Due to the fact that I don’t have any posts from my first year of studying medicine; I thought I’d provide you all with a quick summary of my fresher year.
My first year of medicine flew by and it was hard for me to catch up with the pace. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting on my bed in the Halls residence staring at the boxes and suitcases that littered the floor. There were a few tears on my mum’s part as her and my sister drove off to finish the 300 mile journey that they had to get back home… Home… I’ve been told my some of my older friends that once you’re in university, the house that you grew up in won’t feel the same. Even if you come back regularly to see your family, the way you act and are treated will be different. You’re no longer a child but you’re seen as a young adult. I didn’t actually understand this until I experienced this first hand myself. Being a part of your family whilst you’re living away changes quite a few things. At least, it did in my case. Coming home started becoming a joyous celebration. Feasts were made and stories were told before I even had the chance to put my suitcases down and sit down. The fact that I could only come home every few months didn’t help.
Halls residence is like the lottery. You either find amazing flatmates or…well let’s just say you try and spend as much time outside of your flat as possible! Unfortunately in my case, it was the latter.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the girls I was living with were lovely! But we just didn’t have ANYTHING in common. This meant that my freshers week was a bit of a disappointment, which is a shame really! Due to the amount of work and time that my course required meant that I didn’t have as much free time as my flat mates, therefore I missed out on a lot of social events.
Don’t worry, I didn’t spend my entire first year in the library with my head buried in my books! It just meant that I started spending more time with the people on my course. By the end of the year, my social circle only consisted of medics. Which has both its pros and cons. Even though you understand how stressed one another gets and can therefore be flexible with events; conversations will always in one way or another turn to the topic of medicine.
Ok so I’m going to give you a quick summary of the months of medicine that have driven me to awe and near insanity:
Lancaster is one of the last universities to start the year. Freshers week didn’t start until the last weekend of September and my course didn’t start until a week into October. This meant that my summer was extremely long leading to a huge build up of excitement and nerves. The first month was such a blur! The introductory weeks were a bit scary and the workload was already beginning to pile up. Being spoon fed for around 13 years of your life and then being chucked into working independently was something that took a while to get used to. Medicine at Lancaster is taught through problem based learning. So you get given a scenario and work in groups in order to come up with objectives to work with over 2 weeks. Due to the course being a spiral curriculum, each module takes 2 weeks to complete and you don’t learn any pathology during the first year. Instead you go over the normal anatomy and physiology of every single system in the human body; along with epidemiology, ethics, law, sociology and psychology. This means that in the years to follow, you begin to add in pathology to each of the systems and build on your basic knowledge every year. On top of all of that, you also spend a day in the hospital each week at the education centre where you are taught basic examination procedures. As you can see, there’s a lot going on just in your first year and it was hard to build up a pace when you’ve never been in an environment such as this.
By November I was starting to ease into the university life. Living independently was not as hard as I thought it would be but that may be because I still had my wonderful mother to turn to when I needed her. November led to the annual winter MedSoc Ball; which was a great way to meet students from other years within the medical school. A night where we donned gorgeous dresses and heels and forgot about medicine for the night.
The north of England gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘winter’. The long bitter nights spent watching Friends and sipping on my favourite Galaxy hot chocolate was bliss. Not to mention the fact that Christmas was just round the corner and I could go home in a few weeks time and be reunited with my family and friends back home. In Early December, I went to the Christmas market in Manchester with a few of my friends. Wrapped in numerous layers and walking in a huddle so as to keep warm, we roamed the market after PBL in search of last minute Christmas presents.The end of our first term also meant that we were changing PBL groups in the following year. This was a great way to talk to more people in my year. One of the brilliant things about Lancaster is that it’s a fairly small medical school. With a mere 50 odd students in each batch, over the course of the year you form bonds with pretty much everyone in the group. Taking the train back home to Ipswich was the one of the happiest trips I had ever taken. I couldn’t wait to see my family. What made it even more special was that my cousins from London were going to stay with us for a week or so. Being away from home for nearly three months has made me appreciate those around me. I began to gain a sense of understanding of the importance of family. Christmas was an absolute blast! I got my Kindle, which was like a God send as I had wanted it for so long! The annual Christmas and New Year’s celebrations that the Asian (Malayalee) Community holds was a great way for me to catch up with everyone. Especially the girls that I used to dance with, ah the memories of the long practices and our victories are things I will cherish forever.
