Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Little Dose of Reminiscence

In my spare time from dental school, I work as a freelance photographer for real estate agents. Basically, I take pictures of houses that they are selling. I'm not one of those professional photographers who hauls around thousand dollar cameras and nine speedlights. I guess I'm a low-key photographer, armed with only my trusty Nikon D5100 and Photoshop.

Anyhow, the point of this story is that I was taking pictures of a house in Hacienda Heights last week - my childhood hometown. On my way to the property, I managed to drive by not one, but TWO of the elementary schools I attended. 

Los Altos Elementary School - the school I attended from 1st - 2nd grade.
It was a strange feeling, revisiting building blocks from your past. I couldn't help but park my car on the side of the road and snap a few pictures.

Los Molinos Elementary School - the school I attended from 3rd - 4th grade.

Elementary school reunions don't exist. Many of the people who attend elementary school together wind up attending the same high school. But for those who moved to a different city during elementary school, you never get to see these people again. Sometimes I flip through my yearbooks and wonder how my former classmates are doing. Sometimes I wonder where they are living, who they have become, what college they attended, and whether or not they are successful now. What happened to Melissa, the girl who invited me to her 7th birthday party? What happened to Alex, my best guy friend in first grade?

I still find it strange when I drive through the towns where I grew up and have since overgrown. It's like accidentally running into someone you once knew many years ago. I wonder how much of it has changed? How much of it has stayed the same? 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dental School Admissions D-Day - Recollections of a First Year

December 1.

Otherwise known as dental school admissions decision day.

Or doomsday, a more accurate description of my experience.

I remember the day vividly in the back of my head, like a nightmare I simply can't let go of. I intended to write a blog post about "December 1st" last year but it took me almost a year to come to terms with my recollections from that day.

It was a Thursday, the last day of an excruciatingly long week filled with presentations, papers, and my senior project in kinesiology. It was a week that I believed would make me or break me and dental school admissions was the last hurdle. I woke up at 7am that morning, dizzy with excitement, anticipation, and dread. But ever the optimist, I was certain there would be nothing but good news. I lay in bed with my laptop perched on my lap. Four tabs were open - the AADSAS portal, the USC Dental School admissions portal, my email, and the Student Doctor Network forum. I kept hitting the refresh button all morning, awaiting an admissions decision to pop up (hopefully good news!).

So I pressed refresh.
Then refresh again.

Again and again, each time getting slightly more desperate and hopeless until I finally admitted defeat around noon.

I was devastated. I was heartbroken. I sat on my bed, paralyzed with disappointment. What do I do next? How do I get on with my life? I had no answer. So I wallowed in despair with a giant tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream and shut down my computer. I couldn't stand to see another "WOOHOO!! I'M GONNA BE A DENTIST!!!!" status update on Facebook or SDN.

The moral of the story is that life goes on. It really does.

I eventually received my acceptance letter to the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC on January 13, 2012. Friday the 13th, ironically. I also received two other dental school interview invites in late January - one at the University of the Pacific (my dream dental school since freshman year) and the other at Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health (ASDOH). I was accepted to both of these dental schools about two months after my interview.

We put so much of our hopes and expectations on a December 1st acceptance but at the end of the day, an acceptance to dental school is an acceptance to dental school. Come dental school matriculation in August, it makes no difference whether you were accepted on December 1st at 8am or later during the application cycle in May. A December 1st acceptance would provide peace of mind throughout the holidays but heck, one guy in our class was accepted the day before orientation started!

So for those of you who were accepted to dental school today, congratulations!

For those who were accepted to the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC (Class of 2017), FIGHT ON! and join our Facebook group.

For those of you who didn't hear back from dental schools today, don't lose hope!
December 1, 2011 was depressing as hell for me but fast forward one year, I am now a first year dental student!