was nice to watch television and just lounge. I got to the airport too early to check in and so I had to go to McDonalds (darn). Then while I was sitting at the gate waiting for the plane guess who should walk up, our friends from Poland- who I thought were taking the train home. They definitely startled me!!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Berlin and Polar Bears

Last weekend I had to go to Berlin because my visa expired and I needed to leave the country. I'm in the process of applying for a temporary stay card, but it's taken a lot longer than I had hoped!

Berlin is only a few hours away from where I go to school, so it's a real easy trip on the train. I decided that since it's summer and most of the stuff I want to see is outside to take Copper with me. Ironically his train ticket cost more than mine! But whatever, it was totally worth it.

On the way there the train was PACKED. I went to go sit down in my cabin and found that there were people in all of the seats except mine and that two of them were small children, which had me really worried. Copper is a big dog, he loves kids, but sometimes kids and parents don't like him too much. It didn't help that he had to wear a muzzle for the trip which he hates and it makes him look way more vicious than he actually is. There were a few times where he stood up and tried to move around when I thought the other people in the cabin were going to kill me for sure, but once he got settled down he was perfectly fine.

Once we got to Berlin we headed to the hotel, which at first I couldn't find despite being on the street where it said it was. It turns out I was standing directly in front of it, the sign was just so small I didn't notice it! Go me.

Since we arrived at about 1pm we had plenty of time to go see the city. First off I found an awesome statue of Robert Koch near my hotel. Call me an uber nerd, but a statue dedicated to the father of bacteriology is pretty cool in my book! Then we headed to the Brandenburg gate. I was really less than impressed with this. There were too many people, there were Egypt protesters blocking the view, and they were setting up for some sort of fair so it just made everything more packed. No offense, but protest all you want, just not in front of a huge tourist attraction that many people travel hundreds of miles to see.

From there we walked to the Reichstag that houses the German parliament. I have to say its is a pretty awesome looking building and excellent blend of old and new. If I hadn't had the dog with me I would have totally signed up to go check out the dome and get a tour of the inside. We sat there looking at it for a bit and a few people 'oohed' and 'awed' at Copper. Something about a German shepherd dog being in Germany I guess, but it seemed that a lot of people wanted to take his picture.

Once we were done with that we saw Schloss Bellevue- the presidents house which unlike the US White House does not have snipers on the roof, at least that I could see. (Ironically, my sister and I go into DC quite often as my dad lives very close and instead of really enjoying the sites we count the roof snipers...yeah I know we have issues). On the way we walked through the Tiergarten and saw the Bell Tower which might actually have a better tune than the Glockenspiel in Munich. And we also saw the Victory Tower complete with a girl pretending to be a swan and flapping her wings in slow motion. (I should have taken a picture).

The weather was getting a bit 'iffy' at this point so I decided to go try and find Check Point Charlie, eat, and head back to the hotel. Well, I never found it, but I did get to Museum Island and walked through a flea market. At this point it began to rain so I headed towards the hotel looking for a place with a covered outdoor eating area so I could eat with Copper. Luckily I found one and they even brought Copper out a bowl full of water. I love Germany.

The next day we got up early to check out of the hotel and head to the Tierpark Zoo in the former East Berlin. The west Berlin Zoo doesn't allow dogs and I've heard it's quite packed. So we took the U-bahn and the S-bahn out there and had a look around. My favorite bit was the Polar Bear which scared the dickens out of Copper at first which was hilarious (see the video below). He jumped back about five feet when the bear came out of the water to greet him. He also had a good time with the spotted hyena and the golden throated martens which ran up and down there enclosures playing with him. After a few hours there the torrential down pours ensued and we headed back to the Haufbahnhof and caught an early train home.  

Overall, not a bad trip for a quick two days! I love living in Europe!!! 

Friday, August 9, 2013


In the past month or so that I've been out of class I've been trying to study. The USMLE is everything for me, I have to pass, I have to do well - or I won't even be considered for a residency in the US, let alone the residency of my choice.

I want so much to do well. And yet, when I sit down to study I can't stand it. I fidget, I day dream, I organize my highlighters. I make it a point to do at least 20 pages of first aid a day, which might not seem like a lot but it could take me upwards of four hours to just do that. And after five hours I'm shot, I can't go on, I literally start falling asleep at the desk.

I've heard about people who basically lock themselves in the library. People who study 10+ hours a day. How do they do it. How can I do it?

And then there's the questions. I did about twenty biochem questions today and out of that I got around five right. FIVE. Am I even learning anything by doing all of this reading? Did I even learn anything in my first two years of medical school? What am I doing with myself?

I want to do well.

But something keeps telling me that I won't.

What happens if I don't pass? What happens if I don't match?
What then?

I keep trying, I keep studying. I just want one thing, and I don't even know if I can do it based on my scores right now.

