Saturday, 28 July 2012

Grumpy Biomed's inspiration: a long overdue thank you

Currently listening to: The Universal - Blur

So, why did I get into blogging a few years back? There are plenty of other ways of stress relief: talking with friends, listening to good music, going out, walking scenic routes in London, etc. And yes, I've done and continue to do all all of these things, but none of them have been as effective as blogging. It is extremely therapeutic and cathartic to come on here, release my thoughts as a stream of consciousness and a few days, months or even years later to look back and see where I was, what I was going through and where I am now. It helps give me a real sense of perspective and clarity.

But that doesn't really explain why I blog. I could just as easily have kept a diary. But I chose to put this stuff on the internet. This was for two reasons, the first was because I really appreciate the help and advice given to me over the years by readers who leave comments. And I've said thank you for that at several points over the years, but you can never say it enough, so cheers again! But there is one other reason too.

When I was a first year (i.e. a year before I started writing here), I stumbled across a blog written by "MS", a third year biomedical sciences student at UEL and prospective medical student, and at the time applicant. "MS" was quite a different category of student to me: his grades were consistently excellent, he showed up to his classes, and generally seemed very together and organised. But he was not content with being a biomed, he wanted to do medicine. As a first year biomed faced with the seemingly infinite biomedical sciences degree in front of me, I found this anonymous third year's blog to be simultaneously comforting and inspirational in its own way...reading his old posts from the beginning of his course, leading onto his volunteering experiences, UKCAT scores, and finally the submission of his UCAS form provided me with something of a light at the end of the tunnel, a sign that in a few years time I too might end up doing what I truly wanted to do like he had.

As it happened, "MS" got a first and ended up studying medicine at Barts and The London where he is now (presumably) about to go into fourth year...but unfortunately he deleted all his old posts (which were here), however I do remember just how helpful they were to me. So even though he's not likely to ever read this: thank you. You really helped me to maintain some focus and persevere through first year. I hope medicine's just as fulfilling and enjoyable as you hoped it would be.

So, in the middle of second year when I ended up making a blog myself, I deliberately chose to put it in the public domain...so that in case there are any other annoyed and stressed out biomed students out there, they can see that the story can indeed have a happy ending. To that end, I do hope this blog has been as useful to someone else as MS' blog was to me.

(Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, I'm moving blog sometime next week - just needed to say this final thank you before I ditch the Grumpy Biomed alias!).

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Acceptance Afternoon

Currently listening to: Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five - Paul McCartney & Wings

Wow okay, so, during the past few weeks I've been going through some minor administrative and financial crises. Firstly, there's the student finance issue which I detailed a few days ago, which means I will be penniless come September unless SFE sort themselves out, and also the fact that I still haven't found a flat to live in. Bear in mind I'm supposed to be moving in about 5 weeks. This is not due to lack of effort, indeed, a few weeks back I decided to go for a flat, only to be told that the agent had given it to someone else during a period when their office was supposedly closed. Lovely. Anyway, la lutte continue.

So in the spate of all of these incidents, it's been quite easy for me to forget I'm actually about to embark on what has been a dream since childhood for me, namely going to medical school and training to become a doctor. Fortunately, today I was allowed to forget about my lack of money and lack of housing for a while as I went off for the course acceptance afternoon: the first official event I've been to as a soon-to-be medical student at Warwick.

I must say, there is nothing quite as nerve-wracking as walking into a room filled with a hundred strangers who are all chatting...and you're alone and looking flustered as your bus turned up later than you expected. Very nerve-wracking indeed...my initial thought was, "how do they all know eachother?!". Then I realised that if I'd turned up 20 minutes earlier, I'd have been able to get chatting in a less intense environment before the room became packed. I wasn't late by the way, I arrived at 11:20 and the day was kicking off at 11:30. But I was sufficiently late to walk in and look awkward. Anyway, I managed to talk to some people (not people - classmates now!) for a few minutes, before we all went to the lecture theatre. Anyway, the most amazing feeling ever when I went to register and there was my name. Me! As a medical student! On the list! Finally!

The first talk was an introduction to Phase I of our course (roughly: the mostly pre-clinical phase). All seems very interesting and a wide range of different modules, none of which include labs! Yay! The lecturers went through the timetable for our first three terms, which is 9-5, Monday to Friday. Feels less like university, and more like a job! Then again, I'm going to be doing a 5 year degree in 4 years, so I wasn't altogether surprised at the intensity of the timetable really. The molecules professor was very lively and animated indeed, and I think, succeeded in successfully scaring most of the class into actually committing to read the biochemistry reading list over the Summer. I'll be looking through my old notes for sure. I've covered all the topics on the syllabus during undergrad and postgrad, though I could do with some revision.

Lunch followed, more chatting with random people for five minutes at a time (felt like the interview day all over again), and then more talks. This time on less academic things and more practical affairs such as accommodation, student finance, the disability service, occupational health etc. Then a final talk by the MedSoc reps and a few words from the Phase II (wholly clinical part of the course) director. Again, very interesting. Can't believe in 18 months I'll be a clinical med student (you know, if I pass exams and all).

The next time I go back will be in the first week of September when I officially start the course. All I can say is bring it on, I really can't wait! Even the long talk on occupational health was more interesting than every biomed lab I've ever had simply because it's not irrelevant to who I am and what I want to do. To be honest with you, if I'm beginning to find occupational health talks interesting, then it's only a short period of time before I fully evolve into the Painfully Enthusiastic Medical Student:



Anyway, I'm sure I've said this a lot, and I will say it a lot more over the coming weeks and months, and you can call me a naive idealist all you like, but it feels truly amazing and fulfilling to be sat in a lecture theatre knowing that I'm happy and content exactly where I am and that the days of constantly yearning for something else are over. Very happy about that.

(PS: Given just how sickeningly positive and un-grumpy this post was, I'll also add that I'll be switching over to a new blog pretty soon-ish. As I'm no longer grumpy about my degree or a biomed student, it feels vaguely weird to be writing on here. It's a bit like wearing clothes from your childhood: they once served you well, but at a certain point you realise you've grown and you just have to get a new set of clothes, you know?)