If I had it to do over again

September 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

The promise of  freedom and leisure now weigh heavily on a single day. My 70 days of summer are coming to an end and as is typical when beginning a new round, I find myself thinking about what I have learned and how I will do better. I was successful in my transition from not having studied for years to doing nothing but study and now is the time to fine tune and upgrade these skills. Something that is of high importance to me is the setting of goals for myself. Not just tasks that need to be completed, but improvements I want to make. I want to acknowledge and accept my weaknesses and construct steps to make them strengths.

I’ve been building a list of goals in my head for some time now and I feel the next step is to immortalize them in text. My list of goals for the summer was one of panic, haphazardly thrown together in the midst of exam chaos with two months of summer vacation as my oasis. “Oh what I could do with that time!” I thought to myself then. The first couple days, even weeks, of summer vacation were then spent in a state of guilt. The pace I kept during the exam period was not one that could’ve been sustained for one day longer than it did. I knew that and yet I still felt a nagging guilt at not being able to live up to the projects I concocted during that time. I’ve made peace with it now and am satisfied with the studying I have been able to do these past few days. Can’t very well go to my first neuroanatomy lecture about “Meninges, hemispheres, the lateral ventricles ” without knowing anything about the brain.

That said, here are my goals for this next semester. These are what I will strive for, but I will be satisfied with any progress in this direction. Progress, not perfection.

Goals for the New Semester

  1. Review lecture material before all lectures.
  2. Attend all lectures. Be prepared and take effective notes.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’re here to learn.
  4. If you take horribly messy notes during a lecture, rewrite them, or at least decipher them, right away.
  5. Review studied material at the end of the day or early the next morning.
  6. Don’t waste time on the cosmetics of note-taking. Be organized and efficient, not everything needs to be beautiful and perfect.
  7. Keep a logical order to your notes. You need to be able to study from them later.
  8. When taking notes, don’t just rewrite the book text or make perfect recreations of the drawings. The books are already there. No need to make your own.
  9. Don’t let “dead time” slip away. Arrange tasks to complete during the couple of hours here and there between lectures.
  10. When reviewing, don’t just read over, try presenting it to yourself on the whiteboard and explaining it out-loud.

Those are my goals for now, I’m sure the list will get longer (or shorter) after the semester starts.

During the second to last week of the previous semester, I found myself wide awake in bed and all the worries of the world racing through my head. (Caffeine.)

With my possible sleep time working its way down to 5 hours, I knew I had to do something – and that something was to write my thoughts down. I was in a bit of a sheepish mood at the time, so what I ended up writing was a list of “brilliant” (translation: stupid) ideas I’d had as a medical student. After my sarcasm wore out, I settled into a more positive state and ended up with a second list, more inspiring and insightful than the first. For your entertainment – and preview of my overworked, over-caffeinated, early morning mind – these are those lists.

My Top 5 Most Brilliant Ideas as a Med Student

Early morning musings, some random night in May 2013
  1. Anytime I’ve had coffee after 20:00 – example, right now. It is 1:15 and I have 11 hours of school tomorrow, starting at 8 am….not the best planning B!
  2. All nighters before exams – Sadly, I don’t think this one is going anywhere. There will always be more to study/learn/go over and I will never feel confident enough in my knowledge to allow myself a good night’s sleep…in good conscience, of course.
  3. More is better – Can’t say this is ever true. You will never need MORE as a med student. Unless we are talking about time…if so, please give generously.
  4. Pushing of ANYTHING until later – you will never have enough time for it. Whatever it may be. Towards the end of the semester, 100 new things will have popped up. For me right now? My 15-page paper in Chemotaxis on a subject I have no clue about due on some unknown date for that poor elective class that I am always forgetting about.
  5. Not keeping things simple – Why spend 8 hours on a physics lab that no one is really ever going to read while someone else gets the same credit for 10% of the work? And those beautiful study guides I spent 40/50 hours on? No! There’s no point in even writing it down/making it look pretty if you are never going to look at it again and it’s not going in your head.

