An Ode to EDC

Image result for calvin and hobbes quotes on life

In two weeks we will be reunited. I can so clearly recall sitting in BHH writing my very first blog post and being so excited for EDC to form and to start clinical rotations. We had no idea what the future had in store at that time and will soon be in that same spot of unfamiliarity.

I, for one, am freaked out about starting residency. Instead of the “struggle” being real, I think a more apt phrase would be “the anxiety is real.” We are going to be (limited) licensed physicians. Prescribing medications and ordering labs and imaging on someone else’s family members, complete strangers, and everyone in between. Thank gravy I won’t be doing this alone. I am also excited to get this doctor-ball rolling. But right now, starting at the bottom and climbing out feels a bit insurmountable. I’ve been listening to a lot of music to quell my anxiety.

I know it’s been hard for us to keep in close touch these past couple of years and each of us went on our own journeys throughout the past few years, but I always think of you guys as being constants in my life; like touchstones that are only a grouptext away. Thanks for humoring me and keeping the EDC blog alive, even though Kat without cats forgot her password. 🙂 Who knows, maybe we’ll be able to convert this into an “EDC goes off to Residency” blog. In any case, it would be nice for us to have one last night in Ellensburg together, play poker, and eat many desserts. Maybe after graduation.

I am really looking forward to seeing you guys very soon,

Nari

Med School Depression

Whenever I feel sad, I just go to my happy place. The Fridge. – Anonymous

This VLOG is posted a little late but this was how I was feeling the past couple weeks. Especially when Stan wasn’t around and I felt like a baby was about to fall out of my vagina any moment now.

I am very grateful to have all of you – such amazing friends that support me through this traitorous medical journey.

 

Japan & Taiwan: An Asian in Asia

Greetings EDC,

As you all know, I went on a splendid trip recently that required some time travel: past the international date line and into East Asia. I have not been before, aside from being born in Taiwan, and had been looking forward to this trip for basically my entire life. It was as strange and wonderful as I always imagined. Robert, the friend that I married, adventured with me and we both appreciated the fact that he was finally a racial minority. We began our trip in Tokyo, then stayed in the outskirts of Kyoto in Kurama before flying out to Taiwan and touring the entire island essentially. Our trip was only 2 weeks long, but we packed a lot (maybe too much) into it. Here are some of the highlights!

Tokyo: A feast for your eyes, ears, and tummy!

Tokyo delights the senses with overwhelming sounds and visual stimulation while bustling with orderly activity. Some favorite districts of ours were Akihabara, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ginza. Each offered their own distinct personality and flare keeping us pretty much in awe the entire time. The metro system is very precise and organized making it easy for any traveler to use, but there is a very specific etiquette for these trains. Before boarding you must stand in line, race each other to open seats and then sit noiselessly. Speaking at full volume is frowned upon on these train cars.

A cold, drizzly day in Akihabara.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of Tokyo skyline from Observation deck at the Mori Art Museum.

 

 

 

Conveyor belt sushi in Harajuku. You submit your meal requests on the electronic device, and the conveyor belt zips it out directly to your counter station!

 

 

 

Takeshita street in Harajuku – known for all things cute and sweet: cat-petting cafes, cotton candy stands, creperies (on every corner), fashionable shopping, and many food items to select!

 

 

 

 

 

Owl-petting cafe: my personal favorite. While the owls were being fed live mice, we drank tea. Best to satiate their appetites prior to being petted by strangers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictured here is the extremely popular and often photographed Shibuya crossing. It’s maybe the busiest crosswalk in Tokyo but as all things Japanese, superbly organized. The second the light changes to red, there is a complete absence of pedestrians in the street. Amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

UNIQLO in Ginza. Happy happy me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onsen in Kurama: Bathing naked outside and eating traditional Japanese food

The bathhouse that we stayed at was up the street from the Kurama Mountain, a hike boasting stunning Buddhist Temples and a steep train-car to the top. Two days of wearing yukatas at every meal, sleeping on tatami mats, and bathing outside in the wilderness was very refreshing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAIWAN: The Best Part

