Anyway, so: lab on Friday. I won't go into too much gory detail, but since we were studying the pelvis, in order to get a full/unobstructed view of all the structures we needed to see, we had to remove one of each cadaver's legs. Not dissect, remove -- as in, with a saw. That was extremely hard, both physically and emotionally. We also had to cut through the genitalia, which had a lot of us wincing in silent sympathy.
Moving on... the aforementioned 'Campout' is a Duke tradition; it's the way graduate students get basketball season tickets. There are several thousand grad students and only 725 season passes available, so everyone who wants to try their luck pitches a tent (or rents a U-Haul or an RV) in a field on campus for 36 hours and reports to periodic attendance checks. The phrase 'attendance checks' means, basically, that whenever the campout committee feels like it -- at any hour of the day or night, whether it's been 2 hours or 10 minutes since the last check -- they turn on a siren over the loudspeaker and all 2000 students immediately stop what they're doing and sprint en masse up the hill to get in line. If you're not in line at the end of ten minutes, you've missed that check; miss more than one check and you've lost your lottery slot. Everyone who's still eligible at the end of the 36 hours gets entered into the lottery; you either win a ticket or you don't. The committee has to try to pare the group down to a certain ratio (i.e. if there are still a lot of tenacious people hanging on after the first 24 hours, they'll step up the frequency of their checks to try to knock some people out) so that there ends up being about a 50% success rate in the end. Students traditionally camp out as a group so that the hard-earned tickets can then be split up amongst the group; that way, everyone will get to see some games.
As far as what you do during the actual Campout, it varies. Alcohol is generally involved, as one might suppose, and there were multiple activities (community service stuff, basketball shootouts, Halo tournaments, etc.) but since we DPAPers had the aforementioned three exams to look forward to (*sarcasm*), we actually just sat in our chairs and studied for most of the daylight hours. (On Saturday, I spent from 10:30am until sunset working on anatomy, with no breaks at all, and still did not get finished, which should tell you something about how much material gets covered in 14 hours of lecture!) We were all circled up with our notes on our laps (I have a few pictures HERE to prove it), and other students actually came out of their tents, stared at us, went to get their friends, and pointed and laughed. We were literally the ONLY ones studying. Truthfully, though, when I looked around at all of us, I was so proud to be a part of that group of people. I explained our program to a few other students in the check-in lines (who wanted to know why I had my anatomy notes with me in line), and nobody could believe the intensity of our program compared to theirs. At the risk of sounding arrogant, it seems like our program might actually be the very toughest one at Duke, at least in terms of sheer volume. We had a lot of fun, too, though, and pretty much gorged ourselves on food; there were free Panera bagels and coffee on Saturday morning and Whole Foods stuff for lunch, and then classmates who weren't camping out also brought us doughnuts and fruit and more coffee throughout the day. Liz brought us a late lunch / early dinner on Saturday night which included some veggies and dip, and we were all so sick of junk food that we ate every single piece of those veggies in about 20 minutes flat. I ate an entire Ziploc bag of bell pepper strips all by myself, with no dip whatsoever, and it was amazing.
Anyway, DPAP had a great showing; 35 of us completed campout and 17 of us, including me, won tickets. (My tent was the 'lucky' tent; we started out with 6 people sleeping there, and although 2 went home before the 36 hours were up, the 4 of us who stuck it out until the end all ended up winning!) Since I was a 'true' winner, I'll get to see the Duke-UNC game, which is a big deal around here and was 90% of the reason I did Campout in the first place; then the 35 of us who made it to the end will be holding a 'DPAP Draft' sometime in the next couple of days to split up the rest of the tickets. I'm hoping to get two tickets to the Duke-NCSU game out of that draft so that I can take Liz; since she just graduated from there, I think that would be a fun game for us to go to together. UNC would be the best one, of course (since we both went there too, and both have a bit of a grudge against it ;)), but tickets to that game are more precious than gold around here; people actually pitch tents in the walk-up line for that one, starting days in advance.
Oh, and HERE is a YouTube video about Campout if you want a peek at what the whole shebang looked like. Don't worry too much about the parts where Coach K and the team show up and talk to us; it's more fun to see how we all lived for the weekend. :) I should add that DPAP roughed it in tents all the way... no cushy U-Hauls or RVs for this crowd. (Although I may or may not have brought my air mattress... ;))
Anyway, I think I was going to talk about how we are all total zombies after this ridiculous week, but I honestly have no energy left to write about it. Suffice it to say that we have finally finished all three of those looming exams (oddly, my performance does not seem to have suffered one bit from having been at Campout) and are now barreling full steam ahead into Hematology, which I am beginning to despise. We have had 13 hours of lecture in it so far and have 7 more to go; the test is Tuesday, along with our third Microbiology exam.
However, the good news is that FALL BREAK starts next week; we have Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off, plus the weekend. A lot of classmates are going home, but I think I'm just going to hang out here in town and do stupid things like get my hair cut, read a few pleasure books, etc. It won't be a total break from school for me, anyway, since I feel like I really need to use the time to get my physical exam in order (and study for the fourth Microbiology test, which is the day we get back... not very nice of them...), but it'll still be nice to have even the tiniest bit of breathing room.
One thing that I do definitely want to do is take a solo day trip to the beach while Liz is working; I love the beach when it's cold. I want to wear jeans and a sweatshirt, pack a bag with my Kindle and my iPod, stop along the way for a large coffee and a box of doughnut holes, and then just go sit on the beach and stare at the water for a few hours. I am a Florida girl, born and bred, and I think some beach detox would be a good thing right about now.
So, bottom line: still loving school beyond all reason, but definitely ready for a little break.
(Oh, and I warned you this would happen: I'm now leaning toward Tanzania for my international rotation. Check THIS out... I can't believe a Third World hospital has a website, but they do. That's where I'd be working, and THIS is the city I'd be in. What do you think?)