I need help. I need a sign. Anything.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Passport Prosze

So lately I've been in the process of applying for my temporary stay card, it's basically like a long term visa except it's in card form. This has meant finally putting my big girl pants on and dealing with the Polish bureaucracy head on.
First off there's the application. It's five pages and written in Polish, English, and French...but it can only be answered in Polish. If for some reason you answer part of it using the wrong Polish word you'll hear about it when you go to turn it in. It's kind of strange to put a document in a language you can't answer it in.
Second, you have to basically do a scavenger hunt around the city, to collect things you need to complete the application, and then you need at minimum three copies of everything. So I spent one whole day going from the bank, to the health office, to another health office, to the bank again, and then to city hall. At city hall I found out that I was supposed to register my address when I moved last year, so I got a good telling off for that. Another fun fact, in Poland you have to go directly to the health insurance office and submit a form every month. This means filling out a piece of paper that I can't read, and then standing in line for an hour to submit the stupid thing- fun, fun.
Anyway, after pretty much running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I got the application submitted, everything was hunky dory. And then this morning at 8:30 my door bell was ringing. It took me a second to wake up, scrounge around for a hair tie, put the dog in the other room and then finally open the door. And who should it be? Why the police!!! I wasn't even dressed, I looked like I had just stepped out of a zombie apocalypse movie and I'm sure my apartment wasn't helping my case any! So then they ask to see my passport.
My passport that's easy I can do that. Problem is, apparently I can't. I spent five minutes searching my desk, my dresser, every folder I've ever used - no passport. Shit. Meanwhile, they stood at the door waiting for me to find this stupid little book, and I'm still half asleep and tearing my apartment apart. Finally I located a copy and they just took that. 
About ten minutes after they left I located my passport, it had gotten tucked into the case for my external hardrive while in my desk drawer where it normally is. I feel like G-d is having a good laugh at my expense sometimes. And I'm certain the police will be telling the other cops about this crazy scenario of the girl who had that wild, half asleep look in her eyes, and really bad breath as she searched furiously for her passport.
That being said, I've never heard of the police coming to check someones residence! I suppose I'm just a lucky person like that.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fussen, Germany

I've just gotten back from my first trip of the summer. Of course like the others it was short, but it was really a lot of fun and oddly relaxing considering that it involved running 42km.

Day 1: I took an airplane from Poland to Munich. (I booked the flight several months before so it was super cheap, otherwise I'd of had to take the train). Once in Munich I took the city train downtown to the main train station and from there caught a train to Fussen. By the time I arrived in Fussen it was around 11pm so I headed straight to my hotel and went to sleep.

Day 2: I woke up to a beautiful alpine morning. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the hills were alive with the sound of music...

I ate breakfast and then headed to get my packet for the marathon that was the next day. Once I had that all sorted out I decided to walk to the castles- Neuschwanstein and Hogenschwanu (I'm pretty sure I misspelled those but I really don't care right now). It took about thirty minutes to walk there but it was nice to be out in the country with the alpine cows and the views of the mountains.

I reached the castles and then realized that I should have booked tickets ahead of time to see them! I've seen them a million times as Fussen is very near Garmisch-Partenkierchen where my family used to go on vacation when I was younger and we lived a little closer. But, I still wanted to see them again! I ended up waiting in line for an hour and then couldn't get tickets to see the castles for at least another three hours.

While I was waiting I decided to go over to Tegelberg ski are where they have a summer lift that will take you near the top and then you can hike the rest of the way. I'm not sure if hiking was the best idea the day before a marathon, but the views were certainly spectacular. I also got some great schnitzel at the lodge up there!

Eventually I headed back to the castles and got to see inside. Somehow they don't seem quite as impressive as they did when I was a kid, but they're still pretty schnazzy.

Day 3: Race day. It was VERY HOT. The race started early but within the first hour the heat was unbearable. We were running near large lakes and all I wanted to do was throw myself in! I finished with a semi decent time, not my best, but I was more in it for the views anyways!

I slept the rest of the afternoon after the race and then in the evening went and got some more schnitzel for dinner (what can I say, I'm a schnitzel addict).

Day 4: I got up really early to take the first train to Munich so that I'd have time to stop downtown and have a look at the Glockenspiel (a really big, old clock). The last time I was there it wasn't working so I wanted to hear it chime!

The Glockenspiel 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Noc Kupały

Noc Kupały: Some countries are trying to stop forest fires, Poland is trying to start them.

Seriously though. I'm not even really sure what the occasion was except the first day of summer maybe. But there's a huge celebration where thousands of people let loose lanterns into the sky. It was beautiful and amazing and totally not safe. 

The lanterns are pretty big so it takes a while before the flame which is quite large fills them with enough hot air to float. Because of this, people kept letting go of their lanterns too early, so instead of floating up they'd hover near the ground right at 'head level' and attempt to burn the hair of the nearest victim. I didn't see anyone get lit up, but I'm sure someone did (especially with all the drinking that was going on). Basically, it was a very magical experience that kept being punctuated by sounds of distress and "Uwaga, uwaga!!!" as some small child was almost engulfed in flames.   

I went by myself and took Copper with me because I figured it would be a nice walk and he'd be cool with hanging out. And he did really great up until the music started across the river then he just wanted to go home! (Personally I wasn't too thrilled with the music either...too loud). I was hoping he'd be good, because in order to get him into the area I had to tell them he was a service dog...lucky for me he behaved like a champ and let all the little kids pet him without even a second glance and when I was filming everything he just lied there. He wasn't too thrilled when we were leaving though with the huge crowd and all the crazy people. 

But, we survived and there aren't any burns, just pretty memories