After enjoying eclectic and energetic Tokyo paired with quiet, drizzly Kurama, we made our way to the homeland. We flew from Tokyo to Taipei and made the most of our first day in Taiwan by doing laundry. Positioned right next to the street market and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen museum, we were able to wander around while the clothes spun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following a single evening in Taipei, we set off for the streets in which I was born – Taichung. A gritty, scooter-dominated city, Taichung represented a lot of what I imagine Taipei used to be. The skyline was dimly polluted, the night market was noisy and crowded, streets were narrow and without sidewalks, and nobody spoke English. The night market was probably the best part; imagine 3+ miles of food stalls, backpack and phone cases stores, and being packed in with a crowd of people while stinky tofu harasses your nostrils. I loved so much about this city, it really felt like home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The courtyard of the orphanage in which I spent the first couple years of life. It no longer houses orphans, but instead is dedicated to caring for physically and mentally handicapped children. A wonderful place.

 

 

The rooftop garden of the orphanage.

 

 

 

 

 

After the emotional and wonderful time spent in Taichung, we ventured forth to Kaohsiung, a port city in the southwest region of Taiwan. This was a really fun city to visit and we were able to rent bikes, take a ferry to a local island, visit the British Consulate for Tea & Biscuits, and just wander around. We even got sunburns.

above: view from British Consulate

 

We took a river Gondola ride and were serenaded by the Gondola driver in Taiwanese songs. Very unexpected, a little cheesy, but much fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

next: Lotus Lake temples and temples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best cold noodles I’ve ever eaten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To round out the trip, we returned to Taipei and enjoyed some Din Tai Fung (very busy), night markets (Raohe >>> Shilin), visited the Taipei 101 Starbucks, and spent our final day at the National Palace Museum. I loved visiting Taiwan and Japan, but as they say, there really is no place like home.



Thanks for reading. 🙂

She’s ALIVE!!!

Absence makes the heart grow fonder – William Shakespeare

I know you girls have seen Kat this past Match week but I haven’t seen this woman in ages!! Sightings of Kat are almost as rare as “Big Bitch” sightings! I’m so glad she came to visit, so I forced her to make this video with me 🙂

Can’t wait till we’re all together for graduation.

The place so nice, they named it twice

Welcome to Walla Walla, Washington!

For all those travel bugs and foodies out there, just wanted to give a shout out to Walla Walla, the town I did my third year clinical rotations at!

If you ever get the chance, here are some great things (mostly food) to check out in town:

Food

  1. Graze
    • I LOVED the Vegetarian Torta – my absolute favorite!! I must have gone here every week for this sandwich. It is mind blowing – great bread with chipotle, avocado, black beans, pickled daikon and carrot, sprouts, tomatoes… my mouth is watering just thinking about it
    • They are a sandwich and salad place – pear salad is really good too!
    • http://www.grazeevents.com/
  2. Grandma’s Kitchen
    • Fresh, non-greasy, super tasty Mexican food – you can get nopales! You pick a filling (nopales, black beans, varieties of meats) and pick what you put it into: burrito, sopa, taco, etc!! Yum!!
    • http://wwgrandmaskitchen.com/
  3. Maple Counter
  4. Bacon and Eggs
  5. Fine-ly Made
  6. Walla Walla Bread Company
  7. Sweet Basil Pizzeria
  8. Olive
    • My roomies loved this place. A place to sit and study as well. Lots of baked goods, salads. I think after 8 or 9 pm, some of the baked goods are reduced price!
    • http://olivemarketplaceandcafe.com/
  9. The Marc
  10. Dora’s Deli
    • This is a hole in the wall place. So good – their food is authentic and tasty!!
  11. Whitehouse Crawford
  12. Sipid Bites by Sarah

Events

  1. Gesa Power House Theater
    • Loved this theater – I think we went to a Shakespeare production here. It was fantastic!!
    • https://phtww.com/
  2. Little Theatre of Walla Walla  
    • Went to see a Christmas play here with my adoptive parents from Walla Walla! It was awesome!!
    • https://www.ltww.org
  3. Symphony / Chamber Music 
  4. Corn maze
    • This was super fun! Go with friends!

As you can tell, I did a lot of eating…. 🙂 There are also beautiful places you can explore, hike, and enjoy! Walla Walla is a great town – lots of vegetarian options, family friendly, safe, and happy. And for those of you who love wine, it’s got a lot of it! The downtown is especially nice to explore. I really enjoyed my third year here and am grateful for the experience I had!!

