It’s 2020 Already? Here’s A 2019 Recap, The Craziest Year Yet.

It feels crazy to be typing out a 2019 recap. The rumours that the years go faster as you get older definitely have credence. Fifth and final year of medical school was billed as being the most relaxing year yet, but it ended up being one crazy adventure after the next. And it was awesome. When I sit back and look at this year as a whole, so much has happened. It makes me excited for next year but also convinced it’ll be hard to beat (especially with two weeks’ holiday, sad face).

UNIVERSITY

It’s officially over! I have graduated and received my registration as a medical practitioner which is the weirdest feeling in the world. Five years down and a lot of lessons learned. Fifth year really tied it all together and I leave feeling as though I’m ready to progress to the next stage. 

During this final year I had good placements and not-so-good placements. Notably there was one where I was convinced that it would make me quit medicine for good. But time ticked over as it always does and there was always something to look forward to as motivation to get through. Where the rumour comes from that fifth year is chill, I have no idea. Most weeks were at least 35 hours — one six week block had 50 hour weeks — and then working outside of that. It was hectic. I’m pretty ready to be doing those hours next year and actually getting paid for the time! 

The absolute best part of university in 2019 was the opportunity to go on medical elective in London. For six weeks, I got to live out my life dream of living in London. Delivering babies during the day and then heading out to musicals and museums in the evening. And better yet, I was able to jump on a plane on the weekend and go to anywhere in Europe in less than a few hours. I know this isn’t everyone’s dream, but oh boy, it’s mine. It reinvigorated my love for Women’s Health and demonstrated that my childhood dreams of living in Europe were pretty accurately what I want. 

I’m not going to harp on too much about finishing medical school, because I already harped on about it a decent amount in my School’s Out: Medical School Is Finished article. And I won’t bore you with the soppy, sentimental stuff for a second time. 

TRAVEL

I managed to get around a lot more than I had anticipated this year, which was a pleasant surprise. And most were surprise, last minute trips I wouldn’t have guessed would do at the start of the year. I started the New Year off at home in Tasmania surrounded by friends and family which was exactly what was needed. 

In March, I jetted off to London for elective, working in a bougie hospital and secretly hoping that Meghan Markle would come running through the doors at any moment to deliver Archie (didn’t happen). It was absolutely exhausting, but I couldn’t possibly be in Europe with access to the bajillion London airports and not go exploring on the continent. Who knew when I would be back? My first weekend trip was a spur of the moment £9.99 flight with RyanAir to Toulouse, a place I hadn’t thought I would visit but absolutely loved. The ‘pink city’ was full of food, cool architecture and it felt good to speak French again. I managed to get up to Oxford to visit some friends who were studying there, and they showed me their incredible world at the university. Next destination was Lisbon — a place I had been dying to visit for years — where a stay with Goodmorning Hostel exceeded expectations, I ventured out to Sintra, and wandered through the colourful streets of Lisbon. Italy called next with a cheap flight to Bologna where I ate my weight in carbs and never felt happier. En route back home I stopped in Paris for Easter, spending the long weekend in galleries, reading books in the jardins, and watching the sunset from the Arc de Triomphe. By the end of this trip, my heart was completely full. 

Yes, this was crazy. Yes, I was exhausted and jet lagged when I got back. Yes, I slept through my four alarms and missed my ED orientation. Oops. But I wouldn’t change that opportunity for the world. 

FAVOURITE ELECTIVE POSTS

In June, we had our mid-year break. Which was a semi break because we were required to do job applications and interviews during the three weeks which made holiday organising a bit difficult. I hedged my bets and booked a twelve day trip to Taiwan which was, again, an unexpected destination but found reasonable flights and it wasn’t a crazy time difference. Taiwan turned out to be absolutely amazing. Not too touristy at all, filled to the brim with flavoursome food, and the island had a mind-blowing array of landscapes to explore, like Taroko National Park. It ended up being one of my favourite Asian destinations and I really want to go back and see some more.

FAVOURITE TAIWAN POSTS

Finally, rounding out the year, was my colourful, crazy, and occasionally sketchy trip to Mexico and Cuba. I started out in Mexico City which is one of my new favourite cities and a place I could easily see myself living! It is a hugely underrated city with great food and a lot of life. Then I flew to Cuba for two weeks and it was amazing. I met up with a group who were some of the funniest people and we had an absolute blast exploring Havana, Trinidad, Playa Larga, and Viñales. I’m sure we’ll stay in touch for many years to come! Cuba was an intensely fascinating place to visit and as a travel destination, I really rated it.

Then it was back to Mexico to explore the Yucatan Peninsula, including time in hipster Tulum and barefoot beachy Isla Holbox. Then I flew up to Oaxaca to enjoy the nation’s coffee and chocolate capital. It was great, until I was mugged. The long 8-hour bus trip back to Mexico City with no music or phone was interesting (and the 16 hour flight to Melbourne when the in-flight entertainment conveniently broke) but I was glad to be safe and finishing the trip in my favourite coffee-laden suburb of Condesa.

FAVOURITE MEXICO AND CUBA POSTS

LIFE

And yes, life happened too in amongst all this craziness! The year was filled with some great memories catching up with friends, heading to the Yarra Valley, venturing to Phillip Island, and developing a love of afternoon walks at the beach. Housing turned out to be more stressful than initially thought with finding a new housemate mid-year, and then house hunting to move closer to work next year. But we have found an amazing little house for next year with some lovely friends and I am really excited for the year. Although it’ll be nice when — if — I can finally settle somewhere more permanently one day!

 

Fraser and I have spent a ridiculous amount of time in opposite parts of the world this year. From January apart in our respective hometowns, to the six weeks away on elective, then mid-year being separated doing various things, and now he’s off on an eight-month exchange in Germany. Hopefully he’ll be back in Feb/March and I will have enough time outside of work to go do some of our favourite things again. It’ll be good to have him home. 

 

Getting home to see family this year was harder than I had thought, but there was still time to head home for some quick trips and to see them in Melbourne. It’s getting harder and harder to line up time all together which will, I imagine, only get more difficult as everyone moves around. I definitely miss a lot about home and there are plenty of days where I consider the move back to Tassie. Having their support over the last few years has been invaluable and has meant the world during university. I’m not sure how I’ll ever be able to thank them enough. 

 

Straight after the New Year it’s time to start work, real life adult work. It will be a huge learning curve and there will undoubtedly be times where I completely want to rip my hair out, but there will be stacks of rewarding moments where I can feel like I’m being useful. It’ll be nice to be a more integral part of the team rather than just a stick-on medical student. I’m not totally stoked about the crazy commuting or the two weeks of holidays all year but it is what it is. And, at the end of the day, it’s what you sign up for and part of the process for getting to where you eventually want to be. 

 

So, farewell 2019. You were a crazy mess in the best possible way. 2020 will bring different challenges and a new reality of life as a full-time worker. I will no doubt miss the freedoms of this year, but it will also be nice to finally embark on a career that I have worked hard to start. Let’s see how fast the next 52 weeks go!

Lucy Owens Travel Textbook

WELCOME ABOARD!

My name’s Lucy and I’m the jetsetting student doctor and travel writer behind the blog. If you’re a fan of scratching beneath the surface of travel, visiting interesting destinations, and exploring ethically, then you’re in the right place. Focusing on purposeful budget and solo travel, Travel Textbook hopes to inspire more young people to seek meaningful adventure.

 

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