Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hello, braces.

I’m getting braces. Possibly before winter break.

I got my initial orthodontics consult few weeks ago and heard the news I’d been expecting: I definitely need orthodontics right now (check box-ed on both options). Between my missing molars and my open bite, my resident was concerned that my bite would only get worse with time.

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Can I go out one last time?
Can I enjoy being young and brace-less for one last weekend?

Whenever I tell someone I’m getting braces, they say: “But your teeth are fine!”. They look fine- that’s the problem. Because they look okay I never seriously considered getting orthodontic treatments. But my molars are all over the place with Class 1 and Class 3 Malocclusions. (I don’t know what that means, but by now I’ve heard it so many times already.)

I was pretty flustered and upset that I was going to spend the next 2-3 years of my life in braces but a fellow classmate told me to think of it this way: I’m perfecting my smile with this minor adjustment. Comes with the occupation. And I’ll have perfect teeth the rest of my life.

Also is it weird that I find little imperfect teeth so endearing? I watched Melancholia the other day and Kirsten Dunst has the cutest teeth (before or after her “adjustment”).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Philly after Hurricane Sandy

I am taking a mini-break from studying to post this update: I am okay! University of Pennsylvania canceled classes Monday and Tuesday so we had some extra time to study for our great metabolism exam this Friday.

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Thankfully, Philadelphia wasn’t hit as hard as Atlantic City or NYC. It rained all day Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. It was really windy when I went out Monday night- I went out to grab some groceries and the strong wind threw me around. I thought I’d slam into the side of a building before I made it home. It was a little scary.


The trees are starting to look fall-ey. There are colorful leaves all over the ground. When the sky is that right shade of blue, the crisp redness of these colorful leaves pop against the background. It’s so beautiful, so unreal sometimes. The entire Penn campus looks so beautiful this time of year, no wonder Homecoming is held around this time.


Our exams and classes are being switched around due to cancellations, so the next few weeks might be a little hectic. But I am so so thankful that Philadelphia wasn’t hit as hard as those other places. My lights flickered on and off a few times but this was nothing (Rice folks- remember Ike?- everyone dragged out mattresses to our college commons and then everyone quietly awake, waiting for the storm to hit mainland).

I hope everyone’s safe after Hurricane Sandy!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A few questions to improve this blog.

*I moved this up again to remind you to answer these questions! (I almost said vote.)

Hi everyone, please take a few minutes to take this survey. It's three multiple choice questions. This will help me gauge what you guys are looking for so I can make this blog better.

Want more food pictures? Just say so...
In dental life news, we had our Histology lab exam today! We also had our first cadaver anatomy session earlier this week. We do cadavers dissections in the spring over at the med school: here at Penn the dental students get to work with real cadavers which is rare for dental schools.

In the fall, we observe TA's demonstrations to see structures from our lectures on a real body. I thought I would feel sick as our TA pulled the sheets down... but the cadavers looked nothing like real bodies. The smell did take some time to get used to.

Each of your comments will be invaluable. These are anonymous- so you can say stuff like: your writing is hard to understand. Stop posting food pictures. You need to stop taking weird pictures of yourself (Mark). Any constructive comments to make this blog better. Thank you!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

You know you’re in dental school when…

When you get tooth-shaped goodies at vendor fairs.


When your Quizzo team is called “Cusp of Carabelli- 70% of time”.
(I don’t have it- it’s more common in Europeans. But if you have a cat or a dog, look for this tiny cusp on the inside of their first maxillary molars.)

When you send care packages with free dental products.

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When you choose ice cream over other sweets.
They are better for your teeth than candies/chocolate/cookies. Also this is Capogiro’s ultimate fall flavors: pumpkin and acorn squash. Janet and I wrapped up a long day with some cold yummy (haha) treats. I didn’t think I’d be eating gelato in Philadelphia October but I was wrong.

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When Tom Cruise’s smile only means one thing: offset midline (picture).

When studying means you spend two hours on Listerine’s website.

I still wake up sometimes and think: is this real life? I have to keep this in mind every time dental school feels impossible to get through. It is like drinking from a fire hydrant most times but each day I am more excited about this profession.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Missing Haslla- is it winter break yet?

I was answering some questions for someone and one was: “Have you been out of the state recently?” Um, no, not since starting dental school. I haven’t even left Philadelphia. Furthest I’ve been away from University of Pennsylvania campus is my weekend trip to Wissahickon Creek- still technically Philadelphia.

