balance

Balancing Act

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I’m incredibly lucky to have a flexible schedule this summer. I’ve been working since spring finals concluded, but the extended time spent doing research allows me to pick my hours and avoid the monotony of a 9-5 job. However, much of my “free time” this summer has been spent preparing for the MCAT. Despite my test date being a little over 2 months away, the MCAT requires a large amount of preparation and studying for one of the most impactful exams of my career is certainly daunting. My typical day usually consists of 3-5 hours of research, lunch, MCAT studying, dinner, Netflix and video games. The order often switches around; however, most people ask when I’ll be travelling or spending time in the city—in reality, my schedule’s already pre-determined, so the most amount of flexibility I get is picking what movie to watch or video game to play as I relax in the late evening. For many, this rigid schedule may be off-putting. In fact, I think an overwhelming majority of people would hate this schedule. However, I see it as somewhat of a workout regimen—granted, it’s for my brain and the only physical result you could see is a number at the very end—but nonetheless, it’s kept me vigilant about setting aside time to focus on the MCAT.

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More importantly, this summer is about exploring the concept of balance. In my fraternity, one of our central principles lies in that of being a balanced man; notably, this concept focuses on three major domains of physical health, mental health, and social/emotional health. For much of my time in my fraternity, I’ve had a very large emphasis on mental and social/emotional health—often neglecting the physical health domain. Admittedly, this upcoming year will be more dedicated to that domain, while this summer is clearly just focused on furthering my career as a physician. Nevertheless, my fraternity brothers have been a very strong support system throughout my time at CMU, so having the fortune of living with them and handling all of the insanity that CMU has to offer has been incredibly reassuring.

As for the actual studying schedule, it’s been quite…rough. I have this idealized schedule brewing in my Google Drive for months, but now that the time for studying has come upon me, it’s been far more variable than I expected. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the following realizations:

  • For starters, I’m terrible at Biochemistry, not Biology. For ycrouch-3ears, Biology (ortheumbrella thereof) has always been my weakest subject. Lo, and behold, it turnsoutthat Biochemistry is my worst enemy and I hate it immensely. MCAT Biology (which should really be called “Physiology with a side of Cells”) has been a relatively nice journey, exceeding my initial expectations of Biology ruining my life.
  • The YouTube channel Crash Course is my most-watched channel for the last month. Thank you Hank Green and John Green—you’re angels.
  • My quality of studying depends on music. Shawn Mendes, Sia, James Bay, Ben Rector? Great. Broadway show tunes? Oops, I just lost five hours (Sorry Hamilton).crouch-4
  • Pentel Energel (0.7 mm) pens are the only pens worth using. Pilot G2 pens havebeen officially replaced.
  • The Psychology/Sociology section is a godsend. I’m counting my stars for this section, because it’s the only area where I feel confident two months out from my exam. Physics and Chemistry? That’s a different story…

 

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Finding Balance

Makal June 29It’s been about a month since I’ve begun my research for the Dietrich College Honors Fellowship Program, and I’m happy to say I’ve finally found what I believe is the perfect balance of work and play within my schedule.

Since beginning my freshman year at CMU, I have worked as a part time employee and the Carnegie Mellon University Store. Though research is my full time job for the summer, I couldn’t quite part ways with my beloved bookstore. So, in addition to my research, for the past couple of weeks I have been working at the store a couple hours a day, not only to make some extra cash (gotta pay those bills $$$$), but also in an effort to give myself some balance. Prior to starting back up at the bookstore, I was spending most of my days just doing research. Though this was quite informative, it could be frustrating at times. And, because I had no other obligations, I would just continue working through this frustration at times when it would have been best for my sanity to just stop and take a step back. However, now that I’m “back to the old grind,” I am better able to balance the time I spend on my research with other things.

What has been most helpful to my balance this summer, however, both in terms of time and physically, has been my newest obsession – hot yoga. My wonderful housemates turned me onto hot yoga over this past year, but I never had the time (or frankly, the commitment) to go on a regular basis. Fortunately, once the summer came around, it seemed as though I had nothing but time. I signed up for a three-month pass, and though it was tough on my bank account, it’s been the best decision I’ve made in recent history. Going to yoga every day has bettered me physically and mentally, and given me yet another activity to balance my research with.