A Weekend of Nothing Yet Something

Dear Readers,

Due to the demands and cries I’ve heard from each and every one of you about my not-surprisingly MIA behavior in the last few weeks or so, I’d decided to do two things.

First and foremost, I’ve decided to change the look once again, coming to the conclusion that balloons and the orange/peach/red/whatever-color-it-was background was inevitably not suited for my blog and its content.

Two, I’ve decided to adhere to my blogging duties and do nothing more boring but update you on my life as it is currently running.

As most of you know (okay, let’s be honest: all of you know this) , the last few weeks have been nothing of something called “He” and two hockey sticks if you know what I mean, with exams, quizzes, Camtasia videos, and burets being thrown at us first years left and right, along with obligatory Legislative Day meetings and so much more. Our nights in the last few weeks have been consumed with nothing but titration problems, homologous pairs (for those of you in Biology), and many too-hard-to-memorize-to-heart Latin/Greek root words that we are all destined to forget once we take that gosh darn term quiz every Thursday. Despite the workload that is being thrown at us as the semester will soon come to a close in a few weeks, I, along with many others am thankful that although the end of the semester is meant to be nothing short of brutal, this blessing of a not-so-stressful weekend has been nothing but enjoyable. By enjoyable I mean no pre labs, meaning that I will be able to sleep in peace instead of busting my behind in the chemistry lab on the usual Monday evenings while others have the privilege to watch the sun set along the quad as they peacefully keep up with their academic duties-or so they say. By enjoyable, I mean that I will be able to take a minutes and actually type out my feelings and emotions for the whole world to see without fretting over lost time that I could be using to study for another quiz, exam, and such. And so, after weeks of being busy with school work and having to always sheepishly, sometimes reluctantly and sometimes enthusiastically answer “fish fillet” in chem lab when Deep Patel asks me “What she order?,” (a pop-culture reference, nonetheless), I ran to my room the second I was done with my Psychology class and was ready to start my weekend during which I planned to do nothing. Rather than updating you on my thoughts on the recent episodes of Chicago Fire and Grey’s Anatomy, I thought I’d spare the drama and thought it would be best if I sum up the course of my weekend so far in this post as I was not only able to transform into a couch potato, but was also able to seize the opportunity that had come before me to venture outside of the outskirts of our quad/patch-of-grass, eat until my stomach stretched enough to be four times its previous size, and get to know the new place that I’ve called home since the upcoming weeks would say otherwise. Here it is:

First Stop: Delmar Loop

Saturday proved to be one of many firsts. My first adventure involved getting out from my Hermit-esque rock that I always use to study in and actually put on a pair of clothes that were not pajamas. After passing a few stops, I reached the Delmar Loop where I had to walk long distances, past many appetizing shops and stores and found Corner 17, a Chinese Restaurant that makes noodles from scratch. Thinking of cutting down on processed edible, unauthentic Ramen, and McDonald’s? Head on down to Corner 17. There I ordered Shrimp Noodles (my all time favorite) and had a chance to eat desert: the famous Fluffy Ice that is a must for anyone who is going there for the first time. Covered in mango pulp and fresh fruit, this is definitely the bang for the buck.

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Mango Fluffy Ice at Corner 17 located at the Delmar Loop

And as if the Fluffy Ice and Shrimp Noodles weren’t enough, I thought it was only all the more appropriate to get a fancier and therefore better quality McDonald’s strawberry milkshake, creatively covered in what appeared to be a Jell-O like substance that tasted like grape. Let’s just say I had no regrets.

 

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Strawberry Milkshake at Corner 17 located in the Delmar Loop

Second Stop: Bissinger’s Chocolatier

After walking for half an eternity, my crew and I (just my cousin and I, actually) decided to take a break from the cold weather and went for a third round of deserts at Bissinger’s Chocolatier right in the Central West End. This time, I decided to order something else other than the Cococcino (which I would definitely recommend to anyone going there for the first time) and got myself a hot cup of Gourmet Hot Cocoa to end the night, followed by a movie night of Ten Things I Hate About You.

