even the winter

Since I posted last, winter has certainly arrived here in Philadelphia. I’m sure all of you heard about the monster that was Winterstorm Jonas. It dumped a hefty 20+ inches on us, but of course managed to not bless us with a snow day off of school. I stocked up at the grocery store, made a big batch of African peanut sweet potato stew (delish and hearty), and basically hibernated in my pjs all weekend while forcing myself to study angiology. I managed to get out in the midst of it Saturday for a verrrrry windy and cold thirty minute walk around Penn, only for Instagram photo purposes of course. Campus is even prettier buried beneath a thick layer of white.snowy penn

The winter weather does affect my days recently more than I anticipated, though. Can we talk about how the sun sets around 5 o’clock (aka when we finish class most days)? Also, I am sad to admit the lack of gym-going that has occurred since the new semester started. Would you really want to put on 3 layers just to walk to the gym and take them off? Not to mention the sheer volume of our courses already this semester that demand every waking hour of attention to master. This afternoon I did make myself make the measly four-block trek to have a serious leg day session. All that talk in pathology about atrophy, and I’m convinced that’s the sad current state of my former cycling instructor thighs and glutes. I’m also convinced I’m going to start rock climbing again for a fun non-workout workout. I haven’t done it since I left Baylor, and even back then it was very few and far between – and mainly to just say hi to my cool friends who worked The Rock.

This entire past week was a rougghhhh one, my friends. Our Thursday exam was arguably our biggest doozy yet. Let’s just say I’m still recovering mentally and physically, and my main medicine of choice this weekend (per usual) has been pizza and wine. I’ve also relished some sweet early bed times to “catch up” (scientifically not possible, sorry) on my sleep. I am so thankful for all my friends back home who check in on me and support my study marathons with all the emojis, Bitmojis, letters, and maybe some distracting youtube videos every now and then. Speaking of, one of my BEST friends from college is taking non other than THE MCAT this week, and she is seriously the most diligent and resilient person I know so I’m nothing but confident in her. Shout out to YOU Jenna, (future) M.D.

If you know me at all, you know my days too often revolve around a countdown and looking forward to something in the near or far off future (I’m learning more and more to live in the here and now, but I can’t help but get excited about planning fun trips or events). Well in the past few days, I have had a SERIOUS case of #yolo and spontaneity…I never regret it :)

  1. I will be in WACOTOWN in 26 short days to watch my first ever Baylor All-University Sing that I won’t be performing in! (If you’re not a Baylor grad, google it. I can’t explain) Also just to see some of my Baylor buds who I love and miss dearly. Oh and Mexican food, duh. And half pitchers at Shorty’s.
  2. For the first part of my spring break (only 5 weeks away – GLORY) I am headed to Washington, D.C. for the first time ever to hang out and explore the city with one of my absolute favorite people who just happens to be temporarily moving there for a few months (140 miles away instead of 1400 = happy me).
  3. You know that little band called Coldplay? They’re performing the Super Bowl halftime show this year in case you didn’t hear. They also just announced their US Stadium Tour dates, and I am FINALLY going to see one of my all time favorite bands LIVE this August! My extensive concert bucket list is pretty much complete now.

I’d say that little list (especially the first two happening so soon) is all the motivation I need for this next stretch of exams.

While I do love looking forward in anticipation of things to come, God is continually teaching me to stop and thank Him for TODAY – just as it comes and as it is. Even in this winter season, even in this waiting season, and even in this weary season. I want to fight to not let my hopeful heart wander too far off in the distance, but to hold on tight to the gift he gives each day, this chapter, right now. After all, what good does it do to jump to the end we’re dreaming up on our own when He is our author, writing way better stories than we ever could?

Even the Winter, by Audrey Assad (one of my favorite artists), pretty much sums this up.

What if the spring comes soon 

and we’re surprised

What if the seasons help us realize

Some things are only proven over time

pieces

Today I had a very rare lecture and lab free morning, so I went to sleep before eleven and sans alarm, naturally waking up around six and falling back asleep until nine. Sleep is a beautiful thing. I figured I’d make my way down to my favorite close by coffee shop and wake up slow, maybe fitting in time enough to review one lecture before our afternoon classes. This usually consists of listening to worship music, journaling or reading and praying, and probably then afterwards spending too much time reading all the sites I follow, catching up on Instagram, and following click bait to see Adele Carpool Karaoke (so worth your 15 minutes).  

