Tag Archive | NYU

Just My Luck … With Graduations

If I am a black cloud in something, that something is graduation.  My gloomy graduation history dates back to 2006.  What are the chances that every landmark graduation ceremony in my education process elicits tears from the sky?  Count them, thrice – high school, undergraduate (Baccalaureate AND Commencement) and last week, medical school.

High School Days

Out of all my career graduations, this was the least I cared about; hence, I was the most okay with nearly missing it.  At that time, I was a girl of few needs:  1) go to an Ivy League college, or somewhere close enough to a prestigious brand, 2) be valedictorian, or settle for salutatorian and 3) get off Long Island.  I fulfilled about 1½ points on that list.  I was most bummed that I did not graduate in the top 2 of my class to attain the lofty title of valedictorian or salutatorian (I was ranked #3, with no Olympic bronze medal recognition for that achievement).  The gunner in me then forever held a grudge against the high school that cheated me of my accomplishments, especially since I clean-swept all the senior awards with the highest, nearly perfect grades in all my classes.  Connetquot was unfortunately still on a “quality points system” that year, as opposed to the more mainstream “weighted average system.”  I still remember Connetquot as the school that essentially dinged a student for trying to be well rounded by playing in the orchestra (a lowly level 4 course), while another student with less stellar grades who was able to take more advanced classes received more points and ranked higher.  It was also the school that held me back from taking more Advanced Placement (AP) classes early enough to count more before college applications went out.  Except for a few special teachers who nurtured my potential and vision for success, there was nothing memorable about the high school that tethered my wings to a wall.

Now you have a basic understanding of my residual bitterness and how I could careless about graduating high school?  Maybe I did not get into my top choice of colleges (Cornell) and yet, I was happy and looking forward to life and school in the city (NYU).  Let’s not forget, I was bouncing off Long Island after 18 years of suburban, if not rural, life.

Excellence My Ends

Excellence My Ends

The morning of graduation was cloudy, humid and rainy.  I looked out the window and heard the pitter-patter of rain … and rolled back to sleep.  I assumed the graduation ceremony was cancelled due to inclement weather.  Nope, it was on.  In haste, I rinsed my curls and threw on my white cap and gown and ran in 4-inch heels.  I was not the only idiot who thought there was no graduation, seeing girls and guys getting dropped off and running into the school.  And here were the beginnings of my tardy tendencies.

I rushed to find my spot on line, somewhere amongst the honor society gang.  Because I was late, I also lost the spot I had on stage, one I personally requested and squeezed from the principal to make something worthwhile out of being #3.

The graduation could not have been more of a drag. The only family spectator was my father; my mother and sister did not come, given how rushed the morning was.  My hair was frizzing from the humidity.  I was nervously looking up at the sky, believing it would shower at any moment’s strike.  What was I proud of?  Getting through with perfect grades and off the island?  My school failed me and perfect grades did not get me on stage where I belonged.  In a deviant way, I was glad that it was dark and gloomy, for I believed the heavens above saw it befitting to make the day miserable for Connetquot and it’s Class of 2006 Graduates.

Wow, I still sound bitter 8 years later …

NYU Memories

The little chunk of campus I experienced

The little chunk of campus I experienced

Every May in honor of NYU graduates, the Empire State Building lights up Violet!

Every May in honor of NYU graduates, the Empire State Building lights up Violet!

College epitomized my glory years.  It was a fresh environment with a much more intellectual and social crowd.  I was happier, the butterfly that emerged from a tight, suffocating cocoon and spread its wings to fly and discover the world.  Come on, I was going to school in the middle of Manhattan!!!  I had no campus, but that did not matter, because my fun-filled campus was uniquely all of NYC.  These were the years I spent finding myself, exploring the city, reconnecting with my Asian heritage and making awesome friends to last a lifetime.

Four years bounced by, and now I was part of NYU College of Arts & Science, Class of 2010.  My Baccalaureate Ceremony took place at the famous Radio City Music Hall.  Center stage and Magna Cum Laude.

While the ceremony was indoors, outside it was again, dreary and gray. There were a few sprinkles, but not significant enough to ruin my wonderful graduation day.


Commencement was a different situation, that fateful Wednesday in May at Yankee Stadium.  It was cold and horribly wet and more like May showers.  Ponchos and caps were passed out for barely enough coverage.  I was freezing in my violet gown that did nothing for insulation.  There I sat, for the next few hours, under a bright yellow umbrella ready to break or fly away, listening to Alec Baldwin and other VIP people give speeches about inspiration and success.  Where was the sunshine I so anticipated for my huge and memorable college graduation?  Apparently, it was playing hide-and-seek in the ultimate hiding spot and refusing to budge.

Okay, it was pretty cool to graduate at Yankee Stadium

Okay, it was pretty cool to graduate at Yankee Stadium

All the special people get FULL coverage from Mother Nature's wrath

All the special people get FULL coverage from Mother Nature’s wrath

President Sexton, meet Dr. Alec Baldwin, crowned Doc of Fine Arts in 2010

President Sexton, meet Dr. Alec Baldwin, crowned Doc of Fine Arts in 2010

What you giggly about Alec?

