The sound of clapping echoed throughout the auditorium as the last lecture ended. Students immediately rushed to grab their luggage. Shared cars had been arranged, and cheerful wishes for one another’s holidays were exchanged in passing amid the hurry. The overwhelming joy of the commencement of winter break danced in the air. We had been awaiting the arrival of this moment, especially during the most difficult points in the semester. As determined as we all were to rush through those glass doors that slid open on their own, inviting us out, something stopped me from immediately taking that invitation.

We had begun this journey just a few months ago as complete strangers. From all across the country, we combined into one class. One purpose. One new beginning. Our time during the initial days, or even weeks, of medical school incorporated the struggle to remember and pair names and faces. Now, the urge to properly part our ways and say farewell was too powerful to let me leave without doing so. I was ecstatic to feel this attachment.

As someone who maintained my friends since childhood, I never thought it possible to grow close to anyone in just a measly few months. However, somewhere along the way of this expedition, we tumbled toward our transition from classmates to friends. What could have caused this? Forming a bond this rapidly is rare, but I speculate it came from the rare experiences we shared.

Upon matriculation, we were granted a built-in support group with our “molecules.” With these individuals, we interviewed patients for the first time. We learned physical exams for the first time. We listened to peoples’ lives together. We reflected how this felt together. We confessed our mistakes and noticed each others’ improvements. We dissected a human body together. We found the nerves that allowed someone to smile, the muscles that allowed them to hug and the structures that allowed them to speak. We reflected upon what this meant for our cadavers, and in the midst of this, we did not realize what it meant for us. We became the only ones who knew what we were going through. We shared our doubts hours before an exam and our relief seconds after. We took care of one another through the sicknesses, loss of relationships and outright bad days. Our families and friends scattered across the nation, we were all we had. Together, we learned the ins and outs of a new city. We celebrated birthdays as if we were there for their previous birthdays.

And for the first time, I realized how monumental a few months could be. And if all this could happen in a few months, what do we have in store for the next few years? Friendship, as I now know it, can be decided. And as I head to one home for winter break, I know I have another one to return to.


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