One of my favorite songs, Pieces by Amanda Cook, came on my playlist, and this is a song that has meant different things to me over the past several months of knowing it. I feel like over and over again, it has been my heart’s declaration that even when it hurts and when I don’t feel like it’s true, to still know that God will never love us with a fraction or give us half of what we need. This season He has continually reminded me that he gives nothing short of the BEST for us, but often times in order for us to fully experience the fullness and extravagance of what he has for each of us, we have to wait. Wait for him to carry it to completion while he is continuing to refine our hearts in the time of in between. So many of us are in this “awkward” stage of new adult-ing post graduation and desperate to look ahead and jump ahead. Instead of rushing into wanting only pieces of second best and selling God short, let’s be confident that he will always love and give lavishly with his whole heart.green line

vision revisited

 

Back to the grind we go. We’re into our second week of the new semester and man has it already slapped us awake out of break-mode. Four frantic hours in lab figuring out how to take impressions and immediately pour them into stone models, only to find out the majority of us had to completely start over from the beginning sometime on our own time will do that to you. Now that I’ve somewhat settled back into routine, I do feel I have a refreshed perspective on things and new vision for how I want to approach this next chunk of our long journey to DMD. 2016 for me is already full of hope for new experiences and opportunities for growth as well as the assurance that God has me and will carry me through whatever is ahead.

Because I love lists, I just wanted to put down in writing some of the changes (I’m not calling them new year’s resolutions per se) I want to make and fresh hopes and dreams I have regarding my school life, relationships, and journey with God. These aren’t really hard and fast goals, more like ever-evolving things and a way for me to help cast some vision on this next season.

  • Not apologize for saying no sometimes – mainly in terms of social life. I want to really realize that it’s okay to not go to every single event or outing that my class organizes. Last semester I was so caught up in really making an effort to get to know everyone and make my new friends, so I had a very real case of FOMO I guess you could say.  And I had a blast no doubt. This semester, I want to better learn how to distinguish when I do need a fun night out and when I need a grandma night in: cooking, reading, writing, playing guitar, and going to bed gloriously early when I can afford it. Real rest is so needed and so sweet.
  • Fall back in love with letter writing. My pen pals got somewhat neglected last semester, so I want to remember the value of this beautiful and old fashioned way of keeping up with my friends who are all over. I’ve already sent out a couple :)
  • Strive to maintain a consistent motivation to stay ON TOP of studying and review notes more regularly instead of going hard for about five or six days for only one course. I’m not saying that my methods last semester didn’t work, but I really want to put more time in earlier to keep the stress (and caffeine) levels more even. On the same topic, since I am going to class (too guilty to skip again even though it’s completely okay and plenty people do), I want to make it worth my time and actually take notes the whole time. Note to self – pack more healthy snacks for that 1-5 pm block.
  • Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. Remember that I have a Crock Pot. Remember that cooking is one of my first loves. And remember that I’m living on student loans.
  • RUN again just to run without training for any race. Oh wait, it’s winter in Philly now…
  • Carve out ample and regular time for calling and FaceTiming my favorite people. You know you who are, and seeing your faces and hearing your voices will beat an occasional text any day.
  • Wake up earlier. I have always been a morning person, but I think recently extra sleep has won over actually really enjoying those first couple of hours, pour over coffee in hand and with my quiet and not-yet-cluttered mind. Yes, I know I’m exhausted as it is, but nothing is more energizing and life-giving than more time spent with Jesus before the crazy non stop rush of all the rest of the hours in the day.
  • Press into community and fully settle on a church home. I visited a new one this past Sunday that’s definitely promising, so I’m praying that God would make it clear to me if that would be a healthy place for me to grow and plant my roots down deep for the next three and a half years I’m here. I still deeply miss my Waco people and church home there, that is for sure.

Our rare and welcomed two hour lunch break is now coming to a close, so I’m going to call this working list done (for now). It’s off to lymphatics and pathology for the afternoon.

Newness

It’s the classic story of finally having free time (I’m sorry what??) and yet still failing to write anything over my break. I was way too busy resting, eating, watching Ellen and Botched and Fixer Upper, eating some more, reading lots (leisurely finishing 2 books), spending time with some of my favorite people, and sleeping some more to make time for blogging sadly. Since I posted, the class of 2019 at Penn Dental has officially survived one semester making us still-very-not-qualified-at-all 1/8 or 12.5% DMDs! All the exams, wax-ups, late nights, and never ending two hour lectures of our first few months are finally finished. doneThat is, until we start bright and early again tomorrow! Long gone are the days of the precious three or four week college Christmas breaks, hello grad school where they now hate Christmas. Ok I might be exaggerating a tiny bit. We love school, we really, really do.

My flight left the same afternoon we finished our last exam, and I finally realized the weight of the classic song, “I’ll be home for Christmas.” I was now one of THOSE people in airports during the insane holiday rush that happens anytime post Dec 20th-Jan 2nd, praying for no delays (surprise, it was delayed).  I think being so far makes being home for the holidays mean that much more, though. It takes real effort and money to make it home in time, and so I think I really sensed the value of being able to be with my family when so many people have jobs, things like military commitments, or just family divisions that hinder everyone being together.

