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I find myself a bit bewildered to realize that I have now been immersed in my PhD for a whole two weeks. Since Step 1 study period started, I’ve been looking forward to this period where I would have a chance to slow down and take a breath. Not that I expected my PhD work to be easy by any means, but I assumed that I would enjoy the chance to be free of imminent deadlines and the constant pressure of studying.

And so the months of March, April, May, June, and July passed, as I looked forward to the MSTP retreat and, right after that, my return to lab.

View from the MSTP Retreat (Higgins Lake, MI)

And I came and jumped back into my project and realized, with no little sadness, that while I sat at my cubicle and stared at my computer, my (former) classmates were starting a new rotation. My track mates were starting their first days of Neurology, seeing patients, while I sat in my cubicle and coded. Certainly a different kind of coding.

The first few days back were … odd. There’s really no other way to describe them. I wanted to be back with my classmates, despite the fact that I had been looking forward to this moment. I enjoyed working on my project but still felt slightly adrift. I jumped off a high-speed train into a field of grass and then didn’t quite know what to do with myself.

Except keep working. And as I did so, things started to feel more natural. Don’t get me wrong, this all still feels like a dream from which I will soon wake; but the oddness is fading. I’m falling into a new routine that I enjoy. I’ve even started a new hobby, as I learn to row on the Huron River.

My life is very different from what it was a month ago; I have the chance to re-invent myself once again. New classmates, new labmates, new experiences. It’s a bit like January 1, including the resolutions, but without the cold. Time for a New Year, a new me. And I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

Sara is a fourth-year medical student at UMMS. When not in the hospital, she can usually be found on the golf course or at a Michigan sporting event cheering on the Wolverines.