Thursday, July 31, 2008

Welcome to Las Vegas

The biggest part of the move was a success and I am now writing from the Las Vegas valley. The moving truck barely made it up the hills at 45mph and coming down them topped out at 70mph. Due to the slow speeds, the trip took an extra hour to arrive. Perhaps the bugs smacking into the top of the truck are what slowed us down the most.

Hotel Las Vegas

As usual, our grandparents offered a very warm welcome upon our arrival. It's one of the things we look forward to each time we visit with them. Until the documents are signed and we close on our home, they have opened their one room hotel to us their guests. Although we do not expect to be here too long, it will be at least two weeks before closing.

Our truck rental only covered three days, so we made a little room in the garage and emptied our belongings before the heat became too much to withstand. We were surprised at how little we actually had and how quick we were able to unload. It was likely in anticipation of finally seeing the home we are in the process of purchasing.

Vegas Vacation

The home is beautiful and just what we expected to be getting from the pictures we have seen. We can not wait to move in and have the whole procedure finished. Meanwhile, I have been enjoying my last week of vacation before school starts. With so much to do, every day has something new to offer. One day I'll get a little sun next to the pool and the next I fill my appetite at one of the many buffets. I have to learn when to stop, it is starting to hurt.

Having air conditioning, in and of itself, is a super vacation. With no assignments, exams, or appointments to worry about, this has been a relaxing week. Just what I need right before starting the long days of medical school.

Back to School

With orientation and classes less than a week away, the final preparations are under way. I stopped by campus to get my photo taken for my ID card and was surprised to learn the students from other fields of study have been in classes for over a month now. The osteopathic students are the last to begin. A schedule of our classes for the next five months was distributed, showing what we have to look forward to in the near future.

We start as first year students with two days of orientation before classes begin. Oddly, there is no set schedule every week and classes vary from day to day, but the average day starts at 8:00 in the morning lasting until 5:00 at night. The nice part is that Fridays are shortened due to the Jewish sabbath. Jewish holidays throughout the semester offer many days off, especially during the month of October.

Looking at the course load seems a little daunting at this time, but the subject matter is exciting to consider. After all, this is the stuff I and my classmates have been waiting a lifetime to study and we are just now on the doorsteps of experiencing it all firsthand.

We are celebrating my grandpa's birthday this weekend, buffet style, what a great way to start the last weekend of my relaxed life. After next week, they will not be common occurrences for some time. Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Time to Hit the Road

After months of preparation, we are minutes away from leaving to our new home in Las Vegas. The truck is packed, has a full tank of gas, and the keys to our rental unit turned over to the management.

Budget Rental Truck

When I visited the post office to change our address, I was surprised to see a coupon for 20% off a Budget rental. Of course it might be too late now, but in the future I will be sure to look at the coupons before planning my move completely. We are still excited about the savings we obtained with Budget nonetheless.

Our truck is the larger 16' as the 10' truck would simply be too small. We still have extra room in the truck. It certainly relieved a headache of not being able to fit all our belongings into one vehicle. We have little furniture to transport, so fitting our collection of boxes was no problem. I would still recommend getting a truck slightly larger than what you expect to use.


Once our belongings were packed into the truck we were prepared to clean the apartment from top to bottom. The saying "many hands make for little work" is so true. I would like to express our appreciation to all of our friends and family who helped load our life into the truck and willingly cleaned with us. It went extremely fast; only one hour to load the truck and a few to clean.

We borrowed an inflatable mattress from some friends for the night as everything else was packed away. With everything done, it is a relief to be finished with this side of the move. The irony is that it only gets harder from here.

Fuel Economy

As I have never driven anything as big as our rental truck, I will be taking it slow on the road, not to mention it contains all of our earthly possessions. We plan to drive between 60-65mph to decrease our drag and increase our savings. Not to mention it will ease my nerves and improve our safe arrival.

