One foot in front of the other

May 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Our anatomy final approaches ever faster and morale is up, then down, then up, then down again. We’re doing our best to stay positive, to not allow ourselves to be burdened by the 400 or so topics. There is so much to cover and so little time to do it, that we have been forced to accept that we will not be able to cover everything before our exam next week.

Skjalg had his anatomy yesterday and passed! Now he has physio in his sights, which he will take the day before Jannie and I have anatomy. Jannie and I have been cramming in 12 hours of studying on most days. Today and yesterday, we attended the anatomy consultations for the entire 6 hours they were open. Yesterday was spent covering the limbs together with Christian and Charlotte and today was internal organs with Christian. Tomorrow we will go to the histology consultation and practice identifying the 100 slides we have to know by heart and Friday we will attend another 6 hour anatomy consultation to cover the head and neck – including neuroanatomy!

2014-05-28 18.45.30

Day 6 of studying…and at 75 hours and counting of study time. Crazy to think this amount of time may still not be enough. This isn’t for the light-hearted! ūüėČ


Skjalg just left for a birthday dinner for some boys in our grade. Jannie and I were feeling a little jealous, so we decided to break out the party decorations and study in style. Make the best of every situation right?


Jannie made sure to look really excited for the picture


In honor of Maya Angelou’s passing, here are some quotes for when the going gets tough. Oh how I would love¬†to curl up on the couch with one of her books right now.

Maya AngelouScreen Shot 2014-05-28 at 20.57.15 Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 20.57.30 Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 20.57.45 Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 20.58.23 Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 20.58.33 Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 20.58.51 Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 20.59.51 Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 21.00.52 Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 21.01.51 Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 21.02.54


And as a little final treat, a new motivational video to fuel the fire:



Physiology Final: CHECK!

May 24, 2014 § 6 Comments

This past Wednesday was our final in Physiology, covering everything we’ve learned this year. It was the earliest I’ve ever taken an exam, with only 4 full days to study after the last day of school. The days leading up to it were a bit stressful, but we were able to stay positive and optimistic. I never got to review as much as I would have liked and instead chose to focus on those topics that I felt were my weakest: respiratory, gastrointestinal and renal physiology. Those topics alone took me about 3 full days, which didn’t leave much time for anything¬†else.

The day of, I was actually in quite a good mood. I’d only slept 3 or 4 hours, but was feeling positive and excited to test out my knowledge. I’d mentally prepared myself for all possible outcomes and that removed quite a bit of the fear and anxiety normally associated with exams. Our theme for the days prior was, “smooth seas do not make skillful sailors”. We would either pass the exam and move on to the next one victorious or rise to challenge a patch of rough waters and grow stronger because of it.

The exam “began”at 13:00. We weren’t seated until around 14:00, which was expected since there were 85 or so of us taking the exam. The exam was split into 3 parts, 30 questions each, and we had¬†3 hours to complete it. If you failed any one part, you failed the exam. Normally, I answer multiple choice quite quickly (going off of instinct and not always reading the entire question – bad habit!). While¬†doing practice tests the day before, I made¬†several¬†stupid mistakes and decided that on the exam, I would have to make sure I took more time to process the entire question. For the semi-final last year, I think I was done in the first 1 hour and 45 minutes. This time? Just 4 minutes short of the 3 hour mark.

Here is an example of the multiple-choice questions put out by the department. They were nice enough to actually reuse several of these on the exam! If you want to see more of them, click here.

Instead of waiting for the results, Jannie and I headed home for dinner, beer and bubbles. We grabbed carpaccio and pasta from Vapiano and set up a little picnic on the balcony off our bedroom. We congratulated ourselves on the mere feat of completing a 3-hour exam on a year’s worth of physiology and reveled on the pure bliss one feels in the aftermath of a great challenge.

Much browser refreshing was done between 19:00 and 19:30 when someone uploaded a photo of the exam results onto our year’s facebook group. That is when the panic hit.

After a hectic minute of searching for our codes, Jannie and I came across our scores – and we’d both passed! Skjalg emerged from his study cave soon after our vocal delight filled the apartment. I ended up getting a 4, for which I am very proud (even though it would have been nice to get a 5 ūüėČ ). Here is how the results ended up:


After that, it was over. We sat there in a state of mixed exhaustion/happiness/apathy not quite knowing what to do with ourselves. Skjalg went back to his anatomy cave and Jannie and I started watching Bridesmaids, calling it a night mid-movie.

The following morning I allowed myself to sleep in and then Jannie and I rode our bikes to Culinaris to pick up some black rice. We had originally planned to take a whole day off, but with anatomy up next, we decided it would be wise to get a head start. To make the day a little more special, we picked up some picnic items for lunch and stopped off in front of Parliament to enjoy the post-exam bliss, pre-exam anxiety and 30-degree day.


Then it was home to start embryo! Our anatomy exam is in 12 days (from today) and even that is not enough time. Every hour, I have to bat away a nervous feeling that creeps up into my chest. We’re trying to hold on to¬†the positivity we fostered for physio, but with a topic list that is 14-pages long, it’s proving to be a bit more of a challenge. It’s possible though! Just need to put one foot in front of the other…

To cheer ourselves up yesterday, we took our giant to-do list for the last few weeks of school:

As you know, competition studying didn't go as planned :/

Exhibit A

and crossed out alllllll of the tasks! Sometimes it’s nice to remind yourself how far you’ve come and what you’ve gone through to get to where you are ūüėČ


Two semesters of physio lectures….

