Sunday, April 28, 2013

Home sweet home.

All settled in back in Spokane, WA. This last week has been relaxing. It's fantastic waking up to my husband on one side of me and Mama on the other. It's lovely having both of them in one place and not having to worry about or miss one of them.

Spokane's weather has been gorgeous. 50s-60s since I arrived. Cold enough for sweaters and jeans, warm enough not to need a coat. I've been on lots of long walks and one jog since being home. The park a block from my apartment is perfect for jogging. Lots of trees and natural rock formations.
Mama and Roosevelt are getting along "okay" at the moment. Mama's stopped growling and hissing at him, but she's not ready to be best friends yet. Roosevelt really wants to play and keeps chasing her, but she runs and hides from him. Hopefully they'll get it worked out while we're away in San Francisco this weekend and all they have for company is each other.
Puffy Mama barely tolerating Roosevelt's presence.
Otherwise, I've just been doing a lot of cooking and baking. Don told me that I could pick anything to cook and he'd pay for the ingredients. Two things I've always wanted to cook but I've been kind of intimidated by is risotto and seared scallops. Neither are difficult, but they require a level of precision and if you don't get them just right they're both very easy to screw up. Well, I did it! And it turned out delicious!
This morning I made blueberry muffins from scratch. They also turned out wonderfully.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Americanized, once more.

Right now I'm sitting in my hotel room in Atlanta, Georgia (sidenote: If you're ever staying in the Atlanta area, Hotel Indigo is absolutely fantabulous) eating breakfast and preparing to make the rest of my journey home to Spokane.

We went to Lobsterfest on Friday night. It was the perfect way to have an island send off. Rum punch, lobster, bbq ribs, rice and beans, plantains, pumpkin fritters... Proper St. Kitts food done right. Vanessa and I studiously ignored each other for the last hour we were there because we wanted to avoid saying goodbye and crying as long as possible.

My flight out of St. Kitts was stressful. To all incoming students with pets, just know that when you try to leave the island with your pet you can expect a struggle. They overbook the pet spots on the flight, and that's just the ones that actually make reservations. There are plenty of students who don't make reservations and get there early to check their pets in before the students with reservations show up. It's a nightmare. Delta called me as I was on my way to the airport to try and tell me that I couldn't have Mama with me on the flight. I remained calm and didn't yell, but spoke in a very firm and businesslike tone that I made the reservation and double checked it just last month, and that she would be traveling with me in cabin, and that was final. The Delta rep at RLB airport called corporate, and everything worked out fine. But still, that's a heart attack I didn't need yesterday. And now my Kittitian kitty is an American citizen!

Flying over the ocean yesterday, and realizing that it will be years before I can swim in tropical waters again, was heart breaking for me. I had the crazy urge to jump out of the plane when we'd fly over an island where I could see the water turn from blue to turquoise to green over a stretch of reef. Salt life has become such a part of me now, it feels like something is being taken away from me that I'm not ready for.

As sad and painful as parting is, I'm excited to begin this next phase. I'm happy to be seeing my husband and my family and friends back home. I'm not the same person I was when I left them. I'm more patient, less easily stressed, and more laid back and understanding. I don't judge as harshly as I used to. St. Kitts, Ross, and my classmates changed me into someone who is going to make a better doctor than the person who arrived there 2.5 years ago.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Back to America!

Grades were just posted. Not only did I pass 7th semester, I did much better than I thought I did. I didn't receive less than a B on any of my final exams.

The major motivation for starting this blog was that when I was researching Ross, there were no blogs that went all the way through all seven semesters of school here. Most just ended somewhere in 3rd or 4th semester with no explanation. I wanted to provide a blog that documented the experience throughout all seven semesters as honestly as possible. I hope I've done that.

It's so hard to believe that two and a half years have passed so quickly. I'm full of mixed emotions about leaving. I'm definitely going to miss this place. I'm going to miss my friends so much. It's going to take at least a few weeks before the expectation that I'll see them in the morning, or the urge to say, "I can't wait to tell Vanessa..." goes away.

Transition ceremony.

When you get to Ross as a 1st semester, there is a White Coat Ceremony that marks your beginning as a student of veterinary medicine. At the end of 7th semester, there is a Transition Ceremony, that marks your move from didactic learning into the clinical portion of your education. Our transition ceremony was last Thursday. We all expected more tears, although there were a few, but mostly from professors. It was a joyous, upbeat, positive ceremony.