I am itching to take a road trip/long train ride/plane ride out somewhere. Spend long hours reading and people-watching. A few months ago I was traveling every weekend from Gangneung to Seoul for my blogging job at the beautiful Haslla Art World. Those four hours spend on the bus were so productive (I wrote this post on the bumpy bus ride).


Check out Haslla’s official blog here- this place is one of my favorite places in our multiverse. I don’t work there anymore, so I don’t get paid to say this. So you can trust me when I say this place is fantastic. It’s inspirational, it is innovational, you can immerse yourself in nature and art. Look at the mountains and the ocean. Play with the museum puppies.


I am going to be spending winter break in Arizona this year! I would have loved to go to Korea if our dental school’s winter break wasn’t ten days. But still- I am pretty psyched about spending Christmas with Lo.

At least Thanksgiving is coming up soon! Only five exams between me and cranberry pies. (My family doesn’t celebrate American Thanksgiving so the only exciting thing about Thanksgiving is the food!)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Moving onto backpacks for school

That’s it for me with the huge tote bags. It’s become common for fashion-savvy women everywhere and “please-don’t-think-I’m-a-student” students to carry gigantic tote bags. It is even suggested that huge bags are an “emotional crutch” for women, reflecting “women’s role as caretakers” and their desire to portray that to anyone who glances their way.

Hello, Katie Holmes and her super-size Birkin.

”Whatever you have, I have it right here. No, really. In here.”


It is crazy how heavy school bags can add up to. For a library study session I need my laptop, a textbook, 240 pages of powerpoint slides, snacks for marathon study sessions and an emergency jacket. I was having neck pains on one side from always carrying my tote bag on my left shoulder. I went over to weigh my tote bag which came in at 13 pounds. I organized the clutter and moved the rest into a backpack.

Still, carrying around a backpack is no free pass. Backpacks should weigh no more than 15% of your body weight to prevent long-term injuries.

Where can we get a magic carpet bag like Mary Poppins (picture)? Like the iCloud, but… for real stuff.

mary poppins bag

What can you toss out from your bag today?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tooth morphology exam

How did my dentist know I was missing my second molars and that in their places, I had my third molars instead? Each tooth looks different. It has unique morphological features that define & differentiate the tooth.


We have an exam on tooth morphology tomorrow. There are variations between people (we also have a collection of pictures showing teeth from different persons) but in general, there are shapes that make a tooth look “normal”. If a dentist was making a crown or dentures or whatever, these shapes would look most like natural teeth.

I haven’t been posting as much- I’m sorry! I’m really struggling with school right now.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chilly mornings for a morning Owl

My air conditioning unit is off which means I can finally open the window. Just this weekend it was much colder- I had to dig out my trench coat. Today Philadelphia has crisp sunny 50’s weather. I love sleeping with the windows open- it is going to happen until it begins snowing.


To add to this cold-weather outfit I wore my Owl earrings in honor of Rice Centennial Weekend. Jules, Apoorv and Enstin sent me the sweetest pictures, messages and drunk phone calls this weekend while they were in Houston. I felt very much loved and missed!

The Centennial SPECTACLE looked amazing (are we actually capitalize to spell it like this?).


I read this New York Times Sunday Routines article on Soledad O’Brien who goes to sleep at 8:30PM and wakes up at 2:15AM on weekdays.

I’m a morning person- but nowhere on her level. With the night getting longer and the mornings a little chillier, it is hard for me to get up on time. And if I miss my initial sleep cycle and wake up a little later, my rhythm feels off for the rest of the day. Yesterday I took coffee to mass… this is totally normal, right?

Does your sleep routine change with the seasons?
What helps you get out of bed on cold mornings?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hey, it’s OK… D1 edition

I love Glamour Magazine’s “Hey, it’s OK…” section. There’s even a pinterest section for it.


For me, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish having Fear of Missing Out aka FOMO (and should-ing myself) from what I really want. Sometimes you just want to dance and kiss your lovely friends! And other times you need to be tucked into your bed (fresh out of the dryer) at 10PM on a weekend night.

It’s OK that a “fun weekend” means:

….that you finally went grocery shopping.

….that you made a dent on your reading list.

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… that you spent Saturday evening listening to NPR, eating ice cream in bed.

