Before starting medical school this August, I took a gap year in which I spent a lot of time with friends on the East Coast. And we ate. And ate. And ate some more. I tried authentic Philly cheesesteaks, tackled tons of Manhattan pizza pies, found hole-in-the wall burger joints, and attempted to consume massive desserts at dessert shops Yelp reviews promised were “life changing.”
And yet – with the exception of a few rare dining experiences (shout out to Dim Sum Garden in Chinatown, Philadelpha), I was wholly unimpressed. Maybe there was too much hype. Maybe my friends on the East Coast didn’t know their cities well enough to find the best places. Maybe the air on the East Coast negatively impacted my taste buds (we haven’t gotten that far in our sequences yet, so I honestly think every diagnosis is aortic dissection). Or maybe – just maybe – Ann Arbor’s food is actually better. Like way better.
Now if you’re from one of these cities (or even if you’re not), you’re probably rolling your eyes right now. There’s no way food from a small town in Michigan can compete, right?
Well, you don’t have to take my word for it. You can taste it for yourself.
Fantastic Feasts and Where to Find Them – Part 1
[Photo via ZingermansDeli.com]
[Photo via FritaBatidos.com]
Who doesn’t love a 5-item list? When it comes to food in Ann Arbor, so many lists immediately come to mind. To begin, however, I thought I’d start with a list of my all-time favorites – the Fab Five, if you will. If you’ve been to all of them and love them, contact me so we can be best friends. If you haven’t, here’s a little taste (ha-ha) of what’s to come:
- FRITA BATIDOS ($$): Self-declared as “Cuban style street food,” Frita Batidos is probably the recommendation that everyone in Ann Arbor will give you when you ask for a food suggestion. And, YES, it is worth it. If and when you go, remember to get your frita, or burger, “loco” style, which means all of the toppings (muenster, a sunny side up egg, cilantro-lime salsa, tropical coleslaw, and avocado spread) are added on top. My favorite burgers are the chorizo and bean burgers. They also have incredible garlic fries and ginger drinks, but it may be hard to stuff another molecule of anything into your body for at least 24 hours after you’ve finished your food.
Pro tip: Make sure you have storage on your phone because you will definitely want to Insta the heck out of this meal.
- ZINGERMAN’S ($$): Zingerman’s is a world-renowned Ann Arbor bakery and sandwich shop (now expanded to 10 business located throughout Ann Arbor) that sells tons of delicious made-to-order sandwiches. Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig, the co-owners and founding partners, spoke at my commencement at Michigan in 2015, so they’ll always have a place in my heart. Additionally, every single person who works at Zingerman’s is so (suspiciously) nice and upbeat that they’ll be sure to turn around even the darkest of Michigan winter days. My favorite sandwiches are #18 Georgia Reuben and #23 Mary’s Commute. My favorite bakery bread is the chocolate sourdough bread. It makes the BEST French toast.
Pro tip: If you’re going to make a trip to Zingerman’s for the first time, save some time to explore the neighborhood in which they’re located. Kerrytown has a lot of cute shops and markets that you’ll want to check out.
- ISALITA ($$): Isalita is a great place to take your parents – there’s something for everyone, it’s a little more upscale, and the food is delicious. All of the tacos are incredible but my favorite is probably the baja fish tacos. My absolute FAVORITE item on the menu, however, is the mushroom quesadilla dish. You’ll be thinking about them for days after. I ordered it on a whim while eating with a vegetarian friend and get it every time I go (and force whoever I’m with to fall in love with them as well).
Pro tip: Isalita is NOT open on Mondays! I know this from experience and this is not a feeling I would like anyone else to endure.
- TOMUKUN ($$): Tomukun is a Korean BBQ and Noodle bar. If you’re craving noodles, dumplings or amazing Korean BBQ, Tomukun is the place to go. Everything is delicious, the noodle bowls are huge, and it’s the type of food you’ll definitely find yourself craving out of the blue. I absolutely love the dumplings, but always try a new noodle dish whenever I go. When I went a couple of weeks ago, I had the slow roasted spicy beef ramen (which was incredible) and the green curry udon (also incredible).
Pro tip: Tomukun is almost ALWAYS packed and they don’t take reservations. I would suggest calling ahead to see what the wait is when you’re ready to eat.
