Thursday, August 30, 2012

Finding the right apartment

I am sort of settled in- I haven’t made any progress from the last time I wrote. I definitely lucked out moving into an apartment I’d never seen before and rooming with a stranger off of facebook. I’ve lived here about two weeks and love it so far. The street leading up to my apartment has red brick roads which makes the walk home so much better.

With that said, I’m realizing that there are a couple more things you should look at when moving into your new place. I did not care to check these, but I know what to look for next time I’m searching for a new apartment.

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1. Where is the closest bus stop?
If you don’t have a car and decide to take your newly bought microwave on the bus, even two blocks may feel too far. Same for groceries and miscellaneous shopping errands.

2. How safe is the daily commute from school/work/bus station?
A couple of my friends live further west from my apartment. When they are dropping me off, they go back east and take a street that’s a block south. West Philadelphia is very different block to block. Although your apartment may be in a good neighborhood, the walk you take back and forth dental school may be dangerous. True story: One of our classmates had a break-in attempt his first night in Philadelphia. He became known as “the guy who lives on 47th”.

3. Who lives around the apartment?
Our neighbors are mostly graduate students, but some of our classmates live in buildings with tons of undergraduates. (I say “undergraduates” like I was never one myself.) They are just coming back to campus which means… shots! shots! shots! There have been a ton of parties which inevitably spill into the hallway. Other things spill onto the hallway too.

4. Where is the nearest police station?
Or if it’s not a police station, a building that has security guards. A parking lot guarded by security is nice too. This way, you know that there is someone who patrols your area regularly and you feel safer seeing someone in a uniform.

5. Where is your mailbox? Where is your trashcan?
To get into my apartment I need to go through three doors with different keys. Our mailboxes are located just past the first door which means I don’t have to worry about packages being left on the street and being stolen. In addition, our trashcans are locked inside and taken out on trash collection day. If you are paranoid about identity theft, you know this takes one worry off your mind.

…And maybe figure out where the nearest frozen yogurt place is:


All the undergraduates are moving in this week! I see parents and students lugging mirrors and chairs across campus every day now.

My apartment has all sorts of amenities I didn’t think I needed: granite countertop, washer/dryer in unit, two bathrooms and ceiling fans. I’ve grown to appreciate them so much! Plus my roommate is an awesome cook. This means I can forget about the raccoon I saw last week?- it made a hissing noise…

What’s the best thing about your apartment?
What is most important to you when you are shopping for a new apartment?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Finding the sweet studying spot

Classes are well under way! We have an interesting integrated class schedule which means we don’t have set blocks or semesters. At one point we have up to seven classes that are going on at the same time. I think this system is going to take some getting used to. Our schedules are different day to day, week to week (Google calendar!).

I’ve been checking out the various Penn libraries for my ideal studying space. I love that the Penn School of Dental Medicine is right on the main campus. We are close to all the on-campus resources including the free coffee at our Graduate Student Center.


I need to thank Naz-cakes: colored pencils she got me for my birthday are fantastic. They have a great grip & feel, they write smooth, and the colors are so pretty. We are picking up a lot of dentistry terminology including the teeth morphology and treatments. These wonderful colored pencils make studying so much more fun.


I study better outside my own apartment but it is difficult to carry so much stuff around. We’re not in Kansas Houston anymore. I can’t just throw my stuff in the trunk and hop into my car. Okay, libraries are like five blocks away from my house but when I’m feeling tired, five blocks is enough to keep me from heading out the door. Maybe I should pack a rolling suitcase for my studying material?

I should review for my Dental Simulations class tomorrow: 8-10AM bright and early!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Twas the night before the first day…

This is it everyone! I am finally starting dental school. You guys have been flooding me with words of wisdom and encouragement this week. Thank you! Depending on when you caught me, I was feeling a different shade of emotion each moment.

