Saturday, October 25, 2008

Extended Adolescence

It has been two months since my last post on this blog. I can claim to have had nothing interesting to say these past two months but that would be a lie. So much has happened. The thing is, I refuse to publish most of my thoughts on it. It's all written in my moleskine. Who knows, I might get famous someday and my journals will get published.

It's been three weeks since I arrived in the US. The trip was uneventful but last minute changes in the ticket and $150 allowed me to arrive in the US in style -- business class all the way. Thank God for Northwest's generous frequent flyer miles policies. Jet lag was virtually nonexistent for me. A few days after arriving in Jacksonville, FL, I started my observership at the Jacksonville Heart Center. It's been fun so far and I'm really learning a lot.

Life in the US, the run-of-the-mill, daily-grind, non-vacation life, is difficult. I wash dishes (albeit most of the time with a dishwasher) and do my own laundry. I scrub the bath tub and toilet once a week.  For the first time in my life, I iron my own office clothes (the others remain rumpled). I vacuum my own room and tidy up after myself. I wasn't a don back home but at least we had a wonderful house helper who did these things for me. It didn't take me long to adjust to the routine but I sure miss my life back home because of these changes.  I also must say that I am not complaining. I'm blessed to be living with a family that opened their home to me without hesitation and I am grateful to them, especially considering the fact that they are not blood relatives. It's just the way life is lived here, I guess.


I was hanging out with our Physician Assistant (PA) at the hospital the other day.  Note that this guy, a white American, is exactly my age, 27 years old.  He was telling me about how they're looking for a new home, he and his girlfriend. He went on and talked about mortgaging and how much it would cost both him and his girlfriend to pay off the home loan per month. He also talked a bit about the student loans he was still paying for. He'll basically be in debt for the next 15 to 20 years. He mentioned some stuff about credit ratings and credit history and how he's already opened an IRA, a retirement account. He talked about budgets and having enough extra money to occasionally eat out.  

This guy was my age and we worried about totally different things.  I thought that I would never have to worry about the things he's worrying about if I would stay in the Philippines. And that's not something I want to happen. I don't want to add numbers to my age and still not know about paying off credit cards and other bills and budgeting my own money. In the words of one of my best friends, "You're too sheltered here." I won't argue with that.  On the flip side, talking with him about these things made me count my blessings. I think it's a huge blessing from God to have finished college and medical school and still be debt-free. That's just a fundamental difference between the American and Philippine educational and cultural system. Back home, I wouldn't have had to worry about home loans for a few more years because I'm not pressured to move out of my parents' house at my age or, for some people, at any age.

Medical students really do undergo an extended period of adolescence.  While our contemporaries were off looking for jobs, attending corporate meetings, and earning real money, we were slaving away inside a classroom for 4 years, reading thick books and taking periodic tests. After taking the medical board exams and as I was applying for moonlighting jobs, I realized that the issues I faced then, at 26 years of age, were the same issues that most of my high school classmates faced 5 years before. How should I format my CV? What should I wear to the interview? How much is the starting salary (or in my case, the PF per hour)? 

I get to thinking, was Medicine worth all this extended adolescence?  Absolutely.

No matter how this residency application turns out, whether I get to stay in the US for a few years or I return to the Philippines in a few months to start my residency there, I am certain that I'm turning a new page and starting a new chapter. I think I'm finally about to start facing what some people call the real world.  And I have a lot of growing up to do.


The Fish said...

Write more blog posts !!! :)

Joely Ann said...

You are where you are supposed to be now. I am very proud of you.

Joely Ann xxx