September 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
Today we met up in our different groups to attend a lecture on the class/exam registration system utilized by Semmelweis: NEPTUN. The lecture was held by members of ISAS (International Student Association of Semmelweis). Each session was led by one main speaker and three or four student aids that ensured we completed the log in and registration processes correctly. I was happy to discover that the system is very easy to use and pretty straight forward. Any future registration process – whether it be for classes or exams – will occur through this education portal. Fall semester ends December 14th and after that, we have a 6-week exam period. As most of our exams are verbal, we can essentially make our own exam schedule. The lecturer informed us that on the day that the system opens for exam registration, there is a rush of students fighting for their desired exam spots. I prefer this to the alphabetical or accumulated credit points systems used at other schools. This way there is equal opportunity to sign up for your exams – granted the system doesn’t crash, of course.
After the lecture, I took the opportunity to ask a couple of the 4th and 5th year students there about any recommendations they have for incoming freshman. I got the following tips:
- Don’t stress about taking electives in your first year. You are required to have completed 300 credits by the end of the 5th year – which averages to 30 credits per semester – but you will have plenty of time to catch up on credits in later years. Most of the freshmen electives are also available to 4th and 5th year students and since they have registration before freshmen, the electives are usually full. It is better to focus on the mandatory course-load.
- The book list that is sent out by the school is not a list of books required for your classes but rather a recommendation list of books that you can buy. There are no assigned books for any of your courses. If there are any required texts or materials, you will be notified by your professor or even given a print-out in class.
- When it comes to choosing your books, make sure that you take the time to look through the different versions and chose one that you really like. Some anatomy books have detailed drawings instead of actual pictures and this can make it difficult for you when faced with the real thing.
- Buy your books at the book fair at Freshman Day. Try to figure out what you need beforehand so that you know what to get when you are there.
- Avoid buying books at the university bookstore – they are much more expensive there.
- Some books are available online. If you are the kind of person that prefers an online textbook, this is a good option for you.
- Don’t overload yourself with a large array of books. The more books you have, the more cluttered and confusing your study sessions will be. It is better to know one book well than have a scattered understanding of several books.
- The anatomy professors at Semmelweis are geniuses and will go deeper into the subject than your book does. Take good notes in your lectures because everything mentioned is fair game for the exam! If you want a detailed anatomy text – one akin to the knowledge level of your professors – try Gray’s Anatomy (but beware: the book is very extensive and may be more detrimental than beneficial).
- The Thieme pocket books are perfect for your first semester of anatomy (in addition to your main text and atlas). Volume 1 covers almost everything you need to know in that first semester and is much easier to digest than the larger texts.
- As brilliant as most of the professors are, they are not paid very much to teach us. It is important that you show them respect and don’t let yourself get offended if there is even the slightest negative regard towards your being an international student. If you show interest in the subject and are open to doing more (such as being a teaching or research assistant), they will greatly appreciate your efforts.
We headed home for an hour to relax before heading out to the dock where we would board the boats for the sightseeing trip. We met up with two other students: Rina, who is Japanese but grew up (mostly) in the US and has a degree in Neuroscience, and Frida, who is Turkish/Norwegian and has lived in Norway for the past 10 years.
We made our way onto the first boat and then through to the second, which was tied to the first by a series of ropes and connected by a platform so that people could cross between the two. With our complementary bubbles in hand, we headed up to the top to secure a spot on the deck. The front area was already full but we were lucky enough to find an empty spot against a railing. The students invited included all attending the pre-med program at McDaniel College, the veterinary students from Szent István, and finally all six faculties of Semmelweis (if I am not mistaken), including the Hungarian, German, and English medical programs, and the dentistry and pharmacology programs.
We, regretfully, decided against bringing our camera on the boat trip. Luckily, Frida brought hers and was good about taking photos. I stole this one from her facebook page. The bottom left picture shows Skjalg, me, Rina, and Arthur, a Hungarian/American medical student whom we met on the boat trip.
Here are the two pictures I was able to take with my phone. Not the greatest quality, but you get the idea 😉
September 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
I have to admit that I absolutely LOVE my schedule. I only have one day where I start at 08:00 and my latest class doesn’t run past 18:05. Aside from Anatomy, I have all my practicals on Friday, which means I should be able to prep solidly after the lectures earlier in the week. I feel like our group got very lucky with the time-placement of our different classes: Skjalg has one day where he has a 5-hour break between two classes and there is one group that has two days where their classes run from 9:20 in the morning until 20:00 at night.
