As part of my European Healthcare and Welfare class, we took an excursion to Bremerhaven, a port city in Germany. We had the opportunity to meet with Dr. med. Gábor Keresztury, who is the chief physician of the vascular surgery clinic at Ameos Klinikum St. Joseph Bremerhaven. The topic of our class was the medical profession, so we met with this doctor to shed some light on how he became a doctor and his experiences in the European healthcare system.
This day had been hectic because prior to this specific class, a good majority of us had a biochemistry test. We were going to definitely cut it close with finishing the test and making our trains. Thankfully, our test was cut short to give us enough time. In the 15-20 minutes we had afterwards, we had to quickly grab a bite to eat and make our way to the train stop about an eight minutes’ walk away. As we waited for our train, our professors alerted us that as soon as we made our first stop, we would need to hurry and run down the stairs and make our way to the platform on the furthest side of the train stop. It was definitely a memorable experience, as we just arrived on the right platform a minute before our train to Bremerhaven arrived.
The hospital staff was very generous in their accommodations for this meeting. They had prepared cookies and small treats along with refreshments, which was a great relief for those who did not have lunch. As we settled in, we first heard from a fellow student who gave a brief description of the medical profession over history in the EU as well as the U.S. We were then introduced to Dr. Keresztury. Hearing Dr. Keresztury’s life story and his responsibilities as chief physician definitely provided valuable insight into how people manage their work and home life. In the case of Dr. Keresztury, he made it clear that his work was the priority. Shockingly, however, he was unapologetic in spending more time at work than with his family. He explained that his family moved whenever his job required him to. This was done at the expense of his ex-wife’s career as a daycare teacher. Though economically this sacrifice is understandable, I felt that his lack of presence in his family life affected his relationship with his children more than he let on and probably resulted in his divorce. For us female pre-med students, we felt as though choosing between career and family would be more difficult. Unfortunately, there was no female doctor present that we could confer with to determine how a woman’s choice would be different in this matter. There was, however, a younger male doctor who explained that he does spend more time with his young children, contrary to Dr. Keresztury’s experience with his own children. This gave us some hope that we wouldn’t have to be barred between choosing starting a family and building a successful career.
On a lighter note, the town of Bremen in which our university is located hosts a festival very similar to Munich’s Oktoberfest in the last two weeks of October. Known as Freimarkt, this festival/carnival is the most visited in northern Germany and one of the oldest, initially held in 1035. As one exits the Hauptbahnhof, one is greeted by various stalls selling food and drinks along with games. At night it is a sight to behold as each stall illuminates the night. A couple of friends and I visited on the last weekend as a nice little study break from all the midterm stress. If I had any doubt about how tall Germans were, they were completely erased after attempting to walk through crowds and being eye level with a sea of backs. Freimarkt is definitely reminiscent of American carnivals but even better with carts selling steaks and salmon. Fun fact: the roller coaster present at Oktoberfest is also at Freimarkt.
Though we weren’t able to trick or treat this year, we American students were invited to carve pumpkins, eat candy and play card games at a professor’s residence. To be honest, I had never carved a pumpkin before, so it was fun to explore this tradition for the first time.
Above are the pumpkins we carved on display outside the guest house on campus. Schrodinger’s cat makes a special appearance.
After nearly a month of waiting, I finally contacted my professor on the status of doing research with his lab group. His group primarily did food analysis, specifically coffee, tea and cocoa research. Having no previous research experience, my academic advisor recommended me to talk with this professor because it provides a good starting point to pinpoint my interests within the research field. Within the week I was assigned a PhD student with whom I would proceed to do research. Her project dealt with tea analysis. On my first day of research, we made origami boxes. On the second day, we grinded tea. On the third day, we sieved tea leaves. It’s been a great experience. 10/10 would recommend.
Tuesday, November 11 2016 was the first time I ever pulled an all-nighter. The following pictures show what ensued when college students don’t sleep and face the anxiety of what will be the next four years. Also, we had a German test the next day.