The College Years, Chapter Two: The rest of first year

For the remainder of my college career, I’m going to try to go through it a bit faster – one or two posts per year as opposed to one per quarter. I’ll hit on the particularly important stuff, and if there’s ever anything you want me to elaborate on, let me know in the comments.

Alrighty, winter break: six (yes six! Thanksgiving to New Year) weeks during which to do my heart’s desire. Since my friends did not have the same awesome break schedule that I had, I had plenty of time to myself.

First was my cousin’s wedding in Pennsylvania: she was a 4th year medical student marrying her  classmate, who she had met in med school. She was pretty much my hero because she  was going to be a doctor (surgeon, more specifically!) and she’s really just all-around awesome. She knew of my own dreams and was nothing but supportive. After we (my dad and I) got back home, I resumed my volunteering gig at the local hospital as a transporter, and also resumed my volunteering gig at an equine therapeutic riding facility. The former continually reinforced that I really like hospitals, for some crazy unknown reason, and the latter confirmed that I really take pleasure in helping out people with chronic medical issues. Both activities were things I had started the previous summer, as ways to start working on my pre-med resume.

Other than that, my winter break consisted of a lot of food, and looking for summer internships to get some research experience – again to pad my pre-med resume. I think I actually only applied to one – at a Chicago-area university immunology lab where my high school genetics teacher had managed to get me a short-term 2-week gig the previous summer (before starting college), so I figured I’d be a shoo-in there. After submitting my application, I got it, and hearing that news was one of the best things I had ever heard! (Although that news didn’t actually come until sometime in March) I also started working ferociously on my Rush Medical College early admission program application and essays, and pretty much finished that except for getting my letters of recommendation.

I’m sure my friends and I had a Christmas party when they finally got home for their winter breaks, and I’m sure I had the time of my life. But when they had been home for one week, my six weeks were up and it was back to middle of nowhere college town.

Winter quarter was general chemistry  2, intro to waves and thermodynamics, and intro to culture and society. It was a pretty non-descript term academically. I gathered my letters of recommendation for Rush and for my internship, and unfortunately only got a B+ in my anthropology class (“but it’s not a science class, so it doesn’t matter quite so much that I didn’t get an A, right?”) I bonded more with Dr. M.S. and kind of generally just eased my way into the physics department socially. The physics lounge was where all the physics majors could hang out pretty much whenever, for whatever reason they pleased. They were a tight-knit community, and I wanted to be part of that – especially after the sorority thing didn’t work out the way I wanted, and after many of my Shneifert buddies decided to start experimenting with drugs and alcohol (fortunately not Nick or his girlfriend Jenna, and Mike only to a very small extent). I also started bonding a bit more with Robyn and her new boyfriend Josh (who was also a pre-healther). After a dream of a first quarter, this is the quarter that I started becoming disenchanted by my undergraduate institution. But there was still the potential to be accepted into the program at Rush, so transferring never even crossed my mind.

Spring quarter was much the same as Fall quarter. I continued working my way into the physics department and I became pretty close with Jon and Mark (the latter of which I had a huge crush on. I had basically decided by this point in time that physics was for SURE way cooler than chemistry, but I was so incredibly excited to finally be taking a college biology class! (Classes this term were E&M, Genetics/Microbio, and Intermediate Spanish. And piano lessons for credit.) But even with my genetics background in high school I still only pulled a B out of the class. I kept my chin up because that’s what I do, and kept on dutifully marching onward in my pre-med journey, but that’s when I started to question if med school was going to be the right path for me. Once I (spoiler alert!) eventually did get into medical school, I decided that B (and a whole host of other crap grades in later years) must not have mattered that much after all! But at the time it was a big deal.

And with that, my freshman year was done. Next time: Summer and Fall 2011.

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