Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Avalanche

Where have I been? Well besides having snow dumped on me....

I am officially 1/8th doctor. Like a measuring cup, I am slowly filling with little factoids and truths of the human body with all of its problems.
Sad point. I came out with 3 A's and 1 B. Not what I wanted, but I'll keep it up. I think I just had a tiny mental breakdown in the middle of finals. Shit happens. I feel like that is my new life motto.
I am home. As I type this from a mattress on my semi-packed home surrounded by my two cats, one dog, one brother and a slew of electronics and books. Oh happy, I've gained five pounds in the past 5 days. I can't stop eating real food.
I've gone hiking and run outside for about an hour a day now. Hopefully, I can start racing again. As soccer is way to time consuming, rock climbing is a pain to get to/expensive!, and swimming is impossible with the weather....I'll stick to running. It's free, and I'm exploring more. Plus Sadie (my pup) loves walking my cool down with me.
I'll be in Florida in a few days, and I'm a little jaded about the whole trip. Don't get me wrong, the beach is in my blood. I feel like my re-fueling session with be a solo trekk. I just want to ride a bike around the beach, run riverside by the Elin's house and gawk at the Christmas lights, hang out with Jess again, just see everyone. Sorry I don't feel like dropping 30 names. I just can't wait to not sleep and be surrounded. I really need a boost to get through another semester in the motherland.
Ok, I've got my brother and a board game to tend to. Until Christmas!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Funky Bahia


I haven't really gone anywhere, been too busy finding out what Newcastle has to offer me...mostly in the area of housing!

I am now a tenant in a 6 bedroom townhouse, with 5 of my finest nerd friends, 20 minutes from doorstep to my seat in class (NO MORE METRO!), a real living room, huge kitchen, a patio, restaurants that aren't Indian, and a washing machine in the house! You have no idea how much the little things in life are taken for granted, and don't get me wrong...I love Indian food, but that's every other dining place here. I think it has something to do with that whole Imperialism era thingy?

I felt in the light of the election, my past birthday, and looming finals in 4 weeks, this the opportune moment for a memory dump.

First and foremost, Ben James! I love Kings of Leon, and I don't care how whiny you thought they were, I've seen them before and plan on seeing them again. As stated previously, finals are close to the I may have to hold off. Ryan Adams is Tuesday, and for lack of vocabulary, I AM STOKED.

Obama. Well, yeah. I didn't vote for him, and I don't want to lose any liberals friends...but I am still a Republican, moderate none the less. Between the taxes, loss of loan money, and possible socialism of medicine....well let's not go there. Anyone is better than Bush, so I will be open and give him the chance. I only have to deal this for two years when I return to the States, I just hope I don't spend 30 years of my career paying off loans after working my ass off and completely giving up my soul and life to medicine. I didn't give up my life/friends/mental well being to be in debt up to my eyeballs the rest of my life, regardless of my love for medicine. We'll see America, we'll see.
Yeah, I'm 23 now. It was the most depressing birthday ever. I was in class from 9-6:30, went out to dinner with some of my loves, and then went home an studied. I am officially old. I had my mental breakdown that week and actually skipped a class (don't worry I watched it later on Sonic Foundry-oh, they record all of our lectures. All of my smart ass comments are forever engraved on the Internet.) I didn't realize how hard it was to be alone in a new country, everything is really foreign. No pun intended. Don't get me wrong, the change is fabulous, but there is no familiar. Enough of the pity me mode! Just contact me once in a while if we're friends, I may not write back right away, but your communication means more than you know. After my new friends realized my predicament, off to Floritas! Oh so many good memories, I actually got off my ass and had fun after 2 1/2 weeks of reading time. I forget that I'm human sometime, now I schedule fun time. Silly as it sounds, the gym and Friday nights after the library...they're all mine!
Halloween was fantastic! Party Tyne is the biannual party marking the halfway point in the semester. It fell close enough to the 31st for us to celebrate Halloween royally. We have our main formal dinner next Friday, so I have to plan my schedule accordingly. I feel a lot better now, and my group of friends is expanding. I even had an amazing coffee date with Heidi last Friday after 8 hours of class! I love meeting new people!
I've met some locals now. Sadly, everyone in S-bux knows me by name. Gladly, they keep my caffeinated at a great rate =). I've also started to branch out and try new cafes and little restaurants, Europe is amazing. I wouldn't trade this for the world.
Home in 5 weeks. I will have all A's, see you then!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All I Need

The beginning....
Yana Banana, my Aussie friend.
Guinness factory taste test! Yes, please~

It has been one hell of a week. Well, two or three now...Radiohead fits my mood.

