Library wormhole

April 13, 2017 § Leave a comment

I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. I met up with my friends Stephanie and Amir for a drink on Sunday evening (after a weekend of study-fighting against myself). They are both only a week or two out from their Step 2 exams (for the USMLE) and the weight of that was almost palpable. When Stephanie told me that she had been studying at the school library, I made up my mind to join her the next day. I love the comfort of studying at home, but lately, that comfort is just slowing me down.

Fast forward to now. Every day, I get up at 6:00 to have breakfast, shower and prepare my food for the entire day.  I hop on my bike and then before I know it, I’m seated at my favorite spot in the library. I’ve gone every day this week and it’s already starting to feel routine. In fact, I hardly even know what day it is. I feel like I could continue on this way forever. On top of that, my focus has been almost robotic. After 4.5 years in medical school, I’ve learned to take breaks for the sake of increasing my overall productivity. But this week? Totally not needed. I’ve been sitting – with lazer focus – for over 10 hours – almost everyday. The only time I’ve gotten up is to go to the bathroom. I’m not on my phone, I’m not napping or talking to friends – I’m not even leaving to eat my lunch and dinner (I eat them while I’m reading). Healthy? Not so much. My body hurts from all that sitting, no matter how many different positions I can come up with. Productive? Absolutely. And it’s honestly just what I needed. It’s only the end of Thursday and I’ve already put in 48 hours and 14 minutes of high quality studying. I find this so strange – and almost shocking – but I’m going to milk it for as long as I can. Like I said, this is just what I needed. Pure, productive and uninterrupted study time.


After Easter, we only have 4 weeks of school until exam period starts. We have 8 (or 9?) exams that I need to power through as fast as humanly possible in order to reach my holy grail: dedicated Step 1 study time. I need it so badly – and I’m so close – I just need to attack these hurdles head on. My plan of attack is to study for my exams as much as possible now so that I can finish all of my exams within the first two weeks. If I can do that, I will have 6 or so weeks of pure USMLE prep goodness until rotations start in the middle of July.

Enough of an update for now! The wormhole is calling…

Library hooky 

October 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

Today is a library day – and I’m loving it! Out of all the semesters, the 2nd semester of 2nd year was my absolute favorite. Why? We had only 22 credits and that meant plenty of time for studying. If I remember correctly, I had almost all of Monday, all of Wednesday and almost all of Friday at the library. Since then, things have been chaos. This semester, I have 36 credits – and that’s low compared to some people! So, today I stole a day for myself and skipped two lectures…

My goal today is 6 Derma topics, 6 Pulmo topics and 5 cardio topics. So far, I’ve done 6 Derma and 1 Pulmo. Here’s to hoping that the rest of the day is equally, if not more, productive! I’m loving and hating my study plan now. Hating it because I have yet to make all my goals for one full day and loving it because it shows me how much work I should be putting into everything. Progress not perfection, right?

 Food packed and ready for a day at the library. Food prep for the win!

 

All by myself….

  
 

 View during my lunch break. Not bad! Despite the hazy weather.

   

My day was made when I saw that Notability (the program I use to take notes) has upgraded to include multi-tasking (which makes it so I can use two programs on the same screen on my iPad). I’ve started making flashcards for everything (a prep tip I learned for the USMLE) with a program called Memorang. So far, I’m impressed!

 

Update – final results of the day: 6 Derma, 6 Pulmo, and 0.5 cardio topics. Faster than I normally am, so I’ll take it! 

After watching the sunset (through windows that looked like they’ve never been cleaned) at the library, I met Andrea at a chocolate bar called Noir Chocolate near Oktogon for study session two.  

 

I ordered a salted caramel hot chocolate (when in Rome…) and a mango tea. The hot chocolate was almost like a thick soup – Andrea’s was even at the level of a super moist brownie. If you’re a chocolate lover and can handle some serious dense goodness, this is the place for you!

 

Cozy atmosphere, chill music and the smell of chocolate made for a tantalizing study experience! I love to study at new places. And it’s even better when they are special little hole-in-the-wall-places and not large chains.

With that, I’m off to memorize my two radiology images for the day (we need to know 40 for the midterm, so I’m learning 2 each night before bed). Long day of practicals – and patients – ahead!

Success first, happiness second?

November 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

I’ve allowed this semester to consume me (and take my sanity hostage) and now I need to actively work to get it back. It’s not like I’ve gone crazy, or that you would even notice that I am where I am mentally, but inside my head, when I am at home studying, it’s a mess. This past week I have been pushing myself especially hard, which means studying until I physically can’t anymore (when everything hurts and I can’t see straight) and getting up earlier than I should. It never works. It just leads to hysterical burn-outs.