What you giggly about Alec?

Here are my previous blog entries back in May 2010:

End of a very Violet Era, Part 1

End of a very Violet Era, Part 2

Those days were less okay for rain to ruin, but I had another 4 years to gain graduation redemption, with medical school.

Freshly Minted MD

Fat chance.

The forecast for my medical school graduation on Thursday May 22, 2014 was just as glum as my luck with the last two cycles of graduation.  The morning started off bleak, but relatively dry.  Just as my fellow soon-to-be doctors assembled for the Class of 2014 photograph outside by the campus fountain, the droplets of rain started to pitter-patter.  Perfect timing.

At least the ceremony took place in the Staller Center for the Performing Arts, with a stable enough roof for coverage.

Fat chance again.  We had just finished the hooding process on stage, the ceremonial initiation into Doctordom.  Then something epically unprecedented happened:  the fire alarm went off in the middle of the Hippocratic Oath.  It did not cease to stop, in case it was a false alarm, so we all had to evacuate.  Into pouring rain.  Perfect timing, again.

On top of my day of unfortunate occurrences, my dear sister missed my graduation.  She rushed to take all her finals in order to catch a flight out from California in time for my once-in-a-lifetime graduation from medical school.  Except en route, unprecedented and unseasonal weather in Denver derailed her flight (and many other travelers with important, but less so, itineraries) into New York and in time for my special day.  Inclement weather in the form of wild tornadoes and shooting hailstorms was rarely seen in Denver, except on that one fateful Wednesday.  I was bummed my sister could not make it to my graduation, the one person who has put up with my shenanigans all these years, like stressing out and taking a marathon of final exams back to back just come home in time for me.  After the chaos that comes with flight cancellations and angry mobs of travelers, it took her a grand total of 24 hours and hopping through 5 cities before she touched down safely.  Now I’m beginning to wonder, would I just be a bad luck charm for her graduation next year?


Ray of Sunshine Despite being a black cloud given my dark history of graduations, finally a sliver of sunshine peeks through the gray clouds. My education has taken a grand total of 20 years (if you count kindergarten), but it has not stopped there.  Learning is a lifelong endeavor, an ever-changing process.  It has been an uphill trek, with each step building a foundation for the next higher step.

Elementary school was defined by the basics of the alphabet and arithmetic.  For me, it was also learning English as a second language.  If I put a brown paper bag over my head and spoke, I would sound like any young white girl off the streets.  You would not guess I was in ESL for 3 years.

The large chunk of time defined by middle and high school was all about mastering the SATs and AP exams to get into the best university personally possible.  Those were my hard-working, gunner days.

From college onwards, there was a gradual decline in my gunner ways.  I still worked my butt off for good grades, but I valued my youth and social life more.  There, I built a nice liberal arts foundation and fulfilled rigorous premedical requirements, and took too much time for retail therapy and bubble tea and culinary excursions.

And now, the last 4 years have been defined as my medical enlightenment saga, where the real beginnings develop for a young doctor-in-training.  From burying my brain in books and medical lingo to falling asleep in lectures almost on a daily basis to roaming the wards and chasing after residents who think you’re a pestilent ghost, medical school have nurtured fine memories.  I graduated at the tender age of 25; I have learned so much, and yet so little.  Just as there’s always wiggle room for dessert, there’s also room for personal and academic development.

Thank you to my family and friends for their love and support.  I have made some wonderful, intelligent, compassionate and talented friends who I am glad to call my dear physician colleagues.  Together, we will be friends to last a lifetime, forever connected by our beginnings at Stony Brook Medicine as we journey forward on a magic carpet ride into the world of medicine.

Haha, my Mama's donning a white coat!

Haha, my Mama’s donning a white coat!

Proud Mama and Papa at Graduation Din Din

Proud Mama and Papa at Graduation Din Din

(Gray) Graduation Day!!!

(Gray) Graduation Day!!!

Sister, Sister

Sister, Sister

Sister, Sister ... Take 2

Sister, Sister … Take 2

WORLD, prepare for some awesomely bad ass doctors coming your way! 

Congratulations to all 129 Graduates of Stony Brook School of Medicine, Class of 2014!!!

At the end of the alphabet, where the cool kids are

At the end of the alphabet, where the cool kids are


Still at the end of the alphabet

Still at the end of the alphabet

The obligatory, Connie Yu MD graduation selfie

The obligatory, Connie Yu MD graduation selfie


My Star-Studded Resume

What is your impression of Macy’s? According to their glamorous tag lines and successful history, Macy’s is fun and fantastic, affordable and assorted, and all about jet-setting trends and the most contemporary styles. Now how true is this hyped up logo?