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Gourmet Hot Cocoa at Bissingers located in the Central West End

-AZ

 

 

 

A Short Post About Adventures at the Gym

As always, (you shouldn’t be surprised at this point) I’d like to dramatically start my blog post that has been long due for days with these words:

Desperate times, as the typical clichéd sentence always seems to begin, calls for desperate measures. It is  now beyond evident that the not first, but second semester of your first year of college is upon you, full of many experiences both old and new. First semester was one of many firsts. And you’ve managed to take what you’ve learned from that semester, hoping not to repeat any of your past mistakes again. However, some habits do not simply wither away so easily, and it appears yet again  that you’ve managed to succeed in being unsuccessful in your attempt to fit, and by fit, I mean more like suck your stomach enough to squeeze your muffin top, love handles, and whatever junk you have in your trunk into the skinny jeans that once fit you perfectly in a short period of time called your senior year when your only purpose in life was to look absolutely perfect and nothing like your usual and unglamorous self at your senior prom which was many, many months ago.

Welcome to the wonderful world of college, where all the hard work you once put to eat healthy has withered away, replacing your usual and semi healthy diet of the past with Chipotle takeout, subs from Jimmy John’s, vending machine goods that only consist of salty chips and my all time and constantly and excessively mentioned favorite- chocolate, and drinks that contain an unexplainable amount of a biological molecule; a disaccharide in fact, called maltose. Bio kids of the past and present, I expect that you know what that means.

Upon hearing the news that our precious gym, the only place, the holy grail of our lives as students here at STLCOP,  that ensured us that we would not leave this campus 100 pounds heavier, was to be *gasp* torn down, I took it upon myself to squeeze 60 bucks from my wallet and hoped that going to the new gym would be a good investment.

It sure was, and still is.

I realized it when I walked into the doors that held a world that was unknown to me until now.

Going to the gym has exposed me to a world that coexists outside of our wonderful “patch of grass,” also known as the quad,  to most students. It has given me motivation, and the ability to interact with non-STLCOPians who I never knew existed. I’ve realized the following things which I will proudly categorize into a list that I decided to name ” #GymProbs “

Dr. Zee’s #GymProbs:

1. Seeing a fellow senior citizen be able to do more sit ups, push ups, and leg lifts than you can ever do in your entire life. While it takes you a good 2 hours just to burn 100 calories, the man who is at least 50 years your senior has already done 100 lunges around the track. The good part? It motivates you to unsuccessfully try to do more sit ups despite the fact that you’re very much out of shape. Or it could make you feel hopeless considering how your youth could be so deceiving to your physical ability to do just about anything.

2. Having a little friendly competition with the person next to you on a treadmill. Ever casually made it oh-so-obvious that you could run a little faster than the person next to you only to see them subtly increasing their speed with a smirk on their face? Some like to say it’s obnoxious; I like to think that it  brings out the best in each and every one of us who are trying to be healthy. It’s an unspoken competition. First one to fall flat on their face or even give up ultimately loses.

3. Silently scoffing at the person who decides to come to the gym looking like they’re doing a photoshoot for Vogue when you’re breaking a pool of sweat on the elliptical in your dad’s old T shirt and baggy sweats, chilling with your hair tied up and no make up on. Only Drake would understand. *sigh*

4. Ramming into the person next to you not once, but at least a million times and excessively apologizing afterwards during the course of your  hour long Zumba class even though you have an entire row to yourself. What can you say? Your mother always told you that you had very poor hand-eye-coordination. Guess she was right…

5. Learning how to cross the street without getting run over by those who are too careless and lazy to stop for as little as 10 seconds at the stop sign.

-AZ

A Confessional Prequel: Before There Was Dr. Zee

*Warning: Content is extremely hard to believe. Some may faint.*

Dear Readers

[whoever or (with all due respect) " whatever" you are (because all creatures human and non-human are welcome, by all means), whether it's your first time your millionth time, or your last time ever clicking on the link to my blog,]

It had been recently revealed to me from the spirits that run the world and community of blogging (cough-cough-not really), that for some strange but not so strange reason that has been unknown to me, many have been lead to believe that my blog had magically manifested itself on earth one day and have failed to know the backstory of how it all started. In other obvious and unnecessary words that will make me appear rather redundant, very few know how it all began. Well, lucky for every one of you who decided to click on the link to my blog, you will get to hear, no, read, the story of Dr. Zee before there even was Dr. Zee in 19, before there even any mention of STLCOP in my life. So here it goes. But before you do, feel free to microwave yourself a bag of popcorn and gain countless calories conveniently in a matter of minutes. Enjoy:

