Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Marking Time

4 weeks, just 19 working days left. I am as excited this time as I was this time last year when I was waiting to start for the first time. Although, I have less of the 'what ifs' this time; I know what's in store, I know I can do it, I just want it to be here now. Well, I do and I don't. I would like a little extra time because I have quite a to do list at work and I don't think I'm going to get it all done. Ever the perfectionist, I hate leaving work unfinished. Having the three day weekend was lovely. Can all weekends be three days long from now on please? I got so much done, it was great. That is one thing I really do miss - the joy that comes with it being a Friday or a bank holiday Monday. You just don't get the same feeling being a student.

Our new medical school intranet site has gone live, so my obsessive checking habit has now turned to checking the intranet to see which groups I'm in, what my timetable will be, what GP Placement I'll have and which SSU's I will be doing. Timetables are up, but that's not a lot of use without knowing what group number I am in. I can see I finish every Friday at 2, which I like very much, though I'm sure my part time job will soon have something to remedy that with. The Life Science group lists are up, and if I know that I can work out what I'll be for everything else, but I can't access them! I get an access denied message which is somewhat frustrating. Apparently the fourth years have their bits up so hopefully they shouldn't keep us waiting too much longer.

I've had another weekend at Mr's where we went blackberrying and found that our favourite restaurant in Salisbury, Charter 1227 had burnt down and won't be open again until March. We had a meal in the Officers Mess but because it was the holidays there was only the two of us booked in for dinner. The chef cooked us the most elaborate, delicious, fancy meal I think I've ever tasted. He'd done the table up with flowers and really gone to town for us. I normally feel guilty enough having silver service for ordinary meals as it is, but he went to so much trouble, and he was so humble when we told him how much we enjoyed it. Nothing much else going on at the moment.  I'm just waiting....

Friday, 19 August 2011

5 July

On the 5th July 2006 the bottom fell out of my world. The 5th July was to me what the third Thursday in August is to A Level sitters. Judgement day. I left high school with good GCSE's and when I picked up the college prospectus I couldn't pick just 4 AS/A Levels, there was just so much that looked interesting. Tucked in the back half of the prospectus was a course that would let me keep my diversity and do loads of subjects. While all of my friends went off to do A levels, I enrolled on a course none of them had heard of and prepared myself to study the equivalent of 8 A Levels. In hindsight, I may have been a little crazy and a slight sucker for punishment. What can I say, I'm never one to take the easy route. 5th July is the International Baccalaureate results day. The results come out on the IB website at a certain time of day. I was feeling fairly confident because despite a few hiccoughs, a chemistry tutor and a swap of subject levels, I had worked my socks off, why shouldn't I have the results I deserved? That's how it worked, right? I needed 655 in my highers. I got 644. A black hole opened in my stomach, white noise filled my head and through the tears I squinted at the figures on the screen, trying to make them change to be what I needed.

It actually felt like my world ended. I had worked so hard and I hadn't gotten the grades. Maybe I wasn't good enough after all. I had been in slight disbelief when the Connexions career test said I should be a Doctor, as it hadn't ever entered my head. Since then it had always been in the back of my mind there was no way I was clever enough. This just proved it. Telling my family I had failed was hard. They'd been so proud I got a place at medical school and I'd let them all down (apart from Dad, because I was the first from his side of the family to stay on at school past 16, so he was proud of me just for going to college). I went off to Uni in September to my insurance choice: same uni, different course. I sat on the bus on the way to lectures listening to the medics laughing about how they weren't going to that lecture because they were too hung over and they weren't doing that essay because they couldn't be bothered. I hated those bus journeys. What I wouldn't give to be in their shoes.

I wouldn't change my path to medicine for anything. It all worked out in the end. I met my wonderful boyfriend, got involved in new sports, considered other career options I hadn't dreamt of before, tried my hand at research and thoroughly enjoyed it, found out just how far I can push myself until I physically break and how to cope with continuing to work whilst broken, met fantastic friends, got all my partying done and learnt to settle down and work when I cannot stand the subject material I'm working on because I can see the long game. Most importantly I think, I learnt to value my place. I had to work harder for it than I ever imagined when I first applied in October 2005, and having felt both the elation of an unconditional and the despair of an unsuccessful I will never forget how gutted the 16 other people I fought off to get my place must have felt.

So, if you opened your results envelope yesterday and didn't get what you were hoping for, take some time for yourself to re-evaluate, look at the new opportunities that are open to you and really think about what you want to do with your future. Perhaps you've been a little too focussed on one thing for so long you hadn't thought of all the other things you'd be really good at and could enjoy doing. If med is all you want to do after thinking through that then don't give up. Keep working until you've exhausted every opportunity and you really are down to your last shot. Each knock back should only make you stronger. You know you can do it, you know it's for you, you just have to convince other people. It will mean plenty of dog work on volunteer work experience and all-nighters writing essays about topics you couldn't care less about, but if you want to, you can focus and get done what needs to be done to achieve your goals.

If you got your results and you are going to medical school in September then congratulations, but the hard work starts now. Don't forget the people who weren't as lucky as you, those who got unsuccessfuls or lower grades, because you now have to work to show you deserve the opportunity you were given. There are many others who would have your spot in a heartbeat and you'd be surprised how quickly you forget how difficult it was to get in and how stressed you were during the application cycle waiting for the magic words on Track. Apart from that, have fun celebrating and packing. My top tip: take a door stop and biscuits to help you make friends with housemates when you first move in.