Since August, after my India trip, I have taken up my last job before earning the big bucks as a sales associate for Macy’s. Macy’s has a legacy as the American Department Store. Affordable, chic, and multifaceted, Macy’s has been around since 1858 to cater to the needs and wants of Americans. What the red star symbolizes? Macy’s was founded by R.H. Macy in New York City, the golden city. He was lost at sea and looked to a lone star to find his way home. He later had the star tatooed on his arm, which has become the immortalized as the Macy’s red star.  Famous for annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, Fourth of July Fireworks, Glamorama, and Passport, Macy’s is very much part of American cultural history. There are plenty of community projects, including charity towards March of Dimes, Breast Cancer Awareness, HIV/AIDS advocacy, and many others. And remember Miracle on 34th Street… the one and only Santa Claus?  Remember the tear-jerking Titanic blockbuster in 1997 and the scene where an elderly couple die in each other’s arms? Well, Isador Straus and wife Ida, former owners of the Macy’s corporation, both died aboard the Titanic.

Herald Square, the flagship store and the most notable Macy’s store in the world, is located on 34th Street. I’ve passed this place numerous time, while taking Korea town by storm or running to Penn Station. The Macy’s there is well known for its holiday decorations and majestic window displays. I remember walking there during the Christmas season and falling in love with the toys, stuffed animals, jingles, and winter themes. Inside is just as much of a spectacle: multiple floors, endless racks of clothes, and so much energy and warmth.

Now I have had the chance to work for America’s favorite middle class department store for a brief two months. I’ve never dabbled in retail, but this will be my only and last chance to soak my feet in random jobs. And you know what I do not miss at all? THE BITCHIN’ CUSTOMOERS. That’s right, there’s nothing glamorous about retail. In two short months, I’ve been yelled at by two different customers (both black women with major attitudes and unrelenting sass), FOR NO GOOD REASON. First time, I was ringing up a customer and I was only kindly reminding her to sign the keypad for the credit card purchase. You know what she said to me? She gave me the meanest look and said, “Could you wait a second? Jesus!” I was only following standard procedure and asking her to please sign the keypad, and she thought I was rushing her. F***-ing bitch #1…

Second time was today, my last day. This black woman and her daughter bought a shirt. She took out a Macy’s Rewards coupon to use. Then I asked if she had a Macy’s Rewards credit card, because that’s the only way the coupon can be used. She brushed me off and said “Oh no no… Fine, I’ll just pay cash…” with a wave of her hands. Again, I was kindly telling her the coupon cannot be applied because she didn’t have a Macy’s credit card, and next thing I knew, she was furiously yelling at me for being rude and giving her an attitude. Eyes bulging out of her sockets and fingers pointing at me, she said, “Oh no, you don’t give me an attitude. You being rude and all…” F*** you woman! Years ago, maybe I’d cry. Nowadays, I’ve learned to toughen up and stand up for myself. Surely, after she gave me a mouthful, I started to yell back at her for being inconsiderate: “You know, I was only nicely telling you the coupon cannot be used and you give me an attitude?!” She cut me off and talked louder and making a big scene. I had to maintain an air of professionalism, and the women who were working at the registers with me nudged me to leave the situation be. It was my last day, I wouldn’t care if I showed her head into the cash register, since she wanted to pay by cash so badly… I let her keep yelling nonsense to herself, shoved the shirt in a small bag, and forgot to give the receipt. Oh well, guess she can’t return the item…

Hostile customers. They are crazy and wild. They are what people hate about retail. It’s what I hate about retail, aside from the bitchwork of cleaning after people’s negligence and bad habits in the fitting room and clearance sections. Yes, you get the nice, warm ones too who can chatter all day, but occasionally, it’s these constipated bitches with angry attitudes stuffed up their assholes.

On top of this, my last day at work has to be the most awkward ones. I neglected to give my standard ‘2-week notice’ of termination, because 1) I never had to give one in my previous jobs, 2) I had federal work-study jobs, 3) I finished my jobs, or 4) I was not paid for my services. It was only later this week I learned that when you leave work forever, you give a ‘2 week notice.’ Ooops. Needless to say, my manager was not too thrilled and she started getting saucy with me, and I returned that sauciness with spice. On her part, I couldn’t talk to her in person about my schedule because she’s usually out and she was on vacation last week. Plus, she never gave me her phone number, so I couldn’t call her. On my part, I suddenly backed out of my commitment to my job at Macy’s. Well, you know, I have a bigger commitment, and it’s something called life and medical school. Sorry Macy’s, you’ve got a doctor-in-training who does not need your shitty hourly salary. Seriously, I’m not desperately seeking money; this was only a temporary job for the summer and I only felt bad if I discontinued too early. It is now that I really want to focus on Goljin and Kaplan, come home early, and be with friends and family. Such are way more important than bitter customers and trash…


I have a long history of random jobs, beginning way back as a 17 year-old high school dork. I have an astounding record of nine jobs. I’d like to relive my multidimensional experience in the workforce. I’ve had to condense my ‘work experience’ portion of the resume to fit everything.