The start of the new year. 14 years into the new millennium already! This month was probably on of the most chilled months of my whole year. Firstly, I took part in the MedSoc panto. Actually, I choreographed a number of dances which was quite nerve wracking as I still didn’t know a lot of the upper years. As a strong believer of not missing any opportunities, I decided to go along and do it anyway and I didn’t regret a single moment of it. It felt so good to be on stage to perform to an audience. January also gave rise to formative exams. They’re not as scary as it may sound as they’re mocks of the summative exams. It consisted of 2 written papers and an OSCE. At the end of the formatives, it was time for our first SSM. This is basically a mini dissertation that you have to do every year over the space of 4 weeks. You don’t have anything timetabled during this month so I took this opportunity to visit my friend and cousin in London. They both study at King’s College; my friend does biochemistry and my cousin is also studying medicine. I love London. I’ve always loved visiting the capital. Maybe it’s the people I know that live there, or the whole urban culture, but there’s something about this city that always draws me to it every now and then.
It was a my mum’s birthday this month. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it back home and it broke my heart. Living far away from home was beginning to show its downside. My mum had always said that she’d wanted to go to the spa. So to make up for not seeing her, I treated her and a friend to a spa treatment. She absolutely loved it! One of the biggest things I missed since staring university was dancing. It was hard for me to express how I felt as this was the one way that I could do it. So after talking to a number of people I managed to set up classes teaching Bollywood and Hip Hop classes for medical students at Lancaster. It’s still in it’s early stages but in this way I can carry on with my passion throughout my 5 years at Lancaster. Do check out this link for videos that I post up of each sessions:
One of the most exciting things of my first year was helping set up a SKIP branch in Lancaster. As a future humanitarian, I was more than excited to be a part of this new project. SKIP is a national charity led by students that carry out projects in countries that need help the most. As a part of this, we had to go to Newcastle to present a pitch at the general assembly. If they were impressed, they would give us the thumbs up leading to us kick starting the planning and setting up of the branch. (We got the thumbs up!) One of the specialities that I was quite interested in was Obstetrics. This month there was a general medical students day being held in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London, and myself and two of my friends attended. When you apply to medical school and God willing get in, you think the hard work is over. But boy was I wrong! The uphill battle is only just beginning as competition will follow every medical student and doctor every day for the rest of their lives. Now that Lancaster is a part of SKIP, we attended a workshop for future trainers in York. It was long and tiring but very worthwhile. I learnt some very helpful things which I will talk about somewhere else on my blog.
By now, the year group has got a lot closer. We’ve started the casual banter and have become good friends. The Easter break was looming just round the corner and it was time to go home. I took my sister to Westfield as a treat for her birthday and we had a lovely day together after spending so much time apart
A month before the summative exams. Quite possibly the worst month of my entire year. Sleepless nights and early mornings spent religiously going over Tortora, spending my days in the anatomy centre trying to cram as much information into my brain as possible and forgetting the meaning of the phrases ‘social life’ and ‘sleep’.
Exam week. The end of it brought so much relief for us medics. It was now time to actually enjoy the last few weeks together before we all broke up for summer. This meant reliving freshers week by going out pretty much every night and of course a memorable camping trip to Wales. It was a great bonding experience and I had a blast. I also got to watch the sun rise for the first time and it was breath taking (pictures are already up on this blog). The year ended with a week of EXTRAV. As a collegiate university, during the year at university comes to a conclusion with each college holding themed events.
Well that’s a very quick summary of my first year as a medical student. I’m planning on doing something similar for each year so stay tuned!