Author Archives: Milie Fang, Biological Sciences / Pre-medicine

About Milie Fang, Biological Sciences / Pre-medicine

I am a senior and an acclaimed workaholic. While I like to keep busy academically, I really enjoy the simple pleasures of hanging out with friends and family, playing video games, or listening to music. When life seems to go well, allergies and eczema like to butt in and make me miserable. I hope to go into medicine so that I can have a better understanding of skin and the immune system to help myself, and to also help others facing the same problems I have faced since I was three.

A handle on this

I recently received an email regarding my Fulbright scholarship status, and I was recommended for a grant! I’m so happy, even though I still don’t know if I actually got the grant yet (but now I know I am so much closer than I was before!). I remember I started working on my application near the end of the summer of last year and thought I’d be done right before school with it, but I was totally wrong! I probably went through at least ten drafts each of my personal statement and statement of grant purpose with many visits to the Writing Center and the amazing Beth Powers (if you haven’t met her yet, you absolutely must!). I worked right up until the due date (October 15), so in total that was a good 3 months of preparation.

I will keep you posted on the final decisions made by the host country, but I probably won’t hear back until late April or May. It’s grueling to wait, but in the meantime I’ve got to focus on studying for this mother-loving MCAT! I am terribly behind in my studies for it secondary to my scribe job, research, tons of quizzes and homework each day for all of my classes (it’s unreal), duties for the clubs I am a part of and my other jobs I dabble in (and I must say I do not regret keeping the Writing Center as part of my daily  routine! Tutoring has been so wonderful.).

Well, you  can see where my time goes, and unfortunately if I want to keep up my grades, MCAT studying will have to suffer a bit again. I know it’s my main priority (everything else for my application is great per the pre-health advisors…just need that nice high score), but I feel compelled to not put it there. It’s like the only thing standing in my way of pursuing an MD/PhD! >:O GRRRR. My parents even told me last semester that I should just take genetics lab only and quit all my jobs so I can spend like 10+ hours studying each day and beast on the MCAT.

But, I can’t torture myself like that. I’ll probably kill myself first (and my mom thinks the opposite–she thinks I’ll kill myself with my scribe job, although hilariously I counter her comment by saying at least I’ll be in the ER when it happens and hopefully they can save me beforehand). I hate giving things up (for obvious reasons, those things make me happy…and MCAT does not make me happy). I should really change my mentality on this test since it’s so important, but with how I am right now I can’t help but be negative at this moment in time.

On the bright side, I got an A on my first Polish test last week and I have been getting perfects on my genetic lab quizzes. Anatomy and physiology is decent…I’m definitely going to cram the week of the exam, which is coming pretty soon! I am also getting my premedical club back into gear with speakers, events and such. I hope I can attend more meetings with the committees that we have, but priority should be MCAT so we’ll see. ><

Research is going well too! My cousin has been shadowing me and improving his pipetting skills. Hopefully once I graduate he can take over my work and carry on the legacy! LOL just kidding (but seriously dude, don’t mess up). No pressure, haha.

I also need to think about starting my Honors Capstone thesis! It’s due at the end of the semester, but I will be presenting at the UIC Student Research Forum in April and need to have an abstract submitted before spring break. It’s totally doable, but again that cuts out of MCAT studying time if I am still aiming for the March 22 date. Something tells me March 22 isn’t going to work out, but for now I am keeping an optimistic tone and striving to take it that day so I can enjoy my spring break and worry about finishing touches on my personal statement.

I can’t believe it’s only the fourth week and so many things are happening and so many things need to be done within a short period of time. This is really what cramming / college is all about! Thank goodness we are adaptable creatures! Appreciation, for sure. Happy February everyone!

I can hear!

