This may seem a bit heavy for such a festive time of year, so maybe read this sat next to a few mince pies or don your best Santa hat to balance it all out. (jingly bells in background)
This week is the last week of my first term at uni/medical school and I’m still trying to figure out whether or not the past 10 weeks have all just been a dream. A mind-blowing blur is probably the best summary of the whole thing and although I’ve generally loved every minute it hasn’t come without its major/embarrassing ups and downs. (In the name of common decency some of the downs will not be mentioned here. Now or in fact ever.)
I mean, there are so many issues that I could address. The fact that 9am is the new 6am (9am lectures are unnatural and uncalled for), and that the whole “who took my milk?” thing is actually more of a case of “why isn’t any of the milk in this entire fridge in date??” (you don’t know true heartbreak until you make a perfect cuppa and discover that the only milk you have access to has been slowly solidifying for the past few days.)
People before uni told me that nobody is themselves at the start. I took this as people will hold themselves back a bit or that they won’t open up etc. This may be the case but I didn’t realise that the first semester is also a massive challenge to identity. Moving away from home and from all things familiar isn’t only scary stuff, it also forces you to question who you are, because for quite possibly the first time in your life you are entirely independent, free and surrounded by a massive range of influences and personalities.
Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the best things about uni. Independence is great (and it makes going home more like going back to a castle to be treated like royalty), but it also means nobody is really there to keep you on track if you are led astray and it’s suddenly scarily easy to forget the values or standards that you had pre-uni. For me, I worked in intense environments for a year and then suddenly, for lack of another word, ‘regressed’ back to a student lifestyle. To change from staff of the NHS to student is something that is taking a huge amount of getting used to and although everyone will have different circumstances, I don’t think I’m alone in that sensation.
I didn’t even realise that I’d been facing this challenge until last week when my tutor told me that identity can be a huge issue, especially after having a year out. I won’t deny, for the majority of November I did constantly ask myself “who/what am I??” (normally after doing something questionable/regrettable…*cringes at the number of videos of me ‘dancing’*), but never really gave the answer much thought.
I’m not going to sit here and say that I’ve discovered the inner ktb within the space of a week. All I will say is that it’s actually really normal to feel quite lost during such a massive change and the best thing I have found to help is to get to know as many different people and learn about as many different perspectives on life as you can until one clicks and resonates with you. I’ve met some incredible people and formed the most unlikely of friendships and I honestly couldn’t be more grateful for it.
Hopefully this doesn’t sound like I’m floating around constantly questioning my existence (Hi Mum, don’t worry, I’m fine). Quite frankly I wish I had the time and brain capacity to do so, but medicine takes up the majority of both. It’s just something that I hadn’t even been aware that I was facing, and when I was made aware things became a whole lot clearer.
I’m not really sure what I wanted to say about it all, apart from the fact that I just really needed to hear it last week to make me feel a lot better about the whole thing. We’re all under this pressure and expectation to be able to cope (especially meds) and it’s sometimes just good to acknowledge that it’s actually okay to ‘lose yourself’ when you’re trying to deal with everything else. The good news is if you surround yourself with good eggs and give yourself some TLC then you can’t go too far wrong.
Other smaller but equally as important lessons learnt include:
- uni mattresses are capable of giving you bruises and slowly destroying you whilst you sleep (buy a mattress topper guys, trust me on this one)
- uni pre’s are another kettle of fish, practice standing firm when the ‘we like to drink with’ song starts. (almost impossible but give it a go)
- if you don’t put on weight at uni you are actual life goals.
- cutlery and socks will be on your christmas list. 100%
- subway saves lives
So in conclusion and to finish on a positive note, uni is both incredible and odd, it’s clearly the start of a very influential journey and I think the first term has been a pretty cracking and memorable start.. Thanks for reading, go find your good eggs and Merry Christmas!! #hohoho