1) Summer Recreation Camp Counselor at Connetquot High School for 3 years … I called it ‘glorified babysitting.’ Success #1

2) NYU College Learning  Center tutor for Calculus (big mistake), Chemistry, Writing THE Essay, and French. It was mostly the former two because I was a math & science wiz. Most of the time, I had an  inundation of students coming in with calculus problems. I aced my AP Calculus BC exam, so I got credit for Calculus I. Hence, I shot straight through Calculus II first semester of freshman year. I may have skipped over the grueling introductory calculus, but that did not exempt me from teaching a level below Calculus II. I never hated Calculus more in my life, except when I had to suffer through Calculus III later in my college career. I loved Calculus in high school, always doodling 3D shapes and perfecting circles and aligning my equal signs and zipping through integrals and derivatives. Nono, that all changed once tutoring Calculus in college. Needless to say, I did not return as a tutor the following year… Fail #1

3) NYU Department of Chemistry: Between sophomore and senior year, I split my time between teaching clinic sessions and laboratory. I had the more lucrative position as a lab TA for only one year before the school cut all undergraduates from teaching positions and kept foreigners who couldn’t speak English and never experienced the class itself as a pre-medical student. I took my chemistry jobs seriously for the 3 years I was in the department. I loved my professors and colleagues, and I got the love right back… Big Success #2

4) NYU School of Medicine: Research Assistant for 3 years with paid summers… This was an oscillating mess that culminated in an angry confrontation. My PI had extremely high, unrealistic expectations for a pre-medical undergraduate student, such as 1) no volunteering in the hospital, 2) working weekends to complete projects, 3) working long hours to show true dedication to science, 4) long list of other nit-picky details. No matter what I did, she was never satisfied with my commitment to science and her laboratory. In the end, I was called “antagonistic, defensive, rude, and incapable of taking criticism.” Mind you, the situation exploded and I quit my position amidst medical school interviews, where I still had to talk about my 2-years worth of cancer immunology research as if I was still there and active…  BIG and BAD Fail #2

5) NYU Medical Center: Hospital Volunteer in the ER and Day Surgery. It was like work, made time for it several hours a week, depending on how much I wanted to hang out with patients. I did this intermittently, sneaking out of lab to work where I belong: in hospitals, with chattering patients =) Success #3

6) NYU Department of Housing: Operations Assistant, aka. Front Desk Girl. For a year, I had the easiest, chillest job ever. In the summer, I worked at Palladium, my residence hall, to support my housing and meals in the city, while I worked on my research at the hospital. I was running between Union Square and NYU Langone Medical center like a rabid raccoon. But it was worth it. I had plenty of sleep time and food to fuel my last ditch MCAT studying =) During the year, I could work however late or often I wanted, while doing homework at the front desk and listening to my Asian playlist or playing games on the computer. Sweeeeeettttt… I was a well-seasoned office desk girl… Success #4

7) Hidden Pond Camp Counselor: The trashiest place I’ve worked at. I will never miss it at all... Success #5

8) Macy’s – see above Rave n’ Rant… I called out ‘sick’ too many times for the sake of studying. I sneaked out on ‘hour’ breaks to study microbiology. I sat in the fitting room reading the NY Times and anti-bacterial drugs… Talk about the Protestant work ethic, you can only pick one and win one way… Fail #3

Don’t think my successes outnumber my failures in the workplace. I’ve started and stopped various community service projects after my initial bursting enthusiasm plummeted down to the Mariana Trench in the Pacific:

– The Door – tutoring high school math; barely 3 sessions and I was out…

– NYU Hospital for Joint Disease – child life volunteer; barely a semester and I was out…

– Chinatown mentoring – liked working with Asian school children Friday afternoons, but my lab boss got in the way and Chinatown was too far away from midtown.

– Smile Buddies – did this in medical school last year for maybe 2-3 sessions, but realized (again), pediatrics and sick kids get boring…

I’m a failure in many ways, yet I’m a success in others. Let’s hope when I nail my first job in residency, an o-so-special moment indeed, I’ll have a better track record. Hostile customers? I hate them. Now what about hostile patients? At least today has taught me a thing or two on Code Man…

Happy Spring Allergies

Let me take a break from my China travel series and have a little heart-to-heart chat on my favorite topic, Immunology.