Truth be told,  before there was Dr. Zee, mind you, Dr. Zee in 19 to be exact, along with the outrageous posts ranging from gaining the Freshman Fifteen, Biology rants, to even the most bizarre rant about losing my lanyard for five very long and dreaded hours that almost cost me my sanity and my wallet and have ultimately scarred me to life making me all the more paranoid about losing items that belong to me, nonetheless, items that I paid for, to the most famous one about Blogger’s Block, there was just me…there was just Afreen, my actual name that caused me to publish a post on the challenges of having a foreign name especially when many struggle to pronounce it.

Before STLCOP, I was definitely not the same person I was when I stepped foot on campus. Contrary to popular belief, I was extremely quiet. Actually, take that back. I was practically mute. In fact, I remember giving a group presentation in which my own classmates at the time had to give each one of our group members feedback. All I remember is most people asking me what my name was. In my junior year of high school. And even after coming far after my awkward stages of adolescence with untamed frizzy hair and giant classes, there was still I much needed to improve. I was determined to make those changes prior to coming to STLCOP the summer after my senior year.

Only a few months ago (more like back in August 2013), I would  have never believed that I would have the courage and even the guts in myself to click “Publish” and make my thoughts public to the whole universe including potential students who were researching STLCOP and wanted to see it from a current student’s interesting perspective on what it’s like to eat, breath, and sleep the life of a big, hairy, and yellow, Eutectic…only I’m not big, and hairy. I’m just brown. Nor would I have ever expected, even setting foot on campus, that there would be many who would even bother to read this blog and its random and dryly sarcastic content. In fact, I was expecting the very worst. Hearing stories of people of the past and present who have been tantalized and harassed for their views (thank you history class, Google, and Wikipedia), as well as a suggestion from my (if I should call him my supervisor?) to always come to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion if I were ever to be bothered by anyone initially gave me chills and a whole lot of a feeling called reluctance with a capital R. I was under the impression that I would have people endlessly sending me hate mail filled with four worded insults and limitless threats. I was expecting to get epic, first class slushy treatment in all ways Glee style, not for singing (I’d probably deserve one considering how heavenly my singing voice sounds), but for blogging about my life here. Would I have to use the duck-and-walk technique and rely on the protection of bushes to get to class in fear of being bullied? Or worse: would I have to wear a brown paper bag on my head and poke a hole in it so I would be able to breathe and still set foot outside my room? Would I have to stay like a hermit in my room in fear of being ostracized by potential haters around me? These were the very thoughts that were running through my mind and my consciousness, and maybe even in my bloodstream…which probably doesn’t make any anatomical nor biological sense. Despite the fears I had, I was hopeful that I would at least be able to accomplish one thing on my bucket list and possibly expand my experience as a hopeful novelist. Seeing how having my own blog would be a new beginning to my hobby and possibly second career, I decided that I would start on this journey having no idea what was ahead. Nonetheless, I managed to what I like to call ” wo-MAN up” and virtually scream my thoughts to the world, wondering if there would even be a soul to click on it and see what I had to say. My thoughts and courage to blog would prevail, I thought to myself vehemently as I was about to stab my finger through my mouse pad thing or whatever that object is called-

But wait. The initial fury that I had to ruthlessly publish the truths of being a STLCOP were halted. Metaphorically, the fire that had fueled my blogging fingers to their maximum typing potential had been ceased and was equivalent to a frozen candle that had never been lighted to begin with. Because there was one thing that I was missing. I needed a name for my thoughts. My voice. I needed a name for my blog.

*face palms herself.*

Of course. For the last two days I had fun playing around with fun designs, even considering making my blog go neon. But considering how many people would potentially go blind, and the lawsuits that would consequently follow, along with wonderful letters I regularly get from my “friend” Sally May, I would have to decline to the idea. Days prior to discovering the “Customize” button on WordPress.com, I had a list of names that had been lost among the growing clutter in my room.

