In the midst of a particularly ordinary day, biochem gal surprised me.  She announced that she was giving us a reading assignment and that she would be doing a Q/A session the following day (revised to the day after tomorrow) where she would call us out by name and ask us questions about the reading to make sure that we’d done it.  She further elaborated that answering “I don’t know” twice, if called on, would result in a student being asked to leave the class.  One of my classmates immediately asked if this was legal and I put my head in my hands, knowing that another one of her “I do what I want” speeches was on its way.  Naturally, she started it off, saying that for the 2 hours we had her during biochem, she really could do what she wanted, but then instead of continuing on and increasing her threats, she went anecdoting.

It turns out that the Med 4’s or the class that had her 2 semesters ago, basically terrorized her.  She’d told us stories before of not letting people get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of class–of making them sit back down–and at the time, I thought it was just a control issue (albeit it annoys me too–we get breaks every hour, can’t you hold it until then?).  But she re-told this story and then proceeded to tell us how that class had 3 or 4 kids who insisted on doing “things” which she wouldn’t really be specific about (probably a good idea) that resulted in her having to be “really nasty” with them and tell them “you can’t bully me” in class.  Wow.  That means it must have been pretty bad.  I felt sorry for her.  Now it all makes sense–she’s afraid of having another class like that.    Just another example of previous med students on this island ruining our reputation, which we’ve got to fight to rectify.  ::sigh::

So now, I really can’t hate on biochem gal.  She’s quite human.  I’ll try and be better.  And I am liking her class more and more every day.  Another classmate said today, colloquially, that he hated classes this semester–this was after a particularly confusing physiology class today where we were constantly having to double check and question the prof because he was lecturing incorrect fundamental facts.  It really puts biochem gal into perspective and makes me realize that it’s going to be my favorite class this semester, that while she might say things that I don’t think are particularly polite, she’s as good as it gets for now.

Productive Weekend

January 31, 2011

So as much as I long for those weekends at home where I would enjoy time with my family, cook, go shopping, and maybe see a movie, I admit that they are long gone, and there is no replacing them, at least for the next 3 or so years.  This weekend, after class on Saturday, I spent the majority of the rest of the day and a half doing laundry and concurrently working on my notes.  Yesterday I thought about putting a ham in the crock pot with some pineapple and cloves, but then it was so much easier just to open up a can of spaghettios and make some garlic toast.  I did, however, take the time to tear up some romaine and make a salad.

I ended up getting through the looooooooooong genetics powerpoint from Wednesday (put it off since we had Thursday afternoon off and epi on Friday).  Then I went through lectures 2-4 in physio, taking my time to understand stuff and read along concurrently in Guyton.  I think Guyton is a waste of time for these lectures in particular, though, because our lectures and the pictures used in our lectures are Guyton verbatim.  I’m hoping to have more luck with elaboration in Costanzo or one of the other resources if need be.  Now I don’t feel so guilty for falling behind in my Guyton reading last block, with the knowledge that it’s a more verbose version of the powerpoints.

I’m still 3 powerpoints back in biochem, which I’ll try and catch up this week.  It’s all lab techniques, many of which I’m already familiar with from having to learn them or a derivation of them in my undergrad labs.  Well, speaking of catching up on biochem, I have a bit of time before class starts, so adieu.


January 27, 2011

Every afternoon this week I’ve decided I’m going to sit down and give note-taking and slide reviewing a nice, solid 12 hours, but then something happens.  Tuesday I had to go to town–bakery and bank since school’s a solid 8-4 commitment.  Wednesday I had to stay late for a physio lab session on EKG basics and a BSA meeting.  Today, since genetics was canceled on account of our Saturday Epi workshop, I went to the shipping port to pick up my totes I shipped down with Tropical, and have been unpacking ever since.  I was telling my mom it’s sort of like that episode of Survivor every season where they win that first really luxurious reward which is a tarp and fishing gear and blankets that isn’t necessarily stuff you must have to survive, but makes life significantly easier–my totes make life here much more tolerable.  It’s like Christmas opening up the totes–Christmas if you’re a refugee–there’s cans of food, towels, shoes, matches, pillows–very few “luxury” items to most people, but much awaited presents to me.

School is kicking my butt.  I feel like I’m in slow motion when I come home to do my notes.  I get home at 4:00, have a quick dinner of something that requires only microwaving, start on one class’s powerpoint lecture by 4:30 at the latest (on a normal day), really get into the lecture and translate the slides into notes I’ll easily understand, and then look up only to notice that it’s 9 or 10:00 and I still have 2 classes’ notes to do before bed.  I’m not used to making such time commitments to single subjects, much less individual lectures–I guess it’s just the more complicated, less familiar material this semester.  Last semester I had to pace myself so that I would have enough notes to tide me through the breaks and lunch of the following day but now it’s not really a choice–I get to school an hour early, work literally until the minute class starts, and then work straight through breaks and lunch with very little socialization at all.  The meaning of that saying of “Sleep, Socialize, Study–pick 2” that is so often used to describe med school is finally sinking in.  I’ve made my choices of the 3 though they give me second thoughts, that is, until I am forced to go into class exhausted like this week, and realize I’m making the right 2 of the choices.  No joke, concentrating is so much harder when you haven’t gotten an adequate amount of sleep–I like biotechnology but I’ve found my eyelids immensely heavy during this week’s afternoon genetics lectures.  I used to think my minimum was 4 hours but now, I’m conservatively bumping it up to 6–that keeps me from hissing at my neighbors in class when they ask [what I consider stupid] questions, interrupting lecture.

