September 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
With the seemingly unbelievable amount of work that I have to wade through and the little amount of time I have to do it, I’m realizing that I am going to have to work on being more efficient/effective with the time I do have. It is Saturday morning and my plans for today are to head to the gym and then lock myself in my apartment (or at a café) and dive into ECG studying. Skjalg will be out doing the Legion Run (a 5k team race through a series of 20 or so obstacles of mud, fire and barbed wire) so I shouldn’t have any distractions.
This post will actually be a post that I started writing on the third day of school and which I never got around to finishing.
Rewind to September 10th:
My head is buzzing with the chaos that has been this week. On our way to the Basic Medical Science building today, after our Immunology practical, Skjalg said to me, “I can’t believe this is only day 3.”. It feels like we have been at this for weeks… and we’ve barely even scratched the surface.
On Monday, we experienced something that I never thought we would experience. I’d been told things would be different for third year, but I had no idea what we were in for. On Monday, we became “colleagues”.
We started the morning with an Internal Medicine lecture on History Taking. Our Internal Medicine “professor” (the doctor we follow around during practicals) would later tell us that the diagnosis is 70% of what the patient says/the patient’s history, 25% physical examination, and 5% diagnostic tests. The department for our Internal Medicine classes is located on the Buda side, which means we have to spend a lot of time traveling to and from there. We spend about 30-40 minutes in the morning to get there from home and 40-50 to get to our classes located in the 8th district, at Klinikak and Nagyvarad tér. With all the running around we do, we are clocking in almost 10 km a day! For the first two years, the classes are almost exclusively located at the Basic Medical Science building. After that, classes are kind of spread out over the city.
After 40 minutes of public transport, we were at Corvin, searching for the pathology building. There are two pathology departments and our year is split up between the two. When we registered for our classes, we also had to consider which department we preferred. There was very little information to go off of, other than recommendations by past students. We ended up choosing the one that is often considered “the harder one”.
We were soon directed through a beautiful, sunny courtyard to a bright, yellow building. The entire interior glowed with natural light and the white marble staircases and columns gave it a classic feel. The lecture hall has a modern anatomy theater style and the roof is made to mimic natural sunlight with opaque plates and ambient lighting. During this first introductory lecture of ours, the department director told us of the history of the building, of pathology and of what they expect of us and what we can expect from them. He shared that our pathology department was the 4th ever in the world and that they have the most advanced histology lab in the world. Then he shared something with us that made me feel very lucky to be studying here at Semmelweis. He first asked if any of us knew how many autopsies Harvard, “the best medical school in the world”, does during their pathology course. I had no idea about what was normal, so I guessed 100. The answer? 1. Yes, 1 autopsy. Then he asked how many we thought we would be doing in our course. After a small bout of silence he said, “28”. We will do 14 autopsies each semester, an opportunity that will grant us a lot of experience to say the least.
After wowing us with facts about the pathology department and our opportunities there, he began to speak to us as we have never been spoken before. Students who have already completed 3rd year have always told me the same thing: “Just get through the first two years. When you are third year, they are going to treat you so differently. They are going to open their arms, smile and say ‘welcome!'”. Seems a little dramatic, yes, but after the hell that we push through during the first two years, the idea that we would one day be congratulated for that feat was motivating. And it happened. It really, actually, happened.
“You are our colleagues,” the department head said, “if you have any questions about anything in pathology, if there is anything at all you don’t understand, you can ask us. Please, ask us. You can stop us in the halls, you can ask doctors who are not your teachers, you can ask me during lecture. We are here to help you learn pathology and learn it well. That said, we want you to be here for lectures. On our end, we promise to deliver good lectures. When attendance is good there is more incentive to prepare a good lecture, and on the other side, when the lectures are good, attendance follows. If you have any criticisms about my lectures, please come and let me know. Let me know that there was something that wasn’t clear, if the structure was hard to follow or anything else you feel. What I can offer you is this: pathology as I see it. This is the biggest topic you will ever cover. You will be learning everything you will be using in practice for the rest of your medical education. That said, there is a lot of information. More than you will be able to cover on your own. Attend the lectures and practicals and use the book to supplement the points that are stressed and the concepts we, through practice, find to be most important. Welcome, to pathology.”
September 22, 2014 § 1 Comment
Two weeks of 3rd year have already flown by and I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to write a proper post. I’ve started several drafts but ran out of time (I do have to sleep sometimes…and go to class!). As time has gone on, there have been more and more experiences to write about and I’ve honestly been getting a little overwhelmed with just how much there is to document. To break the ice, here is a mini post. I’ll return with a more detailed one once I’ve earned a good study break.