- BELLY DELI ($): In a way, I’ve saved the best for last. I admit the restaurants above are pricey, so if you’re someone looking for a smaller, hole-in-the-wall, cheaper option, this one’s for you. Belly Deli, which I would describe as Asian fusion food, is a tiny little restaurant located on South University. Their menu is pretty small, and, in this case, that definitely is a good sign. Each item is carefully prepared with fresh ingredients and great flavor. If you find yourself in the vicinity of Belly Deli, you absolutely MUST get an order of the crispy chicken buns ($6). I lived in an apartment across the street from Belly Deli my junior year of undergrad, and one by one convinced all of my undergrad friends to try these buns (and have yet to find someone who didn’t love them). After the chicken buns, the bulgogi sandwich (or as they call them, “Sammys” for $7.5) is my second go-to.
Pro tip: Belly Deli makes homemade crispy taro chips ($1.5). They are a fantastic addition to any meal.
I hope you enjoy trying these places or reminiscing over the times you’ve spent here. Until next time – Happy Eating!
I have always thought it a bit ironic that future physicians often sacrifice their own physical, mental, and emotional health on the path of medical training. How are patients expected to listen to our suggestions when we are too busy to follow them ourselves? I have always been puzzled by this, and it is one of my missions to try to rewrite the rules of what is possible during medical training and beyond.
Endurance sports have been a constant in my life since I was in middle school. I was a runner and cross country skier in high school before competing for the Varsity Cross Country and Track Teams here at Michigan. After graduating I stepped up to marathon distance cross country ski races as well as a few forays in triathlon and road bike racing. I enjoyed each of these pursuits but when I picked up mountain bike racing a few years ago, I was soon addicted and it has since become my forte. After finishing undergrad, I spent several years working and training in Northern Michigan and traveling to races across the Midwest with my boyfriend Alex.
When people would find out I was starting medical school in August, they would express their disappointment that my days of racing were numbered and my best performances were likely behind me. Some even asked, “So when are you not a cyclist anymore?” in reference to the first day of school.
It was my love of the sport as well as a desire to change the accepted norms that drove my dual pursuit of academics and bike racing this fall. It made for a busy few months but the results in both realms were better than I could have hoped for. The time constraints challenged me to focus on quality over quantity in training and studying, an approach that paid dividends both on quizzes and on the trail. The flexibility of streaming lectures as well as flextime quizzing were huge benefits and allowed me to pull this off.
This fall turned out to be my best season of racing yet, culminating in a podium finish at Iceman Cometh – the biggest point-to-point mountain bike races in the country. Iceman is held in Traverse City and 5,000 racers complete the 30-mile course in the morning and then stick around to watch the finish of the Pro race in the afternoon. A large cash purse draws some of the biggest names in U.S. racing, giving Michigan riders a cool opportunity to race mountain bike celebrities head to head.
It was the best moment of my athletic career to enter the stadium area nearly engulfed by spectators, just
seconds away from the leader. I ended up finishing second to a U.S. Olympian and just ahead of the bronze medalist in the mountain bike cross country event in Rio. Since I grew up in northern Michigan and lived in Traverse City before medical school, the community support was amazing. Although I only have a few months of medical school under my belt, this race meant a lot to prove to myself and others that I could indeed be a student, an athlete, and a person.
Although training and racing may seem like selfish pursuits, I truly believe they will make me a better physician as well as a happier person. I also hope to be a role model for busy people trying to prioritize their own health as well as inspire the next generation who may face an even larger chronic disease burden than we do now. These are tall orders, but I firmly believe that more medicine happens outside the clinic than within it.
Thanksgiving break was a much needed reset and now I am looking forward to being “normal” for a while and shifting around my priorities during the off-season. Now it’s time to finish our Renal Sequence strong before winter break!
I was first introduced to Tag Days when I was an undergraduate student here at Michigan. I was walking to class on a cold December day when a guy dressed in a red poncho asked if I would like to donate to kids in Washtenaw county. I listened to his spiel and when I realized he was a medical student I decided to give him a couple dollars and call it my pre-med karma for the day. I tied the red tag to my backpack and went on with my day.
