Study Years

Ana Aslan

Life History - Part 6



Ana Aslan young in years
Ana Aslan young in years

In spite of being a merchant, Margarit Aslan was more of an aesthetic person than a businessman. He did not have a deep understanding or genuine interest in finances. It seems as if he was also a definite gambler. When he died the entire family fortune had been wasted, and difficult times followed for the family. The large house in Braila had to be sold, and the entire family moved to Bucharest. Here Ana finished her last 3 years of school at the famous Central School of the capital, and finished her Abitur in 1915.


At the beginning of the 20th Century, it was extremely unusual for a young woman to study medicine. In Rumania, people were forced to conform to a special degree to conservative social rules which did not make provision for women to have a career in science. Ana's wish to become a doctor directly contrasted with what was regarded as an ideal development to become a wife and mother. It split the family. Her mother was against the length of her university studies. The family did not have the necessary finances. Her mother was sure that a hospital was not the right place for a young lady. Mother and daughter, so similar in character, started a unrelenting power struggle. Although Ana loved her mother Sofia more than anyone else, she opposed her with all her might, and finally used a draconian method to get her own way: she began a hunger-strike.


Partly from love and worry about her child, partly in admiration of Ana's persistence, Sofia relented. An ecstatic Ana took the train to Bucharest the very next day. On the 13th October 1915, she was admitted to the medical faculty of the university and, in spite of her fears, she did not have to pay study fees, because her mother was a widow and without income. In an astonishing mixture of intelligence and superstition, she later said that the number 13 always brought her luck.


The first year of studies was difficult. After the in-depth study of Osteology, the science of the skeleton system, there were regular visits to the dissecting room. It was stuffy and dark there, and the bodies gave off an absolutely unbearable smell. The cooling was inadequate, especially in the exceptionally warm Autumn of 1915. Nevertheless, Ana's calling took her to the dissecting table day by day. She was fascinated by the labyrinths of nerves, vessels, and muscle tissue. Her insight, that the anatomical structures of the human body were a brilliant construction on nature, let her forget all her obstacles.


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