My break was unfortunately a short ten days, but also extremely restful and brought so much opportunity for reflection and clarity as we welcomed the new year of 2016. If you know me at all, you know January is one of my favorite months, and I love the contagious anticipation and hope that finds its way into everyone’s hearts at the beginning of a fresh calendar year. I was able to get ample aunt-nephew play and cuddle time, saw some old friends, and had a couple of incredibly honest but so needed conversations. EBy the way, those things you need to get off your chest, just DO it and don’t keep waiting. Life is entirely too short to not be real with people, and I am so thankful for the time I had to reach a new place of honesty and transparency with a dear friend. God’s timing is never what we expect, but always in our best interest. Christmas was obviously a complicated mix of emotions with it being the first without Dad, the first that I had to fly home for, the first with a new nephew, and lots of other changes for my family. It was somber, but the reminder of the gift of Jesus permeated the days with a sweet and inescapable peace.

Because our break was so brief, I feel like so much has happened in my heart and mind the past several days not thinking about school for once, and this is a very mild and measly attempt to somewhat process where I’m at with it all. I haven’t even really had time to think about my so-called “resolutions” (I don’t really like the cliche term that gets overused for the sake of diet and fitness marketing – I prefer a more real and introspective evaluation of things that matter) or goals for the new semester and new year. My plan as of now? Get a long and beautiful night’s sleep and simply show up for our light 4 hours of lecture this first day back – full of riveting dental materials and blood cells. Back to the grind I go, and I do want to fully commit myself to our new courses and labs. I also still so desire to seek the incredibly fine balance of happy & healthy with academic success, not just on the surface but on a very real soul level. On thinking back on 2015 and looking ahead to 2016, this is what I wrote for the popular “best 9” Instagram post I shared. Perspective is everything, and I am confident that the best is truly yet to come.

instaNeedless to say 2015 was one heck of a journey with entirely too much packed in 365 days. Probably simultaneously the best and worst, and I now I can say I fully understand the dichotomy of bittersweet. So much loss, but still so many milestones, celebrations, and new adventures to be extremely thankful for. He gives abundantly and takes away, and I’m entering 2016 with immensely more perspective on what and who matter most. I’m expectant and full of gratitude and joy of what’s to come. Thank you all for joining along for this crazy ride. “I found life and I found laughter. In forgiveness, I found rest. On the shoulders of redemption, I found hope when hope was dead. I could lose it in a moment so I dare not close my eyes. I’ll watch fear fall with the sunset and see hope rise with the tide. And when the pain is true, sometimes these troubles prove that I’m alive.”

Musicals, macrophages, and (almost) Merry Christmas

In exactly one week I will officially be done with my first semester of dental school and HOME on TEXAS soil. Wow oh wow am I ready. This girl is a weary soul right now. The only things getting me through one more week and two exams are nonstop Coldplay jams (their new album is glorious as usual), all the fun little events interspersed in the midst of study madness, and even more coffee. And more prayers than ever.smile I was texting with my old roomies the other night and the one who’s also a first year dental student at another school finishing up this week asked us for book recommendations for the much anticipated break coming up. To quote her, “I’m gonna sit around and spend time with God all day long and read inspirational books, ’cause oh my gosh I’m done with dental school.” My thoughts too, girlie. It’s crazy how that one extra week plus a few days in December  (compared to my undergrad’s schedule) really makes a big difference.

Today we checked yet another exam off, this time a strange and un-welcomed combination of immunology and a pharmacology introduction. Pharm is actually really cool, and I enjoy studying it! It’s honestly like a big puzzle of understanding what drugs do to the body, how they do it, and why they can be so dangerous. Thinking about having the authority soon to write prescriptions is definitely a big responsibility. I think because it’s so new, different, and relevant to clinical practice, I feel a pressure to really learn the information. I’m sure a lot of people realize an attraction to dentistry over medicine is because we don’t (hopefully) necessarily have to deal with serious conditions/death on a regular basis like medical doctors often do – some OMFS trauma would be an exception maybe. We wouldn’t want anyone in serious trouble after their dentist prescribed adverse drug reactions (warfarin + metranidazole = scary). Also our professor for that…well he’s a character and probably deserves his own post describing all his crazy antics (maybe I’ll interview him!). He’s a fantastic teacher though. That foundational science class was a monster of credits (over 5) so I’m constantly battling between hoping I miraculously squeezed out the grade I wanted and also completely accepting that “grades aren’t everything” – words from a convo tonight with one of my college best friends who happens to be done with said grades for the moment because he’s GRADUATING this Saturday. Shout out to all you December grads at Baylor I know – y’all know I’m so proud and excited to watch your futures that God has for each of you.

mormonWhoever said people in dental/med school can’t have a life outside of studying, I beg to differ. I think about all that I’ve been able to do and experience just this first semester living in such a fun new place. One of those top things would have to be last Thursday going to my first real musical, The Book of Mormon, here at the Forrest Theatre with a few of my favorite classmates who also enjoy the finer things in life like short rib ragu, ricotta gnocchi, and fine arts. Even though some would argue the show we saw wasn’t so “fine,” it was darn hilarious. Admittedly there were moments when the crude factor reached a new high, but I still found myself laughing through the whole thing. The musical/choreo talent was awesome for sure. theaterAnd of course I appreciated the history lessons for those that really don’t understand just how drastically different Mormon theology is from Christianity. Another fun tidbit I’m so looking forward to is tomorrow me and my friend Sarah are going to the Johnnyswim Christmas show at Union Station (pics to come I’m sure) and putting microbiology of plaque-induced disease to the back burner for just one night because I am in serious need of some holiday cheer. It’ll actually be my third time to see that crazy beautiful, insanely talented duo, yet I’ll never get tired of their serenades.