Happy to finally have a feel for the profs now.  The rumors about biochem gal were right–she’s a straight-shooter when it comes to her reviews and her tests, no surprises or un-warranted malice there.  Very much appreciated.  Trying to lighten my opinion of her–perhaps those comments she made on the first couple of days were just nerves.  I’ve noticed that, ironically, some of the profs here aren’t the best communicators when it comes to their personal feelings, so maybe it was just an unfortunate outburst that continued a couple of days longer than it was intended, to assert her dominance as an educator.  Maybe there were problems outside of class that were unintentionally brought along.  She’s admittedly one of our best this semester, so I can’t hate on her too much–I think I quite like her quirky sense of humor too.   She’s a dream team with her other co-educator for biochem–they do in-class test reviews the day after block, distribute praise when earned rather than disdain (which is not something I’m used to at all after last semester) and legitimately care what we thought about the test.    Now she’s even volunteering a half hour of her lunch time to review with people in the class who didn’t do so well on the first block.  Yea, I think I do like her after all, a lot.

Physio profs are quite a mixture of exceeded and lowered expectations.  The class is split by three profs and we’ve now been fortunate enough to have a sample of teaching styles from all three.  I was initially appalled by the slow speed and odd pronunciations of the first professor, but his concern and dedication at making sure we had an adequate review for the block was admirable.  Also, his questions were admittedly quite fair.  There’s a reason all of the pre-med kids like him.  Ugh, the second prof is trying my patience.  There is a huge disconnect between the vast amount of information he knows and what he actually articulates to us–I think there’s a language barrier, an emotional awkwardness, and a severe miscommunication of expectations (on both our parts) that is making our learning situation impossible.  I’ve requested to have prof’s 1 and 3 finish teaching his material as have many others from the class, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.  Probably nothing.  It would be humiliating to go to a Step I review with other IMGs and have to admit that you don’t know jack about signal transduction or the cardiac system.  Another nail in our coffin as one of those substandard, degree-factory Caribbean med schools.  I don’t have a good feeling about it.  The most positive thing I can look forward to is that he is never teaching a block on his own, so there will always be Prof 1 and Prof 3’s fair questions to buffer my score from his unintelligible questions.  Best case scenario, and I say this the 4th week into school, is a C and a sincere prayer that he doesn’t do enough lasting damage to hurt my step I score in terms of physiology core subject knowledge deficit.  Not even going there for worst.  Anyway, third prof is my advisor and has taught for a week now.  He’s the best of the three–still pirates the old Russian physio prof’s powerpoints like the other two, but he actually teaches them in a timely and informative manner [like he’s reviewed them once or twice before standing up in front of 100 kids and attempting to teach them].  (A request I never thought I would have to make of a professional school professor).  Favorite by far.

Off to work on notes and retire to bed sometime before 2:00 tonight.  Ta ta.


January 24, 2011

Sorry for the break, thought I’d be able to make it back before studying for the first block really picked up.  That’s just the thing, last week up until Thursday/Fridayish wasn’t that interesting, but then everything started happening, and I felt guilty, and I studied, and studied, and then decided, for a change, study some more.  I’m glad, though.

So, they announced in class last week that despite our protests at having the mega-epi workshops on Saturdays, that they were going to have them anyway.  And, joy, the first one is this Saturday…from 9-5!  Are you kidding me?  They said they’d be at least 5 hours, but now they’ve gone and booked us 8 hours?  Old EBM prof says we’ll “probably” be out by noon, but then if they schedule us until 5:00 they can run late and we’re not allowed to say a thing.  They also confirmed that if we miss one of these Saturdays, that we’ll automatically fail the class.  There are only two of them, but still.  The rest of the time, they’re actually making us meet at least once, usually twice per week, and here’s the kicker:  most of the class periods are designated Kaplan movie days, but old EBM prof is supposed to be concurrently teaching the med psyc class next door.  Hah.  So he’s supposed to start the movie, then run over and teach, and run back and forth?  Give me a break.  A large percentage of our grade is from a presentation we’re supposed to do and he already said to us that he can’t be there to watch/grade our presentations, so we’re going to have a random professor, not associated with our class at all, determine that chunk of our grade.  Terrific.  We had our first meeting of Epi on Friday and it was thoroughly uneventful.  I can’t say anything more about Epi for fear that I’ll punch something and hurt my hand, but let me summarize that I am not pleased, feel backed into a corner and thoroughly cheated.

I stocked up on Indian food Thursday night in preparation for the weekend, so that I couldn’t use cooking as an excuse not to study.  They charge $10 EC/order of rice, so I made sure I picked up some tasty rice last time I was at the grocery.  Both Gingerland and Ram’s only have basmati in huge bags that cost like $20 US, so I settled on a $10 bag of Thai Jasmine rice–similar nutty flavor, sticky consistency–and prepared in my rice cooker, it turned out great.  Definitely the rice to buy from now on–the cheap stuff I got was horrible–threw it out.  But anyway, I picked up garlic naan, coconut chicken, and butter chicken–a deviation from my norm of butter chicken and saag paneer.  The coconut chicken, while it has a savory sauce, is too heavy and bland for me–I like the kick that the butter chicken and the saag provide when mixed.  I was tempted to try the channa masala since it was actually really good when we had a friend’s birthday there, but I wussed out.  Didn’t want to waste $10 US on something with questionable texture.  I’ve been heating up rice and chicken and yummy sauce all weekend and it’s been heaven.

