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

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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!).

The soundtrack to my college studies

If you know me at all, you know music is a huge part of my life that I could never go without. I’ve written about life-changing concerts, my family’s strong musical roots, my love for singing, and picking acoustic guitar back up this summer. Music is often how I connect with others (if I find out we have common tastes, I can talk to you for hours with unlimited suggestions to check out), deal with certain emotions/situations,  and “when words fail, music speaks.” Ever since the gloriousness that is Spotify came around, discovering new music and finding incredible playlists is basically how I survive the little thing called studying. My friends and I are constantly sharing the latest up and coming band with each other. Two concerts I’ve been to this year (and one next month) have been for artists I just happened upon on Spotify or through word of mouth, listen to on repeat for weeks, see their tour dates, and spontaneously plan a trip to see them. Whether I’m up to my eyeballs with histology notes, cranking out a five or ten page religion paper the night before it’s due (which definitely happened last week for the first time in my college career), or trying to stay awake studying for my mundane business class exams, the music I listen to when I study has played a crucial role in my life as a college student.

All credit for my GPA goes to coffee, colored pens, Spotify, and comfy flannel

All credit for my GPA goes to coffee, colored pens, Spotify, and comfy flannel

If I leave for Common Grounds, Dichotomy, Lula Jane’s, the library, or BSB without headphones and a fully charged computer, studying is a lost cause. I literally can’t study in silence. The loud chatter of sorority girls or stressed freshman isn’t exactly music to my ears, either. Side note to Mom and Dad, Beats or Bose for Christmas??? After all, I would use them all throughout the dental school years.

I’ve recently been hooked on Spotify’s “Indie Folk for Focus” instrumental playlist, but I actually just made a new one called “Study Sounds” tonight. It’s currently sitting at about 29 hours of nonstop songs: more than enough to fuel a full couple of nights hitting the books (or Powerpoint printouts and colored pens – I haven’t cracked open a textbook since I don’t know when). What’s on this A+ mix?

Procrastinated book reviews for Psalms and Wisdom Lit just don't happen without some serious study tunes

Procrastinated book reviews for Psalms and Wisdom Lit just don’t happen without some serious study tunes

Andrew Belle, Colony House, Johnnyswim, Ivan & Alyosha, John Mark McMillan, The Head and the Heart, Sarah Jarosz, Nickel Creek, Jon Foreman, Fiction Family, The Oh Hello’s, Knox Hamilton, Fleet Foxes, Penny and Sparrow, Jon McLaughlin, Ben Rector, Vampire Weekend, Jillian Edwards, Andy Davis

If any of your study playlists or iTunes in general are in a rut, I hope you’ll check some of these artists out. They won’t disappoint.

In other news, tomorrow marks 5 weeks until the first round of acceptances! It’s also when my motivation for this last year’s classes/GPA will probably take yet another hit for the worse. My pre-dent friends and I are already anticipating the big night out [*hopefully*] celebrating years of blood, sweat, and tears to get that coveted letter or phone call. For now I guess I’ve got to get back to those studies for yet another multiple test week…

Rejoice in the Suffering (An opportunity, not an obligation)

I want to start off by explaining the lack of blogging for almost two weeks.  In the past I’ve tried to post a couple times a week at least, and I really hate not keeping my new little project consistent and fresh.  I promise I’ll make an effort to catch up a little this week now that I’ve had time to take a breath and re-focus.
Let’s just say I’ve experienced a recent turn of events that made me drastically rearrange my priorities for the moment.  Long story short (and I mean long), I’m now scheduled to take the DAT (Dental Admission Test) August 29th after originally planning on waiting until either January or June to ensure I’d have a free month of no other obligations before the test to devote to all-out studying. However, as usual, God sent me a wake-up call that I’m not in control of every last detail of my life despite my excessive planning and striving to stay on top of all my deadlines and schedules.  His sense of humor is something else because I had explained to a few people that my summer was seeming a bit on the boring side.  I know this is all in His time and not mine, so I’m turning it over to Him and trusting in His crazy awesome (even if sometimes overwhelming) plan for my life.  August turned out to be the only (semi) realistic time I could try to take it because I knew with a full load of upper-level classes, a new demanding job, and an ASDA officer position I could not manage to make time to study during the fall semester for a test that covers three years of undergrad science material.  I’m still taking six hours of summer school starting Wednesday, so finding several hours a day to study for the DAT on top of that for about two months will be a challenge, but I’m more than ready to get this ball rolling as the first step of a long process to get into my choice of dental school (which is just another first step of an even longer process).  This picture pretty much explains my life right now.
IMG_3910 I’ll be sure to update how my studying is going as I trudge through all this massive amount of information and share what God is doing in my life in this time of fully relying on Him for my strength and perseverance.  When I grow weary from writing organic chemistry reactions, memorizing every step of embryonic development, or when I find myself discouraged thinking of how much emphasis this test has on my future, here are some of the verses that always refresh my point of view:
1 Corinthians 15:58
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always ABOUNDING in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Romans 5:3-5
“More than that, we REJOICE IN OUR SUFFERINGS, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Psalm 142:3a
“When my spirit faints within me, You know my way!”
Colossians 1:11
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all ENDURANCE and PATIENCE with JOY.”
Galatians 6:9
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will REAP, if we do not give up.”
Psalm 20:4
“May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans.”
Romans 8:28 (AMP)
“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.”

P.S. Portobello burger recipe will be going up tomorrow, so don’t worry – I’ll still make time to eat good and share!