I’ve had several of the prospective class of 2020 Penntists message me and email me, and while I am entirely honest with them with the good and the bad (for instance, it’s OKAY to turn down Penn b/c of the price), I always can’t help but say how much I LOVE Penn Dental and my fam here. They’ll always ask me if I’m happy with my decision overall. It’s funny when you step back and look at the big picture with so much gratitude or why you made the decision they’re currently wrestling with (I do NOT miss that month of roller coaster emotions), the little nuisances of exhaustion and frustrations get overshadowed.

One week til 1/8 D.M.D. river

don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart

That’s a quote from this incredible video my friend JJ shared this week that had be feeling all kinds of whimsy and wanderlust and wonder. Now it’s to no surprise I want to plan my own escape from calendars altogether to the great unknown that is Iceland.  I’m easily inspired I guess. I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

It really got me thinking about a lot, though. Like how I really want to do a summer research project next summer because I can and I “should” and I’m at Penn and there’s unspoken pressure and oh you want to specialize and it’s your only chance really. And then there’s my playful heart that wants to just say but what if I don’t find a project that interests me (I know there’s some crazy awesome ones don’t get me wrong) or want to spend a whole summer in a lab in a coat and goggles and would rather drop everything and just GO and DO…The constant struggle of my practical, smart, level headed, and wise self against my abandoned, wild, adventurous, and I’m still only 22 self (it’s way deep down but it’s so there I promise).

quoteThe upside is that I could possibly do BOTH. Which if you know me, I’ve always been a person that doesn’t like to choose between my two sides. I like to feed both my grounded-ness and restlessness, simultaneously. Like going to the GAPSA Winter Masquerade ball last night when I definitely should have been studying for our osteo practical Monday (it was worth it because this girl got an invite to a Wharton party by two Texan boys, but will I go, eh I might want to remain mysterious…),  but then not getting out of my pjs all day, cracking down in my room, and making up for it today. I could still possibly do research for the last two months of summer and still have a couple weeks of a window to do something crazy in June. The only question is with who? I would totally consider the whole solo Eat, Pray, Love soul searching adventure, but I’m not too sure how my family would feel about that one.

It’s December and despite the dread that is not being finished and home for Christmas until the 23RD, I can’t help but be reminded of the reason of it all and look forward to all of the events coming up and mostly with being back in the promised land with the fam for about nine days. New lights are up on Locust Walk, the Christmas music abounds, and I even already experienced my first real ice skating in the city (at an outdoor rink)! I love Christmas in the city already so much. I deeply pray we make room for Jesus in the hustle of it all, though. I’m going through an Advent devotional and even though we talk about the Christmas story every year, each time God reveals more and more of his glory and sovereignty to me in some new way.

drillAn exciting dental bit is that we finally received our most expensive toys yet – our electric hand-pieces! We get a high speed and a slow speed, and we’re told Bien Air is the Bentley or Mercedes of dental hand-pieces. For non-dental folk, these are the oh so dreaded “drills” we all love the sound of (except we dental folk actually do). If a piece of medical technology could ever be beautiful, these babies certainly are, with of course the typical classy Penn touch of the engraved name. We also got our big box of all of our burrs too (this is the part that goes in the end that actually does the drilling and comes in all kinds of shapes for reasons we have yet to learn). We get to start using these as early as next week for part of our final occlusion project before break but will really start drilling next semester.

December 1st was the first day that the next incoming class could find out if they were accepted or not. Class of 2019 officially feels OLD because the class of 2020 is coming so soon and already has a Facebook group page. I couldn’t help but replay those months and weeks and days leading up to that day just one year ago. I already feel like a proud mom to all of the newbies and cannot wait to meet everyone come August!

While all the college friends are whining about their finals and being done in early/mid-December, in the course of our last four weeks of the semester we’ll have a total of five monster exams (one down, four to go) and two more lab assignments. The espresso will be flowing, the sleeping will be precious, and the prayers will be many.

For tonight, it’s back to Thai green curry takeout, Pinot Grigio, jamming to my Christmas study playlist, and taking breaks to Pinterest dream about how to decorate my next apartment (this girl is officially getting her first own place next year!).

And there goes a month

beanNovember has been a whirlwind. The last time I posted I was getting ready to head to Chicago for ASDA’s National Leadership conference. It was a weekend full of insightful speakers, abundant social time meeting and going out (ahem, networking) with so many great people from all over the country, and there maybe even have been a dental student hunger games reenactment to fight for the free Oral B electric toothbrush at the vendor fair. I plan on doing a post soon set aside to share some highlights of the trip, but there’s so much else that has happened in just the past couple of weeks. I am beginning to fully understand the statement describing time in school as “The days are long but the years are short.” Amen.

