The Great and Small Things I Learned in Physical Therapy School

I just made the title of this post and now I’m intimidated by it.

It’s a tall order to list all the great and small things I learned in all three years of physical therapy school, but I’ll try. It’ll be good.

(BTW, I’m a doctor now! I still need to take and pass my boards exam in July to be licensed, but I got the degree.)

This is my last “great and small things I’ve learned” post from my time at Boston University, and thinking about that just made my heart sink. Here are the ones I’ve written during my time in DPT school:

Let’s take a stab at reflecting on some of the great and small things I’ve learned throughout all of PT school, now that it’s over. I’m not going to look at any of my previous posts, so as to make this as candid and #raw as possible.

1) I am totally an external processor. Whether studying or figuring out the inner convoluted workings of my soul, talk talk talking is MAJOR KEY.

2) Starting a relationship while starting doctoral studies is challenging.

3) I truly had very little idea what was happening during my first semester of PT school. So much of what I thought I knew about physical therapy flew out the window, and I struggled greatly with the lack of context as I learned about so many different pathologies and interventions in a classroom setting. But it got better.

4) I learned how to embrace failure and let go of perfectionism.

5) It will always be worth it to reserve time and energy to pour into my faith and the community surrounding that faith.

6) That being said, I learned how to set boundaries between study time and my faith and social life. Not without a lot of struggle, strife, and sometimes hurt feelings, though.

7) I learned a lot about walking, and I can say with conviction that it is my favorite form of physical activity. It is one that I never want to take for granted.

8) Physical therapists help others to help themselves, and I love that about the profession. We want YOU to do the moving as much as possible, and we will help you get there.

9) My thoracic spine mobility is crap.

10) The answer to any of my personal problems is probably that I need to sleep and pray.

11) Having a diverse and loving group of friends in PT school is a blessing both in and out of the classroom.

12) In one instance, I cannot see myself doing anything but physical therapy. But in another instance, I can see myself doing something totally different.

13) Weaknesses really can become strengths, and often do.

14) I can spend a whole year with my friend, Janice, by my side and not get sick of her.

idk if it’s reciprocal though

15) The brain (and the whole central nervous system) is an absolute enigma and something that I wish to learn more about, regarding its relationship to and necessity for movement. Maybe one day I will pursue a neurological clinical specialty.

16) America runs on Dunkin’ and I still run on peanut butter and banana every day.

17) I have come to appreciate my family and my life situation more and more as time goes on.

18) Finding deep and abiding freedom, peace, and joy is of utmost importance to me, even if it hurts at first.

19) Many walls of pride have been burned down in different areas of my life, and that is exactly what I prayed would happen in January of 2017, well before PT school started. It has been a painful but very good process, and it never stops.

20) I think I’ve finally learned to try new things that are either neutral or good for me. Trying new things is not naturally my jam (see #16).

21) I can get close to running a half marathon if I don’t almost break my leg in the process.

22) I have learned how to have healthy confrontation and disagreement. I hate confrontation, but it can be extremely fruitful when done with respect, clarity, and charity.

23) It’s really nice to be in a class of people who want to help each other up the mountain.

24) Expect the unexpected.

25) Everyone always knows more than I do. I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way, but in an honest way. There will always be something someone else knows that I do not know. There will always be something that I can learn from any given person, whether that’s intellectually, academically, spiritually, emotionally, experientially, or physically.

our first Christmas / holiday season together as a PT cohort 🙂

25 is enough. It’s late now and, like I said, the answer is sleep and prayer. The true list of great and small things I’ve learned is inexhaustible, because the fruits of my experience in DPT school will continue to appear throughout my life.

There is nothing but gratitude and joy looking back at these last three years. Good grief is an appropriate phrase to describe it.

Thank you to all who made this possible, and thank YOU for reading along throughout this journey. I appreciate you.

I love Boston.

It’s too early in the week to be this emotional!

