And, in the words of Oprah…it is done!
Of course, I believe she was referring to the end of her talk show empire and not her last few days in Ann Arbor, but nonetheless it rings true in both cases. My bags are packed, I’m ready to go, and after several days of waiting for the movers with bated breath, I am told that tomorrow is the day I will finally be heading East.
Although this week has been a frenzy of packing (I fear that I could have been featured on an episode of Hoarders if the producers of the A&E show had happened across my apartment in the past few days), I spent last week in a paradise of incredible food, art, and beauty (and did I mention food?) in Italy. We started off in Rome, where we toured the Vatican, marveled at the Sistine Chapel, and pretended to be Russell Crowe-like gladiators at the Colosseum, before heading to beautiful Florence and seeing the incredible David (one of the highlights for me) and countless rows of leather and gold shops that all looked pretty much identical to each other and yet all somehow manage to stay in business. Our tour ended in Venice, which was perhaps my favorite of all—I loved getting lost in the streets of Venice, wandering over bridges with a cone of gelato and stopping to eat at tiny cafés on the side of the road that seemed to pop out of nowhere. Everywhere, the same three staples were readily available: pizza, pasta, and vino! And I did not disappoint—I had red wine with dinner almost every night, ate more spaghetti than resides in the aisles of Kroger, was serenaded on a gondola ride through the canals of Venice (granted, by a larger gentleman who almost tipped the boat with every movement), and had one of the best meals of my life (not to mention imagination) on a Tuscan vineyard. The days of 4 AM wake-ups and shelf exams seemed a million miles away, and I just completely relaxed and enjoyed myself.
On the same token, however, by the time the end of my vacation rolled around, I was ready to come home. Just beyond the incredible arduous task of packing and moving is a new start, and one that I’ve spent the last 4 years preparing for: residency. Although I will still be outfitted in a short white coat (interns at MGH, Brigham and Women’s and Beth Israel traditionally wear short white coats), I am, somewhat unbelievably, finally a doctor. I feel incredibly lucky to get to do what I really love doing, and to be near the people in the world who mean the most to me (with the exception of the wonderful friends I have been fortunate enough to make here in Ann Arbor, some of whom will be staying in the Midwest next year).
I’ve been asked many times throughout my time in Michigan what brought me, an East Coast girl who had never so much stepped foot in the state of Michigan prior to medical school and had attended high school and college in Massachusetts and New Jersey, respectively, here for medical school. Around 4 years ago, I had to make the choice between staying in Boston for medical school, heading all the way west to California, or going just some of the way west to Michigan. I respond, though usually with an abbreviated version, that every important decision I have ever made in my life has been based on a gut feeling. On my visit to Princeton as a high schooler, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of belonging and wanting to be among the people I met there. And when I came to Michigan for my interview, despite never having so much as watched a Michigan football game on TV, I once again had this feeling that this was where I belonged. The medical students, faculty, admissions team, and campus just drew me in, and I decided to take a chance and move far away from my family and everything that I’d known to come to school here.
The result of taking this chance has been beyond anything that I ever could have imagined. It was here in Michigan that I found a group of the most wonderful people, from all across the country, who had felt the same way about this place that I had. It was here that I found friendship, and love, and a mom away from home (Renee!), and a career that I cannot wait to embark upon. It was here that I lost a dear furry friend, but then later met another who will be coming with me to Boston. It was here that I struggled through many a biochemistry exam, then physical exam, then board exam, then shelf exam…but somehow came out on the other side. It was here that I learned to become a doctor.
And now as I leave here, I know the following to be true: I could not have asked for a better education, a better group of classmates and friends, a better place to grow and learn, a better group of faculty and residents to learn from, or a better family. As I head back to the East Coast, I will be forever grateful for the time I had here, and I will always be proud to say that I came from the University of Michigan.
It has been such a pleasure to have the opportunity to record my experiences of the everyday life of a medical student here—4 years’ worth!—in this blog. If you have any questions about Michigan, medical school, or the final season of Lost (or the other way around—I have lots of questions for you about it), I am always available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Signing off for the last time, and thanking you for taking this journey with me—