“Don’t give other people essays that you won’t be willing to write yourself.” -A wise person
“When you are not actually applying to college, you can write whatever the heck you want.” -The same wise person
(READ: PLEASE DO NOT ACTUALLY WRITE LIKE THIS)
Q1. Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?
Hi! My name is Chris – I graduated MIT in 2011, and now I’m a 4th year (!) med student at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Boy, that’s a lot of capitalized words. During the four years I spent at MIT, I directed the MIT ESP SAT Program (and co-founded MIT ATI) and volunteered at a bunch of Asian community health clinics. Now, I write MCAT questions for Khan Academy and do Hepatitis B epidemiology research in Manhattan Chinatown. Things haven’t changed that much, right? :) I actually just took The Biggest Exam of My Life Part 2 of 4 (9 hours long!), and let me tell you – having multiple choice exams dictate your life after 4 years of short answer exams is total chaos.
Oh, dreams and aspirations? Mmm, I’m applying to Internal Medicine residency this year – we’ll see where I end up. I’m couples-matching (basically this thing where two med students who are matching in the same year are guaranteed to be geographically close to each other) with my girlfriend Kathy ’10 (link to an old blog before we started dating), who goes to UCSF med school.
(We’re also 99.99% sure we aren’t applying to any Boston residency programs. It’s been a great four years in Beantown – but sorry, we’re (hopefully) headed for warmer weather! Even if that’s not meant to be, NYC’s food scene and 24-hour subways have spoiled me terribly :P)
After that? We’ll see which way residency goes!
(really, really far down the road – I want to: 1) open a food truck in SF/NYC, 2) work in standardized testing field somehow (either from the prep side or the admin side), 3) do a law program for MDs, 4) work at an immigrant community clinic, and hopefully 5) all of the above)
Q2. We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it.
This is probably something that I shouldn’t brag about, but given Sinai’s flexible exam schedules during preclinical years, Kathy and I have traveled to some pretty cool places in the last 3 years. Other than that, I’ve started writing on Yelp, because I consider myself something of a Japanese cuisine guru (a combination of growing up in Taiwan (where everything is Chinese-Japanese fusion), visiting Japan 12+ times growing up and in college, and lots of kitchen experimentation post-college). I can deconstruct any bowl of ramen for you, and make a pretty nice ramen burger to boot. You want recommendations for Japanese food/ramen in NYC or SF? Done!
Q3. Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?
Since I’m not actually applying to college, I’ll write about whatever “challenge” I want! Since I’ve traveled quite a bit since college, I’ll share with you two travel mishaps.
On Forgetting the Passport at Home
After final exams during one of the semesters in med school, I prepared to fly back to Taiwan with an extended layover in San Francisco. On the day before my flight back to Asia, I thought to look for my passport. With a sinking feeling, I realized my passport was 3000 miles away in my desk in New York. Frantically, we started to see if there was any way to get my passport to the west coast in 24 hours (mainly, I wasn’t sure whether you could rebook an international ticket without MASSIVE fees — I don’t think “I left my passport at home on the east coast” is a valid excuse). We posted on FB (sadly, no one was traveling from NYC to SF the next day) and even solicited on Craigslist (no one got back to us, but we got some sympathy). Eventually, we discovered that FedEx has a same-day shipping service. Since there was no time left for delivery to SF city, I was going to meet my passport at the airport the next day. I asked my friend in NYC to go into my room and drop off the passport at a FedEx location, and we called FedEx to see which flight my passport was on. I — now $150 poorer — ended up reuniting with my passport at the SFO United baggage claim two hours before my flight back to Taiwan.
Moral of the story? FedEx. The World on Time.*
*note: The author of this blog is not employed, affiliated, or otherwise receive compensation, monetary or otherwise, from FedEx Corporation or any of its affilitates, subsidaries, or agencies. :P
On Missing the Train in Prague
The first international trip I took with Kathy was to Eastern Europe. Our goal? Five countries in seven days. As such, there was a lot of coordination that had to happen, and things had to go without a hitch. One of the legs was an overnight train from Prague to Budapest, which left at 9:30 — or so I thought. Around 8 PM after dinner in Prague, Kathy asked me if I had the train ticket. “We have plenty of time –” I said, as I pulled it out of my backpack. Nope. The train leaves at 8:30. We sprinted to the train station, but it was still too late. After some gesturing, English, and a lot of Hungarian (from the other side, not us), we were told that we could take the train after midnight instead. The catch? No seating.
We stood for the first hour or so, until a seat opened up. Kathy sat in it until she had to use the restroom and I ended up falling asleep in the seat. I can’t believe that Kathy never woke me up and stood in the hallway for quite awhile until I jerked awake. A few hours later, seats finally opened up somewhere in Slovakia. The end result? Two very, very exhausted people wandering around in Budapest the next day.
(and lots more future trips together)
Q4. Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why?
Three years later, I’m still really proud to be a graduate of both the MIT Biology and History departments. I don’t remember that much about protein structure anymore (NEWSFLASH: You will use ~15.2435% of your undergrad scientific education in med school), but I certainly remember how MIT History taught me to develop, analyze, and defend a written argument. MIT History asked me to write a short little blurb for them last year, and I was more than happy to do so!
For all current and future students at MIT, please, please, PLEASE do not discount the HASS classes at MIT. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you breezed by 4 years at the Institvte and missed some of the funniest, most intelligent, and honestly best teachers and mentors out there. MIT can seem like a huge and overwhelming school sometimes, but the smaller HASS departments really feel like home.
Q5. What attribute of your personality are you most proud of, and how has it impacted your life so far? This could be your creativity, effective leadership, sense of humor, integrity, or anything else you’d like to tell us about.
Man, what a personal question to answer just so I can fill out the application questions -___-
More than anything else, I’m happy that I (still am) a natural optimist (see my blogger blurb from 7 years ago, lolol). Sure, I worry just as much as any other person (and occasionally have bouts of insomnia for no good reason), but I’ve found that if I ask myself – “would this still matter to me in a month? a year? 5 years?” it keeps a lot of things in perspective and really reduce stress over silly things.
Q6. Tell us about the rabbits.
So here it is, good luck to you if you’re applying to college, and good luck to us on this crazy journey called life. Cheers! (with boba of course :P)