Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happy Chuseok.

There is no time I miss Korea more than during the holidays. One of the two major holidays in Korea is 추석 (Chuseok), the Korean thanksgiving. In this year’s lunar calendar it’s this Sunday, September 30th.

Chuseok is a day for Koreans to remember our ancestors (we have a special ceremony) and celebrate the year’s harvest (figuratively too). When we lived in Korea, my family would go to our grandma’s house for the weekend and visit our relatives who live nearby. We would literally make the rounds- going to seven or eight houses of our different relatives who each fed us a full traditional Korean meal.

Little kids in Korean dresses on a non-Korean swing20120927000080_t

For dessert, Koreans eat a special kind of dduk called 송편- Songpyeon (picture source). The shapes vary from region to region. It’s always fun to gather in the kitchen and mold these little rice flour dough and put the fillings (sweet grains and honey) inside. They are then steamed over a boiling pot.


I so badly want to go home. I haven’t celebrated a Korean holiday at home for the last seven years- Chuseok or the Lunar New Year. I checked airplane tickets to fly out and they are about $1700 last minute. Not bad, but we have another exam coming up. And I can’t just fly to Korea last minute, missing classes and getting jet-lagged both ways.

I have no family here in America which means both Thanksgiving and Christmas just fly on by for me. We do “celebrate” it but not the way Americans do- or the way we do back home in Korea with our families. Sometimes during the holidays I feel like The Little Match Girl looking into everyone’s happy family moments from the cold snowy outside.

So I’m in Philadelphia. Thinking of home. Happy Chuseok everyone.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Paintings by Hakki Engin Giderer: framed & up

Anatomy quiz= DONE. I did much better on the actual quiz than the mock one the night before. I didn’t beat myself up for the few that I missed because I was well-rested instead.

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This evening I went to another seminar on community health and policy (I’m still processing some information- I’ll be sure to write about it soon). I dropped by the art store on my way home. I got the customizable frames that need assembling. A little fastening of the screws and voila:

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These paintings are by Dr. Hakki Engin Giderer of Çankiri Karatekin University. He participated in the summer residency program at Haslla Art World. I had many fascinating discussions with him about the different cultures of Korea and Turkey, specifically about mental issues – Hakki’s trained as a psychologist- and difference in education/parenting.

I also watched him paint his whimsical paintings in the workshops behind the gallery. He worked on paintings with different tribal motifs and teapots. “Why teapots? I don’t know.” He said when I first asked him.

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When I first got these I couldn’t possibly accept. But he had painted these for me! These paintings are a wonderful reminder of this past summer. Now they’re up on my walls to make me smile and miss Hakki and his lovely wife Birsen. I think this must be how an apartment becomes a home.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pequea Valley Farms Yogurt

I have a grocery shopping problem. Since the grocery store is right next to the dental school, I drop by after class as sort of a de-stressing shopping spree.

But something good did come out of this. I picked this Pequea Valley Farms Yogurt out in a hurry while grocery shopping. It was out in the front and although it was a little bit pricy at $5/32 ounces, I picked it up for convenience.

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Am I glad I did… because this stuff is amazing.

It’s so rich and creamy with a different kind of tartness. It has more body than the regular tanginess of plain yogurt. It comes from an Amish dairy farm in Lancaster County just outside Philadelphia.

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I am eating this stuff plain without adding anything and it still tastes amazing.

But about this grocery shopping problem: yesterday I had to force myself not to walk into the grocery store. Sometimes I drop in and walk around for an hour without even buying anything…My favorite section has been the pastries with the croissants, bagels, and challah bread lately.

I also haven’t been running much. I sit at my desk all day and snack all the time (also bad for teeth). Someone told me I’m burning up by using brain fuel but probably not enough for me to eat junk food mindlessly! And we just started keeping food diaries for nutritional analysis in Health Promotions class.

Patient: Yesle.
Diet consists of twizzlers and yogurt, coffee consumed at all hours of the day (including midnight), constant snacking without sit-down meals.
Risk factor: high

Do you eat more when you are studying?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Add in a coffee budget

I love coffee. As a dentist-to-be I should probably reduce my coffee intake so I have beautiful perfect teeth. But to get through dental school (and be a dentist) I need caffeine…. Catch-22 right here.