For the past week I could not hear out of my left ear. I didn’t have any pain, but it was definitely like someone stuck a cork in it as it was muffled whenever someone spoke. The second day of having it, I was working in the ER and kindly asked the doctor at the end of the shift if they could take a peek at my ear. Turns out it was just a bunch of earwax (sorry if that grosses anyone out)! Relieved it wasn’t as serious as I thought it might have been, I got some over the counter medication at the UIC Pharmacy to see if that would help clear it. Well, four days passed and it didn’t help, so I made an appointment at the Family Medicine Center at UIC and thankfully got an appointment an hour after I walked in (although they didn’t see me until one hour after because they had two patients in front of me, which I totally understand why I have to wait so long since I see it frequently happen in the ER!). They put hydrogen peroxide in my ear and wow did it bubble and fizz! I was totally worried my ear was eroding too, haha! After that, the nurse irrigated it with a syringe and blasted my ear. I don’t think I ever had that much pressure on my ear drums, but whamo I could hear out of my left ear again! XD Now that it’s clear of earwax, everything feels so much more amplified in that ear. I asked about my right ear and how to clean it (avoid q-tips everyone, as tempting as it is) and the doctor told me to use a bulb and squirt warm water like once or twice a year (not once a week or once a month!!!). I guess our ears can take care of themselves, but my ears are tiny so I can see how I’d have more frequent problems!

The doctor also told me that people of Asian descent have dry wax and African Americans and Europeans have wet wax. Isn’t that weird?! I’m taking genetics and it’s really cool how we’re all made up of. We did a lab on mitosis and meiosis, which normally I’m like “ehhhh” but it’s pretty cool how all of our cells divide and die…it’s almost like we’re reborn every few moments (or we die every few moments if you want to think of it that way).

These regulatory mechanisms our bodies use are incredible! In anatomy and physiology, I finally got to see a human face…although I wasn’t expecting the face to be split in half and hanging. They didn’t give us much warning, haha. Anyway, we’re studying the visual and auditory systems, including the mechanisms of how they transmit information to the brain and the anatomy of how it all works! The malleus, incus and stapes bones in our ear are SO TINY! They looked like bug exoskeletons (I received a tiny jar of them as a gift from someone I met in Taiwan and never realized they were bug exoskeletons…at least the bow/ribbon around the jar was cute). Man, there’s so much to know about the body (and scientists have discovered a lot already…but more to understand)….it makes me really excited to pursue an MD/PhD!

I’m doing my best to restudy for the MCAT on top of my part-time jobs and running organizations, but as the test date comes closer and closer I’m starting to think I need to shut everything out for all of February and March! We’ll see how things go…I may or may not have to move the test date, but I badly do not want to. However, being ready for the test is immensely crucial and if it takes me a longer time to study so that I can ensure success, it will definitely be worth it!

I know it’s only the third week of class, but it’ll be final exams in a blink of an eye before you know it! Stay safe and warm UIC! (:

The little wins

I’m a fan of the little wins we have each day, like helping out another classmate get to their next class or getting through a chapter in a textbook. Perhaps insignificant on surface level, but each time we perform these “little” acts, I can’t help but feel good about myself and hope for the future. Even replying an email can feel fulfilling. In general, just getting work done feels awesome. It’s exhausting and probably not worth it in the long run, but that’s just our transient mind talking..

I’m listening to some old tracks ranging from the first year of college to back in junior high and it got me thinking. We might forget these “little” wins, but if it ever does arise or come back in the future, you won’t ever fully forget ‘em. It might be the music talking to me, but each time I hear a song, I always link it to the moment that resonated the most with  me at the time I heard that song (especially if it’s a song I badly needed during a dark time). Even R. Kelly’s voice brings a light to my face (popping fresh out the kitchen). I hope these artists know how much their music means to their fans and haters!

All right, what’s new with me…well besides getting killed with all my obligations, not much. So far, Polish has been doing pretty well. I’m surprised I still remember so much, but there’s still a lot to improve on like listening and responding. I get practice during class, but I’m not good at responding on the spot! Genetics is pretty fun. I am really happy I chose biological sciences as my major. (:

Anatomy and physiology II has been fun as well! We are studying the brain and special sensory systems like visual-auditory. Not a fan of the smell, but not the first time I’ve had awful fumes enter my nares. Hopefully by the time I am 90, a better treatment for cancer will be around. Research has been good but I haven’t been in for awhile. I gave a presentation on the background of my research project a few weeks ago so that was really good! It helped me understand more thoroughly my own study and how I generated this chronic wound diabetic environment. Woop woop.

Scribing has been taking a lot of time of mine that I would spend MCAT studying or studying for classes in general. We get weekly quizzes in almost every class I have and when I do a 5pm-2am shift, I’m super dead the next morning. I have Polish at 10am so it’s not TOO bad, but I always feel crappy when I come back, especially my skin.

