Fourth Semester Snapshots

July 14, 2014 § 3 Comments

While cleaning up some documents on my computer (out with the old, in with the new), I’ve found some pictures that I’ve taken throughout the semester that I don’t believe have made it to my blog. These little moments are no less important to me than those that actually made it into my posts throughout the semester, so I thought I’d put together a picture post. So, here are some random snapshots from 4th semester.

I’ve added in links to posts I wrote on the same dates as some of the photos, in case anyone wants to travel back in time or get some more context.

January/February: Week long visit to my family in California. (Post: On your mark, get set, 4th semester!)

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My beautiful mama 🙂 From my trip back to California in January

Spotted in Oakland, Ca: daytime roof drinking

Spotted in Oakland, Ca: daytime roof drinking

Valentine’s Day 2014 – Skjalg came home from school to homemade cookies and chocolate covered strawberries and hearts all over the walls of the apartment, each with something I love about him written on them.

March 8th: I see this man all the time. He has 5 of the exact same type of dog and always looks miserable when he takes them out for a walk.

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March 9th: welcoming the spring with another walk (Post: Budapest is Beautiful)

Present from Skjalg found on my iPad

Present from Skjalg found on my iPad

March 10th: another beautiful evening in Budapest

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March 12th: whiteboard gets some use while cramming for our endocrinology quiz in physio

March 14th: and again for our anatomy midterm on the head and neck

March 15th: We had our anatomy midterm on Monday (the 15th was a Saturday morning). Jannie, Skjalg and I stayed in and crammed the entire weekend. That Saturday morning, I was up a little early and headed out for an early morning walk. When I reached parliament, I came upon some kind of demonstration/celebration. It turned out that it was an event to commemorate the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, which sparked the war that led to Hungary’s independence from Austria. March 15th is one of Hungary’s three national holidays. I joined the crowd and soaked up the experience for 15 minutes or so, before heading back home to study.

March 15th: More cramming to be had later in the day. We had to order sushi for lunch – of course! (Post: Second to Last Anatomy Midterm: Check!!)

March 18th: some kind of numbering system in our physio lab book. I got the first 8 on my lab exam in May (so, numbers 1, 4, 5, 8, 7, 8, 7 and 8 😉 )

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March 22nd: sick of pictures of Budapest yet? Doesn’t help that I think everything is so beautiful all the time!

March 30th: A lazy Sunday when Jannie and I weren’t getting anything done while trying to study, so we decided the seize the day, push the table away and enjoy some white wine in the sun. (Post: Spring Forward – you’ll notice this post was written before Jannie and I gave up studying for the day.)

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April 1st: Jannie and I spent the whole day at the library and after it closed at 20:00, stopped in for a tapas dinner and champagne sangria at Pata Negra. As an April Fools joke that day, Skjalg had sent me a text saying that they’d sold our apartment and had to move in June.

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April 3rd: Frustration while studying biochem. Unable to find any information in any book about a topic for our midterm – until I found the paper the lecturer wrote about it online. Then noticed a major typo in one of his chemical formulas in one of his lecture slides. Guess people with M.D., PhD., D.Sc. are also prone to stupid mistakes…makes me feel a little better about mine.

April 7th: Histology consultation. We didn’t have any histology classes this semester and since we needed to know 100 slides for the final, we decided to get a head start and attend some of the consultations.

April 9th: One of the absolutely delicious meals that Jannie and I make while studying. Always some kind of protein, black rice and salad – with plenty of sea salt flakes and drizzled olive oil. Yum!

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April 11th: Stopping in at the Easter market in Budapest before jumping on the train for our weekend trip to Vienna. On the train, we split a mini bottle of bubbles – would have been bigger if that little thing hadn’t been so expensive! (Post: Easter “Break” and Weekend in Vienna)

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April 16th: Studying and bipolar Budapest sky

April 17th: Flowers from my man 🙂


April 20th: Biochem lecture says: drink red wine!

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April 22nd: Prospective dates for the anatomy final are posted – cue panic!

