Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! If you're like us, you may also be wondering where the summer went as you realize that Orientation Week is only one and a half weeks away. As the five of us busy ourselves with the last-minute, fine details of a jam-packed week, we have only one expectation of all 259 of you as we approach the big first day: enjoy the last minutes of your summer vacation and continue celebrating your accomplishment of your acceptance to U of T Med! Take the time to recharge your batteries that were probably drained during the past application year because you'll definitely need the energy before you jump right into a pretty busy semester! If you find yourself too excited for the first day to just sit back and relax, we have compiled a few suggestions for ways to fill your last days.
8. Move to Toronto and Explore the City
Trust me - as an out-of-towner, I can happily admit that the city can be complicated to master. Contrary to the popular belief of all native Torontonians that the city is easy to navigate, that Toronto is essentially a grid, that it's almost impossible to get lost, I would like to counter with the fact that I have gotten lost several times in the past year, that I've gotten on the wrong subway, and that I still sometimes can't figure out N, E, S, W without consulting good old Google Maps. Toronto is a fun city filled with different districts, different cultural neighbourhoods, and different festivals. Move in early and explore them while you still have the time! Highlights include the Distillery District, Harbourfront, Queen St. W, Bloor Street shopping, Kensington Market and Yorkville.
7. Go shopping for clothes, furniture, electronics
For people like me, moving in can be fun because my parents do the heavy lifting and I get to go to the furniture store and buy the fun stuff and decorate. When considering major purchases like tables, sofas, and paintings, make sure you not only visit the big stores like Ikea, Leon's, Sears, and The Brick, but also check out some antique stores in the Distillery District or in the Art and Design District on west Queen St. W, to name just a few. With so many of the condos looking the same, I will admit it's always nice to visit my friends' places and see some ecclectic pieces to separate them from others.
When it comes to attire, although the majority of your days will spent in comfy study clothing that make the bitter days at Gersteins and McCaul more bearable, there is that once-a-week ASCM day and several shadow days throughout the semester that require you to pepper your wardrobe with some professional clothing. A safe bet is to have at least four outfits that you can rotate through each month. Conventionally, the men stick to dress shirts (usually sans tie), dress pants, khakis, and loafers/dress shoes. Ladies, as a guide, the rules that applied for your medical school interviews generally apply here as well; that means dress shirts, cardigans, dresses, skirts, dress pants, flats, professional heels, etc. Nothing too low and nothing too short is usually acceptable!
Now we get to the fun one - electronics! If you are like me, your trusty laptop got you through the bitter battle that was undergrad. I'm sure you've received the emails from the faculty highlighting that we have gone paperless at U of T med. This means that all of our lecture notes are accessed electronically with minimal print-outs. For many of us, that meant exploring the new territory of tablets, iPads, and fun and/or medical apps. You can certainly wait until school starts to see how necessary it is to get these things but it's also totally appropriate to start seeking advice from the computer/electronic experts even in the summer when the sales start! In my opinion, buying a tablet made taking notes really easy and its portability added to the convenience but I have many peers who used their laptops all year and loved it just as much. Consult with the sales reps at Best Buy, Future Shop, Apple store or start a topic on the forum to find out which tablet/smart device is for you.
Time to see what that line of credit is made of!
6. Read a Book!
I know this seems like a boring option but in all honesty, read for fun in these last few days - whether it's a medical non-fiction/biography or a totally fiction sci fi novel - because you won't have much time for it in the school year. I've compiled a list of recommended books for medical students (found on different lists on the internet) but of course, these are just simple suggestions if you're in a literature rut!
The House of God - Samuel Shem
Complications - Atul Gawande
Better - Atul Gawande
The Checklist Manifesto - Atul Gawande
The Soul of a Doctor - Susan Pories
White Coat - Ellen L. Rothman
Mountains Beyond Mountains - Tracy Kidder
The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat - Oliver Sacks
The Optimism Bias - Tali Sharot
Gifted Hands - Ben Carson
5. Buy/Create your Costume, Outfits
During Orientation Week, we have a variety of fun activities for you - from camping to dinners to a blast from the past party, you are all in for a fun end to your summer. If you haven't had a chance to look at the most recent updated schedule, take note that the final event of the week is a 1920s party where we're hoping that everyone will come dressed in Great Gatsby-esque type attire. Head out and buy a costume or simply Google a picture and design your outfit yourself! Additionally, the CN Tower and Stethoscope Ceremony requires more elegant, formal attire - plan ahead and buy dresses/suits if you need to!
4. Travel, Travel, Travel!
For the lucky few, you may be sprinkled across the globe as you read this, exploring the rainforests of South America, sight-seeing in Europe, or eating all of the delicacies in Asia. But if you're not and no longer have any work obligations for the rest of the summer, try getting one last adventure in. Maybe plan an impromptu camping trip up in Algonquin Park or hit up your family/friend's cottage for the rest of the week. If all else fails, there are always amazing Groupon deals on last-minute getaways to a multitude of destinations, like Chicago, Las Vegas, Florida, etc! A huge bonus is that you have something cool to say about your summer when you meet people during Orientation Week.
3. Work out and playyyy ball
Enjoy the summer weather while the hot sun is still making an appearance! I can't even begin to describe how frigid and cold this past winter was (did someone say "polar vortex"?). Although I hope a winter like that doesn't show up again this year, I am making sure to enjoy the heat now because I know I'lll regret it once the temperatures dive down again. There are a ton of beautiful parks in Toronto for you to enjoy, including Trinity Bellwoods Park on the west end, Toronto Music Garden on Harbourfront, High Park, and Riverdale Park. Toss a football or frisbee around, go for a jog, play soccer, or head down to the beach for some beach volleyball. If you've gotten rusty at a particular sport that you love, try practicing again so you're in good shape for when intramural teams start forming during the school year!
2. Spend time with family and old friends
Rumour has it that once you're in medical school, you no longer have a life or time to see old friends and family. This isn't necessarily true. Medical school is very busy but there is time to see family and friends. There are periods of time when there aren't exams and you can go and visit home or go out for dinner with old friends; however, it may not be as much as you were used to in the past. The school year is busy but a big lesson to learn is that although there are always tasks to do, it is important to say no to people and to those pressing things on your to-do list in order to devote time and attention to existing relationships. At the end of the day, the people you surround yourself with will help support you in the most trying of times so it is important to maintain those relationships. Take advantage of this free time and go out for dinner with your parents, siblings, partners, friends, roommates. If you're moving to Toronto from far away and don't know when you'll see these important people next - remember, it's not "goodbye", it's "see you later".
Sleep all day. Sleep all night. Sleep in. Sleep in your bed. Sleep on the couch in front of the TV. Whatever your preference is, enjoy sleeping for 8+ hours because you will need it to make up for the lack of sleep that may come in the next few months.
Sorry if this list seems intuitive but upon reflecting over the past year, I can honestly say these are the things I wish I did before I got started. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you enjoy yourselves and don't stress out (yet!). And if you do stress out, try to figure out ways to destress and effective coping strategies/outlets now so that you're prepared for the year.
Can't wait to meet you!