My mom has been bugging me a lot about it and it makes me sad. I thought she’d be proud of me and more encouraging, but she and my dad are both telling me I’m crazy and going to kill myself in the end the more I work at this job. While maybe true, it’s also the only job that serves to tell me if medicine is really what I want to do in life. And here’s what I see as a scribe in the ER:

  • You’ll only eat, drink, or go to the bathroom if you let yourself. Personally, I trained myself to not do any of the above during those 9 hour shifts. And sometimes the doctors don’t either. I try to encourage them to take breaks because the work is so demanding and I want to make their lives easier…
  • You need to talk fast, type fast and move fast. There are so many sick people to attend to and they all want to be seen, and usually at the same time…and you’re just one person! Mad respect for ER doctors who make it happen.
  • Good night, I’m going to go pass out now. While it is definitely necessary that we have emergency rooms, it must be incredibly exhausting to do graveyard shifts all the time (or mixed with morning ones that totally screw things up). I see the same security guard in front of my residence hall working and the same Red Car drivers who have to stay up for 8 hours each night to make sure students are safe. And yet I still complain about things. I’m pathetic…

So, what about the actual content of the work? Did I take anything away from that? The pathology of disease? I actually think I gain more of that during research and reading papers, but these physicians are all well-kept in reading the latest research on treating diseases so it’s actually pretty cool and will probably continue to remain cool as we study and uncover human disease.

Ah. Super dead each day. I feel I work 24/7 as well as a student, researcher, scribe, blogger, tutor, web designer, organization president/leader/social committee chair etc…the list goes on and while I wish it could stop, I also wish to continue this crazy road. Maybe when I’m 50 I’ll finally take the hint from my mom that yes I am crazy and need to stop, but until that happens I’ll keep making my little wins that make me exhaustingly happy.

Sacrifices that we make

Happy first week of school everyone! I hope you all chose the right classes and started meeting with the right people to make this semester your best one yet! I started freaking out a bit one week before because I received an email from the Slavic department that my section of Polish 102 was being cancelled due to low enrollment, and that if I wanted to take Polish 102 I would have to take the 10am class. I have never had this sort of thing happen to me before (I’ve had it where I am planning on taking a class but then it closes up so fast that I need to pick another one…but that’s during the time everyone is scrambling to pick classes), especially just a week before classes start! Unbelievable. I was crushed. I have been waiting to take this class for the past 2 semesters now. Polish 101 was so awesome, but I had to really focus on studying for my MCAT and do well in those three science classes I took (biochemistry I, homeostasis and genetics). I was so happy to get all A’s that semester and do well on my practice MCATs leading up to the real thing, but I guess I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was (hence, I am restudying for it now).

The restudying isn’t going so well, but it’s probably because I’m not in that “oh-my-god” AHHH mode yet (oh don’t worry, it’s going to hit relatively soon). Anyway, my dilemma for this upcoming semester was if I should take Polish by moving all of my classes around (and those classes fill up fast), or take something else that will keep me full-time and engaged. I pondered other classes and I dabbled in my emotions toward each one that I read the description of. While there were some that were interesting, I already made the decision in my mind that I was going to take Polish 102 this semester and freaking kill it (um, yeah we’ll see Milie…). So, as you probably guessed, I moved all of my other classes around (thank goodness there were still sections open) and made sure it did not conflict with my schedule that was already made for scribing at Rush. This new schedule will reduce my hours at research a bit, but at the same time it increased my mini-time gaps so that I could keep tutoring at the Writing Center! The schedule I had before had no clear spaces in between classes or after classes that I was willing to use for tutoring, but this new schedule has a ton of spaces that I can easily fill up with at least an hour of tutoring! I’m so excited about my semester now.

Because this is my last semester, I am really going to strive and push myself and others around me to work to maximum potential. Not sure the clear cut steps yet, but knowing me with my Google Calendar, it’s going to happen.

How do we choose what to give up and give in to? That’s up to you to decide what is most important, whether it may be education, family, love, art or you. My thoughts is that all of the above are important, so I always say do what makes you happy, even if that means reducing time from all of them…

Dedicating your whole life to that “one thing” is a tough decision (can you tell I’m starting to allude to your future career?), and the road ahead will continue to be a long and difficult one to go. Personally, I’m convinced enough of what I want to do and be, but not that convinced it’s the only thing out there for me. Explore your options, regret some and learn a bit more about yourself (because once you figure that out, everything else will seem so much easier). :D


Also, don’t forget that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is next Monday! No classes, but I work that evening at Rush (then I have to wake up early to go to Polish 102…I hope I’m not too sleepy). Enjoy the nice weekend.

