My utomlänsplacering turned me into a local jetsetter

This week I started my first “utomlänsplacering” which means a placement outside the county of my medical school. I’m currently placed on a two-week dermatology placement in Jönköping, Småland.

My friends also placed in Jönköping and I left Sunday evening and arrived at our apartments in the hospital grounds, provided by the hospital. We took our keys from the emergency room (“What was the first think you did in Jönköping? Go to the emergency room of course, ha!” -.-) and went to our temporary accommodation for the next two weeks.

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This is the beginning of the Jönköping hospital grounds, isn’t our apartment building beautiful?

I was worried about how the accommodation would be recalling the nightmare of accommodation we received back in the UK (see photo below), but one can say that I was positively surprised to say the least. THE ACCOMMODATION IS AMAZING!

bathroom at medical student accommodation blackburn hospital preston manchester

This is the accommodation bathroom provided for Manchester medical students based at Blackburn hospital… our accommodation now is definitely a step up #nightmare

Apart from the beautiful exterior, our apartments were MASSIVE! Two separate bedrooms for my roomie and I (it’s probably the biggest room I’ve ever lived in that’s not a hotel), a big hallway, a fully equipped kitchen etc. Free wi-fi, clean linen, pillows and towels to take downstairs, access to the free laundry room, a little library and a TV. At least they definitely thought about our comfort as “travellers.” To make things even better, there’s a full shopping centre right across the road from where we live in the hospital grounds.

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I’ve been to Jönköping once before with my choir but I don’t remember much from the city. Therefore, being a true traveller, I was quite excited to explore this new place.

We came to our first day yesterday at the clinic and was warmly met by the staff. We have never been so warmly met before! We received our little introduction booklets, keys and decided our schedule amongst us. We found out that it is obligatory for us to travel to different cities as a part of our placement, and I was the “unfortunate” one who gets to travel to two different cities two days in a row.

welcome note for us medical students at jönköping ryhov hospital!

Look they even made us a little welcome note posted on the board!

So this morning as I’m writing this, I’m sitting on the train which will take me to Värnamo where I will be during the day. The travel there takes 2h, which is basically the same time it took me to go to Jönköping from my medical school Linköping. And it costs 80kr each way (about 8 euros each way – my student wallet is crying). Tomorrow, I will be going to Nässjö, which will luckily take less than 2h to travel to.

Four cities (Linköping, Jönköping, Värnamo, Nässjö) in four consecutive days. I never realised that going to medical school would mean this much travel. I guess we just need to get used to it since in the end, we need to go to where our patients are. And not everyone will be lucky to have all their patients at the same place as oneself. Luckily, I enjoy being a jetsetter anyway.

I really need a driver’s license.

7 typical American things I did in Chicago

After watching all those American TV shows and movies, the everyday American life was quite exciting for me. What better way to visit a country than to be like the locals right?

1. Stay in the suburbs

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Here are my aunt and uncle plowing the snow and me not helping hehe… #suburblife

2. Overeat like a true American

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The biggest buffet I’ve ever seen in my life.

3. Drive literally everywhere

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Once my friend even drove us to the other side of the parking lot where my cousin’s car was parked. It’s true, everyone here has a car. And it’s a big deal to walk apparently. 

4. Make friends with strangers within minutes

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Meet our new friend from the elevator up!

5. Shop at Walmart

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They even have blood pressure machines!!! #excited

6. Eat at a drive-through

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At Superdawgs you park your car by a machine and the staff come out to give you your food in the car! Nomnomnom

7. Shop like a true consumerist

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Three days worth of shopping. I came at the best time aka, clearance of clearance time!

Topped with my accent, I think I blended in quite well. Hmm, maybe I could live here after all!

Chicago Day 4: Retail therapy and reunions

When people asked me why I randomly decided to come to Chicago for five days, I tell them, to shop. And everything else of course.

As a request, I told my family that I wanted to shop on the later days, so that I’ll just use all my leftover money at the end for shopping. So we did.

My cousin took me to Chicago Premium Outlets (Aurora, IL) where we literally shopped for over 8h straight without taking breaks. No food breaks, no sitting breaks, just continuous shopping. Fitting shoes and clothes, shopping bags. It was heaven.

What made the day even better was that an old friend of mine who I met in Sweden two years ago came out to meet me there too! She was with my cousin and I during the entire shopping tour, and we all even bought matching Coach bags and Blackhawks shirts. Nicole is probably the only person who can top my energetic-ness, extreme positivity and talkative-ness. Which is why we made a direct bond since last time we met, and have continued to keep contact ever since! Isn’t it nice to have friends who you don’t meet for years and then when you see each other again, it’s like nothing has changed?

After all the shopping, despite our tired legs and sore arms (they’re still sore until now), my family took me out to experience the Chicago nightlife. We went to Mad River, where another old school friend met me up too! Two reunions in one day, it can’t get better than that. Or wait it can, because I bought a wristband for $20 which gave me unlimited drinks until midnight. #onlyinamerica

It was a great night, and with that I even got one of the best “getting-hit-on” stories I have ever had. And I will end this structurally challenged blog post with that story, before I board my plane back to Stockholm.

A guy by the bar who turned out to be a birthday boy and “from” my hometown Manila, Philippines (Filipino born and raised in Chicago) bought me a drink. I returned to my friends and before we left the club I thought to say goodbye to him and greet him a happy birthday.

Me: Hey I’m leaving now but I hope you have an amazing birthday!
Him: Before you leave can I give you something?
Me: Yeah okay what is it?
*he kisses me on the cheek*
Him: I think you’re really cute and I’m sorry but I’m new at this…
*he takes my hand and kisses it*
Him: But I hope you had a great night.

Isn’t he the most adorable guy ever? Why aren’t all guys like this?! 

It was not only a great night, but the best last night I could ever have in Chicago. I hope his birthday was a good one too. Once again the American friendliness never disappoints!

It was a great trip. I will miss all the friendly Americans I met, all so warm and welcoming. I will miss being greeted everywhere I go. Heck, I will even miss overeating like a true American. However most of all, I will miss my amazing family who I now met for the first time, and definitely not the last time. I know because I promised Lola (grandma in Filipino).

Until next time Chicago, you have been amazing. But first, time to go home and become a doctor!

Chicago Day 3: Downtown Chicago

I am and forever will be a city girl.

Being raised in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden and Scandinavia, I love the big city. However, sometimes I do feel that Stockholm isn’t big enough. Where are the big buildings? Where are the high rises?

I needed a quick-fix for my big city withdrawal since it’s been a while. I wanted to be surrounded by the hustle and the bustle again. At least right before I move to the small and relatively quiet city of Linköping. So then I thought, why not use my miles and visit Chicago?

There is something about getting lost in the concrete jungle, surrounded by buildings towering the skies. It makes one feel like a small fish in a big pond. A small fish, being part of something so much bigger than itself, just waiting to be discovered. It leaves me with the feeling of optimism and hope, that venturing into the big unknown will actually lead to great things. Which is the mindset I need before I start at my new medical school next week.

Chicago, with your tall buildings and actually extremely kind people, you are exactly what I needed. The bean reflecting the beauty of the buildings around it and the Willis tower to appreciate the view from above. You are amazing. And I promise to come back to you. Soon. Because I love you. ❤

My 2015 year of travel

Looking back at my year of 2015, I did do quite a bit of travelling. Enough to have earned my SAS Silver membership this year and the next, and to be able to book myself a reward trip to Chicago next week. Here are some of my trips in 2015!

All photos are from my Instagram.

1. Winter wonderland in Dalarna, Sweden

2. One of my many trips to my alma mater, St Andrews, UK

3. Revisiting the US after over 20 years and hanging out with family in San Francisco

4. Practicing my French clinical skills in Geneva, Switzerland for a month

5. Celebrating my birthday in Hong Kong

6. Trying out the music scene in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

7. Enjoying the good life in the Philippines

8. Blending in with the locals in Seoul, South Korea

9. Feeding pigeons in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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I made new friends in Sarajevo today 😁

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10. Chilling by the beach in Budva, Montenegro

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Hello from Budva, Montenegro! 👋 #country44

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11. Advocating that Peace is Always Possible with Sant Egidio in Tirana, Albania

12. Enjoying the sights in Milan, Italy

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A dopo Milano #milan #navigli

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13. Ending the year with the Pope at the Vatican

I don’t think I’ve ever traveled this much in a year, but I sure did enjoy it. 2015 will be a tough year to beat when it comes to traveling, but who knows what 2016 will bring. Let’s start with my first trip of the year, Chicago in less than a week here I come!