I now know that this was my first taste of Tag Days magic. Fast forward two years and I am a first-year medical student excited to don my red poncho and hit the streets of Ann Arbor with my bucket. I had heard stories from the M2s about dressing up in onesies, singing songs, and eagerly waiting for attendings to deliver hot chocolate as they stood outside in the cold. There was a tangible camaraderie surrounding the event and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it. That year I learned just how deeply rooted an Ann Arbor tradition Tag Days really is. Locals would stop to drop a dollar in the bucket and share a Tag Days memory or tell a story about a time their child was cared for at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. I even heard a story from two physicians about how they fell in love during Tag Days! I was fascinated to hear how this event meant so much to so many people.
This year is the 90th annual Tag Days. For the past three years I have had the pleasure of experiencing this magical tradition and it has become very close to my heart. I have been inspired by the organizations that Tag Days supports. We have funded projects that provide at-risk youth with books to read over summer break, sent children with terminal illnesses to summer camps, provided education to teen mothers, supported pediatric neurorehabilitation initiatives, and so much more. I have also been inspired by the patients and families at Mott who I spent time with during my third-year pediatrics rotation. They truly are little victors!
This year is particularly special to me as I have the honor of serving as the co-director of the event, or co-czar as we call it. A huge honor, and a big responsibility! Last year the event raised $90,000 and we are gearing up for this weekend’s event in hopes of breaking that record once again. So if you’re in Ann Arbor this weekend, stop and drop a dollar in the bucket and get tagged!
Learn more at www.tagdays.org
It snowed this week. I couldn’t believe it. I was at the Student-Run Free Clinic, and from the window, I saw snow falling to the ground. I’m still not entirely sure why this was surprising, as this is Michigan, and I have lived here my whole life. However, the day before, it was approximately 70 degrees and sunny, so I guess I’ll just chalk it up to that. Regardless, winter is coming, and it’s actually starting to feel like it.
Since the last time I wrote, I finished Ob/Gyn and Psychiatry. Both were really great experiences. For psychiatry, I was on the child and adolescent inpatient service and adult consult-liaison service. Both were really good experiences in different ways. On child and adolescent (CAP), I got to know the patients really well. Med students were allowed to join the patients for some activities like art therapy (coloring is amazingly calming) and conditioning (gym class!). My favorite of all was beach ball volleyball during conditioning—patients, staff, and the med students were all very competitive, and it made for a lot of fun (and some good-natured jabs at the med students). We also were able to dress up for Halloween (which the patients loved), which is yet another reason why working with the kiddos is always a fun experience. On the adult side, it was really interesting to act not only as a consult team but also as advocates for patients and intermediates between the patient and the medical teams (the liaison side).
It’s now the week of Thanksgiving, and we have the whole week off. Without clinical duties, I have no idea what to do (just kidding, I’m thoroughly enjoying my time off). Naturally, that means this week is a time to catch up on life and catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while. I’ve been doing just that. My apartment is now sparkling, and I’ve met up with so many friends who I haven’t seen in quite some time. Right now, in fact, I’m at a local coffee shop enjoying a lavender latte and coworking with a friend (and taking sufficient breaks to talk about life, etc.).
On Monday, I start internal medicine, my last core rotation of M3 year. It is the longest of the rotations and will go all the way through the middle of February. However, in the middle of the rotation, we will have a 3-week winter break that I am very much looking forward to. After internal med, we will have the M4 Comprehensive Clinical Assessment (CCA), and then we have 2 months of electives in March and April before we start M4 year in May. It seems like time has gone by too quickly. I don’t feel ready to be an M4, but at the same time, I am very ready for all of the electives in my areas of interest. We’re starting to work on our schedules for next year, and I love my March and April electives. It feels good to have narrowed career choices down, and I am really excited for what is to come.
A lot has happened in the past month or so in my med school life and in the world as a whole. Good and bad things have happened, and there have been things that have made me happy as well as sad. In this season of thanksgiving, I can say that I am thankful for the family and friends who get me through it all. I couldn’t make it through the bad days without them, and they’re the first ones that I go to when I have something to celebrate. I am thankful for their ever-present love and compassion in a world that needs a lot more of both of those things.
Nothing is better than dinner with my favorites.