Let’s see how much I can cram before we start class

I never thought cramming was effective for me as it was for my brother, but looks like it genetics has funneled through and proved to be helpful in these environments of chaos that come at me out of nowhere…

Okay, so maybe I put myself in this position…or maybe I was peer-pressured by society to go to college and be insane like stereotypical Asians should be because that’s what I thought I had to do. HAH! I’m totally nothing like that (yet, still, why do I feel like it?).

Bernie Mac Sarcoidosis

The allergy clinic was moved from the first floor of 1801 Taylor Street to the third floor with pulmonology this past November. I am still adjusting to the new change since I only go once a month for my allergy shots now (only second visit so far). This is my first time seeing this part of the clinic and it gave me a bittersweet feeling. I remember when I was in elementary school, I saw The Bernie Mac Show on Fox television and really liking that show! I didn't know I was so ignorant in knowing that he is from the south side of Chicago. I knew he passed away young as well, but did not know it was from this disease (sarcoidosis). I thought it was really nice this memorandum was here in the clinic. RIP.

It’s weird when the message your parents gave you all the way from kindergarten to high school is WORK HARD and STRAIGHT A’S ONLY becomes “You don’t need to work that hard and long…just be a pharmacist! All you have to do is count to 100 and you make lots of money!” I’m pretty sure there is more to it than that, but I’m also just not interested. This parallel reminds me of what it’s actually like in Asia in regards to the educational system. I took AAST 270 (Love, Sex and Marriage of Asians…quite a crazy and interesting class) and discussed how all grades/years up until college are largely the most important academically because it places you in college and determines what you can do or can’t do in the future (not like America where if you can dream it, you can do it…for the most part). And, once you get to college, you get the enjoy! Apparently college is a lot easier because you already worked so hard to get there when you were a youngster living it up in the library and isolation at home. The problem is, once you’re set, you are set! No change in careers is possible (it’s shameful, so they say). You just deal with what you got and make it work. While it sucks, it serves the community well knowing that only a certain number of people can do X, Y, Z and these people can do A, B, C so we’ll never have a shortage of X, Y, Z, A, B and C.

Thai Bowl Jade Noodles

I got to catch up with my friend Alaina after work! We went to eat at Thai Bowl and both got Jade Noodles. I got mine with chicken and she got hers with beef. Thai Bowl is seriously the best Thai food on this planet (okay, well maybe if I went to Thailand I could actually confirm it). SO DANG GOOD. ALL THE TIME! Love.

I was excited about this whole Obamacare thing, but it sure is going to flop if people take on this insurance and then their PCP doesn’t accept it. And, lots of people in medical school don’t go into primary care. They want to be psychiatrists, neurologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, radiologists, anesthesiologists…so many specialties! To fill the gap, there are NP’s and PA’s…but you’re still going to need the MD around. Don’t know how the system became this way, but I also think it’s odd to go from this doctor to this other doctor and then back to my PCP here and there for things that the other doctors can’t treat. Realistically though, the PCP can’t do everything…and for everyone…that’s insane. They’d never sleep! Or eat!

Working in the ER, I have come to see the physicians as emergency PCP’s. There are many things that people come in for that could be healed in a matter of a few days if they just waited or took over the counter medication. And there are some that definitely need to be admitted or watched over, but the majority I’d say need a primary care provider and to make appointments with them! The cost to go to the emergency room each time is way too great. I’m so thankful that I can get appointments at the Family Medicine Center at UIC near my residence hall. It’s amazing! I call the day of sometimes and get an appointment on that day. They always try to do their best to see you, and I don’t even have to pay because of Campus Care insurance. Ah, thank goodness for insurance.

Snow Fall Blur

I was taking the Red Car after I got out at work around 3am and there was so much snow outside! It was really pretty, although deadly...can't believe we've had such strikingly low temperatures this week! I hope it gets better once everyone is back to school on Jan 13. I know it's blurry, but you can make out UH and the nearby trees. (:

Anyway, sorry for the confusion going from cramming to the education system in Asia to Obamacare. I’ll be honest…I have no idea how my brain works (hello neuroscientists…don’t steal my brain please), but however it does I am blessed and happy to have one! To put it to good use, I’ll be sure to exercise as many parts of it I can stimulate with learning a gazillion things at once. While on the way, I’ll probably learn 2x gazillion things about myself that I could not even imagine.


