On the way to school

Semester break

The following paragraphs were written somewhen in February (at the end of the semester break). 

This year I decided to begin the semester break with style and travelled to Maspalomas (Canaria Islands, Spain). What a privilege to go out on a date with the sun halfway through a snowy winter. No early alarms. Waking up with the sun kissing me gently, a royal breakfast waiting on the 8th floor with stunning view over the beach… Perfection!

I enjoyed every second of it. I have been exercising consistently since the start of the break. Slowly, my physical condition is improving. I will try my very best to work out consistently throughout the new semester. Running is a good way for me to disconnect from school.

The two weeks following my vacation flew by. I studied some, met friends, relaxed with my lovely dog, slept long, ate loads of vegan yoghurt and delicious vegan burgers, watched movies and played some cool games. One of my biggest challenges as a medical student is stress management. It is hard to find a good balance between studying and taking time off for myself. Over the last two weeks, I had several situations where I felt guilty for not studying as much as I would like or at all. However, I am getting better at suppressing such guilty feelings as long as I have quality time with the ones I love the most. I live in Gdansk 9 out of 12 months. Not taking the time to nourish my relationships the few weeks that I visit Oslo will not be beneficial in the long run. So this time around I really put extra effort into dealing with my own demons and invested in the relationships I believe will be for life.

(…) As you can see my plan was to update you before the Spring semester started. Here is proof of another failed attempt to post more regularly. The rest was written during the month of April (after the Easter break).


And once again I lost the battle against time. Not easy to keep up with its pace. Believe it or not.

School started on the 19th of February and our second microbiology colloquium was scheduled for the 22nd. It was all about bacteria, associated diseases and treatment (antibiotics).

Microbiology is the trickiest subject to study for despite the book recommendation from the department. The book is way too big and goes into a lot of unnecessary details. In addition, I don’t find the lecture presentations student friendly. In order words, the struggle is real. Some of us rely on sketchy micro. I found some of the videos useful but I cannot watch the same video over and over until the entire story is stuck in my brain. It is too passive for me.

The exam format was the same as the one we wrote back in December. 15 MCQ questions (1 point each), 5 open questions (3 points each) and a total of 60 minutes. I remember being somewhat nervous that day. I could not relax despite my best mental effort. When we were finally allowed to start the test I realized that I had studied way too much. The open questions were fair enough but I still think that some of them were very random. One must be in luck to be able to answer them all correctly. Microbiology is all about memorising bugs, diseases and their symptoms, mode of transmission, diagnostic tools and drug treatment. In the end, I was happy with my score.

The microbiology labs are over now. During the second semester, we have one weekly seminar that lasts about 2 hours. At the end of each session, we have a small test. 60% is the passing grade and gives us 1 extra point. A score equal to or higher than 80% gives us 2 extra points. These points will be added to our final score at the end of May. Every third week we are presented with a clinical case regarding the previous seminar topics. We work in pairs and 0, 1 or 2 extra points will be obtained depending on the number of correct answers. Thus far we have had a total of 4 seminars and 1 clinical case. This week we will have the second clinical case, and the cycle will be repeated one more time. The 3rd colloquium is scheduled for the 17th of May.

On the 5th of March, I wrote the PAT3 (physiology exam). 50 MCQ and 75 minutes. Blood, respiratory and renal systems, and acid-base balance were the topics to study. The physiology department always comes up with a good number of tricky questions. I find their creativity intriguing. Despite being a favourite physiology is not a profitable business for me. No matter how much effort I put into it I have never scored really high. I will keep on trying my best though. One of the things I like about the physiology exams is that the professor displays a digital clock on a big projector so that everyone can manage their time. A small detail that makes a big difference to me. No need to stress in case I forget my clock at home.

The following two weeks were stress-free. The 3rd biochemistry colloquium was on the 27th of March so we were given good time prepare ourselves. We were tested on nitrogen metabolism, purine and pyrimidine metabolism, alcohol metabolism, amino acids synthesis and degradation and few other topics. Boring stuff if you ask me personally.

This time around we were given 70 minutes to answer 14 MCQ and 6 open questions. A very fair exam. Some of the open questions were subdivided so that we could always fight for some points.

Biochemistry is a heavy subject. It requires a lot of raw memorisation. Nonetheless, I love it. Studying it hard usually pays off and it is a good complement to physiology. Most of my EUREKA moments this year happened thanks to biochemistry.

The Easter break was officially between the 29th of March and the 4th of April. However, my group was allowed to move some of the classes in order to keep us free until the 8th of April. So I stayed 5 extra days in Oslo with my beloved ones. The break was recharging.  The day I arrived home I slept 14 hours in a row. Crazy.

On Thursday, the 5th of April, I  personally delivered an open application with my CV to 10 different GP centres. The goal is to find a GP that I can follow for 90 hours in the summer. Our 2nd-year summer internship consists of 3 weeks General Practitioner/Family Doctor + 1 week of ambulance/emergency. I have a feeling that it will not be an easy task to get the internship in Norway but I will try my best.

Ever since I came back to Gdansk the weather has been lovely. Clear, warm, sunny days.  For the most part. Waking up to the sun in the early morning gives me such an energy boost. Regardless of what needs to be accomplished during a day of a medical student opening the curtains to a sunny hug is a bliss! Life becomes so much easier in spring. Surprisingly, I have barely used the public transportation lately. Walking to school makes me feel alive these days. Moreover, I am back to my A game when it comes to running. Going for a run is my way to break free from all the pressure I live under. Running forces me to focus on my breathing pattern. Hence, all thoughts are pushed away as if I am doing meditation.

Back to the school talk. This semester I have some new subjects.

  • Public Health.
  • Introduction to Pedriatics.
  • Introduction to Internal Medicine.

In Public Health the teachers rotate and every week we have a different one hosting the class. In order words, some weeks the class is actually fun while some other weeks is a total waste of our time. I cannot understand the reason why some people are paid to read an entire powerpoint presentation, word for word, out loud to about 20 students. We can read the very same presentations ourselves in the comfort of our homes. Why waste our precious time? 

Introduction to Pedriatics is a short course that lasts 4 or 5 weeks depending on your schedule. I consider it fun mostly because it is the very first course where we get some real doctor-patient contact. Meaning that we get to see the children. However, it’s definitely not something for me. I have no particular interest in working with children in the future. Nevertheless, there is a lot to be learned on the subject and it is nice that we have an introduction to it during our 2nd year.

Introduction to Internal Medicine is a great course. I love everything about it. My group has it for almost 2h every Monday. The first 50 minutes we have a seminar regarding the weekly topic. During the next 50-70 minutes, we must get our hands dirty. In other words, we work in pairs to perform practical tasks (example: measuring heart, taking patient history, etc.). Groups of 4 students are supervised by a different teacher. Luckily, every Monday I come home inspired to be a good doctor. My teacher happens to be incredible.

As the weeks go by my schedule gets clearer and clearer. The time to study for the last colloquia and final exams is coming soon. I should come up with a studying plan for the next months in order to avoid freaking out at some point.

I cannot believe that I have been living in Gdansk for almost 18 months now. It feels as though I have just started the marathon. Surprisingly, my love for this city increases day after day. Gdańsk Shipyard has a few massive green cranes that are visible from several different locations (including the 7th floor of the school main building). They are my latest obsession. You can see them in the featured image of this post as well as on the image gallery below. 

It is getting late here… I am off to do my night routine and sleep. Tomorrow I will have my last microbiology seminar of the year. Exciting!

My next post should come soon since I have some relevant topics to write about.

Take care and see you soon.

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