The very first time I stepped in San Francisco was a couple of months ago. I was matched in UCSF for residency training and I need to come over for the final interview. Actually, I was lucky. All these happened too quickly. I passed my medical board exams, and after a week, I took the MLE (Medical Licensure Exams to practice medicine in the US) Step 1. The results came in after 10 days, I passed again, so my aunt Beth looked for hospitals that accepts specialized training. I didn’t know about the matching program but my aunt did all the work for me, all I need to do was to provide her my information... and to wait. I got an email from UCSF after almost a month, a phone interview was set-up, and they want me to take the Step 2 of MLE. I was already scheduled to do so in 3 days, I said. And after all the paperworks, tests, and phone calls, I am finally here.
I bumped into Teresa, my soon-to be landlady, at the hospital. She was the one whom I asked directions as to where Dr. Williams’ office is. Boy, am I glad I met her! It’s nice to know someone from where you’ve been, establishing that kind of familiarity in a snap. She offered one of her rooms in her house, and after the interview, we met and she showed it to me.
She lives in a 2 story home with her husband and 2 kids, still toddlers. She said she married late in her 30’s. I was wondering where is the vacant room she’s talking about, seeing a lot of people hanging out in her living room and kitchen. Where will I sleep, it’s like a clubhouse here with all these people. Upstairs, she showed me a tiny room, just enough to fit a single bed and one wardrobe closet. Oh, and there is a small dresser table at the side where a night lamp is placed.
“You have to share the bathroom and shower with 5 others. It’s $500 a month, utilities included. No tv, no microwave in the room. I suppose you have an ipod and a cellphone, a laptop even, so that’s ok. Honey, you are paying this amount because of the location. You cannot find this kind of deal anywhere else.”
Wow! This is a steal!! I told her to reserve it for me because I will be coming back in February, roughly less than 35 days. She asked for a downpayment, I gave her a thousand bucks in cash. Teresa was grinning from ear to ear. We signed a lease contract, and in a month’s time, I will be sharing bathrooms with the rest of the community.
My aunt Beth lives in Fairfield with her husband. It’s a long drive to UCSF, but if it’s not, of course I’m gonna stay with her...for free! She’s the one who helped me with the process of coming here in the states, assisted me in the hospital matching program, as in, everything I need to know before coming here. She is my mom’s younger sister, and obviously, she knows the reason WHY I chose to leave Manila.
I can’t believe I’m doing this. Leaving everything behind...my parents, my brother, my friends, my LIFE. I’ve never been away from my family. The longest was 5 days, but I was with my other aunts and uncles on an out of town trip. I guess this is what’s in store for me, to be by myself and all ALONE....
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