Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Final Week of Term :)

It's officially the final week of term and I just can't wait to go home and spend a few days relaxing and spending time with family/friends before I crack on with the revision. This week hasn't been as hectic as the last two weeks I must admit! This week, as I mentioned in my previous blog, is revision week - on Monday we had a  Medical Biochemistry revision lecture; the lecture for the other two modules were cancelled for self-study. As for labs, well, I only need to go in for two days this week to finish off the final series for the NMR experiments. So in the spirit of Christmas, we decided to throw a Christmas party at my friend's flat which was really fun! My secret Santa this year was one of my close friends...so she knew exactly what I love and hate (pretty lucky for me I guess!) And as expected I loved my present...a chocolate fondue set...which I just can't wait to use! :)


It has been a very busy first term...but I do have exams coming up in January...so regardless of the festive fun I am bound to get caught up in...here's my 'MUST DO' ( not 'To Do') checklist for the next three weeks:

1. Revise all lectures and attempt all past paper questions for the Biochemistry exam; go through all lectures and the designated text book for the Cancer Biology exam.

2. Start writing up my final year project (i.e. the 10-15 page introduction)...which means reading...reading...and dare I say it...READING as many journals as I can!

And this shouldn't really be something that should go on the checklist...but something I still need to do...Purchase all my Christmas gifts/ wrap them up in time for Christmas!!! (And maybe I'll make a promise to myself right now that if I make a start on number 1. and 2. of the checklist sooner rather than later... maybe I can take a day off from revision and go shopping on Boxing Day to find some treasures for myself in the Boxing Day Sales...retail therapy helps relieve stress right? ;) )

So all that's left for me to say is: GOOD LUCK to those of you who also have January exams coming up... for those lucky few who don't have exams...well...here's hoping you have a well deserved rest!

And of course...


"MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all!" :)

Saturday, 7 December 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

The Christmas season has officially begun!!! The Christmas lights are up in town, the Christmas tree has been put up at home (this year….a Winter Wonderland themed tree... covered with white, sky blue and silver decorations) and preparations for the Christmas party (both with friends at uni and family at home) is well underway! All that’s left to do now is purchase all the gifts, wrap them up beautifully and leave them under the tree… but what with all the uni work that I've been buried under recently… I’m beginning to think Christmas Eve is the one chance I’ll get to do some last minute shopping!

Source: a wonderful tree from theinspiredroom.net
Nearing the end of term, I'm sure you'll all be able to relate to just a little too well, means finding that last bit of energy and motivation buried deep within ourselves to finish off all that needs to be done, before the long-awaited break. So that's exactly what I've been trying to do all week! Except what makes it just that little bit harder than usual is the thought of having exams straight after the break! I've been going to labs every day this week so that I can finish preparing the samples for the NMR experiments. As well as preparing these samples, I have had to repeat the experiment for an entire series I prepared last week as it hadn't produced the results that was expected. After all the hard work  I've put into labs recently, I'm really hoping I won't have to repeat any more series...

Apart from that, I've had two timed online phase tests recently... one on Microbiology and another on Medical Biochemistry. I did revise a lot for these two tests and there were no 'big' surprises as such during the test itself, so I'm quite confident that I've done well in both of them (let's just hope I haven't jinxed anything now that I've actually said this!) And as for the phase test on Cancer Biology I mentioned in my last blog... well the results were put online just yesterday and I'm happy to say I passed with a 2.1!


Next week is officially the last week of lectures and then the following week will be purely revision lectures. Although I've enjoyed learning all three modules this term, I will particularly miss the lectures on Cancer Biology as it's one area of science I really am interested in! Let's hope the modules taught next term will be equally as interesting!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Exams :(

This month is flying past so fast I can't believe there's only a few more weeks left until we officially break up for the Christmas holidays!!! Well, I say Christmas holidays but it's more like a three week study leave because I have two exams...one on Cancer Biology and another on Medical Biochemistry straight after the break which I am soooo not looking forward to right now!!!

The final year project has been taking up most of my time lately. You might think this is nothing to be shocked about, but when you have had so much free time in your hands just last month and now so busy you don't even have time to go through lectures taught that week and make notes just to ease off the pressure closer to exam time, it won't be just me who would feel worried right??? But enough about the complaining and more about how amazing labs have actually been ( honestly)!!! So far I've been working in the NMR labs, preparing the NMR samples and learning how to use the NMR machine in order to gain the NMR spectra for each sample. So far, so good!!! I have obtained really good data for one of the amino acid families...just another three to go now!!! I did however find the solubility of the second group of amino acids I worked on today quite difficult so I need to do a bit of reading around this before my next lab on Friday...


