2nd-year completed

2nd-year is done!

June has finally come. So here I am, writing this post, in the middle of exam period.

Back to middle May. I scored 73% in my last microbiology colloquium, meaning that I will have to take the final exam on the 19th of June. After checking my test I felt sort of relieved. Sometimes I feel that we, as students, must guess what the teacher wants us to write on an exam rather than the correct answer. Some questions had a few possibilities for a correct answer and the head of the department decided that only one of them would be accepted and given the point for. Little can be done in such situations. A good poker face might come in handy. So if you are applying to study here I suggest you start working on yours. You will need it sooner or later.

Public Health was our next battle. Not one of those where you expect to see lots of blood though. All I did was to read a summary that someone made of all the seminars and it was more than enough to pass the exam with bright colours.

Physiology PAT 5 came after a few days. At the end of the year, physiology is all about the senses (vision, smell, taste, hearing and balance, and touch). The topics are definitely fun but with immunology waiting for us right around the corner (2 days after), I did not dare to dig too much into physiology. PAT 5 went really well. Hard to believe. A week ago we got the results of our overall performance in physiology. Surprisingly, I got 5 extra points which will be added to my final exam score. The final exam consists of 100 MCQ questions and we will be given 140 minutes. 60% is the minimum required to pass, as usual.

Immunology has been dreaded by all of us in 2nd-year since March. Our 3rd-year colleagues have told us about how hard they felt the clinical immunology exam was one year ago. I heard several people saying that they wanted to study immunology over the Easter break. Honestly, I tried to follow up as much as possible during classes. However, I have a hard time studying several subjects at the same time. It makes me feel lost and confused. Thus, I promised myself I would start studying immunology hardcore after my microbiology exam. And so did I. That gave me a total of 12 days with public health and physiology exams in between. Nevertheless, I studied like a maniac. A lot of raw memorisation, many youtube videos as an extra source of information, and many hours of repetition. Osmosis, a youtube channel, helped me a tonne. Amazing videos. Recommended.

The exam consisted of 50 MCQ and we had 75 minutes. So no need to rush through the questions. A fair exam. Passing this exam first time around was key to lower the pressure during the following week. Biochemistry was coming soon and nobody wanted to retake immunology a few days before the encounter with the biggest bully.

Internal medicine was a tricky one. The theoretical part was easy. 6 questions and a total of 25 minutes. The practical part that followed was nothing from another world but it required some preparation. I am glad that my group doesn’t slack much. Otherwise, my teacher would have had a feast that day. She grilled us alive on that oral exam. Honestly, coming from her, I actually do not mind. She is a great teacher and all the questions she asked were explained once throughout the semester. Fortunately, we all passed with a good grade.

The road to biochemistry final exam was finally clear. Long, long days were awaiting me. Studying an average of 8-12 hours a day for an entire week is not what I usually do for fun. One wakes up early and reads the entire day with small breaks in between and a long break for lunch and dinner.

I went through every topic at least once. The last 3-4 days were spent working on my weaknesses. A challenging thing to do because one realises how much can go wrong on the exam. At this level, it is impossible to memorise every little detail. Even though I have accepted this a long time ago I still find it difficult to be selective. For all I know we can be asked anything on the exam.

The final exam was scheduled for 14:00 on Monday, the 11th of June. I went to bed rather early the night before and I slept all I wanted. At 9:00 I started my last minute review session. It took me 3 hours to go through the things I had in mind. 95% of it was useless. However, the fact that I took some minutes to learn how to draw the pyrimidine rings gave me some points on the exam. We were given 120 minutes for 35 MCQ (5 of these questions had multiple answer possibilities) and 10 open questions. A total of 68 points to fight for. All in all, it was a fair exam. Unexpected, I must say, but fair. Unfortunately, I do not think the exams test our understanding on what really matters for us as future doctors. There were so many relevant things to be asked about and all we got was a bunch of random details. Nevertheless, I loved biochemistry. Most of the students think it’s a pain but I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. It gives you a good insight on how the healthy body works.

The post-exam celebration was amazing. Trust me, parties tend to be a lot better when nobody knows about the results. Ignorance is a bliss after all, huh? I met a few people that night and the atmosphere was so chill. There was time to play Jenga, dance, and sing karaoke. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. We were young and wild and free.

The results were out on Wednesday around 17:00. Checking the results online gives me such an adrenaline kick. Those seconds while the page is loading… Woooooo! My heart beats loudly! I survived biochemistry! Been there, done that! Half of my ticket to 3rd year is already paid.

Microbiology is coming on Tuesday, the 19th of June. I am trying to keep my cool and not overthink it. This is the only 2nd-year subject that nobody knows exactly how to study for. So I am trying to keep my sense of self-irony and not take it too seriously.

(…) The following paragraphs were written at different times over a period of about two weeks. (…)

Microbiology went way better than I thought it would. Especially after my personal experience with colloquia. We were given 90 minutes to answer 50 MCQ and 15 open questions. The open questions required very short answers. In my opinion, it was a rather easy exam.

The best part of passing microbiology is to know that I will not have to take those classes ever again. Trust me. Not a good experience.

