Elective courses

The Easter break has been a good time to recharge my batteries.

My first day at home was spent on the couch watching movies all day long. Oh man… I was craving for such a day. Doing nothing is absolutely necessary every once in a while.

The days after were not very productive. For some reason, I have a hard time focusing at home. Last Saturday I pretty much dropped my expectations regarding effective studying.

One of my biggest challenges is to know when enough is enough. I can’t help feeling a bit guilty when I ignore the books for several days. However, I also understand that it’s all about balance. There were some very stressful weeks in the past months. So nothing better than going on recharge mode for a few days. It is well deserved.

I will be sleeping in Gdansk tonight. Back to the war base.

Classes start in two days. Since my Thursdays are free I only have to go to school on Friday.

Our schedule is much better than in the first semester. Fewer classes and more free time. Definitely an improvement. How good your schedule is after March depends on the elective courses that you choose back in October/November.

In the beginning, I was a little confused with the elective courses. I didn’t really understand what I’d like to go for or how these courses work. Basically, every student here is given a list of courses to choose from. All together you must sign up for a total of 75 hours. Most courses are 15 hours but some are 30 hours.

You can choose whatever you want but things can get quite messy because some of the courses overlap with your weekly labs or anatomy lectures (which are mandatory)…

I remember the registration day. I came home, sat down at my desk and read the details about some of the courses. After 30 minutes of trying to figure out what to choose I got a little impatient and decided to choose based on two conditions: schedule and location. Firstly, any course off campus was eliminated immediately. I didn’t want to waste time travelling somewhere else besides school or home. Therefore anything related to sports was out of my list. Secondly, the less the number of electives, the easier it is to fit into my schedule. So I chose:


  • Basic Latin and Medical Terminology (30 hours).
  • Latin and English anatomical terminology (30 hours).
  • How to talk to be interesting – effective communication and public speaking (15 hours).


One of the Latin courses was 2.5 hours per week and finished by the end of February. The other was 90 minutes per week and it will finish this week (on Friday). ‘How to talk to be interesting’ consisted of three seminars in January.

If I had to choose again I’d totally stick up to these courses. I enjoy learning languages and Latin came really easy to me because of my mother tongue (Portuguese). The content of the two Latin courses overlaps a little but believe me: that is a big plus. There is a final test but it’s not very difficult. One evening of pure memorization will do. 

Elective courses do not count towards your GPA. I figured that out the hard way – when the results were published online at the end of the year. If I knew it I would not have wasted time aiming for a 5 when a passing grade didn’t make any difference.

Just to give you an idea of how the schedule changes over time (if you take care of your elective courses as soon as you can) I took some snapshots of my Google Calendar.


Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 00.27.46.png

JanuaryScreen Shot 2017-04-19 at 00.26.24.png

MarchScreen Shot 2017-04-19 at 00.28.14.png

April Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 00.28.51.png


As you can see the first semester here is madness. I don’t even understand how I survived that schedule… Pew! I am so glad it’s over. You have no idea.

The most important thing regarding the elective courses is: no matter what you chose just stick to the courses you sign up for. I know people who wanted to change some electives and the process is quite hopeless. Too much bureaucracy. A waste of time.

There is something I have forgotten to tell you about. Usually, the last anatomy lab before the any of the colloquia is an open lab. This means that all the lab rooms are open for you to go and see the structures you have gone through your previous lab classes. Back in November, before the first colloquium, there was an open lab where you could check lots of different arms, legs, the bones of the upper and lower limbs, X-rays, etc. The teachers are around to help if you have any questions but you are on your own most of the time. It is sort of a revision lab.

On Friday we have an open lab on the head and neck (despite the 3rd colloquium being in June) because we are done with that part of the material. So I have quite a lot to prepare for the next days. Neuroscience is the only part that is left to learn.

We are almost done with histology. 3 or 4 weeks left in total I think. After the 3rd histology colloquium, there will be no more labs.

It is time to go to bed. A good night sleep is a recipe for effective studying.

Good night!

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A quick recap

Living costs in Gdansk

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