Monday, June 18, 2007

Afternoon Thoughts

I took this picture a couple of days ago. It was a beautiful sunny day, clear blue skies. This airplane was cruising 30,000 feet above me.
I sometimes catch myself thinking. Are there people from my home in that plane? Anyone perhaps flying to or from Malaysia? Wouldn't it be nice if I were there? I wonder if there is anyone onboard, looking down and wondering how it would to live here.
For what it's worth, I'm contend with life here. But I do miss home still. All you people.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a protégée of mine. "Should I specialize in the US?" She was torn between returning home to Malaysia after graduation, or staying on for post-grad training.
Something I get asked at least several times a month by blog readers.

Unfortunately, I have no magic answer. I wish it was as simple as that. True, the residency system here is geared towards teaching and training. True, you'll get to practice medicine in a way that probably is not possible in Malaysia, unless you work in a private hospital. True, you don't waste time, and get to be, say a consultant plastic surgeon 5 years after graduation. True, inflation isn't half as bad as Malaysia (you can buy a new Honda Accord with 4-5 months' salary as a junior HO!).
But grass isn't always greener on the other side.
The way I see it, when one picks to specialize here, one sacrifices a lot in the name of career. It's possibly one of those life-altering decisions. After working overseas for 10 years, can one ever adapt to return home? And there is a good chance you meet your life partner here; will you ever want to settle down at home then? Will you ever get to enjoy those simple pleasures in life, like taking a short drive to meet with school friends at the nearby mamak? Or go for an evening stroll with mom and dad? Watch your nephew learn a new game?
No, the grass isn't greener on the other side. The truth is, you sacrifice some wherever you go. You'll have things to complain about where you end up. And there will be benefits regardless of whether one works.
So, that question has no one answer. One just has to decide what one wants out of life, personally and professionally.