Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Hanukkah! by December/January blogger of the month Claire Gahm

Last Wednesday (December 2) was the first night of Hanukkah. The United States market slightly misconstrues the significance of Hanukkah in relation to other holy days during Jewish year. But it is definitely still cause for celebration with the traditional lighting of the Menorah during the 8 nights that commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple after the Maccabean revolt in Jerusalem.

This week has been filled with small miracles and holiday highlights despite the fact that our class is in finals mode! One of our classmates threw a Hanukkah Party at his house on the first night complete with Latkis, sufganiyot – a jam-filled donut, dreidal, and a (nontraditional) youtube video viewing of Jewish cartoons and songs about Hanukkah.

On our last day of class, reminiscent of high school, our Hebrew class watched a popular Israeli film and ate sufganiyot provided by our teacher (these are everywhere). After a large group of MSIH volunteers visited the Pediatric wards for crafts (my floor made sock puppets which the kids loved!). Those with more creative musical talents played for geriatric patients. We congregated back in the Caroline House with the administration, 2nd and 3rd years for (you guessed it) more sufganiyot (my stomach was hurting at this point), drinks, and the lighting of the Menorah. The next day, IT RAINED IN BEER SHEVA. I would consider this a miracle considering I’ve yet to see rain in Beer Sheva – I happened to be on a run during the 20 minute cold, wintry storm which made it that much more refreshing! As a Colorado native, my seasonal clock is completely out-of-whack – it should not only be cold by now, but it should have snowed at least once. I have the opportunity to return home for winter break and I’m curious to see if my body goes into shock leaving the average 65 degree temperatures for 20 and snowing.

As I mentioned, we are now officially down with classes for the semester and into finals. I love to study in cafes with a little background noise, usually chatter in Hebrew that I cannot understand anyway. I’ve found CafĂ© Gecko in the Old City and the BGU Campus Aroma are my two go-to places. My wallet may have something else to say for this habit (Gecko has great drinks and Aroma has a delicious chicken sandwich), but anything that keeps me focused is worth it! Our first final is Biochemistry on Thursday then we’ll have another few days off before Histology, Cell and Molecular Biology, and finally Immunology. Though I only took one year off between college graduation and medical school, I’m finding I need to remind myself how to study for finals all over again. How did I manage to pull off 5 finals, one presentation, and two papers in a week and a half when I’m overwhelmed by one final every five days? Is there really that much more information? Even the most self-disciplined studiers are finding they’ve forgotten the information they knew so well in September. In my opinion, since this is my life-long career, I put a lot more pressure on myself to commit everything to long-term rather than short-term memory. We’ll see how that goes come USMLE Step 1…

As a “You finished Biochemistry!” reward, I’ll be visiting Jerusalem and Bethlehem this week with a few other students. My hope is to find Christmas presents for family and friends, some Israeli or Middle Eastern “staples” (though the world is increasingly globalized making this task more difficult – I’m fairly certain the scarf I bought on my last trip is sold in a kiosk in the mall in Denver). My only ideas so far revolve around food – spices and olive oil, maybe some halva and date honey? All of which I don’t need to purchase from Jerusalem as they are just as available in Supersol or Mega (or the new “Organic Whole Foods-esque” store, Eden). But it obviously sounds more exciting to say I bought the spices from a street vendor in Jerusalem.

All of those thoughts aside, I’m off to finish reviewing Purine and Pyrimidine synthesis in my apartment. This post was a welcome study break! - by December/January blogger of the month Claire Gahm