Maybe my wild undergraduate days are already over (haha). Sometimes after a long day, what I look forward to all day is sleeping. Drinking a hot cup of tea then getting into my comfiest pajamas and falling into snooze mode in my fluffy down comforter.

Do you have ever have “fear-of-missing-out” moments when you think
you should be out… but you just aren’t feeling it?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to motivate your patients (and yourself)

Health Promotions is quickly becoming my favorite class here at Penn. Our professor Dr. G. is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I especially love when she says “I always tell my patients…” It reminds me to tie what we are learning back to clinical practice. We’re learning how to be effective communicators, how to take what’s piling up in our brain (parietal laminences foramen lacerum progesterone TCA cycle) out in communication to help our patients.

I’m learning all about how to take better care of my own teeth. But we’re also learning how to get our patients to take better care of their teeth. Unless your parents are dentists or you are married to a dentist, you don’t have a dentist around 24/7 to tell you what to do. If you want a smile as bright as Joe Biden’s- from the VP debates (Can I get his dentist on the hotline please?)…


- Floss daily.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with Fl- toothpaste.
- Snack less frequently.
- Cut down on sodas and coffee.
- Balance your macronutrients and cut down on sugary junk foods.

This week we focused on how to motivate our patients. Prochaska’s Stages of Change theory says people go through different stages when thinking about change.


Picture source

As healthcare providers, when someone walks into our office thinking about a healthier lifestyle change (quitting smoking, treating gum disease, better nutrition, better oral health habits), our goal is to move them onto the next stage.

For example, I have a friend who’s trying to get into shape.  Every morning she tells me “I’ve been eating healthy today!” Then around 8PM I’ll get a text from her saying “I just ate five brownies and seven slices of pizza. Better luck tomorrow!” I reply: “Me too!”

We’re not in Action yet- we’re just lightly Contemplating getting into shape. We’re in Contemplation because so far it’s been all words and no action.

I especially enjoyed this lecture because I think I’ve been stuck in Contemplation about many aspects of my life. I feel stuck in a rut. Recognizing that I don’t need to suddenly jump from 0 to Action is nice. I just need to slowly move myself into Preparation then into Action.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Yesterday I sent a “List of Frustrations” to Lo. I wanted to call her up and say, “Meet me at Brochstein Pavilion in two minutes!” but since we’re so far apart, emails had to do. But you know it’s really not the same.

An upperclassman told me that first year is going to be hardest because we need to get used to the dental school routine. Second year is harder class-wise but by this time you’re settled in so that nothing really fazes you. I certainly hope so.

From drinking spoiled milk twice this week (after I’d already mixed up the granola) to finding out my teeth are in dire need of orthodontic intervention… it’s been a tough week. And we had our Osteology Exam for the skull this Friday on top of everything.

About braces- turns out looks aren’t everything. That’s why “contouring” is a word never to be whispered in the orthodontics department.

Highlight of my week was switching tote bags with our transition into fall winter. This hound tooth tote is pretty old but Umma-bear carried it around when she was getting her RM degree- I associate it with delicious treats (with fondant flowers on top) and it makes me smile.

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This post is rambly probably because my thoughts are rambly. October has been difficult but November will be better. If my life were a movie, the soundtrack for this week would be Sometimes I Don’t Get You. I repeat the chorus to myself when studying for anatomy- am I jinxing myself? Dearest skull, sometimes I don’t get you.

Happy Birthday Rice University!

Happy 100th birthday to my dearest alma mater Rice University. I wish I could be in Houston celebrating Rice’s best birthday (so far) right now. There’s a huge centennial celebration this weekend. My facebook is blowing up with statuses of people flying into Houston, seeing Rice outside the window, reuniting with friends. I am seriously jealous right now.

Some pictures of Rice throughout history:



And some pictures from my favorite moments on this lovely Houston campus:


With President Leebron at our senior holiday party with my beautiful suitemates. These ladies made my senior just wonderful. Getting ready together in the restroom, having emergency chat sessions in our suite, 3AM chats about life and religion and just everything out there, worrying about “Life after College” together.