Today was a long day – like they all are. We were supposed to start the day with a lecture on auscultation in Internal Medicine, but the lecturer never showed. It might have not been as irritating if it hadn’t been an 8:00 am class and located on the Buda side, meaning we have to leave a full 40 minutes early to get there on-time. We left after waiting for 25 minutes and made the trek back down to our next class, loacted near the Corvin metro stop. With an hour or more to kill, we enjoyed coffee with a small group of friends at Tejivó.
After a patho-histology practical, immunology lecture and amazing first lecture in our elective Social Media in Medicine (a one of a kind course!), we were finally on our way home to… study! Skjalg actually left for a crossfit class, while I sat down to work on a presentation I’m supposed to give tomorrow on auscultation of the heart. Since our lecturer didn’t show up this morning, I have to get my material from youtube and our textbook. Hope I get it right! I’ve completely converted to taking my notes on my iPad, using a note taking program called Notability. It’s taking some time to get used to it, but it is going to save me a lot of time, patience and money in the future – no more daily visits to the print shop for me!
September 6, 2014 § 7 Comments
(Get comfy, you’re in for a long one!)
Yesterday I lived three days in one. Or at least it felt like it. I began the day selling my books at the school book fair. It was so much more hectic than I’d imagined it’d be. The book sale before our first year was on the ground floor and only a handful of students had tables, everyone else had to have their books on a blanket on the floor.
The suitcase I used to pack my books weighed in at what felt like 200 kilos. This made it so that it took me a full 10 minutes to just make it out of my apartment building. One cab ride, complete with an angry cab driver, and a half-dislocated shoulder later, I was at the Basic Medical Science building. This year’s book sale was upstairs. I’d been warned by a friend I’d met on the first floor that it would be hectic and yet that did not prepare me for the scene I was met with when the elevator doors opened. The entire floor was packed with tables and first year students already buying books. I pushed my way through the crowd, likely making a few people angry, as I searched furiously for my sale station.
Jannie had gotten there before me and luckily spotted me in the chaos. After setting up, time flew by. I met so many students who know me through this little blog right here and it was such a surprise (and so nice to meet you all)! After talking the ears off of pretty much every person who approached our table, I had to run downstairs to partake in an introductory “lecture” for the first year students. The acting director of the English Anatomy department holds a speech at the beginning of the year to introduce the students to anatomy, the biggest class of the first year. She’d asked the future TA’s of anatomy to join and since I was selling my books, I said I would be there. We didn’t do much other than stand there on the side, but maybe it was nice for the first years to see people who have made it through.
After an hour or so more of book selling (and talking) I rushed home to drop off my suitcase and change for a day trip to Szentendre. Szentendre is a beautiful little town with cobblestone streets a 40-minute train ride from the city. We’ve been told about it so many times before, but never gotten around to actually going. Our friend Amir, whom Jannie, her sisters and I had dinner with earlier this week, is an amazing planner and life enthusiast. He was telling us about all of his trips around Hungary and even of some of the adventures he’s had here in Budapest. One of those trips sounded too good to pass up, and that was wine-tasting in Szentendre.
On our way into the town, Amir told us of five things we were going to do. I’m a horrible travel planner myself, so I love being in the company of someone who knows exactly what to do and just decides that we are going to do it.
- Dinner and wine-tasting – of course!
- Walk down by the river
- Christmas store
- Marzipan Museum
After the train ride home, we headed for the famous ruin bar, Szimpla kert. I’ve lived here for two years and have never been there, which is shocking to most. Amir felt it was absolutely necessary that I make the leap. If you are planning a trip to Budapest or live here and haven’t been there yet, you must visit – it is amazing!
As for registration, well, that was one of the most stressful 10 minutes of my life. Our adrenaline rush didn’t subside for nearly two hours after.
We ended up with almost everything we wanted. I have about half my classes with Jannie and half with Skjalg – which is actually perfect!
Planning our classes went through several phases…and I think I spent way, way too much time on it all. It did work out in the end though, so who’s to say it wasn’t worth it.
Random crazy person sheets with scribbles and time slots…
Modern day technology user. I used the notes from phase 1 to make up these possible schedules here. These I sent to Skjalg and Jannie, so we could start narrowing the classes down.
Mapping! Jannie and I sat for several hours before registration and made up these little registration maps. We wanted to make sure we had back-up plans for everything. In the end, I think we must’ve had something like 50 potential schedules. Jannie ended up getting most of the green path (our first choice) whereas I ended up with the blue path.
Well, not really final. I have some scheduling conflicts to work out – i.e. find a Hungarian class I can sneak into! I will be meeting with the physiology tutor on Tuesday (I’ve been accepted as a TA in physiology as well, so will be TAing for both anatomy and physiology ). I hope everything works out smoothly….it’s a little bit of a mess to look at right now.