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April 26th: Wouldn’t you like to get woken up by a parade of firetrucks at 8:30 in the morning? Downside of living smack dab in the center of the city.

April 30th: Two shots of the same sky, within 45 minutes of each other. Beautiful and unstable… (Post: Peek-a-boo)

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Same day – 3 very different weather conditions between me, my mom and my brother.

May 3rd: I met Hugo! He’d been reading my blog for a little while and when he came to visit Budapest, asked if we could meet up for coffee. I’m so happy I did because he is an amazing man – smart, motivated and funny! He’s started his own blog, detailing his journey to medical school, check it out!

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May 4th: Jannie’s birthday! Well, the day before her birthday. It is actually on May 5th, but since that fell on a Monday this year, we celebrated on Sunday. Started the day with a home workout, protein shake, protein cake and then once Skjalg woke up, we made a yummy breakfast. After that? A long day of studying! Can’t be lazy when exam period is only two weeks away.

May 6th: Early morning Hungarian cramming. With the other subjects taking up so much of our time, Hungarian gets little to no love. Our oral exam was that day and the only time we had to study for it was that morning. So, we headed to school a couple hours early and did our best with the time we had. Ended up working out perfectly!

May 10th: Keeping myself entertained while studying. Skjalg and Jannie get a makeover and the little night-time bug that decided to stay on my notes for 20 minutes got himself a house.

May 11th: 10 km race starts in the park outside our apartment. They meant serious business with that mini ambulance…

May 13th: Finally! A defense for my high level of stress 😉

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May 16th: Chaos trying to get our Hungarian signatures. We have these grade books called indexes that we have to get signed at the end of each semester (in order to be allowed to take the final exam). These must also be taken with us to all of our exams and then handed in to the English Secretariat at the end of the exam period.

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May 17th: First day of exam period. This was my home for an entire month. Ready, set, go!

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May 18th: Changed up our studying style by watching Kaplan videos on physiology while munching on popcorn and sipping Hell energy drinks. Physio cramming was in full force! (Post: Two semesters of physio lectures….)

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June 7th: Caught ya! Skjalg took anatomy and physio on different dates than Jannie and I, so while we were freaking out about anatomy, he had already started with biochem (as you can see here). (Post: Anatomy Final Exam)
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June 8th: There is always something going on on the street outside our house. Everything from moped gangs, beer bikes, karaoke taxis and party buses. Gives us something to look at when we are cooped up inside all day during exam period.

June 29th: Only 1 more day in Budapest and the wind didn’t want me to spend it studying Programmed Cell Death.

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That about does it! Always fun to take a trip down memory lane 🙂 Even if it is only the past few months.

The value of achievement lies in the achieving

July 13, 2014 § 2 Comments

It’s been almost a month since we passed our last exam and accomplished one of the toughest milestones of this chapter in our lives. We are now third year students and are ready to move deeper into medicine now that we have two years worth of pre-clinical knowledge behind us.

The time since then has gone by both really slowly and really quickly at the same time. I was almost completely burned out after our anatomy final on the 5th of June and that meant that every single day that followed was a struggle. I lacked almost all motivation and struggled greatly to absorb even the simplest of details. Still, I kept pushing forward, one foot in front of the other. I was nowhere near as effective as I usually am, but I had no choice but to continue. In those 48 hours before our exam, we were all going a little crazy. The apartment was a mess, we were eating almost nothing but take-out and were doing our best to keep the nearby shop out-of-stock of energy drinks. As we got closer to the exam, the only thing I could do to study was re-write the almost 100 chemical reactions we needed to know, over, and over, and over again.

The exam was split into two parts. The first contained about 15 or so open questions worth something like 27 points. In order to pass that portion, we needed a minimum of 14. After that, we had a 10 minute break – enough time to go to the bathroom and gather ourselves. Then it was back in for the second and third sections, which were combined to form a total of 70 multiple-choice questions. I was feeling so hopeless about the exam that I had pretty much already accepted that I was going to fail (a feeling that is all-too familiar to me). Skjalg had advised me to just go with my gut and not second-guess myself. I have a tendency to speed through multiple-choice questions and answer purely on instinct, barely even reading the whole question. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. For the last few written exams, I’ve been forcing myself to stay longer and end up going through my exam even 3 or 4 times before handing it in. This time, I was just going to fly through it and only change an answer if I was 100% sure.