  • Research – I’ve been qPCR-ing like a madwoman. Call me qPCR Queen.
  • Scribing – Worked two holidays already. My eyes are frying up from staring at the screen for 9 hours straight. PHEW, THAT’S OKAY BECAUSE I LOVE THE EXPERIENCE.
  • Blogging – Dear readers, I cannot thank you enough for reading my posts. I can’t believe I have been doing this since the summer before my sophomore year! Please continue to follow me until I am deceased. Thank you.
  • Housing – Even though it was crazy expensive to continue living with housing, I am very happy that I did. I have also been working on the website and coming up with new ideas before I graduate and leave…so sad.
  • MCAT-ing – UGH why is it still not happening. Someone needs to kick this into gear for me because I am having so much trouble!
  • Club stuff – Go away. :( I’m tired. Okay okay fine I’ll get up…
  • Other things on my mind – just occupying space! -__-

Welcome to Spring 2014 UIC! Keep using your brain and listen to your intuition (because that’s actually your brain talking to you).

Cheers to a happy New Year

I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions (or maybe I have and just can’t remember them because I never follow through), but for some reason this year seems like a good one to finally execute some plans! I will be graduating this spring, assuming none of my professors fail me (well, I guess they could as long as I passed the one class that I’ve been pushing off forever ago….BIOS 221!).

Mushroom, ATTACK!!!

I don't know why, but jellyfish remind me of mushrooms. Hehe. Anyway, I went to the Shedd the day before Christmas with my boyfriend and we got to see the Jellies exhibit! I saw it two years ago and really enjoyed seeing them. It's not a large exhibit, but worth going at least once.

So, what are some goals I have this year…well I guess the main one that’s blocking my way from being confident in my application for medical school is my MCAT score! I will be taking my MCAT March 22, assuming all goes well in terms of studying, and hopefully not need to take it a third time. I have been using Berkeley Review books in addition to going over Kaplan books (perhaps I will grab some Princeton Review materials from the library for more practice…and maybe ExamKrackers) and so far it’s been all right. Trying to study during the holidays is kind of difficult, especially since I am working two jobs simultaneously (and a third here and there). I’ve got a pile of stuff to do and little motivation to do it until after New Years…

Puffers are my favorite

If I could be any fish in the sea, I'd probably be a puffer. There are so many different variations of puffers, and they are all dangerously CUTE! :D

I’m pretty happy with how I did this past semester. I got all A’s except for one class (88%…Nutrition During the Life Cycle). I can’t believe I had my first B in nutrition! It’s a bummer, but at least my GPA stayed the same (was hoping for a small increase if I got all As, but hey you can’t win at everything). I had my friends tell me to go and argue and hope maybe they’ll bump it up, but I felt like I deserved that since most of the time I was sleep-ish or unable to go due to my overnight shifts the night before (5pm-2am…then wake up at 7:30am…way too much to handle). I’m going to have to be a lot more reasonable when I schedule my work stuff this coming semester so I don’t get killed from lack of sleep.

Christmas Birds

Right after my 9am-6pm shift at Rush, I headed straight to my cousin's house for our Christmas get-together! We always feel bad that they have to host both our side of the family and their other side of the family, but then again no other house is as nice! xD They always have the cutest decorations.

Anyway, looking forward to taking Polish, Genetics Lab and the second part of Anatomy and Physiology! :D Anatomy and Physiology has been the most helpful at my scribe job at Rush and I’m certainly glad I am taking it before entering medical school! I was planning on taking biochemistry 2, but I’m sure even after I take in medical school I’ll be like “meh!” (or so they say will happen, as with anything related to chemistry). I think it will be a good choice…and I’ll be working on my Honors Capstone project (and hopefully beyond graduation!) that will take up most of my time…as most things do…

Tuna and Guacamole

The most wonderful thing happened two days before New Years! My cousin's boyfriend proposed to her! I was present along with everyone else who was secretly invited. It all happened at Shaw's Crab House and we got to order from the Tokio Pub menu. The ring was so beautiful, and when she walked in and we yelled "Surprise!", her face was priceless! I definitely cried because it was TOO beautiful. And man he got her a beautiful ring! Can't wait for that Chinese-Jewish wedding. Hehe!

