Monday, 31 December 2012

Why Thank You 2012

2012 has been one of the best years of my life so far, and i am incredibly thankful for everything that has happened to me, which has been a combination of hard work, luck and perseverance. here are some of my highlights -
  • I turned 18!
  • I was interviewed at, and received an offer from, my chosen medical school (squeeee)
  • I had a hugely memorable final term in school, with some amazing friends and teachers
  • I went to northern France with my family for a week
  • My friends and I went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and saw some fabulous live comedy
  • I got my A Level results and got into uni!
  • I moved to uni and met some wonderful new friends
  • I started this blog :)
i hope everybody has had just as awesome a year as i have had, and if not, let's make 2013 one thousand times better!

much love,

Eliza xxx

How I Deal With Homesickness

my first semester at uni was really long (almost 4 months) with no reading week and no visits home, which meant it was actually really hard on me, given how close i am to my family and how much i like my home comforts. i hadn't actually considered the fact that i could get homesick before i left home - i had just assumed that i would be too busy having fun and studying to stop and get homesick. however, around the 7 week mark, i started feeling incredibly homesick, and it was starting to really get me down and was impacting on all parts of my life. so, i created an action plan that i now use whenever i start to feel homesick, and here it is!

  1. Call home. now, this may sound unusual to you guys, but i rarely, if ever, called home last semester. i just really don't enjoy talking on the phone - i feel really awkward, often become unable to verbalise what i am thinking, and can never get decent signal. instead, what i do on a daily basis is chat with my parents over emails and texts, and talk to my brothers and friends on facebook. however, whenever i feel homesick, i man up and make a phone call home - no matter how much i dislike it, it is so comforting to hear a familiar voice down the other line.
  2. Let myself cry. i find the temptation here is to bottle everything up, not admitting that something is getting you down, which is not healthy and will eventually result in it all spilling over in an uncontrolled manner. so, i think the best thing to do is to let yourself sit down and have a good crying session when i feel overwhelmed - it leaves me feeling refreshed and allows me to cope with my sadness in a way that i feel is more manageable.
  3. Talk to my friends. the simple truth at uni is that chances are, if you're homesick, somebody else will be. a problem shared is a problem halved, as they say, and often your friends can give you some reassurance and advice that you wouldn't have thought of yourself. even if they don't, they'll have a few good jokes and a nice hug waiting for you, so feel free to talk to them when you're feeling down.
  4. Go on a night out. all my pieces of advice so far have been focused on admitting there's an issue, and allowing yourself to work on it. however, sometimes you just need a distraction, something to take your mind off it, and the best way to do that is to have a good time - go to the pub for a few drinks with friends, go to the cinema, just get some fresh air, a different environment, and something that will allow you to forget about it all for a short period of time.
  5. Study. this tip may not be for everyone, i am aware of that, however i find that most of the time, i really quite enjoy studying! so i get my head into my books, have an alright time of it, and remind myself that i'm at uni for a reason.
hopefully, next semester shouldn't be as difficult, emotionally, because we have the easter break in the middle of it, where i can go home and regroup.

until next time,

Eliza xxx

Friday, 28 December 2012

Contact Me!

hey guys, short post today (woo!) - i've now got two new methods of contacting me, aside from commenting on my posts. i have a new email address, which is and_cough(at)hotmail(dot)com, which i'll try and check as often as i remember, and will reply to emails as soon as i can. you can email me about anything from your med school experiences to med school applications to what you had for dinner last night! secondly, and finally, i have set up a twitter account for this blog, so follow me @AndCough! any suggestions on interesting people to follow will be welcomed with open arms! i am very new to this tweeting malarky so bear with me on this :)

Eliza xxx

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

just a quick post to wish everybody here a very merry christmas and a happy new year! i hope everybody is having a lovely time and spending some good quality time with the people they love.

Eliza xxx

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Plans

as i mentioned in my previous post, i am now home for christmas and am busy sorting out things to do during my christmas break! here are a few things i have planned -

  • Work - i currently work in a local deli as a seasonal sales assistant, and so am hoping to spend quite a bit of time working there during my break, as i really do enjoy it, and also to save up a bit of money to see me through semester 2. 
  • Relax - although i certainly don't spend all of my time working at uni, i really haven't had the chance to lie back and really do nothing for days on end - there was always something to do, be it laundry, work, tidying up or going into town. so i plan on spending a significant proportion of my time sitting back and enjoying the emptiness of my schedule.
  • Shop - what doing my own laundry has taught me is that i need more clothes, in order to be able to avoid putting loads through as often as i can. this being london, i have a plethora of charity shops to investigate, as well as the january sales to look forward to. i also need to stock up on some more clinical clothes, as i only have a couple shirts and trousers at the moment.
  • Catching up - i have missed my friends back home so much whilst i've been away! i am by far the furthest north of all us when it comes to uni, so i am going to spend lots of time with them before i go back, so hopefully i won't miss them as much as i did this semester.
  • Baking - i really really really love baking, however, in my halls, we only have 3 kitchens between 250 people, and the ovens aren't very good, so i haven't had the chance to bake in a long time. so i'm going to go crazy with the baking, to tide me over until i next go home.

i hope you guys have a lovely christmas as well, and do let me know if you have any exciting plans as i'd love to hear about them!