On Thursday I was a total zombie by noon and feeling the initial symptoms of Skjalg’s cold. So, I took the rest of the day off (my day was supposed to go until 21:00) and went home to not study. That night, I told Skjalg that I need more routine. We’ve slowly slipped away from going to bed at 22:00 and waking up at 6:00. I’ve gone completely off the radar on that one, Skjalg is a little more regimented. I also suggested that I study in the guest room, which has been more or less Skjalg’s man-cave since we moved here. He’s been spending more time studying out in the living room and since the space is not a familiar space to me, it might be a good spot for me to get quality studying done. Our apartment has also taken Murphy’s law to a new level – and it is impossible to relax in that kind of chaos.

While at school on Friday, Skjalg hit the reset button for us. The class for which I am a teaching assistant in anatomy (I am only joining for the histology practicals this semester) had their histology midterm. I arrived earlier and stayed about an hour later to help grade their exams. On the way home, Skjalg texted me to ask that I pick up some dinner for an impromptu date night. My brain played around with the panic switch as I thought about how exhausted I was and how it was not going to be a fun night (I’d envisioned us eating dinner while watching an episode of Parks and Recreation, then having to clean the apartment for however many hours until bed). Instead, I came home to a glittering clean apartment alit with candles and a glass of wine waiting for me. I actually teared up when I saw it and spent the rest of the night telling Skjalg how amazing he is and how much I needed that reset. (Yes, med school is so stressful that a clean apartment elicits tears of joy.)

Yesterday I spent the day studying at the Parliament library with my friends Hanna (who is actually a childhood friend of my friend Stian, from Oslo, and in 5th year), Suvi and Synnøve. Our second microbiology midterm is coming up soon and it is going to be a big one. While studying at a café a couple of weeks ago, Amir and I formed a microbio “support club” to help us get going. We have been doing 1-2 topics from the topic list every day and then text-test each other in the mornings. I’ve been spending so much time on those topics that all the other subjects have kind of been pushed to the side. So yesterday was all immuno! We had our midterm in immuno a couple of weeks ago (I think during week 8) and I might be eligible for the competition. It depends on how they set up the qualification. I got 31/40, so if they take the top 70/75% then I’m in! We have 6 exams this exam period and it would be so nice to get one out of the way ahead of time.

As for the title of this post, it’s meant to be a little reminder for me of how not to think. Skjalg and I have been trying to read non-school related books before bed (we were successful for the first week or two). We started by both reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It is amazing and enlightening… but also so, so heavy to read before bed. So, we’ve switched over to The Happiness Advantage after being inspired by this TEDtalk:

I was reading it last night before bed and it set me in the right mental place before ending the day. Why? Because even in the first couple of pages, it was exactly what I needed to remind myself of. The point was that success does not lead to happiness, but rather happiness to success. Here are some of the quotes that I highlighted:

But with each victory, our goalposts of success keep getting pushed further and further out, so that happiness gets pushed over the horizon.

 

‘The Mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.’ John Milton, Paradise Lost

 

They felt overwhelmed by ever small setback instead of energized by the possibilities in front of them.

Only five pages of that book was enough to ground me (that plus a clean apartment, amazing boyfriend and productive study day). It is so easy to get caught up in the stress of the moment, in the fear of failure and in general insecurity, that I forget how hard I’ve worked to get here. Where I am now is where I have wanted to be my entire life. It’s hard because I want challenge. And happiness needs to be part of the journey. I am happy and I still take time each day to appreciate my environment – the falling leaves, the barbecue and hot wine smell from the winter market, the gorgeous winter sunrises – but it takes work to remember. I receieved two comments on my last post, one from my wise Grandpa and one from Aswini, a doctor in India, and they both meant a lot to me to read. It is always inspiring to hear from people who are similar to you and who have traveled the path before you. Their experiences yield great insight and can help direct you towards the right path.

On that happy note, I’m off to make protein pancakes for my man 😉

Our First Heart Murmur, Ascites and Micro Midterm

October 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Our first microbiology midterm approaches and I can’t wait for it to be over. There are two microbiology midterms this semester and this one is the “easy one”, since it covers basic lab topics and facts we have learned. For the next one, we will be tested on systemic bacteriology, which includes names of bacteria, their morphology (form, structure) and diagnosis and treatment of diseases associated with infections by those bacteria.

I’ve been a bad student these past two days and skipped lectures in order to get some time to study. I really didn’t get into a good study groove until Sunday night and I need more time than what is allowed in my hectic schedule. Yesterday, Skjalg and I left school after our pathology practical (which ended at 13:00) and headed straight to the library. We missed our weekly immunology lecture and our elective, Social Media in Medicine (which ended up being cancelled, lucky us!). Then today, we skipped the microbiology lecture in order to create a 3-hour study gap between our internal medicine practical and our next classes (Hungarian for me and pathophysiology for Skjalg). I really don’t like skipping lectures – it’s the only way I keep track of where I should be – but right now this midterm is the main priority.