So, in summary…

  1. Get a way better MCAT score
  2. Speak Mandarin and Polish more often (perhaps throw in some of my remedial Spanish)
  3. Complete Honors Capstone project with flying colors (I guess graduate too)
  4. Be awesome (and I guess sleep well, eat well, exercise at some point, hahahahaha…)

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays! It’s time to get back into shape with school and have an amazing 2014 year!

Spending Christmas Week at Rush

I’m scheduled to work the whole week of Christmas, this includes December 22, 23, 25, 26, 27 9am-6pm (oh and I’m working New Year’s Eve from 5pm-2am…I hope there aren’t too many drunk people -_-). I took December 24 off because every year our family usually celebrates it this day…but turns out my cousin’s family, who hosts it every year (and the other side of their family too on Christmas Day), is having their other family celebration on Christmas Eve (making my family’s Christmas Day…)…so I’m missing out. :( Bad planning on my part I guess (should have just asked them instead of my grandma/brother), but then again I had to submit my holiday requests in October! Crazy we have to work three out of five major holidays, but at the same time that’s what ER doctors/nurses/health workers have to do all the time!

Walking on Maxwell Street

I had to pick up medication from the UIC Pharmacy near my residence hall (MRH). I'm so happy it's so convenient! It's amazing so much happened on this street in the past.

I’m trying to think if this is the first Christmas/New Year’s without my family, and in a way it is…I used to have a best friend in high school and I spent Christmas with her family (but to me, she was family…but not anymore, lol!). Friendships slip, but new ones form. That’s what’s great about the future. There’s a lot of opportunity to meet a lot of great, honest people out there. I’m glad we don’t limit ourselves to our small group of friends and move beyond our comfort zones to reach out with others.

Speaking of which, I attended the second official meeting of the Mental Health and Disability Alliance (MHDA) group on campus! I was unable to make the first meeting in November because I had my molecular biology lab class). I sometimes regret going to new organization meetings because I feel forced to commit more time than I should, but the issues they and other organizations’ bring up are really underrepresented in terms of support, research and interdisciplinary collaboration. I just want to be a part of it! Even if it’s just a small role…every hand can help.

MDHA Meeting Notes and Food

The meeting was a potluck! I haven't had Kimbap in awhile so I was pretty excited to get some there. Lots of ethnic variety! I made my little setup to take notes and search up stuff for the meeting. Super excited to help make things happen!

The week before Christmas, I was cranking out experiments and data like no other. Right after this “Rush” week, I’ll be back to cranking out data. I am going to give a presentation at our lab meeting January 6, and I don’t think I have enough time to do so since I’m going to give a background of the whole study that I’m doing for my Honors Capstone research project (to be written at least by the end of the semester, but starting that sooner is always better). Can’t wait to cram-read those scholarly articles/journals! XD I’ll probably spend a nice long weekend doing so…

Housing Graphics Door Decorations

Emily, who's leaving us to study abroad in London next semester, made these cute decorations on our door! Every month someone changes the graphics to something. Last month was a bunch of mustaches (for No Shave November, I guess). I'm a penguin, although the bears are so much cuter.

My MCAT restudying is totally suffering right now. I get back to my room about 5-6pm. I eat dinner and watch TV (the devil) and that can go from 6-7 or 6-9!!! T___T I’m always super exhausted from my day doing whatever it is (research, work, scribing, attending meetings) and can’t find the motivation to work. I should probably dedicate my daytime to studying, but then I can’t do the other stuff. I could try and do the 5pm-2am shifts more often, but then I can’t wake up until like 10-11am (that’s if I’m diligent)! I need someone to slap me because otherwise things won’t be looking so good for me. Any suggestions dear friends?

Snowman of MRH

Would you look at that! A snowman in the courtyard of MRH. So cute.

Enjoy your Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate! Enjoy the pretty snow! :D

It won’t stop

There are many times that I wish for a break, like post-graduation type of break (but with a duration of forever, so more like paradise than a break). At the same time, I don’t think it’d be as rewarding than what I am doing now. If the only purpose is to treat myself, count me out. I just can’t. I’ve already been taken care of a plenty when I was a little kid scrambling for my mom to help me with just about everything regarding health. As for the brain work, I’d look to my brother while he played all his video games and did amazing on every standardized exam. My dad is my fish-loving outlet and artistic experience.