After cramming for 2 days after my Chicago weekend for our dental anatomy final, we’ve got yet another course under our belt now. Here at Penn, we have a couple courses that are pass/fail/honors even though the majority are traditional letter-graded. Dental anatomy is one of the pass/fail courses. The next preclinical lab course we moved quickly into was occlusion. Just how many times can you “tap, tap, tap” and check for the correct occlusal markings across a second premolar and both mandibular molars, carve down and/or build up, and check again? The world will never know. Tomorrow gladly marks the end of our colored wax up aka rainbow gummy bear teeth. toolsWe received part two of dental student Christmas which was our new instrument kit to be used for the operative section of GRD we’ll start in the spring. Ask me if any of us have any clue what any of them are or do or why they cost us thousands of dollars on that supplies line in our student tuition/budget. Speaking of dental student Christmas, I also redeemed my “professional discount code” for my FREE Sonicare Phillips electric toothbrush, and I’m in love. Even though I’ve been caries-free for 22 years, I actually have only ever used manual toothbrushes. I knew dental school over medical school was a wise decision. What do they even get in med school, free electric blood pressure cuffs?

Remember a few posts back when I talked about how sometimes Life things will come before school things? Well, during the weekend I was all out studying for our beastly biochem metabolism exam, I got news that my Granddaddy had finally reached the end of his long and full life. His final days and even the last several years had been hard for the family just because the toll that old age can take on a person (he was 94). It was obviously a time of sorrow, but definitely a different scenario than the call I received back in April about Dad. As I struggled back and forth with figuring out the logistics of if I was going to be able to go home to Texas for the service, I finally realized that this was one of those times. One of the times when it’s ok to say yes to family and illogical cross-country travel and no to the temporary stresses of school and the implications of missing almost a week of class and an exam. My professors were all understanding, and we worked out things for me to make up my exam and catch up in other things when I returned. Obviously this trip home was unexpected and somber, but at the same time so sweet and needed. pondWe celebrated the life and legacy of my grandfather and rejoiced knowing that he was free of the physical bondage of his aged body and given a new perfect body where he met Jesus face to face. The hope and promise of heaven is always more than enough to have the strength for us weary ones back down here to keep pressing on for this present life, knowing we’ll be reunited one day with those who have gone before us.

The days in between have been busy and tiring, nothing out of the ordinary really. I still love this season, my classmates, and most days what I’m learning. It’s not all roses though. Exams never end, lab is many times frustrating, and of course I still miss my Waco community. Immunology and microbiology will never be my forte or passion, but we’ve also been deep in skull anatomy and osteology – something I love and am continuously fascinated by. The architecture of skull foramina are straight up miraculous in and of themselves, let alone the neurovascular bundles that course their way through them supplying blood and innervation for everything our face/head does – eat, talk, smile, see, smell, taste…. My background as an anatomy TA for Dr. P at Baylor is so so so appreciated while I try to catch up in my other courses. I’ll be honest and say that this month has been somewhat of a lull for me, mentally and spiritually. I’ve yet to get plugged in at any church and am still searching for wisdom in that decision. School never has a pause button, and missing a week definitely slowed my momentum. I’ve struggled to find the groove of efficiency again. Some big things that I’ve been praying for and believing for for a while recently took a turn that was hard on my heart. Even over a 1000 miles from home, I’ve been so appreciative of my friends I still keep in touch with and some of our never ending text novels back and forth about Heart things and Truth things. love statueNot going home for Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday probably) is really tough, but I’m so thankful that my mom, sister, and baby nephew got to come see me last weekend for a long weekend of eating too much, exploring my new home, cuddles with G, and acoustic jam sessions. I’m also thankful that I’ll be hosting my first Friendsgiving on Thursday, my apartment will smell of warm apple crumble, and the wine glasses will be full.

G’night, friends. Despite the confusion, division, and selfishness that plagues our news feeds, let us continue to do the hard things and choose truth, peace, and gratitude this season.

so what are you even learning anyways?

Dental school I think is sometimes very misunderstood by the general public and even other health professional students. People really wonder what could we possibly be learning and doing for four whole years just to “fix teeth.” You guys take anatomy? AND do cadaver dissection? Why do you have to know biochemistry (still currently wrestling with figuring that one out but I know it’s important somehow)? What does embryology have to do with cavities? Also, the confusion between us and hygiene school is common, especially for people who have generally healthy teeth and only see their dentist when they go for a cleaning anyways. So it makes sense that those folks don’t really understand what we’re actually trained to do, which is just a tiny bit more than clean teeth.

