School you guys, it was insane. Even though I occasionally complain about how busy I am, nothing prepared me for the “whoa” that was this past school year. Not only was it 194892401 times busier than any work day I’ve ever had, but it was essentially equivalent to (if not worse than) some of my craziest engineering semesters in undergrad. Columbia University…this school is no joke.

But this post isn’t to complain about my life and how I barely had time to grocery shop and shower (#truestory #everyminutecounts). I’m officially done with my postbacc premed studies as of May 12th.

Columbia University postbacc premed

As I sit here, with no more biology problem sets to complete or organic chemistry mechanisms to practice, I can’t help finally comparing my “adult student” self to who I was in college. It’s interesting to see how different my approach to school is now. I used to have an all-or-nothing mentality when it came to my schoolwork – it would come above everything else and I never really had any hobbies outside of the endless homework. In fact, it would give me such anxiety to have any sort of commitment that would require time away from doing homework, and this included working out, meeting up with friends, etc. I know right? After four years out in the real world, this pesky habit has officially (almost) kicked the dust. This time around, I refused to let my hobbies fall wayside to school. Running wasn’t going to be neglected for an extra hour or two of studying, a social life wasn’t thrown out for a tedious assignment. Balance, it’s a word that was very new to my life as a postbac student.

school joke

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve matured, and I would hope so! I graduated college at 22 years old and am now 27. Four years of life experience (prior to entering school last year) changed me and I wouldn’t wish it any other way. But it wasn’t all an easy-breezy experience. Being a student again was hard. It’s more challenging than I expected it to be. I’m obviously not old but there’s no denying that I don’t have the endurance of a youthful 20-year old who can power through on 3-4 hours of sleep. I also need more breaks during marathon studying sessions, something that’s new to me, especially considering my renowned ability to study for 12+ hours straight in undergrad without issues. On the bright side, at least these new qualities are the properly refined versions I would like to carry with me to medical school and beyond. It’s healthier that way!

sunset

But I’m done now, and I already miss school. I spent five weeks studying for the MCAT and took it mid-June. Needless to say, it was brutal/painful/rough/traumatizing. But it’s done now and I am now in the process of applying to medical school. It’s a year-long process and one that I’m anxious about, but it’s an exciting time for me. I quite literally crashed after the MCAT (on my couch), flew home, and have hung out in Chicago since. Balance right?!?

♥ Irina

Today is my first day of the fall semester! I actually started school this past summer, but this is the real deal. My schedule is jam-packed with what I consider my “serious” core courses – organic chemistry, biology, organic chemistry lab, and biology lab. Yikes.

I actually didn’t dress too poorly in my undergrad years, but I didn’t always put much effort into my appearance. I suspect I’ll act similarly this time around…ultimately all that really matters are my grades. But that doesn’t mean I’ll completely ignore my overall well-being! I’m older and wiser now, and dressing the part of a mature woman will help keep me sane this semester. Plus, when I look good, I feel good!

I’ve showcased some of my must-have items below, and they’re almost all tried-and-true because I actually own them!

Back to School (adult edition)

Dresses: long black dress | short-sleeve sweater dress

Make-up: Chanel eyeliner | YSL lipgloss | Tarte mascara

Jeans: skinny jeans

Sneakers: Converse

Tops: T-shirt | button-down

Coat: field jacket

Backpack: Everlane backpack

Glasses: Lulu Guinness frames

Snacks: Quest bars

What are your back-to-school must-have items?

♥ Irina

So I didn’t mean to disappear for almost two months, but whoa…it’s been an intense past few weeks. I’ve almost adjusted to my new routine, my new life, and hope to soon share all the details with you. But in the meantime, let me give you a high-level breakdown of what’s been happening since my last post on April 27th (yikes!).

* I spend one glorious week back home with friends and family, celebrating multiple baby showers and a few surprises that I’m not yet allowed to share (not my news to share!)

