A picture is worth a thousand words

June 20, 2017 § 4 Comments

So much has happened in the past two months that I hardly even know how to write this post. It makes me sad to think that there are memories that are lost or that will fade because I didn’t have the time to write them down here. This blog has documented almost every step of this journey – from applying to medical school to now. Though this year has a bit less documented than the others, I plan to continue it until the end.

The weeks after we returned from our trip to Ukraine were a complete whirlwind. I honestly can’t even organize my mind enough to put those weeks into words, so I think my only option is to describe these past months in photos.

Ukraine Trip
April 26th

Helping out at the anatomy competition

April 30th

Even Baloo finds studying for exams exhausting

May 1st

Baloo brings everyone to the yard

May 3rd

Notes everywhere! I was trying to gather together all the hematology notes I’ve taken since 3rd year, since we were tested on it again in internal medicine this semester.

May 4th

Going through cranial CT scans in neurology

May 5th

Jannie’s 30th Birthday!

A quote I wrote in her birthday card

May 6th
May 7th

May 8th

That feeling when your puppy sleeps in the same room as you so that you’re not alone during your all-nighter

May 10th

Marianne signing her contract as a student doctor!

May 11th

Cram time!! 4 days out from Internal and Gyno

May 12th


Last dinner with the gang

May 13th

Weekend of hell! I had 6 exams the following week and had already been cramming for weeks up until this point.

May 14th

An idea of what I was up to during the month of May

May 15th

May 16th

May 19th

Sword and Scale is my ultimate guilty pleasure podcast!

May 20th

It’s nice that some of us get to sleep in

May 21st

When your notes randomly pop up somewhere on the internet..

May 24th

Studying for my last exam with Marianne!

May 25th

DONE WITH MY LAST EXAM PERIOD EVER! Still can’t believe I survived 10 exams in 2 weeks.

May 26th
May 30th

Dedicated Step 1 studying time – here we go!

June 1st

Charlotte’s Birthday!!

I love this city!

June 2nd
June 3rd

Wandering the city and running errands while listening to a new favorite podcast

June 5th

Goodbye dinner with this one 😀

June 7th

Re-discovered my old, little notebook of quotes

What happened after all this? Well, a lot. After 8 years together, Skjalg and I split up. We love each other very, very much and will continue to be good friends. As he is off to Stavanger to complete his 6th year (and I am staying here), I’ve moved into a new studio apartment. The past two weeks have been a bit heavy, but now that the moving is complete and I am finally in my own space, I’m really happy. I whittled down all my belongings to the essentials, donated 3/4 of my clothes, gave away tons of my notes to one of my students. I tried to take only what I really needed. It is so utterly liberating to not be tied down by tons of things. With the recent changes in my life, my future is now a blank slate. I have no idea where I will end up after medical school, but I’m really excited for the year that lies ahead, for the challenges that await.

Here is my new place before I moved in:

And here it is “Biancified”:

Alright, back to studying I go!

The Transition

March 23, 2017 § 3 Comments

During a break on Tuesday, I mentioned to an Erasmus student from Germany how brilliant Budapest is when Spring really hits. I told her, “There will be one day where the temperature jumps and the parks fill with people – that is the day where everything starts.”. Wednesday was exactly that day. After class, I came home, opened up the doors to our small balcony and laid out a yoga mat. For two hours, I soaked up the first real taste of spring while listening to a samba mix. It’s amazing how much a difference the sun makes!

I took the rest of that afternoon to work on my study schedule (the one I was supposed to do Monday). I’m always searching for ways to improve my studying and I stumbled across a USMLE blog presenting a technique that I am going to try. It’s really common when studying to designate “days” for a subject. Whether it’s a certain day of the week, a certain number of days a month or a chunk of days for cramming before the exam, using “days” as the base study-time unit is extremely common. This new technique involves breaking up each day into sessions and studying different topics during those sessions. What I liked most about it is that it gives several opportunities to “restart” during the day rather than waiting until the next day to start fresh. If the 1st session doesn’t start on time or isn’t successful, the rest of the day can continue without that guilt and negativity trickling in to the rest of the day’s tasks. I’m definitely one of those people who gets thrown off if things don’t work out like I planned, so something like this is perfect for me.

