Monday, July 13, 2009

Late as always

It definitely took me a while, but I haven't forgotten. My blog friends, LB from Muddy Runner, PurpleHoodieChick, Tatoos and Teething Rings, Chicago Mom from What's for Dinner? and 5th sister gave me the Kreativ Blogger award. Thank you very much, guys - you rock!

Oh, of course their blogs rock too, so be sure to check them out!

If you want to participate in this too, the rules are:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award (and post a link)

2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog

3. Nominate 7 kreativ bloggers (and post links to their blogs)

4. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated

5. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting

Well, I am probably the last one to respond to this, (as always) and most of my blog buddies have already gotten this award, so I will nominate some new, interesting bloggers I discovered. I love following them, reading their posts and responding to them (ie I am an obsessive "stalker" as Kristina puts it), and I am eagerly waiting for more!

So, the 7 kreativ bloggers are:

1. Fiona from Living in the land of chocolate. I love reading about her adventures in Switzerland, and her precious moments with her 2 little girls.

2. Patti from PiNG's Danish Adventures. Whenever I am feeling blue and overwhelmed, I think of Patti, her amazing attitude and her great sense of humour, and feel better in an instant!

3. Extranjera from What will I ever do with my life? She has a wicked sense of humour and her posts are never too long or too tiring for me. I could literally wander in her blog for hours - and I bet I will finish her first book in less than 55 minutes!

4. Jen from Buried with children. Being a mother of triplets is anything but easy. Especially when
you add in a toddler too. Nevertheless, Jen manages to give a realistic, honest, and most importantly, FUN glimpse of motherhood, combining love and affection with commando skills.

5. Bebe from Those Crazy Beans for her writing talent and wittiness. Seriously, whenever I read her eloquent posts, I think to myself "Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?"

6. Karen from A peek at Karen's blog. She succesfully juggles broad-spectrum blogging with real-life multitasking. Whenever something new happens, I am certain she will write at least one post about it.

7. And the latest addition to my Blogroll, Angela from I'm So Not Ready For This. She must be the less pretentious mama out there. Her life is not a fairy tale, but an adventure and a challenge. And she makes it happen, every single day.

Congratulations, people, and keep posting!

As for the 7 things about myself:

1) I have lived in 8 different towns in the past. As a result, the thought of moving a lot doesn't terrify me. In fact, I tend to get bored rather easily and, whenever an opportunity comes along, I am the first to grab a suitcase and just go. I'd love to settle down somewhere eventually, but I feel it's too early for that right now.

(I am thinking of some "Germany" posts of mine suggesting otherwise, but I have now come to the conclusion that back then, the moving itself was not the thing that terrified me. Everything else was.)

2) I am a terrible driver. Not the speeding/reckless type, but more of the I-cannot-park-my-car-for-the-life-of-me type. I have no dimensions perception, and realising how much space is really available for me to park in is a pain in the maximus gluteus for me. Add to that the fact that I live in the city center, where parking space is an urban legend, and you can easily guess how many bumps my car has. Ouch! And yes, it's brand new. Double ouch!

3) I bite my nails like crazy. I know, I have told you before. But as a New Year's resolution, I gave up biting my fingernails. So, you can imagine where I have turned to now. Yes, I am a weirdo.

4) I have never gotten in a fight with my eyebrows. I don't use the little thingy to pull them off, I don't use a liner on them, nothing. I just let them be. Fortunately, they seem rather normal (or so people tell me).

5) I despise shoes (it gets weirder and weirder, right?) I understand that they are the most precious accessory for women, but honestly, if it was safe to walk barefoot all day, I most definitely would.

6) Smell is my strongest sense. Every memory I have is associated with a particular smell. Also, I can spend hours in a perfume shop, trying everything, without getting hazy.

7) I have a really high "disgust" threshold. That's why I always won the "Taste it if you dare" challenge as a kid. Oh, and I think you can guess who sat on the front row at the Anatomy lessons at Medical school. Non blinking, hoping to be the first one to hold the scalpel.

That was all, folks - and I hope all this quirky info was not too much for you. And yet, my sister wonders why I find even diaper commercials moving - they make me cry like a baby. Well, I guess every person is a mix of different things, good and bad, sweet and disgusting, funny and unpleasant. All these make us "us". Unique, fascinating and intriguing.

I dare you to come back.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A decision I am sure about (I guess...)

Dear friends, once again, thanks for your great comments and help. Not only have I decided, but I also made it official by submitting the paperwork - there's no turning back now.

So... (deep breath) I guess I will stick around for some more months.

The reactions? Well, my family is puzzled by this decision - it is so atypical for me not to rush into "safe" and "secure" things, that they are actually suspecting that I have been abducted by aliens and replaced by a weird clone! On the other hand, my co-workers are ecstatic by the fact that we will be sharing the work here. Last but not least, my former alter ego and future-I-have-no-clue-what is in Germany, ignorant about this whole situation.

And me? What about me?