Yesterday was a marvelous day. I pulled a near-all-nighter Sunday studying for my Immunology midterm. I went in Monday morning sleep-deprived but relatively hyper. I wanted to blast through the mighty midterm and have a good day. I blasted through it and I really hope I ace it. I am expecting Honors this time around because Immunology was my specialty in undergraduate. I’d be ashamed to show my face in Smilow if I fail to ace this topic…

I wanted to enjoy the beautiful, sunny day. Except there’s one blockade: seasonal allergies. Yes, I am allergic to those pesky plant sperm spreading their DNA to female plant ovaries. How perfect that I am studying Immunology and suffering through allergies, or immediate hypersensitivity. The other Friday when I dragged myself to the morning lecture on Allergies and Immediate Hypersensitivity, I was the perfect clinical example. I was sneezing and playing musical rhonchi through my stuffy nose. What is biologically happening in my body is a slew of abnormal responses. I inhale plant pollen, which is non-pathogenic, but for people like me with intense allergies, the immune system is activated. Pollen in my mucous membranes activates IgE antibodies, which consequently bind to Fc-epsilon-receptors on mast cells and basophils. A bunch of intracellular events get switched on, ultimately leading to the release of granules (degranulation). This break-out of granules releases histamine, the primary chemical mediator in an allergic response. It results in smooth muscle contraction, vasodilation, elevated vascular permeability.  Symptoms manifest in the form of sneezing (pollen irritates the mucus membranes of the respiratory tract and bronchial/intestinal contraction) and stuffy and runny nose (increased vascular permeability). Other symptoms include itchy/watery eyes, itchy/sore throat, congestion, and difficulty breathing. Thank you mast cells for making every spring so eventful…

The last time I wanted to enjoy a super Spring day, it was back in freshman year at NYU. I survived Manhattan because it’s just buildings and cars and pollution. If I stayed away from anything bushy or green, I was fine. But that freshman year, I thought I was healthy and immune to allergies in the city. It was a wonderful afternoon at Washington Square Park, before it went under construction, and I sat at the water fountain studying for my French final in a few hours. I took in the breeze and smelled the fresh air. Oh, what a bad idea… I got my pay-back during my exam, when I started crying my eyes out, snot dripping uncontrollably from my nose and allergens tickling the inside of my nose. Despite the symphony of symptoms, I still survived (and aced) my exam.

Today, I was tempted for a breezy, relaxing walk to West Campus. I first had to play doctor after lunch, then I could take my walk to the Student Health Services for a quick PPD shot for school. I strolled down Circle Road for 15-20 minutes, a warm and wonderful walk indeed. By the time I got to the health center, I started feeling mild symptoms, in the form of a stuffy nose and sneezes. I ignored them and went on with the day.

I met up with a friend to eat at the Green Cactus. Last time I did not go with a few friends for Cinco de Mayo because I was being lazy, but today was a good day. I was done with exams and I needed a leisurely day to indulge in myself. And so we went to eat Mexican food. I ate this well-portioned Mexican sandwich called the Torta. Packed with grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, and guacamole, the Torta was a sure-fire win. I slowly ate my mighty sandwich over a comfortably-paced conversation with my dear friend. I hit my food coma halfway through, but I pushed through another quarter before I gave up on the sandwich.

Torta: Chicken

Asian girls and frisbee

The day was still early, around 6pm. To digest, we went to toss a frisbee at the nearby Strathmore Park off Nichols Road. The day could not have been better set. The sun was going down, the grass was green, Little Leaguers were playing baseball, and I felt free. Throughout high school, I hated frisbee. I was the one no one threw the frisbee too because I sucked. Today was different. My friend taught me some tosses and I learned the moves quickly, with some slip-ups and deviations. I was even catching the flying disc. Or maybe he was just good at directing the frisbee towards me and it was not flying at me full throttle. Also, it was hard playing in a dress and flats; when I was running or spinning to catch the frisbee, I was careful not to pull a Marilyn Monroe moment. It’s happened to me in Manhattan over those subway vents and vacuums in the residence hall, and it’s not happening again.

I got home at 7pm, showered, and crashed. Three hours of sleep were finally hitting me hard. I fell asleep talking to my sister and I woke up congested and in pain. My allergies were acting up again, despite my anti-histamine pills. The battle has lost against my favor and now I will say goodbye to the taste and smell of Spring. I do not regret having a wonderful day yesterday, because it was truly fun and revitalizing. While I had friends roam to the beach and the parks and shopping, I had a fantastic spring day =)

Lost And Found

I have a tendency to get lost and found. I’ve ‘lost’ my school ID countless times, but I always manage to find it again. Looking back, I think I would win an award for Most-Likely-To-Lose-An-ID-and-Not-Pay-For-It over my 4 years in college. I may have blogged about the 10 times I pulled hairs hunting for my ID in every crack of New York City, but here’s a recap of the memorable ones.

1) Freshman year, April-May 2007: I strolled to Starbucks on W. 4th Street looking forward to a Tall Vanilla Frap. Except, I couldn’t pay for it without my ID. I frantically retraced my steps, staring at the ground for the golden plastic. Before walking to Starbucks, I was at the Bookstore, where I last used it. Somewhere in between, I lost my ID, but I couldn’t find it! In my head, I’m thinking, “I’m barely done with Freshman year, and I have to pay for a new ID?” Then I spotted the garbage can. I remembered chucking my receipt. Dumb me, I chucked my ID with the receipt and walked away. The problem was, there was no open hole over the garbage; it was one of those covered ones with side-openings. You guessed it, I had to sneak my hand in from the sides and feel through the trash for the purple plastic. You know how in movies, people drop a wedding ring or precious ticket into the smelliest holes and have to retrieve it without losing it further down the drain? Well, that was what I was doing. I would’ve cried if my ID fell deeper into the trash because my arms would be the limiting step in retrieving my ID. In the end, I succeeded.

