November 16, 2015 § 1 Comment

I love those moments where you come across a song, picture or video, or even have a conversation, that resonates so perfectly with the way you feel in that moment that you suddenly feel connected to the universe again. You’re no longer spiraling off into the abyss within your brain. You’re back and you’re normal.

I’ve spent a big chunk of today beating myself up. I’m used to it because its something I do before absolutely every exam I have. You’d think I’ve gotten better with time – and I have – just not better enough for it to be completely gone. Its immature and irrational and the only time I feel like I split into two versions of myself: I’m completely aware of how ridiculous it is and can do nothing about it. In the 24 hours before an exam, I bombard my conscious with all the thoughts of what I should have done differently, what I should have focused on, how there is no salvaging my chances with the little time I have left, how I’ll never learn to distinguish what is important from what isn’t important – the list could go on forever. As the hours pass by, the feelings and thoughts grow stronger. I feel like I’m getting nowhere and the material feels to grow exponentially before me.

I can fight these thoughts as much as I want, but it honestly only seems to make them come back stronger and smarter. I’ve tried many different techniques in the past, especially during exam period, to overcome this mindset. And this mindset is nothing new:

What I find the most powerful now is sitting down to analyze it head on. Where do these thoughts come from? Why do I think that I am having these thoughts and feelings? Am I feeling afraid? If so, why and where does this fear come from? When I do this, I usually find that I’ve dug my way to my “fear of failure” level. Hello again, old friend.

This is my favorite part, because it has an antidote that never, ever fails. Its antidote appeals to a quality of mine that makes up my core being: my desire to evolve and better myself.


If you haven’t seen the movie Inside Out – you should!

In a way, the fear of failure stems from this. Not in a constructive way, but as a sort of superficial, insecure extension of it: I want to improve and failure means I’ve failed at improving (hence the fear of failure).

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.”

“Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”
― Thomas A. Edison

The antidote? Failure is good. It will make me better, it will make me stronger, it will make me smarter. In the end, that is what I want. I know I’m not perfect and there is no point getting by on this version of myself if there are improvements that can be made. I will give it everything I have until the very end, but I will be ok with whatever the outcome.

The video that reconnected me tonight:

Ok, enough self-analysis 😉 Back to pharmacology I go! These drugs aren’t going to memorize themselves.

Side note: I love music and I can’t study without it. I know there are studies saying it makes you less efficient and less able to memorize, but I need it. 8tracks is my go-to for discovering new songs. Here are some of the songs I’ve just discovered and have had on repeat during this 3-day cram session. And when I say, “on repeat”, I really mean it. I downloaded the Strange Entity remix last night and have listened to it 54 times since then! While writing this blog, I’ve had Antoine Malye’s Paris on repeat. Always nice to have somewhere to escape to…

Pre-departure meeting at Bjørknes

July 31, 2012 § 1 Comment

Today Skjalg and I attended an information meeting at Bjørknes. The meeting included representatives from ANSA (Associated Norwegian Students Abroad), a priest from the Norwegian Seamens Church, and students from Semmelweis and Pécs. The meeting’s attendants were a mix of students headed to Semmelweis and Pécs and the veterinary school in Budapest, Szent Istvan. I was really surprised that there were no students that were headed to Szeged. There was a period of time where we had considered that our first choice school, but I’ve noticed that it isn’t as popular as the other two among Norwegian students. The reason that we decided against Szeged was because it is not an accredited medical school in California – and I’m not going to get a degree that isn’t recognized in my home state.


ANSA was started in 1956 and has grown to include over 13,000 members in over 90 countries. This organization essentially “takes care” of Norwegian students studying abroad. After the 2011 Japan tsunami, they were responsible for flying home all members studying there. They offer insurance, student bank accounts, scholarships and loans, and deals on flights through Kilroy. They are also available to answer pretty much any question a student should have, including: issues with the school, student aid, personal problems, and illnesses. The ANSA representative even joked at one point that some of the Norwegian embassies have admitted that ANSA has a better overview of students in foreign countries than they do.

ANSA Hungary has charity project called “Students help students” where members travel to Transylvania to help build student homes for orphans cared for by the Saint Francis Foundation. The majority of orphans complete high school and are accepted to universities, but are dependent on a place to live. By giving them a place to live, they are given a chance to complete their university education, and thus become a beneficial resource for Romania’s future. The first student home was built in August 2009. There are now two homes housing 50+ students. The Saint Francis Foundation cares for some 2,000 children and there are increasingly more that need somewhere to live. The plan is to build a large student home –  800-1,600 sq. meters (8,600-17,200 sq. feet) – with room for 50-100 students to live and for facilities such as a library and common area. This is something that I am VERY interested in participating in.

