Tag Archives: life

Third Term of the First Year

I am almost at the end of my first year of my masters program! Well, I say almost, but in reality, it’s the second week of the third term that ends the first week of June. Then I have the MCAT the third week of June. So, you know, everything is relative.

I have neuroscience and physiology this term, which are both harder and easier than my anatomy and embryology and micro anatomy courses last term. But it also means that I feel decent enough to start reading again. It’s been a struggle, but I can’t wait to start losing myself in text again. In the meantime, I’ll be catching up on posting the reviews I have written since last August (not too many, but a handful) and we’ll get this show on the road!

I do have a neuroscience exam on Monday, so I bid adieu as I go and study before classes tonight.

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Level Completed: Grad School Week 1

So I am finished with the first week of my biomedical sciences grad program. Well, four days of it. I get Friday off. Pretty much always. I do not question the extra free time they give me to study.

I have four classes. Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology (also lovingly referred to as BCMB), Scientific Communication (how to read scientific papers), Research Survey Seminar (how to write scientific papers), and Biomolecular modeling (a mix of BCMB and how to present to a scientific audience without looking like a bumbling idiot).

Classes are three to four hours a day from 4 pm to 7ish pm. The first day was a bit of a wash, mostly because it was tarnished by my standing up, the chair grabbing my foot, and promptly falling right back down on my poor knees in a very dramatic and painful manner. My knees were instantly numb (I probably made those nerves very upset) and even today I have two bruises the size of golf balls on either of my knees that are a deep purple. The bright side was only the girl sitting next to me saw me. The down side was that my knees were a tingling numb that was indicative of something Not Good.

Tuesday and Thursday of last week were BCMB. Apparently this is not the way it normally is. I think it’s Mondays and Wednesdays from now on. But the professor is pretty cool. She keeps us engaged for three hours straight (a harder feat than you might think) and taught us all about prokaryotes/eukaryotes and proteins.

Biomolecular modeling has probably one of my most favorite professors I’ve ever had. His name is Dr. M. He was the main reason I was so excited to go to my grad school. Dr. M really, truly believes in you in a very natural, “why shouldn’t I believe in you?” kind of way. He spent the entire class teaching us how to study and learn and why other ways aren’t effective long term. This was such a wonderful, amazing lecture. No one really teaches you how to properly learn. He didn’t speak at us, he spoke to us. I would go over the moon for that man. He expects a whole lot from you, but he gives you a way to help get you there if you put in the effort.

Wednesday resulted in myself being used as a human pincushion and getting boosters, antibody titers done, and a tuberculosis test. The TB test requires a needle, which I did know, but putting a glob of TB antigens right under my skin so it looks like I’ve just been inserted with a tracker which I was unaware of. It hurt. And bled a lot. But mostly it hurt. You’re not supposed to touch it, breathe on it, look at it funny, or even think about it because apparently it might result in a “positive result”. So, good little person I am, I avoided the fact that it was on my forearm and am officially negative for TB. What they don’t tell you is that after you’ve been tested, if you accidentally, say, happen to scratch it lightly, it’ll swell up, turn bright red like a mosquito bite, and hurt quite a bit. So just in case you ever have to have one, don’t touch it.

So now that I’m done gushing a bit, I had an assignment to “reverse outline” a chapter on proteins. No biggie, right? Well, let’s define “reverse outlining”. This means that you go in a chapter, take every paragraph, find the main point of the paragraph, and then come up with three to five supporting facts that establish the main fact. That seems fairly simple. But the chapter was 65 pages long. I read fairly quickly and I think I’m pretty smart, but that assignment took me 18 hours and was 18 pages long. I felt so rushed because I wasn’t able to be ahead in anything else with me trying to finish it before the deadline on Friday at noon.

But you know what? Despite all the grueling work, I am in love with my graduate school program. This isn’t the “I’ll love it as long as I’m good at it” type of relationship that most people have. This is a “I know I’ll sweat blood to make this work, but I’ll love it in a very small corner of my mind” type of relationship. I feel smart again, something my undergrad institution had me questioning for five years.

