The date of graduation draws nearer as I mark off my call nights one by one, it is inevitable to have gatherings after gatherings with the different groups of people that I have bonded over the years. Depending on the subject of my dinners, I either end up broke, or enjoys a free meal with my teachers. With classmates we usually go dutch with the bill, but just to think of parting with some of my closest friends after July breaks my heart.
Whether I liked it or not, I will have spent 7 years in Hualien come September. I did not like this place when I first arrived. I thought Hualien was boring, gloomy, sleepy little town with no prospects. Not very much changed since then. However, Hualien began to grow on me. Whenever I wear myself out in Taipei or lost wondering in a foreign city, I start to miss the familiar food and humidity of the mountainside town with towering, lush mountains facing the pacific (once in San Francisco I actually mumbled out loud "I live just across the ocean,"). Under a mix of circumstances I decided to stay for an additional year. The sadness of leaving is delayed but I doubt I'll have an easy time not missing it when the time arrives.
Some ordinary classmates had became daily work partners for me since clerkship. We became a network of friendly opposing extended families with frequent gossiping and scandal spreading typical of couples who are forced to stay together for 7 years. 7 years - not an easy feat for people you don't like, but never enough time for the people you cherish. Nevertheless, it is only remarkable to watch how everyone grew to become better individuals as we recall our very first impressions of each other - the naive, raw, and boundless ambitions of doctoring which are subsequently trimmed, robbed, or even buried alive by a stifling national health system. No doubt some of us still retain the passion of servitude and treating the sick, but whether the fire is still alive at the end of residency remains to be observed.
For those who knew me from the very beginning of blogosphere, many knew coming to study in Taiwan has never been part of the plan. It was more of an accident. A happy accident that transformed my life into what it is today.
I have many regrets that I shall carry with me through graduation. The most notable being participating very little in co-curricular activities during my early university life. As a result I constantly try to encourage younger juniors to be less studious and just enjoy life as it is. And I'm so glad most of them struck a good balance between work and play.
Being in Hualien can exclude you from many transformative events happening elsewhere. The few inspiring individuals we met over the years nevertheless contributed to sculpting into what we are today. From brotherly residents to respectable professors and power people, they fill hospital corridors with memories of nervous morning conferences, sleepless call nights, rushed lunches, and aimless banter to kill time before 5:30 pm.
It will be a huge leap out of the comfort zone after graduation. Meeting new people, shouldering extra responsibilities, and keeping up with more work in lieu with a mature medical professional in the making. Sadly for Taiwan, not everybody looks forward to it. But for now I think I shall just rejoice with the thought of my MD degree within grasp in the following week!
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