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I watched this trailer for Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee Book & I’m nostalgic for the coffee-obsessed culture at Haslla Art World. We would spend all morning tasting coffee- hand-drip the coffee, pour it into little mugs and go around discussing the cup.

In the beginning I laughed because I couldn’t taste anything different- are these people for real? But by the end of the summer, I grew to appreciate the intricate and subtle components of coffee. Umma and I even checked out coffee shops in Gangneung and tried to guess what coffee beans they were using.

I’ve been brewing my own coffee at home but it’s such a treat to buy coffee from a  wonderful-smelling coffee shop. And this is the problem: I’ve been buying coffee every. single. day. To the point where I spend more money on coffee than food.

A hot cup of coffee is the best on cold Philadelphia days like today. Cold, freezing, paralyzing 60’s. I bundled up. This yellow scarf is colored with traditional Korean dye made with onions. (Thank you Umma-bear!) Other people were sporting T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops. Quote of the day comes from a classmate who announced: “My body is hot… um, I mean warm?” But it’s sort of true…


4-6-6 suiteys- I have my owl up on my wall. Yesterday I also met up with a fellow Rice Owl Helen who is leaving for her Peace Corp service this week. It may be cold in Philadelphia but not where my heart is. Now, if I can just make it out to Houston for Rice’s Centennial Celebration

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gangnam Style flash mob at Penn

I was sporting professional scrubs on a Sunday.

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Why? Because of this…

If you are facebook friends with me, my friend put up this video with a closer shot of me on facebook. I’m in scrubs on the right side of the screen. These K-beats ladies are so good! If I could dance like that… I would dance 24/7.

Okay, biochemistry exam tomorrow. Back to studying. This flash mob was my study break of the day. There was so much energy and enthusiasm from the dancers and the crowd (come on, everyone knows this dance). So much fun to actually do the dance. I actually watched an interview of Psy when I was in Korea this summerMark and I tried to perfect the horse-galloping dance together. Who knew it would become the hit of summer 2012?

I think this counts as a “#23 the crazy idea” on my bucket list.

How much do you love the Gangnam Style dance?

Dental school Week 4 in pictures

More pictures!!! seems to be the consensus. This week officially concludes summer 2012. It is officially fall.

Here is my Week 4 of dental school in pictures which… is a bit misleading. I didn’t just eat and hang around all day (Appa-bear your $$$ isn’t going to waste!). I just don’t take a lot of pictures when I’m studying. Maybe I should.

Make your own Philadelphia cheese steaks at Gradfest 2012. We got to meet graduate students from other professional schools and eat. And eat.


Crashing the undergraduates’ Skimmer Fest. I can’t resist Philadelphia pretzels or Rita’s ice especially when they are free. (Whose sunglasses am I wearing? <3)

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Photographic evidence that I go to dental school and dental classes. Another Monday, another coffee marathon. Starting the day off right. (Side note: I used to wear this jacket in middle school! I grew two inches between 8th grade and now.)


Small patch of sunshine through the window. It may be getting colder in Philadelphia but that just makes the occasional sun so much better. It’s lovely to lie on the bed and catch a little sun while reading.


I’ve decided: I love the heat and the humidity. It’s so warm (ha) and embracing. My go-to happy memory (when I am getting three shots or feeling sad) is me and my three best friends, lying out on the beach in Cozumel, staring up at the blue sky and the ocean. Completely relaxed without thoughts of school/deadlines/applications.


I dug this picture up from facebook. Oh, and I was tan too. Yesterday a friend looked at me and said, “Yesle, you’re getting really pale.” Emergency SUN!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bridging the gaps: Vision for Philadelphia

I went to my first Bridging the Gaps seminar. Dr. Donald Schwarz, the Health Commissioner and Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity for Philadelphia, gave a talk titled A Vision for the City. Some interesting points that tied back to our Health Promotions class:

- It takes a long time to change your body imagery. If you grow up around a vastly overweight population, it will take a long time for you to realize that not being overweight is normal.

- We need systematic changes that make it easy for people to make healthy choices. Providing the right environment for healthy decisions includes fluoridating water supply, building pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and giving easy access to fresh foods (healthy snack vending machines).

philArticle: 31% of families often “don’t have enough money to buy food they need”

One of the diagnostic questions for caries risk is “food insecurity”. If you are filling up with cheap instant options, you are not only missing necessary nutrients but also exposing your teeth to lots of sugar in form of high fructose corn syrup. Potato chips are one of the worst foods for your teeth since they get stuck around your nooks and crannies.

