Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Transplant: small state to small town

No, I'm not a hosta, but I sure feel like a transplant: picked after twenty-some years happily living in my sandy-soiled state, whacked around a few times, and plopped into a new pot 1,087 miles away in a state of shock and needing a good drink.

Why this drastic move? Thats the easy part, MEDICAL SCHOOL! Finally I had achieved my greatest goal to date, I had been accepted to the founding school of osteopathy and they were going to train me to be a doctor: life was great in July of 2011. I was finally on my way, I had secured a spot at one of the most respected schools for my discipline in the country, A.T. Still University. I'd been working towards that acceptance letter since high school.

I learned a lot during the transition from small state to small town, from east coast to midwest, from living at home to on my own, from regular paycheck to living on loans, from couple to single, from local to transplant.

The Move 

I set out with the mindset like I was moving off to college (again), just without my parents to help me move in. Man that was a bad way to approach a multi-state move: you can't run home to do laundry when you realize you forgot detergent or stop over to use the shower because your apartment has no water. About the water: I made sure to set up the electric before moving to my new-to-me apartment. But... I had never lived alone before, I thought water just came out of the tap. It doesn't, you have to go to town hall and have them turn it on - never the same day and never quickly. Thats how I found out about Thousand Hills State Park: it boasts a nice lake, decent hiking trails and great bathroom/shower facilities in its campgrounds.

It really is amazing what you can fit into a four-door Yaris, the second smallest car Toyota offers. I packed my little red go-mobile with everything that I could shove in and still close the doors. Through looking at moving options and really itemizing what I owned and what would survive the trip I made the decision to buy furniture from when I arrived in my new home and save the $1,000 a u-haul truck would have cost. This worked out great: I brought most of my kitchen, linens, clothes and bathroom contents but bought my couches and tables from Craigslist and my bed from a local furniture store.

Imagine driving a loaded down go-cart half way across the country, thats kind of what I did. I put the gerbils that power my Yaris to the test and embarked on a straight-through endurance test complete with a kayak lashed to the roof (full of camping gear of course).

Looking back on it now, I brought so much stuff, useless stuff.

Paring it Down 

Medical school is not like college 2.0. It is a whole new beast, one that will make you into someone else and challenge more aspects of yourself than you ever though possible. And what do you do with all that stuff that you brought with you thinking "camping is a huge part of my life, of course I'll use the tent/sleeping bag/hiking pack/etc" or "paintball is my life, of course I'll find a field and have time to play!" It sits in the back of the closet, sad, lonely and without time to be used.

So you shouldn't bring anything? Don't even try to maintain your hobbies/passions? No, just pick one or two and focus on those, don't bring all the gear and trappings for every hobby you have. Parents' houses are great places to stash away those precious paintball markers, river kayaks, hiking boots, camping gear that you probably won't have time for. Now, if I had chosen to attend the school in West Virginia, you bet I would have used my camping and river gear more: its West Virginia. But in north eastern Missouri, the trails aren't worth it, the lakes are best explored on a friend's speed boat (with water skis) and the paintball fields don't exist.

How about all of those clothes and shoes that I so neatly crammed into my trunk/suitcase/under the seats/etc? Did I really need to bring every pair of pants I owned, every T-shirt I was attached to (even though they didn't all fit)? NO. Take a long hard look at your wardrobe and ask your self one key question: will I really wear this? It is worth the space and weight it's taking up? Check out this awesome example of reducing your wardrobe that I wish I had done before slamming the trunk on clothes I would never wear in Missouri, and probably hadn't worn in years anyway.

My Own Cookie Carton

Quickly I set out to create my own Tweddle Bug Dream House, I was stuck in the traditional mindset of you have the bedroom, complete with dresser and bed, living room with couches table and lamps and a dining area with table and chairs. Well, when it's just you, and your very slim budget, you can and should get creative with your space.

I set out immediately and bought a cute little desk/chair/lamp/pin board and all other matter of study area paraphernalia, I was going to be so organized! Little did I know that I would never have time to write appointments/test dates/deadlines on my cool little eraser board calendar nor would the internet connection not reach my desk (really, welcome to CableOne territory). I spent all of my time studying at the dining room table, never at the desk in my study (I had even rented a 2 bedroom to make sure I had a study). Don't get excited when you walk in to the Walmart and see all the off-to-college stuff, it's just stuff. Money zapping, useless stuff.

One of the better ideas I had, and I still stand by it was buying my couches off craigslist. $200 and I bought my first set of pea-grean sofa and love seat complete with accent pillows in a horrific green/orange motif. But they were mine, and I slept on them for the first two weeks of living in Kirksville as it took a little time to buy a bed.

Another great idea that is foreign to my generation: a hope-chest. Yup, that box or literal chest that you keep and stash away house-hold necessities in the hope of one day starting a home of your own. The traditional version involves getting married, but I'm not there yet. Mom and dad had been stashing away things like extra sets of mixing bowls, frying pans, silverware sets and other key items for me over a period of time, and when it was time to take inventory and pack I had some basics already. Mom also saw the opportunity to go through the kitchen and give me things that she had in multiple, or that she was on the fence about replacing anyway. It was like shopping in your own house! I got a great deal on pie pans, cookie sheets, an immersion blender and knife set: $0. Spending time quality time with mom: priceless.

Then Classes Start

Nothing can prepare us for what happens once the flood gates open, the firehose turns on and classes start. Nothing. This blog is about my misadventures as a medical student, those experiences that shaped the new person I've become and the little ways I use to cling to sanity. Enjoy!