Plans Far Greater Than My Own

Today I met with a friend I hadn’t seen in a year. We’d been friends since middle school, and college life just got in the way. Meeting up with her made me realize that true friendships can stand the test of time. Even when we hadn’t seen each other or talked in a while, we picked up right where we started. No awkward moments, just encouragement, support, and great reminders. One reminder in particular really struck me.

God’s plans are far greater than my own. I remember being very indecisive about choosing a college. It’s amazing to think four years ago I had no idea where I wanted to be, and God placed me at the perfect college for me. He truly knows what’s best for each one of us. His dreams for us are bigger and better than any we could dream up ourselves because He is infinitely more creative than we are! I’m limited by my past experience and knowledge, but He is limitless.

This is something I should remind myself of every day. When something doesn’t go the way I planned it, I need to remember that God will use that experience for greater things that I cannot foresee or imagine. His aspirations for us surpass the aspirations we have for ourselves.

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The Dreaded Medical School Interview

I don’t think anyone goes into an interview supremely confident. If you do, please let me in on your secret. My first interview was the most intimidating interview I ever experienced. I walked out of it overanalyzing every word I said and every moment the interviewer peered over the top of his glasses to stare at me before jotting down notes. Here are a few tips from my experience so you can learn from them. Just note, my thoughts are not the be all and end all, so please use your best judgment throughout the process. If anything, hopefully my experience can make you feel better about your own interview!

1. Though it is completely against human nature, DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED and STAY CONFIDENT! They will try to intimidate you sometimes. The first interviewer tried to intimidate me, and it definitely worked. First we chatted cordially for a minute, then he put his game face on. Stern eyes. No smile. I freaked out. But don’t. It’ll be ok. Just breathe. After not smiling throughout the whole interview, he smiled at me while we talked about his hobbies. When the interviewer smiles at you AFTER the interview, but not during, it’s a pretty good chance they put on their game face to intimidate you. It doesn’t mean your interview went terribly or that the interviewer thoroughly dislikes you.

2. If the interviewer asks, “Is there anything else?” don’t feel obligated to give them more. My interviewer asked, “Is there anything else?” after every single answer I gave him. I’d list a few strengths and he’d ask, “Anything else?” I’d give him some weaknesses, and he’d ask the same thing. I told him about my greatest challenge, and he asked the exact same thing. You get the picture. If your interviewer does this, do not feel obligated to keep adding more to your answer. If you can discuss a few more of your strengths, do it. If you honestly cannot think of anything else, do not be afraid to say that you cannot think of more at the moment. The interviewer may not be asking this question to see if you actually have more to contribute. They may be testing your confidence in the answers you have already given and ability to stay cool under pressure. Be confident enough to know when you can add more to an answer or when you are finished with your answer.

3. Pack light. Some fellow interviewees brought huge books into their interview. You will have no time to read a novel on interview day, and I doubt the interviewer will think you’re any smarter because you brought a big, scholarly book to your interview, so don’t do it. If you’re invited to interview, they know just how smart you are, and you don’t need a book in hand to tell them that. I brought in a portfolio (similar to this one) and a small purse. The portfolio isn’t even necessary, but I found it useful to write questions and jot down notes at the end of the interview.

4. Prepare questions ahead of time that pertain specifically to that school. It’s ok to ask questions like, “What’s XYZ school’s biggest strength?”, but this is a vague question that you could apply to any school. Ask the interviewer about a specific program that school has so they know you did your homework and that you’re interested in their school. Does the school specialize in rural medicine? Ask about it. Do they have a faculty mentor program? Ask about it. Write these questions ahead of time.

5. Going along with number 4, do prepare for the interview. Brainstorm some of your strengths and weaknesses in a word doc and save them! You’ll want to look back at those for future interviews. Brainstorm some challenges you’ve faced etc. If you search online, you could find some sample interview questions to get some ideas. Research the school and programs. Talk to current med students if you can. They may be able to give you hints about your interviewer’s style and demeanor so you aren’t surprised.

6. You don’t have to have an answer for everything. I repeat. You do not have to have an answer for everything. One question was about a moral dilemma in my life and my response to it. At the moment, I sat there, mind racing for what felt like ages. I could not think of a single moral dilemma I had faced. Finally, the interviewer told me it was ok if I couldn’t think of one. So I calmly said I could not think of anything at the moment. Inside, I was imploding, thinking that I completely blew this interview. A few weeks later, I was accepted into this school, so this seemingly blown moment was not a make or break deal. If you have an answer, it would probably be better, but if there’s just this one question that you simply not come up with an answer, don’t sweat it. The interviewers know you’re human. You’re not perfect. Even when you are a physician, you won’t know the answer to everything.

7. Don’t argue with the interviewer. One fellow interviewee told us that she argued with the interviewer. I don’t know the nature of the argument, and I do not know if she got into the school or not, but I wouldn’t recommend it. For example, when asked a question about health care, it is ok to state your opinion and probably a good idea to note positive aspects of both sides of the topic. When you state your opinion, you may get pushback from the interviewer. Keep cool and calm. They’re probably testing to see how you react to pressure.