I’m going to put a little more emphasis on preparing for my finals (which will take place during the middle to end of May). I want to get those out of the way as soon as possible so that I have more *pure* USMLE time. We have 8/9 exams, 4 of which are oral. During oral exams, we usually have to draw a certain number of topics from an assigned topic list and present each of these topics to the examiner. Thus, the best way to prepare for oral exams is to write out a plan for each topic that includes major points/info you should mention. For forensics, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and internal medicine, I’ve divided up the topics over 6 weeks. If all goes to plan, I will be done preparing a week before exam period, which means that I won’t need as much time between exams during exam period.

My tentative plan for next week

Today was my first attempt at this plan and it went really well – in spite of not actually going to plan! I slept an hour longer and took a 2-hour walk with Baloo, but still managed to get a chunk of topics done within different subjects. It felt really good to be able to look at my schedule for the start of the next session rather than waiting until the next day. No more entire-day sabotaging for me! It was also really nice to mix the subjects (5 years of medical school and I still haven’t figured out how to successfully study multiple subjects at once). I was tempted to repeat gyno for a session because I was really enjoying it, but now I’m happy I moved on because I really look forward my next session with it (and it feels good to have made progress in other subjects).

I’ve been a bit more reflective this week than usual. Fifth year is not what I thought it would be. It feels so much more final than I ever could have imagined. We still have one year left, but most people go back to their home countries to do their final rotations there. As such, most people are treating this as the last semester. I notice so many different ways of coping with this transition, of cutting ties with Budapest, of closing out this chapter. We’re going to be doctors soon. An overwhelming fact that weighs heavier with each passing day. And with such an immense transition ahead, it’s hard to focus on the present. Every effort is placed on cushioning the inevitable blow that follows graduation.

In autopsy on Wednesday (our current block is forensics), we had two young men, only 21 and 22 years old, who had been killed in a car accident. One of them had just gotten a new haircut. The day before that, we had a 18-year old male that had died from complications associated with his almost decade-long history of drug use. The fact that I am almost 10 years older than them was not lost on me. It’s so important to savor the present, to soak it all in. The sights, the smells, the sounds. To just marinate in the moment. Life is too short to rush through a transition, even one as big as this.

Here I am, maximizing this moment 😉


Summer’s End

August 31, 2015 § 2 Comments

Bodø summer has come and gone (we got almost a full two weeks of blue skies and 20+ degrees!) and we have only five more days until we are back in Budapest. The two weeks since my last post have been absolutely dominated by work. I had my first two days off from work on the 18th and 19th – thanks to a bike accident that put me out of commission for a few days and a sweet boyfriend who was kind enough to cover both shifts in the restaurant on our days off from hjemmetjenesten. I spent those days sitting out in the sun and losing myself in Carlos Ruiz ZĂĄfon’s The Shadow of the Wind.


On Friday the 21st we celebrated my 28th (!!!) birthday. We both had to work in the evening, so we decided to celebrate before. Skjalg stayed up late and then woke up early to make me an amazing cheesecake and whole breakfast spread, which we enjoyed together with his mom. After that it was off to the gym and then down to the docks to get shrimp for lunch. One of my favorite things to do in the summer in Norway is get fresh shrimp and sit out in the sun with some wine and music. 11920411_10101941986789768_2127572551_n11940211_10101941986804738_217504594_n 11933083_10155968597370293_478157418_n

At work, I was surprised with a brownie (which I ate before taking the picture…) and a blown-up glove wishing me happy birthday. I hadn’t told anyone about it, so it was a really sweet little start to the shift. 11949575_10101941986794758_1846696379_n

This summer has been exactly what we wanted it to be and we’re looking so forward to heading back to Budapest, exhausted and victorious. At the beginning of the summer we’d set a number of goals for ourselves (which we usually do, though we don’t always reach them…) and this time, we exceeded all of them! We’re in a much better place financially, thanks to an insane amount of work and generosity of Skjalg’s family. We’ve been as active as ever and have been really good about spending time outdoors when the weather is nice. Lastly, we’ve been challenged and gained a lot of experience.

Only five more shifts and registration (which is coming up on Wednesday) to go!



May 24, 2015 § 4 Comments

Sunday night and the cool night breeze flowing through the apartment carries with it the sounds of summer. It is a holiday tomorrow so the vibe in the city is that of a second chance at Saturday. Yesterday Jannie and I studied at Costa Coffee for 12 hours straight, taking a break only to meet Skjalg for a quick bite at Burrita. Today was/is an inside day for me, though it doesn’t feel like it with so much life outside.