Happy exploring!!

-P

With all these loans, can I ever be a homeowner?

Hello all!

Hope you are doing well. Now the answer to this question is: YES! Now that match results are out, many of us will be going to new places for a few years. I’m sure most of you are aware of this – renting comes with a lot of benefits: your landlord will fix things that go wrong, you can pick up and move when needed, usually cheaper than a mortgage, etc. However, for 3+ years, we’re going to be in one place, be earning real money for the first time, not be dependent on parents (for those of us who have been), and start to really think about our finances. Which is why the idea of owning a home is so appealing – especially in a coveted area – enabling the home to become a great investment. Now, if you are moving forward as a single person, meaning, not married, don’t have children, etc., owning a home is all on you – the payments, upkeep, etc. So it’s a BIG decision! So, here are a few things/tips I’ve found in my search to help me navigate this:

  1. Contact the current residents at your program and ask them what they did and what they recommend
    1. Realize that some are married, have kids, or are single – find residents that are similar to you and your housing needs
  2. Rent VS Buy: Weigh the pros and cons! Look into the area, where housing is in relation to the hospital, where the other residents live, how feasible it is to buy a home, etc. What is the cost of renting vs buying? Can you head over your residency area beforehand to do some physical legwork over there before starting? If you’re in a really big, expensive city with a ton of traffic and without many housing options close by, you might need to rent.

