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  • Maria Samuel

Independent Living

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

While I am very close to my family, I did not let that define or limit my opportunities for self exploration and goal attainment. After medical school, I took a big leap of faith and moved to a large city, New York City of all places, on my own. For three years, I lived in a small studio apartment on the Lower East Side. I learned to organize my time accordingly. Grocery shopping was always a planned event as was doing laundry. The laundromat in my building closed at 10 PM. So, if I wanted to make sure I had enough clothes for the week, it took a lot of planning on my part to schedule this in. This was even more difficult during the weeks on night shift. But, with all the adaptations and the difficulties in coping, I enjoyed every minute of it. Taking my weekend walks on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to Central Park (60 blocks round trip), enjoying a nice cup of coffee and pastry at Veniero's, taking small late night/midnight runs to the store right across the hospital for the best grilled cheese sandwich around, or enjoying the best Boba tea from the hole in the wall truck near the hospital. Those were the best memories. Better yet was having to deal with the challenges of winter - I recall the one time I had to trek my way to the hospital in the middle of a Blizzard and slipped and fell straight on my back (I think to this day that I likely broke my coccyx). Or, the time when Hurricane Sandy hit and I had no electricity in my small apartment, relying on dimly lit candles to make my way around. But, even during those hardships, God was watching over me. He brought to me people to help and guide me - my program director in residency, my amazing co-residents, and the landlord of my apartment building, Simon. Every new place that I moved into, my dad made it a habit to introduce me to the landlord. It was his way of informing him to watch over me. I was excited when my parents came for a visit - I took them on the ferry to Staten Island to see the Statue of Liberty, we walked through central park, ate pastries at Veniero's and I even introduced them to the best Shawerma food truck in the city (near 53rd and Hudson). I grew as a person, learning to assert myself more, developed a sense of purpose and confidence, and aspired to reach my goals, no matter how difficult. While my medicine program was small, I took every opportunity to search for research. So, when the opportunity to travel to Rochester, MN and work at Mayo clinic arose, I jumped on the chance. For the whole month of February, I stayed at an Extended Stay America and took the daily shuttle to the hospital to work on my research. On the weekends, I walked across the street in the freezing cold to grocery shop and even left a grocery cart in my room upon my departure. I felt purposeful and alive - I was chasing my goals and dreams!

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