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.