Essential physical therapists. Last night, my latest clinical instructor sent me photos of herself and other PTs decked out in PPE (personal protective equipment) up the wazoo. She and several other PTs have been working at the Boston Hope Medical Center, a field hospital at the Boston Convention and Events Center that is running solely for the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19. She updated me on how life has been working in a field hospital, which she says has been “amazing and interesting,” but she also hopes that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

MDs, nurses, PTs, OTs, RNs, SLPs, military personnel, and so many other health professionals are all working together day in and day out, which we all already knew, but I feel a renewed and deepened sense of pride in the profession of physical therapy, which yes, is an essential service for people with acute respiratory illness.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Marathon Monday in solidarity. Yesterday was Patriots’ Day in Boston, which is always the day of the Boston Marathon. The marathon has been postponed to September for obvious reasons, but Boston finds a way to grow stronger through this iconic event, even during a pandemic. For one, my BU PT classmates (all scattered across the country now) posted photos and routes of their short or long runs on a shared google drive, so that we could support and inspire one another in light of the circumstances.

I am blessed to live near downtown Boston, so I ran 2.62 miles there (total coincidence that it was exactly 1/10 of a full marathon) to the finish line on Boylston Street and then back home.

Some people were at the finish line waiting for their loved ones to finish the marathon, which several people unofficially ran yesterday anyway. What spirit!

Side note: I did not love running with mask. I would take it off when there was not a person in sight, but would put it back on when I approached people. Just a little extra cardiorespiratory challenge, but I suppose I can suck it up (literally) and offer it up for those with COVID-19.

Moves.

Saturday – Yoga video and walking.

Sunday – 100 burpees throughout the day + this fun workout (that included some of said burpees) with my kettlebell:

  • Squat clean and press (both hands on the KB) (3×12)
  • 10 burpees
  • Mini modified pull ups using the footboard of my bed (3×10)*
  • 10 burpees
  • Single arm KB cleans (3×10 each arm)
  • 10 burpees
  • Double KB swings (3×10)
  • 10 burpees
  • Asymmetric squat creeps (the last exercise in this link except with only one KB) (3×14 total, switch arms halfway)
  • 10 burpees

*I made this exercise up in an effort to mimic some sort of pulling motion. I might post it on my instagram story later. It looks silly, but it worked my lats. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Monday – 5.2 mile run

Gosh, I love Boston so much. I’m not leaving until July, but my heart is already breaking a teeny tiny bit.

It’s funny. I remember a very distinct moment in high school when my parents and I were visiting my brother (who went to Northeastern University) in Boston. We were driving behind Boston University’s campus on Storrow Drive. I looked out the window and thought, “Eh, I think I could do without a city like Boston.” Literal FOOL, Alison. I love being proved wrong by God in the best way possible.

I hope you are all having an excellent week so far.

So tell me:

Do you have a city that just steals your heart for one reason or another?

Any inspiring COVID-19 stories you’d like to share?

If you’ve been exercising recently, what have you been doing?

VLOG: A Day Off in St. Louis

Greetings!

Long time, no vlog. Not gonna lie, I filmed this vlog almost a month ago, and somehow I had not gotten around to editing and publishing it until today. However, a day off still looks quite like this one anyway.

Enjoy!

So tell me:

Do you like runny egg yolks?

What is your favorite meat marinade?

What are you grateful for today?

I Ate a Whole Humble Pie This Week!

Not just a slice. Like, God pie’d me in the face with the whole humble pie.

I’ve been home for only five days, and I feel like I have learned many humbling lessons. Let’s just say: If you ask God to humble you and teach you how to love others more deeply, He WILL. Not always in the way you expect/prefer, but He will.

Without boring you too much with all lessons I learned, I will share just one slice of this humble pie, which is my hip pain that I’ve been complaining about this past week. After consulting two physical therapists, we have concluded that it is very likely that I have a labral tear, which means I will not be able to run the Spartan Race in two weeks. I’m kinda crushed, but I am thankful for loving friends and family and the ability to still walk and move.

Time to get reacquainted with lots of yoga and Pilates!