In Philadelphia, we have the Philly Food Bucks program where SNAP (Philadelphia’s version of food stamps) recipients get an extra $2 per $5 spent at farmers’ markets. We also have Healthy Corner Store Initiatives to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income neighborhoods. This initiative provides incentives for grocery stores to carry and market fresh products.

Also: how do we not feel guilty eating a nice meal or even grabbing a latte knowing people are hungry and starving around us? Especially in Philadelphia I see people asking for food all the time.

Managing sleep in dental school

I wrote about the scary effects of sleep deprivation. It’s so easy to disregard sleep when you are a student. There is so much to do! So much to study! It’s important to actively manage your sleep.

- Make sleep a priority. I read that a good sleep is like a good breakfast: the best way to start your day on the right note. As important is reading/working out/studying is, sleeping is just as crucial: “Sorry, I have a prior appointment with mi cama.”

With a comfy sweater…


- Set up a sleep routine. Tell your body it’s time for bed by turning off your computer, changing into comfortable clothes, and maybe settling into bed with a book (or dental notecards).

- Go to bed at the same time each night including weekends. I’m probably not the only person who wakes up five hours later on weekends… But it’s important to settle into a routine so that your body knows when to sleep and when to wake up. This might mean saying no to that party that starts at 11PM but remember that sleep is your priority, just as much as anything else.

- Check out this website: You can type in when you have to wake up and get ideal bedtimes according to the normal 90-minute sleep cycle.

- Download this app on your phone: Sleep as Android. I used the free trial for two weeks and totally got hooked on it. You can generate sleeping pattern graphs to see how much you tumble/move during the night by having the phone detect your movements. My favorite part is Smart Alarms which adjust your morning alarm time so that you are woken up at the end of your sleep cycle.

…and you can see I was burning the midnight candle this exam week.


A good measure to see if you are sleep deprived is to measure your sleep onset latency. In the daytime, measure how many minutes it takes for you to fall asleep. More than 20 minutes means you are getting enough sleep and maximally alert. If you are fighting to stay awake class, you are most definitely sleep deprived.

Also, just kidding. It’s a onesie.


And it’s perfect for cold Philadelphia nights. Just don’t go out in public with it…

How do you wake up on time?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy 6 months blogging!

I love food and I especially love fresh produce. And today I tried something that blew my mind: fresh figs. This pint is now gone. Demolished. Absorbed-distributed-metabolized-eliminated.
This does relate to my main point about celebrating this blog’s 6-month milestone. I love Fig Newtons, I love TJ fig bars, I’d gobble up fig-flavored gum if they existed. Then today I finally try a real fig and it’s better than anything I’ve imagined. It is sweeter, crunchier, softer… the little stalk at the top is just too funny. It makes the fig look like a miniature purple onion.
I started this blog as I was preparing for this new chapter of my life. I had a vague idea what dental school was going to be like (and my blog narrating that dental school life) would be like, but to actually live it… is totally different. Does this make sense? It’s late and I just watched a lecture recording which put me in a weird déjà vu/Truman Show-esque mood…
My main point is to express gratitude for support and love you guys have given me throughout this blog’s young existence. Giving me tips throughout the application process (much of which I’ve written about here), celebrating with me as necessary, checking up on me when my posts sound a little too emo, and encouraging me to keep writing on this blog platform. This blog has also been a great way to meet new people (Hi new friends and readers!) which makes me incredibly happy- we’re all in this together.
Tiffany agrees that life is a marathon and not a sprint. She adds that my friends (including herself) are right behind me- with the water bottles.
Happy six months! xoxo

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The little things.

(I’m currently at Wharton again studying with Kathy. Writing this post is my mini study break. Also, please head over to Mouthing Off to read my post on first week of dental school!)

Some of the little things that’s been motivating me this week.

- Food. Iron chef D1 Daniel invited us for the most amazing dinner ever. With live cooking commentary and good music in his beautiful apartment. To end the perfect meal, we had the best coffee I’ve had in a long time. I was in food heaven/coma.