In internal medicine practice today we got to listen to our first heart murmur and learn how to investigate ascites. We had just had our lecture on heart murmurs this morning and were very lucky to get to listen to one immediately after, especially since heart murmurs are quite rare (according to the doctor we follow around). The patient with the heart murmur actually had an artificial murmur. He/she had had an aortic valve replacement some years before and the murmur was being generated by that mechanical replacement valve. When we listen to the heart sounds, there are are supposed to be two that we can hear (there are two more, but those are really only in children or pathological situations). These sounds are normally a sort of tapping sound and when there is a murmur, there is a sort of whooshing sound between the two tapping sounds.

The patient with ascites was very friendly and informative (which we were able to gather after translation by a Hungarian-speaking student in our group). He/she had had a double leg amputation due to issues related to diabetes and it was a bit hard to watch the patient struggle to turn around in the bed during our physical examination (he/she had to use a rope tied at the end of the bed to first sit up and then lie down on the instructed side). The appearance of the patient’s abdomen was almost identical to image on the wikipedia page I linked to above. We learned how to tap around the abdominal area, first starting at the umbilicus (belly button) and then radiating outward, and noting the change in the sounds created by our tapping. The patient had to turn to different sides so that we could observe the change in sound as the fluid moved.

The tapping method we use to determine the location of the fluid/size of organs, etc. Termed percussion in clinical practice.

The tapping method we use to determine the location of the fluid/size of organs, etc. Termed percussion in clinical practice.

When the patient was lying on his/her back, we also investigated the wave-like movement of the fluid by placing one hand on one side of the abdomen and then pushing gently with the other hand on the other side. It really felt like a wave moving inside of the patient!

Now I am home and ready to study! Need to get at least 3 hours of good work in for me to feel like I’ve been good today. After that? Bed, up at 6, gym and then library. I’ve already received permission to miss tomorrow’s physiology TA class and will be skipping tomorrow morning’s patho lecture and immuno practical *bad Buda-B!*. I’m going to have a lot to make up for with these missed classes – hopefully it will be worth it!

Here are some shots from yesterday! Gotta enjoy Fall while it lasts!

To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often

February 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

Someone asked me last week if I was planning on keeping up with my blog. What did that do? Well, it planted a little seed of guilt. Why? Because I am! Even if it doesn’t seem like it right now… I do update the anatomy facts every day! I think we’re almost at 70 facts now. Charlotte and I calculated that, by the end of the semester, we will have come up with a total of 1430 facts!

So far, this semester is going really well. With our schedule the way it is, it honestly feels like a hybrid between exam period and a regular semester. On Mondays I fit in 6 or 7 hours at the library, Wednesday allows for up to 14 hours of cramming for Thursday’s physio tests, and Friday allows for 9 hours at the library. The library closes at 20 and then it’s home for dinner, some down-time and bed. Friday night is date night, Saturday is chore/study day and Sunday is anatomy cramming day with Jannie. With a sleep average of 7.5 hours a night, things are feeling quite systematic! Just the way I like it 😉

I got the quote that I used as my title from Skjalg. I had just written an email reply to a blog reader (which ended up being way longer than I expected) and in it, I mentioned that my number one piece of advice to surviving here is to adapt. This degree is a lifetime worth of challenges wrapped up in a pretty little package. We will most assuredly not be the same people coming out at the other end as we were when we started. To make that transition, we need to be able to adapt to each new day, subject, semester, patient – everything! As we get older, it’s harder to do. We are more set in our ways and feel like things should adjust to us and not us to them. That’s when we need to remember that we are students. Now is the time to make mistakes, now is the time to be wrong, to learn, to be humbled and learn humility. We do this now so that we are tougher and prepared to face the challenges we will face as doctors.

On a lighter note, Skjalg and I just took a Grey’s Anatomy quiz. We know it’s not real, don’t worry 🙂 But I will say, watching it now is so fun. It seems silly, since it is so dramatic and polished, but understanding what they are talking about is exciting! It feels so good to know what they mean when they say things like “subdural hematoma”, “hypovolemia”, “atropine” and “push 20 of mannitol!”.  It’s our guilty pleasure…

Skjalg’s result:

SkjalgsGreysResult

My result:BiancaGreysResult

We make quite the pair if you ask me 😉

 

On your mark, get set, 4th semester!

February 5, 2014 § 1 Comment

We’re only 3 days into the 4th semester and I’m already settling into the study groove. It’s easier to settle in when you have only had a week or so break between exam period and the beginning of the semester. Adjusting to the new semester after summer break was something else entirely!

