Monday, December 18, 2006

What the heck do you mean, balance? I'm too busy studying.

A common question that I've gotten from pre-meds is, "Is there a lot of work in med school?" Let me give some sort of an answer to that question.

During the semester, it was awesome. Great fun. I loved it; the people are awesome, the coursework is increasingly interesting, and there wasn't much required work to hand in so there was plenty of free time for socializing.

And then it dawned on us that finals were so close that they were staring us in the face. Oh, how things have changed.

My life for the past 13 days or so has consisted of me waking up, going to school to meet up with some friends in a study room, unpacking all my books, studying for my entire time awake, and then going home and going to bed.

Exceptions to this wake-to-sleep study time include breaks for writing the two lab finals I've already written (histology & anatomy), and eating and toileting and sanity brakes (most of which involve doing anything other than studying to keep our mind sane, during which we usually end up doing crazy things and don't look very sane at all). I also took a day off to go on a paramedic ride-along, and an evening off when I called my friend and said "I need to do something other than study" and we hung out instead. And I had to go pick up milk at a 7-eleven once because none of the grocery stores are open at the ghastly hour I end up driving home every night.

There are also random breaks when I wonder if I if this is all worth it. If I should have become a paramedic / burger flipper / graphic designer / any other profession. There are times when I feel like I don't deserve to wear my brand new hoodie with my school's initials and "MEDICINE" plastered across the front until I at least pass this final. Times when I wonder how embarrassing it will be for me to have to re-take a year if I fail this semester. Times when I listen to a classmate confide in me that his relationship is on the rocks because his girlfriend never sees him anymore. "It will be really sad if med school causes me to lose my girlfriend." I agree. My heart goes out to him.

This study frenzy and sudden lack of social life isn't because I did have a social life during the semester and maybe I didn't keep up as much as some of the more keener folk in my class. I know that because even those who have been studying every day throughout the semester are still stressing and approaching this final wondering if they'll make it.

The exams themselves will be exhausting. Our two finals this week will be pushing 300 questions. We will be given a massive question booklet and an answer booklet with enough blank circles on each of its several pages to make it look like it's been riddled with bullets. Over the course of three hours, we will decide which of those circles we feel should be filled in.

When we are finished our last final, we'll go to the class holiday party. There, I will realize that it's four days until Christmas and I haven't even thought about Christmas shopping yet, let alone enjoyed the progression of the holiday season towards Christmas day. The only reason I knew it was holiday season was because Tim Horton's and Starbucks, where I've been partaking in caffiene infusions lately, have seasonal cups and flavourings.

Other than the MCAT (I shudder every time I even say that word), I have never studied so much for such a huge test, and I have never studied for one test for so many hours and so many straight days. In undergrad, if I studied one single day like this for any one of my examsI would have been more than ready. Here, I am merely hoping to get by with something more respectable than just a 'pass.'

Of course, there's still that echo in my mind that "everybody passes" and "it will be fine." But that's from people who studied more than I have for these tests and have also put them well behind themselves. Easy for them to say.

I'm not sure when I traded in my life for this. I guess this is when I'm supposed to take a step back and think about the reasons I signed up in the first place.

So this is med school.

This is what I fought so hard to be able to do.

And it's only the first term.


Anonymous said...

*gasp* what's this I hear? Starbucks??
*lol* guess the dirty water doesn't cut it all the time ;)

Anonymous said...

hang in there....... you are so close to Christmas break! Just a few more days of hell for you and then you get a relaxing break:-)

Anonymous said...

I loved this! especially the "toileting" part.

Anonymous said...

The terrible MCAT...I actually don't remember it being so bad studying. Not sure if that's because I blocked out a bad memory or if because for once in my life I conquered my bad time management skills