Put your pride to the side

November 27, 2013 § 4 Comments

Winter has arrived in Budapest. The cold air and snow flurries bring with them the promise of Christmas, cozy winter nights and…exam period. The obstacles we have to tackle to just get to the exam period are enough to make any one of us nauseous at the thought. It’s unbelievable how many exams we’ve had this semester. In one way, it is good because we have gotten used to having exams, on the other, we are constantly stressed and constantly studying. There is no chance for downtime and that means we will begin exam period completely exhausted.

Tonight is exam registration, which is quite possibly the most stressful event of the semester. At 20:00:00 on the dot, 220 2nd year students will furiously click away at the registration boxes for their planned exam dates. For some of the exams, there are only 20 or so spots – and those are gone within seconds! If you’re lucky, you’ll get all of your planned dates before the system crashes, which it always does. Skjalg and I spent an hour or so last night trying to figure out how our exam schedules should be. For the first time, we’ve planned to do our exams on the same dates. Hopefully we get them! Last time, Skjalg’s computer froze and he had to completely rearrange his schedule. Fingers crossed!

Tomorrow brings our dreaded tripple-exam day. Despite a decent study weekend and some hardcore studying on Monday and Tuesday, I’m not feeling good at all about our biochemistry midterm. I sacrificed going to several of the lectures in order to study for other exams, thereby risking not being able to prepare properly for this exam. Though it worked out for those other exams, I now have to face the consequences of my sacrifices – and it’s not an easy pill to swallow! I completely underestimated the amount of information we needed to cover for this exam – way more than what can be reviewed in only a few days time. The worst part is that I really, really like what we are covering in biochemistry this semester. I find everything so interesting and it is so frustrating that I can’t give it the time it deserves. Some light reading for summer break, maybe?

It’s difficult to motivate yourself to study for an exam when you are convinced it is not going to go well. My trick has been to focus on the semi-final and how studying for this exam will help me there. But that trick can only go so far. Last night I hit a wall and since then, I haven’t been able to get anything in my head. The prospect of going to three exams tomorrow, two of which I will most likely fail, is a miserable thought and a serious blow to my pride. With the amount of time and energy I put in to studying, it’s hard to believe that I am even in this situation. But what can I do? There’s no changing the past, so my only option is to use these lessons to make me a smarter student.

Skjalg once told me something that I use to comfort myself on a regular basis. I’m quick to associate my exam scores with my intelligence and therefore tend to assume that any low exam score means I have a low intelligence. It’s natural to be a little self-critical (or, let’s be honest, a lot self-critical) and this is definitely one of my big insecurities. So one day Skjalg said, “You’ve gotten into medical school in part by your intelligence. That is one of the factors in a complicated series of events that enabled you to get to this point. Everything after that point is about preparation. It’s not that you can’t learn any of this, only that you didn’t learn it – for whatever reason that may be. Someone knowing more than you about something doesn’t necessarily mean that they are smarter, it only means that they had the time to learn it.” I felt so good after hearing that because it forced me to focus on something I can change – the way I study – versus something I can’t – my mental ability. You can be an amazing artist, but if you can’t market yourself, it’s going to be hard to make a living off of it. So, I have to work smarter, not harder.

That said, I’m off to study for a short while before exam registration. The adrenaline rush from that should be enough to fuel me for a few hours afterward.


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