What I Have Been Doing Before Starting Medical School (Quarantine Edition)

After years of wanting to get into medical school, I didn’t know how to react at all when I saw a notification that started with “Congratulations…” on my phone, just days after I submitted my exam results. My emotions were all mixed to the point I didn’t know whether to surrender myself into bawling my eyes out or to springing up and down. 

Just at the end of the day after telling all my family and friends about the news, I thought to myself, “What Now?” 

My end goal for the past four years was to get into medical school and now that I finally got in, I felt lost. So of course, I went to the greatest search engine of our time. I googled the following: What should I do before starting medical school? 

To my surprise, most were encouraging students in the same position as me to simply enjoy life before all the chaos came rushing in. There was even a website that mentioned how students who didn’t study before medical school perform better than those who started studying way earlier. Anyway, most of the articles I read were written prior to the pandemic so the possibilities of things I could do now had to remain within the walls of my house.

1) Falling in love with old pastimes 

One of the greatest love stories that can ever be told does not consist of two people, but a person reconnecting with forgotten passions. 

Like Christopher Robin, we all have subconsciously let go of things we once loved without truly acknowledging it— regardless it may be a result of growing up or growing too busy. 

As cliche as it may sound, fictional worlds and characters were my escape that I sought comfort in whenever I felt out of place. I spent hours each day with storybooks in my hands while my mind traveled to places beyond this world. Then one day, I realized it. I realized that my head was still in books… well, textbooks instead of novels. If you asked me to pinpoint the exact moment when I stopped, I wouldn’t be able to. I just realized one day that I let go of something I once loved deeply without even noticing it. 

Everything fell back into place the moment I picked up “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro one evening out of boredom. It was as if all these books have always been yearning for me after all these years. I just had to lift it and turn to the first page. All the feelings of falling in love with a book and memories of reading extra slowly towards the last pages to linger around before parting with the characters came rushing back in. 

I quickly fell in love again. This time, I’m never letting it go. 

2) An alternative to traveling 

Before getting into medical school and way before Covid-19 happened, it was my initial plan to check off the one thing on my bucket list that I’ve always looked forward to achieving as a treat to myself for finishing thirteen years of school: Egypt.

 Ms. Rona ruined my plans of traveling to Egypt, but it didn’t stop me from seeing famous attractions such as The Great Pyramid of Giza and Luxor’s Karnak temple. Well, thanks to her, I was even able to explore and learn more about the Atlantis, Bermuda Triangle, and Secrets of Christ’s tomb… needless to say, through a screen. I picked up a new hobby and can proudly say that I’m a newbie documentary geek in transition. 

3) Spending time with family 

If someone reassured me back in March about the pandemic by saying that “every cloud has a silver lining”, I would laugh in disbelief. However, after nine months of being at home, I must say that indeed every cloud has a silver lining after all. 

After living with my family for eighteen years of my life, I was supposed to move sixteen hours away from home to further my education. However, that has been postponed and with free time on my hands, the relationship I had with my parents and siblings changed. I didn’t have any worries or responsibilities, which meant that I could spend pure quality time with them without feeling rushed or guilty after years of feeling that way back when I was hustling for my “end goal”.

From playing UNO with my family and starting a small garden to baking cookies at midnight and watching my little sister perform musicals, the memories that I have created over the pandemic will always stay near and dear to my heart. Ultimately, the pandemic also made us all realize the truth in not knowing the worth of something until it’s beyond the grasp of your hands. 

Instead of continuing on with the long list of things I’ve been doing for the past months, I’ll end this blog with a short gist. 

Am I studying for medical school? No.

Am I doing any preparations for medical school? Yes.

Instead of preparations in terms of studying in advance, I am indeed taking actions to make sure that I am my best self by the time I start university. For example, I have been finding solutions to common problems I face such as stress and anxiety by turning to self-care. I have been practicing journaling, meditating, and mindfulness in daily activities, in hopes of maintaining these habits. Also, I have been researching the best study techniques that would work for me by reading articles and watching videos on youtube. Moreover, I have also been brushing up my cooking and baking skills to prepare for my independent living situation when all this is over. And of course, like many others in quarantine, I’ve been binge watching Netflix shows and excessively online shopping. Everyday, I’m spending time with my loved ones and indulging in my old hobbies while finding new and exciting things to try out before my time off is over.