Post-finals Dinner

My boyfriend made the most amazing dinner for me! I haven't been eating out for the past month, and for good reason (I like to know what's going in my food in case I have an allergy reaction). Chicken, rice, broccoli and some cream of mushroom soup poured onto the rice. Yummy! Just what I need.

So, what have I got planned? Well, right after I had my last final exam Thursday, I went to work at Rush from 5pm-2am, and then the next day I had my research paper due for BIOS 323 (Molecular Biology Lab) and thank GOODNESS I finished that earlier in the week because I could not get up until 11am, by which then I was scrambling to place my text and figures in the template my instructor wanted us to have. Luckily I have the user-friendly Word (not the new one…I really don’t like Windows 8 related-stuff, but there’s no way I’m ever getting a Mac!). I’ll stick with my 5-year-old netbook for the coming year…maybe if I go to medical school I’ll get something with more power (and I am still proud to say my little Dell netbook can run Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop with ease and happiness). That same day I turned in my paper, I worked another 5pm-2am shift (more like 5pm-3am because I did not get out on time!). The weekend following, I just recovered from minimal sleep and then got back on track with cleaning my room.

What to do with all of these notes and exams? Well, here’s the most common answer:

  1. Toss it in the recycling bin. If you think the material is useless, or if you think it’s something you could just Google in the future…more likely than not you’re going to toss it (in the recycling bin yeah yeah?). I do this for notes that I don’t think I’ll ever really need, and if I do I’ll just look it up.
  2. Store it in a box/container for be forever cherished (haha…)I always keep my exams, quizzes and homework (as evidence for my work in a class, if ever I need to prove so…or for papers that I’m really proud of and got good comments). I usually have my notes in binders, so I just stick the entire binder containing everything into a box or container…it’s like a time capsule! To enjoy or not to enjoy for the future…
  3. Let someone borrow your stuff, or you can sell it. I’m not a fan of selling, but when I think about how much they can help someone succeed…I resort to letting people borrow my stuff. I don’t want to make money off of it, although that’s probably the most economic and beneficial. Meh! You all do what you want to do. (:
Organizing Notes

I was busy cleaning up my stacks of paper and binders full of information from my classes this past weekend. It was frustrating at first, but man do I love a clean and organized room! The less clutter, the better! Time to vacuum...

Anyway, what’s up for this winter break? DING DING DING! Restudying for that MCAT! I signed up for March 22, which is the first day of spring break. I hope I don’t have to move it, so I really need to be diligent about this. I am also going to be working at Rush literally the whole week of Christmas, and the rest of the time that I have (which is 50% or more) is dedicated to research! After taking molecular biology lab, I really appreciate research even more and want to be as in-depth as I can with what I’ve been working on the past three-four years in the lab. I am excited to be completing my Honors Capstone and presenting it at the UIC Forum (and other places) in the spring! :D I always wanted to present, but they always held it during class time (and I really hate missing class…).

Beyond all that, I hope to brush up on my Polish and work on planning events for my pre-medical club. I’m also helping to start the first Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Journal at UIC! If anyone is interested, feel free to hit me up.

I hope I can go back home for Christmas, but we’ll see! I can’t believe I’m going to submit my intent to graduate soon (unless all of my professors decide to fail me, then maybe not LOL). For those who are thinking about graduating early (even two years early), think deeply about it. This is probably the only time you can study what you want to and make your own schedule. Beyond college, you’ll be on a tumbling wheel that won’t ever stop.

(Did I mention I am really digging “It Won’t Stop” by Sevyn Streeter featuring Chris Brown?) LOVE!

