The value of achievement lies in the achieving
July 13, 2014 § 2 Comments
It’s been almost a month since we passed our last exam and accomplished one of the toughest milestones of this chapter in our lives. We are now third year students and are ready to move deeper into medicine now that we have two years worth of pre-clinical knowledge behind us.
The time since then has gone by both really slowly and really quickly at the same time. I was almost completely burned out after our anatomy final on the 5th of June and that meant that every single day that followed was a struggle. I lacked almost all motivation and struggled greatly to absorb even the simplest of details. Still, I kept pushing forward, one foot in front of the other. I was nowhere near as effective as I usually am, but I had no choice but to continue. In those 48 hours before our exam, we were all going a little crazy. The apartment was a mess, we were eating almost nothing but take-out and were doing our best to keep the nearby shop out-of-stock of energy drinks. As we got closer to the exam, the only thing I could do to study was re-write the almost 100 chemical reactions we needed to know, over, and over, and over again.
The exam was split into two parts. The first contained about 15 or so open questions worth something like 27 points. In order to pass that portion, we needed a minimum of 14. After that, we had a 10 minute break – enough time to go to the bathroom and gather ourselves. Then it was back in for the second and third sections, which were combined to form a total of 70 multiple-choice questions. I was feeling so hopeless about the exam that I had pretty much already accepted that I was going to fail (a feeling that is all-too familiar to me). Skjalg had advised me to just go with my gut and not second-guess myself. I have a tendency to speed through multiple-choice questions and answer purely on instinct, barely even reading the whole question. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. For the last few written exams, I’ve been forcing myself to stay longer and end up going through my exam even 3 or 4 times before handing it in. This time, I was just going to fly through it and only change an answer if I was 100% sure.
Afterwards, we were all in a bit of shock. The exam had felt impossible and there were all too many questions that I didn’t feel good about. Most of my answers were chosen out of pure instinct. I think there were only 15 or so that I knew I’d gotten correct. All of us were feeling pretty horrible, but we’ve learned to just go with it and wait until the results come out. Skjalg and I headed home, while Jannie and Andrea (a Canadian-Hungarian girl in our class) walked towards Kiraly. The entire way home, I was online on our school website constantly refreshing the exam results page to see if my grade had been uploaded. A little premature, yes, but you never know! We stopped in to grab a bite to eat at a nearby take-out place and while Skjalg was in line, the results were uploaded. I said his name three or four times, barely loud enough for even myself to hear, as I quadruple-checked the results. When he finally came over I said, “I passed! I got a 3!”. He didn’t really react that much and instead scrambled for his phone. Once he’d found out that he had passed, he let out a deep breath and the celebrating began!
There wasn’t too much in the way of celebrating that night. We had a bottle of champagne and some amazing Italian food from my favorite, Trattoria La Coppola. Then Jannie headed out for a night of fun, while Skjalg and I stayed in for a comfy date night on the couch – which was long, long overdo! I have no idea what we did in the days that followed. I was in such a zombie state, stressed with no reason to be and utterly exhausted. On the Friday after the exam, I started another juice fast to clear my body of the horrible things I did to it during exam period (too much caffeine and poor food choices). I did it for 10 days – nothing but 5 juices a day, no food, no coffee, no nothing! Needless to say, there wasn’t too much that happened during that time except for a few get-togethers with friends and lots and lots of sleeping. After the juice fast ended, I had one day and then I was off to Bodø!
I arrived in Bodø Tuesday night last week and since then have been filling my days with plenty of sleep and family time. We spent the first weekend at Skjalg’s family’s cabin in Halsa and will be heading back there next weekend. The first trip was with his grandparents and this next trip will be almost the whole gang – his grandparents plus his uncles, aunt and cousins. Skjalg’s sister left just today after a week in town. It’s too bad she won’t be able to be here for the trip to Halsa, but she will be coming to visit us in Budapest in September.
In addition to family time and sleeping, I’ve been going to the gym, helping paint the house and….taking a class!! I’ve had least 3 people tell me I’m crazy and that I should just take a break, but I miss the brain stimulation too much. I’m taking a course called Programmed Cell Death through Coursera. The site offers tons of courses within many different fields – for free! The courses are offered by many different universities all over the world, including Johns Hopkins, Standford and UCSD. The university offering my course is Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich – the same school that Skjalg’s grandfather attended for dentistry. It’s a small world!
Week 4 of the 6-week course starts tomorrow. There are 2 quizzes (each worth 30% of your grade) and a final exam (worth 40%). Each quiz allows 3 attempts and is worth a total of 25 points. I used all three attempts today trying to get a perfect score, but the best I got was 24.33/25. I guess I’ll just have to settle for 97% ;). The course itself is very interesting and goes quite deep into genetics and biochemistry. I’m hoping that it will come into good use when we start microbiology next semester. On the 24th, both Skjalg and I will be starting another course called Exercise Physiology. I’m really, really excited for that one!
I only have a couple more weeks here in Norway before I head back to Budapest for my nursing practice. I got a spot in the pediatrics department near school and am looking really forward to getting some practical experience. It will be really hard to be away from Skjalg for so long, especially because I’ll be spending my birthday alone down there, but we’ll handle it like champs – we’ve had enough practice with tough situations at this point!