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- Dental school inside jokes. Also how adorable is this molar cake Liz & Jessica baked for Jackie’s birthday? Being in the classroom with 120 other D1’s all day every day, we have to be immature and silly sometimes. If you doze off in class, your picture goes on facebook before you even wake up.


- Taylor Swift’s newest song We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together on loop. I first heard this song in Houston and majorly disapproved- this doesn’t sound like TSwift! But… it’s so catchy.

- Philadelphia. When I’m heading back from the library or going grocery shopping, I catch beautiful sceneries like this… This plus our beautiful 60’s weather makes Philadelphia a wonderful place to be a dental student, even if you’re in the basement most of the time. ;)

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Also I’m fascinated that I can include GIF’s in my posts. Finding Nemo is now out in 3D. This movie is so colorful and motivating. Plus it features a dentist!!! The fishes in this scene know a lot more about dentistry than I do at the moment. Study break?


What are your study motivations?
Are you going to watch Finding Nemo in 3D?

Guest post at ASDA’s Mouthing Off

I wrote a post for Mouthing Off, American Student Dental Association(ASDA)’s official blog, about my first week of dental school.


ASDA is the national student run organization that “protects and advances the rights, interests and welfare of dental students.” ASDA has a 88% student membership across U.S. dental schools. In addition to its online blog, ASDA publishes Mouth and ASDA News (monthly newspaper).

Check out my post here: Surviving the first week of dental school. 

I’m so excited about this opportunity to write for ASDA and reach a broader audience. Make sure to check out other great posts by Mouthing Off’s contributing writers. Happy readings!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Marathon not a sprint

First test is over.

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After unwinding a bit Friday night (dressed as a cow), I spent a relaxing Saturday afternoon in bed reading (ahem) and watching Covert Affairs. I even got a low-pH soda and twizzlers for my exciting Saturday night in. I needed this.

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I just about had a panic attack grading my exam. I missed questions I had been sure about. Breathing in and out. Just in time Bruce from DC emailed me with congratulations on finishing my first exam. He ended his email with this advice: “Remember, marathon.” Right. It’s still early in the game.

But it’s difficult to not doubt myself... I calculate what I need to make on the next exam to make up for this mess, stress about this highly improbable score, then doubt my career choice altogether. What am I doing here? Maybe my strength isn’t academics- but what else am I good at?

This is the difficult part of dental school. I know this is going to happen after every test, every week, every wrong mark on the exam. Avalanche of self-doubt. How did I get by dental school admissions? Did they really think I could do this? How do I keep going when I feel unworthy to be here? How do I stay motivated? How do you muster up the energy to keep going?

Graduate school is a marathon. It’s not a sprint.

I’m at mile 0.4 (first of 54 exams). Just keep running. And so begins Exam Week #2.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sleep deprivation: getting your zzz’s

Last week was our first official Exam Week! (aka the rest of our life dental school) We had our first exam in our Embryology/Histology class this Friday, taking the embryo from fertilization to 8 weeks.

Kathryn (who’s been an MS2 for a while now!) reminded me to get enough sleep because you can’t cheat sleep for long. I heard that not having slept for 48 hours labels you temporarily insane. So I decided to look a little further.

- National Sleep Foundation found that 37% of Americans have fallen asleep while driving! Even if you shut your eyes for half of a second driving at 40mph, you are driving blind thirty feet. U.S. Department of Transportation estimated drowsy driving causes 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries every year.


- CDC did a feature on sleep deprivation calling it an “epidemic”. 38% of adults reported falling asleep unintentionally at least once in the last month- that includes the in-class head bobbing.

- Sleep dept can pile up. University of Pennsylvania study in 1997 found that even mild sleep deprivation (five hours of sleep) over a relative short amount of time (seven days) can cause decrease in cognitive function and psychomotor vigilance.

…. but it’s reversible with two full nights of good sleep.

And about that temporary insanity, severe sleep deprivation can induce psychosis (which may hold up in court as an insanity plea- remember the JetBlue pilot who caused disturbance in his cockpit causing an emergency stop?)

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An upperclassmen friend reminded me that sometimes it isn’t worth it. Ask yourself if those two extra points (from a B to a B+) really worth losing 4 hours of sleep. I know that I tend to think, “Oh, I have 14 hours until my 10AM”, not counting the ten hours I need for sleep. That only makes me procrastinate more because there’s the illusion of having extra time.