Apart from starting labs, uni has been the usual... a 9am start  every Monday morning, lectures throughout the week and plenty of coursework to get on with. Next Thursday is our in-class phase test on Cancer Biology! We have to review a journal, based on a cancerous gene, which was set by our lecturer and prepare ourselves for an exam based on this journal. When I first looked at the journal...I must admit I thought I was reading another language...but now that I have read through the journal several times...I feel I understand it a lot more...I'm actually quite optimistic about it (not that I want to jinx anything!) We also have an on-line MCQ style phase test on Medical Biochemistry in a few weeks time...so once I get this Cancer Biology exam out of the way...it hurts me to say...there is no rest at all...maybe a day of relaxation at the most and straight back to the books...and of course labs! It's the final year...the last lap of the race...and I want to get the gold!!!




Monday, 11 November 2013

Final Year Project!

Hey guys!

Hope you’re all well! :)

I’m sure you will all be just as relieved as I am to hear that I’ve finnaalllyyyy sorted out my final year project this week! It all feels so real now that the dates for when I can go to labs and actually start collecting my data have been booked...I just can’t wait to begin!!!

I have been assigned a Biochemistry based project, I’ve been told to have had very little work done on in the past, so is all very new and exciting stuff in the field of Biochemistry! To explain it in short, the project focuses on the study of specific families of amino acids (i.e. amino acids as a single monomer, as a dipeptide and in their cyclic form) in order to gain a better understanding of their chemical properties and potential uses in industry. It involves a lot of new techniques I have never used before, such as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA), Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) and Hot Stage Microscopy. As the project is heavily based on concepts in chemistry which are either very new to me or what I have learnt three years ago during my A levels (so bound to be a little rusty in) and involves techniques which I know I've already mentioned are very new to me, I do feel  completely out of my comfort zone! I am really lucky to have a wonderful project supervisor who will no doubt support me throughout the project and a good friend of mine who is currently doing her PhD in the same field who will be helping me in labs, so I know I'm in very good hands! I just need to stop being so nervous!

I haven’t quite decided on what the exact title of my project should be yet…but I guess I’ll be in a better position to think of the perfect title once I am well underway with it all. In the mean time, I better prepare myself for an exciting week of labs ahead...research  around the topic and the techniques involved a little more...and make a start on the intro of the actual write-up (the earlier the better right?)


Wish me luck! 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

October

October is my favourite month of the year!!! Why I hear you ask??? Well… October is the month of many celebrations!!! My birthday for a start! And then there’s Navarthri…Diwali… Halloween… and so many more!  Last Monday was my birthday and turning 22 sure makes me feel reeaaallllly old! L My friends threw me what was meant to be a ‘surprise’ party (bless them for trying to keep it a secret but I’m sorry to say their Spielberg performance really wasn't up to scratch!) Who would create a whatsapp group entitled ‘surprise’ …include you…’The Birthday Girl’ in it by accident… and then delete you from the group??? But all jokes apart, I do know how lucky I am to have such amazing friends…and I really did have a great time…so thankssss guys!!! J

Aside from all the celebrations that have been happening this month, I’ve been trying to keep up to date with all the lectures and make a start on my coursework. We only have three lectures a week now, so there is plenty of time during the week to do all the work.  For Medical Biochemistry, I have been trying to find relevant journals to discuss current concepts and mechanisms of atherosclerosis (a risk factor of cardiovascular disease where the arteries become clogged with fatty substances such as cholesterol).  For Medical Microbiology, I have been completing regular online quizzes on topics discussed in the lecture and currently in the process of completing a case study based group project. As for Cancer Biology, I have yet to read and understand a journal set by the lecturer for an in-class phase test in mid-November. Not to mention the final year project, which I am still to be given…


I also volunteered as a STEM Ambassador at a careers fair held at the university this month. My friends and I set up a stall called ‘ Life as a Science Student’ in order to educate A level students about science degrees they can work towards, career options they will have once they obtain a science degree and university life in general. And what with all the freebies available only when the students answered the questions to our science-based card game correctly, our stall was busy busy busy from the minute we set up! As much as the students benefited from such a successful event, I too was able to develop many of my interpersonal skills (something I will definitely not forget to mention on my CV!)

Friday, 27 September 2013

Bring on the Third and Final Year!