As I looked at other blogs for inspiration, I was given a suggestion to simply go with the flow and make it simple and straight to the point: My blog should be called “STLCOPAFREEN.” I wasn’t so easily nor happily convinced. In fact, I wasn’t too fond of it, actually. Would people mistake it for a random house object, or the name of a rare species of fish? Having a foreign name that already turns heads, and to pair it with an acronym just didn’t sound right. I began to write a list, hoping that one of those names would click. In order to let my creative juices flow, I wrote down the most bizarre names that I wouldn’t have ever considered even writing on paper, let alone, think of to begin with. Here are some for you to laugh at for your own pleasure if you ever feel down from a bad grade or a long day of studying.

1. The New Pill

(a name I had considered since I was to be a first year. Someone new to pharmacy field. Pharmaceutically speaking, I was the “new pill.”)

2. Dr. Zee

3. Freen2019

5. 019Dealer    (I was feeling a little 007 when I came up with that one. Smh)

6. STLCOP2019   (kudos to clichés…sigh)

Looking at the list that I had accumulated in the last few days, I still sat there, looking discontent with what my brain had come up with. Surely, there must be a title that would be well suited for my new blog. And then, in a whisk of a moment, a part of me decided to take the blog naming to a stretch. I quickly scratched my ball point pen and wrote: Dr. Zee in 19. This, to me, felt epic. Almost like how Spiderman had discovered that he was indeed, a spider and a man, having a unique power that would help him do good. Looking at what I had just written, I mentally read it to myself at least a million times: Dr. Zee in 19, Dr. Zee in 19, Dr. Zee in 19, almost saying with a beat after a while. It kind of rhymed. But would people get it? Would they understand the concept? I consulted with a friend just in case, who immediately approved. I optimistically thought to myself that it was different. It would hopefully make heads turn. It would make people curious. I thought to myself, this is me. This would stay. I wasn’t sure how others would react to this new identity I had formed for myself, but I was sure that it was one that was a keeper for the next six years and possibly beyond.

Keeping this all in mind, I quickly pressed “Publish” with my fingers crossed.

And from there, that’s where each and every one of you came in, contributing to the unimaginable number of views I’ve gotten within a semester and beyond.

And this is the part where I’d like to say thank you. :) Thank you for giving me feedback both online and in person. Thank you for every single like, share, or comment you have made. Thank you (to those who don’t even personally know me) for spontaneously stopping me in the halls of campus and giving me your thoughts about my blog. Without you guys (and girls,) Dr. Zee in 19 wouldn’t be the same…nor would it exist in the first place.

Until my next post,

stay tuned for yet another outrageous blog post from yours truly.

-AZ

Adjusting to Second Semester : a Quote to Remember

“Each and every one of you were chosen to come here.  There was a reason they picked you out of everyone else. They wouldn’t have if they didn’t think you could do it.”

An orientation leader advised our group on the last day of Freshman Orientation back in June by offering his wisdom about succeeding here at STLCOP. I remember sitting there, suddenly enlightened by his 3 sentence-simply-put wisdom. Such a simple statement that he made in a matter of seconds that moved me beyond belief. In fact, it went as far as to being stored in my memory till this day. And to be honest, it’s what gave me a boost of confidence that day after being bombarded with stories of dropping GPA’s (gasp) and potentially horrible roommates stories which led my initial optimism to an all time pessimistic low that made me realize that I had a seemingly thin chance of attaining academic success in a six year program that was nothing short of rigorous, and therefore sanity consuming that would take away my ability to enjoy life after this point. I started to doubt my abilities to be competent. Could I make it here? I thought not. Until my confidence was restored.

First semester (as I mentioned in a previous blog post) proved to be one of many firsts, obviously. It was what I like to call the initial learning phase, where I learned responsibility that was paired with freedom. I learned to balance these two facets of my college career and inevitably have changed into a whole new person compared to my “pre-college” self.

However, one must realize that learning is a process that involves something called Life doing its job, which includes supplying you with new challenges and stressors that will only make you even more frustrated than the last challenge or moment of adversity. That includes second semester, my friends. It does, indeed.

Words cannot describe the feelings I have towards second semester as I’m nearly three weeks into this new change that has left me to say goodbye to Fall semester and hello to new changes and new challenges that are even more intense than last time.