Midterms have come and gone, I can't believe finals are in 7 weeks. School is flying, and I am already back into persistent study mode.

The weekend in Ireland (ooooh Dublin), was an experience of a lifetime. It seems like a dream now, two days with no school books....did it really happen? I made friends from Canada, Australia, Ireland, and I met some local Geordies on the plane who are coming to our Breast Cancer Awareness social Friday. So, school is back into the rotation that allows for weekends to be social again...just as long as I spend the majority of the week in the library.

Good news! I got all A's on my midterms, by the grace of God and multiple IV drips of caffiene. I started to hallucinate the last two days of 3 hours of sleep. 3 weeks of that, and you'd visualize little creatures in your armoire, too. Also, my Uncle Dicky is funding a trip for me to visit my cousin in Madrid. BONUS!

Bad news! Even though I got my Ryan Adams tickets, Kings of Leon sold out. My trip to Central Station turned fruitless, and Karan and I trekked back to the library empty handed with laden heart. I'm scalping that shit. I will be at that concert.

Other news: I have been really homesick lately. Feel free to drop me a line, send me some Florida love! Don't get me wrong, everything is amazing here...but nothing beats what you have back home. Well, maybe the traveling...but even vagabonds need to rest!

End transmission.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sex On Fire

Well, long time no type? Probably because I have been typing objective after objective after get the idea.
I had a few huge tests the previous two weeks, and two weeks from now I have midterms. I can't believe how fast everything is going. It's as though half of my body is cemented into the ground, but my hands are still flailing around trying to keep my upper half mobile. Equate this to the pancake theory I read about:
You wake up every morning to eat 4 pancakes for breakfast. But, after a week of eating pancakes, you save two for the next day and only eat two for breakfast. So, the following morning you have six pancakes instead of four, and there is no way to eat that much in one sitting. And before you know it, you have a stack of pancakes the height of the empire state building and the appetite of an anorexic.
This is medical school. This is what happens when you get behind or try to plan your studying, it's a joke.
For the "Unified Quiz" (ummm...miny MCAT, 2 1/2 hours for 100 questions, you get the idea?), I was behind in my studies even though I have consistently done something every day. I've gotten a lot better than I was in Undergrad, and I am finally learning how to read and use a planner. You laugh, but it's a skill that isn't so easy to acquire. I poured my heart into Biochem, which was 30 pancakes high, and as a result my other studies were rushed. Gross Anatomy, Histology, and Bioethics...even my cake class needed necessary attention, as four days after the quiz we had our final.
By the grace of GOD, I got an "A" in Histology and Bioethics. By mistake, I didn't miss one question in Anatomy, not one. How the hell do you get a 100 on a test in medical school? I'm not that smart, so I attribute it to my studying. Biochem was a solid 60, which in medical school, is failing....just for your information. The questions smacked me in the face, as I received high marks in Biochem in college, I realized this class is on a whole new level. Who cares about structures and pathways? You have patients coming into the E.R. with acedemia, and you need to know exactly how their body is compensating for this, and what part of the pathway is knocked out to treat the source...and what to do for the symptoms in the meantime. That tricky son of a bitch got me this time, but I'll be damned if I don't know every clinical application by the 10th of October. D-day for Biochem, I'm going to rock the test so hard. Rock it like a hurricane (sorry, it had to be said).
As a celebration (I got an "A" as a final grade in Bioethics), I ran away with ten of my lovelies to Scotland. It was the perfect release after torturing myself and creating indentations of my ass in chairs scattered throughout the library. The pictures don't even do Edinburgh justice, much less my words. You have to go, you have to see the castle and let the culture take over everything you thought about Scottish people. Being Scottish and a descendent of the Mackenzie clan and Mary Queen of Scots, it was the best trip I've ever been on. Educational, yet intriguing, it made my homesick feelings melt away. I really like it here, sincerely, the whole "dumb-Amanda-leaving-the-country-for-medical-school-makes-you-look-like-a-loser-as-if-you-couldn't-tough-out-a-US-school" is gone. I feel bad for the people who stayed in Florida for school, or even the U.S. People get sick everywhere in the world, and you're narrow minded to even begin to think your education's superior to mine. I've had the chance to meet people from so many countries, I have worldly colleagues for networking, and my options are only growing.
I know I sound like a b****, but I wouldn't trade Harvard Medical School for this. I've seen Boston, but after midterms, I'm going to Dublin. How many medical students can say that? Worldly experience (relational) is worth so much more to me, and if there is a social stigma for attending overseas school...well then I will just work harder than you, score higher on the tests, and earn that residency spot. It won't be because of my citizenship, it will be because I want to be the best in my field. I'm not working my way to the top of the food chain to sit on my ass and draw in cash. I will do Doctor's without Borders, I want to educate other students, I want to continue my education until I die, because it makes me happy. Who knows? Maybe have kids and raise them the way my Mom raised me, to do something because it makes me feel happy/good/virtuous.
I think that's what it boils down to. I am so happy right now, I don't know what to do with myself.
Who'd of