I know this sounds so cliché but it feels like only yesterday when I was accepted onto the BSc Biomedical  Science course at the university, I was sorting out my student finance, I had moved into halls and I had actually started the course. And now? Well...I really can't believe I've just started my third and final year of university! Pinch me please...because this really doesn't feel real!
Last week was moving- in weekend, so  just like all the other students, I did some last minute shopping,  packed my suitcases and headed off to Medway. As always, the Resident Assistants at the university were very welcoming and helped us with the moving in process. Seeing all the first year students, some I must admit who seemed very nervous...others more excited, with their parents by their side and a car full of what must have been everything they  possibly owned, really did bring back memories of my first moving-in weekend! I was really lucky this year because I was able to choose the flat/room I wanted and who I wanted to share the flat with! And after spending a long time thoroughly cleaning my room and unpacking, I can now say I have officially put my stamp onto the place and finally settled in!

Induction day was last Friday and we were informed of everything wonderful (that was sarcasm...in case some of you didn't realise) in store for us this year! The timetable seems to be much more relaxed this year- I have a 9am-12pm lecture on Medical Microbiology and a 2pm-4pm lecture on Medical Biochemistry on Mondays and then a 1pm-4pm lecture on Cancer Biology on Thursdays- although I'm sure our arch nemesis... THE FINAL YEAR PROJECT... will pretty much take up the rest of the week. I have been assigned a lab based project on Biochemistry so I can't wait to get started on that! And as for coursework this year, well we've been hit with them already... our first piece of coursework is due in just over a week's time...I better get started on that soon!

So to end... for those of you who are in the same boat as I am,  I'd just like to share a few pearls of wisdoms  I've been advised of by several members of staff at the university...my family...friends...pretty much everyone I know who have completed their degree... " The third year is by far the most intense, difficult and important year of your entire degree. Take it seriously. Manage your time well. Keep on top of all your work (especially your final year project). And don't leave things until the last minute!" ( Is anyone else as scared as I am right now?)

Good Luck Guys!


And I almost forgot to mention...Team April came a respectable second place in the 'Theme your Team' competition...if only if it wasn't for Team Spencer who stole the glory of first place from us! ;)

Friday, 30 August 2013

Clearing and GOOOO Grease Lightening!!!

So it’s officially nearing the end of August… time really does fly by when you’re on holiday (well… when you’re not in term time anyway… as technically I’m not on holiday… I’m at work). It feels so good to be reunited with everyone in the Enquiry Unit at the university (I hope the feeling is mutual!) and of course to be working alongside the newbies that have joined us for the Clearing period! The office has been busy busy busy from the very first day of Clearing and the phones just haven’t stopped ringing since!

Clearing can be a very stressful time of year for students (especially for those who didn't quite expect to end up in Clearing and so didn't prepare themselves for it, like me). As daunting as Clearing may sound, it is a rather straight forward, pain-free experience (well…our university aims for this anyway). I've had a wide variety of calls over these past few weeks: from making Clearing applications, checking the status of applications, solving accommodation and finance queries and more recently, queries regarding online registration. Many people think that Clearing only runs for a short period of time, straight after the exam results are published, but in fact it is on-going until late September! So long as the course is available and the entry requirements to get onto the course are met, a place is pretty much guaranteed! Another common misconception people have is that they often think Clearing is only for students who haven’t met the grades required to be accepted onto their firm or insurance university choice.  From all the calls I have taken during the last two Clearing cycles, I can definitely say that yes…we do get a lot of calls from students in this situation but we also get calls from late applicants who didn't think of going to university until now, students who have excelled in their exams so are eligible for adjustment and students who want to transfer from one university to another. One thing I've definitely learnt from working at the Enquiry Unit is that you need to be able to think fast on your feet… every person ringing the office has a different query…it is our duty to understand their problem and solve it as best as we can… this can be really difficult when the office is exceptionally busy (like on results day)…


But I’m sure you’ll all be relieved to know…it is not all ‘blood, sweat and tears’ at the office…last Friday was our ‘Theme your Team’ challenge! This year’s theme was ‘A Night at the Movies’… so what other movie were my team ‘Team April’ going to do but GREASE!!! We decorated our bay with lights, records and pictures of the 50’s…and of course there was plenty of 50’s style food such as apple pie, popcorn, cola etc. And as for our team performance… there was a lot of dancing, singing , acting and plenty more food! There was some very tight competition from the other teams I must admit, but I’m still hopeful Team April have got this one in the bag! Fingers crossed and I’ll keep you posted on which team came out top real soon!




Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Goodbye Second Year!

Heyyy Everyone!!! :)

I'm soooooo glad summer has finallllyyyy arrived! I don't know about you but I've just been enjoying the sun as much as I can lately! I know I haven't written any blogs for absolutely agesssss now... I was just soooooo overwhelmed by exams in May and then was running around doing voluntary work/ work placements in June ( I'll tell you more about that later) that I just didn't get time to sit down and actually put down everything I've been up to recently onto paper!  So as you can imagine I have A LOT  to update you on! Let's get going...

As you all know, May was a month of intense revision and exams. The exams this year were pretty close to one another so we didn't really get much time to relax. Some would argue that it is better this way as you can get all the exams over and done with within a short space of time and then have a longer holiday to look forward to....but to be honest, I would rather have had them spread across several weeks so I could relax between each exam and have more time to prepare for them.  My last exam was on the 30th and by the end of it, I was just relieved it was all over! I felt I did pretty well overall, with the exception of one paper, which was sooooo difficult, I came out of the exam hall gutted...convinced I had made a complete mess of it...

To celebrate the end of exams....and the end of ( I can't believe I am saying this) THE SECOND YEAR... of course we all had a small party on the night of our last exam, but the very next day,  we decided to let of some steam in Thorpe Park as well. I myself am absolutely PETRIFIED of any rides which ...let me think...(deep breath)... go super-fast, super high,  upside down, backwards, have even one loop let alone a billion or involve any sort of drops!!! So why go to Thorpe Park if I'm that scared? I hear you ask. Well, as much as I am scared of those kinds of rides...I absolutely LOVE the Water rides!!! I would go on Tidal Wave, Loggers Leap, Rumpa Rapids and the very latest Storm Surge a 100 times if the queues weren't as long as they were and I didn't have to face such a long WET journey back home! But my friends did manage to somehow force me onto two of what 'I' would call the more daring rides...although I hated them for doing that at the time...now that I am sitting safe and comfortably in my home...I am actually rather glad that I went on those rides!!! And I hope they don't read this but maybe I CAN pluck up the courage to go another one next time!

The end of exams also meant that I had to pack up my things and move out of halls. It always seems to amaze me how many things I manage to buy/ collect over the year...so much things that just one EXTRA suitcase wasn't quite enough! And of course returning the huge pile of library books I borrowed from the Drill Hall library and paying off the library fines was another thing I had to do! I was really lucky to have had AMAZING flatmates this year so it was really sad saying goodbye and leaving them all, especially as they were all graduating this year so it was unlikely we would see each other as much next year :(

After leaving the campus officially for the summer holidays...there was only one thing on my mind...the results. And guess what??? I received them only a few weeks into my summer holiday!!! I couldn't believe I had got a FIRST overall for the second year!!! I had even done pretty well in the really difficult paper I was soooooo worried about!!! Hard work really does pay off in the end!!! :)

So all that is left for me to say is....GOODBYE SECOND YEAR!!! I'm sorry to say but I won't be missing you...but I am looking forward to what is in store for me in the third year! And I know I did say I would tell you guys about my voluntary work/work placements later on...but you'll just have to wait until my next blog to hear about them!


So until then...byeeeeee!!!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Revision!


Hey Everyone!
Exams are in less than two weeks now ( what else can you expect now that the summer season has arrived???)  and I'm sure you are all fully underway with revision!!! My bedroom, which is usually very tidy (I must admit) looks like a whirl wind has just hit it...what with all the mind maps and post stick notes stuck on the wall, books/folders stacked up on the table and bits of paper lying all over the floor. Why is it that time just seems to be flying past these days now that I need as much time as I can get to fit in as much revision as I can before the exams begin? It's just not fair!!!

So here are some top tips I thought I'd share with you all to help you keep your cool during the stressful few weeks ahead:

1) Plan the time you have wisely so that you have plenty of time to cover all the modules prior to the exams. There is no point panicking that you have left your revision too late and having a nervous breakdown a few days before the exam or even worse...the night before ( which I  can't even imagine doing) because you will be the only one to blame!!! Making a revision timetable may seem tedious but it is the best way of planning your time ( and trust me...it really does work)!