A couple nights before departure, I used the internet to plan our trip and the best gas prices along the route. Using a combination of Google Maps and Gas Buddy I found the cheapest gas prices within the last couple days and the exit numbers to get us to the stations along the way. Before leaving I compared the most recent prices of the day and we are set. It is quite convenient as the average price is $4.08 and right in the middle of our trip is a station selling gas for $3.90! Of course driving two vehicles will not help, but any savings will help at this point.

Cheers to the last post in Utah and to a future in Las Vegas!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Packing Boxes

It has finally come down to cardboard, tape, and furniture. The last few days have been spent packing away books, utensils, supplies and everything else all in preparation to load our moving truck next week.

The first thing you see upon entering our home is a wall of boxes containing our life for the past two years. Thankfully it wasn't longer or we may have had more to pack. During my time as a postal employee, one of the carriers saw a box with a sticker on it and said, "Fra-gee-lay, that's French meaning 'to drop'." Evidently the fragile markings don't do much for security.

We spent some time with family this weekend and plan to spend more time with friends in the coming days as we say our goodbyes. Commonly a biter-sweet activity, there is no easy way to do it and feel like everything has been said or expressed.

As the months turn into weeks and then into days, I grow more anxiety towards the future and its complexity looming overhead. Some times I think I am that box being held by others who are saying "fra-gee-lay," shrugging their shoulders and dropping me to the ground below. What an amazingly stressful time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Discount Books

I am growing what seems to be a never ending stack of books. A couple of months ago, Touro sent me a list of 'Required' and 'Recommended' text books for First Year students. At last, the time for real-deal medical books has come...or so I thought.

Buying Medical School Books

After receiving some feedback from veteran students and practicing physicians, I saved hundreds of dollars. Actually it was rather intuitive; do NOT purchase the 'Recommended' books. They certainly may contain some useful information, but I think I will have plenty to read within the covers of my 'Required' library that superfluous texts will only add to my lack of time.

With that decision made, the list was cut in half, leaving me a little less in debt. The remaining 20 books, however, are starting to make my shoulders ache just thinking about carrying them to class.

Since I have not yet received my loan reimbursement, the new problem is being able to pay for $2500 worth in books. My solution has worked thus far and costs approximately $250 every pay check. I made an initial order and waited for the shipment to arrive before selecting the next handful of texts to purchase. It is exciting to think I am one order away from having all my books and the projected total is a little more than $1000.

Bargain Prices

Some students opt to borrow or share texts with their neighbors. Good idea, but I plan to spend some serious time with my books. TUNCOM has an online bookstore that gives back to the school when used to purchase texts as many schools probably have. This is great for the school, unfortunately there is very little discount to the student.

There is an option for getting the books for free, since that includes the military, that option is out for me. As most students are doing now, I turned to the internet's vast library of cheap books. Although there are many online stores for purchasing text books, the two with the greatest savings are no surprise. Between ebay's and omnipresent Amazon, there is a lot of saving power.

The part I like is that you are helping other people sell their books. I imagine down the road I will have to sell mine too, so it is a way to build up positive karma I suppose. Perhaps you are more into funding a 'better' cause. In that case you may be interested in purchasing books for full price and then some at Better World Books who make an effort to stamp out illiteracy.

If used books are viable options, prices can be significantly reduced. Other considerations may be older editions, borrowing, and buying the books as soon as possible. I learned this the hard way. When I first performed my book search, the prices were almost one third of the original. Now only weeks away, costs are up as the cheaper selections have already been bought by others.

Between the Book Covers

As I searched the confines of Amazon, I came across the 'wish list' feature. When you find something you like, you simply click the wish list button to add it and others can see what you want. My list became an organizational tool for me, but if you have a gift giving event coming up, you may consider sharing your wish list with others. Who knows, perhaps they will be able to help cut down on the costs for books and supplies.

With work and preparations to move, opening these books has not been the first thing on my list of priorities. They certainly look attractive though. Knowing I will have plenty of time to digest the material, I am enjoying my vacation now while I am still ahead. For now the mystery will maintain my intrigue.

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