Otherwise, I’ve spent the entire day inside. I set up a grocery delivery from Tesco for 14:00-16:00, but by 17:00, I hadn’t heard anything. After waiting in the call que for 20 minutes, I found out they were experiencing major technical difficulties and that the delivery wouldn’t be made until between 18:00-22:00. Safe to say I’m not in the best mood. Ordering groceries online is amazing – when it works as planned! I’d planned to be boring and stay in anyway, but I don’t want to be forced to do so.
September 3, 2014 § 5 Comments
During an unintentional philosophical discussion with my brother today (on Skype), he shared with me the following quote:
The topic of discussion was one of our favorites: the pursuit of greatness. We were raised to be the best possible versions of ourselves at all times. We were raised to seek out challenges and the dark corners of the unknown. We were taught to accept a constant state of change as a means of fulfilling all that of which we are capable. I remember one instance very well, which I’m sure my mom will love to see that I’ve shared here. I was about 8 or 9 years old and we had been given our very first report cards at school. I remember very clearly that we had no idea what any of it meant. We stared blankly at our own cards for a while and finally began comparing ours to each others in efforts of understanding what the letters meant. I soon learned that mine were what was considered “good” and couldn’t wait to go home and show them off. When I finally brought it to my mom, she saw my “B” and said, “That’s good, Bianca, but what did you do wrong?”.
I’m sure that garners an array of reactions, but for me, that is one of my favorite memories. Sure, it didn’t feel so great then. I didn’t really understand what she meant, much less what the grade itself meant. What I did learn was that I could do better and most importantly that I should strive to do better. I learned that I was capable of the best if I worked hard enough and smart enough. And it was later that I would learn that the act of even striving for the best made me stronger, regardless the outcome.
On Monday morning, we begin medicine. Yes, we are two years in. We started at the basic of the basic. We fought through classes we didn’t see the point of and survived exams that felt completely unrelated to our chosen career path. In those two years, we learned the entire healthy human body, in and out, and now, we will learn everything that can go wrong with it. As one of my TAs (teaching assistants) told me a couple of weeks ago, “Now, you start medical school.”.
It still feels a little scary. Sometimes I catch myself thinking things like “this is where they are going to find out I’m a fraud” or “This is where I’ll realize I’ll never be a doctor”. Scary, mean thoughts, I know, but they are there nonetheless. I used to be more affected by thoughts like that, more so by ones I had of myself than those others had of me. Over time I’ve come to realize that I find them motivational, in a twisted kind of way. Those thoughts arise when I need a little kick. Nothing motivates me more than telling me I can’t do something. (Example: Jannie moved this past weekend and Skjalg told me I couldn‘t carry the four large, packed IKEA bags I was eyeballing (he actually said “don’t” because he knows how I react to “you can’t”, but I heard it as the latter). What did I do? I loaded up! And I’ve got a strand of broken blood vessels on my shoulder to prove it.)
I’ve spent the majority of the past 24 hours putting together my schedule for this next semester. Spending so much time organizing classes I know so little about unleashed a flood gate of
negative motivating thoughts. There is a lot more pressure on us this year because we no longer have our schedules planned for us. There are schedule suggestions, but we no longer have to adhere to our oh-so-comforting group number. Bye, bye, Group 12! Hello, Change!
Throughout this planning marathon, I’ve been thinking about Baba Shiv’s TEDtalk “Sometimes it’s good to give up the driver’s seat”:
Oh, how I wish I could give up the driver’s seat for this semester schedule! But no, it’s time to step up and embrace the change once more.
At 18:00 tomorrow, 180 or so of us will furiously activate our semesters in the online registration system and go head-to-head in a battle for the classes of our choosing. Each of the subjects is divided into about 15 groups and each group has only 9-12 spots. We’ve gotten recommendations from students who have completed 3rd year about which professors to take and have built up potential schedules from those recommendations. Jannie, Skjalg and I are planning on taking as many classes together as possible, but have been warned that no one ever gets the schedule they want. I think it’s safe to say I’m a little stressed…
Otherwise, a lot has happened these past two weeks, including the end of nursing practice, the passing of my 27th birthday (which I spent alone *party*), Skjalg’s two-day stop off in Budapest before flying off to Thailand with his dad, and Jannie’s return to Budapest, complete with a move to a new apartment and visit from her two sisters.
Now I am off to bed, registration day awaits!
Cheers to this random guy, who kept photobombing this newscaster no matter how hard the cameraman tried to avoid him. Made me laugh hysterically – and out loud! – at the gym. I blame the endorphins. He even got his own sign-off!