Settlers of the Lounge

Hello Everyone,

Boy, does it feel good to be on spring break in one day.  Tomorrow night, I am heading off to sunny California for the APha conference, and could not be more excited.

This post was meant to go out a few weeks ago and I have been working on it little by little, but this little thing called school got in the way of that.  Anyways, my inspiration for this post is two-fold: a) the extreme amount of time I spend at school everyday, mainly in the lounge studying if not in class b) the amount of time my friends reference the board game “Settlers of Catan” in a given day.  If you aren’t familiar with Catan, none of this will make any sense and you better find a friend who has the game so you know what i’m talking about.  You should be warned though, I am not responsible for any lost friendships over Catan.  It gets a bit intense.  Because I don’t have the time to play Catan nearly as much as I would like, I had to compensate by pretending my enitire life is Catan.  So here we have it: Settlers of the Lounge. I shall Explain.

Settlers of Catan is a game of Resources.  Five resources Sheep, Wood, Brick, Wheat and Ore, are scattered around Catan.  The goal of the game is to get victory points.  Victory points are awarded in several ways: building settlements (wheat,1 sheep, 1 brick and 1 wood) gives you one point, building cities (3 ore and 2 wheat) gives you two points, having the longest road (1 brick and 1 wood) or largest army gives you two points, or some development cards (1 sheep, 1 ore and 1 wheat) are victory points in themselves.  Sometimes resources are blocked off due to the presence of a knight on a certain square. Basically, it is a race to get the most victory points.  All is fair in Catan.  You can bargain with other players to get the resources you need. 

In the same sense, the lounge is a place of resources.  The pharmacy lounge is basically my second home; scratch that, it is my home.  I spend more time at lounge than I do at my house.  The lounge has pretty much all the necessary components needed for survival… a fridge, a power supply, a printer,couches and even people (most of the time) to get your daily dose of social interaction. In order for stay at the lounge for extended periods of time and actually get work done during this time, it is necessary to have all of these components in place.

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First things first: Brick+Wood

Brick=Power supply

My life is on my computer/iPad.  Basically everything I ever need to do, such as studying for quizzes and tests, doing my prelab, or writing a care plan, is either on my iPad or laptop. So imagine a time when you are in pharmacy beast-mode, and you experience that terrible moment when you notice that your laptop is at 4% and your iPad, which is being charged by your laptop is also at 4%.  Heck, we are going to make this even more drastic as say your iPhone is also at 4%.  But it’s ok, because you can just charge all of them using your multitude of Apple chargers.  OH WAIT.  There are way too many people in the lounge, and those precious outlets are all being used to charge other people’s productivity.  There are even a few people who are monopolizing one outlet, plugging in their phone, iPad and computer. THE HORROR!

Likewise, bricks are crucial for moving forward in Catan.  Without bricks, you can’t build roads, which means you can’t make settlements, which means you can’t make cities.  So basically you are screwed.  Just like you can maybe bargain with one of those monopolizers of the outlets (“hey, i’ll give you some of my BunMi fries if you unplug your laptop”) you can maybe trade something like sheep with someone who has a brick monopoly……if you are lucky.




Imagine this; You have lab at 10:10 and you get off the train at 9:53, just the perfect amount of time to go to the computer lab and print off your pre-lab that is required to turn in at the lab. You get on the computer, pull out your document, and hit print.  You sit there, twiddling your thumbs for a few moments, and realize your document has not printed.  You get up to look at the printer “please follow the steps of screen to unjam printer”.  As a side note, I always think it is funny when printers have fancy interactive displays explaining how to unjam them; like, why don’t they spend more time actually making the printers better so they don’t jam in the first place rather than designing super seemingly user friendly (but not) instructions on how to unjam the printer! But back to our situation; a wave of panic strikes you because you know this elaborate process to unjam the printer is not going to happen in the next ten minutes. Your only hope is that the lab printers are working… otherwise S- for you!

Likewise, in Catan, wood is crucial for both building roads and settlements, which are crucial to ultimately getting cities.  Without wood, your only hope is to either trade multiple of your cards in for one measly wood (an analogous situation to paying 10 cents for a printed sheet at the BioMed library when you could get free prints in the lounge) or trade with someone else for some of their wood (aka, convincing your friend to let you use their printer to print something out).   Neither of which are anywhere near as fruitful as utilizing your 600 free prints in the weave. It even staples for you!



