As the academic year comes to an end, I thought I’d reflect on my first year at university.
Here’s the thing- we all have a tendency to sugarcoat. We share all the good, but seldom the ‘bad’ times. Sure, there’s the occasional (or frequent) posts about workload and stress; but how many of us actually openly share our experiences when the goings get really tough? Following my last blogpost, I’d really like to keep the honesty streak going.
First term was a bit of a nightmare for me- it was almost a process of trying to rediscover myself in a sense.
“Imposter syndrome is a recognised phenomenon, first identified by psychologists in 1978, and describes a feeling that your achievements are undeserved and the fear of being exposed as a fraud. Those with imposter syndrome tend to feel that luck rather than ability lies behind their successes.”(1)
Getting into Imperial was a massive deal for me. I had not planned to apply at all- but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life looking back with what ifs.
I didn’t think I was smart enough. I’ve always had a fluctuating impression of myself; ranging from borderline conceited to possessing a pretty low self esteem.
As the holidays came to a start- my initial mindset was, “Oh, I’ve got looaaddss of time. I definitely deserve a break. One more season of this show on Netflix won’t hurt.” It must have slipped my mind that the exam on the day I go back is not a mock. Now that I’m about 70% through my Easter/Spring break, I am filled with regret and drowning in revision. :’)
Watching a season of Hell’s Kitchen
The first thing I did was binge watch as soon as the term ended. Personally a big Gordon Ramsay fan, even though he’s not a believer in Vegetarianism/Veganism cries.
Before I jump right in- kindly note that it’s pronounced dis-section, and not di-(s)section. Literally the one thing I can recall from the intro to anatomy lecture from Freshers’ week.
Safe to say our very first dissection session was highly anticipated amongst my cohort. We’re currently learning about the thorax- part of the body between the neck and abdomen. At Imperial, we do full-body dissections rather than prosections. Each group consists of 10-11 students and we are assigned a cadaver per group for the whole of the anatomy course, which lasts into year 2. The dissections are done at our Charing Cross campus.
I don’t come from a background in science – my Bachelor’s is in History and I’ve spent the past five years working in marketing – so I often get asked how I’m coping with doing a science degree like Public Health.
And the answer is: not too badly, so far. At least judging from my results for term 1, especially statistics and epidemiology.
Part of this is definitely down to pure elbow grease: extra hours rewatching lectures, consulting YouTube tutorials and making sure I got all the homework done. But thankfully, it’s also because postgrad education is more about the application of technical knowledge to the real world than whether you can memorise formulas.
The St Mary’s pool has been a fixture of the campus for 80 years and now, for very vague reasons, it’s shutting down. The last day for the pool (and the staff who run it), is on 16 July 2018.
If you’re a regular at St Mary’s you’ll know how much this pool means to the people who work and study here. There are few other ways to clear your head after long hospital rounds or a session of disease modelling. What’s more, the facilities at South Ken are too far for us to access easily.
That’s why we’ve set up a petition to try and save our little pool.
When I first found out I’d be based at the St Mary’s campus instead of the main Imperial College stamping ground of South Kensington, I was apprehensive.
“I’m going to miss out on college life.” was my first thought.
“Does this mean they only serve hospital food?” was the other.
After a term here, I can happily say that I have not had any cause for FOMO, nor had to eat from any hospital canteens. I am also a bit better qualified to give you an insider’s look at life at St Mary’s. If you’re going to be starting a term here soon, this is your jam.
Has it really been almost a year since I had my medical school interviews?
To get me through the preparation process, I recall going through endless online resources (TSR is great!) reading through interview tips, experiences, etc. So I thought it would be exciting to add to the wealth of online material and offer a post with some advice and a bit of an insider’s view to what my interviews were like!
I attended three interviews last January/February- two of which were panel (Imperial and Queen Mary/Barts), and one MMI (Newcastle). This is where I sheepishly admit that I personally found the Barts one most enjoyable (promise I’m not a traitor); whereas the Newcastle one was half a disaster- MMI was not my friend!
Something I was often told during Freshers’ Week (or Freshers’ Fortnight for the medics) was that my six years at Imperial will fly by. I saw no truth whatsoever to that statement at the time.
However, now that the winter holidays are finally upon us and January exams are alarmingly close- where exactly has first term gone? Honestly- what happened? The wrath of medical school interviews have begun for brave souls across the country, and it’s odd to think that it’s been a year since I was in that position!
After much procrastination and a degree of reflection, I finally pull myself together enough to write up my very first blog about my past 11 weeks at Imperial before it all becomes a blur to me.
I had one of the most fantastic days on Wednesday as I graduated with my intercalated BSc! Imperial graduations occur at the Royal Albert Hall, which is just such a beautiful venue to celebrate in. The graduation ceremony for the School of Medicine was at lunchtime, so I could get to campus mid-morning to collect my gown and have some photos done with my family. The ceremony itself was so grand and we were all smiles and cheers watching our friends cross the stage with their degrees!
Walking across the stage
Going onto the stage was terrifying, and I really thought my gown was all wonky…but once you are up there it flashes by so fast.