Hello again everyone! Last Sunday, I set out on a 7am flight to the site of my first medical school interview. . . St. Louis, MO!
The Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine (whew! what a mouthful) consists of over17 city blocks in the area known as the Central West End. It also borders Forest Park, a 1293-acre behemoth of a park with free attractions such as the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, and the St. Louis Art Museum.
Without giving away too much, the experience was thoroughly awesome. The students are gasp! happy, and I ended up talking with the first and second years for awhile during a pizza party the night before. They reminded me quite a bit of Techers, actually. . . quirky, unpretentious, and all-around friendly! And friggin’ smart, of course. The school also actively promotes extracurricular participation with an “Unofficial Curriculuum” consisting of over 50 student-run groups, so it seems that there’s never a shortage of things to do. Whether you want to write, run, produce artwork, play in an orchestra, cook. . . you name it!
The next morning, I woke up bright and early at 5:45am to prepare for my tour and interview. Upon leaving my dorm room to shower, I discovered a note left in front of my door wishing me luck, left by one of the current OT students. It was a small gesture, but it definitely made my day :) By 7am, we were shuffled from one session to the next: a breakfast with current students, photo IDs in the admission office, overview of the school and its programs and a financial aid session. Hilariously, they included a little “stress meter” in our information folder. . . I was at green (“normal”) when I checked. Next, we went on a tour of the school’s facilities, including the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. I LOVED the building so much – everything was bright and colorful, and you could tell how much they catered to making the kids’ hospital visits the best they could possibly be.
Finally, gulp the interview! It was actually quite relaxed and conversational, and lasted about an hour. For those interested in the timeframe of the medical school admissions process, post-interview replies usually take at least one month, and often longer. Waitlists are also quite common, although people who stay on the waitlist and continuously express a passionate interest in that school stand a decent chance of finding their way in at the end.
After a hot buffet and a fun conversation with the current fourth years, I grabbed a group of my fellow interviewees to go shadow one of the first year classes (Practice of Medicine I) and even got to join in the small-group training exercises. Monday was chest exams. Fun fact: you can feel your aorta if you lie down and press your hand firmly in the space below your ribcage, and can even sense (roughly) the diameter! At the end of the exercise, we shed our suits and heels (in my case, at least) and changed into street clothes to go explore Forest Park before we had to head home.
All in all, it was a great trip at an impressive and, importantly, exciting and welcoming school. Good way to start off interview season! Now, to do the neurotic premed thing where I check my admissions status every few days. . .
Studying at Caltech is a lot like crewing a spaceship. You get to work alongside some of the most talented people on Earth, you’re constantly doing science in order to survive, and the environment tends to keep you under a lot of pressure. It’s an incredible experience, and also a very challenging one, to be sure. Sometimes you’re left feeling like an impostor among your crewmates, having failed to complete every task you think is expected of you. But fear not! These feelings are not based in reality; they are merely symptoms of a benign condition known as impostor syndrome. Think you might be affected? This post is for you.
Always not quite organized, my desk is a constant, yet subtle reminder of why I ultimately chose Caltech: the people. (sigh… I bet you haven’t heard that one before!). It’s no secret that Caltech has a small undergraduate population but, in my experience, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find your people, it means you’ll be able to find them faster!
With the third term fast approaching and the status of COVID on campus pushing all major events to the spring quarter, students of the houses of Caltech were excited. The reason? Interhouse season had arrived. Interhouses, a longstanding tradition of the California Institute of Technology, are summarized as parties hosted by each respective house, usually with a theme, in which the entire undergraduate population is invited to attend. As every undergraduate house of Caltech has its own personality and characteristics, these interhouses too have their own flair depending on the house who hosts them.
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.