Senior gala with the bestie (oh, borrowing Helena’s earrings was also a “suite” perk):


BEER BIKE & being woken up at 5AM, starting the day with beerios (and that one year when it rained during our water balloon fight… so miserable but ohmigosh I’d give anything to live that day over again):


And graduation day in front of Willy’s Statue with Umma. Umma-bear, Mark, and MJ flew into Houston to celebrate with me. This was one of the most profound days of my life. I remember exactly how I felt walking across the stage to get my diploma, with the cool air around me and the sun rising up above the Lovett Hall…


Rice still feels like home to me, more so than Bundang, SK or even South Tampa. I loved my undergraduate days and Houston-living in my garage apartment with the boys, driving around listening to Acoustic Sunset with Kasey.

I had my miserable moments at Rice too (must remember this when dental school seems impossibly hard). But those moments made me grow and get to where I am right now.

Stay beautiful, Rice. Happy 100th birthday.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pastry Shop at The Restaurant School

I definitely treated myself this weekend.

Starting with Friday evening. Where can you get a pound of cookies for less than $10? Pastry Shop at The Restaurant School on 42nd and Walnut. And that pound is amazing.

After class one day I walked a few blocks to this culinary school to pick up some pastries. I ended up getting a pound of cookies because everything looked so good.

I think these cookies are called Bochi (Internet did not confirm this- does anyone know?) I also got Mexican wedding cookies, peanut butter cookies, powdered sugar cookies and lemon drop cookies. Delicious. And so soft and chewy, which is how I prefer my cookies.


They also have four restaurants inside each with a set meal menu (reasonably priced at ~$20 for a three course meal) and a full bar.

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I shared the huge box with friends who also ooh-ed and aah-ed at the deliciousness. I think I’m having a pastry withdrawal because my mom isn’t here to practice her tarts/cupcakes/fondant skills on me. At least she’s not sending me pictures of all her delicious baked goods. Those were some miserable pies in the LCD-screen-sky.

I haven’t turned on the oven since starting dental school but for now, this Pastry Shop is close enough to keep me happy. My Rice friend who opened up his apartment to me in LA told me he’s gaining weight solely due to the pastry school next to his department. How else will we get through graduate school without little (BIG) treats every once in a while (EVERYDAY)?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Going the military route: HPSP

One of you asked me about the HPSP program which I know nothing about. But some of my favorite people here at University of Pennsylvania are part of the HPSP program, so I asked them about going the HPSP route for dental school.

Health Professions Scholarship Program, or HPSP for short, provides healthcare students with a scholarship with a year of service for each year paid by the military. Upon entering the program, scholarship recipients become officers in their respective branch of the military.

The scholarship includes the entire cost of tuition, all required fees to the dental school (key word being “required”) plus a monthly stipend to cover the cost of living. The HPSP scholars are chosen each year based on the medical needs of the military, meaning that the number of scholarship recipients will vary year to year.

Links for HPSP:
Army // Navy // Air Force 

On a rainy afternoon I met with (from left to right) Evan from Methuem, MA, Jane from Jacksonville, FL and Sharon from Madison, AL. Sharon actually went to the Air Force Academy in rocky Colorado- so she chose an untraditional route to have her dental education paid for by the military.

Jane made some homemade Korean food for Sharon and herself while Evan munched on a three-foot-long sandwich… And thankfully they all have different initials.

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Yesle: First to start off, why did you guys choose to do HPSP?

Evan: It was a difficult decision, but in the end it made financial sense.

Jane: There’s also job security- the program takes care of the application process out after you graduate.

What do you mean?

Sharon: You still have to apply for a job when you graduate. You don’t just go out and BAM, have a job to start after you graduate. You have to apply.

Oh, that makes sense. I never thought about it that way!

E: Although you make less than what you would make in civilian private practice, if you are getting a loan for dental school, HPSP works out to be better financially- at least in short term it was for me. Counting all the extra living stipends, you make about 80-90k/year working as a military dentist. You are getting paid less than in private practice but remember you have no loans!!!

So what happens if you want to specialize?

E: Military does have specialization programs! But it changes year to year, depending on how many chairs they have and how many they need. Their dental needs are very specific-

J: For example, there is no pediatric dentistry.

E: I know the army encourages you to do an AEGD after you graduate.
(AEGD is short for Advanced Education in General Dentistry, usually a 1-or 2-year residency to facilitate practice of general dentistry. It is not a specialization program, but it is a residency.)

S: I think every branch does. The air force does- for sure.

E: I know that in the Army, HPSP students are required to apply for it, although you can decline once you get in.

Okay- Evan and Jane, how did you choose the navy?

J: I missed the Air Force deadline- just kidding. The Navy had more spots than the Air Force this year.

