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On Biking

Adam O., M1  

Adam enjoying a long ride with friends.

I grew up biking in California and then Utah during college. I love road biking, and St. Louis doesn’t disappoint! There are countless trails to explore and safe roads where you can drop the hammer and spin to your heart’s content. A personal favorite is following Conway Road west. By no means is it flat (even though everyone will tell you St. Louis is flat) and it’s especially beautiful in the fall. It is noteworthy that Conway Road doesn’t have a bike lane, but it’s not a busy road and the cars have always been courteous. Other great trails include Grant’s Trail, the Riverfront Trail, Madison County Schoolhouse Trail, Des Peres Greenway, and the Katy Trail. The Katy Trail is a compact gravel trail (my road bike does fine on it) that has a lot of branching trails to explore. A classic, easy ride is through Forest Park with interlocking trails and fun sights. If you’re looking for a bike, WashU has a bike rental service called Bears Bikes that provides mountain, hybrid, and single speed bikes. I love cycling here. Come find me if you have any questions about riding. Also, join the Krebs Cyclers if you’re looking to ride with a group.

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On Cooking

Vera T., M1

When people learn that I make time every weekend to prep meals for my fiancé and I, they think I must be terribly organized. That is so not the case! I’m a mess, and I can’t ever make time in the evenings after school to cook. A big block of time on the weekend, combined with the threat of having nothing to eat but freezer pizza and leftover lunch talk food (plus maybe some wine), is what it takes for me to get the cooking done. Although it is necessary, I’ve come to enjoy the time I carve out for cooking each week. It’s an opportunity to step back from intellectual pursuits and get in touch with my senses  to taste, smell, and feel the food I’m making. Making this time and using it to create good food that will sustain my fiancé and I all week feels like a true investment in self care. I have a lot of fun researching recipes and deciding what to make. Random moments when I’m sitting around at school and feeling hungry are prime time for searching out new recipes. My fiancé and I moved to St. Louis from the Southwest, so I’ve been figuring out how to create some of our favorite Southwestern inspired recipes for us here. I’ve done okay finding ingredients such as spicy chiles. Sometimes, not being able to find just the right ingredients has pushed me to learn how to make my own. I started making my own Harissa paste and it is so, so good, I’m never going back to store bought. I also recently bought the book Salt Fat Acid Heat and have really enjoyed challenging myself to take some recipes to the next level by incorporating new techniques.

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On Dancing

Ashley A., M1

Dance has always been a part of my life. Between supporting my sisters during competitions or performing myself, dance is basically ingrained in my DNA at this point. During undergrad, I tried a belly dance class and completely fell in love. While the moves are relatively simple individually, I enjoy the physical and mental challenge that comes with layering movements on top of each other and connecting them seamlessly. You truly have to clear your mind of distractions in order to master a move, and when I finally overcome the “ugly duckling” phase that comes with layering correctly or getting down a finger cymbal combination, it is such a rewarding feeling.

When I chose to come to WashU, I was a bit concerned about finding a studio, but with some help from my previous instructor and the internet, I discovered that St. Louis has so many options for belly dancing: traditional Egyptian, Salimpour style, and tribal fusion. I started out with the Egyptian format, and in block two, I’m going back to my belly dance roots and adding on Salimpour style. Maybe, if I’m crazy enough and can find the coin, I’ll eventually tack on tribal fusion because I really want to balance a sword on my head. So basically, don’t worry if your hobby is niche because St. Louis will have it, and I apologize in advance when (not if) you catch me practicing my undulations in public.

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On Hiking and Exploring Nature

Rachel B., M1

View from the bluffs overlooking the Meramec River in Castlewood State Park.

I can drive 30 minutes in any direction from St. Louis and find myself in the wilderness (or at least in the cornfields). Beyond having Forest Park in my backyard and the Missouri Botanical Gardens nearby, there are many places where I can hike, camp, swim, or otherwise enjoy the outdoors. Castlewood State Park is only a half-hour away and is a great place to hike, swim, and mountain bike. Other relatively nearby hiking areas include the Lewis and Clark trail, Cahokia mounds (an ancient Native American city), Elephant Rocks State Park, and the Ozarks and Johnson’s Shut-Ins. The WildMed club provides us with free camping gear rentals and organizes wilderness-related events, making it even easier for me to get out there and explore.

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On Playing a Musical Instrument

Ryan W., M1

Ryan playing his bass in a performance.

Performing as a cellist continued to be an integral component of my lifestyle throughout college, and I had no plans to put the instrument down in medical school. Luckily, WashU is incredibly accommodating to rehearsal and performance. The Core, adjacent to the medical school, has a practice room (furnished with two high quality electric pianos!) open to all medical students at any time. Several student groups set up opportunities for musical performance: Music in Medicine organizes weekly concerts in the BJC south lobby, the Geriatric Outreach Group held a concert in a retirement home, a coffee-house performance series is held in the FLTC hearth…the list goes on and on. For those missing the experience of performing in a large orchestra/band, the university has a symphony orchestra, wind ensemble, and jazz band open to any students upon audition. Please don’t hesitate to bring your musical talents and share them with the WashU medical school community!

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On Playing Ultimate Frisbee

Lizze T., M1

Lizzie (right) giving it her all during practice.