That being said, I thought I’d give you guys a look into the courses we’re taking currently and what a typical “course load” or “week in the life” looks life for dental students. Courses (or more generally, subjects – it’s easier to explain that way) that we’ve already finished up include an intro to oral medicine, embryology (development) and some histology (study of tissues, introduction of some pathology) of epithelium. For instance, our exam today (they have a weird thing for Monday exams here that’s just unfortunate) covered all topics of bone biology: histology, formation, endocrinology, some physiology, and an overview of radiological anatomy. The next chunk of this course that starts tomorrow will go more explicitly into anatomy of bone. Our “Foundational Sciences” course is currently going through biochemistry and metabolism, and will later reach topics like immunology and an intro to pharmacology I think. We started a new course today that is basically microbiology and it’s relation to dental science. So for these “Biological Systems” and “Foundational Sciences” courses, we typically have each of these lectures three to four times per week depending on the schedule.

We also have our Dental Development/Anatomy course which correlates to our lab time spent waxing all the different types of teeth. We’ve finally made it to the molar (five cusps and a insanely intricate occlusal table definitely make for some fun…) to finish up this first lab course, ending with the lovely written final next week. This one’s pass/fail PTL. The lectures for that course are typically only once a week and our four hour lab time is also only on Wednesdays. Wednesdays are also when we have our four our block of time in clinic assisting 3rd and 4th years. We’ve really just started this part of our curriculum, but it’s already such a nice change from sitting our butts in a lecture hall 8-5. Actually getting to interact with patients and see the flow of how things run in clinic is a nice look into the far off but fast approaching futures we have as [student] doctors.

The last portion of our curriculum currently would be occasional small group seminars (usually one per module) and our rotations through the advanced sim lab that I talked about a while ago. Typically, we have very lecture-heavy Mondays and Tuesdays 10-5 usually (also start at 8 sometimes), Lab/Clinic Wednesday 8-5, one or two lectures Thursday or Friday with most of the rotation times fit in later in the week as well.

I hope that helps give you guys an idea of what we actually do here in dental school, and especially gives you something to look forward to (?) for any of my pre-dental readers out there. Obviously more than teeth. Dental-specific things actually make up a very small percentage of our course-load in first year. We do start a new lab course, Occlusion, soon and next semester will get into the trenches of Operative (i.e. drilling, restorations, etc).

fallExams are roughly once a week, give or take. They cover a LOT of material, though. Every week in itself pretty much mentally feels like the roller coaster of finals hell/post-finals heaven of undergrad. The test today was over 14 separate lectures (our lectures are two hours mostly…). So when everyone thinks my new life in Philly is the glamorous colorful display you only see on Instagram, think again. Most days are hard, long, and monotonous, but I just make it a point to stop and smell the roses. Or stop and see the trees you could say. Or stop and buy the donuts. I want to constantly live in a place of gratitude. It is so easy to quickly forget how hard we worked our butts off for four years in undergrad and even longer for others to get to this point. I really strive to keep at the forefront of my mind the faithfulness of God to have carried me this far, and that I really am only here by his grace and goodness. When people only complain all the time about school – any kind but especially grad school – I just want to look at them and say, “But you wanted this remember? Thousands of people would give anything to be in our place right now.” Try to remember how you felt this time last year desperately awaiting that December 1st acceptance day, friends. Education is a GIFT, y’all. A gift that we’re paying hundreds of K for, but still :)

You all know how much of a proponent of self-therapy I am (shout out to Yesle and JJ, you two constantly remind me that it’s ok and good to make me and health a priority some days), and today was chock full of it. On top of the immediate post-exam Federal Donuts run to share sweet warm goodness with some of my classmates, Sarah and I went out and about after class ended at an earlier three o clock today. By the way, I miss those days when getting out at three felt so late. I indulged and bought my favorite magazine (how could I NOT with that cover title that is basically my life motto?) and purchased some new business-y digs for ASDA’s NLC THIS weekend! I hate that retail therapy is such a real thing, even when it’s something as simple as a pencil skirt. To top it all off we won these adorable and sassy Sweetgreen totes. magPost-exam nights are my favorite. I had to laugh when I asked Sarah if she wanted to look in Urban Outfitters, too, while we were walking around. I told her I didn’t need to spend anymore money and she said, “Yeah me neither, but I love just going in places and not feeling like a student for a little bit.” Preach, sister, preach. The epitome of dental school feels like just that. One night you’re cramming until 2 am, hyped up on double shot espressos, locked away in the Sky lounge, and questioning your decision to choose this long and narrow road (and maybe when you last washed your hair). Fast forward to the next day, when things as simple as trying on cozy scarves, dipping hearty bread in a hot bowl of chili, and reading the covers of all the glorious books in the bookstore you want to read make you feel a little more human.

one sixteenth a doctor. basically.