I love that we had an entire week of orientation and evening social activities to get to know our classmates. It’s been an experience. For one, I was out every night. Drinking. Chatting. Dancing. Eating! Someone said orientation is the best part of dental school. While munching on a Philly cheese steak at 2AM with new friends, I hoped maybe orientation week can last forever.


This morning I had brunch with the church crew at The Gold Standard. I spent the rest of the day at home lounging in my comfiest clothes and watching Pretty Little Liars. A D2 Crew Head advised we carve out time for ourselves-especially when classes get intense- because you will study non-stop otherwise.

Penn does a great job of easing us into our schedule. We still have a few weeks until our first exam, and we don’t get into intense 8-5PM dental school scheduling until late September (whew!). So I should sleep now instead of fretting.


I asked my friend Dan- who is starting his second year of teaching- if he is nervous about first day of school. He said, “YES! I think everyone is nervous about first days- I’m just nervous my kids will ruin me.” He didn’t actually say that, but it’s reassuring that even teachers get nervous about starting the school year. So tomorrow brings a new year, new beginnings, me entering the really professional phase of my dental career.

Good luck to everyone starting off their school year!
Do grown-ups get nervous about first days too? (Do first day jitters ever stop?)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Philadelphia firsts.

After our week of orientation, Monday is our first day of classes! Now we’re armed with knowledge and confidence to start the first day of our first year of dental school… maybe? Let’s reflect on this week:

1. First visit to Trader Joe’s

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I had my first ever visit to Trader Joe’s and I was not disappointed!!! Compared to the huge spread out supermarkets in Houston (HEB, Fiesta) Trader Joe’s is tiny and has limited variety of produce compared to those. There are no brand name chips- everything is a variation of the “Trader Joe” brand. But… I love it! I hear it is crowded most of the time though, and I can see why.

2. First overnight oats

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I finally made overnight oats! Kathryn and I had discussed this- have you tried it yet Kat? I soaked oatmeal (use the old-fashioned kinds not instant) in almond milk overnight and in the morning added some blueberries to the mix. I’ve been eating out every day this week while sightseeing and meeting new people, but this is so simple and easy. I think I’ll come back to this recipe again and again. You can add other toppings (peanut butter, nuts, berries and fruits, protein powder) to change things up.

3. First week in Philly

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Lastly this was my first entire week in Philadelphia. I’m still getting used to everything: using SEPTA, Center City and University City, different Penn computing systems, knowing where it’s dangerous… but I love it here so far. It’s a mix of different neighborhoods (walking along Rittenhouse Square feels like NYC, the brownstone row houses like Boston) but so different from Houston or South Tampa.

Oh… and first dental student freebies:

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What’s your favorite thing about living in a new city?
For me it’s finding out where the locals hang out.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

On love and other relationships

When I was in Houston having lunch at Mission Burrito with Jessica and Jules, our conversation drifted over to relationships. I love discussing relationships and personal issues with friends because they can guide you toward an objective evaluation of your situation. Things you fretted about for days become obvious. Juli suggested I write about this on my blog- so here I am.

I watched The Five Year Engagement on the plane and loved the Elmo/Cookie Monster scene where Violet and her sister are arguing in Elmo/Cookie voices in front of the five-year-old. There is no clip of it on Youtube, but the most important line you’ll hear between laughing uncontrollably is this:

There is no perfect cookie, just pick one and take a bite!

Does this sound jaded? Maybe so, but there is no way to meet the millions of people out there. This has been the theme of my life recently: deal with the consequences. Don’t fret so much making the decision- you don’t know what’s the best route is and you probably never will.


You should leave something because you don’t like the current status, not because you think there’s something better out there. Even if you can’t express why in words, the desire that you want to leave it enough. The last part I got from the Dear Sugar columns by Cheryl Strayed- I love this advice column. She is talking about relationships here, but I think this advice applies to life in general.

I know this is hard to do when you only see the shiny pretty surfaces everyone else puts out (um, facebook?). And when you are so involved in your own life, it’s difficult to see clearly… I should know.