May 18, 2014 § 2 Comments

Looks like this:



These are all the lecture slides, with my notes included, for each of the 3 lectures we had per week. Reviewing them is going to be a bit of a challenge, especially since I only have 3 days until the exam. Of course, there are topics that I covered much more thoroughly than others – exhibit A:

Respiratory physiology last semester ( I did ok¬†on the exam, but I don’t know how I learned anything since my notes are so naked):


And acid-base balance this semester:


This semester, I changed up my style by taking audio of the lectures and listening to them at home. It took a lot more time, but it definitely gave me better control of the topic.

Yesterday I sat with respiratory physiology all day – and I still haven’t finished. It’s a huge topic and it is important that I know it well…but I hate the idea of spending so much time on one topic when there is so much else to cover.

Ok, enough procrastinating. 15 hours of life-altering studying lie ahead!


Look over here! Look over there! BAM! Exam period.

May 17, 2014 § 2 Comments

I feel like we were cast into in a time machine that shuttled us through a rickety, roller coaster path from this past exam period to this one. This exam period is the monster. The first two theoretical based years are over and we are now to make the big leap to third year. Before that, we need to prove our knowledge of 2 years of anatomy (though, 4th semester was more review), 3 semesters of medical biochemistry and 1 year of physiology. We have 6 weeks and we are at the start line completely exhausted.

This past week was a total sprint through a series of last exams:

Monday: Last anatomy class ever and 9 hours of biochem cramming

Tuesday: Hungarian written midterm and biochemistry lab exam (given one of 22 labs we’ve done in 3 semesters and expected to write out a lab report on it)

Wednesday: 17 hours of physiology cramming (15 hrs studying and 2 hours worth of breaks)

Thursday: last physiology seminar test, physiology lab exam (oral exam based on all the labs we’ve done this semester) and then to close out the night, physiology competition.

Friday: Last physiology lecture and waiting for the physiology competition results

Come Friday, I was absolutely exhausted. In a perfect state of too tired to do anything but lay in bed but¬†too wired to nap. We’ve been so busy, that I don’t even know what happened to these past 3 weeks. 3 weeks ago, Jannie and I made a study schedule – and now it’s over. Just like that.

As you know, competition studying didn't go as planned :/

As you know, competition studying didn’t go as planned :/

It’s been a bit of a struggling figuring out how to juggle everything. At the end of the spring semester, there is a series of competitions within each of the subjects. Passing the biochem or physio compeition give you exemption from the final exam and passing the anatomy competition can give you exemption from the practical part and/or histology part of the final exam in anatomy. Preparing properly for those exams, most likely means having to sacrifice something else in some other subject (except for those few genius individuals who can do it all). I really, really wanted to go for the physiology competition, but as time began to slip away, I realized that I had to make a choice: lab exams or physio competition. It was a hard choice to make and in the end I decided on the path that would give me guaranteed bonus points for my exams rather than gamble that I could pass the competition.

The lab exam for biochem is a bit of a hurdle because you have to pass it. We are given our first shot during the last week of the semester and if you don’t pass, then you will have to pass it at the final exam (which is not going to be fun with all the other information you’ll need to have crammed in your head). It felt impossible (and useless) to memorize 22 labs with 22 different theoretical backgrounds, methods, procedures, results and conclusions. On the morning of, I’d lost all hope that it would go well. All the values were starting to mix together and I felt as though things were simply slipping out of my head. Luckily, I got a topic that I knew well enough that I hadn’t even reviewed it as much as the others: Digestion of Lipids, determination of lipase activity. I was able to write down everything almost exactly as I had it in my notes, save for a maybe insignificant detail on my graph. Now I just have to hope that it is what they wanted.

Tuesday night and Wednesday were tough because I began to doubt my choice to go for the lab exam in physio or go for the competition. As I mentioned last semester, all of our lab work and weekly tests get calculated into bonus points that are added to each section of our exam. These are worth gold because they can help you pass a section if you are some points below. As there are 3 sections, you can get 3 x your number of bonus points added to your exam (so 1=3, 2=6, 3=9 and so on). If I passed the lab exam with a 5, I would get 5 bonus points, something that would make me feel great about my work this past semester. However, if I could accept 4 bonus points and not show up for the lab exam, I could do last minute cramming for the competition. So what did I decide? The lab exam. With a bit of a heavy heart, I decided that the act of showing up and being tested orally on my knowledge was the best option for me. And, as Skjalg told me Wednesday morning, “Bianca, you made a choice and you have to stick with it. Period.”.

The result? Seminar test did not go so well, but the lab exam did – so I got my 5 bonus points! As for the competition, I didn’t pass, but I was surprised at how well I did considering¬†my lack of preparation. The test was set up as 40 open questions and 2 essay questions and we were given two hours. The essay questions were:

  1. Describe the homeostatic changes that occur with rapid transfusion of cold and hypotonic NaCl solution.
  2. What are the acute and chronic changes that occur in the cardiorespiratory system, cerebral circulation and in hemostasis at high altitude?

I stayed for the first hour or so. I answered everything I could and decided to leave¬†when I noticed that my brain just wasn’t working anymore. These were the results, I’m limetree21. As you can see, I’m still a good 20-ish¬†points off from having passed! That said, if anyone is reading this and considering doing a competition – go for physio! The questions were very fair and if you have the opportunity to review all the topics – even if only superficially – it’s possible to pass. L I N K went for the biochem competition earlier this week and then just randomly decided to review for the physio competition the day before. Good thing he/she did!

physioresultsSince I didn’t get much studying done yesterday, I have a hellish 5 days ahead. First exam is physio on Wednesday and there is A LOT to review. I don’t even know how I am going to do it yet…

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