My only outing of the weekend was with a friend to go to the Hermitage for dinner.  I usually like breakfast there best–cheaper and consistently delish–but the one dinner we had there, while pricey, was quite good.  I’m not sure if it was because we knew we needed to get back and study for exams, but this time, it just wasn’t as great as I remembered.  We got there at 5:10 and they told us they wouldn’t be ready for dinner until 6:30.  We had pina coladas and sat on the porch, looking at the menu, chatting until then, but there was something a bit forced in our conversation as we both frequently checked our watches, wondering if it was worth the wait.  We both ended up getting the price fixed menu–spicy (ginger) sweet potato soup, pecan-crusted chicken with a bourbon reduction, and we subbed what was supposed to be the passion fruit cheesecake for the walnut pie, but with no explanation, we were brought a sweet banana cheesecake.  It was good, but I didn’t think it was worth $60–it just seems so much more exotic and worthwhile when you get some exciting meat that you don’t usually eat like lamb or filet.  It was nice bonding time, don’t get me wrong, but I think we should probably branch out and try maybe Bananas Bistro or some place at the Four Seasons next time.

I was proud of myself–I studied both Saturday and Sunday.  It’s a deviation from my norm of waiting until Sunday night.  I almost ran out of time, still though.  You sit down with a handful of lectures and you get through the first one and 40 minutes has crept by and you wonder, crap–do I read that slowly?  But it’s making notes too and organizing the details in your mind that’s important.  I had heard from the upper years that the first physio test was crap and that there were always massive curves, so I decided to make that test a salvage operation and planned to study it last.  Because genetics and biochem were essentially the same material, I started off with them.  I watched all the Kaplan videos for genetics, reviewed all my notes and made a study chart.  I worked form 3:00-10:00, leisurely, with an hour’s dinner break in the interim.  At 10:00 (pm) with my two heaviest subjects to go, I started panicking and went over biochem quicker than I’d have liked, finishing at 2:00 (with half an hour’s break to talk to my dad at 11:00).  Still, as it was VERY similar material to genetics, I just made sure to review the structure of the purines and pyrimidines in depth, and then cursorily look over the rest of the lectures–obviously spending most of the time on the new biochem prof’s lectures moreso since amino acid structure, proteins, and enzymes were not covered in genetics.  Finally at 2:00 I was really panicking because I was just starting physio then–didn’t think I’d make it.  Most of the first part of it was fresh on my mind from the quiz last Monday, so I just skimmed over that making notes again on formulas (for some reason I couldn’t find my study chart from Monday to reuse).  There was some new material on anemias by the first prof that wasn’t covered on the quiz so I had to go through that, then dove into the new stuff from the latest prof.  My notes were Greek–I resorted to reviewing the powerpoints themselves with pictures and explanations.  My study method isn’t going to work for this new professor–I have to figure out something else, maybe actually using the Kaplan notes and videos this time.  Anyway, I finished with enough time to shower, dry my hair, and catch an hour’s nap before getting up at 6:30, having a couple Eggos and a diet Coke, and heading out for the 8:00 am physio exam, successfully avoiding having to dive into my RedBull stash.

The exam was awful.  It was hard.  I felt inadequate.  I was familiar with the concepts and really grasped a couple of them that I thought were going to be high yield, but there was something in the way the questions were asked that made them come across insurmountably.  Most of them I had a good clue about what I should answer, but then the answers were confusing and not at all what you’d expect.  The first prof’s questions seemed straight-forward enough–I heard classmates remark that quite a few of them were from pretest and Kaplan–but then the new prof’s questions were ludicrous.  They were tougher than histo questions last block and were really random, detailed questions.  I failed.  Not by much, even without a curve I’d have been ok, but I felt like crap.  No one else was talking about the test so I was worried.  I didn’t say anything to anyone and just went back upstairs to study for biochem and genetics.  I was reviewing the practice questions posted by both professors online and realized, unfortunately at 20 minutes after the hour, that I had forgotten to look up the lac operon.  We watched a quick video about it in class but it wasn’t covered in any of our powerpoints thus far, so I had to learn it from someone, somewhere online.  At 50 minutes after, I checked wikipedia and youtube and thankfully between the two, got the main points down.  Most of the videos were too simplistic, but dumbed down the explanation that wikipedia had to offer.  Also I had a little panic about the amino acids–apparently we needed to know which ones were acidic, basic, polar, non-polar, etc. so I whipped up a few stupid word associations to try and remember them.  I think they worked for what I needed on the extremely short-term basis.  Ask me about them tomorrow, though and I’ll likely be clueless.

Anyway, the biochem and genetics tests went a LOT better than physio–my time spent with them was thankfully represented and it seemed like an ok sacrifice for the time I could have spent studying for physio.  Actually, from what I heard after all of the tests were over, the people who spent countless hours studying for physio only had about 6-12 points on my score, which was, come to find out, right at the average.  Given that the average was a 62 and I’ve yet to hear of anyone making better than an 84, I’m hoping for a juicy 10-20 point curve.  Biochem and genetics, we were told up front, are not curved, so I’m extremely happy with my grades there and don’t feel NEARLY as bad about my physio grade.  I recognized that my tried and true method of powerpoint review isn’t going to work for physio, so that’s the best I can do for now.

In the interim, I have genetics notes from last week to catch up on and a giant plastic cup full of moscato wine to sip as I catch up on my favorite Sunday night Fox cartoons, so I bid you good night.

So, it’s 3:58 am and I’m finally giving up homework to go to bed, feeling thoroughly discouraged and non-productive.  Today was a melancholy day–as mentioned below, physio was frustrating to say the least, but then one of the best biochem lectures I’ve ever had almost counter-balanced it.  New biochem gal was going over proteins–specifically hemoglobin, myoglobin and disassociation curves–and she decided to cover the chloride shift.  Best, most succinct explanation I’ve ever been taught.  Not to mention her lecture was laden with stuff from physiology that we were supposed to know already–which she was disappointed to find out we hadn’t even been close to covering yet (we laughed bitterly)–but instead of pulling a histo prof and saying “well then you’ll need to review this material on your own, I don’t have time to teach you what you should already know,” she took the time to give us a brief overview of the topics, enough so that we would be able to understand the material she was trying to present to us.  And here’s the kicker–she’s on schedule–we might be 10 or 15 slides behind, but she’s amazing.  I wish she taught us more.