It’s pretty much the halfway point of the semester, give or take a few days. We’ve got two whole finished courses, five exams, three tooth wax-ups, and our first time in clinic under our belts. It sounds pretty pathetic in comparison to the gigantic hurdles we have ahead of us for the next four+ years, but at the same time it’s incredible how much we’ve learned and done in just eight weeks of dental school. The fact that we already have real grades on our transcript already is crazy (don’t worry Mom, they’re good ones).
journalMy journal I started mid-summer reached full capacity – I guess you can imagine how much has been on my mind in the past few months and the rambling prayers and dreams that covered those pages – and there’s something so refreshing about opening a crisp new one and writing on that first page. I love how it correlated with the shift of seasons here in Philly, too. Turning over a new leaf and page, literally. This week lows are already in the 30s and 40s and some days the highs only get to the 50s. I don’t miss the still-90-in-October part of Texas, sorry.

Since my last post we had our initiation dinner for the dental fraternity I joined, Psi
galsOmega. It was an excuse to dress up (and let me just say again – all my classmates are dang attractive), enjoy a great dinner, and have a fun Friday night out with my new sistas and bros, both new members and upperclassmen. For people wondering what on earth a dental school fraternity is about (I realize it sounds more geek than Greek), it’s basically another way to make connections with your class and classes above you, network with alumni (shout out to homegirl Dr. Maggio), get involved with more service opportunities, have fun socials to look forward to, and receive academic help along the way. We have three equally great ones here at Penn, and I have friends that joined each of them but there’s also no pressure to join any of them. To a lot of people’s surprise, there are a million things to get involved with during your time in dental school.

Speaking of, I haven’t had the chance to update you guys that I did in fact get offered a board position on our chapter of the American Student Dental Association. I will be a contributing editor this year, and I’m so pumped for all that’s in store for Penn ASDA. My position is basically responsible for writing occasional articles and posts for our newsletter and website as well as just help out in general with publishing those or gathering ads. Being on the board at all gives a lot of options for other ways to get involved, too, and definitely opens up doors for ways to serve in the future. One thing that I am privileged to have the chance to do is travel to Chicago at the end of this month with nine other board members for ASDA’s National Leadership Conference. I’m one of two D1s going, and I can’t wait for a weekend of meeting dental students from around the country, hearing awesome speakers, and learning even more about my role as a leader in ASDA and in my future career in general. I’ve also never actually been to Chicago, so I’m so thankful to have the chance to go finally! I’ll be sure and write some highlights post-NLC. Deep dish pizza better be involved too, just saying. :)

This week after our tough chunk of exams that were pretty close together, I’ve definitely enjoyed some down time and getting caught up on life-things instead of school-things: the ever-growing stack of letters that need responding to, buying my first real winter coat, that thing called laundry, stocking up on fall baking supplies (pumpkin errthing happening soon), Saturday morning FaceTime coffee catchup dates, oh yeah and sleep. I also spontaneously traveled outside the city on Wednesday after a long day of clinic (our first time assisting!) and lab to hang with my Philly fam away from home, the Clarks. The fall harvest dinner spread was worth the trip alone. Butternut squash soup, smashed sweet and purple potatoes, seasonal salad, roasted rosemary salmon, a creamy bourbon maple cocktail, and did I mention apple crumble?! Geez so much better than my normal weeknight concoctions. We actually didn’t have lecture until three on Thursday, so I even made a sleepover out of it. I’m so thankful to have such a fun and supportive family right up the road from me, and I will definitely keep them in the back of my mind when I need a city/school escape. clarksIt’s one of those really cool full circle stories how we’re connected again. Ian and Susan were my parents’ best friends back in the early 90s, and even though I didn’t really remember them much, I always knew how much they meant to my family from the way Mom or Dad would talk about the Clarks. The last time I saw them I think I was two years old, and since then they’ve moved frequently all over the East Coast. When I finally decided to come to Penn, Mom and Dad realized that they were going to be only 10 miles away from me, along with their daughter and son in law, Hannah and Greg! I just can’t help but thank God for crossing our paths once again. He knew I’d need some times of good foodie meals, laughing, and family music time with every one on a different instrument – much like my old times back home with Mom, Dad, and Megan in the window-lined music room.

These days, I feel like God is teaching me more and more about rest, contentment, and that whatever I have in my head about what the future might hold will never compare to the good he actually has for me. I love looking back and seeing how He works in the big and small and in ways that we were so blind to at the time. I’m constantly asking for clarity for things that confuse, distract, or overwhelm me (there’s plenty currently) and peace and strength for the days at hand. your love

I’m leaving you with the lyrics that have been playing again and again through my headphones since Amanda Cook’s new album was released a few weeks ago. This one is called The Voyage, and I feel like it relates entirely too well for me as well as several of my friends in this season of graduating/post-grad/20-something adventure that we find ourselves on. I find it ironic that I titled this post before I rambled up to this point, and now it really seems to actually relate to this very song in a way. We get so caught up in exactly how much further we have until that next thing is checked off – grad school, a serious relationship, big move, that dream job…when in the end, the pressure’s off and God is continually with us. I don’t think He’s really one for destinations. He wants us to walk beside Him in the journey.