My Top 5 Actually Good Ideas/Tips

Companion early morning musings, some random night in May 2013
  1. Going to lectures – Hellooooo, accountability! We know about 0% about just how awesome our brains are. For example: I attended lectures in biochem this semester, but didn’t review the topics (or even really know what was going on during the lectures) and yet I was able to spout out answers to 5/6 questions in a biochem lab 3 weeks later. Where does this stuff come from?? Yes, lectures feel like a waste of time! But towards the end of the semester, the confidence you gain from knowing that you were at least AT the lectures will be a saving grace!
  2. Make lists – in those few, quiet moments when you are trying to relax but your mind is going 1000 miles a min (see: drinking coffee after 20:00) the BEST thing to do is make a list of everything on your mind. You can’t do anything about them there in that moment anyway, and putting them on paper will remove the pressure of needing to remember it all. That way, you can sleep like a baby and postpone the freakout to the next day.
  3. Study with other people – talking about the topics will make you learn it faster AND better than going it alone. If anything, it will give you an idea of where other people are and stop you from thinking everyone knows more than you. Make sure to find someone you study well with! You have to both bring something to the table and motivate each other, plus have similar goals/habits (i.e. if you can pull all-nighters with no problem, studying with someone who needs to sleep 8 hours is probably not the best match). You are not alone!
  4. Self-control – …the program! Download it! It will block all of those addictive sites (heard of Facebook?) for a time period you decide. Turn on the program and you can’t access those sites – no matter what! Even deleting the program won’t help! And put your phone/iPad on airplane mode or in another room.
  5. Music – 8tracks.com will save your life. Music = motivation.

On a page adjacent to the first page of these lists is a quote I noted down before the lists were written:

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. – Thoreau

Two birthdays in one year…

September 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

makes me one lucky girl!

Jannie was in Sweden for my birthday this year, so she “booked” me for a day in September so that I could celebrate a second birthday with her. That day ended up being Thursday the 5th of September and I was instructed to meet her downstairs at 3:00 pm. One of the benefits of our new apartment is that it is right around the corner from Jannie’s place. It’s going to save both of us a lot of travel time this next year!

At 3:00 pm, I ran into Jannie in the foyer of our apartment building. She has our code and can therefore sneak in whenever she wants ;). We started through the front door and took a turn to the left, towards her apartment. Soon, the beautiful Basilica popped into view and we made our way towards its wide crowded steps. “Part 1!” Jannie said, arms outstretched.

Photo credit:  http://www.infiniteunknown.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/st-stephen-basilica-budapest.jpeg

Photo credit: infiniteunknown.net

There is a lookout from the roof of the Basilica but we have never gone up there. We took the elevator to what we thought was the top floor and after traveling through a sort of art gallery, we found ourselves exploring a seemingly endless series of spiral staircases.

Finally we emerged at the balcony, after passing through the rafters above the dome that makes up the ceiling of the cathedral. The view was spectacular and the warm breeze was more than welcome on that hot summer afternoon. Jannie asked if there were any cameras and after a few sneaky looks over her shoulder, pulled two mini bottles of sparkling wine from her purse. We stood up there for almost 2 hours, enjoying the view and discussing our summers, life and the challenges ahead.

After enjoying the view over the city, we headed back to her place for some veggie dip and wine. While there, she surprised me with a birthday present. Since Skjalg bought me a bike for my birthday, Jannie had made a guide on biking in Budapest, full of fun facts, tips and rules. For the second part of the present, she surprised me with a Swedish cookbook focusing on different vegetable dishes. It was the perfect gift! Since my juice fast, I’ve been visiting the Central Market almost twice a week and filling up on as many veggies as I can carry (sometimes using Skjalg to help). It’s such a luxury to have access to such fresh and inexpensive locally grown fruits and vegetables – and I’m going to take advantage as long as I can. Jannie joked that there was a hitch with the cookbook: since it is in Swedish, I am going to need her to be there to translate and of course, eat! One of my bucket list items is to cook my way through a cookbook. This might be just the one!

As the clock struck 8:00 p.m., Jannie said that we needed to leave. The theme of my second birthday was “Exploring the New Neighborhood” and for dinner, we were going to a restaurant hidden away in the streets of Deák. She had stumbled across it earlier that day and knew it would be perfect for a birthday dinner. And that it was! We ate and drank until only the stragglers remained. A perfect ending to a perfect 2nd birthday!