So now you’re thinking why describe the day as melancholy then?  Well it went downhill after lunch.  EBM prof came in to tell us about Epi and what had been decided by the higher-ups about what to do about our teacherless course.  Not good.  Apparently they decided to go with the original plan of flying in Saba profs to teach us a couple Epi blitz workshops (5 hr minimum) ON SATURDAYS.  So I’m sitting there, feeling blissful after biochem gal’s excellent lecture, a tasty lunch, and a trip outside to look at the ocean and relax in the sun for a few minutes and then my day goes to crap.  Of course hands shot up everywhere with concerns–including one girl who had already had excused absences arranged for the next Saturday (which we later found out via genetics prof, is scheduled to be the first 5-hour blitz workshop).  According to EBM prof, if we miss even one of these Saturday workshops, we would fail the class and have to repeat it.  Talk about feeling backed into a corner.

Actually, how I feel is like crap, now.  I worked non-stop all weekend to get caught up on what remained of the week’s homework, including Friday’s “self study” remainder of the physio lectures (which took half a day to complete properly), and now you’re telling me I’m going to lose 6 of the remaining 12 Saturdays (not including 5 block Saturdays which are not even on the table for negotiations) because I will be required to go to school ON THEM TOO?  I don’t know what else I can do–I come home, “nap” for 2 hours, run to the grocery to pick up essentials, and I have been working ever since to finish/review lecture material from today (alone).  8 hours after I started working, I’m still not done with physiology lecture from today, haven’t touched the reading for it, haven’t done pre-reading for other classes, haven’t done optional practice problems for biochem gal that we’re going to cover in class tomorrow, and still behind with no prospects at all of catching up on Kaplan reading for genetics/biochem that I had left from this weekend.

I have a pounding headache, a stomachache from the 4 cups of tea and diet Coke I’ve consumed trying to stay awake on 5 hours of sleep (3 hours last night plus the 2 hour nap), and alas, realize that I must go to bed, if nothing else, so that I can hopefully sleep during some of the 3 hours that remain until I have to be up, and so that I won’t be a complete you-know-what to my classmates tomorrow from lack of sleep and overwhelming feelings of being overwhelmed.  I hope they work out something with physio and epi, I really do.


January 17, 2011

Sitting in physio class, absolutely bored to death.  This man is absolutely useless–he’s saying the wrong things and is very confusing, oh and he’s making absolutely no effort to engage the class.  (The guy in front of me is watching football.)  You guys remember Professor Binns, the History of Magic professor in the Harry Potter series?  Yea, this is him.  I’m so bored that I’m sitting here working on today’s physio notes.  Sad.

Oh, it gets better.  He doesn’t bother with attendance and out of a 55 slide lecture, he gets through 15 slides and the rest is self-study.  This is bullcrap.

Is it Monday yet?

January 16, 2011

Ugh.  For the second weekend in a row, I spent all of Saturday and Sunday at home not even venturing to my car for a joy ride.  I started out the weekend with 47 slides to review for Genetics, 85 slides to review for Physio, and 128 slides to review for Biochem in addition to all of the reading for the semester thus far and a personal mission to review as best I can for the bonus quiz in Physio tomorrow.  It’s 8:14 on Sunday evening and I’m finally done with all of my slide review but now there’s the reading to get to and the Physio quiz.  After a bit of long-put-off organizational review, Physio is the only course that has recommended reading assignments; for biochem and genetics, there’s just the Kaplan notes–the topics from the syllabus seem to correspond unusually well with the chapter titles of Kaplan.  Unfortunately, even though we’ve only done 2 weeks of lectures, the Kaplan table of contents tells me I’m 6 chapters or 117 pages behind.  Ugh.

So other than studying this weekend, I did manage to get a few extracurricular things done that make life easier.  Saturday I slept in until 1:00, it was amazing.  When I got up, I managed to wash a load of laundry–washing’s not the hard part, rather it’s drying since there is no dryer.  For lunch I decided to take some extra sandwich lettuce and some Gorgonzola I had splurged on earlier (to make a takeout burger go from meh to amazing) and make a salad–not something you get so often on Nevis.  I’d wanted one earlier in the week but neglected to realize that I didn’t have EVOO and red wine vinegar conveniently up in the cabinet, like at home.  Even after my Wednesday trip to Ram’s, I was still unable to get my hands on other ingredients that make an extraordinary viniagrette: jarred garlic (who wants the trouble and odor of dealing with fresh?–but I just ended up using garlic powder after I couldn’t find it) and stone ground mustard (an emulsifier–it was a whopping $18 EC for a small bottle–no thanks, I can use a whisk each time for that).  After nukeing some jarred bacon bits (so they tasted fresh) and adding those with some chopped green onions, the salad was phenomenal.  The only thing it lacked was some pear slices, but for Nevis, not bad all.

Today, after sleeping in until 11:00, the slides I had left for physio took much longer than I had anticipated.  I took a break between powerpoints to thaw out my latest adventurous purchase–Organic Ground Beef from the Nevisian Agricultural Ministry (Buy Locally!)–to make seasoned taco filling to couple with salsa, whole-wheat wraps, rice, taco-seasoned 2% cheese, lettuce, reduced fat sour cream, and a few prized packets of Taco Bell Hot sauce for tasty burritos for lunch this week.  It’s a deviation from my usual turkey, mustard and lettuce sandwiches, yes, but seeing as the only available turkey at Ram’s on Wednesday would have expired this week, I have decided, out of necessity, to branch out.  Somehow I don’t think I’ll be so lonely for Mexican food by the end of this week.  Oh–and I officially got caught up on my 2-liters of water/day goal; for the week I had been ~1.5 liters behind, but feel full, albeit accomplished, now and ready to start tackling my 2 chilling Nalgenes tomorrow morning.  I think I might actually try sleeping in my bedroom tonight–haven’t seen any more buggies and rearranged my bed so that it’s freestanding and not touching any of the walls where things can crawl up an on me so easily.