For the past few hours, I’ve felt like I’m studying in a latin night club. There is music playing in the park and I imagine plenty of dancing to accompany it. I had planned to go and investigate a little further, but study-guilt had kept me glued to my seat.

I have two more days until my pathophysiology exam (I’m pretending only one, so that I am actually excited about the “extra day”). I’m not feeling too good about it, which is no surprise at all. I’ve had such a foggy head since pathology and have been so absolutely exhausted. Yesterday was really the first day that I was able to sit down and critically analyze and process information. I’ve been sleeping a decent amount (around 7 hours) and practicing keeping a positive mind-set, but stress still lingers in the shadows. The ferris wheel in the park changed direction today and when it did, I spent the following 30 minutes thinking I’d lost my mind. It’s been running every day for the past two or so months, from 7 in the morning until midnight or even later – and always in the same direction! It’s with me when I study and I watch its lights flicker through our curtains as I go to sleep. Seeing it spin in a different direction makes me feel like I woke up in a parallel universe. Maybe I did…

Sometimes I feel like exam period is like getting caught in a series of waves at the beach. You get pulled under and tell yourself it’s ok, you’ll surface soon, but when it goes too long you panic a little at the thought that it might not be ok, that maybe the wave will keep you under too long. Then you surface and are relieved. That was a close one, you think. Then another one comes and the same thing happens. And again, and again, depending on how many exams you have and how big they are. To keep my mood up, and I guess you could say my head above water, I’ve been listening to some of Alan Watts talks on youtube. I find his voice and words extremely calming – and so, so fitting for how I feel during all this. Sometimes his words resonate so perfectly with my thoughts, that they melt away. There is something so comforting about being reminded that you are not alone during a hard time and that your worries and fears are not unique. These are some of my favorites:

This past Wednesday, Skjalg and I met with Amir for some celebratory drinks at 360. At least we’d planned to go to 360. When we got there, we were told that they were closing because of the weather. At that point, the sky didn’t show more than some odd layered clouds with scattered dark swirls. We turned back towards Deak and ended up at Skjalg’s favorite: Boutiq’. We enjoyed some creative cocktails and then called it an early night (can’t relax too much in exam period). When we emerged, we were met with a beautiful stormy night sky. I absolutely love summer storms, so I was a little sad that we had been hidden deep inside Boutiq’ rather than front and center for the show. Luckily, I got to see some pictures. My friend Jules took these gorgeous, perfectly timed shots:

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Today, this amazing shot popped up on facebook, click here to read more about how the photo was created.


Ok, back to studying for me. It’s already 22:00 and I still have a lot to do before bed. Wish me luck! And motivation…and a clear head! 🙂

Here’s a last little Alan Watts video, light and short but sweet and deep at the same time. It inspired the title of this post.


Life Points

April 28, 2015 § 3 Comments

That medical school is a stressful experience was no surprise to any of us. What did surprise me, however, was how much of that stress revolves around how I handle and view stress. It’s been quite the battle over these past two and a half years and I’ve made progress, but I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be. During this chapter of our lives, we’re meant to be broken down while simultaneously pushing forward. Any upset of that balance throws us into a series of challenges meant to restore it.

Previously, my thought process has been that my best chance is possible only if I devote every free moment of my time to studying. The problem with this is that you are never satisfied. Why? Because you will never, ever, be done studying. So, this semester, I have been trying to balance out my life a little bit.

To be completely honest, I wrote those previous paragraphs on April 3rd. I remember that night because I was feeling calm, happy and balanced. I felt it so strongly in that moment that I thought there would be no way I would forget that feeling. And that meant that I could put the computer down and enjoy a movie night with Skjalg.

Now it’s been almost a month. A lot has happened in that time. Many great memories have been made. But tonight, is exam registration. The single most stressful event of the year (depending on who you ask). At 21:00, all of us will log into our accounts on Neptun and furiously battle it out for the few spots available for our desired exams. I’m getting stressed now just writing about it. I was hoping I could escape the stress of the upcoming exam period and complete this post, but I’ve lost the path to that mindset. At least for now.


Since I should be studying (when is that not true?), this post is going to be a series of shots I’ve snapped over the past few weeks.