Again, it was emphasized that our semester has been a special one. They tell every incoming semester that by the end you'll all be family, but our semester has really taken that to a whole other level. We've been told numerous times that there's just something about us that is closer, warmer, and our bond is stronger, than most others that have come through Ross. Dr. Dascanio, before our final exam on Monday, told us that there has only ever been one other class with which he's felt as close. I'm going to miss these people terribly, but I haven't cried yet. That will probably happen at Lobsterfest tomorrow evening, when I'm saying my last goodbyes to everyone.

98 names. Our class started with 137 students. Only 50 out of this 98 were a part of our incoming class in January 2011. You hear things about the rate of attrition at Ross. This is proof.
My personalized instrument pack.
Bandage scissors with my initials on them.
Dr. Kenyon. His parting words to us were, "Milk clean, dry teats!"
Dr. Fuentealba! She's been our biggest cheerleader since 1st semester. She calls us her "Greenie babies."
Dr. Nibblett. She is always such a snazzy dresser!
The last remaining four of our original orientation group. There were seven of us when we started first semester.
Vanessa, Laura, Michelle and me. I *loved* Michelle's dress.
Laura wanted to strike a "Mad Men pose."
Elly's really light!
Jess, Laura, Vanessa, me and Elly with Dr. Wallace.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the RUSVM class of May 2014!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A diver was born.

When my husband got dive certified, I had absolutely zero interest in following in his footsteps. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't because I was afraid of the water. I was pretty much born to swim. I swam competitively in middle and high school, and spent most of my childhood on my grandpa's boat. It was because the thought of being 60 feet under water and something going wrong scared the bejeezus out of me. Also, I found shipwrecks super creepy for some reason.

But then we had a bad experience with a buddy that Don was assigned in Florida being really negligent, and getting them really lost, and Don having to surface by himself because he was out of air and the jerk refused to come up with him, only to find himself a mile from the boat. Meanwhile I was on deck freaking out, because everyone else in the dive group had surfaced 15 minutes ago.  Being the control freak that I am, if I could prevent some idiot killing my husband by getting certified and being his dive buddy myself, then that's what I was gonna do.

So when I came down here, I obtained my open water certification. And I discovered something I love so much that I never thought I would. Certainly getting certified in the Caribbean has spoiled me. The diversity of marine life down here, as well as some of the last remaining living coral reefs in the world, has made most of the diving in the U.S. (apart from Hawaii) a vast let down. Sunday was my last dive in the Caribbean for awhile. Luckily it was a good one, even if rough seas changed our dive plan (making our original site unable to be reached) and three of our group got horrendously sea sick or had issues with pressure/equilization and couldn't complete their dives. I learned on Sunday that my formative years spent on a boat served me well, because I didn't even feel the least bit queasy while others were popping dramamine and hurling their breakfast over the side of the boat.

A 15 foot safety stop on our ascent. That's me on the far left.
Another safety stop. Me again on the left.
The deck of the ship with a ton of sergeant major damselfish (fish with black and yellow stripes). Me up above.
Me kneeling on the bottom while our guide feeds the fish bread.
A french angelfish.
A portion of the hull that you could swim through.
I'm the one swimming horizontally across the frame.
A redband parrotfish.
Two sand divers.
Me again.
A longspine squirrelfish hiding among the coral.
The best shot of the day. A green sea turtle with a ramora on its back.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Commence freak out!

I know sometimes my mom checks my blog while at work, and today I kind of hope she does because the freak out would be awesome.

Remember when I mentioned a capital letters Big Deal externship that I was going for? I didn't want to jinx it, but today I just got news that I'm going to be externing at...


I'll be in their Department of Comparative Medicine working with lab animal vets, faculty, and staff for four weeks next March. At the end of which I'm expected to put together a presentation about an aspect of lab animal medicine/research that interests me and present it to the entire faculty. (<--- That part honestly terrifies me.)

But yeah. The Stanford. Holy cow.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Home, sweet home.

I started packing today and got nostalgic, so I wandered around the villa taking photos of all the little things I'll miss about my private, island paradise. I'm going to miss this villa. It truly afforded me a zen place to escape from school.

These grow in my driveway.
Plantain tree in the back garden.
These grow all over the property, and they smell heavenly.
One of several flowering trees in the garden.
Close up of the flowers.
There are so many adorable little succulents/cacti growing in the garden.

The bismark palm right outside of my bedroom window.
Shells I've dove for and collected.
These grow right outside of my kitchen window.