I think this post got a little ramblier than I’d planned but my main points are these:

- Ask your friends to give you an honest assessment of your situation.
- Know how you are feeling about the situation.

These two sound contradictory. But I think when you are having that conversation with your friend, observing your own reactions will help you realize how you feel. Often times all we need is a listener who helps us lay out our own emotions.

I think this is me getting wiser because college-Yesle did not do these things! But in talking with the J’s I realized how much others see, even if they are not living out your life step by step. So Jules and Jessica- you guys are wonderful. I miss chatting with you guys already.

Friday, August 24, 2012

What dental/med school will feel like

I have been formally inducted to the family of Penn SDM with our white coat ceremony this Monday.


Meanwhile, my dear friend Enstin who promises her blog will not turn in to a med school blog posted this gem on Pigeons & Loquats. I had to share it with you!

My dear friend bchan is a 4th year med student and has been a wonderful guide so far in this journey, a few steps ahead of me and always sharing her experiences and expressing her thoughts on her path in the medical profession so far. She is so talented, involved (she also writes for HealthTap University and imedicalapps), and a genuine person!

me: i feel like i’m about to go on a roller coaster ride i won’t get off
until like retirement

BChan: yeah
you are
but it’s a fun roller coaster. sometimes.
and sometimes you’re going upside down and you feel like you’re going to fall to your death
but the seatbelts keep you in.
you’ll be ok
you won’t like everything
and sometimes you’ll wonder why the hell you even went
but in the end i think it turns out ok

In one of our orientation talks, the speaker suggested that we “find out giant and climb up”. In speaking with the D2 crew heads and my big sibling (here at Penn we all get one!) I have to agree. Any strange combination of emotions I’ve felt, people before me have felt similar things- or can at least understand why I’m having such feelings.

I spoke about unraveling the different reasons for fear of dentists before. I’m a different vegetable soup of emotions this week and I’ve been trying to point out the tangle of emotions. It’s a delicate mixture of excitement and worries and paranoia, pessimism, self doubt, confusion and disorientation.

Our orientation is officially over. We learned everyone’s names, got certified in CPR, set up our emails and became facebook friends. And next Monday will be my first day of dental school. First day of dental school! I’m in dental school. (That feels weird to say out loud.) I’m a dental student- one of those fortunate ones who made it past the admissions. I was so envious of me when I attended interviews last fall.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cold and delicious in Philadelphia

I used to drive around Houston with my favorite buddy frozen yogurt on the passenger seat. At 30 cents an ounce, Houston’s Yogurtland on Shepherd is frozen yogurt heaven- plus they have really cute spoons. So one of the first things I looked up for Philadelphia was frozen yogurt, ice cream and gelato shops.


I didn’t need to look far, for we have Capogiro. Capogiro has been named #1 place to get ice cream in the world by National Geographic. They have multiple locations in Philadelphia and one happens to be two minutes from my apartment. Perfect for dental school studying emergencies: “I NEED GELATO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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I got the peanut butter and chocolate mix- so rich and delicious. The kiwi one tastes just like kiwi, including the little black seeds. I have a feeling we are going to be frequenting this place… (also read this hilarious Hemingway-esque account of someone’s Capogiro visit on their blog: “Hank said he was a lousy hipster but Alice thought he was kinda good looking so I didn't say much either way.”)

Where’s your favorite frozen yogurt/ice cream/gelato place?
Speaking of these, what is your favorite cold treat?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Almost official: white coat ceremony tonight!

I decided to wear an old J.crew dress to my white coat ceremony. There is a funny memory associated with it so I hesitated wearing this, but it’s comfortable, long-sleeved, and appropriate for the occasion.

Today was our first morning at orientation and we have the afternoon off. I’ve been meeting so many different people these last few days. But I’m still not sure if I’ve met everyone yet! Mark’s tip for memorizing names works. I’ve been using it a little bit differently- if someone reminds me of another friend (which has been happening a lot), I link the two names together. For example, one of the Crew Heads has the name of a character on The Office. He also reminds me of an old co-worker who has another character’s name on the show. Plus we thankfully have name tags.


