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New Girl: Living the sitcom in medical school

SMS ("Stanford Medical School") Unplugged was recently launched as a forum for students to chronicle their experiences in medical school. The student-penned entries appear on Scope once a week; the entire blog series can be found in the SMS Unplugged category.

Natalia and housemates“The question is how would the fantasy suite episode go if you were the bachelor?” My roommate Will brought the conversation back to where it started one evening. My other roommate, Dan, immediately shoveled a heaping forkful of dinner in his mouth and looked away. The first episode of this season’s "The Bachelor" had just aired, to Will’s delight. He found every opportunity to bring it up, from connecting my Venezuelan heritage to Juan Pablo’s, to discussing the scandalous elements of the show with us as we cook. Naturally, a lively conversation between the three of us followed Will’s question about the overnight dates episode, and I was still laughing when I sat down to work.

So what's it like to live with two guys?

The question has come up numerous times amongst my classmates, friends and family. And when it does, I make a joke about the show "New Girl." Or I tell people that it’s great as long as I clean my own bathroom. Then I change the topic of conversation because my real answer to that question goes deeper than a passing hallway conversation merits.

In the past four months, we sure have had our moments. There was the day I couldn’t choose which sundress to wear, and Dan liked them all. Or so he said when I showed them to him while he ate breakfast.

There was the day we decided to deep-clean the house. A few minutes later I turned around to find Will shirtless and mopping the floors with undiluted floor polish.

There was the day I came home and snapped at them to turn the TV off because ESPN was echoing in our living room yet again. Dan and Will surreptitiously turned the TV to mute every time I came into the living room after that.

But there were other moments, too, ones we don’t tell other people as a joke. There was the night I came home sobbing after breaking up with my boyfriend. And it was Dan, not any of my girlfriends, who got me a cup of tea and held me as I cried.

There was the time that Will broke his leg, and the following weeks when we pretended that we were going up the stairs anyway so why not let us take his bag for him.

There was the day I came home and saw Dan lying on the couch with his eyes closed, looking as aged as my grandfather after a long day.

We have no secrets in this house. We know when one of us is struggling in a class and how to bring it up. We’ve all heard each other receive distressing calls from home. We know when to give Dan alone time and when to drag Will out on a Friday night. I know when Dan has a crush and when Will gets a Snapchat from his girlfriend. They pretend not to notice when I’m eating inordinate amounts of chocolate.

These are all moments I don’t share with people when they ask what it’s like to live with two guys. This home we share is perhaps the only part of my life in medical school that doesn't regularly push me to my limit. Rather, this is the place and they are the people I can count on to help me let my guard down. Because the truth is that living with them isn't a gender issue. It's about living with two classmates who have become my best friends, my confidants, and my brothers.

Natalia Birgisson is a first-year medical student at Stanford. She is half Icelandic, half Venezuelan and grew up moving internationally before coming to Stanford for college. She is interested in neurosurgery, global health, and ethics. Natalia loves running and baking; when she's lucky the two activities even out.

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