If anyone who reads this can help me with this, I’d appreciate it.  So the first time I turned on the bedroom A/C, I set it on 18ish (degrees Celsius), had all the doors open and the fan going and woke up in the living room the next morning freezing so that I had to turn it off.  Ever since, when I’ve had it on, even on 16 degrees Celsius, the coolest it can seem to get just my bedroom with the door closed is 26 degrees.  As far as I can tell, it’s on the same settings as before except 2 degrees cooler.  The picture of the little snow flake is on the remote, the fan is on full blast, what am I doing wrong?  It’s almost unbearable to sit in the living room/kitchen without the fan blowing directly on you–in fact I waited to take my shower because any time I get up to even move around, much less cook stuff, I end up sweaty and gross.  I ended up sleeping out in the living room on the futon again last night, but with the fan blowing full blast on me and without a blanket because it was so warm.  Didn’t wake up cold at all.  And this is the cold season–I shudder to think about what it’s going to be like when August rolls around again…

Something’s bugging me

January 14, 2011

Ugh–so I get to update my blog as I sit here taking a break from Jaundice notes, with the stinkin’ BUGSPRAY CAN within REACH!  I swear, my apartment was not crawling with bugs when I toured it, so what happened?!

I’ve sprayed inside, I’ve sprayed outside and STILL I open up the cabinet this morning to grab a granola bar for breakfast on the go (because, of course, I’m running late) and something dark quickly darts across my petite cabinet door–WTF?!–I mentally exclaim as I jump back, then duck down beneath the sink to get one of my many cans of assorted bug sprays.  I see that the dark thing–a miniature cockroach–has un-cleverly come to rest on the much-lighter-colored hinges and give it a good 5-second blast with BOP spray for *ahem* flying insects.  It freezes.  A second 5-second blast makes it let go and fall into the sink, dead.  Thanks BOP.

But seriously, land lady–I appreciate that you offered me ant baits when I told you about the ant-colony-in-the-closet-problem before but this is gross.  I can’t live with these things.  AND IT’S GETTING WORSE–I was sitting here Skyping my folks after dinner and I saw 2 MORE ROACHES crawling across the kitchen floor under the SINK!  AAAAAAAAAAAAH!  I had to get up from my conversation, grab the bug spray and kill them!  This is sick!  I am a neat, clean person–where do these things come from?  All of my food is in ziplocks–I wash all dishes immediately–I don’t know what else to do.  I have Borax coming down in my totes with Tropical but I might not last in this apartment long enough for it to get here–I don’t know how much longer I can handle this.

School is about the same.  I feel like I’m running on a treadmill and someone’s just kindly pressed the button that increases the incline so it’s harder to run–I work on notes for hours a day but it’s impossible to get sleep and not start the next day behind.  So to keep up, I’ve spent every waking minute of my spare time working on notes–lunch, breaks, I’m writing notes.  My buddies in Med 2 have actually started asking me what’s wrong.  Haha.  Not angry, not emo, just busy.

Epidemiology is still up in the air.  Biochem/Genetics gal has started giving us afternoons or partial afternoons off from genetics–it’s a little awesome, but then when I sit down and think about it, she’s really giving away borrowed time from the epidemiology teacher, if/when we get one.  You’ll never guess what I spend my free afternoon’s doing?  That’s right, notes.

We started biochem with the other member of the biochem teaching team today.  We went over amino acids and proteins which is really getting close to pure chemistry–bleh, Henderson-Hasselbalch–but, happily, she’s quirky, I like her.  She’s got cute little one-liners like the original biochem gal, but without the creepy rude comments when we do something she doesn’t like.  Today’s class was terrific, except for the last part where she waited until the last minute to do role and then wouldn’t let anyone leave until the entire attendance was finished.  Argh.  What is it with these teachers and time management?  It was an issue last semester and clearly, it’s still an issue this semester: you can fuss and say whatever you want to us [without consequences] because we’re in our seats at 11:00:30 instead of 11:00:00, but then you can force us to sit there until 1:15 while our lunch ticks away and we’re not allowed to even stand up, much less utter a word of protest at all?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about punctuality–I’m the girl who shows up to her 9:00 class at 8:20–but it’s a two-way street.

Today, I suppose I noticed it moreso than normal because there was so much to be done during lunch today; we had mandatory Med 1 prof evaluations from 1:00-1:30, then I wanted to get out to the Med 5 garage sale, and then by the time I was back to the classroom, it was time for class again.  So much for actually eating during lunch.  There’s something not quite right about that–admin makes evaluations mandatory, yet we are made to complete them during OUR lunch period on one of the few days where there’s actually something else scheduled during lunch.  And the interesting thing was once we got into the evaluation room, we just logged into the regular MUA page with a special user ID and password and then went straight to a link online.  Why couldn’t they just have emailed us the instructions and let us do it whenever we wanted from home?  (::Sigh:: Whatever.  Let’s be honest, I’m turning into a crotchety old lady.)  I went into the evaluation with the intention of giving them a piece of my mind, but then I wussed out and gave them all nice happy evaluations, forgive and forget, right?  Rise above it?  Let’s all just be happy I have a nice creative outlet for my frustrations with the problems with manners and personal differences that exist here.  Maybe I’ll start writing haikus too?

