Final lap II

These were the events preceding this year’s final lap (exam period). 

The 1st and 3rd of May are holidays in Poland. For the sake of simplicity and synchronisation, we are usually given a school break. So we are free like birds for the entire first week of May. Having so many small breaks is a double-edged sword. Ultimately, one must be disciplined. Otherwise, time goes by and one gets very little or nothing done.

The PAT4 results came out last week (a few hours after our exam) and I have scored the highest I have ever done in physiology. Yay!

On Wednesday, 25th of April, my group had the final examination in the introductory course to paediatrics at 8:00 AM. Trust me, not the best time to have a barbecue. Nevertheless, the professor grilled us alive. Fortunately, we all passed. See you next year paediatrics!

In order to make up for this week’s Polish class, we went to the World War II museum in Gdansk. Surprisingly, it is located nearby the apartment where I currently live. The guided tour lasted about 2 hours instead of the usual 4. At the end of the visit, I was so impressed that I knew I would come back soon. So I did it last Friday, the 27th of April. For 5 PLN you can buy the audioguide and visit the museum on your own. Regardless of your interest in history visiting this museum is strongly recommended whenever you are in Gdansk.

Polish classes have been really fast-paced during the last weeks. Our teacher does not cut us any slack. My group finishes the week with Polish so those 90 minutes feel endless. We have 2 tests left and hopefully, I will be able to get what I want, exemption from the final exam.

Immunology has shifted gears since the beginning of the Spring semester. The focus is now on the clinical aspect of it. The exam will be on the 30th of May and I better start studying on a regular basis for it because immunology is known to be a tough nut to crack. There are a total of 5 mandatory seminars throughout the semester. However, the presentations we are given to study are long and full of intricate details. Frankly, I am not looking forward to facing the subject.

I have one elective course left thus far. Telemedicine. I cannot wait to have it behind my back. Electives courses are not my cup of tea.

May and June will be stressful months. Have a look at my exam calendar.

  • May 8th: Biochemistry (4th colloquium).
  • May 17th: Microbiology (3rd colloquium).
  • May 24th: Public Health.
  • May 28th: Physiology (5th PAT).
  • May 30th: Immunology.
  • June 4th: Introduction to Internal Medicine.
  • June 6th: Public Health + Introduction to Internal Medicine (both are retakes).
  • June 11th: Biochemistry (final exam).
  • June 19th: Microbiology (final exam).
  • June 22nd: Polish II (final exam – written part).
  • June 25th: Polish II (final exam – oral part).
  • June 28th: Physiology (final exam).


Despite the number of exams, I like the fact that our final exams are at least 6-7 days apart.

It is time to breathe deep and break through the stress waves with braveness. Avoiding panic as well as keeping a cold head is key to success.

(…) This was written during the first days of the month. The time and energy to finish the post finally came yesterday at night. Consequently, the text below concerns yesterday’s events.

Today I woke up at 7:10 AM and my last Public Health class of the year started at 8:00. It feels good to be done with one more course.

At 12:00 we were tested in Polish. This time our teacher managed to test us in almost every single word we learned for the last weeks with only 3 written exercises. Crazy. I was in shock for the first 2 minutes but quickly I got into the zone and I remembered most of the things I needed to survive the test.

There will be one more test before the end of the semester and exemption is 99% guaranteed in my case. I have heard that Polish exam is not a big deal but I really want to put all my effort into physiology once microbiology is out of sight. Therefore, exemption is a ticket I want to buy at the cost of consistent work throughout the year.

After the Polish class, it was time for me to have a lunch break.

During the afternoon I read some presentations but studying rarely pays off on Fridays.

The weather has been really amazing the last days. The sun burns on my skin as it used to do when I lived in Porto. Despite the summer vibes, today Gdansk felt the furiousness of a disregarded winter. Suddenly, the city was embraced by a shady grey. A massive water curtain whipped the ground pungently. No mercy. Ice stones fell from high above. Nobody was indifferent to it. Even those of us sheltered at that moment. I would come to understand how bad it had been when I walked back home from campus. The sidewalk on the way to school collapsed! Moreover, I watched a video where an entire street was covered in water. Dramatic. The power of nature should not be underestimated. Today, I was reminded of that.

The biochemistry results were posted this evening. I was just discussing the bad weather with other students on a group chat when someone wrote ‘Biochem is out!’. The group went silent immediately. I could smell a shared sense of fear through the phone as the seconds went by one after another.

I survived once again! Urra! That exam was written on Tuesday and it was a hard one. 70 minutes to answer 14 MCQ’s and 6 open questions. So many relevant things could have been asked but the focus was on the small details that we, as future physicians, will not have any need for. This is the biggest disadvantage of studying medicine. It’s impossible to know everything. You must be somewhat lucky with your exams because you need to be selective when studying. I wish the school focus was more on understanding the important concepts, pathways, connections, rather than a handful of useless microscopic details. Never mind. We just need to get through it once and never look back.

Lately, I have been running with a 1st-year. So much more fun to run with a buddy. Today we ran intervals of 1000 meters. Exhaustion took over my will at the end of the 7th lap.

Showering after pushing my body to the limit is one of the things I love the most. Not to mention the comfortableness of the robe awaiting me to serve the purpose of its existence. The small things in life count more than I would like to admit.

I am listening to this playlist on Spotify as I write this post. Relaxing. Enjoying the moment. Letting the thoughts come and go as they wish.

In the near future, I would like to write about the people who study with. I will ask them if they agree to take a picture and write a few sentences about themselves. It would be fun to introduce them to the world and ask them about their personal experiences as medical students living abroad.

Furthermore, I know there are a few pro-active students working on a plan to start a mentor program. The idea is to attribute a tutor to every new 1st-year student who wishes for one. We believe that a tutor, someone who has successfully passed the 1st-year, could make the transition easier for the new students by helping them with studying tips, general advice regarding life in Poland, encouraging them when things get tough, etc. In other words, it’s all about being there for the newbies. Just in case. Such a cool project. I really hope we can get it started in October 2018.

The next weeks will be rather intense for me so I will try to update you as soon as I can.

My next battle is microbiology on Thursday, the 17th of May. If I manage to score 80% or above I will be exempted from the final exam in June. Now you have an idea of how my weekend is going to be like. Studying in my cave.

Enjoy your weekend!

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