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Kick in the Teeth

You may not realize when it does or why, but it may be the best thing. ~Fischerspooner

On a light note, whenever I get into a deep study mode my music changes to fit the mood. Broken Social Scene, an obnoxious amount of Ryan Adams, Feist, Air, The get the gist.

School is suffocating. You can't ever really catch up, so it's more mental than anything. I figure within the next week or two, I will have a set schedule. Time management is crucial to me not killing myself before the huge unified "quiz" not this Monday, but the following. I haven't been able to write, post cards or e-mails, and my contact with the outside world is quickly thinning.

I have trips to Dublin and Munich planned, both plane tickets under 100 pounds (YEAH!), but they seem so far away with all of the information I need to jam into my head over the next couple of weeks. I can't even begin to fathom midterms or finals. Ugh, it makes me shudder.
I went back and looked at the photos of my colleagues before school started. When the coast was a regular stop, and I could manage the amount of work thrown at me, now I feel like the boat is beginning to capsize and my futile attempts to throw pails of water back into the ocean aren't going to cut it.
Side note: I hate any and all nerve plexuses, especially the brachial one. That bastard.
Other than that, it's raining a ton, and I have a surf trip scheduled Thursday morning. For my personal sanity, I beg God to let the waves break at 4 feet again. Radical riding brahs!
Until next time....

Saturday, August 30, 2008

...And The Battle Begun

Newcastle is the party center of England, so we decided to dabble Friday night. We ran into our Histology professor in the Gate district outside of Tiger Tiger, and he ended up joining us for a few hours dancing and sweating the last few days of endless studying. You can get away with anything here, I've never really gone OUT in a city this size, and I have seen things I would never see (never want to see?) in America. The big thing over here is ballerina outfits and masks, not to mention the amount of neon would make Las Vegas jealous. I don't think there are many cities that could come close to the nightlife here. If I had a pound every time I saw a pub, I would have medical school paid for in its entirety. I have so many weekends to explore, it's going to be hard to tear away from England to explore elsewhere. I need a few more years here! I'm going to The Sage to see Bon Iver with Hayden and Val (plus many more) in a couple of weeks for less than 20 dollars. The music scene over here is out of this world! I am also going to see a Rugby game for the first time in my life, with trips to Germany, Ireland, and Scotland before Christmas. It's up to one good trip a month, I can't believe this is actually happening!