2) Sophomore Year, Palladium hall: I lost my ID in my own dorm room. This time, I wasn’t like a search dog sniffing a trail or a child following jellybeans back to Neverland. It had to be somewhere in my room. I scrambled through my desk and room, to no avail. The last place I was at, was the kitchen. Next stop, the kitchen… Not on the floor, not in the oven, not in the fridge or sink… I opened my cabinet, and there it was, hanging out with my clean dishes. My smiling face in that picture said to me, “Hehehe, you idiot. You forgot me in the cabinet idioto.” Damn…

3) Junior Year: Again, I lost my ID somewhere in my dorm room. This time, I lived in a giant sorority-like suite, a much bigger place to scavenge my ID. My room was tiny, but I turned it over like flipping pancakes for breakfast. Nowhere on my desk, not in the bathroom, not on the ground… NOWHERE. That meant I couldn’t leave my room either, because I wouldn’t be able to get back in without my ID card-key. I think I was going to hang out with a friend that day or something. Well, a few hours later, exhausted from my hunt, I gave up. I knew it was somewhere, but just not presently. I went to grab my jeans hanging over my bedpost, and I heard a “click” on the floor. It was my ID! No, it didn’t fall out of my pockets (I checked there already); it fell out of my cuffed jeans! It was folded at the bottom because all my pants are way too long for a shorty like me. Somehow, it lodged in the cuff and stayed there. Stupid.

4) Senior Year, NYU Bus: This one was just bad. I took the bus uptown to the medical center for work. I had my ID in my back pocket of my jeans. I usually kept my ID in pockets because at NYU, you always flash your ID wherever you go: the dorms, library, school, bus, etc… It’s just easier pulling it out of your pants than your pocket-book. Well, I guess when I got up to leave, the ID fell out of my butt pocket. I didn’t realize until later in the day. It was bound to happen; the pockets are not a safe place to secure your ID. I made it back downtown, ran all over the Physics building and Public Safety for over an hour, at the same time retracing all my steps and thinking of all the possible places God wanted to punish me at. By nightfall, maybe 6-7 pm, I make it my last stop at Tisch Hall, by the bus stop. I was pretty down, because I was also locked out of own dorm. I couldn’t swipe into my dorm OR room; I would have to pray someone was home to let me in. I also had a back up Medical Center ID to gain access through the hidden passageways of Palladium (I lived there too long). Anywho, I walked up to the security at the desk and asked nicely if he found an ID recently. He asked for name and blah blah. Then, I believe he said, “You live in Palladium?!” I lit up: “Yea, YOU FOUND MY ID?@!” I was jumping up in joy.

Lesson learned by Senior Year: Hole punch your ID and lock it to your keychain lanyard. That way, it’s bulky and noisy. When you drop it, it’ll make plenty of clinks and chimes. The downside: You just may lose every precious key, club cards, other IDs (I also attached my med center ID there too), and childhood decoration. It worked though.

I also lost my medical center ID one time. I was walking through the cafeteria after work in the lab, and when it came time to pay up, my ID was gone. I swore, it was clipped to my pants and I JUST HAD IT. It was lost somewhere in the cafeteria, but I still tried retracing my steps and asking the employees for help. Nada. It just… vanished! Luckily, my volunteer supervisor was kind enough to issue me a new ID at no charge. I worked too hard as a volunteer there, so he may have taken some mercy with me =) Either way, I liked my new hospital ID; it was clearer and newer, and the camera caught my more glamorous side. I still have it as a souvenir.

The only time I got a new NYU ID card was when it started deactivating and when the school thought I was graduating Junior year. Again, I liked my newer ID better; I had more color to my cheeks and vigor to my eyes.

Now the real story, a new cycle at Stony Brook. Back in the fall, I told my story of losing my ID. I dropped it in school somewhere, but retraced all the way around lecture rooms and halls. Turned out I dropped it during a club meeting, where it fell from my shirt. Now, just 2 weeks ago, I lost my ID AGAIN. This time, I went almost 5 days without an ID, hoping I could ponder where I left it last and if a good samaritan would return it. I was at dance practice in the Galleria, and I distinctly remember putting my ID and pink pencil case into my tote bag. Later on, it just vanished without a trace! I scrambled around my room, went all over the HSC, went down to the housekeeping offices, and sent out an embarassing email “Hello everyone, If anyone finds a baby pink pencil case with a bunny that says ‘play with me’ in the galleria, please let me know! I left it there after the AE practice! =(“ The pencil case was, dispensible, because I easily replaced all my colored pens and case (Yes, I hoard pens of every color and texture). Later that Monday, I sent a similar one with my ID, making it a point that it was one of a kind with a purple casing (the little bit of NYU pride I have left).