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The magic dental loupes

Our Dental Simulations professor Dr. Margrit Maggio published a study on use of loupes and its effect on dental students’ training last year. She found that students who used magnification performed better during preclinical training than those who didn’t. And with this finding, dental loupes are now required at University of Pennsylvania. That’s the power of statistics and numbers.

This semester we have a series of Lunch and Learns including Designs for Vision who came last week (with delicious pizza). Since General Restorative Dentistry (GRD) starts in the spring, we are recommended to purchase our loupes by December. Since we’ll most likely continue using these in our practices, this is a long-term investment. Loupes cost around $800- $1500.


This week I finally had a chance to try on the loupes in DentSim. I had the Designs for Vision’s Nike Skylon Ace frame with Through-the-Lense telescopes. Like the first time I used the SEM I was blown-away by the crisp detailed image through the lenses. I could see the fossa and the grooves! I could see where I was actually drilling!

I stood up straighter since I didn’t have to lean in to see the tooth. And I felt more professional with my 2.5x dental loupes. “Look at me! I’m drilling teeth with my fancy glasses on!”

How cute is this Yeoman frame? A D2 friend told me that the frames are also comfortable and sturdy. I’m leaning towards the pale pink.


There are two more vendors coming in to chat with us soon. Plus there are many more vendors out there. So many choices for this clueless student dentist. I think it’s great that we are required to have loupes since we’ll never practice without them. Now I’m just going to go water my money tree…

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Figuring out dental school routines

At my Friday evening fellowship we discussed graduate school routines. Our speaker commented that many professors point out graduate school as when their “bad habits” started. Graduating and starting your career won’t automatically make life easier/better. You have to set up routines and priorities in graduate school. Learning to balance your hobbies and passions is part of this journey.

moonrise-kingdomPicture from Moonrise Kingdom- I really want to see this.

I’m still trying to figure out a couple of things on my life’s road map.

What should I take to school? Coming home in between classes doesn’t work for me, so I like to pack for the entire day. But sometimes there are events right after school and I don’t want to lug my giant backpack with me.

When should I sleep? How long should I sleep?

How do I make time for church/ working out/ groceries/ cooking/ friends? Our class schedule is different day to day and week to week. And things take a lot more planning since I don’t have a car.

Where to study? How to study? Since we have so much material both in print and on paper, there’s a lot of stuff to carry around. The dental school is close to my apartment but Wharton (which is five blocks away) has the best study rooms.

What hobbies do I want to pursue? What causes am I passionate about?

Meanwhile, my owls are settled into their earring tree:


I just threw out fifty questions. So much to think about!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why you should skip your classes

This morning I sat in the basement computer lab of our dental school looking at my Google calendar. (D1's never see the sunlight- our lectures are in the same basement classroom.)

Physical therapy session. A visit to the dentist/D3. An interview off-campus. With our classes taking up most of the day, when am I actually going to study?


I'm trying to stay calm about about my next few days leading up to the first Embryology test. I ran into a second-year friend in the library Sunday night. After chatting a bit, I said I am peacin’ out since we have class all day tomorrow. He said "You shouldn't go to class." Well, according to our dental school tuition, one session of lecture costs $4635…

He explained himself. "You can do so much more with that two hour session if you studied by yourself at home." If you aren't going to pay attention and text/fb/skype the entire time, there's a better use for that time elsewhere. Sit at home and do something productive. You shouldn't blindly go to class just because you're supposed to. Skipping is bad. But not always.

And if you really can’t make up your mind, here’s a “Should I skip class today calculator”.

When’s the last time you skipped class?
Do you believe in skipping class?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Correct way to brush your teeth

Did everyone see the Season 2 episode of Glee where Carl the dentist comes in and checks everyone for plaque? (I loved the Brittany/Britney dream sequences.)


First of all, those plaque disclosing tablets are real! We used them in clinic. You chew on a small tablet that stains areas with heavy plaque- mostly on the gum line and interproximal boundaries between teeth. It is an easy quick way to figure out how much plaque your patient has. This gives you a chance to talk with your patient about efficient plaque removal.