Eliza xxx

Exams Exams Exams

now that i'm finished my exams for semester 1 and am back home for christmas (woo!) i thought i'd just give you a brief overview of the kind of exams you might get in medical school, as the way that you are assessed was one of the big questions i had before i started. bear in mind though, that not all medical schools will have identical exam styles, and so this isn't designed to tell you everything you will need to know, just a quick guide.

Multiple Choice Exams - these are exactly what they say on the tin - you get given a question, a selection of answers and you have to choose the right one. there are two types of multiple choice question, one where you get one question per selection of answers, and another where you are presented with several questions to one set of answers. be warned though - these aren't as easy as they sound because most of the time, they will also sound similar and vaguely familiar, so you really do have to have an idea of the topic to get them right.

Short Written Answer Exams - these will be your typical exam papers that you will be used to - each question will be broken down into several parts, each requiring either a short answer (up to about 3 or 4 marks) or something a bit different like a calculation or a diagram. part of me prefers these exams to the MCQ exams, because there is a wider range of correct answers and there will be a small amount of freedom given by the marker, although these exams are a bit more work and so are more tiring to prepare for.

Observed Structured Clinical/Practical Exams (OSCE/OSPE) - these will be assessing your clinical skills and, at least at my med school, there may be assessment of any independent study you had to hand in during the semester. there will be several stations set up in the room, how many there are depends on your medical school, and you will rotate around them according to a set amount of time, performing each skill according to the instructions you are given. if you have had an interview in the multiple mini interview format, this is what they are modeled on.

Anatomy Practical Exams - i don't know whether all medical schools do these exams, so i'll just touch on them quickly. during APEs, you will be presented with prosections and anatomical models, and asked to point to specific areas of anatomy that you have studied previously. our APEs don't count for a large proportion of our module grades, but they are still quite important.

i hope this has been useful for you guys to read, and do let me know of any posts you would like to see. i have a few ideas of my own, but i'd like to tailor my blog to what my readers want to see!

until next time,

Eliza xxx

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Getting Into The Christmas Spirit

i've always loved christmas. i'm religious, so the real meaning behind christmas has always played a role in my life, but beyond that i also adore the idea of spending quality time together with the people you love, to give and receive fun things. oh, and not to forget all the yummy food and drink you get to consume without a shred of guilt!

this year, something about the combination of moving away from home, not seeing my family or old school friends for almost 4 whole months, and having my own living space to control, has seen my christmas spirit skyrocket! i've decorated my room, sung christmas carols, worn christmas jumpers, taken part in a secret santa, and have eaten christmas dinners already!

this year my colour theme for my decorations is blue and silver - i have silver tinsel and baubles hanging up, with a box of glittery blue reindeer ornaments hanging over my bed, and a big blue and silver glitter reindeer on my windowsill, who i have named Steve (because Rudolph is just too mainstream for Steve). i used to have a tinsel heart stuck on my door, but it fell down and i just took it down because i couldn't be bothered to fix it :P

so far i've eaten 2 christmas dinners - one with my archery club, and one with my hall of residence! i had my first mince pie of the season a few weeks ago, but haven't had one since as it just made me sad because i started thinking about how my family would be making mince meat, and my mum would turn them into yummy mince pies.

i do hope my christmas spirit lasts until christmas day, because it had been so much fun up till now!

what have you been up to, to get into the christmas spirit?

Eliza xxx

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Munching My Way Through Med School

everybody knows exam revision requires snacks. it's just a simple rule - so here are some of my favourite nibbles i have during revision!

specifically the fruit and nut bar from tesco - bit pricier than their value chocolate, but much yummier!

i am currently addicted to popcorn - either plain or sweet and salt mixed together. it's so easy to make yourself in the microwave, and really good if you just want a mindless snack that you don't have to look at to eat.

Cherry Tomatoes
these are both sweet and a little bit sharp - perfect for when i'm craving sour sweeties but want something a bit healthier! i pick them up when they're on offer in the supermarket, because normally they can be a bit pricey.

Tea and Coffee
i have a shelf in my room filled with tea and coffee, not only does it give you a caffeine boost, but it's refreshing and tasty, and it provides a nice break when you go to make a cup.

something about revision makes me drink gallons and gallons of water. which of course makes me need the toilet soo much, but i just can't help myself!

what are your favourite revision snacks?

until next time,

Eliza xxx