Until I moved to Illinois for med school last summer, I had lived in Orange County, California my whole life. Even when I went to college and grad school I was only 20 or 30 minutes away from home. There are so many things I really like about California. There’s always something new to do and always something new to eat. It’s amazing to be able to watch the sunset on the ocean and to go snowboarding in the mountains—on the same day, if you want! 

So of course I was a bit worried about moving to the Midwest, but coming here has been better than I thought it would be, on every level. There’s good food and local breweries, and even boba, which was really reassuring. I also have a thing for Steak & Shake, which is the closest thing I can find here when I crave In & Out. 

The seasons are nice, too. It was the first time I experienced fall with the trees changing colors, and winter hasn’t been too bad so far. My mom, who has lived in California her whole life, is always worried that I’m not dressed warm enough when it’s 40 degrees out, which is colder than she can imagine. But I don’t mind the cold. I just make sure to check the weather for the next day so I can get mentally prepared. 

Some of my classmates and I making dumplings at Jan’s place to celebrate Chinese New Year.

On weekends there’s always plenty of social stuff being planned with other Carle Illinois students. Last weekend a bunch of us got together to make dumplings for Chinese New Year. My Pod also had an event—we went out for sushi then went to the Illinois hockey game. Going to a Big 10 university definitely has its perks. I’ve never gone to a school with a football team, and the Illinois basketball team is doing so great. The campus in general has a lot to offer. Lately we’ve been going ice skating a lot, which is only $2 for students and free if you have your own skates. 

Students from the west coast/east coast will probably also notice that everything is much more affordable here (except parking on campus)! And it’s really easy to get around town. I take the bus to school, and when I do use my car for something I can get pretty much anywhere in 10 minutes. I lived here for four months before I even had to get gas! 

And even though there’s plenty to do here, if you feel like getting out of town on the weekend or if you’re really craving something you can’t get in Champaign-Urbana it’s nice to have Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis a couple hours away. You have easy access to everything in a big city, without having as many distractions right there when you’re trying to focus and study. It’s a really good balance when you’re in med school.


January 28, 2020