E: I think there was 14 spots for the Air Force for the 4-year program, compared to the Navy’s about 40-60 this year. Also, the navy (and the army) had a $20,000 signing bonus. I chose the Navy over the Army because I’ve heard that in the Army you can be sometimes placed under a regular officer instead of a dentist. Plus since the Navy has bases in cool places, I thought it would be fun to be at a place like Guam. Even if I had to spend 6-8 months on a ship, on a carrier kind of thing, I’d have fun. I’m excited.

J: Also, I know it made financial sense and that played a big portion in making the decision, but I also saw it as a minimal way of giving back to the country. I was never going to enlist but if I was contributing to the country while making a decision that just made financial sense… so I went for it.

E: For me, I know wanted a professional career in healthcare, not in the military. But I’m actually looking forward to service! I get to cruise around and be with a bunch of bros.

Meanwhile Sharon’s been busy eating up the Korean food Jane made for her.

J: Sharon, why did you join the academy?

S: I wanted to fly, become an officer of character. That’s straight from their mission statement by the way. More so, I visited the Air Force Academy in Colorado and I loved it. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a dentist when I went to the academy. I actually decided my sophomore year.

So theoretically if I were to apply for the HPSP… would I need to get in shape first? What about health?

E: If Jane can do it, I think you can do it. (Thanks Evan.) Let’s see, you can’t have AIDS.


E: Yeah, they are pretty thorough about your medical history. If you’ve had a mole removed for example, you need to have the paperwork for it. It’s actually a lot of paperwork.

S: Yeah, think about how much money they are paying for your dental school.

E: But you’re an officer once you take the oath. So you’re treated with a lot of respect.

J: Anatomy grades are up! Oh and you don’t need to take a fitness test… yet. That comes afterwards.

Tell me about basic training- what is this 6-week Officer Basic Course (OBC) camp I’m hearing about?

E: Basically it’s orientation to the military culture and stuff with a little Physical Training. You need to do it when you have six consecutive weeks off- so I’ll do it probably this summer when Penn gives us two months off.

J: Most people do it after their first year. But you can do it after dental school. Evan, did you submit your paperwork already?

E: Yeah I need to do that….

S: You learn how to march!

J: I was in a marching band in high school!

What about other commitments throughout the year?

E: 45 days of ODS, short for Officer Development School. Later you can also do an externship where you’re assigned to a hospital to shadow a dentist. Both of these are not required- you can get school orders. You still get paid for 45 days of active duty which is really nice.

What about your stipends? How much do you get a month? Is that enough?

E: We get $2122 a month. It is same across the different branches except that the Air Force does not have a signing bonus.

Is that enough for Philadelphia?

J: Yeah, I’m living comfortably.

S: Because you guys are splitsies. You can’t be totally irresponsible and live in a luxurious apartment by yourself. (Sharon lives in the cutest apartment on restaurant row.)

E: Where do you live?

And we talk about thingsssss. Like apartments! And food! And our anatomy grades. You need to go through a recruiter, right?

E: Yes, you have one recruiter who is responsible for you. Recruiters are regulars officers who also have this responsibility of “recruiting” students for the HPSP program. My recruiter was actually a pilot in the Navy.

There’s pilots in the navy? Oh, like Pearl Harbor and those slingy airplane stops.

S: Um, yes.

E: What else is on your blog? Can we read it?

J: We need to go to class! I need to get dressed.

And that concludes the end of our interview. Here’s a picture of two of my interviewee’s. Guess which ones.

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Thanks Evan-Jane-Sharon for taking the time to chat with me. You can get the scholarship while in school. But they don’t pay for tuition/expenses retrospectively.

Also another point about HPSP: you don’t need an acceptance to start applying. And nothing is set in stone until you take the oath. So if you are even remotely interested in applying (and not worrying about loans for the next 30 years), talk to your recruiter today.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Rock climbing to the top

It’s wonderful to learn a new skill because you discover an entire culture and community around that activity. In Houston I tackled rowing- I loved our Sunday 6AM practices out on the calming water. Learning something new uses your brain in a totally different way- it’s amazing to discover new ways of thinking, new ways of solving problems.

Such as rock climbing.

Our gym has an indoor rock climbing wall. So I decided to learn how to rock climb. I’ve never done it before except on a cruise where all the six-year-olds were doing it. It’s amazing to watch people climb because they look like graceful apes.