8. For women: wear comfortable shoes or bring them to change into. The tours will be a lot of fast-paced walking. I’m short, so I wanted to wear high heels for the interview and flats to walk around in. Trust me, I brought flats, and it was the best decision I made all day.

9. Attire: pantsuit or skirt suit. Don’t feel obligated to wear a black suit. Most people wore black, but if you wear navy or grey, you’ll stand out in a positive way. Also, wear a pop of color underneath your suit. This pop of color helps you stand out as well. Hopefully the interviewers will remember you better.

10. Believe in yourself. You made it this far. You struggled through pre-med classes, finished the AMCAS, competed secondaries, and now you’re in interview season. You are qualified, so let them see how wonderful, dedicated, and passionate you are.

Aspirations

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary online, the word “aspire” means, “to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal.” Sometimes, I think aspiring or striving for something is synonymous to discontent with my current situation.

This simply isn’t true.

However, it is a fine balance to be content with the present while looking towards the future. When thinking about future plans,  I tell myself, “If I just ________, everything would be perfect.” If I just got into college, everything would be perfect. If I just got into medical school, everything would be perfect. If I just got married to a wonderful individual, everything would be perfect. This mindset causes discontent. After my acceptance to medical school, I was elated and ecstatic for days. That feeling quickly wore off as self-doubt crept into my mind. Am I smart/strong/passionate enough to be a doctor? Acceptance into medical school and all the other things I aspire for will never be enough to sustain me for the long run. When we focus on the future, we forget about the grand experiences happening in the present. Whether or not our dreams become reality, we still find reasons for discontentment, anxiety, and insecurity when we are future-minded.

So how can I aspire while staying firmly rooted in my present?

In Matthew 6, Jesus comforts us by letting us know God provides for us. We do not have to worry about future provision. Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” This doesn’t mean I cannot think of the future and plan for things ahead, but I have to plan with an open hand. I have to be aware that God may have a plan that is different than my own, and on the slight chance my plans align with His, I have to trust that He has my future safe in His hands so I do not have to be anxious or insecure. By relinquishing the anxiety about the future to Jesus, I can find peace in the present.

Another way to be present is to thank God for the little things each day. When I thank Him for the beautiful weather, time spent with family and friends, or a relaxing day, it keeps me focused on the beauty of the here and now instead of the empty what ifs and should have beens. This thankful attitude instantly changes my perspective on a potentially crappy day.

We can be content with where we are now while aspiring for something greater.

What do you aspire for?

-The Adventurous Aspirer

10 Things About Food in Denmark

1.Belgian waffles with soft serve ice cream is phenomenal. Their soft serve is very thick, creamy, and not as sweet as American soft serve. The waffle is a whole different story. Just try one.

2. Going to the supermarket where everything is in a foreign language is one of the most difficult things to adjust to.

3. Ziploc bags are a rarity here. At least I haven’t found them yet.

4. They have all kinds of good food from all over: Italian, Indian, American, Chinese, etc.

5. Coffee here is better than coffee in America (in my opinion). It’s not as bitter.

6. Individual pizza slices are commonly folded and eaten like a taco. I do not have the slightest idea why.

7. At a sit-down restaurant, they are not as attentive as in the U.S. It’s not a bad thing at all. It’s just different. They do not come over to check how your meal is, and you will probably have to flag the waiter down for your checks.

8. Tip is included in the bill at sit-down restaurants.

9. The peanut butter here is really good! It tastes more natural and less sweet than American peanut butter. I’m a fan.

10. Some yogurt comes in packaging that looks like cardboard milk cartons. So be careful, you could be pouring strawberry yogurt into your cereal rather than skim milk.

Old beer bottles in the Carlsberg Brewery Museum

Old beer bottles in the Carlsberg Brewery Museum

10 Things About Denmark

 

 

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1. Denmark pays you to go to college. I think I was born on the wrong side of the Atlantic.

2. You don’t have to go to undergraduate school before med school. You go straight out of high school. Again, why wasn’t I born here?

3. Everything is extremely expensive compared to the U.S. (It’s Europe, so go figure.)

4. Denmark is a welfare state that still has a monarchy.

5. In the summer, Denmark has a BUNCH of daylight. It starts getting light in Copenhagen around 2, and the sun rises around 4. The sun sets between 10 and 11 PM.

6. Danish is insanely difficult to pronounce for a foreigner like me.

7. Generally speaking, Danes are very eco-friendly and conscious of the environment.

8. They don’t have open container laws when it comes to alcohol.

9. They’re known for their architecture and design.

10. People here who are blonde are not just dirty blonde, they are REALLY blonde. The type of blonde that comes out of a bottle or box in the U.S.

Godnat (goodnight) from Copenhagen!

Erica