If you’ve decided to buy…

  • Make a list:  What’s important to you? How many bedrooms? Full bathrooms? Attached garage? Backyard? Location – suburbs, city, rural?
    1. A FOREVER VS SELLABLE home: Do you want to settle here? I know it’s a very long term question, but it will dictate what/where you choose to buy. For example, if I don’t plan to stay where I do my residency, I need to make sure that my home will sell easily once I’m done with my residency. So, I need to think about the area I’m going to buy in and how easy the homes there resell. Is there a good school system? Historically, how has the resale market been in area?
    2. Parts of a home: If I don’t have a family, do I want to have enough room to host medical students that come to the program for audition rotations? That probably means needing 2 bedrooms and at least 2 full bathrooms. As a resident, I’ll probably be coming home really late sometimes – an attached garage may make me feel safer. Also, if I’m looking to have a pet, a backyard would be fantastic.
    3. Types of homes: Do I want to have a stand alone single family home? But that entails mowing the lawn, taking care of the roof, shoveling snow, etc. Or do I look at condos or town homes or apartments? There will be an extra monthly HOA fee associated with this, but my snow will be shoveled and I only worry about the inside of the home. Plus the insurance is much cheaper.
  • Figure out your timeline: When is graduation? When does your program start (usually July 1)? When is orientation? When can you move in? You’ll need to get your loans in order at least 30-45 days prior to closing.
  • Get in touch with a realtor: the residency program I’m joining provided us with a list of realtors and a few housing options in the area
    1. One realtor is part of a program that works to help physicians buy homes, a program that gives back a portion of her commission to you (in terms of your closing fees)
    2. The realtors from the program will have dealt with a ton of other residents and know what’s important to you – distance to the hospital, upkeep, etc. Ask current residents for recommendations too!
  • Get in touch with a lender: your realtor may have some suggestions. Look into physician loans – a lot of banks offer these. Call and compare them. Different banks will have different restrictions. I’d suggest looking at 2 and comparing them to make sure you get the best deal. Will it cover your home fee 100%? Do you need a certain percent to make a down payment (5%? 0%?), and if not, will it help your loan if you do? What’s their interest rate? For how long will it be fixed? Some loans provide you with a fixed rate for 5,7,10,15,30 years – others don’t. What is the loan rate?  If you’re moving in 4 years after residency, it will be cheaper to choose the lowest one! If 5 and 7 year ARMs are the same, get the longer one just in case! Is there a prepayment penalty? Make sure the lender you work with is accessible and easy to talk to!
    1. Physician loans can offer the following:
      • 100% Financing – No Money Down
      • No PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)
      • No Pre-Payment Penalty
      • High DTI (Debt to Income) ratio
      • Student Loans treated in a special manner – Making it much easier for you to qualify.
      • Close on your home up to 60 days before beginning residency. No need for a pay stub.
      • Up to 3% Seller contributions are allowed.
      • Flexible Terms – Select from our PhysicianLoans Adjustable Rate Mortgages (3-Year ARM; 5-Year ARM; 7-Year ARM; 10-Year ARM; or 15-Year ARM)
      • Competitive rates
  • Start looking at places: Your realtor will set you up with homes that you can view. Compare locations, prices, square footage, updates, etc. Send prices and addresses to your lender – they will do a monthly breakdown of how much you’ll need to pay – including the principle and interest of the loan, taxes in the area, insurance, and HOA fees! Ask your realtor, residents, friends, family about the places you’re checking out. Look at websites like Zillow to check their financial forecasts/ previous home rate patterns.
  • Check it out: Do a video tour with your realtor if you can’t view the place yourself. Make sure your realtor is someone you trust, and have them take pictures of everything that seems off at the place. Here are some questions to consider:
    1. How many offers have been made?
    2. How stable has the price been?Is it flexible? Can you keep us in the loop if there are other potential buyers?
    3. Why do the sellers want to move?
    4. What issues does the house come with?(take pictures of these)
    5. When was the house last updated?
    6. What is under the carpets?
    7. What does the HOA fee cover? Are there any HOA requirements to know about?
    8. How much do utilities cost? (Should we see a copy of a utilities bill?)
    9. What’s the seller’s timeline?
    10. What are the neighbors like?
    11. Has the fumigation been completed? Timeline for this?
    12. Diversity in the neighborhood? Age group of people?
    13. How’s the housing market in the area? Will it increase? Rate of increase?
    14. What kind of fireplace?
  • It’s a match: When you think you’ve found the one, and you’ve looked into it, make an offer. Talk to your realtor about this – do you make a standard offer (at retail listing price with a home warranty, etc)? Or do you up your game and bid more for the home? Sellers are looking for the “highest and best” offer… so if there are other offers on the table, you might need to increase yours…. again, talk to your realtor, they will guide you (and probably know the listing realtor too!). Your realtor will put together your offer, including move in dates.
  • Lock it down: Once your offer is accepted and things look as though they are moving in the right direction, you need to write a few checks…asap! Now there’s a pretty set timeline. You’ll need to write a check for an inspection, radon testing, and an “earnest” check to say you’re in contract with the seller. Not sure how much this can range from, but from what I’ve heard, it can be about $1,500. You should get your earnest money back at the end of closing if everything goes to plan.
  • Negotiate! After the inspection, a few things may need to be fixed up. Your realtor is your advocate and will come up with a contract that should ask for most (if not all) of these things to be fixed by the seller. Now, they may not want to fix everything and both parties may go back and forth for a bit…. But remember, unless you can go early to get things set up, you want to move into a place that is READY to move into!! You’re a resident! You don’t have time to be fixing things up – so most everything needs to be in place! Again, your realtor will help you with this.
  • Loans, loans, loans! In the meantime, your lender will be drawing up your loan paperwork as well. You need to look into homeowner’s insurance in the meantime. Also, your home loan won’t affect your student loans. Both should help with the amount of taxes you pay yearly.
  • Work, work, work, work: You may have to pay for a few things getting fixed up, you may have to pay for a month of mortgage before you officially move in, you may get to go and take care of these things in person as well. Start to budget as well, think about expenses. Make sure you have enough money in the bank to close ($2,500-3,000). Keep in touch with your realtor, they will be your advocate!!

I hope this helps  and is relatively complete. Please add as you see fit! Thank you!!

 

It’s a Match!

Image result for hippos graduating meme

Guys.

We made it through two different Match Days. How do we not have stomach ulcers already? Because we are awesome. I am so proud of all of us. Through the marathon that was 4th year and frequent trips to the bathroom, we came out the other end and are one step closer to closing that gap on our dreams of becoming Physicians. We each have a tremendous amount to look forward to and can realize the weight of this. As women and first generation doctors, very little can stop us from being advocates for our patients, helping those in need, and progressing modern medicine.

I can’t wait to see all of you at graduation and celebrate the closure of this important life chapter.

Nari