Quirky insights to science, art, studying abroad, & other miscellaneous happenings.

Quirky insights to science, art, studying abroad, & other miscellaneous happenings.

Monday, July 28, 2014

10 Tips for Grad School Interviews

Here's what I've learned so far from interviewing at PA schools this year. Take it with a grain of salt, and interpret as you will. Have fun, and happy reading. :)

1. Don't be nervous. 

If you think that's not possible, because you're the type to stress out over everything and anything, let me tell you. You need to relax. Be normal, and be yourself. I think this is one of the most important factors to help you interview well! Nervousness can make even the most confident person stutter or mess up their words, and it won't be an accurate representation of who you are. It also shows that you are able to interact well under pressure. 

2. Don't think that this is your one and only option, that you're so desperate, that your universe will crash if you don't get in. 

Alright, you can feel that way inwardly, but don't let it show. No one likes super desperate people -- at least, not with grad schools. Rather, be confident in yourself, and let that maturity show. So when everyone else is sitting there tensely with stoic facial expressions -- I'm telling you, it's really obvious when you're nervous and/or desperate -- you can start conversation, break the ice (which is more like a glacier), crack some jokes, and get to meet new people. It's fun!

3. Don't over analyze or replay the interview over and over. And over. 

Someone told me that about 98% of people come out thinking they should've said this instead, or shouldn't have said something, or just honestly being overly critical. Yes, know what you could've done better, but for next time. The past is the past, and your interview is done. Done. 

4. Don't fall into the trap of sizing up the other applicants. 

I get it. It's natural. If someone's brought a parent with them, it's instinctual to have an opinion. Or seeing someone questionably dressed. But seriously? Be above that. Avoid topics (and people) who talk about their application, where they have been accepted, and also seem probing. You've all made it to this point. Use your time well and rather, take in the atmosphere. Constantly be thinking critically if you can see yourself thriving there, what reservations you have about the program, and if this is where you belong. 

5. Think positive. 

Yes, there's always the "what if". But you've come this far, invested time and finances. It's difficult to think all that energy and work wasted when you get a rejection. But when I interviewed at a place hundreds of miles away, I tried to think -- well, at least I can say I've traveled here on my own, saved myself some deposit money to reserve a seat, and got to see a beautiful place and meet others who may be my coworkers someday. It's a privilege and honor to make it as far as you have, and even though you may not have that acceptance just yet, don't lose hope. 

6. Learn. Use every moment there to absorb, so you can process it later if you have to make the decision between that school or another. 

Find out where students study. How well is the program set up? Are the students happy? Would you want to live there for 5, 10 years? What features of the program are different from others -- and is that beneficial or harmful for YOU?

7. Ask questions, but pay attention. 

Really find out about the school, so you're able to ask real, legit questions that will provide the most value to you. Don't be that person who always asks, Why should we attend your program? What makes it different from other schools? Seriously. Do some research, and you should already know this, so you can ask questions about it, rather than being clueless. 

8. No program is without its faults. 

You just need to know what is a priority to you, and what you're okay with. Are cadavers a priority? The length of each rotation? The pass rates for boards? The resources and size of the school? Tuition and living expenses? Although I wish that there was a perfect school for every one of us, there's not. Evaluate what's important to you, and do well to stick by it. 

9. Take the chance to get to know people. It'll make it fun and that much more interesting. 

By get to know, I don't mean asking about their "stats", or their background, or anything that could be interpreted as evaluating the competition. Care about them as a person; treat it like a mystery to unravel. You could be future classmates or coworkers!

10. Last, but not least, enjoy your time. 

Treat it as a new, interesting experience that is (sort-of) once-in-a-lifetime. Take advantage of all the new experiences you are presented with. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Being an Artist: Dealing with Creative Failure

For all you creative beings out there, we've all experienced it: that moment when we don't feel like anything good is happening, and when we try to force it, it turns out terrible and makes you feel even worse -- like a creative failure. 