I want everyone to imagine meeting a groups of people just like themselves, and then plan out all of the amazing things that could happen over the course of four years. I am well on my way into Never, Never Land and I don't want to come back.

Don't worry, I spend 30-40 hours a week in class and another 10 in Anatomy lab with the cadavers (not that scary in person, even dead person), plus 20 or so individual study hours. Is it sick to say I love this?

Note: I will probably post another 30 white coat ceremony pictures, along with videos, because that weekend was one of the best in my life. The other photos are from the rendezvous Friday, and the infamous wig that will be worn for the urinary tract presentation to be given a month from now. Don't worry, that video WILL be posted.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Headlights look like Diamonds

Things aren't so different on this side of the Atlantic. Well I study more, I struggle to translate English, I always carry an umbrella, and my palate has changed a little (Fish and Chips with black vinegar is to DIE for). I've decided that all of my good qualities have been enhanced, I can't wait to go to school, and in a sick way....I enjoy what I am learning, yes I like to study.

The people here are so smart it would make your head spin, imagine going to class where everyone listens and participates, ultimately to become exactly what you want to be when they grow up. It's surreal and an Utopia in a way, and I am still impressed by my colleagues drive and it fuels my need to learn more. It also helps to be in England, I still look at a map sometimes and wonder how the hell I got over here.

Some things to remind me of home? Rock climbing! I have lost so much finger strength and my endurance is shot, but it felt so good to get on a wall with my Katanas (courtesy of Kaleigh) and make up my own routes. Needless to say, the lactic acid build up in my shoulders was the best burn I have felt in quite some time. Surfing! Liz has a board and the predicted waves weren't so good this weekend, but there is still the rest of September...after that hypothermia will deter me from the water for a while. Football! (Don't ever, EVER, ever call it soccer here.) I went to the Newcastle United V. Bolton game Saturday, (1-0) left the fans cheering in tongues I still cannot translate. I spent the first half learning how to cheer, it really sounds like gibberish, but they have a Christmas carol...marching song....references to Spiderman, the Gator Football games don't have a leg to stand on when compared to the 50,000+ screaming in St. Jame's Park. It was SO LOUD, you have no idea. I was also run over by a horse when the cop lost control of him (as you can see in the above picture), other than that I felt safe surrounded by the season ticket hooligans surrounding me. I also got the only goal on video, check it out!

Well I have to give a 2 hour presentation with microscope slides teaching my histology lab classmates epithelial cells/connective tissue with Bela and Haley, so enough chatter. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

High Tide or No Tide

Family. Well, I have my immediate lovies...then the 150 doctors who are now integrated into my days. It's amazing how motivated people are here, and how much they want to help you. I know I am going to succeed. I love them all so much, and I never thought I would be truly happy anywhere. I miss my mom, dad, brother, a spatter in Gainesville, a load in Jax, my family in the North and far West, and of course a trio of faithfuls in Orlando. I am encompassed with a wealth of knowledge and culture, just things you couldn't wrap your mind around in a million years purely through my descriptions. I thought I would miss just physical contact, but I have already hugged half of the class. If you know me, I have been dubbed a "hug whore" for lack of a professional term.
Even living in flats/dorms again does not bother me. Well I lied, the water pressure is like showering in a drinking fountain....I still think there is shampoo in my hair.

I am already studying around 6 hours a day, with the six hours of class, and 7 hours of sleep = 5 hours to eat and live....It's not forever, but I can totally deal with the stress. My classes are Gross Anatomy and Development, Histology (GROSS!), Medical Biochemistry, and Bioethics (AHHHHH!). They consist of 10 books, 2 dicitonaries, 4 course packs, 4 labs with their manuals, a few cold bodies (which I can't keep), and countless charts and stacks of 500 flashcards. The catch? It will all be in my head by December 8Th. HA! It's OK, I didn't know it would be that crazy either.
I am going to my first NEWCASTLE UNITED FOOTBALL game! (Oh, SO excited!!!) It is this Saturday, and their are 40 of us going. I have a feeling it will be a GREAT ending to the first week of school. Speaking of which, I need my sleep. I once again plead for you to get on SKYPE if you love me, I would love to see a familiar face!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Metal Heart

New family, castle hunting and movie watching!

