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.

2 Responses to “Unpacking”

  1. Lacob said

    Hmm…do you think a change in study habit will benefit you?
    For example, your current study schedule consists mainly of taking notes after class.
    Have you considered alternative studying techniques such as, taking notes ahead of class and using the lecture as review, and a chance to add to the notes.

    Best of luck

    • jenningers said

      I have considered it, though unfortunately a few of the profs like to skip around with the order of lectures–it’s a good idea, though. I might give it a try in one of my more stable classes. Thanks for the advice!

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