Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Life Lessons: A Mid-Year Review

Three days ago, after a long travel day from Eugene, Oregon to Peoria, IL, I came home for a month-long Christmas break. Looking back over a semester of travel, it is hard to believe how many places I’ve visited. Here’s a summary of statistics for you:

In 4 months, I
-have been on 16 visits to 14 different schools
-have taken approximately 40 flights, with many delays and one cancellation
-have never lost my luggage
-have slept in at least 25 beds
-have visited seven new states (Montana, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Colorado, Connecticut, and New Jersey)
-gained 7 lbs, but have lost almost all of it since the start of Thanksgiving break

I’m learning a lot too. I’m learning not only about myself, but about others.

Here are some Life Lessons, in no particular order:

Life Lesson #1 A sedentary lifestyle will make you fat.
Well, isn’t that an obvious statement? I never realized how active I was in college. I’m not even referring to exercise, but just moving around. I have been pretty good about working out regularly, but I don’t walk around as much as I used to. I never realized how much walking to classes and meetings burned calories.

Life Lesson #2 Eating at restaurants will also make you fat.
Restaurant food is much less healthy and served in much larger portions that what I would ever cook for myself. I grew up in a household where my family ate a homemade meal every night together. In college I had very selfish eating habits. I ate what I wanted and when I wanted. My theory on eating is if you’re hungry, you should eat. If you’re full, you shouldn’t eat. I’m also a bizarrely picky eater. I don’t think there’s any food I absolutely cannot handle, but I like to have a say in what I eat.

Life Lesson #3 People are nicer in the Midwest
This isn't to say I haven't enjoyed traveling around or that there aren't nice people everywhere, because there are. BUT speaking in terms of the larger population, I find this to be true.

Life Lesson #4 No one (besides consultants of other Greek organizations) actually understands what I do as a Leadership Consultant
I can explain it to you all I want, but you won't really get it, even if you're an undergrad sorority girl.

Life Lesson #5 Giving up all forms of partying and alcohol isn’t so bad
Believe it or not.

Life Lesson #6 I will never meet a cute boy in the airport
First of all, the average age of people flying is approximately 45 years old, unless you’re on a flight to Orlando, where the average age is 15. While there are some young people traveling around the country, there are also lots of older business men and women and retirees.

Life Lesson #7 I can survive off of fewer clothes than I would have guessed
The great thing about traveling to a different school every week is that no one sees my outfits twice. No one has to know that I wear this same outfit every single Monday. Does this mean I am forever reducing my wardrobe size? Sorry, no. I apologize in advance to my future husband out there, whoever he may be—I will always need a huge closet, and no, we can’t share. But at least I’ll be a pro for packing for vacations.

Life Lesson #8 Always eat breakfast before getting on an airplane
You're not going to get fed anything (unless you travel on Delta or Southwest, where you will get a small snack), and if your flight has braking and steering issues (ahem, my Orlando flight that was canceled), the delay will cause you to starve and/or go on accidental dates with creepy older men. (See my blog updates from early October if you need clarification.)

Life Lesson #9 Put the armrest down as soon as you board your flight
You need to define your territory, and if you don’t do it immediately, it gets awkward to try and do it later.

Life Lesson #10 Window seats are the best
All of my life my dad has been telling me to request aisle seats. Turns out he’s all wrong. Window seats are where it’s at (...at least this is true when you're a 5'7" woman. I can understand why a 6'+ man might enjoy the aisle)
-For me, plane time=nap time, and a window seat makes this so much easier. I don’t have room for one of those nifty little neck pillows, so I just bundle up my fleece and lean against the window.
-In the window seat, I also don’t have to worry about anyone bothering me to get out going to the bathroom.
-Window seats have the best view in the house.
-The space under the seat in front of a window seat is also larger than the aisle. (As soon as my dad reads this, he’ll start preparing his argument.)
-What we can all agree on however, is that the middle seat is the worst.

Life Lesson #11 There are some things you just can’t live without
Throughout the semester, my suitcase has gotten consistently more practical, but there are some things you just can’t live without. My most ridiculous items? A full size box of Q-tips, an anatomy coloring book, and a workout DVD. I was also carrying around a Halloween costume for two months.

Life Lesson #12 Packing your heaviest items in your carry-on isn’t always the smartest idea
In order to cut down the weight of my large suitcase, I decided that I would only put clothes and toiletries in it. (It still weighs 49.5 pounds.) My small suitcase, on the other hand, holds all of my heaviest items: all 6 pairs of shoes, hairdryer, diffuser, straightener, curling iron, any paperwork, stationary, a waterbottle, umbrella, jewelry case, electronics and chargers, glasses, and chocolate. You can imagine how helpful said suitcase would be if my large one were to get lost. Not at all.

Life Lesson #13 Unless my life is actually threatened, there is no situation I can’t deal with, or at least tough out
I realize now that too many people, including my previous self, spend too much time worrying. What is the worst that can happen in any given situation? Think about it. Hopefully this new "laid-back" attitude is not detrimental to my education in medical school.

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