Blog post flashback: Jannie’s 26th!

Home Sweet Home

August 31, 2013 § 8 Comments

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning and I’m sitting at the glass dining table in our kitchen cove. All three windows here are open and the curtains are dancing on the warm summer breeze. The windows look out over the park and there is classical music playing as they do sound check from  what looks like some kind of festival setting up there. It is amazing that I am sitting in the comforts of my own home and yet still feel such a part of the city. This is, without a doubt, the best apartment we’ve lived in – both in Norway and Budapest.


Our apartment was furnished when we got it, but it was missing some bigger pieces. It was worth it to us to put in a little bit of money into making this place feel like home. We got bookcases, rugs, curtains, decorations – you name it! Before our first trip, I used an online floor planner program to make a virtual version of our apartment. I was up early so I had some extra time and I thought it would help us to visualize which furniture to get. Here is a link to the design, where you can look in closer detail and move the apartment around to see it from different angles, in 2D and 3D.

Screen Shot 2013-08-26 at 11.00.39

The virtual apartment really helped us decide which pieces to get. Whenever we go to IKEA, we always spend way too much time thinking about whether or not something will fit and if it will look good or if we should go for something else. I wanted to make it as easy as possible this time around. My plan didn’t work so well, however. Our first trip to IKEA lasted for 6 hours – it was hell! Here’s an idea of the madness we were facing at home. It was so overwhelming!

And now, here is the finished project. Some of the photos were taken at night and are a bit dark, so I will swap them out when I get the chance.

Schedule for 1st semester of 2nd year

August 30, 2013 § 2 Comments

Our schedule is out and I’m not so sure how I feel about it yet – not that I have any say in the matter.

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 22.33.55

Our class load is less that it was previous semester. Last semester we had several smaller classes and this semester we have one BIG one – physiology! Dun dun duuun

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 22.49.31Physiology is a whopping 11 credits! Which means that Anatomy might – and most likely will – for the first time, take second place on the most important/demanding/stressful class list. From what I’ve heard, we have quizzes in Physiology every week during our lab period  and each of the quizzes count towards our final grade. For that reason, I am happy that we have our lab session on Thursday. If it were on Monday, the entire weekend would have to go to cramming for that quiz. The biggest downer with our schedule is how spaced out some of the classes are – for example, on Tuesday. Sometimes it takes a while to get into a good study groove and the way it is now, there are a lot of hours that have the potential to be misused.

Celebrating the big 2-6 in Budapest

August 30, 2013 § 6 Comments

It’s been about a week and a half since we got back to Budapest and almost all of our time has gone to finishing our apartment. We moved into the new apartment at the end of June, after Skjalg had already left for Norway. Since he wanted to be part of the moving-in process, I (gladly) left most of the boxes unpacked. It was strange to think that we were returning to an apartment that we hadn’t technically lived in before. I’d spent a few days here before leaving for Norway in July, but it felt more like a waiting room then. Getting the place ready was a huge project and took a lot more work than we anticipated, but four trips to IKEA later and we are finally done! I’ll upload some photos soon.

We arrived in Budapest on Tuesday the 20th, the day before my 26th birthday. We decided that we would push the unpacking to Thursday so that we could relax and enjoy my birthday. On Wednesday morning, I lay in bed watching an episode of Under the Dome until Skjalg came in to “surprise” me. It’s a tradition in my family that the birthday person gets woken up by the whole family – humans and animals alike – with birthday cake, candles, balloons and presents, singing etc. It’s a bit more fun when there are more people in the house than just Skjalg and I, and the “surprise” element gets kind of lost, but we still do it. Who doesn’t like to feel special on their birthday? 😉

As I lay there watching my show, I heard movement in the living room and then classical music. Skjalg opened the door and entered with a tray of champagne, candles and cheesecake. It was the “classy birthday” as he called it. We’re lucky enough to live by the famous Café Gerbeaud, where Skjalg picked out a beautiful fruit-adorned cheesecake as my birthday cake.