Like many young athletes that missed the mark for varsity college athletics, I started playing Ultimate Frisbee at the beginning of the freshman year of undergraduate. By the time I decided to move to St. Louis for my gap year, I knew that I would maintain Ultimate Frisbee as a primary part of my free time. What I didn’t know, or expect, is that St. Louis Ultimate is a vibrant and close-knit community that not only welcomes but encourages and nurtures players of all abilities and experiences —  from players that have never touched a frisbee before to players who have competed on the national club and professional levels.      

For me, Ultimate provides me with a community outside of the medical school, because, while I love my class dearly, I do sometimes benefit from the company of people who don’t know what the acronym MFM stands for. As a club and a league player, I commit a lot of my time (especially in the summer) to Frisbee, and I am still able to balance my school work and med school social events, but the different levels allow you to do as much (or as little) as you want! Frisbee has been a huge stress reliever for me, and I encourage everyone to give it a try!

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On Running

Emma P., M1

Emma competing in the Boston Triathlon this past summer.

As a former collegiate distance runner, running has long been a constant in my life. With so many things going on in med school, it would be easy to rationalize skipping my run, but I’ve come to realize that running gives me a sense of consistency and balance. It provides a time for me to step away from the craziness going on around me and re-center. Whether it’s an early morning run towards the Arch, an afternoon run towards Tower Grove, or an evening run in Forest Park, I try to get a run in almost every day, but I also don’t beat myself up if I take a day off. It’s always nice to run with friends, and running has been a great way to get to know my incredible classmates. I’ve also discovered a strong running community in St. Louis, and I’d definitely recommend checking out the Go! St. Louis running club — they have a really awesome training group (if 6 a.m. runs are your thing) and they also organize a ton of great races on the weekends.

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On Sailing

Kristin P., M1

Kristin and a WashU sailing teammate practicing at Creve Coeur Lake in the fall.

With the rigors of med school looming on the horizon, I knew my lifelong hobby of keelboat cruising and my newer dedication to offshore passagemaking would not be sustainable, given the travel time and expenses involved. Still, I neither wanted to backslide in the skillset I’d honed, nor completely give up the time on the water I craved. 

My solution has been twofold: I joined the Wash U Sailing Team and take online NauticEd classes. The Sailing Team is mostly undergrads, but they welcome graduate and professional students. It is open to total beginners and experienced sailors alike. (I’m a true beginner in the world of dinghy racing; it’s completely foreign to me, but I still feel welcome.) Practice is held on weekends out at Creve Coeur Lake and goes for a few hours. They hold practice until the weather gets too cold in the winter and pick up again when it warms up in the spring. You can attend or skip as many practices as you’d like, so the team will never interfere with your med school commitments. NauticEd has been another great tool for continuing to grow as a sailor from the comfort of my couch. Other options for getting on the water include crewing for the Creve Coeur Sailing Association or the Carlyle Sailing Association. All of these things can be found on Facebook, or come find me, and I’ll hook you up!

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On Sewing

Maggy B., M1

Maggy, wearing the jaw dropping GI tract Halloween costume she made herself, poses with anatomy professors Dr. Ritzman and Dr. Morhardt.

Sewing is one of my more time-consuming hobbies. I thought I’d have to drop it when I started medical school due to time constraints, but I’ve totally had time to indulge during my first year! St. Louis has access to a bunch of workspaces and cute little sewing shops, and it has been such a nice mental break to have something creative to focus on. I ended up sewing a whole elaborate anatomy-themed Halloween costume and still had time for school and other stuff, so you can and definitely should take your hobbies to med school with you!

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On Starting a New Hobby

Kristin P., M1

A few years ago, I became obsessed with Irish fiddle. Don’t ask me why, because I can’t tell you, I just did. I ended up buying myself a fiddle on Amazon (don’t do this), had it restrung and started teaching myself to play (badly) using online tutorials. I let this lapse while applying to med school, because well, you know how that goes, and I wondered if I’d ever recommit to my interest. Fast-forward to med school orientation, when I discovered our POM course director, Dr. Yau, is an Irish fiddler. I reached out to him about my interest and he happily put me in touch with an instructor friend of his; I started taking lessons in September. My lessons are weekly for an hour, and I practice anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour each day. Taking up a new hobby first semester of M1 might sound crazy, but I am so glad I did. When I fiddle, I have to be completely focused on what I’m playing, otherwise I’d make even more mistakes. This forces me to truly tune out from my med school studies, if only for 10 minutes. It has been rewarding and confidence boosting to put my energies into something challenging other than school and witness myself improve.

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On Weightlifting

David L., M1

Coming into med school, I was convinced all of my gains from undergrad would vanish, but boy was I wrong. I’m hitting personal bests on all lifts (except squats) thanks to my M1 gym bros keeping me accountable. The gym at the Core is super convenient; you can get a great pump right after class and look jacked when you head back to Becker/carrels/your favorite study spot to procrastinate and pretend to study for the rest of the day. The gym at the Core has all the essentials for lifting/cardio and is only really busy around 5 p.m. It is shared with other professional students, which I find nice because a workout environment with only people you know is kind of strange. If you want to see more people in undersized tanks covered in chalk, you can head to the Danforth Campus gym, which has been recently built and contains more racks, platforms, and machines. I recommend the Danforth Campus gym for deadlifting since the Core gym does not have the best platform. Most days, though, you can find me in the Core gym, making underwhelming jokes connecting our physiology course to lifting.