Also never have I ever been asked if I have a British accent. I’ve been asked about my accent a few times and no, it’s not quite Californian- not really Korean. So friends who’ve heard me speak: do I???

Our White Coat Ceremony is tonight. A few more hours before it finally happens.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Unpacking in progress

(Jules this is for you!)

After two nights in Philly in an empty room, my stuff arrived- or more like exploded/landed at our apartment. Our neighbors helped move these up the stairs… thank god. My arm was sore from getting my vaccinations.

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I watched Marie Antoinette and Charade on hulu while unpacking all evening. I’ve been making slow progress all day! Much of it is deciding how to organize things then actually putting things into the designated space. There’s a lot of storage space but without divided compartments so it’s easy to waste space.

On Thursday a few of us went to the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll. You can try food from different restaurants on Baltimore for one dollar each. Plus you know how much I love food and food festivals.

This evening we walked around Center City, visited the LOVE sculpture, and grabbed dessert at the #1 gelato place in the world (only two blocks from my house!!!). And today I met up with Rice friends which was lovely- a piece of Owl heart in Philadelphia. It’s great to chat with someone who has lots of passion and belief in his job.

I’m signing off Philly style tonight-
xoxo Yesle

What is your secret to happy unpacking?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shoebox to shoebox: finally in Philly!

My apartment is just about the cutest thing ever. It is a row house- it’s just that our unit isn’t one entire row house. Umma called it rundown: I call it lived in and loved. I love the hardwood floors. I love that I step outside the front door and I’m on one of the main roads of Philadelphia (they are all named after trees), the long narrow hallway, the oven. I’m still in the process of unpacking and setting up my apartment, but I’m having a lot of fun furnishing this little apartment.

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I am still waking up really early- I think it’s a combination of jet lag and anxiety. This morning I ended up heading out early for errands of the day. I walked around the Penn campus, checked out the gym (great but Rice and its resort outdoor pool spoiled me), and snapped a ton of pictures.

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But Pottruck has an indoor climbing wall and a juice bar. That’s pretty cool.

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And last but not least, the building where I’ll be spending the majority of my next four years. It is so sunny and beautiful here today but still cool enough to sip on hot coffee.

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I’m loving this walking around thing. It’ll get a lot easier once my cast comes off and I can’t wait to explore the city. And yes, I am still pretty nervous about school and classes but I’m so enamored with the city and Penn! I keep looking around thinking: do I really get to live here for the next four years? Plus, Alex is going through her first week so it’s like we’re in this together, guiding and encouraging each other.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Old friends are gold

Make new friends and keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.

I’m sitting in Naz’s kitchen eating Pakistani rice and yogurt this morning. It was wonderful taking a hot shower, sleeping in a comfy warm bed with the a/c on, eating fresh fruits and feeling the Houston sun… I’m in bliss.


Not quite there yet but getting there.

The two short days I’m passing through Houston, I met up with many of my Houston friends. Many of them are starting school, having crazy times at work, busy with applications and all that jazz but these wonderful people made time to see me. Thank you for giving me advice on my dental school life and making me feel tons better about this huge change.

I’ll miss Houston tremendously- and that’s a good thing. I am happy that I formed these bonds that will make me miss Houston and think lovely things about this Texas city. New friends are great but old friends are priceless. Sharing memories you reminisce over together while filling in each other’s missing parts is wonderful.

When I was in Korea, I met up with my middle school friends- I hadn’t seen many of them since middle school, but everything just fell together. We spent hours catching up, laughing at silly memories (from 2004!), and flipping through our graduation album. Since I moved to Tampa, I didn’t see my middle school graduation album until this summer! By now I can look back and laugh at what babies we were. This is me in our school uniform.


