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:
The dog really did eat my homework:
He likes to study with me:
His favorite place to sleep: