Living away from home for the first time is a milestone everyone hits at different stages in their life. Although most people leave the nest when they go off to their undergraduate university, I decided to live at home and attend a local university for the three years I worked toward my degree. I feel left out at times when people tell their “crazy freshman roommate” stories, and it took me moving to Galveston (473 miles or roughly 9 hours in Texas travel measurements) to realize that my experiences at home were the perfect fit for me during my undergraduate years. Even though I will never be able to say I lived in a dorm, I still enjoy listening to others tell their crazy dorm stories and am thankful for the memories I made at home. I enjoyed my “crazy freshman housemates” aka my parents and two brothers. I loved that my mom and I watched Law and Order SVU every time a new episode came on. I enjoyed going for Dairy Queen runs with my brothers any time one of us had a craving for something sweet. I loved my dad singing random songs he had made up to our cats. I still miss grabbing breakfast burritos on the weekends with my boyfriend at one of our favorite local places. Sometimes I wonder if I would have stayed home if we had a medical school within the area, but I have realized that I would not have done as well in school if I had continued to live at home. The amount of concentration it requires for me to study (and it will only get worse with STEP studying in the spring) is more than I would have been able to achieve if I had stayed at home. I am forever thankful that I stayed at home for undergrad, but it was time for me to leave when I started medical school.
I realized how I was spoiled living at home. I did my own laundry, but if my mom were doing a load of similar colors, she would often toss mine in and do it for me. In addition, my mom cooked all my favorites for family dinner on a fairly regular basis, which is definitely one of the things I miss the most. I miss running errands with my brothers, parents, or boyfriend especially since I tend to run errands solo now. It is much more difficult to find someone else who also needs to go or has time to go at the same time as me.
I also realized how little I actually knew about cooking; I burned two slices of bread and almost started a small fire trying to toast my bread in the oven (thankfully one of my friends had two toasters and gave me the extra, forever eliminating this problem for me). Salmon was pretty much the only thing I knew how to cook, and I, luckily, knew a few different ways to bake it. I had to swallow my pride in the beginning of second year to call my mom and ask her how to make a grilled cheese. She laughed at me for several minutes and told one of her friends that she was at lunch with. She was humored that I had no idea how to make a lunch staple that has always been one of my favorites. My prior method of making a grilled cheese involved toasting two pieces of bread, putting cheese in the middle, and microwaving it for a few seconds. I definitely do not recommend this method, and I was really glad when my mom taught me her way with butter in a frying pan. I made it daily for a few weeks and was comforted by the feeling of home.
Moving from home taught me the importance of finding friends that become your second family. I can say with 100% certainty that transitioning into the medical school lifestyle would have been more challenging and substantially less enjoyable without the close friends I have made (and my sweet cat, Sully). My friends have been so wonderful through the good, the bad, and the ugly crying when I am having a pre-test stress moment. I am so lucky to have found my people. The people to celebrate with following tests and make my first birthday away from home so special. I am so blessed to have friends who are there for me during the more difficult parts of medical school (which sometimes can seem like a daily struggle), and who always remind me that no one ever said medical school would be easy- they said it would be worth it.