March 25th – Since Jannie moved, we don’t study together in person as much anymore (she used to live only a minute away) – so we do it on skype! Gotta love modern technology 😀


March 29th – Our friends from Norway, Roar and Karolina, came to visit for a few days during Easter Break with their adorable son HĂĽkon. On their first day, we grabbed a bottle of wine from Di Vino and walked up to the Parliament building to enjoy it with the sunset.

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March 30th – Fun Easter decorations in the Easter market


April 7th – We had two microbiology midterms this semester and both were scheduled for Week 12 – quite late! Luckily, some of the teachers were flexible and allowed us to take them early. I took my first one (mycology and parasitology) before Easter Break and towards the end of the break, made the decision to do the 2nd (virology) on the first day back. That meant 3 days of exam period style cramming! Thank goodness for SketchyMicro!!


April 9th – Spring hit Budapest – and people were enjoying it everywhere!


April 10th – Sunny study spot! Cramming for the Genetics midterm had begun.


April 12th – Making Skjalg pretty 😛 His hair has gotten so long!


April 15th – Hugo came to visit Budapest! Unfortunately, we completely forgot to take a photo when we met for dinner. So, I had to steal the one he sent me from when he celebrated his birthday.


April 16th – Such a beautiful day – so psychology class took place outside in the park! I wasn’t feeling well that day, so I missed out, but Skjalg took this photo so I could see how nice it was. We were really lucky with our psychology professor this semester. He is extremely engaged and really wants us to understand and enjoy psychology.


April 19th – Skjalg ran the Budapest half-marathon. He did an amazing job: 1:59 for 20km!

April 2oth – Beautiful morning on the way home from the gym. Took a moment to relax in the sun and enjoy the moment with coffee and coconut water.


April 21st – Skjalg and I were feeling a bit down so I made these amazing protein powder cookies I discovered on instagram. The author’s (jazzythings) were a lot prettier than mine, but they still tasted great!

April 24th – There are some American medical students visiting from Buffalo. They have been here for a month, but we didn’t meet them until last week. We invited them out for drinks at Akvarium and ended up being a huge group. It was an amazing night – much nicer than sitting inside being exhausted and pretending to study!


April 25th – Hanna came over for a girls night in. We made our friend Stian’s “Healthy Snickers Cake” and watched Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights. She just got back from Cuba a couple of weeks ago and I thought it would be fun to “go back” for the night. While making the cake, we got a call from Stian and his boyfriend Kim back in Norway 😀


April 27th – Beautiful sunset! Wish I had caught it in time. Might be nice to leave the apartment sometime ;). Quest bar “apple pie” with greek yogurt (mixed with PB2) for dinner.

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That’s all for now! Tomorrow is our last midterm in a class called Medical Imaging, which is split into an anatomy part and a biophysics part. Tomorrow’s midterm is the biophysics part and let’s just say I need a miracle for that! Haven’t touched biophysics since first year!

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Our First Heart Murmur, Ascites and Micro Midterm

October 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Our first microbiology midterm approaches and I can’t wait for it to be over. There are two microbiology midterms this semester and this one is the “easy one”, since it covers basic lab topics and facts we have learned. For the next one, we will be tested on systemic bacteriology, which includes names of bacteria, their morphology (form, structure) and diagnosis and treatment of diseases associated with infections by those bacteria.

I’ve been a bad student these past two days and skipped lectures in order to get some time to study. I really didn’t get into a good study groove until Sunday night and I need more time than what is allowed in my hectic schedule. Yesterday, Skjalg and I left school after our pathology practical (which ended at 13:00) and headed straight to the library. We missed our weekly immunology lecture and our elective, Social Media in Medicine (which ended up being cancelled, lucky us!). Then today, we skipped the microbiology lecture in order to create a 3-hour study gap between our internal medicine practical and our next classes (Hungarian for me and pathophysiology for Skjalg). I really don’t like skipping lectures – it’s the only way I keep track of where I should be – but right now this midterm is the main priority.

In internal medicine practice today we got to listen to our first heart murmur and learn how to investigate ascites. We had just had our lecture on heart murmurs this morning and were very lucky to get to listen to one immediately after, especially since heart murmurs are quite rare (according to the doctor we follow around). The patient with the heart murmur actually had an artificial murmur. He/she had had an aortic valve replacement some years before and the murmur was being generated by that mechanical replacement valve. When we listen to the heart sounds, there are are supposed to be two that we can hear (there are two more, but those are really only in children or pathological situations). These sounds are normally a sort of tapping sound and when there is a murmur, there is a sort of whooshing sound between the two tapping sounds.