So what can you do to get rid of plaque? Brush correctly using the modified Bass technique. Put a dallop of your favorite toothpaste (must have fluoride) on a soft-bristle toothbrush. Hold your toothbrush pointing 45 degrees toward surface and use small vibrating motions against the gumline. Repeat with the palatal/inside surfaces then occlusal/biting surfaces. Don’t forget about your tongue.

From the Colgate website:


Brush your teeth at least twice a day: morning and evening. Once every 12 hours is necessary to control your oral bacteria flora. Floss daily.

Does anyone brush their teeth for two minutes?
Try doing it for a few days. Hint: sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chillier (harder better faster) in dental school

Here’s my Harry Potter library look according to a really kind friend. I obviously don’t know where the webcam is.

Snapshot 6 (9-9-2012 10-05 PM)_thumb

It is getting chillier in Philadelphia, just in time for our dental school schedule to pick up. Yesterday I had to dig out my winter sweaters and scarves. The evening dipped into chilly 50’s as I headed out to the dental library. But the cold means it’s almost pumpkin spice latte and peppermint latte time.

This post is short and sweet so I can get back to memorizing how the primordial atrium divides into two, but check out this cartoon from A Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor.

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I had to laugh at the “everyone asking you medical questions” part. I’m already getting dentist questions: what toothpaste should I use? Is it okay my jaw hurts when I yawn? (Answer: one with fluoride you like the smell of and no, you might have TMD)

I’m going to grab a large coffee before going back to reading.

What’s your favorite cold weather drink?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

First day in clinic: sick in scrubs

It’s finally the weekend! I’ve been feeling a little under the weather this week. Then Thursday morning I woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose: officially sick. I coughed and sneezed through our Infection Control lecture. At least I practiced safe sneezing protocols?

Today was our first day of clinic. We are treating each other instead of real dental patients but I was still pretty excited. We went into the main clinic of our dental school and took each other’s health questionnaires. On the side, I saw third and fourth years treating dental patients. That’s going to be us in two years: consulting patients, talking to them about their health conditions, and actually doing dental work for them!

This time I borrowed scrubs from a friend- they are so comfy! It’s like wearing pajamas to school.The only choice you have to make is: what color will I wear today? I hear you get sick of these pretty fast once you’re required to wear them for dental clinic, but for now, I love how professional I feel in them. We’re not allowed to wear visible jewelry, nail polish, or hair down for our clinic sessions, so getting ready takes five minutes- though not by choice.


After some evening errands, I decided to definitely stay in this Friday night. I was looking forward to getting into my own bed all day. I had all the components of a wild Friday night: hot tea, good reads, and a cold.

Laurs and I used to laugh about this: “I’m mostly looking forward to napping after my exam!” But I am! After our embryology exam next Friday, I’m going to curl up in my own comfy bed and sleep for a long time.

Lastly… guess what’s in this box?

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Hint: think Hamlet.

Friday, September 7, 2012

All about balance (take it slow)

This weekend AQ and I had party-time thousands of miles away. We took a short break from med school and dental school to talk about life, laugh about the usual A+Y things, and put on our party hats. We text twenty times a day about classes and school (“My clothes smell like formaldehyde!” “Biochemistry test tomorrow!”) but it’s nice to chat real-time. Technology is incredible.


Today I came home to find this lovely care package from Alex.


Katherine Larson studied writing and biology as an undergraduate and got her master’s in creative writing. She takes biology and uses it as material for her writing. She’s just one of those amazing people who found a way to bridge her two passions. Alex and I aspire to do the same. We are both a little anxious because med/dental school is pretty busy. We don’t have time to read or write as much as we want to.

But I’m trying not to stress out about that long-term vision just yet. As Apoorv said (and I actually wrote this down word for word in my planner) “Yes, you need to balance your long-term and short-term goals. But you have to get the task done in front of you to go to the next place.” And there’s so much we have to get through first, like these four years of dental school. Or even just the next embryology exam…

I was listening to Ordinary People by John Legend today and these lyrics spoke to me. I know he’s talking about relationships (and his gorgeous girlfriend) but look:

We’re just ordinary people
We don’t know which way to go
Cause we’re ordinary people
Maybe we should take it slow

Now if AQ could just spare a weekend getaway to Philadelphia, then I’d be a real happy camper.