Humble pie isn’t the only thing I ate at home (thankfully). There have been two birthday celebrations and much-needed family/friend time!

Thursday

Back in Boston, my day started with green banana silver dollar pancakes. Because I had time…

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…or so I thought. Until I left way too late for the bus station FOR NO GOOD REASON AT ALL and ended up having to run for the bus. I felt like such a dummy for leaving so late and almost missing my bus. I am often late to things, but this really woke me up. #humbled.

Thanks be to God, I juuuuuuuust made the bus and arrived to New York that night. My family welcomed me back with a belated birthday dinner at my favorite Japanese restaurant!

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fantastic fried calamari to start

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salad that came with my sushi dinner

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eel avocado, yellowtail, and tuna — all my favorites!

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“Ichiro Sushi Sandwich” — spicy tuna, lobster salad, crab, egg, avocado wrapped in soy paper

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Ben and Pop’s sushi and sashimi for two!

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celebrating 21 with a shiso leaf mojito — very tasty!

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We left full to the brim with sushi, so my dessert was a scrumptious mini pistachio muffin (made by my aunt) from our fridge.

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Friday

I started the day with Lori and Michelle’s great 18 minute plank workout, followed by a hearty breakfast.

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steel cut banana oats with cinnamon raisin pb + two eggs with veggies and sriracha

Madre and I went to get our nails done and then to shop at Trader Joe’s. It was a lovely mother-daughter date 🙂

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afternoon snack plate

We tag-teamed dinner — I made the brussels sprouts and she made the salmon (plus the leftover rice).

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Classic and so satisfying!

Saturday

Breakfast was small because there was a giant feast ahead!

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greek yogurt with bananas, cinnamon, and almond butter

Moves and grooves of the day included 45 minutes of YouTube yoga before we all got dressed up and headed to the Big Apple for Pop’s grand 50th birthday celebration! He wanted to go all out for his half-century on this planet, so we started with an uber fancy late lunch at Jean-Georges, a Michelin Star restaurant located in Columbus Circle. Ooooooooo la laaaaa.

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’twas such a gorgeous day!

After we took some photos outside, we stepped into the restaurant for our 2:15pm reservation.

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Pop wanted to do the spring tasting menu, which the waiter requested the whole table do. The birthday boy had spoken, so we went with the fixed spring tasting menu. It did not disappoint!

Bread basket: I went with a slice of the Swedish rye (smeared with butter), which was very textured and flavorful!

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Amuse bouche: sesame-crusted asparagus with yuzu sabayon + beet-cured salmon sashimi with chili pepper over sunflower seeds and yogurt + warm herbal tea. Everything on the plate was delicious on its own, and the herbal tea was more like broth, but very good!

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Course one: softly poached organic egg, caviar, whipped yogurt, herbs + buttered brioche stick for stirring and dipping. This was my favorite dish of the whole meal! That buttered bread stick with the soft egg and perfectly salty caviar — so unique and incredible.

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Course two: Madai sashimi, pastel radishes, nasturtium vinaigrette. This was very zesty and similar to ceviche. Refreshing and pretty to look at!

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Course three: warm green asparagus, sautéed sorel mushrooms, sherry vinaigrette. These were some of the best vegetables ever. Those mushrooms were so flavorful and meaty!

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Course four: slowly cooked bass, crunchy oat tuile, herbal lime dressing. Melt-in-your-mouth fish with great tangy dressing and some sort of pea puree. The crunchy oat tuile was so fun too!

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Course five: rack of lamb crusted with herbs, fresh chickpea puree, carrots, and aleppo pepper sauce. The best lamb I’ve ever eaten. The aleppo pepper sauce went so well with the meat, and everything on the plate just WORKED.

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Course six: strawberry gelée, frozen basil and vanilla morsels, crunchy tapioca pearls, strawberries. Insanely interesting. It was like the most sophisticated version of strawberry jello with dip ‘n’ dots you could ever imagine. I wouldn’t choose this dessert myself, but it was fun to eat and pretty tasty!

