Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The "highlights"

A look back over my 3 years at uni...

Year 1, autumn term:
I didn't adjust well to life at uni, spent many weekends at home and a lot of the time contemplating changing course or even dropping out.  I remember sitting on the stairs in the chemistry building talking to my now housemate about dropping out, we were both thinking about it, but somehow convinced each other to stick it out for a bit longer! The last few weeks I spent feeling pretty sorry for myself because "fresher's 'flu" turned into sinusitis, which I assumed was just a long running cold, and then sinusitis turned into a giant polyp ('cos for some reason I didn't notice it until it was huge).

This means the thing I remember most from term 1 was missing a couple of lectures (the first ones I'd missed I think!) to navigate the QMC (having had an urgent appointment made by my GP), and seeing an evil doctor.  She unnecessarily biopsied my polyp (which was a rather messy affair...), before getting "The Prof" who put me on the right track.

Christmas holidays: 
First week of the holidays and I was back in Nottingham to have surgery on my sinus.  Nearly didn't happen because we were late (the car park they told us to park in had been demolished).  I was a bit grumpy for a few days but it wasn't actually that bad.  Unless I sneezed. Well apart from the 2-3 times daily "cleaning" of sinuses, that wasn't a pleasant experience...

Spring term:
First lot of university exams.  These actually went OK. Decided that I should stay at uni (if I did badly I was all ready to abandon it!).  I pootled along through the year, and discovered Ramsoc, didn't go out with them much in first year but it was nice when I did!

Summer term: 
Exams!  Once again I did pretty well (averaged 74% if I remember rightly...).  Huzzah.  Survived first year!

Summer holidays:
Took part in my first few mountain bike races (and didn't lose!).  Spent much of this holiday working.  This was the summer where I heard the awful news that my lab partner had died.  I only knew him through labs, so wasn't friends with his close friends and so I never found out what happened to him.  I wouldn't say we were close, but we worked together for quite a long period, so it was still quite upsetting.  Poor Saf :(

Year 2, autumn semester:
I really started enjoying chemistry at this point, I think a successful run in labs helped.  I had 2 rotations before Christmas and both took some settling into before I felt happy but I did all right.  I was feeling so good at this point that I swapped courses, from the 3 year BSc to the 4 year MChem.  This was also the semester where I joined a cycling race team, so I was spending many weekends (and free time in the middle) out training, often with one of my team mates who lives quite locally.  This was something that really helped me I think. 

Spring/summer term:
Things carried on going well.  Can't remember much to be honest, so I assume that means nothing of note happened!  I did do a week of work experience in a lab over the Easter holidays, something else convincing me that maybe I really could be a chemist...
Exams, again went pretty well.  Averaged 72% which I was pretty happy with.  

I did the unthinkable and stayed at uni between exams finishing and results, rather than going home for a couple of weeks.  I really enjoyed this time.  I'm sure I must have blogged about it at some point.  The weather was reasonable so I spent a lot of time out on my bike exploring, and discovered the nature reserve where I took my camera and spent many hours photographing the wild life.

Summer holidays:
Life was good.  Racing had started again and training meant I was doing OK, and still improving so hope for a podium towards the end of the season?  Things were going to well weren't they?  Middle of the holidays I crashed my bike and broke myself, and any readers of this blog will know the details! Hmph.

Year 3, autumn semester:
Arm issues led to certain difficulties at uni, but I was coping OK, with help from so really great people.  Labs turned out to be rather unenjoyable though, part of this was that my project assignments had been made with my arm in mind, which was fair enough, but I just didn't enjoy the project.  It wasn't difficult, and I did really well in it, but I don't think that way of working is for me!  I switched back to the 3 year course, I couldn't see myself doing a 4th year project.  Ramsoc really kept me going through this term - I walked with them nearly every Sunday and qualified as a grade 2 leader.  Great stuff.

Spring/summer term:
Exams weren't a big disaster, but they were the worst set of exam results I'd ever received (and I think they'd have been worse without coursework in one module to help the average a bit!).  The way my labs and modules had been chosen/organised meant that this semester was a bit fuller than before Christmas, so much of it was spent feeling more than a little bit stressed...  Really not helped by the fact my arm was getting worse (and still is...).  As the term went on the work load seemed to be increasing (darn my stupid module choices...), and I was conscious the whole time that I really needed to start preparing for exams if I was going to make up for the spring ones.

Ramsoc took a back seat because I just couldn't afford to give up a whole Sunday to do something fun.  I really missed my bike too.  Just to get out for an hour or so every so often would have really helped I think!  I did go sky diving though.  This was a big thing for me, it was an amazing experience and I tend to think of it when I'm struggling "if I can jump out of a plane I can do this...".

I did give up some time over Easter to volunteer with the audit team at the local hospital (although this was cut short so I could catch up with work!).  

The last few weeks have been the most difficult I think.  I've had too many arm-related appointments, although thankfully there is at least some hope now, and potential for the prognosis to be a lot better than I had been left with by my previous consultant.  Then there has been too much panic about exams/coursework.  I know the level of panic was too much because however important the results are panic attacks shouldn't be part of a "normal" exam experience!  

Still.  It's all over now.

I've worked out that if I've got 0 on both exams and the coursework I get 58% overall for my degree (unlikely!) and if I get 100% on everything I can get 78% (probably more unlikely!).  Really hope I did enough to get a 1st - I expect it's going to be a close call, 3 weeks and a day until I find out...

The end:
I suspect most of the chemistry I've learnt will very rapidly be forgotten (in fact I'm pretty sure a lot of it has been already!), but I've learnt some valuable lessons in my 3 years at Nottingham.  As well as the "life lessons" I've learnt a lot about learning which I'm sure will be useful if I make it to med school.

I know if I was to start again I'd tackle first year differently.  Don't get me wrong, I took it seriously (unlike a lot people who seemed to take the view that 'cos it doesn't count it's for drinking and partying not learning), but I went about it trying to learn in the wrong way.  Consequently come second and third year I've always felt like I've had catching up to do because I'm missing the basic knowledge which underpins *everything*.  Let that be a lesson to anyone who's starting uni soon...

One of the big take away messages (along with the phrase "take away message"!) has been about self-confidence.  I've often doubted myself, and suspect I still will, but it's important to get passed that. When I said the other day "Yeah, but loads of people could have done the same", my friend replied "Yes, but they haven't, you're the only one that's done what you've done".  A nice positive way to look at things I thought!

My other "lesson" has been that it's the little things that matter.  Sure it may be the big things that have stuck out when I've been writing this, but know that I wouldn't have got this far without all the little things.  Words people have said, laughs we've had and things I've seen!

So thanks Nottingham - it's been an "eventful" few years!  So long, and thanks for all the fish...

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a fantastic few years! Well done for finishing :)

    I think most people look back to changing their first year! I know I do!

    Good luck with your results x