Gone are the days when I could blog easily about my challenges about understanding the complexity of protein synthesis and how torturous it was to draw the entire Cellular Respiration and Photosynthesis processes repeatedly. Those will now be replaced with rants about Term quizzes and three hour labs that include weekly practicums and intense and constant memorization that will make your brain dizzy enough to pass out like you have consumed an entire jug of Nyquil.

Gone are the days of pulling nearly all nighters to finish an essay for my Critical Thinking class due to my talented procrastination skills. Instead, these nights will be utilized towards understanding Chemistry and the wonderful world of Ksp, ICE charts that literally have nothing to do with the common item that we all know as “ice” (shocker…) and molar solubility.

Gone are the days of learning the Pythagorean theorem in PreCalculus. Never have I written x’s and h’s so many times in my life before when learning about derivatives.

Gone are the days when the hardest part about Chemistry was flipping equations when doing Hess’s Law problems and balancing “hard” equations. Now it’s flipping equations and balancing equations with another twist. Unknowns. Sigh.

Hello Anatomy. Hello Calculus. Hello Chem 2. And Unknowns. You can’t forget about those.

As I’ve mentioned before, this, this constant change of challenges and hurdles that must be overcome, is STLCOP. It’s the challenges of not only STLCOP, but the challenges of being in pharmacy, let alone in college, that drive us all to our edge and make us feel helpless when indeed each and every one of us has the potential to succeed. It takes sweat and sacrificing. And in my case, a whole box of Kleenex for those moments when you just can’t seem to stop your tears of frustration from exploding which each and every one of us conceal with our pride as intelligent individuals.

The truth is. We’re not all these geniuses we’ve come to believe ourselves to be. We are human. We won’t always get everything the first time. And we certainly won’t always know the answer. Real wisdom comes from making mistakes, from not knowing what’s in store for tomorrow. It’s about taking on new challenges. And the people who picked us to come here knew that.

And because I feel like having an Oprah moment, just know that it only gets harder. But for a good reason. But you’ll eventually get through it.

-AZ

Using Time to Make Time: The Recipe to Make it Happen and Other Rants As Usual

Meet up with the professor after school. Go the tutoring meeting right after that.Fill out the application. Make notecards for the Anatomy terminology quiz. Do Exercise 4 of the Anatomy workbook. Read Chapter 17 for the Chem quiz on Monday. Study for the Anatomy quiz on Tuesday over Exercise 2 and 3. Work out for 1 hour. Do Calc homework. Sleep?

This is only a typical snippet of the schedule I make sure to plan out almost everyday on countless post-its that are strewn all over the desk in my dorm room on a regular basis.  Needless to say, here at STLCOP, our schedules are anything but empty and require us to sacrifice at times what we love to do the most. Those plans you once had to sit down and be a couch potato on Friday nights when school would be the last thing on your mind? Say goodbye to that because instead of watching TV, you will be watching tutorials on the Khan Academy website instead because it’s more important for you to understand the concept of chemical equilibrium than it is to watch an entire season of Breaking Bad on Netflix. Got a snow day because it only snowed half an inch? Welcome to the S-T-L where one inch of snow is interpreted as the end of the world. On another not-so-positive note, you have another day to study for your lab quiz that you thought you were destined to fail. (Not like that was my situation, or anything.)

While studying isn’t the only aspect of our time here at STLCOP, considering how many other amazing opportunities there are here to get involved in clubs, organizations, and fraternities, many people simply say that they don’t have time. If you don’t understand, I suggest you read the first paragraph again.

After all, what can you possibly do to make time? Considering how much people have tried to make time machines or anything of the sort, until that day comes when it becomes possible to do so, we’ll just have to settle for the fact that time is indeed priceless. Unfortunately, time is not a recipe you can Google or find on Pinterest and conjure from scratch. It tracks our existence. It’s something that continuously slips from our hands. It is what gives us memories. Something to look forward to. Something to look back at. Something to enjoy in the moment. And while we cannot recreate or go back in time, we can certainly “make time.”