ANSA Calendar 2012-2013

  • September
    • 3rd-8th: Introduction week in Pécs
    • 8th: Treasure hunt and start of Introduction week in Budapest
    • 10th-14th: Introduction week in Budapest
    • 15th: Sports day and concert in Budapest
    • 21st: First pub quiz in Budapest (of which there will be one every other week for as long as possible)
    • 28th: First pub quiz in Pécs
  • October
    • 4th-7th: Romania Charity Trip
    • 28th: Pub quiz in Pécs
  • November
    • 30th: Christmas porridge in Pécs
  • December
    • 2nd: Christmas porridge and service with ANSA priest Tim Georg in Budapest
  • February
    • 3rd-9th: Ski trip in Austria
    • ?: Medicine Seminar
  • March
    • 2nd: Charity Ball
    • 14th-16th: Kick-off/organization course
  • April
    • 27th: Volleyball tournament
  • May
    • 17th: Norwegian Independence Day celebration

Checklist before leaving for Hungary:

  • Passport
  • Order health insurance card at
  • Order insurance
  • Apply for student loan and aid through Lånekassen
  • Change of address
  • Pay tuition
  • Have back-ups of bankcards – it takes a long time to send new cards to Hungary in case you lose yours

Priest from Norwegian Seamens Church

His number one tip was to enjoy yourself. He said that many make the mistake of locking themselves up in their rooms with their books and cut themselves off from other people. This is something that is natural when facing such a challenging study load. The only problem is that, when you hit a wall – which you will – you won’t have the support you need to overcome it. The ANSA-Priest acts as a sort of commissioner. He comes running when help is needed and is in a position to drop everything at the last minute. He stays neutral and is available to anyone in need of someone to talk to. He told of an instance two years ago in which a Norwegian student was murdered by her Chinese ex-boyfriend. Together with ANSA, he offered invaluable support and counsel for friends and family of the girl.

Advice from current students

For this portion, we were split into Semmelweis and Pécs groups, so I cannot account for the advice given to students heading to Pécs – though some of it may still apply. There were two guys, one studying medicine at Semmelweis and the other studying architecture – both are heading into their 5th year. Their advice included:

  • General

    • DO NOT procrastinate. Exam topics are available from the beginning of the semester. Print them out now so that you know what to study.
    • Be prepared for the fact that you are not going to feel like a medical student for the first two years. You will when you start clinical training in year 3, but before that it is all theory.
    • You can get all the books you need at the bookstores in Hungary – and they are usually much cheaper than in Norway.
    • The teaching style is much more formal, more old-school and strict than in Norway. In Norway it is almost impossible to fail. In fact, it is actually easier to succeed than to fail – and this is not the case in Hungary.
    • Keep in mind that you may come from a country that is financially better off. The money you get as a student may not be far off from the wage of some of your professors. Show respect.
  • Exams

    • Everyone will fail at least 1 exam – so be prepared for it. Failing one exam does not mean that you will never pass the class. You can fail the exam one week and then ace it the next.
    • The exams vary in their style. Some are verbal, where you pick a card and answer all questions regarding that topic. Some are multiple choice. Others, like physics, include essays.
  • Apartments

    • Avoid Tower Rentals agency like the plague. Some have had luck with them, but the majority of students have either neutral or horrible experiences with this agency.
    • Make sure you see the apartment for yourself first. Take time to experience the area.
    • Public transportation is amazing in Budapest, so you don’t have to look for places right next to the school. A student card costs only 100,- (about $17) a month for unlimited use.
  • Taxis

    • ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS pre-order a taxi over picking one on the street. This is the number one way to get tricked out of your money. There are many unregistered taxis that will charge 3 times as much. I head read numerous horror stories on various blogs.

To close out this post, I want to share a funny story told by one of the students in regards to one of his verbal exams. It was an anatomy exam and he chose a card concerning the back of the calf. The teacher point to a nerve and asked the student to name this nerve. The student mistakenly thought it was a tendon and proceeded to identify it as such, to which the professor replied:

“Jan Erik, Jan Erik. I think I know streets of Oslo better than you know anatomy. Please leave and return when you have studied.”

Here we go!

July 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

Our second round of books came today! They’ve been piled on chairs in the living room and I figured it would make for an interesting photo. I can’t believe that all that information is going to be in our heads! The pile on the left includes Skjalg’s and my books and those on the right are Christian’s. The booklist for Semmelweis won’t be released until August 20th, so we have only ordered ones that we know we will need so far. Christian has double of several of the books because he had to order a second round that would be guaranteed to be delivered before he left and was unable to cancel the first order.