My trip home to visit my family was in one word: perfect. I was able to spend quality time with almost all of my family members and friends – most of whom I haven’t seen for two years now. Despite the quick turn-around, I was able to squeeze in everything I wanted to do. Unfortunately, in my post-exam period delirium, I didn’t take any pictures! I snatched these ones from my mama’s facebook:

FamilyFridaySisShot1SisShot2 FamShot

After a total of two full days of traveling, two and a half days in San Francisco area, and three and a half in Los Angeles, I was back home in Budapest. Skjalg and I spent the entire weekend relaxing, watching movies and drinking sparkling wine. We made sure to squeeze out as much relaxation as possible before Monday morning.

Our schedule this semester is amazing. This is mainly because we only have 22 credits (vs. the normal 30 or 31). The main reason for this is that anatomy is now only 3 credits instead of 6/7. Why is that? Because the end of the second year boasts the three big FINAL exams: physiology, anatomy and biochemistry. The anatomy final will cover everything we have ever learned, so this semester has been designated a sort of “review semester”. We will still have midterms, however, because they don’t want us getting lazy! None of this extra time will be going to waste. By the middle of May, we will be responsible for a year worth of physiology, three semesters worth of biochemistry and two years (well, technically three semesters) of anatomy.

Here is our group’s schedule. You’ll notice we are especially lucky because: we have an entire day off! Last semester our group was actually divided in half for physiology, because there were too many people registered for our lab group (there were 5 or 6 people from the previous year retaking physio that registered for our group). As a result, 6 of us who were actually in the group got moved to a separate one, me included. Now, this semester, our little made-up group has physio lab on a different day entirely. So, while the rest of our group heads home after Hungarian on Thursdays, the chosen 6 of us will be gearing up for our weekly double-quizzes (we have a seminar and a lab quiz every week in physiology). On the plus side, after surviving a hellacious Thursday, we will have the rest of Friday off after physio lecture while the rest of our group gears up for their quizzes Friday afternoon. It’s a little sad to be getting split up. Our group is really strong and full of amazing people. This may very well be our last semester together, since we get to choose our own classes from 3rd year (rather than be assigned in groups the way we are now).

Schedule4thSemWith today being Wednesday, we didn’t have class, so Jannie and I headed to  the Corvinus library. Skjalg and I only started going to this library during exam period and I only wish I had found it sooner! It is modern, clean and always has a spot available (unlike the library at school, where you are lucky to get a spot on the floor). It only costs 1500 forint (about $6 or 40 nok) for a 3 month pass for guests. The library is part of a university that offers bachelor/master/doctoral programs in economics, business and international affairs.

Ok, hope that was enough catching up. Off to bed to get my rest in before our hell day of the week…

 

The bitterness of studying is preferable to the bitterness of ignorance

October 2, 2012 § 2 Comments

It has been a long night and this will therefore be a short post. Today set off the domino effect that will soon enough lead us to our first big hurdle – our first midterms. During our anatomy practical this morning our professor told us that, by Wednesday, we should know the entire skull. If only it were so easy! The worst part about all of this is knowing that this is really as easy as it gets. After this we will begin with the muscles, ligaments, nerves and tissues that attach to the parts of the bones we have learned. When I look back at the humerus, the first bone we encountered, I almost laugh in the face of its simplicity. Oh, you sweet little thing. You sweet little humerus with your 10 parts…if only I knew what was coming. The level of preparation in our group varies greatly, from being able to answer almost every question posed by the professor to not being able to tell up from down, or rather superior from inferior. After our anatomy practical, we had an hour and a half of histology and anatomy lectures. During this time, I began processing the sheer amount of information that I am going to be cramming into my head in the next 24 hours. There is no way to do it all, so you just have to do your best.

After our Hungarian lesson we headed back to the anatomy building for an extra session we had previously scheduled with our TA Ariel, a 5th year student from Israel. Almost our entire group showed up, a positive quickly met with a huge negative – a lack of skulls. Normally we can only gain access to skulls in the anatomy museum but they, in lieu of the upcoming midterms, have arranged special individual consultation hours where we can access the bones used during our labs. As it was a prime hour of the day, there were no full skulls left, only portions. I tried to communicate our need of a full skull to the attendant, but he told me that they were all taken and that we would have to accept the bones that were left. Our TA attempted to lead the consultation with a partial skull, but discovered that it was near impossible to teach a group of 15 or so students the skull with the entire facial structure missing. He went to see the attendant himself and soon returned with a full skull.

I headed home once our consultation was over to shower and reboot. Skjalg came home soon after, having studied at the anatomy museum since his chemistry lab ended. We were soon out the door to study at the 24/7 library located only a 10-minute walk from our apartment. The library is open only to Semmelweis students and is essentially a renovated apartment building – which means plenty of small study rooms. It was quite full but we were able to get two seats on the third floor, where we remained for 4 or so hours. Now we are home and ready for bed, with bellies full of cottage cheese and defrosted forest berries. Another day of studying awaits…

Skull parts

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