Kids come from afar

And their names are hard to say

Give attendance time

Eleven O’Clock

In your seats and no talking

No seconds to spare

I look at the door

“Please answer your attendance”

Sit comfortably.


January 11, 2011

Thankfully I haven’t had any more bad days since last week, but now I’m finally starting to settle down into the rhythm of things.  I took a break on Saturday to watch TV and try out a few episodes of my dvds of the complete series of Daria.  Sunday was spent working–from 10 am to 2 am, with few breaks, but at a comfortable absorptive pace.

So far physio looks like it might be problematic–the theory part of our lectures is easy enough to understand, but it looks like most of the test questions will be based on calculations.  So far we’ve only been given a handful of practice questions at the end of the lectures–if I am to do well on the tests, I need significantly more practice problems than that.  I still haven’t done my reading for the weekend, so I’m hoping if I get time to check BRS/Kaplan/other resources from the student drive, they’ll have some applicable practice questions.

Biochem and Genetics seem to run together.  Prof has been nicer, handling her frustration at our lack-of-discipline-when-it-comes-to-being-on-time better and in less rude, more constructive ways.  She keeps having to remind the class that we’re not supposed to wear hats, and that we’re supposed to raise our hands both during attendance and too, when it seems like we’re trying to have a discussion about an open question she’s posed to the class.  It’s interesting how all last semester we were encouraged just to shout out useful answers and NOT to raise our hand, but how now, it’s the complete opposite.  She’s already told us how she feels about our profs’ habit last semester of having us call them Dr. __(First name)__.  I think she thinks we were the ones who decided to do it and the profs just went along with it.

She did, however, explain to us that things are still up in the air today about Epidemiology.  Apparently before, the solution to us being down an Epidemiology teacher was that a prof from Saba was supposed to come and teach us but from what she said, that teacher is booked up and refusing to go/Saba’s refusing to let her, so they’re trying to figure out a different solution.  Dr. Fulmer, who apparently had some role in Epidemiology before, was suggested by a classmate, but he’s leaving in March.  Shorter afternoon classes of 1 hour instead of 2 were suggested in the interim to combat us getting too far ahead in Genetics, which our teacher reacted positively to initially, but then decided against, saying that when we did have epidemiology, we would have to have 30-minute classes.  Not quite sure how she came to that conclusion, but I think it’s still a better suggestion than the leading option right now, which as she told us was, an epidemiology teacher coming in and us having “epidemiology days” where for 6 or so hours, we’d have nothing but epidemiology.  Bleh.  Not only did we not like that idea but she, correctly, noticed that the method in which we would be evaluated–our tests–would be waaaaay off and most likely unfair.

I do respect that she’s trying to get us fair testing, though she’s strongly in favor of us having all of our block tests on the one day.  She cites, correctly, that all the other Caribbean schools have their block tests in one day, often in one test, and is trying to move MUA towards that.  Also because it’s more similar to the USMLE format.  Yea, that’s all fine and dandy, but the Step I is the way it is because it’s a one-time test that is excruciatingly long and painful, with the understanding that it’s done once, not several times a semester for several semesters.  No, I strongly disagree with that style of testing–I think just because they’re doing it that way at other schools doesn’t mean we should.  I don’t like being put in the position where I have to sacrifice studying for one subject over another based on when during the day the tests will be.  True, it forces you to keep up, but then if you ever fall behind, you’re completely screwed.  Don’t like that.  Plus I think it’ll make our scores go down.  I like focusing on just one thing.  Less confusion.

Anyway, the last and direst suggestion was to have Med 1 EBM prof to teach the class, to which the whole class erupted in laughter.  She confusedly looked around and said with some disbelief that it was also a viable option that was being considered.  That, however, would mean that our former EBM prof has to help with his portion of Psyc in Med 3, EBM in Med 1, and then add an entire Med 2 course (by himself) to his plate, in addition to being Dean of Students.  I think that’s spreading him too thin–I’m surprised he agreed to EBM–Med 1 anatomy prof’s dean and he just has the one anatomy class that he splits with two other profs and formerly, a lab assistant.  Technically former EBM prof’s degrees are in Psyc, so while a lot of psyc is stats and research, epidemiology is close but not something that should be automatically shifted to his duties.  Ideally, I think that there should be an epidemiology component of EBM (which there is) and then they should call it quits at that.  We’ve all proven either directly through the tests or indirectly through research presentations, that we can do basic statistical calculations and that we can successfully find articles and do competent, cutting-edge medical research.  Really the only thing that’s lacking is the school’s willingness to invest our funds into adequate research journal subscriptions.  There were so many good articles that I had to pass up on my PubMed searches for EBM because our measly little library didn’t have a subscription to that journal, so I was limited to working with free articles.  I think it really brought down the caliber of my research, but then again I was just finding 4 facts, wasn’t I?

What happened

January 7, 2011

Every now and then on Nevis, things just go wrong, and that’s what happened–many things went wrong all at the same time on yesterday.  Thank you guys for your concern and your words of encouragement.  I took the evening off,  talked to my folks, had a good cry, went to bed early and felt better.