The trip to England took 2 days of my life and a lifetime of sanity. JFK put a ground stop on all of their incoming flights, but not the outgoing international ones. Thus causing the initial three hour delay in Norfolk, VA, the first of three. After arriving into JFK, getting lost on the way to the international terminal, getting in a fight with security over the water bottle I got from the connecting flight, Delta threw us on a flight with Air France...instead of British Airways. Having cheery French people "Bon Soir!" at 11 at night, when you've been traveling since 4...well I wasn't so nice. We sat on the runway for another hour and finally landed in Paris around noon their time. I might have slept 3 hours, but I learned a whole lot of French! Our flight to Newcastle left late and we didn't arrive with the second time change until 4 pm London time. Needless to say, customs was a blast and our luggage was left at JFK. We got it two days later, after multiple heart attacks without any form of communication with my worried father in Virginia. My mother and I made it though, with the lame U.S. dollar, our exchange rate limited our time and site-seeing to the Newcastle area, which is still a mystery in most parts to me.

School starts Monday, and my White Coat Ceremony is tomorrow. I will officially be inducted into medical school, Hippocratic Oath and all. I am more excited than scared now, and the people that I have met (from 6 countries now!) are amazing. I couldn't be more blessed with a more loving group of intelligent over-achievers!

The change taking place in my life, causing me to collide into people and cultural experiences that were far out of reach from my limited mind, is allowing me to grow into the person I've always wanted to be. I finally feel like I am doing something for myself to better others, and I know that I am giving up wonderful experiences and people back home. You are always in my mind and hearts. This may only be a year trip, but I am coming back with a lifetime of knowledge.

Now, I have to conquer the Geordie accent and look the opposite way when crossing the street. Other than that, Life really is good.

Monday, August 4, 2008

In Fear and Faith

I leave in two days, and I am sick of packing. From packing everything I own into a van, to fitting the next year of my life in three's a little tiring to say the least.

Here is a Chi-town recap: Kooza (Cirque du Soliel show), Less McCann at the Jazz Showcase (AMAZING!), Venetian Night (675,000 people...and their boats), Blue Man Group, Navy Pier, John Hancock tower with lunch at The Signature Room, Tour of Oak Park where my aunt lives ( I <3>

I hadn't been to Chicago since the summer of my senior year in high school, and it still has the ability to shock and awe. I remember being 18 and taking a cab by myself from the Customs' building (where my Aunt was Field Director...aka THE BOSS), to the Sears Tower and exploring. My sense of independence has never been amplified that much, ever. Being in a huge city alone surrounded by sky scrapers, it seemed old hat to walk the streets at 22. I love Chicago, and sorry, it is 100 times better than New York. It's so much cleaner, the people are friendly, and the atmosphere is...well...fulfilling.

I plan on doing a clinical rotation there through Rush hospital in a few years, and I can't wait to go back. If Chicago had a beach, I would live there, but for now I'll stick with visiting Anne and being a tourist.

Two more days until I cross the pond. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'm the Pop and Loch ness Monster

God, I miss writing. I got jittery in Maine without my computer, I wonder if there is an AA for the internet? I just finished reading "A million little pieces", which of course is a partial-sham rehab recovery memoir by James Frey. Oprah called him out on national television, which was pretty amusing. I wanted to read the book anyways, and formulate my own opinion. Seriously, he never claimed it to be nonfiction, and if was entertaining, even though it seemed repetitive in spots. There was a part in the book where he rips his toenail off (Grossly captivating!), but you can still connect to him in this sick satisfying way. We are all addicted to something, be it facebook/myspace/our own faces/music/dancing/attention/sex/drugs/beer/school, some are just more socially acceptable than others. I guess what I am trying to say, is go read it. Even if you think you are perfect you can connect with this idea of James, and maybe fight your own demons.