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Bonus dessert: Pop’s surprise chocolate birthday cake with raspberry filling

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Bonus dessert part two: homemade vanilla bean marshmallows, orange liqueur jelly, lemon curd-filled chocolates, basil chocolates, sesame caramels, chocolate liqueur-filled chocolate balls. They cut the marshmallows table side, which was the coolest. And all the chocolates minus the orange jellies were so interesting in a good way!

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he totally made his arm/hand positions perfect for my photo

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Utterly STUFFED. The food at Jean-Georges was ridiculously creative and well done, and the service was top-notch. Thank you, Madre and Pop, for letting us join in on this spectacular food experience!

After our long lunch, we gave Pop his cards…

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love how my aunt gave him a KIND bar in his card haha

 …and then walked over to Mass at St. Paul the Apostle Church, which is beautiful.

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Following Mass, we had another appointment at Minskoff Theater for the Broadway musical, The Lion King! We had heard rave reviews about it basically since we moved to New York, and this weekend was finally our time to see it.

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The show is really unlike any other Broadway musical I’ve ever watched. The characters are pulled off with ingenious costumes, humor and fantastic visual effects. And the singing and dancing is marvelous!

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Highly recommend 🙂 Such a heartwarming classic brought to life in an imaginative way.

Ben and I had a (literal) midnight snack at home and then we all hit the hay. What a wonderful day.

Sunday

Pop’s official 50th birthday! I slept in and then started on lunch for the fam. I needed a little snack though, so I ate some leftover salmon on a bed of spinach to hold me over.

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I grilled up some pancakes, roasted chicken drumsticks, and made Pop a chopped salad. Madre fried some plantains and helped me clean up a lot. What a team.

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After digesting, I laid low before doing a strength workout in the basement:

4 rounds:

  • 20 bentover rows (15# KBs)
  • 20 thrusters (36#)
  • 20 weighted setups (15#)
  • 20 donkey kicks each leg

(Walking and running hurt, but squats don’t hurt at all.)

Later that night, I met my high school dance friend, Susie, in the city for dinner! We met up at Cava, which is basically a Mediterranean version of Chipotle, except much better IMO. They give you so many toppings!!

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Susie recommended their juices, so we both got the strawberry mint lime. We tasted a bunch of them before deciding, and they were all so good!

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In my bowl: superfood greens, brown rice, harissa, eggplant feta dip, tzatziki, grilled beef meatballs, radishes, cucumber tomato salad, cauliflower quinoa tabouli, pita chips, and lemon herb tahini.

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RIGHT!? So much goodness! The company was the best part of the night though. It was so great catching up with Susie!

Monday

First thing in the morning, I dropped off Ben at the train station and then headed to the hospital I worked at last summer for one of my physical therapist friends to do a quick evaluation of my hip. She (along with my PT aunt) said that I probably have a labral tear. *sigh*

Head up, Alison!

I went back home for breakfast and a nap. I have been SO tired this week at home.

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greek yogurt, cinnamon, berries, chia seeds, purple corn flakes (!!), leftover pancake quarter, almond butter

The rest of my day involved Mass, some computer work and organization for school, and this Blogilates workout. I still want to move my joints and keep my muscles strong, but workouts are definitely very low impact and careful now.

At night, my high school friends Sam and Michael came over to hang out, which was so fun! We ordered pizza, and Madre (being the hospitable gem she is) fried up some egg rolls and TWO different kinds of pork.

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margherita

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veggie

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fried noms

And now it’s 1am and I should sleep, because next week I will be an 8-5 working human.

I hope you all have a lovely week! Prayers especially for all those in England and Europe in general ♥︎

So tell me: 

Which food in this post would you want to try!?

Two fun things you did this weekend.

What is your favorite musical?

Have you been humbled recently?

Ireland Soon, But Boston First

So much for shorter, more frequent posts.

Time got away from me as these past few days have been a whirlwind (← prepare to hear that from me for the next year or so).