I may be out of it culturally (“I feel a men-boong coming on") but I appreciate how unique and endearing Korea is more because I’m away. Same with old friends. It’s great living together and sharing everyday laughs, but that absence makes you remember how much you love having someone in your life.

Call me, Skype me, email me, facebook me! Geographical distance means nothing in our world- no more sad quilt squares loaded onto band wagons. I promise I’ll do the same.

Monday, August 13, 2012

An end and a beginning. (An-nyong!)

Can everyone say hello’s in Korean now? Big hello’s and good-bye’s all around. I’m currently sitting in the Atlanta airport half-awake and very tired. I was wheelchair-ed through security and customs: no lines! Is this what it’s like to fly private?

The fourteen hour flight across the Pacific Ocean was good. I finally watched The Artist which was just lovely. It has all the charm of old movies: light, enjoyable and fun.

We spent our last weekend at our grandma’s house in Daegu. I put this photo on Facebook which… really has no context. The flowers are so fragrant and beautiful this time of year. I was standing for pictures when Mark decided to eat some.


And so it begins.

I found my undergraduate General Announcements booklet. I remember looking through this and getting excited about all the courses offered at Rice. Then school started and I had Fondren moments where I felt like I would never graduate- but I did!

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Lo sent me an email that I’ve been reading over and over again this past week in preparation for dental school (Laurs you can stalk me anytime!). She reminded me that dental school is not a competition. This- this entire grades and life and accomplishments thing- is not a competition. And I am remembering this line from 아프니까 청춘이다 (Rough translation: “It’s painful being young”)- the most treasured flower isn’t the one that blooms the earliest. I shouldn’t get caught up in trying to be #1. Just do my thing and keep my eyes on the prize- my prize. I’ll get there.


I must be really tired because I keep writing sentences that don’t make any sense. I need to finish this draft and limp my way towards some caffeine. It took me almost 40 minutes to write this. I am pretty stressed about moving into my apartment but I already have Philly friends who are going to help me out (thank you so much D!). I think this will be easier than packing. At least I made it here. Let’s take it one day at a time.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Finding the right white coat ceremony dress

I think I had a dress picked out for our white coat ceremony, but I don’t know if I set it aside while packing. (Penn hosts theirs on first day of orientation- others do it in the second semester or even after a few years.) I have one black dress with a lacy back that I wear for everything but I’ve worn it maybe too many times. Plus, now I have a new criterion: must look good with crutches.

wccDresses from here, here and here, white coat from here

I looked through my dresses in Korea to pick out these three final contenders. These aren’t the exact dresses but similar styles I found online.

I want something preferably not black (or white) but I don’t want it to be too flashy or too uncomfortable. When I went to Baylor College of Medicine’s ceremony last year, someone wore a fantastic tight red cocktail dress. It was gorgeous but maybe a bit over the top.

I’m leaning toward the blue polka dot one (not just because it matches my blog background!). Mine has a longer tea-length skirt and a ribbon around the waist. Since I can’t wear heels, I want something that would look cute with flats.

This is my last weekend in Korea! I’m flying out Monday morning and spending two nights in Houston. Then moving-Philadelphia-new apartment-shopping-summer-settling in-errands and… dental school. The next few days are going to be crazy.

What are you wearing to your white coat ceremony?
Do you have a go-to outfit for similar occasions?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Q (and sometimes answers) with Mark on the cold and new beginnings

I decided to have a mini interview session with my little brother over tea. He’s a great listener and we always have good conversations together. The Olympics are on live in the background. This is a Q+A session sometimes without the A. Mark just wrapped up his freshmen year at Cornell and his first working summer in Seoul. He will be an orientation leader at the freshmen o-week this fall.

I sneaked in this photo on his first day of work. He’s far off in the center with the white shirt and the backpack. Onto the questions.

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First, how do you survive the cold? (Ithaca regularly gets down to 20F!) I am worried about the northeast winters.