September 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
In hopes of adjusting to our upcoming schedule beforehand, we have set the alarm for 7:00 a.m. On Monday we abused the snooze button and rolled out of bed sometime around 8:30. Tuesday we improved by half an hour and Wednesday by another 50 minutes. It is tough now, in this last week before school starts, to drag ourselves out of bed so early but we figured it was better to get used to it this week than next.
I called in to the school’s financial office to check that they had received my payment. We went together on Monday to pick up our tuition payment receipts – which are required for registration – but my payment had not arrived yet. I’d called twice yesterday (much to the irritation of the woman I spoke with) and was hoping that I wouldn’t have to make a fourth call. She remembered my name this time and told me that they had finally received my payment.
We picked up my receipt at the financial office and then headed over to the school. It took us about 15/20 minutes, since the school is spread out over the city. Once we got to the stop for the “main campus” (most of our classes for the first year are in the same building) it was easy to find where we were supposed to go – just follow the students!
The building is beautiful: tall ceilings, plenty of light and colorful hanging banners. The best part of the building? Air-conditioning!
Registration was broken down into groups by last name. Skjalg’s registration was from 12-13 and mine from 13-14. We were about fifteen minutes early for his registration, but the guard (yes, there was a guard. In fact, there are guards everywhere in Budapest!) let us through without hesitation.
The registration process itself was seamless. I went up to one of the tables, handed the woman my passport, tuition receipt, and all but one of my signed declaration forms, and was handed school information pamphlets and the 2012/2013 Student Guide. I then went to a second table where I handed in my last declaration form and was handed a card with my group number and certification of my enrollment.
The freshman class is divided into 15 groups of 13-18 students, which share the same schedule. I am assigned to Group 12 and Skjalg to Group 11. We’d discussed a bit about schedules before registration and agreed that being in the same group would be the most ideal situation. This would make it easier for us to study together and help each other in class if one of us missed some information.
Skjalg asked if it was possible to switch groups and was told that it was no problem. In order to switch, however, one would need to find a student in the other group that would be willing to switch and both parties would need to send a “letter of acknowledgement” to the registrar. (For any students that are reading this and want to know where to send it, look up Ms. Adrienn Bácskai’s e-mail address on page 8 of your manual. All you have to do is include your name, group number, and the information of the student you are switching with).
So began the task of finding someone who would be willing to switch. We weren’t entirely sure about how to do this, but settled on asking people who were leaving the registration area. After harassing about 50 people within the next hour, we decided to call it a day. Many students had other groups they wanted to switch into to be with friends, others were skeptical about whether you were actually allowed to switch, and finally a handful were a bit… possessive. Even though it was uncomfortable approaching so many strangers, it did help us meet a couple of people. The school is more international than I ever imagined it would be. There are students from all over the world: Iran, Israel, Seychelles, Cyprus, Japan, Philippines, China, South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Italy, England, Canada, USA, Australia, France, Germany – and those are just the ones I know about so far. I am looking forward to going through this experience with such a diverse group of people.
At 15:00 we had a fire and safety lecture, which was anything but exciting. The speaker read directly from the slides – verbatim – and often had a hard time pronouncing the words. Skjalg and I glanced at each other several times during the lecture in a sort of “I really hope this isn’t the English level of all of our professors” panic. The good part about the lecture was finding out what the emergency numbers are. For English-speaking emergency operators, you can call (06-08) 630-800. For the main emergency line, call 112 (or 105 for Fire, 107 for Police, and 104 for Ambulance). I remember reading in a Norwegian student’s blog that she had tried calling 911 and was hung up on when she started speaking English.
Once we were home, we took a deeper look at our schedules. Out of 17 total classes, Skjalg and I share 11. It is actually perfect for us because we will be together during most of our lectures and then separate during the practicals, which will give us a chance to meet new people.
Tomorrow is another meeting about how to use the school’s online system and afterwards there is a boat ride down the Danube river for all incoming freshman from all the different faculties. I still can’t believe this is all happening now. It’s the final stretch before school starts – and we are SO ready!