While having the printer broken or having no outlets are both extremely unfortunate situations (especially if you have neither of them), another huge limiting factor of the amount of time that one can stay in the lounge studying is food.  If it is 7 pm, you have been at school all day studying all day, and you get hungry, let’s face it; you are not going to motivated to stay there studying to 11 PM like you planned. In Catan,  bricks and wood  are all you need for roads, the most basic level of building, but without wheat, you can’t build settlements, cities or buy development cards.  So basically, you have no chance of winning without wheat.  You also have no chance of winning studying without food.  Thankfully, we are equipped with a fridge, a microwave, a toaster, and a whole street of fantastic restaurants down Washington.  Even so, things become a problem when 1) it is -40 outside and even the though of a  brief walk to BunMi is a reason to not go 2) the fridge is cleaned out and all of your food is gone 3) you forget your wallet 4) you forget your lunch or you are banking on a free lunch that doesn’t quite pan out (aka, other health professions that get out 5 min earlier than we do and eat all of the food).  All of these causes of famine are all reasons for unproductivity.



Sheep= Couches(aka a place to sleep)

Some may argue that sheep are the most useless resource in all of Catan.  I would agree with this for the most part, but I actually recently witnessed someone become the best in all of Catan  off a sheep monopoly.  So the jury is still out on this one.  Just like how the jury is still out on how critical sleep is to pharmacy school success.  Throughout pharmacy school, I have run the gambit of the entire sleep spectrum.  From my many data points, ranging from one all nighter, to accidentally sleeping from 10pm to 12 pm the next day, I have realized that the 6-7 hr range is the sweet spot for maximum productivity.   Any less than that, I throw in the towel the next day at 10PM because I just don’t have it in me to keep at the lounge studying.

The couches in the lounge are one way to quickly relieve your exhaustion, so they can be useful. I can think of one night in particular that a quick 10 min rest on the couch resuscitated me and gave me the will to keep going for a few more hours for pharmacology and immunology.  That was a little bit different because I had a sense of urgency since I had two tests the next day; fear, I have learned, is  a powerful force.   In most cases, I am worthless with less than 6 hours of sleep. On the other hand, if i’m getting 9 or more hours of sleep….. well, chances are I wouldn’t be at the lounge in the first place because I would be in my bed.  All in all, it is pretty close to the whole sheep situation in Catan; under most circumstances, playing little-boe-peep usually won’t get you the win, just like being too well-rested means you probably aren’t doing your homework.  But really, if you are counting enough sheep, it’s hard to be a loser.

Ore= social interaction

Now imagine this;   it’s 6 pm on a Sunday night and I walked into the lounge, ready for a nice, fruitful night of studying after work. No one was there; perfect, I had all the outlets to myself.  I even had food AND the printer is working.  So far, all the pieces are inline for a successful evening of watching immunology videos, studying for tomorrow’s TBL, doing my pre-discussion assignment and writing a paper (note: this is a “light’ weekend for us). I open the assignment and start working.  But then……………………………………. everything goes black.

No, I didn’t just pass out.  The lights just went out.  You see, the lounge has motion-sensing lights.  During the day, when the lounge is full of bumbling student pharmacists, the lights stay on.  But when you are the only person in the lounge, you might as well just be dead, since the lights not so conveniently turn off every 5 minutes.  That means you ever have to stand up, wave your arms around, chuck random personal belongings across the room, or work in the dark.  All damper your workflow. Thankfully, within the next half our, other living beings entered the lounge.   I finally saw the light…… literally .

Really, though, you really can’t win Catan without cities or development cards,all which require ore.  Just like you really can’t win, or even survive pharmacy school (or  stay in the lounge for a long period of time) without the support of your wonderful Pharmily.  Morale of this whole story: don’t be like the people of Catan who don’t share resources.  There is only one winner when that happens.  Instead, let’s all be winners.


My Kappa Psi family at our wonderful dinner meeting!

Well, that got a lot deeper than I was intending. Anyways, next post I will promise not to bore you with describing probably the most boring aspect of pharmacy school; studying.  Instead, I will have wonderful pictures of CALIFORNIA.  It’s hard to believe that one day I woke up with snow everywhere and the next I will be somewhere where it is 80 degrees, but I am not complaining!

Until next time!


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