June 20, 2012 § 15 Comments
I received my admission letter today! Even though I already know that I got in, I haven’t been able to stop myself from checking the mailbox several times a day. After picking up the letter from the post office together with Skjalg, we settled in at a cafe down the street. I sat out in the sun while Skjalg went in to get coffee. My nerves increased as I began opening the envelope. “What if it says that I DIDN’T get in?” I thought to myself. “What if she made a mistake when she wrote the email?” But there it was, that beautiful white piece of paper that makes or breaks all students – past, present, and future – and it was telling me that I did it!
Skjalg was held up inside for a while, so I began scanning through the attached pages, which held information regarding registration, housing, payments etc. I was blissful, simply soaking in all the information and entertaining the promise of this new chapter in my life when all of a sudden, I saw the following line:
Please pay your tuition fee (according to the instructions in Appendix 1) and send the enclosed Declaration Form back no later than June 25, 2012.
What!? I panicked. When was this sent?? I checked the date. The 8th?? It’s taken 12 days to get here! It was 15:00 on Wednesday the 20th. Banks in Norway close at 15:30, if not 15:00, and are closed on the weekends. I would have but two days to pay the school, fax in my declaration form, and confirm my acceptance – meaning that I had to make a decision NOW. When we got our first round of admission letters in March, we were given about 5 weeks to confirm our acceptance. I understood that we wouldn’t have the same length of time this round, but I didn’t think that it would be so soon!
When Skjalg came out with our coffees, I looked at him nervously and motioned for him to read that part of the letter. “Wow…” he said. “Well, that’s not a lot of time.” It’s been stressful enough with all this back and forth about Skjalg’s situation with school. He hadn’t even gotten his translated transcripts back yet! Yet here we were, at yet another hurdle. I knew I had to make a big decision, one that concerned only myself, since there was no way of knowing what the outcome would be for Skjalg. I stared off into the blank whiteness of the page. “Accept. It’s the best thing for you and you know that that is where you want to go,” he reassured me. “You’re going to Semmelweis baby.” I felt relieved. It’s an amazing feeling to be in a relationship with someone who knows you as well as, if not better than, you know yourself. I realized suddenly that I had made up my mind a long time before, possibly when I began studying for the second admission exam. It was always the case that if I got into Semmelweis, that is where I would go.
“Want to head home?” Skjalg asked. We’d only been at the cafe for maybe 10 minutes, but both of us were too unruly to enjoy it. I had a lot to do and little time to do it. Once we were home, I immediately made a list of things I needed to get done:
I was happy that I was able to complete my application for Lånekassen (student aid) today. It helped me feel like I was making a little progress. Now it’s time to sit down and relax, if that’s even possible 🙂
June 12, 2012 § 5 Comments
Yesterday I received an email from our contact at Bjørknes that notified all applicants that the results had been sent out by email. It stated that both Pécs and Semmelweis had sent out email alerts and that we should check our spam/trash if we had not yet received an email in our inbox. Skjalg and I spent about 20 minutes trying to find the “spam” folder in my gmail account. We finally decided that I had not received my email and I instead sent an email to College International (essentially the umbrella organization of the schools in Hungary). I expected that the original email from Bjørknes was wrong about Semmelweis sending out emails, since they didn’t do this during the first round.
This morning I checked my email account, not expecting to see anything other than my daily spam. But there it was – a response from College International about the results of my admission. I had to read the first line a second, third and fourth time, just to ensure that the incorrect english wasn’t misleading 😉
This past week, I have been imagining how I would react when I found out the results. I remember how, during my 15-hour study days prior to the exam, I used to picture myself crying with joy at the results. All the hours I spent studying and preparing for the exam will pay off, I told myself. One of my earliest memories is of my mom’s reaction when she found out that she had passed the BAR exam. I remember sitting with her and waiting for the computer to load and how, as soon as her results flashed onto the screen, she broke into tears – tears of happiness, joy, and relief. I wanted to have a similar reaction. But I didn’t. I was excited, I ran in to the bedroom to wake-up Skjalg, I did the mandatory Facebook status update – but it didn’t go any deeper than that. I felt almost a little numb to it, as though it were just another normal, uninteresting step in a long series of steps.