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I completed my class this week- I am now belay certified! This means a climber’s life rests in my hands.

Yesterday chatting with another student in the class, I admitted: “I’m embarrassed at how bad I am.” She agreed, “I haven’t been this bad ay anything in a long time.” It’s refreshing to suck at something so awfully. And so frustrating.

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There is one section where the rock slopes downward. This is the spot. By the time I make it here my forearms are killing me and the chalk has sweated off my hands. This is where I stop. It’s close enough to the top to make it tantalizing when I give up and slide down.

It was a long day. I didn’t do well on my Histology exam which meant ditching vacation plans with a certain Dallas girlfriend. In class we were learning how to repel, and we needed someone to take the rope up to the top.

I volunteered. I was having my Mulan inspired moment.

And somehow I made it to the top. I glided over that tricky down-sloping section this time. Then I was stuck at an arm’s distance from the top. I looked down (whoa fourth floor) and glanced up at the top carabiner. My arms were dying but I was so close. And even if I fell, I had the rope-friction-belayer to catch me.

One breath in, One breath out. I stepped a foot on a higher hold. Then I pushed myself up- thought I would fall- but didn’t. I made it to the top. (Then repelled down off my rope which was really fun!)

I think there’s some life analogies in there somewhere but I’m just going to enjoy this moment. After not doing so hot on Histology, this is my greatest accomplishment this week.

What’s been the shining moment for you this week?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Study comfortably. Study sweet.

I went to what is possibly my second-to-last physical therapy session this evening. Although running back and forth therapy/clinic has been crazy (scheduling is near impossible with my dental school schedule), I am glad I’m getting better. I told my therapist that I went hiking this weekend. She asked, “and you were fine the day after?” She reminded me that two weeks after my second injury I couldn’t walk ten blocks to Center City without my ankle hurting for three days after.

I really hope this is my last ankle injury- ever. Ankle brace and I, we are never ever getting back together.

I decided to study at home tonight instead of going out to the library so I could wear this:


Ain’t no party like a “Studying Histology in a Onesie” party.

It’s important to be comfy… and silly when I’m studying. You can’t feel too miserable when you’re wearing a sock money onesie.

I have been craving sweets! Like sweet potato pie with the fall starting. If I were in Houston I could hop in my car and pick up some pastries at a drive-through (and not have anyone see that my sweater actually goes down to my feet). But in Philadelphia coffee shops have no drive-through’s- I just noticed that! It was an epiphany moment, as big as when I realized there are no homeless people in Disneyworld.

What do you wear when you’re studying?
Do you go for comfy or put-together (therefore maybe more awake)?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Learning about cosmetic dentistry

At Penn we’re required to take 4.5 credits of selective credit. That’s about 5-8 classes, usually in the evenings, on subjects you’re interested in. I decided to take Cosmetic and Esthetic Dentistry which started this week. An artist I met at Haslla this summer encouraged me to pay attention to beauty of things just as much as their function. “Beauty is how you make everything better”, he said. Because in many cases- especially so in dentistry- having the right function isn’t enough. It has to look beautiful too.

Zac Efron

Picture: Zac Efron circa High School Musical days

To focus on something as small as beauty seems counterintuitive.. because we learn about so many things that can go wrong in our body, the fact that something works is fascinating enough. In learning about the skull, I’m amazed that each one of us has every foramen, every process, every fossa in its right place. But it’s the little things like being .5 mm smaller or the right 2 degrees tilt that make a face “beautiful” or a smile look “horsey”.

Eight years and some dental work later… Even Nicole Kidman noticed. (Picture)


In class we saw tons of Before & After pictures that are unbelievable. Our instructor pays special attention to color (its effect on perception of size/distance) and light/shadows (cast by other teeth and the lips) to make subtle but effective changes. I was amazed and impressed. But to think about the effect those transformations have on the patients whose lives are changed… it’s incredible.

Often times you can’t pinpoint the change except that the patient looks younger, prettier, or more confident. Also, after looking at all these pictures I’m very self-conscious about my own teeth (midline lined up? teeth gradually smaller, facing in the right angles, right height/width, perfect bite, shade and opacity…).

What do you notice about peoples’ smiles? Teeth???

Unhealthy dental student

I am on the road to becoming a couch potato-dentist. 