Maine was not what I wanted it to be. How do you describe 10 days visiting your inspiration to become a doctor wasting away in an urine colored hospital that smelled of about-to die? I haven't seen many of my faimly members since I was a freshman in high school, so it was a big surprise seeing my cousins old and independent. I was still on crutches, so all of my outside activities were cancelled, including the perfect opportunity to rip Old Orchard Beach on Apple's surf board. (Apple is my uncle's friend that owns Surf 6, right on the Pier). The gigantic thunderstorm closed down the beaches, so I didn't have to pout for long.

The weather is surreal. When I think of utopia, it's 70 degrees with a 10 on the humidity index, mountains behind me with a beach in the front. This is my Maine, how I will remember it, and how I hope to see it in the future. Enter the Serenity Prayer (ironically present in both books I just read, Slaughterhouse-5 and the Frey novel), I am slowly learning my levels of familial love.
Also, to those I left behind in Florida reading this, I miss your faces terribly. You learn a lot about yourself spending a month away from everyone, not to mention who cares for you in return. (Hint: e-mail me your locations so I can shower you with surprises.)

I'll write on Chi-town later, to which I owe nothing but adoration. 6 Days until I float across the pond...(!)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Calling All Skeletons!

If you were ever wondered whether or not the conductors actually jump off of trains and yell this...I can speak from a recent experience, yes they do. It was 8:10 in the morning and I was on my way to Philadelphia, city of Brotherly Love, and current outskirt to my aunt and uncle's abode located in the "mountains" of Allentown.
My first recommendation is a soft pretzel, no mustard necessary. Walking off of the 6-hour train ride (and no, they don't feed you), it was the initial aroma that took over my nostrils. I found my uncle in his red Hawaiian shirt (God I love my family!), and took off into Amish-land.
I get really giddy when I lose cell phone reception. It's like a consistent game I play, because I seem to be the happiest when I am completely out of touch. But then I miss my friends, it's a Catch-22.
I really enjoyed vi sting my Aunt Laura and Uncle B, especially now that their only daughter Megan is getting older we got to talk and do things. Also they own two HUGE dogs, a 125 pound St. Bernard named Trixie and a 150 pound Newfoundland named Padme (yes...Star Wars...sigh). If you know me, you know I LOVE dogs, so I got my fill of drool and dog hair while I was away from Sadie. (Sadie is my Golden Retriever, a mere 70 pounds).
I haven't seen my Dad's sister since high school graduation, so the week with them was fun and knowledgeable. I got to catch up with the ghosts on my Papa's side and look at embarrassing pictures of my Dad, all in the serene mountain living environment my Aunt's home provides.
I got to tour the historical district of Philly, Bethlehem, and Allentown. I HATE history, but I love going to see where things happen. To go into the church where they held the Liberty Bell, well that's a thousand times more entertaining than reading a book on it. This could just be me....
I did my usual raiding the espresso bars and bookstores, as well as the cutest art school that beholds the casting of Da Vinci's anatomically correct bronze sculpture of a horse. Laura and I ate at this AMAZING sushi bar, and then hiked around the area near the forget what deer look like living in Gainesville, but when they just leap out from trees Bambi is not the first image that crosses your mind. Just putting that out there....
Well, I need to be up early to pack as I am heading off for Maine around 4 in the morning Sunday, with my wrecked ankle...I will post more soon!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt

So, I decided that mass e-mail wasn't the best way to continue communications. I don't want to end up in your junk-mail folder because you didn't have the heart to tell me that you couldn't stomach anymore pictures of the English countryside. The solution to this problem became obvious when I was typing in my personal journal, why not blog? If you want to keep in touch, just bookmark the page. I promise to update it at least once a week, except during finals...

If you do want me to drop you a personal line, you can still e-mail me at my new address Just don't expect a rapid response.

Also, the content of this journal is going to contain my opinions of my travels and may not be suitable for young eyes. If you can't stomach it, we can always shoot for snail mail! I am a sucker for postcards, and I would love to spend a substantial amount of my loan money buying them for you. As soon as my new flat location is known, I will pass the information!