There are a number of different factors that could have contributed to my “light” emotional response. I had just woken up after a night of not sleeping so well, I was in a hurry to get to a doctor’s appointment – honestly, any number of reasons for why one is grumpy in the morning could fit in here. But, after thinking about it more, I realize that it is because there is still no resolve about the future. Skjalg is still waiting on his transcripts to be translated so that he can confirm his acceptance to Semmelweis – and this is what everything is riding on now. I have a foot in each school – everything else is out of my hands. Before this disruption with Skjalg’s admitted status, everything was riding on me and my ability to get into Semmelweis. I didn’t even really notice how all of that “pressure” has shifted to poor Skjalg.
So now I’m just a bundle of mixed emotions. I am excited that I got into Semmelweis and so happy that I still have a reserved spot at Pécs, should I need it. But what I really want, is to know which university I am going to! It’s hard being so happy and so frustrated at the same time.
Skjalg was told that the translation would take 1-2 weeks, which means he should have them no later than next Thursday. After that, I think he is going to need to possibly go over the transcripts with Wanja at Bjørknes, and then contact the school and inquire about his status.
I keep telling myself that this is out of my hands, that this too shall pass, that stressing won’t help anything and that I have done all I can do… I just wish I could actually convince myself of all that 😉
June 7, 2012 § 2 Comments
Things are getting a little stressful here in the Remme/Slotfeldt household. We’re finalizing some of the logistics of our move to Hungary and meeting some complications. Lånekassen is finally open for applications for student aid for the fall. I haven’t submitted my application yet, since I don’t know which school I will be attending. I’m a little worried (and this is a totally unjustified fear) that for some reason I won’t be eligible for student loans. Christian was able to get a student loan for his year at folkehøyskole in 2009, so I really shouldn’t be worried – but I can’t shake the fear just yet. I’m going to contact them tomorrow, just make sure that everything is in order.
The second stressful thing has to do with Skjalg’s fulfillment of the general education requirement. He went to an engineering college at a young age and ended up satisfying his general education requirement through something that they call the “23+5” rule. When we first filed our applications in February, he was told that he may not be eligible for two of the schools because they are very unclear about whether or not they accept this rule. When he got into all three schools, we assumed that everything was ok. Skjalg called Semmelweis last week to confirm that his deposit payment had gone through and that his spot was reserved, since he had not yet received a confirmation letter. He was told that they do not send out confirmation letters but rather hand them directly to students during registration in the fall. Knowing that this would be too long to wait for a solid confirmation, Skjalg contacted Wanja at Bjørknes Høyskole (the school sponsoring our applications). She was unfortunately also uncertain about whether or not everything was confirmed. She explained that Semmelweis has been extremely unclear about where they stand on this rule. Now, I expect that there are going to be a lot of adjustments and challenges with this process; moving to a new country is never short of new experiences. I did not, however, expect that these challenges would begin so soon. Skjalg is currently at the translators office getting his transcripts and diploma translated. These are missing the line that Semmelweis tends to look for – the “fulfills all general education requirements” line. As a safety, Wanja is going to contact University of Pecs (the only one that accepts the “23+5” rule, and the one I have already gotten into) and inquire about the possibility that they can reopen a spot to him.
Before Skjalg left for the translators office, a bunch of “worst-case scenarios” popped through our heads. Semmelweis doesn’t accept students that are 30 or older, so this is the last year where he is eligible for acceptance there. If, by some horrible turn of events, he is denied admittance to Semmelweis for lacking their approved methods of fulfilling general education requirements, then he MUST be offered his spot back at Pecs. If this is not possible, then he will need to reapply next year – which means I will be heading to medical school a year ahead of him.
It is so overwhelming to have all of these possible future paths looming over you at the same time, all of which stem from the same source. If I get into Semmelweis, I leave for Budapest at the end of August. If I don’t, I leave for Pecs at the end of July. If Skjalg doesn’t get approved at Semmelweis, he has to get his spot back at Pecs – and if that doesn’t work, he must wait a year to apply again. My decision about which school I go to depends not only on my acceptance letter, but also heavily on Skjalg’s options.
