A brief digression into urban decay.

This month’s Cream City Flickr Photowalk took us a little off the beaten path for a short exploration of a bit of Milwaukee that most people don’t ordinarily see. The rain ended in time to keep our equipment dry and the clouds stayed thick enough to provide nice, even lighting in the open (with some nice directed light in certain areas).

I know I’m well and truly late to the iPhone game (I stopped caring about being an early adopter a long time ago), but I couldn’t help but be a little amused at the iPhone user subgroup within our cadre of Cream City Flickreenos.  Truth be told, the iPhone is far and away the best pocketable device for showing off photos, so it’s only natural that a lot of us have them.

[Oh yeah… I decided to screw Direct Fulfillment and try my luck at the Apple Store. So, last Thursday, I removed my employee discount (to allow activation at the Apple Store) and then went to Mayfair. Incredibly enough, after a half-hour of waiting in line (and another half-hour of activation pains), I walked out with a 16 GB black iPhone 3G. I then put back my employee discount on the line. There were still complications–namely that my iPhone data plan was not actually added and I had to fix that with customer service–but it’s been a blast so far.]

Speaking of the iPhone, I’ve been spending too much time browsing the App Store. Thankfully I think I’ve walked through all the store has to offer to date and snagged everything that I think is vaguely useful (and free–I’ll wait a bit on the purchases).  One app has caught my attention–Twinkle. It’s a Twitter app that leverages the location services of the iPhone to create a virtual community of local users whose updates you can browse through. The level of connectivity it provides through this simple feature is pretty impressive, I must admit–it was enough to make me actually get a Twitter account. The level of activity in Milwaukee is decent, but I can only imagine what it is like in a larger area like Chicago or New York.

Perhaps relief?

The post-baccalaureate pre-med program at Northwestern assumes that you are a complete career-switcher (for instance, you studied the humanities in undergrad) and have never taken any of the med school prerequisites in college. With that in mind, they provide a structured program with chemistry, physics, and biology courses that should satisfy most medical schools’ requirements for admission.

All well and good, but I did happen to take some of the prerequisite courses–definitely physics, and maybe one or more chemistry classes (general and physical). Now, back when I formulated my plan of working before going to med school, I got the impression that my college credits would be good for about five years before I’d have to take them again. Given that it’s been six years since graduating, I have been preparing myself to retake some classes that probably I don’t need to take again, like physics. At a rate of ~$1300 per class, though (and I would have to take three physics classes), if I can get away with not having to retake classes, I’d certainly save some money.

The admissions counselor at Northwestern with whom I spoke said that it’s a good idea to find out directly from the schools I’m interested in what their policies are regarding academic requirements. So, I sent out emails asking about how recently prerequisite classes need to have been taken to the addresses I could find for the various admissions departments of the schools in the area: Northwestern, UIC, Rush, UofC, UW-Madison, and MCW (Loyola admissions doesn’t have an email address published, only a phone number). Registration for fall classes at Northwestern has started and it would be a good idea to know whether or not I really need to take chemistry and physics this upcoming quarter…

The responses? So far, no one has said that there’s any “expiration date” on credits. Hooray! Pre-med might not be so expensive after all! 🙂 Now, all I have to do is try to remember just what classes I did take back in college and match those up against the schools’ requirements…

And so, the journey begins.

As I begin to execute parts of my exit strategy from my current job (engineer) to points unknown (med school), I thought I might start to chronicle on this site my journey out of the desert.

It all started with an informational session at Northwestern University for their pre-medicine professional development program–well, to be really honest I guess it started back when I was still applying for the job I have right now. I was pretty up-front then when I said I intended to stay only for a couple of years before transitioning to med school. Now…it’s been five years (six since graduating) and I figure I’ve put in my time (woot–three weeks of vacation!) and can move on now. Only problem is those pesky prerequisite courses I need to get into med school, and the question of whether my undergraduate credits still apply. (Do I really need to take physics all over again? I aced it back in college, and I’ll do fine it if I have to take it again… but that would be such a waste of time and money.) So I figured the program at Northwestern was the best option as it is structured and offers guidance for a career-changer like me.

Knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel (for this stage of my life, at least) and seeing that light have an effect on one’s outlook in life. Admittedly, I’ve gotten myself into a comfortable rut, but I could definitely do without corporate politics and the general malaise that accompanies life in an office. Were the years I’ve spent working a waste? I don’t think so. I think I’ve grown and matured a lot since I started and has given me a bit of perspective. But I can’t help but think… when I finish my prerequisites, I’ll be close to 30, then in my mid-30s when I finish med school… a part of me thinks that that seems so… old. (I know it’s not necessarily old, but still.) Shouldn’t I be settling down and raising a family by then? It’s trains of thought like that that give me pause as to whether I should be doing this at all, but deep down I am confident this is for the best.

So, here I am today, in the middle of taking a biology course at Northwestern (I’m a student again! Haha. STUDENT DISCOUNTS, BITCHES.) and trying to juggle work at the same time. Challenging? Definitely. The long commute from WI makes things interesting (and makes me question whether I shouldn’t just quit my job right now and move to Chicago) and is a strain on my wallet, to be sure. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to pull this off without too much financial hurt.

If nothing else, the trips to Evanston have infused a part of my weekly routine with the environmental stimulation you can only get in a big metropolitan area. And it’s made me remember how much I miss living in a big city.