Monday, 15 August 2011

6 weeks...

Firstly, thanks for all your lovely comments on my last post, they really cheered me up. This last week I've had Mr down to stay so I've been really spoilt being able to come home from work to him every night. We went out for meals, had nights in front of the telly and went strawberry picking for the biggest, reddest, juiciest strawberries I've ever seen. It was great. That went some way to lessening the blow that came with me doing a sensible thing and extending my contract at work for another week, since we start back a week later than I thought we might. I now have 6 weeks to go. I am currently wading through 100 divorce cases to compile a tracking spreadsheet so you can easily see where we're at with every case and see if I can find some we haven't charged for yet. Each case gets us £1,500, so I'm potentially going to generate lots of money for the company. Divorce is expensive! Unfortunately for me, the files are all stored on an online/intranet storage website and there's so much paperwork and correspondence to sort through to see what's happened. It doesn't help I've never had any dealings with divorce before, so had to have a quick divorce procedure 101 before I started. To say my Monday is dragging is a serious understatement. 6 weeks, 6 weeks, 6weeks….

In other more exciting news, I've started planning my elective!! :) Slightly ahead of schedule… I wanted to see what the options where, to give myself plenty of time to raise funds if an overseas one was feasible, or time to decide it wasn't and plan a UK one. I've had my heart set on an overseas one since I first started considering medicine as a degree. Seeing all my college friends go off on their gap summers and gap years while I went to work in an office with very little natural light and an over active air conditioning system only made me more jealous. I've always known it was somewhat of a pipe dream, and not getting a fee loan further put the kibosh on any hopes of me doing an elective somewhere hot and sunny. Doing a bit of digging and it turns out it may not be as unachievable as I first thought. It will be a lot of money, but if I can put some away I should be able to afford it. If the Student Loans Company decides to be silly and not pay me in the intervening years, well then I can use the money for fees, and still have plenty of time to plan a cheaper UK alternative. For now though.. I'm dreaming of Fiji or Malta, or the Bahamas…. I have a dinghy, a Laser Radial XD (with an interchangeable 4.7 rig), that I never sail anymore. I just don't have the time. It's such a shame because I love that boat and I have a horrible feeling if I sell it I'll never get back into sailing again. It was a present, a beautiful boat and it clears my head so much sailing it. When I'm in it it's an extension of myself; I love being out on the water. But being realistic and cold-hearted and grown up I haven't been out on it in years, and because of where I have to keep it, I probably won't for years more. I can't keep paying for club membership and boat mooring fees if I'm not going to use it. I'm going to try and sell it and put most of the money towards paying for the awesome elective I've always dreamed of, and use a little to buy myself a kayak so I can still get out on the water that's a little closer to home.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


This weekend was lovely. Friday night I had the choice between my work's summer event and a leaving do. The summer event is where the company I work for hires out a local children's theme park and the employees and their families and friends get the run of the place. You tend to see managers running around the soft play area, having a whale of a time in the ball pool pit and geeing themselves up to go down the death slides. It's normally a good night. The leaving do was for one of the trainee GP's moving on and a receptionist at the GP surgery I work for term time. I figured I'd been to the Summer event before but these people only get one leaving do so I went to the leaving do in a restaurant I wasn't familiar with instead. I had such a good night, it was lovely. I got chatting to some of the GP's who don't normally talk to me because I'm just an office girl, and they were quite surprised to find I was a med student. One of them is in charge of the exams at my med school and another is a personal tutor so was giving me some tips about writing the portfolio analysis essays we have to do.

It was spoilt some what by one of the nurses who I haven't really seen before and haven't talked to. Upon finding out I was a med student from one of the GP's that I do talk to, she yelled across the table at me in all seriousness that I would never be a Doctor, I wasn't suited to it and I should find something else to do as I'm too quiet to make it as a Doctor. I'm sort of used to being told I'm not good enough because it's an argument my Mum always used to use against me when I was younger and messed up at something "You'll never be better than stacking shelves at Tesco", but I've never heard it from someone outside at all. Secondly, I tend to be whatever I need to be for the situation, I don't know if anyone else does, but different situations need a different side of me. When I'm coxing I'm serious, direct, motivational and forceful. That's not what's needed at a leaving do that's not mine, after a long week at work, surrounded by people I don't normally talk to and sat opposite sub Deans of my university! I've had my fair share of rejections in the past and I know it shouldn't, but that comment cut quite deep and keeps playing over in my head. A negative to my face is somewhat harder to swallow than a faceless 'unsuccessful' on UCAS. Truthfully, I don't know I'll be able to do it until I get there, but I'm hoping I should be able to pull together different facets of my personality to be whatever is needed of me to succeed.

Sunday was much better. I went to my Aunt's and my Goddaughter happened to be there. She'd just started walking earlier that week and she's so cute. She has some genetic problems that her paediatricians are still investigating so she's hitting the normal development milestones a little slowly. It's fascinating to watch her and see what she can and can't do. She can understand everything you say but her speaking vocabulary is only about 5 words. She tends to say something once and then won't say it again, and as I said, she's just learnt to walk at the age of 2.5. To be honest, she has such an adorable smile it doesn't matter about her health problems. She just has to smile and you'll do anything for her. She has so many appointments and tests coming up but hopefully when they are done we'll have a better idea of what's wrong and how best to support her. She's happy though, and really, that's all that matters. She's surrounded by people that love her, and she's happy.