On Where You Have Been

On Being From a Big City

There is a distinct culture shock transitioning from Los Angeles to St. Louis. The streets are wide and seemingly devoid of people, which can be unsettling at first but also means that lines and traffic are virtually non-existent. On the plus side, St. Louis was described as one of 2016’s Best Foodie Cities based on restaurant price, average rating and number of food festivals per capita. St. Louis also is a historical city with a good number of attractions, many of which are free. One problem with St. Louis being an older, smaller city, however, is the lack of transportation. In St. Louis, many buses will run every 30 or 40 minutes or so, and that schedule is unreliable. Overall, you probably want to bring your car to St. Louis for groceries, better food options and to explore the city. If you’re a bare minimum kind of person, then public transit along with Uber might suffice.

— Jessica Kuo, M1

On Being from the South

Throughout my 20 years of residence in North Carolina, my claim to the American South has been denied numerous times. Maybe it’s my Indian heritage: the brown skin that brings quizzical looks upon my passionate request for fried chicken or my neutral unplaceable accent that I swear is what happens when you put Southern and Indian accents in a blender. But I digress because despite refutations from the half-empty naysayers, we (as true Southerners) recognize that Southern lifestyle goes beyond your skin tone,
the Vineyard Vines-clad frat boys and the diabetes-inducing sweet tea. The South, to me, is a community filled with hospitality, pride and tradition. The warmth of the sun extends across the landscapes and into people’s spirits. Though moving to St. Louis seemed initially as an abrupt move from my home, I have found that the sun has not escaped the people of the Midwest or the people of WUSM. In fact, I assure that you will feel at home in St. Louis surrounded by genuine people in an energetic, passionate community. And until sweet tea dominates the STL market, we can use our southern charm to teach the people of St. Louis how to correctly brew tea on their own.

— Nishkala Shivakumar, M1

On Being From a Small Town

I grew up in the rural town of Yangliu in the Shandong Province of China, where the tallest building had four floors and no traffic lights existed. After pursuing undergraduate studies for two years in Shanghai, a bustling metropolis of 24 million people, I then moved to Missoula, Montana, a beautiful mid-sized town of 70,000, to finish my degree. While I appreciate the abundance of talents and resources in large cities, I find myself more at ease when living in smaller areas. The fantastic thing about St. Louis is that in addition to its big-city vibes, it has numerous small-town perks that have made me feel at home. Whenever I need a reprieve from schoolwork or people, I go for a run in Forest Park or stroll through the Missouri Botanical Garden. Quiet neighborhoods are easy to find, and a short drive is enough to escape into a forest or go on a hike.

— Yu Xia, M1

On Being From the Midwest

Being from the Midwest means you’re closer to home! Maren Loe, M1, with her sister

I love the Midwest. I grew up in suburban Minnesota, convinced I wanted to attend college on the East Coast until I visited the University of Chicago. I loved being in a big city for four years, and I applied almost exclusively to medical schools on both coasts before falling in love with WUSM. St. Louis has it all; it is a small city with a comfortable, laid-back Midwestern attitude. With Amtrak and bus services, as well as a small international airport, St. Louis is fairly accessible for travel within the Midwest. Like the rest of the Midwest, St. Louis boasts a low cost of living and plenty of green spaces; it also is car-friendly. The people here, like Minnesotans and Chicagoans, are proud of their hometown and are loyal baseball and hockey fans. They are incredibly welcoming, and after just a few short months, St. Louis already feels like home.

— Maren Loe, M1

On Being From the West Coast

Yes, the weather here will never be as nice as it is in California, and yes, you can’t go to the beach whenever you feel like it, but as someone who recently moved away from California for the first time, I truly love it here. The people in St. Louis are wonderful and friendly, and outside of the terrible August humidity, I found the transition to be quite easy. There are tons of fun things to do outdoors here if you enjoy hiking, climbing or just being outside. There are great bars and food options that will satisfy anyone, and there is a Whole Foods Market, in case you need to go buy some overpriced hipster food to make you feel more at home.

— Emma Braun, M1

On Being From The East Coast

I’m from Boston, and even though I miss it, St. Louis is a great place to go to school. It is very easy and affordable (much more so than Boston!) to live within walking distance of the medical school. The city is much more spread-out than most East Coast cities, which means that driving is easier to navigate and traffic is not as bad. There are plenty of fun bars, museums and parks. I do miss the ocean and having a substantial fall season. I have, however, quickly gotten used to living in a landlocked area, which is made easier by doing things I never did on the East Coast — like float trips! The humidity in the summer is definitely worse than it is in the Northeast, but the reduced amount of snow makes it a fair trade-off for me.

— Lauren Behlke, M1

On Being Local

Students sharing a St. Louis “delicacy” — Imo’s Pizza

When deciding where to attend medical school, I was hesitant to choose WUSM because of its location in the city where I grew up. I had moved to the East Coast for college and then out West, and I was unsure about returning to the Midwest. The school won me over, however, and after moving back to St. Louis, I am so, so happy that I didn’t let the location deter me from attending the program that was the best fit for me. I have also found that I appreciate St. Louis so much more as an adult than I did when I was growing up here. There are so many opportunities to do fun things in the city itself and in the surrounding areas, and the cost of living means that you can actually afford (yes, even as a student!) to do those things.

— Devon Camp, M1

On Being International

The WUSM medical community is highly diverse. Regardless of your background, you will never feel like an outsider here. You will find that your classmates and faculty are very open-minded, welcoming and genuinely interested in your unique worldview. This is especially exemplified by our Medical Scientist Training Program, which fully supports a relatively large number of international students. The Washington University Office for International Students and Scholars provides exceptional support by organizing visa papers and orientation sessions. They also will continuously offer guidance on integrating into St. Louis and provide opportunities to engage with fellow international students. St. Louis harbors a uniquely progressive and diverse community, in large part because of our internationally renowned medical school. Furthermore, St. Louis is serving as a landing city for many refugees and immigrants, so you will have many opportunities to serve and interact with others who are new to the country. Rest assured that as a WUSM medical student, you will be fully prepared and supported in pursuing your ambitions within and beyond the U.S.

— Jad Belle, M1