Well, it was in my friend’s car the entire time. She gave me a ride back, and somewhere on the road, my bag fell over and a few of my most precious contents fell under the seat. The first time she checked, she didn’t see it. That was because my card and case were nestled deeper under the seat, rolling almost to the back seats. Ah, I was so happy; I really didn’t want to pay 25 bucks for a new ID, when I knew it was just SOMEWHERE waiting to be found.

Found for Good

Today, I found something else, my old NYU ID. I’ve been looking for this baby since September, when I was going back to college to visit some friends and needed it for access to facilities. I got away with my Medical Center ID, but I still missed my NYU card. I mean, I have a whole history with it, swiping me everywhere and losing it anywhere. I gave up on my search months ago, because I really have no business with an expired school card. Not like I have that much time to visit NYU anyway. I was content believing I dropped my ID back in the summer, when I was working at a local recreation camp. Then, I had my ID still with my car keys; I have my key chain it was on, albeit the purple ID card. Hence, I believed I dropped it in some parking lot and rammed over it with my car. But I had that nagging feeling that it was just SOMEWHERE, waiting to be found again. During a study break, I sat on the floor and rummaged through my treasure bag of memories, mostly stuff from college and old pictures and decorations. I opened one set of pictures, and I spied a familiar piece of plastic… MY NYU ID. A happy ending indeed. That was the story I wanted to gush out today =P

Google Yoself

Today, I was working on our Neuroscience in the News project with my baller pan-Asian group, Neuro-Gasm. On a tangent, Lily told me about her abstract publication. I google-searched in her name and Mt. Sinai, and voila, I found the right page.

Curious Conchibi, I google-searched my name and NYU to see what wonders would pop up… a rising songstress making it big in New Orleans, some random Asian girls on Facebook, a mythical concubine from the Qing dynasty, or a nerdy girl playing with the bucky ball in the chemistry lab.

Well, this is what I found. I took a screenshot of my google page:

Here’s the first link, which took me to the NYU Undergraduate Department of Chemistry. For my graduation, I received some awards and honors for blasting through titrations, cooking up some violet-colored carbon bucky balls, and playing with toluene, strong acids, and carcinogenic compounds. Chemistry is a life of numbers, Avogadro, moles, Greek letters, permutations of elements, graphite, and erasers.


I got linked to another website, one I was a little surprised to find. This was about 2 years ago, when I was a featured volunteer for NYU Langone Medical Center’s News and Views newsletter. For this article about patient-centered care at the hospital, I was asked to come in for the “photo-shoot.” And there you see me, in my over-sized navy blue jacket, not yet a medical student and only a lowly volunteer, staring out the window and looking rather pensive for the photographer.

Back then, I volunteered at the Emergency Department, mainly talking to patients, making sure they’re comfortable, and simply talking to them during their wait. I wish I spent more time doing that sort of clinical work, but because I was committed heavily to my research lab and a demanding boss, I had to sacrifice some of my time and interests. So during that publication, I was hoping the newsletter wouldn’t find its way to my boss’s table next to her morning coffee. Except, it did find its way to everyone else working in the lab, like that time I tried hiding my 2-week “sick leave” for the MCATs twice. One day, I found a picture of my contemplative face enlarged, on my desk. Great, I thought a snippet of my face on the front cover would go unnoticed. To this day, I do not know if my PI saw my participation in patient-related work. If she did, perhaps she would’ve approached me with her piercing stare, “Uh, Conchibi, since when did you start working in the ER? You need to spend most of your time in the lab to get work done and get published. That’s the only way you’ll make in science. You need to put in commitment, time, and dedication. You only have time for school and research, and you need to learn to balance the two. Nothing else…” Or if she did and not said anything, maybe that’s why she got tougher with the undergraduates.

And when I finally confronted her and quit this miserable position, I ended up lying to her, “No, I do not do anything else but focus on school and research. I spend much of my week in the lab trying to get work done and finish my senior honors project…,” since she was always petty with spending day in and weekend out in her lab, belaboring over inclusion bodies and making protein.



Ever get rejected twice?

My little sister is applying to colleges now, and as the big sister, I am along for the ride by default of biology. She’ll be going for accounting/business school and hopefully making the big bucks before I can see my first real paycheck again. Both of us fulfilling the average Asian dream- becoming 1) doctor and 2) something with business; if only we had a brother, he’d probably be the lawyer.

I was an expensive child. My sister complains I went to NYU, and now I go to medical school; that’s not a stroll through the forest to grandmother’s house. Now, she feels Ivy Leagues and private universities, what she terms ‘brand name schools,’ are out of the question because tuition keeps hiking. Though her grades are strong and I set an auspicious impression for her with my old teachers, she still feels inadequate for good schools. She seems to feel, her dream schools are just dreams, fleeting and far away.