Next exam? Polish II a few days after microbiology final. However, I cannot tell you much about it because I was exempted from that test. Anyone with an average of the first 2 years equal to or above 4.5 is allowed to skip the final examination. Anyway, the general rule is that everybody passes the Polish language course, one way or another. No big deal.

There was an entire week between microbiology and physiology exams. So I did not go insane mode until 2-3 days after microbiology. Luckily, I love physiology so much that I actually enjoyed studying it. Reviewing all those fascinating topics and consolidating the entire year’s material in one week gives you a good idea of how our bodies work. So cool.

The biggest challenge in physiology is the test style. You might know a lot but many of the MCQ’s are tricky enough to make you feel shaky. Once you break a sweat you better work twice as hard to keep your cool. Cracking under pressure means you can no longer reason clearly. Trouble. May the odds be in your favour then.

Honestly, I am not a fan of late nights the day before big exams. Therefore, I went to bed early on the 27th of June. I am being optimistic when I tell you that I slept a maximum of 3-4 hours that night. Despite my best efforts to relax, I did not get a chance to visit dreamland. At 4:00 AM there was so much sunlight entering my bedroom that I decided to try the couch in the living room. The last time I looked at the clock was almost 5:00 AM. My alarm rang at 7:00 AM and I woke up wishing I could just turn around and keep on sleeping for a few more hours.

At 8:00 AM I walked to school and there were, surprisingly, many other students walking from Old Town to campus.

The exam started around 9:00 AM. 100 questions (MCQ style) and 150 minutes to answer them. Each question is worth one point (one correct answer out of 5 possible) and 60 points is the minimum required to pass.

Reading my first page felt like being kicked in the stomach. There were not many questions I could answer with a good degree of certainty. Time was going by and I was losing control over my emotions. So I closed my eyes for a few seconds, breathed deeply and decided to ignore that entire first page, moving on to the second. Bingo! More questions on topics I knew well enough to answer immediately. Luckily, I managed to break out of my own negative mindset rather quickly. Sooner than I thought I was back to that damn first page. Reading it for the second time forced me to look for important keywords that eventually allowed me to crack the code and get to a reasonable answer.

I finished the exam 20 minutes before the time was over. Since I could not leave the room until the end of the exam I decided to review some of the questions I had a hard time with. I ended up changing 5-6 questions. A dangerous thing to do unless you are absolutely sure you picked the wrong option the first time around.

At the end of the day, I think physiology was a fair game. Trickier than I expected, but fair after all.

Once outside I felt relieved. Exam period was over. Freedom. Time to mingle and enjoy the summer days.

Soon after the exam, I headed home in order to start packing. Fortunately, packing is not that much pain anymore. Books and clothes are pretty much all I have in my bedroom. I have been decluttering for a while and it’s starting to pay off.

The results were out while I was sorting my clothes into different piles. I was shocked to see that I passed with a comfortable margin. That first exam page really pierced my self-confidence, huh?

Kissing physiology goodbye made me finish 2nd-year in glory. 

Wooooooooooooow! I am officially a 3rd-year medical student. Crazy.

Nevertheless, it feels like I have just started my medical journey.

Lise (one of the girls in my group) organised a dinner for groups 3 and 4 at Prologue in the evening of that same day, 28th of June. Most of us came and I had a great time that night. My vegan meal was a bliss by the way. They came up with a 3-course vegan/vegetarian menu at Lise’s request. Good move, I must say.

Everyone was in a good mood and excited to go on holiday. School talk is inevitable in such situations but I am glad it was reduced to a bare minimum.

We were all dressing fancy and looking dazzling. Eye candy for the general public. Here is a picture of us (most students from group 3 and 4).

Shall I introduce them to you? Sure. Here we go.

  • From left to right at the back = Jakob, Kasia, Pernille, Noor, Hugo, Emelie, Lena, Melita, Lise, Paulina, Jessica and Matilde.
  • At the front (in the same direction) = Rasmus, Husam and Hanna.

At the end of the night, I counted one glass of prosecco and 6 shots. A personal record in Gdansk. Walking home at 3:00 AM would not be possible had I not given my stomach a generous food portion that evening.

The following days were spent packing, stacking boxes, renewing the rental contract (I will keep the same apartment for the next year) and making sure the apartment was left presentable for the next residents.

This year I stayed in Gdansk for a little longer than expected. All because of the summer internship. I followed two different family doctors during the first week of July. One in the morning and another in the afternoon. One of the doctors was cool enough to let me perform small tasks (eg. taking someone’s blood pressure or auscultate their heart/lungs) and keep it interesting. The other just made me sit in his small office and watch him dealing with the patients for a couple of hours. Quite boring. Especially when we, as international students, do not understand much of what the patients are saying. Nevertheless, I am sure he did his best to help us and I am grateful for that

It was somewhat hard to believe I was going to take a flight to Oslo for the summer. The transition from exam period to holidays is usually so abrupt that I don’t know what to do with myself for quite some time.

For now, there are only two simple rules. 1) No alarms. 2) I do whatever I want, whenever I want.

Have a great summer party people!

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