I’m currently in Boston visiting friends for the week, but nothing for Ireland is packed. A week from now I will be almost 3,000 miles away from home. For four months. Hahaaaa whaaaaat.

But it has been oh so worth it to hop from one thing to the next though. Seeing friends in Boston has been lovely ♥︎

Highlights from these past four days:

FRIDAY

It was my last day of work at the rehab hospital, which was bittersweet for sure. This job that I almost didn’t get turned out to be one of the most eye-opening, enriching, and challenging experiences I have ever encountered. It has also reassured me that I do love the field of physical therapy *sigh of relief*.

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my “I’m running late on my last day of work” breakfast

The kind folks at work bought me lunch from a local deli that they had been raving about all summer long. I got the “Nello burger”, which was a chicken burger with provolone, broccoli rabe, cherry peppers, and balsamic glaze. Very tasty!

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I also snacked on some corn bread that I baked for everyone. Then they gave me the coolest gift a future PT (or any health pro) could ask for:

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*angels singing*

DOPE SCOPE.

Other than taking blood pressure with it, I’ll just stare at the stethoscope and talk about the future with it. Maybe name it.

Later that night I did a quick 16 minute workout, ate a leisurely dinner with our family friends who were staying with us for the night, and packed for Boston, which took way longer than I expected; I totally overestimated my ability to pack for dorm life for a week.

I was also scrambling to ask friends for a place to stay, because I am a bad planner/great procrastinator. I promised to be an indentured servant to them. (Thank you so much, Christina and Lauren!! ♥︎)

SATURDAY

I was a little stressed and very exhausted on Friday night, which is a perfect combo for insomnia for me. -_-  I got a wee four hours of sleep before we headed off to Boston the next morning, but God is generous and allowed me to feel surprisingly awake. I even drove the first shift!

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peach banana overnight oats in a jar made my life feel slightly more stable

We arrived in (HOT) Boston at around 10 am, where we helped my friend move into MIT. Their buildings are asymmetrical and unconventional, just like the talented and off-the-cuff students who attend MIT.

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who needs rectangular windows when you can pretend you’re in an airplane?

Later on, the fam hit the road again for home. I dropped off my stuff at my friends’ apartment and grabbed lunch at Crispy Crepes Cafe. They serve crepes galore and… Middle Eastern food? A combo that I think should exist in more places.

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I happily ran into my friend, Lauren, and her mom, so I hung out with them for a bit. Lauren and I went to meet her friends at Super 88 later, where I picked up some dinner (which I knew would make for a really cheap three meals!).

Just look at how beautiful Lauren is for a second:

I told her that our face shapes are extremely similar. Aren’t they?

Dinner in the apartment:

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I thought about seeing friends later that night, but my body wanted to sleep at 8pm after a night of sleeplessness before. I tried to sleep at 8, but I only quasi-napped for an hour before giving up on sleeping (damn insomnia). I played around on my phone and read blogs for an hour or so before closing my eyes again, when I finally fell asleep.

 SUNDAY

I woke up, ate breakfast, and then took a nap right after breakfast. That’s the way to live a Sunday!

I brought my own oatmeal, peanut butter and a few bananas for the week, so I mashed those all together for breakfast. I found some almond milk in my friend’s fridge, so I poured a bit of that on top.

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But as soon as I took my first bite, I thought, “Nooooope.” Spoiled almond milk. I had to dump the whole thing 😦 Apparently, expiration dates on almond milk don’t mean anything if it’s been open for a while anyway. I didn’t sniff-test it, and I paid for it.

Take two, no milk:

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I’ve eaten weirder things.

After breakfast and a nap, I worked out at my favorite place by the river. I did a random bodyweight strength-plyo-cardio workout that was hard, but it felt great to move!

I showered quickly and then headed to the Catholic Center for Mass. I got to see and hug many friends there, which made me very happy.

Lunch at Gyro City with some of said friends:

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I demolished the whole chicken gyro (with a honey mustard sauce, ooo!), and I must have used ten napkins. I need to work on jaw maneuvers to minimize the amount of food I get on my face. I also wouldn’t be surprised if I have a hand-eye coordination deficit, so..