It's not that cold. Um. Riding the bus and not walking a lot helps. Actually I’m not getting the free freshmen bus pass next year, so other than that, dress warm. Wear layers, wear wool socks. Wear layers under your normal clothes. You definitely need gloves- buy lots of sweaters to layer.

I don’t know what to wear in the winter! What do girls look good in during the winter? Scarves and hats.

Should I buy Uggs? Also I’m going to take my old pea coats. No- lots of people wear tall dark boots on campus. I think pea coats are fine.

I am only an hour away from NYC. What should I do there?

When I went, I went to the Comedy Club, stopped by the Toys R Us, visited the NYU campus, and went to Chinatown and Little Italy for food (the best almond cookies!). Remember to say no to solicitors- they can be sneaky. Sometimes it’s fun to go into the city for something small like watching a movie.

Picture of Cornell on a heavy snow day:IMG00059-20110325-1044

It takes four hours to get from Ithaca to NYC! Maybe we can meet up there. Let’s talk about meeting new people. How did you meet people and make friends?

It is much easier when you are living in a dorm with other people. Most of my friends lived in my building last year. Once you have a few friends, you meet other people through them. But you’re not living in a dorm, so… A lot of people live on my block- so it’s similar. Okay, you also meet people in classes: some of my good friends are from my freshmen seminar which was smaller.

What about facebook? I can start making friends right now even before meeting them.

People can sometimes give off a different persona online from their physical presence. Sometimes I look at our old facebook group and the people who were really active online did not turn out to be so in real life. Each first day is a new beginning! Don't pretend to be someone you are not. Don't try to forge a new identity. You can't really hide yourself for long. Don't be fake- be yourself.

That’s a little cliché.

But it's true. And- if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. Say hi.

Here’s a question- how do you memorize names? I sometimes have a hard time remembering names.

Link names with someone you already know with that same name. And try to us their name in conversation to repeat it to yourself. This really helps.

Oh, and working out is a great way to connect- especially for guys. In the weight room it is easier to have a conversation. In the cardio room, people are usually watching television on the elliptical. I also meet a lot of people through Greek life. (Mark pledged this spring and will be living in a fraternity house this upcoming year.) Again, since a close friend pledged at a different fraternity, I met people there through him. Being introduced by a common friend is the best since you already have a common base.

Isn’t it sometimes awkward to speak to strangers?

Of course it can be awkward to meet people. But when you are in a big group, you don’t have to say a lot. Sometimes paying attention is enough. If you are uncomfortable not being part of the conversation, join them for other activities you can participate in and enjoy.

Do you have any advice for my particular situation? Being with the same 120 people for four years?

Just say it. If you are upset by something, let the other person know. You can't hold it in for long. Even if you don’t like confrontation, do it. It solves problems.

Will we hang out for Thanksgiving? I am going to E’s house. Their food is so delicious. What if you don’t get invited? I’ll probably have dinner with Martha Stewart. (We talk about some of his friends and then are distracted by the Olympics.) Okay, will you come to Penn sometime? I’ll think about it. So about that kid… (more stories)

Last words before I conclude this interview?

Make good friends. Sometimes it's necessary to keep a distance from those who aren't a good influence to you.

I hate the cold. Can you buy me new boots then? Will you send me care packages? Maybe.

Sometimes this young one is too wise for me to handle. We will only be four hours away- that’s like Austin to Houston- a totally do-able drive on a weekend, although I don’t have Kasey anymore. And a weekend get-together in NYC is totally feasible too!

Time on public transportation

Mark and I sat out at Caffe Bene again for a cold escape. It’s still a little miserable here but it’s finally cooling down. The worst is over.

I’ve been running some last minute errands around Seoul. I’m not taking cabs anymore since I feel more comfortable with public transportation (and have this awesome app- it’s similar to hopstop). And I need to get used to life without a car. Thankfully the Seoul buses and subways are air-conditioned to a perfectly cool, dry, crisp air-conditioning perfection.