Take NYU’s Stern School of Business. It’s nearly pan-Asian, it’s NYU, it’s Manhattan, and it’s illustrious. I have friends who studied economics or attended Stern. You get pampered with good food and networking events. I’ve even studied at the Stern school, and it’s beautiful after a year of renovations. Plus, there is a 5-year combined BA/MA program at Stern for accounting, and she has the opportunity to combine majors, say finance. She can study unique languages exclusively offered at NYU (ahem, Korean) and have a good time like I did. Parfait!… Except, she feels her previously pre-med sister took that away and did not take all the opportunities offered at NYU that she would like, because my parents also cannot afford to pay for 8 years of NYU education, one of the most expensive universities in the nation (#2 ?).

For now, she’s accepted to Niagara University, SUNY Albany, and College of St. Rose. I asked, “What? You have so much potential… but huh?” Okay, SUNY Albany apparently has a great accounting program and it’ll be state tuition. I told her “No! It was the #1 party school a few years back, I refuse to say my sister is going to a party school.” College of St. Rose had free application fee, so it was just a ride. And Niagara U, it’s by freezing cold Buffalo, but she wants to have a chance working in Toronto, Canada. Plus, there’s a 5-year BA/MA program that she got into; it’ll be a cramped curriculum, but she can finish school more quickly and probably go to Canada. In the meantime, she’s waiting on Northeastern and USD in California, competitive schools I pray she can get in and receive significant scholarships for her hard work.

I look back on my college application process, I should have expanded. Instead, I was stuck on Cornell, and a few Ivy Leagues (Harvard, UPenn). Other schools I applied were Johns Hopkins, NYU, University of Michigan, and Binghamton. Rejection sucked; I wanted to cry when I read the online rejection letter from Cornell. It also sucked when I got rejected by Harvard twice, first time was Early Action and second time was Regular. Who gets rejected twice?

Harvard = Hogwarts, I like... too bad though

How about, Who gets rejected twice, TWICE?
Yes, I’m raising my hands now because the lucky goose I am, it happened to me. It happened with medical school next round of applications. I applied NYU Early Decision. I had the competitive GPA, but I bombed my MCATs first time around. Even when I improved and entered the regular applicant pool, NYU still did not want me and wrote a general rejection message on the webpage. I thought working at the medical center for 2 years as a volunteer and research assistant gave me a special connection to the school, maybe like a fistula. I wondered if my picture in a feature story on patient-centered care in the medical center’s newsletter wound up on the admissions table next to roasting coffee. I hoped I made some impression, but clearly that failed.

Smilow- I did my cancer research here


Suju, Explorers of the Human Body: In the Blink of an Eye, Part 1

Episode 1, Continued: The Eye

Remarkable how you cannot always see what you see; sound crazy? The eye is connected to the brain via the optical nerve. Technically you see with the back of the head, because the occipital lobe is located there. Here, the brain receives and interprets incoming stimuli from the eye. Plus, we have somehow experienced randomly fun optical illusions and perceptual tricks, like these.

The young woman or the old hag?

7 Faces

And my alma mater NYU’s Bobst Library atrium floor pattern, where I spent many sleepless hours cramming for some pre-med class; it was rather dizzying to look at from the upper floors.

Okey dokey, back to Super Junior now. Imagine, if you look at something, how well can you remember it? In their first task, 2 flashing pictures of the same thing appear, but there is only one difference. Given the alternating visual stimuli, how well can the lone changing element be picked up? The first is a picture of Super Junior and the second is the 10,000 won bill. For the first one, each member is concentrated and stern, until Ryeowook snaps out of his spaced-out look with “That’s easy!” Siwon acts cool (as usual), but he’s hiding his real befuddlement (What the heck?) It’s really cool to play along and catch the one thing that’s supposed to stand out, without the flashing pictures blinding you. Shindong completely messes around with his answer that Siwon’s foot is getting bigger and smaller, like Alice in Alice in Wonderland… Eeteuk follows suit with Yesung’s head inflating and deflating, LMAO…

Siwon, confuzzled

The reason why Super Junior failed so miserably and nonchalantly tried to save themselves from embarrassment, is because it’s hard to take in visual stimuli accurately that is under 0.2 seconds. To make it even more challenging, add a black screen between the 2 pictures.

Next is the 10,000 won; for this, you see Siwon and Kibum ready to work hard, all focused and determined. I failed on this one, even when I was searching furiously around the darn dollar, thinking my brain is still young and sharp. Every corner was hit, or so I thought. Eeteuk did not get it, he says, “King Sehjong’s eye winks and doesn’t wink.” And he acts it out.  Donghae starts to fib along, by pointing to an imaginary hat on his head. At least he admits he does not know. Heechul is actually intelligent, he picked out the subtle difference on the right side; I have a little more respect for him =)

Leeteuk, one eye bigger than the other

Cute Donghae

Heechul, Bingo!