I am scared $hitless, and just hope I haven't messed up big time.

But how did the impossible happened? How did I find the guts to turn down a 4-year job in the big city for 11 more months on an island that I almost didn't know that existed before I came here?

I thought this through, and found some great reasons to stay. First of all, I am not sure about the specialty I chose. I am not ready to abandon clinical medicine just yet. Don't get me wrong, there is no chance in hell that I will do anything else in Greece - from the little that I shared about the working conditions here, I guess you realise why I would never set foot in a Greek hospital (either as a doctor or as a patient!)

But I love travelling and exploring new places - and who knows? Maybe specialising abroad isn't as bad as I thought. As long as it is a decision I have made for myself, and not something that was forced upon me.

Also, I am still recovering from a break/breakup and a complete change of scenery and lifestyle. I am still learning to live alone, depending on myself only, and enjoying it. But I am not the "new me" just yet. Of course there are times when everything seems to be falling apart, and I am wondering if I have made any progress at all. I still have bad moments that could possibly lead to a meltdown. So I guess it's not time to move (again), meet new people (again), adapt to unknown working conditions (again) and settle down (actually for the first time in my life).

If I am gonna settle down, I wanna do it properly. I am only 24 years old, but I have already lived in 8 different towns. Me and my family are all about nomadic life, but if we were ever to stop moving, Athens would be the place where we would all be most likely to end up. So, I have the feeling that Athens will not be one more stop in my itinerary. It will most probably be my Ithaca.

If this is the case, I want the new me to go to Athens and start building a life. Not the post-breakup-still-discovering-the-world-like-an-infant me. Right now, I want to know things, see things, experience things. After all, the obligation of working at a village remains. It will just be postponed for when I will be 30. But seeking security at 24 and adventure at 30 seems kinda weird. I think it should be the other way around.

Lastly, things are pretty great here. The working hours are flexible, the money is good, and the people I will be sharing my practice with are amazing. The practice itself is more equipped than most, there is a nurse (added bonus!) and the place is admittedly the most beautiful village of the entire island of Lesvos. Every single day of this summer will feel like a vacation (ok, too optimistic here!) and, when autumn comes, I will officially be the "village doctor".

I just can't wait to meet the people, one by one. Learn their names, their age and much more than their pressure or glucose level. Learn their personal story. Wake up in the middle of the night to comfort their pain or worry over nothing (hopefully). Take part in the local festivals, and become acquainted with their traditions and way of life.

I realise that being an attending doctor at the age of 29 is cool. Actually, in a country where most 35 year olds are unemployed and still live with their parents, it is too great an achievement. It would make everyone in my family insanely proud.

But being an attending doctor at the age of 30 is just as cool. And when it comes with the added bonus that I will have become my own person in the process, it is more than that.

It is priceless.

And it would make me more than proud. It could actually make me happy.

Note to self: All the times in the future that you wet your pants, trying to figure out what to do in an emergency with minimal equipment and no one else to turn to, read this post. All the times that old ladies interrupt your bestest dream in the world just because they are "lonely" and "are not feeling very well", read this post. All the times that an amazing play is performed in Athens, while you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, learning how to milk sheep and pretending to be enjoying it, read this post. All the times you just want to get on a plane, fly to Germany, crash on a certain somebody's couch and cry like a baby, just read this post.

No, it won't make you feel any better. But at least you'll know who to blame for the whole thing...

Monday, July 6, 2009

The dilemma

Now that you know more about my job situation, it's time to present you with the awful dilemma that I am facing.

When I came here, I was supposed to work for a year, and then move to Athens, to start specialising as a pathologist. Unexpectedly, due to other people declining the Athens job, my turn has come! I am now expected to resign, and go there within this month.

If I fail to be present by the deadline I was given, I am immediately deleted from the waiting list. This sounds awful, doesn't it? But the thing is not as bad as it sounds. Actually, I can write my name again and wait until a new position is available. Due to the fact that residencies last for a specific amount of time and not even one day more, it is very easy and safe to estimate when the next employee will leave, thus leaving his place empty for me to fill. This is going to happen in July 2010.

On the other hand, if I take the job offer in Athens, I am still obliged to work as an agricultural doctor for a year, after I finish my residency (after 5 years). The bad thing is that I cannot avoid this. The good thing is that, 6 1/2 years after my graduation, I will have gathered plenty of points and I will be able to get whichever place in Greece I will choose!

So, what do I do? Stay here in Mytilene, in surroundings that have become familiar by now, do my agricultural obligation, earn some good money without too much effort and avoid moving again (this will be my 4th move within this year)? The Athens job will not be lost - it will just have to wait for another year.

Or move to Athens, ensure my financial security for the next 5 years and then, with plenty of points gathered, do my agricultural duty? After all, laws here change all the time, and it may not even be obligatory to do so by that time.