I’ve also gotten questions as to how I have time to read and maintain a review blog while carrying a full grad school load. The answer is, I reward myself with reading. Reading keeps me sane and grounded. Even if I read an entire book in two pages snatches and it takes me a month, I’m still going to choose that over clubbing with the med students or doing karaoke with my classmates. I’m not antisocial and I do have friends (though they are currently all up in Nashville and I miss them dearly) and I will make friends here again, but this is how I work.

Off to bed with me to prepare for another week of learning new things and feeling like I actually got a degree that’s useful!

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The ‘Q’ Ghost

As the first year of my masters program looms in the near future, I just want to reassure you all that I will still be reading and reviewing. Normally I read about one hundred books per year, but the past two years have been, shall we say, unexpected in the way that life loves to be. That being said, I do think that reviews will happen.

In other news, my phone became possessed by what I am calling the ‘Q’ ghost. Not only was it not working properly, any chance the phone got to type the letter ‘Q’ over and over it would take. So instead of saving for a MacBook Pro for medical school, I was forced to get a new phone if I wanted to stay in touch with all my professional contacts and people that want to reach my mom (since she isn’t super reliable with having her cell phone with her).

Long story short, the ‘Q’ ghost has decided that a new phone was more important. What the ‘Q’ ghost did not take into account was that some of us (read: most everyone I know) are not independently wealthy patrons. Some of our parents are amazing school teachers that work with severely autistic children. But I do really love my new phone, so I guess I can’t be too bitter.

Thank you all for being supportive and loving towards myself and this blog! Even if it isn’t much of a blog and more of a compilation of reviews.

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Of Books and Soul Crushing Majors

So according to GoodReads I have written precisely 91 book reviews. When I get to 100, I am going to do a giveaway. Unfortunately, I have very little in terms of things that might be worthy to give. Currently, I have the three Lord of the Rings movies (not extended) and a copy of Human.4 and possibly a 4 x 4 in. painting of the winner’s choice. This is something that has yet to be decided so I will keep you updated.

As the title indicates, I have a soul crushing major. More specifically, I have a soul crushing requirement for my major. This soul crushing requirement is commonly known as Organic Chemistry. I am sure you have a vague idea of what that is. If you do not, be assured that it is not something to be ashamed of as it is not spoken of very often when you’ve passed the class. It might also go under the alias of ‘It That Must Not Be Uttered Unless Under Duress’. Anyhow, it’s basically a foreign language with no rhyme or reason to it and makes your soul cry on a frequent basis. It is also the reason I have been sucked of any creativity and energy.

In order to heal my damaged soul, I must impart on you some organic chemistry. I mostly understand what’s happening here and can give you an explanation if you so desire.

I feel better, thank you. At any rate, I have treated myself to some books. I went three whole weeks without buying new ones (I don’t let myself do so until I’ve read the majority of the first batch which consequently only contains two to three at a time) and felt that after at least four hours a day studying that (I am referring to that horrible image above this text) I needed some healing instruments.

I have bought myself THE COMPLETE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON (I could quote ‘I’m Nobody, Who Are You?’ when I was seven. I adore the woman. I believe we would have gotten along very well together), DESTINY’S FIRE by Trisha Wolfe, and THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. I’ve been meaning to actually read THE HELP for quite some time and was discouraged by the price until I got a used hardback version. I’m fairly delighted to have these at my disposal and hopefully they will last me more than three weeks. I was also very tempted to buy THE COMPLETE SHERLOCK HOLMES by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but talked myself out of it until I get paid again (which isn’t for another two weeks, but that is definitely sufficient and we will not let my brain know of this).

I am by no means an impulse buyer and quite often I stare at a selection of books (that I’ve narrowed down by reviews, naturally) for hours on end before deciding which I would buy and how many I can afford. (This does not apply to authors I’ve already read and loved, they automatically go in the ‘buy now’ and bump off a new candidate.)

I probably shouldn’t impart my ramblings to those few who look at this blog, but I am feeling particularly  poetic and shall impart my thoughts anyways.

Keep watch for when I hit 100 reviews! Perhaps by that time I’ll have found better prizes.