1. Each semester, we get to move to a different classroom here at MUA.  Premed 1 and 2 are held in other buildings on campus, but all other classes, Med1-Med 5 are held in the giant New Building.  Med 1 was in the top back of the building facing the sea–we had 10 vast, extremely wide rows, lots of windows, and 2 lovely balconies to go take our breaks on.  Med 2 is next door to our left, so now we occupy half of the wall that faces South.  We lost our side windows aside from one that opens onto our one balcony, but the door to the balcony is locked.  The other side, where there should be a wall is actually a false partition.  Because the building is longer on the South side, the side is split into the Med 2 and the Med 3 classrooms.  So we share a wall with Med 3 and are separated by nothing but a thin wall of paneling, so we can hear most of what’s going on in their class and it’s hard to concentrate.  But–long story short, the new classroom isn’t as big as our old one.  It doesn’t have as many rows, nor are the rows as wide, plus since the left side is so loud, no one wants to sit in the last few seats on that side, so there’s quite a bit of dead space in the room.  So rather than approximate where they sat in Med 1, some people in our class have decided to just start sitting new places–unfortunately this includes my seat.  I know it sounds petty to fuss over seats when we are adults and don’t have assigned seating, but I found a sweet spot where I loved sitting–you get good eye-contact with the profs, can easily see the projector and the board, and I liked the people I sat around.  First day I came in, someone was in my seat.  I thought ok, they’re just confused because it’s a new room, fine I’ll sit somewhere else.  Sat somewhere else, didn’t like it, thought alright, it’s clearly important for me to get here earlier.  Next day, I got to school 35 minutes early and my seat was free.  Awesome, sat in my old seat, loved it, decided it was annoying but worth it to come in 35 minutes early to have my old seat back.  Yesterday, my bad day, I came in 40 minutes early and there were only 2 people in the classroom, but they were in my seat and in the one next to it!  WTF?!  Didn’t you pay attention last semester?  That was MY SEAT.  I was so mad.  I ended up sitting one row back, but the person who took my seat was tall, so I couldn’t really see at all yesterday.  Really annoying, and because our classes start at 9:00 now and I was 40 minutes early, I had to sit there for 30 minutes with no internet and nothing to do except sulk that I was in a mini war over my damn seat.

2.  I’m sure my teachers will probably be really cool, but right now I’m just not feeling them.  I talked the other day about physio, that we’re going really slow on easy concepts so it’s making me nervous that I’m missing something.  So that makes me feel uneasy.  All of my other friends really like the Biochem/Genetics gal, but as funny as some of the things she says are, and as nice as it is of her to give us those luxurious 15-minute breaks, I just can’t make myself believe that she’s that nice when she starts out class saying rude, nasty things, threatening us 2 days in a row with how powerful she is.  Day 1 she told us if she caught us cheating, she’d put her job on the line to make sure that we were expelled.  Ok, a bit melodramatic but I hate cheaters too.  Fine, she’s passionate about her job.  But then she follows it up with something along the lines of “don’t think I won’t do it either, I’m pretty sure I’m more valuable to the school than you are, I used to teach at Saba and was dean of Students.”  Wow.  That was unnecessary, I believed you.  Then the next day, there was the whole thing about I told you to be in your seats by 11:00, if you’re not in your seats by 11:00 tomorrow I’ll mark the whole class absent and “don’t think I can’t do it, I do what I want here.”  What?  Did you just say that?  And then yesterday, we’re sitting there at 11:00 waiting and waiting, and finally at 11:08 she comes walking in the door and says well since you guys made me wait the past two days, I thought I’d make you wait.  WTF?  This is NOT POLITE CONVERSATION–how about a “hello class, how was your evening?” “hello class, good morning” or you know, if you’re having a bad day or a bad week, don’t say anything at all, but there’s no need to yell at us and be rude when we just met.  You don’t have to do that.  Besides, the people she’s yelling at are the very ones who are in their seats and ready for class.  I had to pee, but because I didn’t think I’d have time and didn’t want to get yelled at for coming in at 11:01, I stayed in my seat and waited an hour for her to lecture, then go.  It makes me nervous to spend 4 hours a day in class with someone who lets things like that slip out every now and then.  She seems like a great teacher who really knows her stuff, but I just can’t like someone who is mean to me and thinks it’s ok to talk to students like that.

3.  I found out yesterday that I didn’t get histology TA.  I admit, it was presumptuous of me to assume that I’d get it, but come on–I got one of 9 A’s in the class out of a 100+ person class, and made the top scores in the class on block II exam and on the shelf–I got 98th percentile–come on, what else do I have to do?!  I physically sent an email last semester saying I was interested [in TA-ing], was attentive in class, was an active listener, asked questions when they arose, answered questions she asked, and took my lunch break to go review my tests on all but 1 block.  I hadn’t heard who did get TA  and didn’t know how many TAs there were but I remembered there being like 5 or 6 for my semester, so when I didn’t receive an email during the first week of classes, I thought I was one of the only people who made a high grade that didn’t get asked.  I didn’t know what I had done wrong but I was feeling really lousy–I just knew I would get TA and couldn’t think of what I had done wrong.  I felt like I had failed somehow.  (I found out today that she only gets 3 TAs this semester and didn’t ask students in order of grades to be TAs (she told a student last semester that she DID do it by order of grades).  I have no idea what method she used, but now I don’t feel singled out as much from all of the other people with high grades.  Just confused.)