1. No exercise. I woke up late this morning because it was freezing last night. I kept burrowing into my bed and woke up freezing. I slept through Spinning and woke up at a lazy 8:20AM. Good thing I’m a student…

Instead I finally tried out the braided headband with the extra hour. The trick is to keep pulling the braid up as you’re braiding. It’s the only way the braid doesn’t make strange loops on your hair when you pin it over to the other side.


2. Poor diet. Over lunch I picked up more figs from the fruit stand which were amazing as usual. I think I may have converted a few people into fig fanatics (“What is that?”).

I ate about half of the pint before I had a chance to wash them. Then I had an awful stomachache sitting through biochemistry and my mouth felt really cotton-y. Okay, must wash fruits before eating.

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We are keeping a food diet for Health Promotions and I’ve noticed my diet is all sorts of wack. People usually moderate what they eat when they are keeping a food diet but… not me. Every day is a variation of yogurt+granola, fruits, English muffin and soup. No vegetables, not much protein. Add in constant coffee/tea and snacking until wee hours of the night.

I think my poor diet is a big reason why I am constantly tired- and need caffeine as a boost.

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I’m actually writing this over pizza I impulsively bought on my way home (I have a grocery store shopping problem)… Pizza at midnight- I thought this chapter of my life ended with The Hoot.

3. Aching shoulders.

I’ve adopted the 80/20 rule for packing and ditched many of the items I didn’t use regularly. Both my laptop and my phone died in the middle of the day today and I properly panicked out. I don’t always need my chargers or my netbook, but when I need them I need them! At the end of the day my shoulders and my back ache. It’s like I’m in high school all over again.

How do you keep a healthy lifestyle in graduate school?
What is your healthy go-to recipe?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wissahickon Creek day trip

A fellow Penn classmate Kelby and I took a mini day trip out to Wissahickon Creek this weekend. We were talking about how wonderful it is to be outdoors, to get away from the city once in a while. Then we said why don’t we just take a day hike?

So we did. Out to Wissahickon Creek.

I caught up on my Katherine Larson poems from Alex, sipped on pumpkin chai tea, and people-watched on the SEPTA. I was a little too into my reading because we missed our stop by about a mile.

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We walked back past the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall to the regional rail station. Another trip on its own but we were determined to HIKE!

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We took the train out to Chestnut Hill. At the Friends of Wissahickon Visitor Center, Alex (who is the most enthusiastic trail guide I’ve met) gave us a quick orientation/hike introduction. We bought our hiking map and we were off! Into this beautiful green escape from the city.

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We walked up north by the fields then made our way down south on the Forbidden Drive. There were many people with bikes, kids, and dogs. This would be a wonderful place to jog when the weather is nice.

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There was a wedding today at the Green Valley Inn so we snacked on our reservoir of pretzels/ oranges/ granola bars/ nuts for a late lunch. We made our last two mile loop south back to the railroad station.

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On our way back we didn’t have enough cash for the train fare. Since we boarded on a closer train station we thought the fare was cheaper. We got kicked off the train at a random stop halfway home. Since we didn’t want to walk six miles, we walked around this unfamiliar town to 1) find an ATM and 2) eat dinner until the next train came along an hour later.

We walked into the most popular Burger King in Philadelphia because getting the food took 30 minutes.

Ten miles, eight hours (half of which were spent waiting… for buses/trains/food) later, legs exhausted but so happily spent- home.

How to get to Wissahickon from University City:

Take the Bus 21 or 42 to 17 and Chestnut ($2 or a prepaid token at $1.55). Walk up two blocks to JFK Boulevard on 17th for the Regional Train Station. Take the Chestnut Hill West train ($4 cash only). When you get off at the station, walk west on Germantown Ave. until you reach 8708 Germantown Avenue for the Friends of Wissahickon Visitor Center. Maps are $6.

Takes about an hour. But the trains come only once an hour so plan accordingly.

Tips on hiking at Wissahickon Creek:

Bring a compass! Today was overcast so we couldn’t rely on shadows for directions. My pedometer/compass was a little sticky but without it we would have been ridiculously lost.

You can choose long, easy trail routes. K and I walked about ten miles over four hours. Again my pedometer/compass let us down by resetting before I could look at our mileage but these were easy ten miles, minimal uphill, well-paved roads.

Such a lovely break from school and my one-mile radius in University City. I love being out in nature and marveling at its beauty. We even spent a good 30 minutes digging up trees and being little playground kids.

Happy Trails!