About Marly

Hi! I'm Marly and I'm a first year student at Loma Linda University School of Medicine. I was born and raised in New Jersey, and received my Bachelor's from Seton Hall University. I love online shopping, possibly more than my love for all things Hello Kitty. I am also an avid basketball fan (go Celtics!). I'm not sure which specialty I want to go into, but I'm pretty sure that whatever I end up doing will most likely involve children.

Slow and steady

Marly, Second Year Medical Student

Second year… I can think of many words to describe the past few months.  Relaxing is not one of them.

I knew that second year would be more work than the first year.  Every one who talks about surviving year two had a clear message:  second year is not a joke.

I started the year off very optimistic.  I made it through first year, though there were plenty of times that I wasn’t sure that I would, so I can make it through the second year.  That optimism lasted about .02 seconds.  What have I gotten myself into??

The first set of exams came around and I quickly learned that I needed to change my study habits ASAP.  What worked for me first year was not working now.  I failed two exams and marginally passed another two.  I was confused, shocked, and honestly scared.  What if second year proved to be my downfall?  What if I wasn’t cut out for medical school?

I sought out a faculty advisor, and would occasionally meet with him for some pep talk and a little advice.  For example, following his recommendation, I learned that I study much better at home or a study room than I do at Starbucks.  I used to think studying in a quiet environment didn’t work for me, but it turns out I liked studying at Starbucks because I like to people watch (and therefore, be distracted).  I also started planning my week in advance.  By the time fall midterms came around, I was pretty confident.  I even left the exams Friday morning feeling confident.  I felt like I did well in all of my classes.

Then I got my scores.  I was in shock.  I did amazing on three of the exams, but failed the other three.  At that moment, I was failing two classes.  Needless to say, I didn’t have any more confidence.  What am I doing wrong?  It definitely wasn’t a lack of studying, I was studying more than I ever have.  Am I really not smart enough?

One thing though, I may doubt myself at times, but I am not a quitter.  I got tutors for the classes I was failing.  I revamped my studying even more and kept pushing through, even when I felt like I could not push anymore.

Then came fall finals.  Saying that I was terrified is a gross understatement.  I really doubted myself going in.  After each day, that doubt just grew.  By the third and last day of in-house exams, I had a horrible feeling in my gut.  When the scores were posted, I prepared myself mentally for what I expected to be the proof that even with help, second year would get the best of me.

I must have checked my scores at least 10 times.  There just had to be a mistake, these could not possibly be mine, especially not with the way I felt I performed.  After preparing myself for the worst and getting completely opposite results, I broke down and started crying.  I can actually do this, I can get through second year.

As I write this now, my scores are still the same (trust me, I just checked).  I passed every exam for each class, some to the point where I felt like there is a technical error (or a cruel joke).  I am currently passing all of my classes and I am able to go into winter break with a calm mind.

My experience so far has taught me a few lessons.  The biggest lesson:  it’s okay to ask for help.  I doubt I would have done well if I did not seek help when I needed it.

I also learned that it’s okay to have some fun and take a break!  After fall midterms, I actually took weekends completely off until Sunday evening.  I even got the most adorable puppy on the face of the planet.  By taking the time off to give myself a chance to regenerate and have fun, I was able to approach the week refreshed and ready to give 200% again.

Yes, second year is a lot of work, but it can be done.  I can do it.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Now for some adorable puppy pictures: this is Casper (previously named Zoe… that’s another story)

First day home:

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The dog really did eat my homework:

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He likes to study with me:

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His favorite place to sleep:

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Things to Do Prior to Exams (Besides Study)

The week prior to exams I am the most productive in everything except in what I actually need to do.  Even in undergrad, whenever there was an exam coming up, you can count on me working on an assignment that wasn’t due for a few weeks.  Some may call it procrastination, but I call it shifting my productivity to other areas.
For example:

Usually my room is clean, but I always get an extremely strong urge to clean my room from top to bottom, and reorganize everything.

I also read dozens of news articles.  Normally I try to keep up with things going on in the world by reading a few articles and watching a news show or two (namely The Colbert Report).  But during test week I am the most informed on things that are happening globally and locally.  I’m like a walking newspaper.

I tend to pick up new hobbies, or return to old ones.  I used to love painting my nails and coming up with designs, but some time in undergrad I stopped.  I recently picked it up again two weeks ago, and have changed my nail designs almost every day.  My latest endeavor?  Trying to figure out how to paint my nails for Super Bowl Sunday (specifically, how to shrink this to fit this onto my ring fingers):

(Go Giants!)

A few other things I have done in the past two weeks:

  • Wrote a blog post (or three, two I still have to revise)
  • Brushed up on my french
  • Caught up with friends, old and new
  • Started a novel
  • Brought my car to the mechanic (again)
  • Searched for plane tickets to and from Nigeria (a post about that soon)
  • Scheduled my study time for the next set of exams (!!!)

I was going to draw this blog post out, but I realized I would be procrastinating.

Okay, so maybe I do procrastinate.  But at least I am being productive in other areas of my life.  It’s not like I watched nearly 8 seasons of The X-files in the past two weeks.  Oh wait…

Disclaimer: While it may seem like I get no studying done, I pretty much study 6 days a week, from the time that I get out of class until about an hour before I fall asleep.  What worked for me for the past two sets of exams is not to study too much right before the exams.  If I do, I obsess and try to memorize every tiny detail, which is an extremely ineffective method of studying in medical school. (This is mainly for my mom so that she doesn’t think I sit around and do nothing out here…hi Mom!)

Countdown!

2 days of exams.  4 days until I go home.  11 days until Christmas.  Knowing that in less than a week I will see my family helps me keep pushing on through my studies.

I cannot express the joy I experience every time I think about flying back home to New Jersey.  I have not been home since July, the longest I’ve ever spent away from home, and I am more than excited to see my family.

How does the saying go?  You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone?  This is absolutely true.  I miss my mom’s home cooked meals, having laundry done for me, my dad warming up my car for me on cold mornings…

Speaking about cars, I had the great fortune on having my car break down on my way to class a few weeks ago.  It was my transmission, but luckily it did not have to be replaced.  That made me miss home even more, because having a car break down is no fun, and back home I would just call my dad and he would come and save the day.

Did I mention how excited I am to go home?

One more thing, I definitely miss not having to pump my own gas.  New Jersey is just awesome like that.

Second Guessing

“You will not change your answers, go with your first choice.”

I repeat this to myself multiple times before almost every exam I have taken since high school. I even wrote it on my “whiteboard” earlier this afternoon.  I try to convince myself that going back and changing my answers will hurt me, not help me.  Yet, whenever I finish, I glance at the clock and determine that I have enough time to go over my answers, just in case I left anything blank.  Then it begins.

I talk myself into answers that made no sense when I first saw them, but after 80+ questions (and a growling stomach) every answer choice seems correct.  First I check to see if I missed a key word in the question that would completely change the meaning. No? Well, maybe I misinterpreted the answer choices.  Nope, I understood those all fine.  Well the question should not be this easy, so this cannot possibly be the right answer, therefore I must change it.   And I do.  Begrudgingly I must say, but I still do. Then I move on to the next question, and the process starts all over again.

Finally, I get a chance to go back over my notes, and what do you know?  I changed it to the wrong answer 95% of the time.  I send up a prayer so that I can end this cycle of self-doubt and resume my studies.  Of course the next day I repeat the same thing to myself:

“You will not change your answers, go with your first choice.”  Yeah, right.