I call it the "creative rut" -- where I'm stuck and all I do is complain (yesterday was one of those days, and I felt thankful that I had another part-time job to go to). Thanks, friends, for sticking it out with me. 

Here are a few options when you hit one of these creative blocks:

Take a break. 
When artists get in their creative mode, and take charge and work like there's anything else worth living for. . well, it's going to hit a stop point somewhere along the road. About 74.593% of the time, this works for me. Whether it's half an hour, or a week, this effective method can recharge you like nothing else, and you'll be freshly inspired. 

Try a different creative-something. 
Do something that's not your usual style, and don't feel pressured for it to turn out a certain way. I normally paint, and I'll try illustration or calligraphy. Get that sketchbook filled!

Explore other artists and their work. 
Looking at other people's paintings and art always puts my artistic mind into perspective. Remember things that you like and want to incorporate into your work, and learn from the stuff you don't like. Browsing others' art inspires me to keep going -- that so many possibilities exist for exploration. Instagram is a great source! This'll help guide you in your next work when all those ideas start flowing again. 

What is your experience with creative failure? Would love to hear if anyone has other methods for dealing with this nuisance!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Georgian adventure

I experienced a whirlwind of firsts last week -- and loved every second of it. If you know me well, you'll already predict that universe glitches occurred, but it's a good thing that Italy and gap year life have trained me well in the art and science of improvising. 

My first time with the following:

A trip by myself in America. 
Renting a car in America. 
Interviewing for PA school. 
Mailing a package to the United Kingdom. 
Handing out bar soap for a deodorant trial. 
Seeing cheese grits on a menu. 
Wearing a suit. 
Anddddd, wearing heels out in public (don't ask how I managed to hold out this long..)

The universe glitches?

Almost missing my flight due to highway traffic at 4:30am. In Kentucky. 
The first time since the PA program started (11 years) that a plumbing issue occurred and interviews were impromptuly delayed.
Hence, the car rental also acquired a massive extra charge.

I learned that it's all about your opportunities and your attitude. On the way there and back, I ended up talking with the stranger next to me for over an hour. I talked with a military father, who confided I met a through-and-through red-headed Georgian college student, who was about to transfer to Georgia Tech, is studying engineering, took a gap year after high school, is doing cool internships related to aerospace, and wants to backpack Europe with his brother. He's going to go places, I'm sure.

I didn't expect to really get to know any applicants at the interview, because other than the fact that we were all wanting to get into the same program, it's a pretty short time period. I ended up chatting with a Savannah native for a good amount of time, talking about everything from music to..well, PA school. We are now Facebook official friends and also phone friends. :)

How did the interview go?
Eventfully, of course, when you throw my age and art in the mix. We can sum it up in the heading --- prospective applicants: the best of the awkward. 

(I also learned that practically no one outside of Ohio is familiar with our state geography very much.)

Here are some Georgia pictures I captured the morning of (right before) my interview. I'm determined that my photo-taking will not stop with Italy, and hey, if I have to travel for an interview for PA school, I might as well take advantage of my surroundings. :)

While walking around Forsythe Park in the historical district of Savannah. I normally don't paint architecture (not my forte) -- but who's to say that this couldn't be the "it" inspiration for a series?

Now, it's playing the waiting game. I thought I had plenty of practice at this already, but these past few days have been teaching me otherwise. The school was wonderful; Savannah surpassed my expectations with its artsy vibe; and Georgia, oh, beautiful Georgia. I could see myself living there. 

I'll keep y'all updated if there's good news to hear! Otherwise, my Etsy shop is going. I anticipate starting promotion by the end of the month and going public with it -- just a few more paintings to go!

P.S. I packed my suitcase full to the brim with nice clothes and a suit. And pantyhose. The same suitcase I used for Italy here --- conclusion? Get a suitcase this size -- it's quite versatile, apparently. 

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