Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Baby Joe is Freshman in College and Jonathan is in 2nd year Med school.

Time flies and we are entering the 'empty nest' stage of our life. We have been much more relaxed to the youngest one since he was born, everything has been 'whatever.' Although he did not have as high grades as my older two in high school, he was still in the top 10%. My oldest son never played any online games, the second one quit when he was a Junior in high school, but Joe did not quit even in Senior year when he supposed to prepare for his SAT and ACT tests. When I caught him playing online games after work, I was upset, so his dad told him not to let me catch him playing games. He said "now your mom is not happy, so no one is happy. You know she is coming home after 5, so why not stop playing before mom returns home." He found an SAT and ACT online training for Free but you could also pay for more training. Half way into the Summer, he was still not making further progress. I said "Maybe you have to pay the site in order to make progress or you are making circles and not getting anywhere. It turns out I was right, his SAT and ACT scores were average.
     He did not get accepted into Middlebury (Ranked 4 Liberal arts colleges) and he was sad because he could not join his brothers. He finally stopped playing online games. He decided to go to St Michael's (Ranked 99), 50 miles away from Middlebury, also in VT. 
Middlebury College Virtual Campus Tour
I Like St. Mike's
     We all love the natural rural setting of the small college, not too far but away from home to give him room to grow more independent. He did not make it to Middlebury, but he was the one made it to the State Competitions for track. Jonathan is in med school now and his brother Richard learned all the mistakes from his older brother, and he got much better MCAT scores and is now aiming better Med school. Joe on the other hand wants to major in Pharmacy, so he could help his brothers.
     Ivy league College rejection did affect Jonathan a lot on his confidence. First year College was difficult for him, all his school years before college, his grade was never below "A". He got his first "C" on linear algebra in college. His classmates dropped the class left and right, only Asian stayed. He thought he was half Asian, he tried his best and still got a "C". He said one of his Asian classmates did not even come to the class yet got an "A" because he already knew everything the professor taught in class. The "C" made him think he was not that smart, he was wondering what kind of major was better for him.
     It took almost 3 years for Jonathan to decide what he wanted to do with his life. He thought about majoring in writing since he used to get 100 in high school, writing was easy for him. His professor disagreed with some of his views and wanted him to change an essay in order to pass. He picked a very difficult subject "Hitler's Childhood", and he thought he did a very deep research on the subject. He also disagreed with his professor about some of the literature. So he gave it up.
     He thought about becoming a musician, he joined the college Orchestra and continued his private violin lessons. His new violin teacher was from Massachusetts, and a wealthy family in VT let the teacher use the family heirloom violin with the condition she had to spent time teaching violin in VT. Therefore she drove 4 hours each week to VT to teach violin, and Jonathan was one of her students. I reminded Jonathan about his older cousin who was majoring in music but abandoned his career altogether in order to feed his family. I used to give his high-school violin teacher a ride to the subway, since he had nothing except his violin. We used to see musicians in Cambridge with one hand carrying a musical instrument, the other hand a plastic bag to find soda bottles to return for 5 cents. If you want to be a musician, you have to prepare to be poor.
     He then tried to be geologist, I encouraged him since both of my parents were geologists. Anthony's father started his college wanting to be a geologist; he even gave his rock collection to Jonathan. He joined a senior field trip to White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns National Park. He did not want to become a geologist because he did not like to camp out that long. So he still wondered but decided on Biology for a major in his second year. He said he likes teaching children, so he could be a high school teacher.
     The 3rd year study abroad in Germany helped him determine what he wanted to do for his life. Compared to his high school German trip staying with a host family, German college classes were very different, and he also felt alone and really felt what it was to be a foreigner. His German was not good enough for the German junior college course, so he made an appointment to ask the professor questions, but only found that the professor's door was closed, so he waited an hour outside of his office hoping he would show up, but his professor was inside waiting for him. He did not knock on the door because his professors in the US do not close their doors unless they are not there.
     He had to buy food and cook his meals; the college cafeteria only served lunch like dinner. He was not used to eat such a big lunch. He had 3 German students sharing the living suite space; they were friendly to each other, but still spent most of his time with the other American students there. One weekend when we Skyped, he said "Mom, you should be happy that I joined Tai Chi class here in Germany". I asked "by a Chinese teacher", he said "No, a German", I said "A German went to China and learned Tai Chi", he said, "No, he never went to China, but learned from another German". I was a little skeptical but happy he was trying to find a way to manage his stress. One day in his Tai Chi class, a German girl next to him suddenly dropped to the ground, having a seizure, he was shocked and froze with panic, he did not know what to do. He wanted to help her, but did not know how. From the far corner of the room, a medical student ran over and performed CPR on her before the ambulance came and took her away. She was a pretty and slender young student and looked healthy to Jonathan. From that moment, Jonathan wanted to be a doctor, he wanted to be like the other medical student. To make sure, he applied to a non-paid internship at Charité in Berlin where he ended up paying over 600 Euro/month for rent and got up at 5 AM in the morning to take a bus to the hospital to be a surgeon's nurse's assistant. He saw the dying patients for the first time, trying his best to help them. He was eager to get up in the morning and he looked forward to see his patients. One of his patients told him that he was a "mother without breast" in German (a German expression). He also had a paid internship in Heidelberg University to help a PHD student with robotic micro surgery research to see if he liked medical research better. He liked to be a doctor to interact and help patients, not a nurse following doctors directions. He made his decision.
     The fourth year back to US college was the most difficult year in his 4 years college life, he had to take all science classes to be pre-med biology major. He did not have enough science classes. Since he is finally focused now, his grades were also the best and he received his first award from the dean, but his overall GPA was on the low side for trying to get into med school. He was competing with the kids who wanted to be a doctor since high school. His college mates suggested him to pay for online MCAT training but he did not want to pay thousands of dollars. Books only cost $400, he wanted to work it on his own, but his testing score was low. He took an EMT training and passed the test. He went to working for an EMT ambulance while waiting to see if any med school accepted him. He did not get accepted by any of the MD schools, but one DO school took him in so he was very happy. Yes, his brother Richard wants to do better than him. Talking about 'sibling rivalry.'