That said, I’ll be enjoying the crispness in the air (which is a nice way of saying, “it’s actually really cold outside right now, but I’m trying to be optimistic”). If nothing else, it’s the best motivation to stay inside and study (or to make tea and coffee). As always, thanks for reading. Until next time, spend time with those you care about, be sure to find something that you’re thankful for, and try to spread a bit of love to the world and those around you.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It’s crazy to think that we’re already most of the way through November; July doesn’t seem like that long ago…
In the tradition of this great holiday, I thought I’d share the things for which I am most grateful this year:
- My family: I grew up not too far from Ann Arbor, so my home is only a quick drive when I need to escape a bit. Mostly in terms of escaping the stress of M3 (and the constant studying) and reconnecting with the sunshine (something that is occasionally lacking in the hospital, especially with the recent advent of Daylight Savings Time. Instead, we enjoy the sunrise while in our team rooms, as in this one from the VA). But the best part is being able to relax with my family as we go on walks, shop, or even just watch TV.
- My health: this is always something I am grateful for, but working in the hospital has a tendency to make minor aches rather, well, minor. I’m currently recovering from a cold and am amazed at how even that brief disturbance can throw off my usual balance. It certainly makes you appreciate how out of sorts our patients and their families must feel.
- My happiness: M3 year can have a rather negative perception when you consider the long hours, the struggle to become competent, and the never-ending amount of studying to be done. But, nevertheless, I have loved this past year because I enjoy helping my patients. Yes, the hours are long and I never get as much studying in as I’d like, but I can see the impact I’m having on my patients, and I can also see how far I’ve come since starting on the wards. The vast majority of the time, I’m loving my time in the hospital and in the clinics, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Furthermore, I’m learning how to be more efficient with my “free” time and realize what outside activities are most enjoyable (such as running, embroidery, and writing – I still have over-commitment issues as you might guess)
- This past week off: Has been glorious. Thank you, UMMS curriculum people! This year marks the first time the M3s have been given the entire week of Thanksgiving off and it has been so incredibly beneficial in terms of recharging my (metaphorical) batteries and accomplishing some of the random side projects that have accumulated (see previous statement about over-committing to things). Plus, there’s only three weeks between now and our winter break so we are hitting the home stretch!
Despite being on Internal Medicine, I was still able to attend the annual Halloween Concert in Hill Auditorium. This year’s performance featured some special guests with an…interesting…set of instruments. Playing the vacuum, (from left to right at the front of the stage) we had Dean of the Music School Aaron Dworkin, UM softball coach Carol Hutchins, UMS conductor Kenneth Kiesler, and UM marching band director John Pasquale (who took a selfie while running the vacuum on stage).
Well, now that I’ve written this all down, the turkey has had a chance to digest, which means: It’s time for Pie! Enjoy!
As you might imagine, attending a health policy conference (AMA Interim Meeting) two days after a Presidential election was quite a whirlwind! The workshop that my committee coordinated on post-election advocacy overflowed with students and physicians ready to learn how the coming changes to our government may impact health care, and access to care for their patients. Though the results of this election have challenged my optimism, I left feeling *slightly* more empowered with a better idea of where our national health policy discussions are headed.
Todd Askew, Director of AMA Congressional Affairs Division addresses students & physicians
At the conference, students, residents, and physicians pushed for and passed a resolution that calls upon the AMA to actively engage the incoming Trump Administration and Congress in discussions on the future direction of health care, with a special focus regarding patient access to care and patient health insurance coverage.
In the student section, another resolution that I helped craft regarding the integration of patient drug costs into electronic medical records also passed! My classmate and leader of this resolution team, Vinay Guduguntla, spoke with confidence and conviction on the merits of this resolution in assembly. Now the hard work of refining our thinking and establishing support in the overall physician membership to the AMA House of Delegates begins.
AMA Research Symposium (Alex Kelsall, Nonie Arora, Hannah Cheriyan)
While at the conference, I really appreciated the opportunity to see friends and colleagues who I’ve been working with remotely on our AMA-MSS national Committee on Legislation and Advocacy. Working with these students from around the country has been a highlight of my second year of medical school.
In addition to the policy portion of the conference, several of us presented research. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my work in newborn quality improvement and for the financial support from UMMS that made this possible.
Thankfully, there was some time for relaxation and even “studying” by the pool.