Many upperclassman complain that first years have it easy. If only they knew, some of them often say. And yes, they are definitely right. As you go farther in your career towards that Pharm D. here at STLCOP, things do get harder; the bar is raised higher over time. As you go along you realize that last year was easier and not filled with as many responsibilities and deadlines. This is something I like to call life. It’s only normal that we would realize how much time we had until it is gone. So what do you do? Make time.

1. Be organized.

Always write out a list of things you have to accomplish. If you want to go fancy, even plan out how long you’ll hypothetically (because unfortunately life is predictable) spend on each task. Whether you gotta use post-its, a notecard, or even a dollar bill (not the best choice but I’ve heard of it before), it’s always wise to know what you gotta get done before it’s too late.

2. A little goes a long way.

Making time requires compromise. If you want to volunteer for an organization but “don’t have time,” fear not because you can always make that happen. Doing good for the community isn’t about quantity but quality. Who says you have to volunteer for 20 hours a week? Even doing something as little as an one hour on a weekend is more than good enough as long as you keep it as consistent as you can.

Though this may sound like something you would do if you want to fail out of pharmacy school, do whatever you can with your time now. Want to go to a concert even though you have a lab quiz coming up, go anyway (as long as you studied a little before.) I say do it now, or do it never. And that’s what I did.

Just recently, I had the pleasure of being able to volunteer for Project Downtown, a project created by people distribute free food to those in need in the community every Saturday. Like any typical student, I “didn’t have time.” I was swamped with loads of work ranging from lab reports and quizzes, to prelabs and exams the following week. But the truth is that there is always a way to make some more room in your schedule. It takes a lot of compromising, but for the most part, it’s always do-able. Afterall, being a pharmacy student at STLCOP is more than just burying your nose in books all day. It’s about balancing yourself. Allowing yourself to do more than just study…and for Pete’s sake-have social contact with the world. Volunteering at Project Downtown (as cliché as it sounds) made me realize how self absorbed I could be. Taking two hours out of my day is what made a huge impact on the way I see the world and how I live in it. Taking gratitude into account, it’s made me realize not only how selfish I’ve been with my material “needs”, but also how selfish I’ve been with the time I’ve been given and the time I have now. Sure, most people would argue that making tuna sandwiches doesn’t exactly make you turn 360 degrees. (To add, I had the job of putting the cheese on the bread) But when you take even an hour or two…even if you have 20 minutes to do something for someone else instead of benefitting yourself, it’s what makes you a better person. It’s what makes you want to make someone else’s day, even their life, better. And isn’t that what a pharmacist’s job is?

Our job isn’t just to rack up 100k a year by checking over people’s prescriptions. It’s about caring about others. Making their day just a little better by providing them the care that they need.

3. Look forward to the challenges of tomorrow.

There will always be a moment when you will want to go back to the “easy days” when you didn’t have so much going on. But that’s just the way the world works. There will always be new challenges to take. New hurdles to go through as all of us struggle to get where we want. Who knows? Maybe someday, you’ll look back to your days at STLCOP and realize that those were the “easy days.” You never know…

-AZ

Battling the Beast Called Kemtu

Just recently, I was revisited by a very particular item from my childhood. In particular, it was a book that many of us have read (and if not, you could always use MOBIUS to order it. And no, the library department is not paying me to mention this in my blog post). The story itself is so familiar, it has been practically etched in my brain, especially because to this day, I still remember every single word of it like the back of my hand. What is it, you may ask? Why, it’s every child’s favorite author: Dr. Seuss. From the time our palms were barely big enough to throw snowballs, all of us have had at least one memory of holding a Dr. Seuss book in our hands, flipping the pages as we jumped from The Cat In the Hat to The Grinch , long before we had reached adolescence, and therefore drove straight into adulthood.

I had always adored the storyline that Dr. Seuss brought into life, how he managed to take me on adventures that I could only dream about. Little did I know until recently that many authors other than Dr. Seuss were believed to have written books that although seemed silly and fanatical, had other meanings behind them. Their stories, though they were only something one would see in a fantasy, were meant to reflect their true feelings whether it public or philosophical views.

In comparison, here at STLCOP, our lives are nothing close to fantasy. And sadly, I hate to admit this to you, Fantasy Football does not count. Nor will it ever count. Sorry. I didn’t make the rules. Then again…who does?