4.  To add insult to injury, after I’m feeling REALLY down about the TA thing, yesterday during the afternoon classes, the internet comes up during one of our breaks, I refresh my facebook page as I always do at xx:50 when the internet comes back on, and I noticed that one of the people I met at the very beginning of the school year, who was good friends with someone I lived close to in Potworks had posted on my wall.  I thought that was odd as we hadn’t spoken since then and went to go check it out.  Turns out, I had said something silly on my facebook page that morning about physio prof pronouncing saline as “sah line” instead of “say lean.”  In the context in which it was used, I was really confused and actually wrote myself a note to go onto wikipedia and look up a drug named sayline.  As I was writing it, I realized what it was supposed to be and laughed.  I thought it was funny so I wrote it on my facebook.  So my cousin posts haha your prof’s funny, and then a friend from home (actually one of my childhood friend’s moms) posted oh–is your prof Indian?, I had responded with a yes, and so she had written on my wall again, during the break that they were “entertaining to listen to.”  What she meant is that there are no Indian people back where I’m from, and India is actually the only place she’s been outside of the US (her best friend’s Indian) so yes, to her they’re exotic people who are interesting to befriend and talk to because they’re not like your average Western North Carolinian.  It was a bad choice of words.  Anyway, this person from pre-med decided that it had offended him enough to post on my wall, in response to her comment that it was a really rude and inconsiderate thing to say [that Indian people were entertaining to listen to].  I saw the post and immediately deleted the entire thing–my initial status and everything.  I felt caught in the middle and guilty somehow, but then I felt bad for the lady back home who had posted the comment because it’s totally not what she meant–it was just taken the wrong way.  And then, my deleting the posts would be misconstrued as me agreeing with the kid who was offended–no I don’t agree with either person–it was a poor choice of words on her part and (IMHO) he was being oversensitive.  Naturally when I got home, I had a big long message from her–she felt awful and spent many paragraphs explaining how she didn’t mean it that way at all.  I felt bad, and responsible–all of this was over my stupid comment–so I assured her it was ok, I just deleted the post so that no one would be offended.  This makes me feel worse.  I barely talk to this woman or this guy in pre-med and now they’re either indirectly mad at me and think me racist or condoning racism, or they think I hate them and think they’re racist.  So I thought at this point, how could my day get worse?  That was a mistake.

5.  I get home, wanting a huge bar of chocolate after the crappy day I’ve had, and decide to give myself a little luxury by firing up the A/C for the first time.  I grab the remote and nervously turn it on (the landlady had asked before if it and the stove were working–I had tried neither at the time, but why shouldn’t they be working?), it cranks up and cools pleasantly, finally something goes right today.  I walk over to my closet where I was still trying to finish unpacking clothes at the time, and look down to check out my bad spot where I had ants crawling all over my vanity before to make sure there weren’t any more.  There weren’t any on the vanity, but I did notice there were a couple of ants crawling on my closet shelf.  This creeps me out because there’s never just 2 of those tiny ants.  I thought I had sprayed well enough but apparently not.  I grab my can of ant spray and start spraying around the edges of the closet and then I see them scatter.  Turns out there’s a nest in the side of my closet.  WTF?  I quickly take the few clothes I had hanging in the closet out–they were on the opposite end.  Take out everything else from the closet, then blast the entire closet.  I have the kind of bug spray that kills on contact.  I almost asphyxiate myself on the fumes, but I leave and come back 20 minutes later.  Still ants moving.  I spray again.  No movement.  I leave and come back, no movement.  I clean up the dead ants and as a precaution, keep my closet empty and vow to go buy more ant spray.  As I’m spraying the entire closet again, I look up and notice a cob web.  In it are 2 giant spiders.  EEW.  Seriously?!  I kill them and spray the web and the corner where it looks like they came in.  Feeling completely grossed out, I come back out into the living room and sit down to rest and honestly, just to be far away from my bedroom and that closet.  I’m looking at my laptop and in my peripheral vision, I see something green fly up into the light above the kitchen table then dive down onto the table.  I go over to investigate and there’s a gigantic 2″ flying grasshopper.  I try to squish him and he flies towards me.  End up chasing him into the kitchen proper and having to smush him up against a wall.  Gross–I throw him outside.  I’m just completely creeped out at this point.  I go back to the sofa, sit down watch TV and call my Dad and have a break down.  I hate living in bugs, I hate not getting to be a TA, I hate having to show up to class 40 minutes early, I hate issues on facebook.  He comforts me and tells me he’s proud of me no matter what.  He tells me not to worry about my seat that it’s not such a big thing–it matters a lot to me, but admittedly it is petty.  He tells me that whether I want to admit it or not, I’m probably lonely here all by myself–there are no students–and he hit the nail on the head that I did really miss Jo (the girl from pre-med 1 who lived next to me at Potworks but decided not to come back to Nevis this semester).  And more importantly, he tells me not to post anything about class on facebook–probably very good advice.  He says that he’s had issues with his employees at work trying to get each other in trouble with it, that as nice as my classmates may seem, that people could use it against me or try to get me into trouble, especially people who aren’t doing as well in classes.  It’s sad, but it might be true, good advice.  So I give him a teary goodbye and go to make a sandwich.  I’m getting stuff out of the fridge and see something brown out of the corner of my eye as I’m sitting stuff on the counter–ANOTHER GIANT GRASSHOPPER.  Are you kidding me?!  I chase him around, get him to fly to the ground and squish him.  I decide that I haven’t been outside since I came in from school and that they must be getting in through the A/C unit.  I turn it off and go to bed.  I’ve had enough.

That was my crap day. Admittedly, some of the stuff is petty and there are easily worse singular events that happen to people on a daily basis, but it made for a bad day for me.  But today was waaay better.  I found out that it wasn’t just me who didn’t get TA for histology, so I felt better.  Biochem/genetics prof let us out an hour and a half early (I’m sure we’ll pay for it later, but it was nice to get to town on a Friday) so I went to town with a friend and was able to get to the hardware store before it closed and bought up a TON of bugspray for both inside and outside of my house.  I was able to go by the drink depot and get a case of diet coke.  And I went to Ram’s which apparently has great deals on Fridays–got a bottle of Ocean Spray light Cran-Pomegranate for $5 EC–it’s usually $17.  And got special K and corn pops for $5 EC/box when they’re normally $25 EC/box.  Unfortunately I got them home and all the boxes and bags of cereal were full of live bugs–not just little ones either–a moth or something actually flew out of one of the boxes.  Caveat emptor.  After yesterday, though, it wasn’t that bad.  I just bagged them all up and took them out to the garbage–4 boxes for $5 EC each is still cheaper than 1 box for $25 EC–now I know not to buy cheap cereal at Rams.