The patient with ascites was very friendly and informative (which we were able to gather after translation by a Hungarian-speaking student in our group). He/she had had a double leg amputation due to issues related to diabetes and it was a bit hard to watch the patient struggle to turn around in the bed during our physical examination (he/she had to use a rope tied at the end of the bed to first sit up and then lie down on the instructed side). The appearance of the patient’s abdomen was almost identical to image on the wikipedia page I linked to above. We learned how to tap around the abdominal area, first starting at the umbilicus (belly button) and then radiating outward, and noting the change in the sounds created by our tapping. The patient had to turn to different sides so that we could observe the change in sound as the fluid moved.

The tapping method we use to determine the location of the fluid/size of organs, etc. Termed percussion in clinical practice.

The tapping method we use to determine the location of the fluid/size of organs, etc. Termed percussion in clinical practice.

When the patient was lying on his/her back, we also investigated the wave-like movement of the fluid by placing one hand on one side of the abdomen and then pushing gently with the other hand on the other side. It really felt like a wave moving inside of the patient!

Now I am home and ready to study! Need to get at least 3 hours of good work in for me to feel like I’ve been good today. After that? Bed, up at 6, gym and then library. I’ve already received permission to miss tomorrow’s physiology TA class and will be skipping tomorrow morning’s patho lecture and immuno practical *bad Buda-B!*. I’m going to have a lot to make up for with these missed classes – hopefully it will be worth it!

Here are some shots from yesterday! Gotta enjoy Fall while it lasts!

Sunny Sunday

October 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Today marks a week of getting up at 6 a.m. every day – even on the weekend – and going to bed before 22:00. The original plan was to stop studying by 22:00, but we started heading to bed by 21:00 and then spending that time reading. Feels a little “dorky” (for lack of a better word) to go to bed so early, but honestly, it’s amazing. After such long days, it’s not like I am really able to get a lot out of those few hours in the middle of the night. I can push myself, yes, but I don’t think I’m really as effective as I think I am.

Yesterday morning was tough. Normally I let myself sleep as long as possible on Saturdays. With such a heavy schedule during the week, that has meant sleeping until 9:00 or even 10:00. By 11:00 yesterday, however, I had already been up for 5 hours. I’d had an easy start with some coffee and an episode of Modern Family, done a load of laundry, studied EKG interpretation for 2.5 hours and crammed in a back and bis workout at the gym. All that in the time that I would have usually just had a cup of coffee. Waking up early also means going to bed early – and sometimes really early. Last night, I was in bed at 20:30 and asleep by 21:00! Skjalg went to grab a glass of wine at Di Vino with Suvi and Mads. I had originally planned on joining, but was completely exhausted by 20:00 – so bed it was!

After yesterday’s workout and an hour of relaxing at home, we met up with Suvi and Synnøve to study at the Parliament library. I’ve never been there before, but have always wanted to try it. Some of the libraries here make you feel like you are at Hogwarts – and this is one of them! Getting in was an experience of it’s own. We had to present our passports to a guard, who radioed in our details to check that we were allowed access. He gave us instructions on how to reach the library and we began our little quest through the outdoor corridors. At the front door to the library, another guard was leaning against the large wooden door frame. The Budapest marathon was going on and part of the race was passing parallel to us on the street level. When I looked back to the library entrance, the guard was gone. Once inside, we had to do a run-of-the-mill airport security check-in, without the shoe removal part. We were then given special electronic passes and directed through yet another set of large wooden doors to the reception desk. Since we are only using the library to study, we are allowed to use it for free. The interior is absolutely stunning!

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This week we have our first microbiology midterm on Thursday and Hungarian midterm on Friday. We have two Fridays this week. Yes, two Fridays. We have Thursday and Friday off the following week due to a holiday and in Hungary, they turn a Saturday into a Friday when this happens to make up for the lost time…

Ok, now it’s time to study! Been wasting away too much of the morning on protein pancakes, Godfather III and blogging.

Suvi also has a blog! Check it out: Borta bra men hemma Budapest. For those who can read Finnish or trust goggle translate 😉


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