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Tuesday, November 21, 2017


I recently posted on my Instagram account of how grateful I was to finally be able to do this and in it I acknowledged the huge amount of support I've received that enabled me to do it - including the straight up financial help that I've received from my parents.

One person made a comment about how nice it was to see me mention that. She said people often look at people like me who accomplish something huge (because being a mom of three and starting medical school is a huge thing) and wonder how we are able to do it when they struggle with much more attainable goals.

It is because I strongly believe in being open. In this day and age of social media it is so easy to show only a tiny part of the story - and people end up filling in the blanks themselves. A friend posts adorable photos of her and her kids at the park or zoo and we think "wow, what a great mom she must be to spend such quality time with her kids." What we don't see is whether or not she's suffering from postpartum depression, or that she is struggling with her marriage or that she hates her job. We see a friend constantly posting photos of recent travels and we marvel at how they seem to have so much disposable income to be able to afford it when just a weekend away in the nearest city wouldn't be possible without depleting our savings. What we don't see is that the person maybe hasn't gotten over a bad breakup years before and can't find someone special and is using travel to fill the void. We don't see that maybe they are racking up huge debt and that it keeps them up at night. Social media is our life's highlight reel and its often heavily airbrushed and edited.

So I believe in being a bit more transparent and show that there is more to the story. I've obviously posted about getting into medical school and moving half way across the globe to do so. I knew that people must have been asking themselves how I did it. 

So I want people to know that I wouldn't be able to pursue this dream of medicine later in life like I am without incredible support. Yes, its great that I had a lot of cheerleaders - my sisters, friends who didn't try to make me feel crazy about it. But I've had real, tangible help as well. My husband for carrying the burden of being the only income earner as well as devoting a lot more time to childcare and housework. My parents for letting us live for free in their house (and earlier for hiring me to work for their company so I could continue to earn money when I first started the journey) and stepping in with childcare too (for example when I had to study for my entrance exams they offered to watch the kids for a week so I could go away to study and sleep in peace).

Plus a lot of luck was involved. We have a house that we own that has gone up a lot in value. It gives us a great sense of security because if we ever find ourselves in some financial trouble (such as my husband not being able to work) we could sell it and live off the profit for several years - enough for the time it would take for me to finish medical school and possibly even residency. Plus we are currently renting it and making a comfortable surplus from the rental income. That, plus the fact that we don't have to pay my parents rent means we have a lot more disposable income which we are using for a full time nanny, housekeeper and private school/preschool. This frees up my time so much so that I can focus on studying and spending time with my family.

Basically, I have a ton of privilege. I was born into a family with means. I was born in a country where I was able to get an education and was able to build my wealth and know its secure. Raised to believe that even though I'm a woman I have equal right and ability to pursue whatever I want. I've had the luxury of time. The luxury to experiment.

Also, while it does look like I'm living the dream, there are of course some challenges. Sure, we can afford for me to do this but there is a huge opportunity cost of me doing so. Not just the years of income forgone on my part, but we've limited my husband's career growth and even prospects. I've struggled with some guilt and even some fear of failure because the stakes are so huge. What if I can't hack it? What if one day my husband resents me for holding his career back? What if my kids resent me for putting a career ahead of them (my son has already grumbled about "this is what he was worried about" when I told him I couldn't read to him one night because I had to study)? Not to mention if we DO have a financial catastrophe, how will I feel about it then we we have to sell the house for real and not just in theory? What if the market crashes and its not worth as much as we want?

But I guess the point of this post is to acknowledge my privilege. I don't want to take away from my accomplishment, because I did work hard for this - but I want to own the fact that I would not have been able to do it on my own. And that there are many people who would love to do it but really can't and its not for a lack of hard work on their part but purely because they aren't as privileged as I am. And I hope I never forget that.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The first month

I can't believe a month of medical school has gone by!

I love that I can officially call myself a medical student. Though its funny, I don't feel the need to announce it unless someone asks me specifically what I'm studying. I think its because I'm doing this 100% for ME and I don't care who knows or doesn't know.

I really like my core classes this semester, which are Molecular Biology, Anatomy and Histology. Anatomy is the hardest as we have to memorize a ton (who knew that the humerus had 27 parts?!) each class. It was incredibly overwhelming at first but slowly I've gotten into the swing of things. Its an incredibly demanding class though because we have a test from it at every lab, which we have twice a week. If we pass the test, we get a "credit" if not, we don't. Then the sum of our weekly credits plus our scores on the midterms is what determines whether or not we can write the final exam and the our final grade depends on only the final exam. One cool thing though, is that the three students with the highest class credit + midterm exam results will be exempt from writing the theory portion of the anatomy exam (will still have to take the practical, which is identifying parts that have a pin stuck into them). While I'm definitely aiming for that, I'm also trying to be realistic about how much I can study whilst still balancing being a mom and wife. Its funny, my competitive side is coming out again and I want to be the best but I also need to be ok with the fact that I won't be. Because I can't study all night and then sleep in the next day. I can't cram or even "get ahead" by studying all weekend like some of my classmates can (and do).

I'm finding the transition to be easier than I expected though. I don't know if its because I take it very seriously and study a lot - I'm treating med school like a full time job where I go in in the morning and study regardless of when I have class. If I have class in the morning, I go to class and then study in the afternoon. If I have class in the evening, I study during the day. I try and get a bit of study time in on Sundays but I'm trying to keep the weekends to be about family and relaxing. Because even though I'm loving every minute so far, I know the novelty will wear off and I don't want to burn out. Because I can see how easy it would be if one put things off too much and then tried to cram. Plus, I've been able to have a lot more time for myself. To reflect on my life, to do personal errands, even just shopping in peace.

I'm not going to lie though. I do miss my kids, especially my daughter. She is still so little and I do get a bit of a tug on my heart when I think of her. The boys are in school/preschool anyway, so I don't feel like I'm "missing out" on them as much but I do with her. The good thing is that she has gotten a lot closer with my husband, who is loving the one-on-one time with her.

But I'm so happy. Everything about this feels right. Its an amazing feeling to be doing something (or at least working towards) something you love. We'll see how feel when midterms come around though!