This is the bad thing about public transportation: there is a lot of waiting time. There are apps to track when your bus will be arriving, but since I take five minutes to walk a block (worse if the streets are sloped) I like to be on the safer side and come out early.

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But the best part of taking buses is the waiting time, both waiting for the bus and waiting for your destination. I’ve been able to squeeze in a few pages each ride and it’s great. Running around for a week = halfway through The Beautiful and Damned (I’ve wanted to read it since the Gossip Girl reference).

2012-08-08 10.46.29You look familiar! Home sweet home.

In Seoul and its suburbs it’s perfectly fine to live without a car- so different from Houston. I forget how wonderful it is to have someone else taking you places. It’s great to stare out the window or people-watch too.

What do you like to do on buses and trains?

Extra tablet for dental school: Nook or iPad

You may have noticed that I take my Nook everywhere. It’s in the background of my studying/working/workplace posts. The best money I’ve ever spent- except for the fact that I buy too many books because it’s so easy.

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We recently got an iPad and it’s fantastic. If you don’t spend much of your time writing and instead browse (reddit, facebook, the news, magazines), the iPad is perfect. It’s just like a tablet phone, only much much bigger. I found this from our old pile of Newsweek covers- from April 2010. Remember when Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPad and everyone was confused about just what it was supposed to be?

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Although my nook is great, you can only go the Barnes and Nobles market with its internet connection. There is no personal storage cloud where I can upload and download freely from my computer to the nook. So I rooted my nook following these instructions from lifehacker.


It’s great that I can go back into the Nook mode if I want to use my nook for its original reading purpose. The E-ink technology makes the screen difficult for scrolling but now I can check my email, go online, and read the news on my nook in a pinch. I still have my laptop for the Youtube videos and amoeba pictures but I love that the nook has so much battery power and doesn’t strain my eyes.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Working in air conditioning

Little brother and I escaped to the neighborhood coffee shop to work. Our apartment was heating up to 33 degrees without air conditioning! That is ninety degrees for you Americans.

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So we went out for some cool caffeinated (air-conditioned) relief at Caffe Bene (a Korean chain coffee store which just opened in NYC). We:

… discussed The Dark Knight Rises which we saw with Appa this weekend. We sat on the second row with a huge box of popcorn. We agreed the second one was better.


… planned out our upcoming academic semester over iced lattes and Americanos.

…. listened to music, read, watched Youtube clips, made Korea bucket lists and made back-to-school shopping lists.

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It is a fact that you focus better 26 degrees than in 33 degrees, extra points for caffeine. It is difficult to start a Power Hour at a happy public place like this, but I got a lot done here.

There might be another side effect to global warming: increase in crimes. The heat hypothesis says people get increasingly aggressive in response to the rising temperatures. Riots happen more frequently in hotter weathers.

We realized this after we were already out: Mark and I wore matching red polo shirts and blue shorts. How did he know matching is one of my favorite things to do on an outing? ;)

What is your ideal studying temperature?
Where are you having your summer pow-wow’s?

Do I need to major in the sciences?

This is a common question for someone planning to go to dental school (or med school or any other health professions, for that matter).

The fact is that you don’t need a Bachelor’s degree to get into dental school. Some schools strongly suggest you finish your bachelor’s degree by the time you start dental school, but many others only require certain prerequisite classes.


For University of Pennsylvania, minimum prerequisites for admissions are:

- One year of biology and lab
- Three semesters of chemistry and lab
- One year of English
- One semester mathematics (calculus preferred)
- One year of physics
- One semester of biochemistry

That is about 40 credits in addition to whatever you choose to major in. These are tough classes- biochemistry kicked my butt when I took it. But it is only 40 credits. If you take one or two every semester during your four years (or have AP’d out of them), it’s not so hard.

I think you should major in whatever you want to study. What would you do if you didn’t go to dental school? Then choose the path and the degree required for that path. If you don’t have a concrete plan, find whatever your passion is and study it. Plus, the fact is that your undergraduate days will be a great chance (if not last) to brush up on classes not-dentistry-related.

