Two is better than one

City number three.  Calgary so far has been dark.  That is all I know.  And my hotel is a touch on the sketchy side.   Also, Alberta has snow.  No big surprise, but disappointing after snow-free Vancouver.  But I digress…

Interview number two in Edmonton was much better than the Vancouver one.  First of all, I was more comfortable with some of the answers (it is suspicious how many of the questions repeat themselves).  I also think I was a more relaxed after having done one interview already.  I spent more time in prayer and relaxing/rocking out to music this morning too, that always helps.

The night before, we went out for the residents’ social.  I took the bus to save some money and ended up traveling with another one of the interviewees, which was nice (after I tried to catch an earlier bus and thought I picked the wrong stop, chickened out and went back to the hotel only to learn I was right all along).  The social was at a fabulous Italian restaurant.  Big seller already.  I had fettuccine du chef, which was spinach fettuccine (home made, might I add), smoked salmon and mushrooms in a pesto-cream sauce.  So good.  It was also a fantastic dinner.  5 of the 8 of us who interviewed in Edmonton went.  The residents were ridiculously helpful and hospitable.  The trend continued today.  They offered interview tips, not only at their school, but at others.  They told us all about the program and the city and even drove us back to the hotel afterward.  It was delightful.

The hotel we almost all wound up staying at was recommended by the university.  It was really fancy and located downtown (not a convenient distance from the university or the airport… why do people do that).  It was quite classy, though.  I felt wealthy.  I even had a bathrobe.  And $4 granola for breakfast (because Patrick told me I have to eat before interviews… How sensible).  Despite the hotel being classy, I got stuck in the elevator on the 22ndfloor.  The door would ding and open about an inch then close again.  I eventually jammed my foot in there and the pried it open with my hands.  I was more nervous on boarding the elevator thereafter, though it never happened again.

The view of the city from my hotel room on the 22nd floor.

More of the city from the hotel. This is the most I saw of the city.

Again, the facilities at this hospital were beyond anything I have seen before.  The cancer center is a stand-alone hospital with its own diagnostic imaging department and OR designated for scoping, exams under anesthesia and brachytherapy insertions.  They are getting in a state of the art machine in the next few months.  They are doing research in image-guided therapy using MRI… This is so cool to a geek like me.

As I already said, the interview was good.  There were two panels, 20min each.  The residents warned us that there was a cold room and a pleasant room when they went through.  I was all ready for that.  But both were pleasant.  My umm and awkward hand gesture ratios decreased.

Most unusual question: If you were to take out a full page ad in the Globe & Mail advertising yourself in only three words, what words would you choose and why?  I picked organized, loyal and musical.  After at least 30 seconds of awkward pause when the person asking said to take my time, it is a different question (you think?).  It felt more like an hour of awkward pause.

Question that took me most by surprise: Tell us about a time you were involved in creating something non-academic and not related to curriculum, for instance writing, acting, music, athletics.  I talked about the time we did the dinner theatre.    I was also asked about a situation in which I feel there could be more research and then asked to pose a research question and suggest how those results would be obtained.  Wowzers… Loaded question.  I did the benefit of massage compared to standard treatment for cancer pain.  It is researched, but it was what popped into my head.  I was referring originally to other alternative therapies like herbal remedies or reiki, as well, but picked massage.

Post interview, I wandered the campus for a bit and found the medical school (well, the health professional school), which is epic and colorful.  It has lots of windows and lockers and seminar rooms.  The highlight, however, was the Starbucks in the lobby.  Based on the amount of coffee I and my colleagues consume, this is a wise location (for Starbucks, not so much for the medical student lines of credit). We also saw a delightfully yellow building that turned out to be a gym.

The Cross Cancer Institute

Me, en route to explore the rest of the hospital and U of A campus.

The train station and a very interesting building that turned out to be the school of all things medical.

The building was so colourful. And it had a Starbucks inside. What more can a med school need?

The mysterious yellow building. That turned out to be a gym.

I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see more of Edmonton because of all of the travel and such.  I will see just as little of Calgary.  Unfortunate.  The interviews are the main part, though.  Everything else is just icing on the cake (like Chili’s at the airport… Yum… A burger seemed like such a good idea, for the first half… If only I were more carnivorous).


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