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NewannaAnna Burkhead -- As I’m writing this entry, I’m seated in sweatpants on a horrid floral and fringe sofa. In a few hours I will hop in my twin bed and sleep until the night float team sends their 4 am page with the overnight admissions.

It’s not my first time on this couch; I spent a month at this hospital on the North Carolina coast last year. In fact, I requested to come back here for this month to do my acting internship in Internal Medicine. So I can’t complain too much.

However, this living-out-of-a-suitcase lifestyle I’ve led basically during the whole of third year and now extending into the first two months of fourth year is getting tiresome. Before the beginning of my clinical years, knowing that my unmarried and childless status would mean more than my share of away rotations, I requested to be sent to my hometown hospital. It was nice for a while. I enjoyed not paying rent!

Last month I did an away rotation in dermatology at the University of California at San Francisco. While I learned a lot and got to know some good people in the program, it was a hard month for me. Being away from my home and my school (and my cat!) was very difficult for me.

On the last day of the rotation, I received a phone call from my apartment complex office back in Chapel Hill. They informed me that there was a problem with a major water leakage from a burst pipe into my apartment. It is unknown how long the stagnant water was sitting, because no one had entered the apartment. The office managers have been very good about keeping me updated and I am confident that things will get cleaned up appropriately. That said, I have not been able to return to Chapel Hill to check out the damage since it occurred. I’m basically taking a near stranger’s word as to what appears ruined and what appears salvageable, and I’m not there to “encourage” the cleaning and repair process.

I flew back from San Francisco and drove straight to this coastal hospital without passing through Chapel Hill. I will take my first glimpse of my water-logged home this weekend, when I return to Chapel Hill for a required practical exam.

While I’m bothered by the situation in Chapel Hill, I’m trying not to stress. After all, there’s not a lot I can do about it right now. I’m just feeling weary and tired of being away from home. Fortunately this is my last away rotation until February. In December and January I’ll be flying all over the place interviewing for residency, but those will be more tolerable short trips.

My apologies for this “downer” column. Medical school isn’t always peaches and cream, and it’s sometimes hard to live your normal everyday life and do your normal everyday things, especially from three hours away. But I guess learning to juggle all the responsibilities of being a student, learning medicine, and being a person all at the same time is part of this process.

August 7, 2008 in Anna Burkhead | Permalink


As someone who moved 12 hours from the only place I'd called home for med school I'm totally on your homesick page. It's hard going through such a demanding portion of life away from all the support of home. But we've both made it to 4th year, almost done! I hope your apt situation doesn't turn out to be too bad.

Posted by: | Aug 12, 2008 4:56:59 PM

Thank you for posting this! As a fourth year who will be soon traveling here and there, I am about to understand your pain! You are so right, it isn't always peaches and cream, but we have to remember why we are going through these sacrifices. Take care and good luck with the apartment.

Posted by: Angel Justice | Aug 12, 2008 7:23:46 PM

im starting medicine and i guess i have to be prepared for those kinds of things, i admire your determination. good luck with the apt.

Posted by: charlie | Aug 13, 2008 11:15:12 AM

I moved 14 hours away for med school, so I can most definitely understand. I hope your apt is okay.

Posted by: Brittney | Aug 13, 2008 2:18:56 PM

Sometimes it doesn't seem like homesickness, more like an "anywhere but hereness"

Posted by: Michelle | Aug 13, 2008 4:23:29 PM

Im sorry for the water on your depart. I will excuse myself for my bad english first. Im a puertorrican 22 years old 1st semester med student at Guadalajara, Mexico. I've never been away from home for more than 2 months in my entire life. So, beleive me, I know what youre talking about when you mention the word homesick. I will like to know what happend to your stuff back at home when you get there this weekend. I hope everything is allright. For the rest I leave you guys for the night. Goodbye.

Posted by: Luis Roberto | Aug 13, 2008 9:02:33 PM

Learning through medical school is a taxing problem, that you have very little control over. Moreso the carrier demands afterwards is far much demanding especially those working in this other parts of the world, like Kenya.Therefore my sister, Cheer up their are yet alot to expect. wishing you the very best.

Posted by: Dan | Aug 14, 2008 8:31:37 AM

Just wanna share some... making a phone call to family and friends is quite relieving sometimes. that's what i always do... All the best..

Posted by: fb | Aug 14, 2008 7:52:54 PM

nice posting!! this also happened to me and others in medical learning process, i think. i'm two-hour far from my home, high-school friends, relatives, and hometown, and also one-hour far from my boyfriend. but, i'm sure, one day this will end with a good ending and relieve a nice story. please, just enjoy it and be cheering up each other!! ^_^

Posted by: kholisah | Aug 14, 2008 9:24:28 PM

You bring up a very important point those of us who will start clinicals next year should be aware of! I wish you the best of luck with your apartment. Hang in there!

Posted by: Jennifer | Aug 16, 2008 9:16:36 AM

Hey, don't just think u r in it all alone,I have my own story to tell too. I am feeling d same way as u do Anna, I am presently doing a 5 weeks elective programme here in Ghana but its been like eternity now since I last left home, when in actual fact I've just done a week.I am terribly missing d food and friends back home and all d things that I could do when I am in Freetown.

Posted by: maj | Aug 18, 2008 3:48:09 AM

It's refreshing to know that medical students far away from Singapore experience the same problems too. =) I've been camping on an equally uncomfortable couch in the freezing artificial climate of air-conditioning land. Thanks for sharing! =)

Posted by: MJ | Aug 19, 2008 5:08:48 PM

good luck anna! may things take a turn for the better :)

Posted by: ditzydoctor | Aug 21, 2008 3:30:31 AM

Oh, I know some people who experienced almost the same thing. I also hate it when I miss my cat! One of my friends who is in medical studies, told me that rotations can be tiring that some of them didn't have much time to come home for months. Having this kind of situation for a student, some rely on commercial cleaning (Minneapolis) services to do their chores - laundry, bathroom cleaning, etc. I believe there are apartment buildings and townhouses which offers such services.

Anyway, I'm sorry about the water leakage. I'm pretty sure it's over by now.

- Gail Connick

Posted by: Commercial cleaning (Minneapolis) | Jan 30, 2011 9:56:53 PM

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