After enjoying the morning sun, champagne and cheesecake, we got ready to head out. My present was somewhere out in the city and we were going to find it! We ended up getting a little side-tracked, however, and ended up at West End mall. Skjalg found a place to get his phone fixed and while we were there, I splurged on a new phone. My phone was stolen before my anatomy exam in May and since then I’ve been using a really cheap Samsung (which has been driving me crazy).

In addition to a phone, I bought a juicer! After being brainwashed by Stian ( 😉 ) I made up my mind to do a juice detox. I haven’t felt healthy for so long and thought it was worth a shot. I’m now on Day 9 of a 10 day fast – drinking nothing but fruit/veggie juice 5 times a day – and I’m feeling really good (tired…but good!).

After a quick trip home to drop off the juicer, it was present time! I had NO idea what Skjalg had in mind. I love surprises, but I also love figuring them out – two qualities which obviously clash. One of my birthday wishes was to walk around Margit Island and since we were going to get the present before, I figured it had to be small enough for me to carry in my pocket. Other than that, I had no clue!

I followed Skjalg onto the metro, back to the stop where the mall was, down two side streets and then a turn to the right. “There it is,” he said. I was looking at Wasabi (an Asian restaurant), a hair salon, and a bike rental shop. “Am I getting my hair done?” I asked. “Nope,” he replied as he led me across the street and then down into a cellar shop. “We’re getting bikes!!” Haha, was definitely wrong about the “small enough for me to carry in my pocket” part.

We spent almost two hours trying out bikes and picking out the ones we wanted. I was so happy and surprised that I had no concept of time at that point. Then we were off! Budapest is such a different city when seen by bike – I had no idea! We rode down side streets we probably never would have seen otherwise to get to the island. Even Margit Island was a completely different experience. Normally, we walk around the island along the shore and don’t head in to the inner paths. This time, we went right through the center, past huge fountains, flower parks, a zoo and a beautiful giant tree.

The rest of the afternoon was spent riding around the city and then stopping in at Culinaris, a specialty shop with hundreds of imported foods, for some guacamole and chipotle chips. To close out the night, we enjoyed an unforgettable steak dinner at La Pampa. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to bring in my 26th year.


Summer Day in Oslo

August 18, 2013 § 2 Comments

Sandwiched between a rainy Friday and a cloudy, drizzly Sunday was a warm and beautiful summer Saturday. Stian and I started the morning with fresh juice (using his awesome juice maker) and watched an episode titled Is There a Creator? from the series Through the Wormhole (narrated by Morgan Freeman). Stian shares the same love for science and documentaries that I do and we take no hesitation in indulging each other.

When the afternoon rolled around, we decided to take a walk through Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen. There was a multicultural festival going on at Rådhusplassen, so we enjoyed walking through the crowd and experiencing the array of ecclectic food smells wafting through the air.

Aker Brygge and the newly expanded/developed Tjuvholmen are so amazing to walk through on a sunny day. Stian and I moseyed through, stopping for some gelato and people watching, and even checked out the view from the tower elevator.

We returned to the apartment about 3 hours later and settled into the couch to watch Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (Stian’s trying to convert me to juicing 😉 ). Afterwards we took a sunset walk through Akershus Festning – a medieval castle built to protect Oslo. To close out the perfect summer Saturday, Stian made an amazing steak dinner while I skyped with my mama and stepdad. Dinner was enjoyed with red wine and good conversation and followed by watching Oblivion (with Tom Cruise).


August 16, 2013 § 4 Comments


Rainy and humid in Oslo. I’m enjoying orange rooibus tea and The Fountainhead in a cafe while I wait for Stian to get home from work. My errands are all taken care of and I’ve spent some quality time with my friends Roar and Karolina. We met at a mutual friend’s Halloween party several years ago where Karolina and I were both dressed up as Snookie from Jersey Shore. No one knew who we were, thus the bonding began between this California girl and Miss Brooklyn.

I’m here until Tuesday morning, when Skjalg and I will be heading back to Budapest. On Wednesday we will celebrate my 26th (!!!) birthday – and the fifth of my birthdays that we have celebrated together. Life is good 🙂

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