To get back onto where I was trying to take my point on this blog post, and in spirit of my random nostalgia from the book I read back when I was only a few samosas tall and the recent historical fact that I miraculously required thanks to Google and Wikipedia, I’ve come to tell you that the last few paragraphs indeed have a true purpose because today, I’m gonna pull a Dr. Seuss and release my inner story teller as you read below…

Once upon a time, in a medieval time when technology , nor the word smartphone were existent in dictionaries nor ever used or heart of by the human tongue, nor  on the minds of every person on earth, there existed a land far from the land that we know today. Among the fields where vast lands with giant corn grew and stood, among the valley of the forest, there was a place called Still Copius. With an arch that welcomed visitors and tourists from all over the world and alike, it was a place that promised happiness and success for those who wished to learn the art of ancient medicine making. Though many students knew that it  would be difficult, many students were adamant to be a part of the community, the history, and the field of medicine making. Little did their know of the demonic monster that haunted the place.

For as long as even the oldest students could remember, Still Copius, on the outside was a place that seemed perfect. A perfect environment for anyone who wished to spend the rest of their lives using a mortar and a pestle. However, Still Copius wasn’t really always like that. In fact, all the world’s nightmares broke loose when the second half of every first year’s students arrived.

Rumors had it that it was the result of an experiment gone wrong very long ago. An old professor once wished to conduct an experiment but had created Frankenstein instead. The beast that was accidentally created from all the elements on the periodic table was deadly and therefore dangerous. When the beast woke up, it looked at itself in the mirror, and was suddenly filled with rage. It had the most ugliest face and body, a result of chemical combinations that even the professor could never explain. The beast, who knew that even the professor couldn’t fix him, was about to claw the professor to death when-the professor cried and asked him to spare him with mercy. Pleading to be allowed to live, the beast demanded one thing from the professor. And they made a deal. The beast would allow himself to be shackled under the prison that resided nearly thousands of feet under the arch where even the strongest rays of sunlight could never touch him. This way, Still Copius’s reputation would remain untarnished. However, during the last half of the school year, the beast would be released to prey upon the poor first years who had no clue as to what would happen to them in their Chemistry class. The beast liked to call itself Kemtu.

The beast of Kemtu has always been known to harass poor, harmless, and therefore puny and defenseless 1st year STLCOPians who oh so desperately wish to pass their second semester of pharmacy school as their GPA barely survives on a heartbeat. The beast would take over for the professor and would make the students perform deathly and physically lethal laboratory experiments that would leave the hopeless students defenseless and completely miserable and feeling like failures. Nothing made the beast happier than watching others suffer, so it locked the students up in the lab for three hours every week and demanded that they find the chemical makeup of hundreds of flasks that were clear to the naked eye, but contained many unknown elements that the students were ordered to find. The beast hoped that perhaps one student would be able to find all the unknown elements and finally cure him of his ugly illness that caused him to become the way he had. In addition, prior to entering the lab, the students were ordered to write up many scrolls worth of procedures that would take them centuries to complete. The students, whose eyes remained puffy from crying their hearts out every night, were unaware of the reasoning behind this gruesome task but had no choice but to follow the beast’s orders. Sadly indeed, their career depended on it.

-AZ

Home Sweet Home….Looking Ahead at Second Semester

Perhaps it was the pleasant temperature upon exiting the Amtrak train in which I was trapped in for almost five hours that made me feel much at home though hypothetically my “home” is nearly five hours away, back in the suburbs of Greater Chicago, beyond the fields of corn and over agricultural livelihood (not to mention the sight of cows) that I had blissfully passed on my way to St. Louis . (Regardless, I can attest that the severity of dropping temperatures is nothing compared to that of Chicago to which I owe St. Louis my utmost gratitude. Gratitude that it does not resemble Antarctica unlike its other city counterparts. That was, until I unknowingly jinxed the weather.

Perhaps, I seem to wonder, it was seeing the Saint Louis arch that brought back memories of orientation, moving-in, and other bits of nostalgia and other emotions that could not possibly be put into other adjectives and therefore other words that almost brought tears  of joy to my eyes. OR it was the sight of St. Louis College of Pharmacy right beyond the Metro Link stop that made me think: Another semester of this. But nonetheless, I also thought to myself  Home sweet home.