Curriculum for the First Year

July 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

The following curriculum covers the 2011/2012 school year. Semmelweis has not yet released the curriculum for this year, but I can’t imagine that they are going to make too many changes. We’ve been informed that new information will be available online from the 20th of August.

Each semester includes three modules. The first module contains the main courses, the second the obligatory electives, and the third the optional electives. I can’t wait to get information about how the electives work. The main course load is already 26 credits and with the obligatory electives it is up to 32. This can’t leave too much time for the optional electives…and I kind of want to do them all. If the credits are calculated the same way they are in the States (1 hour of class = 1 credit), then I imagine I will be overloading it a little by taking 47 credits…

First Semester

Spring Semester

First round of books delivered!

July 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our books. Nothing makes me feel more like a student than textbooks. The ones that arrived today were those that we ordered through I recently posted blog where I detailed how we went about ordering our books.

This shipment included 1 anatomy atlas, 2 anatomy textbooks, and 2 histology textbooks. We were really excited to look through them. It was crazy to think that these books will be recurring characters in our daily lives for the next 6 or 20 years.

Skjalg checking out the anatomy atlas

He wasn’t quite prepared for some of the images…

Mmmmm! Face cross-section 🙂

Student User’s Guide to Hungary

July 17, 2012 § 2 Comments

Yesterday I discovered an amazing tool: a publication for students providing them with information about Hungarian culture and history, the Hungarian higher education system, and other beneficial tips for surviving in Hungary. The booklet is about 100 pages long and is published by the Tempus Publication Foundation in Hungary and financed by the European Commission.

As I’ve been meaning to “research” Hungarian culture and history, I think this is the perfect place to begin. The original publication can be accessed here, otherwise I will summarize my “most useful” points in my blog.


Books for the first year: check!

July 14, 2012 § 2 Comments

At 8:00 this morning, I was wide awake. I lay in bed for a while trying to force myself back to sleep but before long, my mind was ticking away. With everyone else still asleep, I decided to tackle one of the big tasks on our to-do list for school: ordering books.

In one of my earlier posts I wrote about the book situation in Hungary. Many bookstores don’t have enough money to stock books that they won’t be able to sell right away. Since there was no guarantee that the books we needed to start our first year would be available, it was recommended that we purchase our books ahead of time.

We receive a set book allowance from Lånekassen (Norwegian Student Aid) at the beginning of the school year. I don’t know yet how much the allowance is, or if it is even really enough to cover the full cost, so I was preparing myself for the task of finding the lowest possible prices. I really believe that a lot of money can be saved with the right preparation. Since I was up early on a Saturday with nothing to distract me, I figured it was the perfect time to search for our books online.

I had initially believed that would have the best prices. Though they have a greater selection of used books at really low prices, the shipping cost is the key determining factor in their ranking as a cheap book source. I decided that wasn’t the best option and instead tried my luck with the UK version. Here I was happy to find that, though the books weren’t AS cheap as they were in the US, the combined purchase and shipping costs were lower in comparison.

In addition to checking on the US and UK versions of amazon, I did google searches to check out options in the area. Once I discovered several Norwegian/Swedish suppliers, I made an excel sheet:

In this chart, I listed out the different websites and the price and shipping for each book at these sources. I had to account for shipping time in some cases; for example, some books were cheaper on if I didn’t mind the 21-42 day delivery time. Since we are planning on moving to Budapest in the middle/end of August and all the books must be delivered before that. At the bottom of each source’s column is the total price if all books were to have been purchased from that site alone.

The “#” column indicates how many copies of the book we need. In my Preparation for the First Semester post, I listed out’s book recommendations for the first year. I sent him an email asking whether or not there were specific books/volumes assigned to each class and he responded that there were only one or two classes that did. He recommended two anatomy atlases, saying that you only needed one of them since they covered the same topics, but that he had both and liked to use them together. Since Skjalg and I are two people, I figured that we could each get a different book and then both of us would have the opportunity to use both of them. We discussed a little about whether or not we thought we’d be able to share any of the other books and at the end agreed that we might as well get one each to avoid any conflict.

For each book, I highlighted the cheapest option. On the right-hand side I created two columns. The first listed the average price for the book, calculated from the prices I found on the different websites, and the second listed the difference between the average and the cheapest option. In almost every case, we saved about 100 kroner ($17). After I was finished, the total cost of the books was 5444 kroner ($894) and we saved 1232 ($202) from the average price. The best part was realizing that, had I ordered all my books on as I had previously intended, we would have paid about 4000 ($658) more than we did.

I felt pretty good after I placed the orders. I’m almost 100% certain that I found the cheapest, quickest options and am happy that we aren’t going to blow a bunch of money on overpriced books. Plus, maybe we’ll have money leftover for a microscope….? 😉

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