How do you keep your eyes on the prize while focusing on the present?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rainy day in the life of a dental student

I’m still settling into my dental student routine but here’s a peek into my day. I’m starting to see a routine here. Instead of GTL-ing like on everyone’s favorite show, we have GSE.

Gym, Studying, Eating. 

Gym. I dreamt that my class was canceled due to the rain. Then I woke up, realized it wasn’t and power-walked to the gym just in time for my class. I still can’t run or jump but my ankle didn’t bother me too much- so thankful.

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Studying. I got back and got dressed in groggiest dental student clothes for a study session at Huntsman Hall. Today was orientation for Wharton’s undergraduate freshmen- I didn’t even know Wharton had undergraduate business students! I listened to the welcome speeches and the Glee club’s performances. Oh, and I studied some.


Eating. For lunch, we grabbed grilled cheese with gruyere at Wharton’s new café which just opened this semester. After classes, we braved the rain and the puddles to get to Sweetgreen.


All that brainwork can be tiring. Still not satisfied with our food, we hopped over to McDonald’s (my newest hangout spot) and ran into other dental students. We procrastinated over ice cream because it was pouring outside. People were walking in like they’d hopped into the shower with their clothes on! We didn’t want our precious dental class notes to get soaked. So we hung around some more.

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Studying. We did make it back to the library as promised and studied our dental class materials studiously and quietly. True story.

There’s the saying: if you want to succeed in dental school, you only gotta do three things: Study, study, study. I can’t SSS every day but at least there is an S in my day somewhere. Another day, just have to GSE! Yeahhhh buddy.

What’s your daily routine, Jersey Shore-ified?

What happens in the tooth

We had our first lecture for Health Promotions and I loved it. Our professor puts our job into a bigger perspective, bringing in the clinical and community aspect of dentistry. She also talks about how we can prevent the problems that lead to dentist visits. Hint: Brush your teeth twice a day, snack less frequently (Stephan’s Curve), don’t sip on coffee/sugary drinks all day long.


For example, she told us that in Philadelphia, the number one reason kids miss school is due to toothaches. I can’t find the exact link but here’s a similar source on the effect of dental health on students’ school attendances.

She also told us that what happens in the tooth does not stay in the tooth. A sad example is Deamonte Driver whose oral infection moved into his brain, ultimately killing him. There is mixed consensus on whether oral bacteria can cause coronary plaques, but it’s important to recognize that your teeth problems can grow into something much bigger and life-threatening.

Remember: saliva is your friend. Saliva does more than just lubricate your foods- anyone try the saltine challenge?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

August thank-you’s

This is the second post in my gratitude series! I should be reviewing embryology right now but let me take a happy minute to think/thank it out.

1. Surviving the move-in process. I’m moved into my apartment with my beautiful hardwood floors. My apartment is so close to the dental school that our one-hour lunch break is enough for me to run home, make food, take a nap/watch Covert Affairs, and run back to school.

2012-08-27 18.52.40

2. Friends along the way. Between dancing to “Call Me Maybe” and laughing over a ridiculous embryology analogy (train from Philadelphia to Chicago?) I feel a little better about spending four years as a student again. Because I have my friends. And that’s a really good feeling, knowing that you’re not alone. And there’s some amazing driven people at our dental school- become friends with me?

3. Some difficult lessons learned…  Take every advice with a grain of salt. Make your own judgments. Take ownership in your decisions and feelings- then hold yourself responsible for them.

2012-08-30 14.54.17

4. My ankle healing well under way. This week I biked along the Schuylkill and went aqua-jogging at the Sheerr Pool! A little bit more physical therapy and I just might be able to prep for that 8k

5. And the long weekend. Thank God we had the Day weekend to look forward to. I worked on some of my 25 before 25’s, went to Trader Joe’s for groceries (I think this will be my Saturday routine), and just melted in relaxation. I also went to that McDonald’s I’ve been eyeing and got midnight fries while talking about viruses and vaccines.

Was it really my first day of dental school just a week ago? I snapped this picture before heading out on my first day to send to my fam- I’m smiling but I was an anxious ball inside.


Classes start for Penn undergraduates this week. I’m expecting to see the campus a lot fuller when we go back to dental school classes Wednesday.