Upgrade to beast mode

I had my third lecture exam for anatomy and physiology this past Friday and it was the first time in a long time I “prepped” over the course of the week rather than cramming it all in my brain the day before. While it was nice keeping that pace, I felt like I was more effective cramming than I was taking it day-by-day. Perhaps I really don’t have much space in my short-term memory to keep what I knew only a few days ago, and even though I review it, I only get to do so in the evening when I’m dead tired from my day! I wake up around 7am or 8 am to get to my part-time jobs or classes and then stay out on campus until maybe 5-6pm, which then I come back to shower, eat a little bit and suddenly it’s 7-8pm and I probably study well until 10pm when I’m deciding in the back of my head “hey maybe I should go brush my teeth and sleep soon…”

My normal answer/instinct to that is “NO. NEED TO STUDY.” But, that only kicks in the day before an exam…so not having to do that for this one as an “experiment” (this is not at all the time to experiment, please freshmen, figure out how you best study before you enter your sophomore year) made me neglect studying the night before my exam (I studied, but not beast mode study) like I normally do (and now I regret it). I decided to sleep the night early before the exam just so I could have a good brain to use in the morning (but clearly depriving my brain of sleep makes it work well, to a point). I figured waking up early to study would be sufficient, but I definitely couldn’t get out of my nice warm bed to the cold air that awaited me. Winter is not a fun time to take exams.

And hey, this is what finals week is about–seeing if you really learned anything (regardless of material because people forget that until they’ve been exposed in 15 different ways, or so they say). Even though I inherently knew that I could push myself more, I decided to sleep and hope for the best. Note to self: NEVER HOPE FOR THE BEST. Prepare for the worst (and that’s how we succeed). When it comes to this competitive scene in academia, making yourself adaptable to conditions and creating every mechanism possible to ensure your safety is crucial to success. Pessimism is actually a good thing (because it motivates you more). While most people are motivated by the positives, I’d say inherently we’re motivated by the negatives. “If I don’t do this, then this, this and this will happen” (or the opposite: If I do this, then this, this and this will happen).

Where my psychology majors at? You’ve got some explainin’ to do.

Good luck UIC! This fall semester is basically over. You can be happy that you survived and happy that you’ll be alive to survive the next one. (:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Christmas songs keep on playing in my head! It’s not a bad thing, though. Fall/Winter are my favorite seasons, mainly because of all of the holidays that are jam-packed into them. In the spring, there’s spring break, but that is more like catch-up to school time. This past Thanksgiving break was super short, as always. I still don’t get why the other U of I schools get a week off and we only get two days, but whatever. I’m sure it evens out some way or another…

Christmas at Rush Hospital

I'm working on Christmas Day at the hospital and while I may be missing a part of the festivities, it'll be good to work on this day. Rush sure has some nice decorations!

Prospects of this semester? I’d say I am for sure getting a B in Foods class, assuming there’s no curve. He has a set point scale that he sticks to, but I don’t know who is getting an A in that course because his exams are surprisingly specific and detailed (and even reading the book doesn’t help). Eh, it’ll be fine.

My other classes…I am hoping to miraculously do well in Nutrition During the Life cycle (got B’s on first two exams I think) final, then maybe I’ll get an A. I don’t really know how I’m doing since the grades aren’t totally up or scaled correctly. I am greatly crossing my fingers for anatomy and physiology to be good to me (that’s 5 credit hours!) as well as molecular biology laboratory. I really like both of those classes. My nutrition classes are usually enjoyable, but I think being around all of the dietetics people this semester has made me shy away from doing well as I should be (sucks to be the loner!).

Well, just one more week and we’re all done with another semester at UIC. This semester, while insanely fast-paced, was quite accomplishing. I got to do a lot of work that helped others and enforced my will to pursue a career in medicine. It is exhausting to keep learning, but if we don’t then we’ll never get better or move on to where we could be in life. I don’t think we can be perfect (because what’s the point in life if we were all perfect?), but we can be pretty darn close to it (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, anyone?).

Quick tips on studying/cramming:

  1. Re-write or re-type all of your notes. Once you’ve created your “study guides” in a nice manner, study like your life depends on it. Read it front to back so you know everything on it.
  2. Record yourself reading your notes or listen to lecture capture (assuming you have it for your class). Sometimes lecture captures take too long to listen, so my advice is to study your own notes and clarify some things you wrote down by watching the lecture capture. If that doesn’t help, there’s still time to see your professors/TAs or visit help centers like the writing center, science learning center or math tutoring (Honors College tutoring as well).
  3. Do practice exams problems every chance you get (if given). Just like studying for a standardized exam, the only way you’ll get better or understand what is being tested is to take the exam itself and find your weaknesses. Don’t just take the exam or do practice problems though. You have to analyze the crap of your mistakes and hammer down those concepts! This is the best way to study by far.

Happy studying. We’ll reach Nirvana soon!

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