It’s so easy to succumb to the panic; to wallow in the fear of the future. Instead of letting this happen, I am thinking about something my mom always told me when I was living in L.A., struggling to put myself through school while working full-time. She said to me, “this too shall pass”. Simple, and to the point. She explained that there will always be challenges. The things that challenge you now, in this moment, are different than those that will challenge you tomorrow, the day after that, the day after that, and the day after that. All you can do is meet the challenge that is most pressing in this moment, remind yourself that “this too shall pass”, and prepare yourself for the next round. I repeated these words to myself several times today. It’s amazing how four little words can elicit such a sense of calm. You can’t change the past or predict the future, all you can do is function accordingly in the present.
So our little household is currently operating under the, “this too shall pass” motto. Updates coming soon 🙂
Love you mama 😉
March 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
Skjalg and I just received our letters from Szeged. This was originally our first choice, but after finding out that it is not on California’s list of accredited universities, we decided against it. Skjalg got in and I got accepted to their “preparatory course”. It shouldn’t matter much since we have already decided against the school, but it still made me a little nervous. Skjalg asked me, “What are we going to do if I get into Semmelweis this round and you don’t?”
I really shouldn’t be too worried. Skjalg has never even taken a biology class before and he had a lot more time to prepare for the exams. With all the studying that I have been doing now, and will continue to do, I shouldn’t be worried about getting in or not. I’ve already gotten into Pecs on horrible scores, so I just have to believe that I will get in after the next round of entrance exams in June.
Ok, off to studying!
March 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
So here it goes…
These last two weeks have been a whirlwind. The beginning of week one was marked by a meeting with Wanja Nilsen, a counselor/coordinator with Bjørknes Høyskole in Oslo, responsible for providing students with the information needed to study medicine internationally. We got hit with the news that we could actually apply to medical school now and that, wait for it, the entrance exams were in 10 days time. The following days were study, study, study! We did our best to review the 3 x 100 page review manuals Bjørknes had provided us with. The day before the exam was meant to be a pure review day, but was instead a scramble to put together our applications for the schools.
With such little and poor quality time to study, I was quite expectedly NOT prepared for the exams. English was fine, of course, as it should have been. I answered the questions to the best of my ability and waited outside for Skjalg and Christian to finish. We had a couple of hours to kill while they graded the exams and posted our interview times and decided to walk down to St. Hanshaugen to find a café. Along the way, we processed the exam and this milestone in our lives. We all felt such a sense of accomplishment, even with the knowledge that we might have just failed our entrance exams (the exams can be retaken in June with no extra fee). Regardless the outcome, this marked a moment that could change the course of our lives forever.
Our interview was set for 09:00 the following morning. Skjalg went first, followed by Christian, and then me. I felt lucky to have the opportunity to discuss the interview with Skjalg while Christian had his. It made me more nervous to discover that I would be pressed to discuss certain aspects of biology and chemistry in-depth. I warned the interviewer that I, like Skjalg and Christian, had only two weeks to refresh my knowledge of the subjects and that I had learned most of the topics before – but 5 years ago! I had a rough start. I found it hard to verbalize the names of different compounds and the steps of certain processes. My last two tasks were to describe the structure of an atom, list the organelles in a eukaryotic cell and how they differ from a prokaryotic cell. I was lucky – these were two things that I had reviewed and knew well. After I was finished he said, “I am going to change my mind about you. At first, I thought I would recommend that you come back in June and try again. But now, I see that you know much more than I first thought. Like your brother, I can tell that the intelligence is there. But you must review. You must review a lot. You cannot begin medical school without knowing these things. There will be no time to review the basics once you start.” He then proceeded to make some changes on my form and marked the top with an asterisk. “I will fight for you”, he told me, “But it will be hard to prove because your scores are not so good. But I will tell them that you know more and that you will review. I cannot guarantee anything. But I will tell them.”
Only four days later, on Thursday the 8th of March, we all got our acceptance letters to University of Pecs Medical School. This was shocking news to say the least. We had gone into this as a trial run, expecting that we would have the “real” test in June. But we got in this round – and all three of us!
Since Thursday, Skjalg and I have scoured the net for information about the different schools. We had originally planned on Szeged as our first choice, but Skjalg discovered that the Medical School there is not acknowledged by California. That narrowed it down to Pecs, Semmelweis and Charles University in Prague. Semmelweis is now our first choice – hope that we get our letters soon!