* I left my job

* I started school full-time at a formal premedical postbaccalaureate program to complete my premed requirements…for medical school

Columbia University

Life has been crazy, weird, insane, and so much fun. In all honestly and much to my own surprise, I easily eased back into life as a student despite being 4 years removed from undergrad. It’s been challenging yet incredibly rewarding and I still can’t believe I was brave enough to even start the (oh so long) journey to become a doctor.

So that’s that. I had some time to spare so I couldn’t resist popping in to say hello to all my old blogging friends. I miss you all and promise with all my heart that I’m not gone for good. I’m finally easing into this new life of mine, re-learning time management and all, so I’ll be back again shortly. Promise!

♥ Irina

The month of May always holds a special place in my heart. It’s a time of great endings and major transitions. While most of my friends have already long graduated from college (and especially high school), my Facebook is slowly starting to be filled with graduate school completion statuses. My university will always be near and dear to me – it’s safe to say that the four years I spent in college were easily the best years of my life so far. To celebrate my own 3-year post-graduation mark this upcoming weekend, I decided to share some photos from my own graduation in May 2011.

You can check out some of my old Flashback Friday posts here:
2007 High School Prom
2007 High School Turnabout Dance
The Love of my Life {HP}
2011 Dominican Republic Vacation
Ghosts of New Year’s Eve Past
Winter Holidays 2011

Thanksgiving 2011
Smell
The (High School) Student
2006 Paris Trip
Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day
Corkboard Memories

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I remember the first day I set foot on campus as an official student. The University of Illinois wasn’t even on my radar until I suddenly applied, was accepted, and ultimately chose the school. I still consider this to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

Flashback Friday College Grad

The cornfields didn’t phase me…I loved the college campus and the fact that the town was filled with everyone my age! Graduation definitely snuck up on me. One moment I felt that I still had years left for my studies, and suddenly I found myself walking down the stage to accept my diploma.

graduation

Fun story: I applied to school as an Economics major and two old friends actually spent one summer evening convincing me to study Engineering instead. When registering for classes that summer prior to the start of the fall semester in August, I sneakily signed up for a physics class because in my heart I knew my friends were right – I made a mistake when choosing my initial major. I was destined to be an engineer.

graduate

Fast forward almost 1.5 years later and I finally transferred into the School of Engineering. The entire process was lengthy but 100% worth it. My initial focus was on General/Industrial Engineering but my gut instinct told me that Civil Engineering was my true calling. One semester later, I swapped majors again and all was right in the world.

civil engineer

Four years, endless hours of studying, too many breakdowns, even more tears, and countless incredible nights out with friends. I will never forget how lucky I was that I let life lead me down this path without resisting.

sis and I

The day after graduation, my closest friends and ultimate study buddies gathered to have a photoshoot around our famous Engineering Quad.

graduate

You better believe we took full advantage of the semi-empty campus!

graduate

(My favorite photo! I couldn’t resist finally letting loose on my old stomping grounds.)

On the Bardeen Engineering Quad:

graduates

In front of the famous Grainger Engineering Library, where I spent so many hours studying:

graduate

Mr. Engineer and I had been eyeing each other for years already, so I finally decided to make a bold move. I slipped my hand over his shoulder…

graduate

…and casually leaned in for a kiss

graduate

I think he liked it! But sadly our short-lived romance ended there.

My friends and I couldn’t resist strolling up to the fourth floor of the library and, well…

graduate

…doing this!

I have so any more photos but I’ll spare you the annoyance of seeing my face over and over again.

It’s still shocking to think how quickly four years passed by. My final weekend there was filled with family, friends, and good wishes. Despite having no set idea on a career path other than the fact that it wouldn’t involve Civil Engineering (perhaps a story for another day), I waved goodbye to the precious campus that gifted me four unforgettable years.

Best of luck to everyone graduating this month! Welcome to the real world…

♥ Irina