(A Look Back at on my P1 Year at UNC Part 1)
I always thought I would want to stay at the University of Florida for pharmacy school. After all, it was my home with all my friends, my family a couple hours away in Tampa and a great pharmacy school. But after studying abroad in South Korea during my junior year, I realized I wanted to get out of Florida, travel somewhere new and create a new home, so I set my sites on UNC. Fast forward a couple years, I got through the hardest parts, received my acceptance letter and before I knew it, it was the end of my senior year and I was preparing to move and start pharmacy school.
The transition was harder than I expected. Even though it was what I ultimately wanted to do, simply moving to a new place where I didn’t know a single person was daunting, especially when you’re jumping right into school at the same time. But here are a couple of the things I learned along the way.
Find your niche. Honestly, there were days that being in pharmacy school felt like high school all over again. I saw the same 130 people every day, on the same schedule, taking the same classes. Unlike undergrad where you meet people from all different majors going down various career paths, I was now surrounded by people all going for the same exact degree, our doctorate in pharmacy. This was intimidating at first because sometimes I felt like it was a competition since in the end we’re all going to be pharmacists. However, the beautiful thing about pharmacy is that even though we may all be getting the same degree, many of us want to take different career paths. Whether that be in industry, retail, clinical or another non-traditional route, it has been refreshing to hear about the different things my classmates want to do upon graduation. It also helped me realize that our common ground of being in pharmacy school isn’t a competition nor do I need to feel pressured by what my classmates are or aren’t doing. Throughout my first year, I had the opportunity to explore areas I really enjoyed (and some I didn’t) and know that over the next 3 years, I will continue to explore and find my passion. Slowly but surely I am starting to figure out which career path I want to take.
Embrace change and know that it’s not always easy. Something I personally struggled with was that I thought it was supposed to be easy. I’ve been in school for so many years now and moving to UNC was a choice I deliberately made, knowing it would be away from home. I was surrounded by so many other people in my same situation and they seemed to be handling it perfectly, so I should have been too right? But as I went through the year, I realized it’s okay to miss your home and your friends, and that balancing pharmacy school with life is really hard sometimes. The classes were tough and getting into the swing of things definitely took some time. But reaching out and making friends and finding people who support you through your time in school was really key for me. The summer before I moved to UNC, I was working at CVS Pharmacy, bouncing around to different stores that needed help, and I always asked the pharmacist I worked with, “What is one piece of advice you have for a student starting pharmacy school?” Surprisingly, they all had a variation of the same answer. They all told me, you don’t have to do pharmacy school alone so reach out, make friends, and ask for help. Despite the obstacles I may have encountered when I first started school here, that advice really holds true in my opinion, and I am very grateful to have met the people who are slowly helping turn this place into my new home.