Speak, even if your voice is trembling
Please, you’ve been quiet for so long
Believe, it’ll be worth the risk you’re taking

You’re afraid, but you can hear adventure calling
There’s a rush of adrenaline to your bones
What you make of this moment changes everything

What if the path you choose becomes a road
The ground you take becomes a home
The wind is high, but the pressure’s off
I’ll send the rain wherever we end up
Wherever we end up

Set your sights, sailing far beyond familiar
In the rising tide, you’ll find the rhythm of your heart
And lift your head, now the wind and waves don’t matter

What if the path you choose becomes a road
The ground you take becomes a home
The wind is high, but the pressure’s off
I’ll send the rain wherever we end up
Wherever we end up

I am the wind in your sails

[brought to you by post-exam jello brain]

We are definitely reaching the thick of the semester, and time for blogging sadly got put on the back burner this past week. Today we had a monstrous Foundational Sciences exam. I won’t dare tell you how many pages my typed study guide ended up being or how many Spotify playlists I burned through in the past 5 days. Oh joy, we’ve got another one coming right back at us for Biological Systems on Monday. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of just seeing the mundane of studying and going to lecture and lab day in and day out, and I’m still really trying to maintain healthy balance and perspective constantly.

scrubs

We finally got our classy navy scrubs in (am I a chief surgical resident on Grey’s yet??), so that’s at least one step closer in the “Dr. Price” direction. Let’s be real, I’m so glad I chose a career where professional pjs are the norm everyday. GRD lab is also off and running at a quick pace and we’ve already finished our central incisor and canine wax-ups, and now we’re working on the premolar. For those of you that don’t know what that means, it’s basically where we build an entire tooth out of nothing but wax and have to create all the details of the anatomy of that specific tooth. It’s feels very archaic with our Bunsen burners flaming as we heat our waxing instruments, melt and pick up a drop of wax, and try oh try to place and “flow” it where we want to build that marginal ridge or distal contact point before it solidifies. Fun? Surprisingly, sort of. Frustrating at times? Definitely. Hilarious b/c of the people I sit around and what we talk about for four hours? You know it, Novin, Ash, and Marisa :) The faculty are pretty helpful with constructive criticism along the way, but when it comes time for grading our finished product, a non-dental person wouldn’t believe how many details go into what makes a #12 a #12 aesthetically, how it articulates in occlusion, where the height of contour is placed, how it’s aligned in the arch, and every other thing they can take off points for. wax

The morning temps are dropping (glory glory #fallelujah), the Bean boots have made their debut, and I’m getting more and more excited to experience my first real fall living on the East Coast. Jenna, one of my BEST friends from Baylor got to come visit last Thursday through Sunday and we had an absolute blast together. Even though it was dreary, windy, and rainy all weekend due to the hurricane, we loved it and enjoyed adventuring around Philly with plenty of studying and coffee shops thrown in, just like old times together. She’s at Boston U for a Master’s in Public Health, so she definitely understands the grad school grind and how weekends unfortunately can’t always be all play and no work. The main reason she came was to go see our boy Ben Rector in concert with me, and we later realized when we saw him in Waco last was an exact year ago so of course we had to take another pic with yet another Ben T shirt together. It was such a refreshing time getting to catch up on East Coast life that we’re both new to, church, school, family, and relationships with Jenna. jennaben

I definitely wish sometimes that I had more time in the day for things like my latest Don Miller read, Scary Close, experimenting with seasonal dishes in the kitchen, lifting more weights, writing more letters (the stack for correspondence in my metal envelope hung on the wall is growing quickly…), but at the same time I’m learning to cherish the small moments here and there, even if it’s in the midst of the business. Things like lunchtime Bible study with classmates, walks through the gorgeous Penn campus, solid heart to heart text novels/convos (during collagen synthesis lecture oops) with friends back home, a conversation with the barista, attending a local “black church” last Sunday with my church-hopping buds and having a sweet time of worship, and the never-ending Spotify music sharing and discovery with friends here and home. philly

Sometimes I walk down the street or through campus, and I think to myself, “Do I really live here? Am I actually in grad/dental school?” Oftentimes we get so caught up in the negative – i.e. “all of the above except” exam questions, if we got an 8 or a 9 on our tooth waxing, how many hours of sleep we’ll get tonight – when there is so so much around us to be grateful for. I pray that I never take for granted the opportunity I’ve been given to be here and to be learning so much every day to one day be able to use these gifts and this knowledge to really make a difference in peoples’ lives.

A verse that I’ve always hung onto for a long time and especially in times of transition is Habakkuk 1:5 – “…be utterly amazed. For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” God always has some crazy exciting things up his sleeve, and I am constantly asking for an increase in patience and trust that His ways are higher than mine. Let us be filled with expectancy and hope, always. Those things you’re believing for? Keep believing.

Until next time, I’m studying epithelium and the thrills of saliva, adding pumpkin pie spice to my coffee grounds, biking and running more in the cool of the day, and falling more in love with my favorite season.