September 2-3: First day of camping in Huddart Park (45 minutes south of San Francisco) with the UCSF medical school class of 2010. Met dozens of new people, played games, frolicked in the pine trees, drank beer, slept in sleeping bags, went home and showered.
September 5-8: UCSF Orientation, the obligatory "welcome wagon" was rolled out and there was free food galore at every event.
September 8: UCSF White Coat Ceremony celebrating our induction into the sacred doctorhood of medicine, and students feel like total frauds because they don't know anything about medicine yet. On one hand, it was a very moving event because it allows students and families to celebrate a life transition and reminds students about the sacred responsibilities of a doctor and why we wanted to be physicians in the first place. On the other hand, it seems a bit premature to celebrate. We literally brought our own white coats to the ceremony so that our advisors could ceremoniously help us dress ourselves onstage in front of hundreds of families. Such healthy skepticism of the white coat ceremony led my parents to decide to stay in Los Angeles to take care of my brothers...my mother told me half-jokingly, "Call us when you graduate." Ouch, I love my mother. It's tough love.
September in general: Went clubbing at Paradise Lounge, played tennis in Golden Gate Park, shopped in the commercial extravaganza known as Union Square in downtown San Francisco, attended an informal wine and cheese party thrown by a fellow first-year medical student (it was packed!), threw and attended a few informal dinner parties held by first-year medical students involving delicious food, flew to Los Angeles to attend a California Medical Association (CMA) leadership conference at UCLA, stared at dinosaur bones during an evening exhibition at the California Academy of Sciences, went clubbing at the Cellar (sponsored by a pharmacy fraternity), studied for our introductory course entitled "Prologue," which includes a lot of science review and human anatomy.
October in general: Took the Prologue midterm, lost my initiative to study, shadowed a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in clinic and in the OR, saw a live surgery and the human spine in situ, went clubbing at Club 181 (organized by a member of our class), sampled many restaurants on Irving Street near UCSF, attended a Food Appreciation Club (FAC) event -- FAC was invented by members of our first-year class to celebrate food, entirely on our own initiative! The FAC's first event was Persian food. In October, the even was "Southern Cookin'" with all of the artery-clogging foods you love to hate, topped off with a performance by a member of our first-year class who is a professional fiddle player. It was awesome.
Also in October: Found the best tapioca milk tea (boba) in Inner Sunset, a tiny unmarked Chinese store called "Wonderful Foods, Co." Learned how to draw blood by volunteering for the Hepatitis B elective at UCSF, watched "Grey's Anatomy" each Thursday at the home of a fellow med student, participated in a "Drunken Grey's Anatomy Night" at said home, attended a QB3 cancer imaging conference at Mission Bay, went hiking in Marin around Mt. Tam with members of my advisory college and our awesome advisors, took the Prologue final, celebrated Halloween on the 27th, 28th, 29th, and 31st. Visited the Castro on Halloween to see the famed flamboyant costumes and left around 10:30 p.m., just before 10 people were fatally shot. Decided not to spend Halloween in the Castro for the rest of my medical school career.
November in general: Volunteered at a Hepatitis B screening event in Japantown, flew to Philadelphia to present a poster at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) for research on pancreatic cancer done the previous year as a clinical research assistant at Stanford, swooned at a James Blunt concert in San Jose with my college roommate, ate at a delicious pho restaurant with my anatomy group, met up with my little brother at Pier 39 in San Francisco during his trip to northern California for several marching band competitions, interviewed a memorable patient during our Foundations of Patient Care class who was a young woman with a double lung transplant, visited Haight Street and looked at the hippie stores, politely refused numerous offers of marijuana, ate at a tapas restaurant following the first Organs block exam (after Prologue comes Organs: Cardiovascular), walked around Golden Gate Park, celebrated Thanksgiving in Mountain View (home of Google) with my boyfriend and his extended family, sampled Tofurkey for the first time and found the consistency to be quite meat-like.
December thus far: Attended another impromptu turkey dinner held by our first-year class last Friday (in case you didn't notice, I love how our class takes the initiative to throw informal events promoting goodwill and food), shopped in Union Square yesterday and enjoyed eating at La Mediterranean with friends, participated in an informal poker tournament held by fellow classmates but cashed out early. That was last night.
BOTTOM LINE: UCSF students are extremely social and outgoing. The first few months of medical school have been amazing. There is no shortage of events, free food, or activities offered by the school, by the class, or by the city itself.
Not all students at other UCSF schools resemble the self-acknowledged slackers in medical school, however. My roommate, E, is a first-year pharmacy student and we have discussed on numerous occasions how the pharmacy school appears to work its students "like the rent is due tomorrow."
The pharmacy students are awesome, by the way, and they DO party very hard. They had finals this past week on four consecutive days, but now they get the whole month of December as a vacation. The wayward medical students, however, only get 2 weeks off and must return on January 2nd for class.