Afterwards, we were all in a bit of shock. The exam had felt impossible and there were all too many questions that I didn’t feel good about. Most of my answers were chosen out of pure instinct. I think there were only 15 or so that I knew I’d gotten correct. All of us were feeling pretty horrible, but we’ve learned to just go with it and wait until the results come out. Skjalg and I headed home, while Jannie and Andrea (a Canadian-Hungarian girl in our class) walked towards Kiraly. The entire way home, I was online on our school website constantly refreshing the exam results page to see if my grade had been uploaded. A little premature, yes, but you never know! We stopped in to grab a bite to eat at a nearby take-out place and while Skjalg was in line, the results were uploaded. I said his name three or four times, barely loud enough for even myself to hear, as I quadruple-checked the results. When he finally came over I said, “I passed! I got a 3!”. He didn’t really react that much and instead scrambled for his phone. Once he’d found out that he had passed, he let out a deep breath and the celebrating began!

There wasn’t too much in the way of celebrating that night. We had a bottle of champagne and some amazing Italian food from my favorite, Trattoria La Coppola. Then Jannie headed out for a night of fun, while Skjalg and I stayed in for a comfy date night on the couch – which was long, long overdo! I have no idea what we did in the days that followed. I was in such a zombie state, stressed with no reason to be and utterly exhausted. On the Friday after the exam, I started another juice fast to clear my body of the horrible things I did to it during exam period (too much caffeine and poor food choices). I did it for 10 days – nothing but 5 juices a day, no food, no coffee, no nothing! Needless to say, there wasn’t too much that happened during that time except for a few get-togethers with friends and lots and lots of sleeping. After the juice fast ended, I had one day and then I was off to Bodø!


Flashback to our last biochemistry lab! Our teacher surprised us with eppendorf tubes filled with whiskey, blue curacao and vodka.



Joining Jannie on her apartment hunt. This one was pretty strange – but had a beautiful view!

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View from the plane – still amazed at how bright it is at night! I arrived around 23:30

I arrived in Bodø Tuesday night last week and since then have been filling my days with plenty of sleep and family time. We spent the first weekend at Skjalg’s family’s cabin in Halsa and will be heading back there next weekend. The first trip was with his grandparents and this next trip will be almost the whole gang – his grandparents plus his uncles, aunt and cousins. Skjalg’s sister left just today after a week in town. It’s too bad she won’t be able to be here for the trip to Halsa, but she will be coming to visit us in Budapest in September.

In addition to family time and sleeping, I’ve been going to the gym, helping paint the house and….taking a class!! I’ve had least 3 people tell me I’m crazy and that I should just take a break, but I miss the brain stimulation too much. I’m taking a course called Programmed Cell Death through Coursera. The site offers tons of courses within many different fields – for free! The courses are offered by many different universities all over the world, including Johns Hopkins, Standford and UCSD. The university offering my course is Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich – the same school that Skjalg’s grandfather attended for dentistry. It’s a small world!


Week 4 of the 6-week course starts tomorrow. There are 2 quizzes (each worth 30% of your grade) and a final exam (worth 40%). Each quiz allows 3 attempts and is worth a total of 25 points. I used all three attempts today trying to get a perfect score, but the best I got was 24.33/25. I guess I’ll just have to settle for 97% ;). The course itself is very interesting and goes quite deep into genetics and biochemistry. I’m hoping that it will come into good use when we start microbiology next semester. On the 24th, both Skjalg and I will be starting another course called Exercise Physiology. I’m really, really excited for that one!

I only have a couple more weeks here in Norway before I head back to Budapest for my nursing practice. I got a spot in the pediatrics department near school and am looking really forward to getting some practical experience. It will be really hard to be away from Skjalg for so long, especially because I’ll be spending my birthday alone down there, but we’ll handle it like champs – we’ve had enough practice with tough situations at this point!


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