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Senior Year in Which I Lose My Equilibrium

So I started senior year of college on Monday. Which, you know, would be so very exciting for most people. Not for me. You see, I still have important classes that I can’t take until I get equally important classes out of the way this year. Which means I will be a 5 year senior.

Now, I will be honest. I was cautiously excited about this year. Mainly because my schedule is as follows:

MWF:

Organic Chemistry 9:00-9:50 am (The kiss of death for my major)
Volleyball 11:00-11:50 am
A Capella 12:00-12:50 pm (I was demoted from Soprano 2 to Alto 1 after 3 years of being a soprano 2. Threw me off completely)

M Only:

Physics Lab 3:00-5:30 pm

W only:

Organic Lab 2:00-5:55 pm

TR:

First Aid 9:25-10:35 am (online class, we only meet for tests)
Chapel 10:55-11:45 am
Physics 11:50-1:10 pm
Internship at St. Thomas Hospital 1:20pm- various times

Sounds exciting, right? Not too many classes, hard but with lots of time.

Not the case.

You see, a 75% in organic chemistry is a B. A 65% is a C. Half the people who I know have taken the class failed and had to retake it.

So here I am, wondering how I am different from the failure people and the passing people and praying that if I have the right combination of studying techniques I might actually pass this class.

Then my physics teacher announces that the two hardest undergrad science classes are Physics and Organic. Which I am taking. Both at the same time. But last semester I taught myself trigonometry since the teacher was awful, so I am again thinking “Maybe I will be alright. It’ll be hard, but maybe I can do it.” And at the same time, I am bracing myself and trying not to think TOO positively in case the fates decide I’m being too optimistic and give me a harder time. That, and the fact that half my friends are trying to prove they are smarter than me by giving me horror stories of these two classes. So I have to be careful with what I say to whom.

Now that I have all new professors in which I have no idea how their grading goes, I am really off kilter. I have to prepare to take the GRE for graduate school, I have to start applying to grad schools after that, and I have to get my GPA to an acceptable level because some of the freshman wash-out classes really brought it down big time. And the entire time I am trying my best not to implode at everything I have to do and set aside “me” time. Which, by the way, is next to impossible because the amount of “me” time I need is scattered throughout the day and not all at one time. So here I am, worried I will lose myself, my likes and dislikes, and what makes me, well me but then trying to tell myself not to think that way.

This is where having my mom with me would do wonders. She’s so great at telling me to stop and focus on one thing at a time. Because if you’ve ever lived basically on your own where no one knows how you work, you need someone to refocus you. Doing it yourself never seems to work as well. It’s like trying to fix something with a band-aid rather than having a smelting professional do it for you.

So, I have a very nice roommate (that I’d rather not have be cheery and make me talk intelligent conversations in the morning), a fantastic room, a work ethic that I refuse to let go, and I have not found the center yet. I’m unbalanced, running back and forth on a boat trying to keep it upright in the water. I’m smart. And what I lack in smarts, I make up for with determination. But going from walking the yard every morning, tending to the plants and grocery shopping every other day to studying every free moment and praying that you’re doing enough to pass these classes in order to be free to live your life with your mom and rabbit really throws you off.

I have books to read and review, a story to edit, and yet I have forgotten about virtually all these things up until today. I really need to find my center.

Also, until said center is found, I will probably not be friendly, excited, exchanging proper pleasantries, outgoing, or voluntarily helpful. I will show up where I am needed, but don’t expect much more. That being said, I love my twitter friends for staying with me and reminding me there is a world out there other than this world of college. That is very nice to remember.

P.S. my internship ROCKS. Dr. Walpole, the doctor I am with, has connections EVERYWHERE including my grad school (UGA) and where I want to work when I get out of school (The CDC). He’s so powerful and well connected that I could probably get into grad school with his recommendation alone. That is what is grounding me and reminding me that this college thing is temporary and is trying to actively wash me out to weed out the hard workers. And I’ll be daggum if I won’t be hanging on with a death grip.

I’ll try and have some reviews up soon.

Natasha

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