Later on, I met up with Lauren for some coffee shop chat.

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blueberry ginger scone

We watched a few episodes of The Office while I answered some blog comments and emails. Then it was Back Bay Mobile Soup Kitchen time, with a bunch of inspiring young people, including Lauren!

I got back to the room at around 9:30, where I ate another third of the Super 88 meal while FaceTiming Rachel (she’s coming today!!!).

MONDAY

MOVING DAY!! I helped Lauren and Christina move their stuff from their summer apartment to their apartment for the school year. It was sweaty and ridiculous, but it was a good workout at least? Teamwork makes the dream work, as well.

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the haphazard life of college students

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puppy therapy

Lunch was the last third of the Super 88 meal. WHAT A DEAL. I just ate it with a box of spring mix that I bought on Saturday.

My friend, Evan, brought me some of his homemade yogurt, which served as a delightful post-move-in snack. The yogurt is so thick and creamy, and I loved that it wasn’t super sweet, even with the raspberry preserves. Thanks again, Evan!

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he even put it in a hipster mason jar

Later that evening, I met up with my peanut butter pal, Christina (@foodietunes)! Check out her apartment view:

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ARE WE KIDDING.

The inside of her apartment is also beautiful. But the best part of it all was seeing her beautiful face and getting to catch up!

After that, I took a much needed shower before eating dinner with Lauren and our friend, Ben, at Chipotle. My second time at Chipotle EVER.

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I tried sofritas for the first time, and it was good!

When I’m in college, I don’t think about food as much, because I kinda just need to eat, go places, do things, and see people. Eating is necessary and is good for conversation, but no one really dwells on food when we’re all having a good time or super busy, which is nice and different from being at home by myself when I have too many options and opportunities to eat whatever I want.

Lauren taught us how to play a board game called King of Tokyo, which I won! (Beginners’ luck, or perhaps as Ben insisted, “The game favored you from the start.” It’s because I’m Asian.)

Lauren also let me use one of her face masks and nose strips, because seeing gunk come out of your face is girly and fun! Girl talk 1also always comes on the side 🙂

TUESDAY

After another weird breakfast, I said goodbye to Lauren, because she went home for the week before school starts for them next week.

I exercised a little bit in the room and started this blog post before heading to Mass. I got a nice footlong from Subway for lunch to serve as two meals (#bargaining) and ate it by the river.

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roast beef, pepper jack cheese, spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomato, and honey mustard

Ahhhh I love this place!!

I went back to the Catholic Center to say hi and bye to Joe, since he stopped by for a bit. He promised me he would eat his vegetables in seminary, so I’m saying it here and holding him to it.

Then I asked my friend Nico if he wanted to come to the gym with me, and he agreed! We didn’t work out together, but at least we were working out in solidarity.

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Nico: “I look terrified.”

I hadn’t squatted something heavier than 36# in a long time, so I did Jen’s squat burpee ladder workout with 95#. I followed that up with some single leg deadlift with bent over rows, cleans and presses, jump lunges with a 10# plate, leg press, and kettlebell swings.

I ate an apple with peanut butter while typing up the rest of this post. Then I ate the second half of my Subway footlong for dinner (another great deal!).

Froyo and an evening walk with Nico, since all our other friends were either working or not here in Boston yet. But mostly since froyo and a walk with Nico sounded like a nice idea!

I am beyond thrilled to be here with friends. It’s also fun seeing all the baby freshmen getting stoked for their college journey (I say as if I’m thirty years older than them). I’m going to miss this city dearly this semester, but I’m excited for the adventures that God has in store for both myself and all my friends in Boston + family at home.

So tell me: 

College students: Does being with your college friends change your relationship with food in any way? 

Do you know how to use a stethoscope? Please tell me about other uses.

What is your favorite “bargain” meal purchase? Super 88 and Subway are pretty great options, I’ve found.