Almost 40 days ago, I was just relieved from the stress from finals (like the rest of the student population at STLCOP), and cringing in fear, fearing that I would have to give up on my dream of becoming a pharmacist, not knowing whether I would be able to achieve the grades I had passionately strived to get throughout the semester. But alas, (if I have no other word to use except that because I feel like sounding medieval ) I had triumphed in that trial and proved my pessimistic self wrong, proving to myself that hard work, and even academic sacrifices indeed pay off.

Looking back, I have come to realize that first semester proved to be one of many firsts. There was excitement that every college student has, knowing that they have the freedoms of a true-adult, far from the moral prisons they were once shackled to from their worried, overly anxious, and extremely cautious parents. These freedoms included having the liberty to make your own choices, your own rules. Long gone were the days when you would have to kindly and oh-so-cautiously make sure to ask your mother if you could leave the house on a school night after you had done all of your homework and studied your heart out to its fullest. Not doing so would result in lost privileges, and losing your dignity as a young adult, watching the rest of the adolescent world rejoice its freedoms while you remain solemnly to yourself behind the window of your bedroom on a cold Wednesday night.  At last came the days when you had your own say in how you spend your time and how you make the best of your career in pharmacy school. Where you called the shots and decided whether you would rather spend your Monday night playing poker in the Res Hall after getting yourself from froyo, or getting ahead in a class so you could glorify yourself as an overachieving academic psychopath, nonetheless a genius. Last semester, I learned what it meant to be my own boss. I finally (after a good three months), realized what responsibility really and truly meant.

There were also many moments where I’ve learned many things from an academic perspective as well. Having many one-on-one sessions with my Kleenex box (at least once a month) after agonizing over Biology exams, quests, and a practicum that involved hanging out with a fetal pig during whatever free time I had, I had learned a lot despite the hardships that came with the new experiences. I learned new study techniques that I only wish I had learned in high school. I understood what it really meant to learn, versus simply memorizing information and knowing it, but not being able to apply it to the world around me. I learned that getting tutored does not imply that you have the IQ of a pebble from the deepest pits of the Earth; rather, it makes you smarter because you are taking charge of your education and your time at STLCOP. There is no shame in getting tutored. Rather, it’s what makes our student body here at STLCOP stronger as everyone is able to lend each other a hand in the pursuit of earning a Pharm D. Therefore, I’ve learned to strive to be the best I can be, not perfect. Because every moment of adversity is what makes each and every one of us stronger in the end.

Most people seem to be adamant in thinking that after your first semester of college, you are suddenly able to understand your way around the whole experience. Wrong. A wise upperclassman recently told me that no matter what year you are in, it’s a growing experience, because you will always be learning. With every new semester comes new classes, new professors, and new challenges. Currently, I’m still trying to conform the demands of my classes this semester, still learning how to learn and how to study for upcoming quizzes and exams, while also growing in fear of what’s to come in lab for Gen Chem II though there still exists at least a small thread of optimism and determination that I will survive. Hopefully, that is.

I agree that while we are (logically speaking, that is,) long gone from the days when chugging a whole glass of milk was considered being well on your way towards “growth.” But because I’m feeling like going Oprah or Dr. Phil on this post, let me put it this way to leave you flabbergasted and inspired once you reach the end of this paragraph. What I’m try to imply is that every day, every career, even, and at every age, you are a lifelong learner. The more you learn, the more you have yet to learn, is what I like to say. Because every day you will learn something new and different from yesterday. Whether it means finding out something about yourself ( a special talent, a new hobby, or another thing to loathe besides the kid who gets straight A’s without even trying) or increasing your endurance for [insert whatever you seem to be enduring], you will always be processing new information, new memories, and new insights. So open your eyes, open your mind. Imagine your goals, your dreams, and your wishes coming true. Imagine yourself working hard and getting that Pharm D. because you are capable of doing anything and everything if you put your mind to it. In fact, you’re not only able to reach for the moon, but also your keypad/keyboard (is it horrible I’m not the best at basic computer terminology?), where you’ll find a scroller that you can utilize at your will to guide your mouse to the lower left hand of the screen, and click “Follow.”

;)

-AZ