On one hand, we have Mytilene, its quiet way of life, the flexible working hours and the opportunity to postpone the binding decision of getting a specialty for a year. On the other hand, we have Athens, the security of having a job for 5 years, its hectic way of life, but also with possibilities that never end. Lastly, I should mention that my grandparents live in Athens. I will by no means live with them, but I guess they will be there for me if I need help in case of a possible breakdown (after all, I am still recovering from the winter events and the so called "break"/ actual breakup).

What would you do, my dear readers? Please help!

PS: There is one last thing I should mention. I wouldn't write about it at all, because I think that no serious job decision should be based on a "possibility". Facts are facts. However, if I am going to describe the whole situation to you, I should tell you that there is a chance of having something here in Mytilene, emotionally speaking. Things are quite unstable right now, and I am still adapting to the "single" life and getting over things - so one cannot possibly tell how I will react in case a harmless flirting becomes something more. I may not even be ready for this yet - let alone take it into account when deciding what to do! But for the sake of full disclosure, I thought I should mention it too.

Thanks for your insightful comments and helpful input - in advance.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What the heck should I do?

It has been a nice, relaxed Sunday so far, and I am now blogging while listening to Jason Mraz's amazing cd. The easy thing to do would be to write about random things, bitch about work, or show you some glimpses of Mytilene and the amazing places that I am discovering day by day. But the question remains, and something tells me I shouldn't avoid it any more - what the heck should I do?

But before I present you with the dilemma, I should first explain why I am in Mytilene and what brought me here.

It has been a hard winter for me, as you may have already realised here. Upon graduating, I wrote my name on the NOTORIOUS waiting list, in order to start a residency some day. That means that I have chosen a medical specialty, and for five years I will work in my hospital of choice as a trainee (or a slave - it depends on how you choose to see it!) . After that, I will be a licensed *whatever-ist* and I will be free to either open up my own practice, or continue to work as an attending doctor in a hospital (and torture other poor interns in turn!)

The specialty I chose was Pathology.

Now, my dear readers, I know this choice might come as a shock. After all, I may seem weird at times, but THAT weird? Well... to be honest... yes.

But how did I transform from this

to this?

Don't get me wrong, I actually love people. Alive and kicking, breathing, warm people, who have all their organs in place. But discovering what went wrong with some patients, first-hand, while treating them with the utmost respect and responsibility, also fascinates me. And this specialty doesn't have to do with the deceased only. Pathologists also get to examine biopsies (from suspicious masses, for example) and determine if they are malignant or benign, agressive or not, so that the fellow oncologists will know what course to follow. Unlike other specialties, which involve a lot of speculation, in Pathology, the truth is out there, in front of you. You just have to use your eyes and your hands to see it.

But my choice of specialty was not based on the subject only. First of all, there was minimal waiting time, in order to start - 1 1/2 year, while for Endocrinology, for example, 10 years were necessary. And while I may have Greek parents that are willing to support me for as long as it is necessary, I also know that I need to rely on myself at some point. Furthermore, as a Pathologist, I will have flexible working hours. And while work itself does not scare me, the thought of not having a family, because I will be too busy to be there for them, really gives me the creeps.

So... a Pathologist. Starting spring 2010. But until then, what?

Nothing - I thought as I was slowly sinking in misery. And suddenly, things started to look up. A job opportunity in Mytilene came, and I took it.

But what is this job?

Well, in Greece, there are hospitals in big towns, but in small villages, there are public practices, staffed with either already licensed general practitioners (the big ones), or medical graduates, known as "agricultural doctors" (in villages where less than 1,000 people reside). These practices are tiny, and not heavily equipped, but their doctors can meet basic needs - such as measuring blood pressure, or prescribing medicine, when people run out. If the patient's problem is too serious, he/she is immediately transferred to the hospital, of course. But for elderly people, living away from big urban centers and being unable to move easily, these doctors are actually a big help and relief.

Agricultural doctors are employed for a year (and then another comes), and basically you have to be extra lucky to get a place. You apply for two villages anywhere in Greece and then, for each place, whoever has the more "points" gets it. Points are determined according to waiting time after graduation - for every 2 months that pass after you have graduated, you get 1. As a result, students who are unemployed for the most time after graduating, have more points and then get the much-wanted place.

Me, only a few months after graduation, I had 4 points. They were ridiculously inadequate, so I had to make a wild guess - apply for a remote place, one that nobody would think of choosing. I thought of faraway Mytilene, and I was lucky: I got the place!

So I came here, knowing nothing about the island and way of life, and I am now training at the hospital for 3 months. After that, I will move to the village and be the "village's doctor"! Luckily, the island is beautiful, the people are amazing and most importantly, the place does not "hibernate" during the winter - with 90,000 people residing on it, things are pretty lively even in January.

But, as wise people say, when it rains, it pours. And just when I was getting settled and used to my new everyday life, I'll maybe have to leave again. This is the dilemma I am facing right now, and I need all the help I can get to decide.

After realising that this post is too long (as usual), I will write the specifics tomorrow. Until then, have a fun Sunday night and a wonderful Monday morning, everybody!