You can look through the ADEA Guide to Dental Schools and see how much of each dental school’s applicants are entering dental school with a Bachelor’s degree- or a Master’s or even a PhD.

At my interviews, when we did our usual round of introductions, more than half of the people had studied something different in school: English, Psychology, Art History, Chemical Engineering… I think it’s admirable when you have a passion that reaches outside of your career.

(And the picture is cow dung pieces from Haslla hanging in the sculpture garden- I just think it’s really cool and had to share this!)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bedbound- again.

I went out running last week and sprained my ankle. Physical therapy and ankle in a cast. I was dumb for going out running at night on the sidewalk- seriously regret this decision. I could have skipped one workout instead of having to sit out for two weeks.


Meanwhile, I’m looking at dental school textbooks, watching the London Olympics (Korea is #3 right now with nine gold medals!), and catching up on my reading. I also found a copy of The Sun Also Rises my dad studied in high school- underlined with notes and all.

I really hope I can ship out my boxes from Houston and take them up the stairs in Philly! In two short weeks I’ll be getting ready for my first day of dental school. With or without crutches? I don’t know.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I love power hours.

Not the kind you are thinking. But what I like to call the Productivity Power Hour.

I hate multitasking. And I can’t do it. Instead I choose one task I need to complete, close all other windows, set a timer for twenty minutes and go-go-go. This online timer is great if you are worried about losing track of time while engrossed in your project.


An old friend taught me to be “slow and steady”. We worked on our Math Analytics problem sets together and he would fall into this mental haze poring over the problem sets. He would also say things like “I need to go write this email” which I did not understand until I saw his way of doing things: one at a time, fully engrossed in only that one particular task. He also made time to listen to music. Like just listen to U2. That was such a novel concept to me at the time.

Through working with him I learned that I work much better when I focus on one task. My study habits changed fundamentally that semester. Doing five things at once feels hardcore (“I’m writing this email while watching Gossip Girl, while working on this problem set, while rocking out to Taylor Swift”) but try doing a “Biology Power Hour” or a “Presentation Power Hour”. Set off a block of time to do one thing and one thing only. See how you do.

And I love the feeling after a fabulous power hour, emerging from that Intense Focus mode and everything around you slowly coming into consciousness. Items on your to-do list are crossed off, the entire chapter read and understood, and you realize what felt like five minutes was actually an hour. What a great Power Hour.

Do you have similar “Power Hours”? Do these happen with or without music for you? (For me, sometimes I need to blast some upbeat rock music.
At Haslla I’ve been known to start singing without realizing it…)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Our crazy first year exam schedule

Penn SDM sent out our entire first year’s exam schedule a few weeks ago. I went through my go-to organization guru the almighty Google Calendar and put in my first year exam schedule.


I might not know what I’m doing for New Years (Hi AQ and Lo- Times Square?), what I’m doing for spring break or where I’ll be spending my next birthday but I do know this: I’ll be in Room B60 from 8 to 8:45AM on May 20th taking my Restorative Dentistry Lab Exam… and so on.

Few weeks ago I went to a University of Pennsylvania dental students meeting in Seoul. I picked up some great advice from second year’s including:

  • Sleep and party during Orientation Week.
    Penn has an entire week dedicated to helping us get settled in- just like Rice. But maybe without all the crazy ridiculous fun like shaving cream fights and mock beer bikes (and dis-o???). 
  • Relax this summer (done and done). Eat good food (done).
  • Dental school will be incredibly hard, but somehow you’ll make it through.

Am I scared that there’s an exam every week in dental school and that there will be thirty five classes we’ll be taking, weaving in and out of each other’s topics and me, running around Philadelphia with a heavy backpack and sitting on my desk panicking just looking at the exam schedule? Yes- terrified- but I somehow know that I can do it, so bring it on.