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When you’re undergoing medical training, sleep is a luxury you grab every chance you get – be it an uninterrupted 12-hour slumber after a 30-hour duty at the country’s busiest labor and delivery room, a 2-minute snooze propped on the wall of the Radiology Department as you wait for the resident to give you a wet read of your trauma patient’s x-ray slide, or those rare but oh-so-priceless 1-hour naps on a foam-less, blood-tinged stretcher in the operating room just before the OR nurse rudely wakes you up by rapping her knuckles on the very piece of cold, hard metal you are resting your battered body on.

That’s why the concept of being home in bed all day for a year is the epitome of indulgence for me. Not spending summer days in Cebu lying down on a hammock under a palm tree while eating fresh fish; not spending an afternoon strolling around beautiful French gardens; not driving through the breathtakingly beautiful roads of the Salzkammergut. Nope. I’m a simple girl: heaven for me is a restful, uninterrupted sleep. In my own bed, in my own home. And I really thought I could keep at it for an entire year, given the opportunity.

I officially finished my dermatology residency training last December 2015. From January to July 2016, I did nothing but study for my specialty board exams. Well, okay, that’s not very accurate.

In March 2016 I spent three weeks going around the islands in the Visayas. In May 2016, I spent 10 days going around Busan and Jeju. The rest of the time I spent at home and some days at the clinic, and my usual daily routine went like this —

The daily grind

9:00 AM – wake up; go through Facebook and Instagram; scroll through 9gag

(not pictured: my unappealing woke-up-like-this face)

10:00 AM – have a quick brunch!

Healthy brunch fish steak and salad

(not pictured: the big bowl of banoffee-flavored ice cream I had to make this a “balanced” meal)

Quick 10-Minute Recipe: Fish steak and salad

  • Fish steak: Combine all ingredients in a non-stick pan – milkfish belly, a teaspoon of grated ginger, a dash of soy sauce, and Japanese dashi sauce. Let simmer for about 5 minutes until fish is cooked.
  • Salad: Toss together romaine, tomatoes, and cheese then sprinkle with dressing

Ever since starting medical school and having to live a fast-paced lifestyle by myself, I’ve become a master of preparing these quick meals for one. My motivation? The faster I cook, eat, and clean-up, the sooner I can sleep!

 

10:30 AM – drive to work. Here’s the infamous Metro Manila traffic. Distance traveled: 10 KM; time on the road: 90 minutes! And no, it’s not rush hour.

Metro Manila traffic

 

12:15 PM – Welcome to my clinic!

Peek into my clinic

 

9:30 PM – Here’s a rare night-out. Beer-battered oysters and fish tacos at The Yard, a food park in Quezon City – there’s nothing quite like deep-friend anything.

The Yard at Xavierville food park

 

12 MN – Sleepy FaceTime call with my boyfriend

And repeat. Well, actually, that above is one of the busy days. Most days I just stay at home and read and sleep.

My homebody buddy

My days at home were kept interesting by my fellow homebody and constant companion in the last few months, Bryce. When I get bored from studying or writing or when I run out of 9gag material to scroll through, I look for him. He often drops whatever he’s doing to keep me company and have conversations like these:

Me: *feeds the fish*

Fish: *starts to choke*

Bryce: *panic-flailing* Give it a glass of air!!!

Or –

Me: I want to go back to Busan. *sighs*

Bryce: Can I come with you?

Me: Ha! Good luck getting a visa. And you don’t even have a passport!

Bryce: But I don’t need one. I’m white. My skin is my passport.

Me: *rolls eyes at the oozing white male privilege*

Oh, wait. I don’t think I’ve introduced Bryce to the internet before. Here he is:

Bryce my homebody buddy

He says hello. He’s actually nice – when he’s not being a smartass.

(The conversation above was partly inspired by something my boyfriend may or may not have actually said – in his defense, his words were taken largely out of context. And partly by a Quora thread where someone posed the question: “What happens if I come home to my country without a passport?” A woman claimed that she was able to go through immigrations in the United Kingdom by just showing her ID, but that she’s white and she imagines people of a different color wouldn’t have it so easy. No shit, Sherlock.)

Almost every day for the last 8 months, I’ve been welcoming my sister home from work with accounts of my conversations with Bryce. Apart from a slightly judgmental look, she never really questioned my sanity.

Until one day, she finally said what I’ve sort-of been feeling for some time now: “You’ve been cooped up in the house waaaaay too long.”

Finally: breaking free of the self-imposed house arrest!

That’s why I’m very excited to say this: in a few days, I am going to Europe!

My visa has been approved, my ticket has been bought, and my bags will be packed – eventually!

I’ve been hesitant to share this because of my recent-onset visa-phobia (last year, the Italian embassy rejected my Schengen visa application and I haven’t really allowed myself to get too excited about uncertain travel plans anymore; the disappointment has ruined me for life!) but my boyfriend and I have been planning to spend some time together in his home in the Czech Republic while I figure out my next steps.

(A dermatology fellowship in Europe? A dermatology-focused research training in Tohoku, Japan? Migrate to Australia? Or settle into a private practice in the Philippines? The world is my deep-fried oyster!)

This happily coincided with the exciting news that I was selected to present two of my researches on skin cancer surgery in the Philippines at the upcoming International Society of Dermatologic Surgery conference in Amsterdam on September.

Derm conference

Here’s me at last year’s ISDS conference in Seoul, South Korea.

Two birds with one stone! I get to practice my housewifery and grape-harvesting skills in the quiet rural village of Sedlec in Czech Republic and add an accolade to my fledgling dermatologic career amongst the world’s leading dermatologists in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Make that three birds because: I’ll also get to blog about all these! My new calling card would read: Liz – Czech housewife, international dermatologist and speaker, travel blogger extraordinaire. RAWR.

So in the coming months, please expect my blog to go one of two ways: unbearably quiet as I have the time of my life in Europe; or annoyingly way-too-chipper as I share my adventures and a snapshot of every piece of pastry that I eat. Either way, I’d love to meet up with anyone who may be around the area (by “the area” I mean Czech Republic – particularly South Moravia; maybe Austria; and the Netherlands). Please tweet me if you’re up for it!

There will be a big Bryce-shaped void in my heart in the next couple of months (and no, his white fur is not enough to get him into Europe; sadly, underneath it all, he’s still just a third-world dog) – so please keep me company!

I’ll be sharing (semi) real-time updates on Instagram and if you have any recommendations for me (what to eat, see, and do!), please let me know in the comments!

Featured photo credit: Mike Birdy