2) Experiment with various methods of revision  and find the best method for you! Some people, like myself, prefer to revise using mind maps and revision notes...others  like to revise in small groups so that they can test each other. Whatever method you choose, it is important that it is effective! Do make sure you attempt past papers under timed conditions nearer to the exam so that you get a feel of the exam paper and are able to complete the paper within the time allowed. If you are unsure of any questions, I am sure the lecturers will not mind going through them (provided you email them about it before actually turning up in front of their door).

3) Weird as it may sound, it is very important that you are not constantly revising. The revision that you do is much more effective if you spread your revision throughout the day and take plenty of intervals between.

4) Eat Healthily, Exercise and Sleep well so that your health is not affected during this stressful period of time and are able to focus throughout the day.

5) Never panic the day before the exam! It may seem that you don't know anything, but as soon as you enter the exam hall and read through the exam paper, I am sure you will be able to remember everything you have revised ( and I'm saying this from past experience). Look through the material you have revised, such as the exam papers, but don't try to cram revise new things, knowing that the exam is less than 12 hours away! And I know this may seem obvious but make sure and that you know where and when your exam is the next day and have all your equipment ready to take with you ( the last thing you need to worry about on the day of the exam is forgetting something really important like your university ID card or arriving late to your exam because you went to the wrong building).

6) Finally, on the day of the exam , go calmly into the exam room (drinking water really does help calm your nerves) and read through all the exam questions and plan the time you are going to spend on each question, before attempting to answer the questions. Do make sure you check your answers before handing your exam paper in. Once you leave the exam room, do not worry about what you have written in the exam, but take a break for a few hours and then move onto your preparation for your next exam.

GOOD LUCK and REMEMBER...


Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Entering Graduate Medicine


Hi Guys! :)

I hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine now that it has finallllyyyyyy arrived... (I know I am!!!)

Last Thursday, I attended a GET Workshop at our university about entering Graduate Medicine and thought I'd share some of the important information that was given to us with all you budding Medics like me! 
Graduate Medicine, I'm sure you all know, is a four year course which is open to students who wish to study medicine after completing an undergraduate degree. It is a very competitive course to get into ( if Undergraduate Medicine is very hard to get into, there are much fewer Medical Schools around the UK who actually do Graduate Medicine and the number of places that are available at each of these schools is much fewer than for Undergraduate Medicine); and so a lot of preparation is required to ensure  we have done all we can to guarantee the best chance of gaining a place at our desired medical school.

Here are just a few things you should be aware of when applying for Graduate Medicine:

1. Research! Each medical school has a slightly different entry criteria, so it is important that you do a lot of research about each medical school in order to find the medical school which best suits you. Some medical schools require certain medical entrance tests, whereas others may not require any. Some medical schools  may focus more on your undergraduate degree and  your medical entrance test scores, whereas  others may focus on GCSEs, A-Levels and other similar qualifications, alongside your undergraduate degree. Most Medical Schools carry out interviews, however a few schools make their decisions by looking at your qualifications, the scores you obtained in the medical entrance tests and your personal statement. So with all these different selection processes, you have plenty to think about! Attend university open days, read through the university's' prospectus and visit the university's website to gain as much information about the university, the course and the selection process before making  your decision. REMEMBER: there are only four choices you can put on your UCAS form so it is really important to make the best four choices for you.

2. Medical Entrance Tests. There are three main medical entrance tests, the UKCAT, GAMSAT and BMAT, which may be required by the medical school you are applying to. Each of these three tests differ in their assessment methods and test applicants on their Science knowledge, Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Mathematics and English (depending on which of the three tests you sit). All the important information that you need to know about these exams are on the UKCAT, GAMSAT and BMAT websites so it is well worth visiting! A wide range of books and special courses are also available to help you prepare for these tests as best as you can.

3. The Personal Statement. This is the place where you can really shine and sell yourself! As you have a limited number of words in which you can do this, make sure you emphasise your reasons for wanting to study medicine,  what you have learnt from any relevant work experience such as the work you have done in hospitals, GP surgeries etc. / voluntary work you have done in places such as  charity shops, nursing homes etc, any other outstanding achievements that you have done and your hobbies/interests.  It is very important that your personal statement shows that you are academically able as well as showing that you are a well rounded person!

4. Deadlines! This may be very obvious...but make sure you meet  deadlines!!! It is important you register for UCAS and submit  your UCAS application by the 15th of October 2013 ( yes applications for Medicine is much earlier than the deadline for other applications). And if the Medical School you have chosen requires a medical entrance test, make sure you apply for these before the deadline, prepare for the exams  in advance and sit the exam on time on the appropriate day.

5. The Interview Process. If you are fortunate enough to be offered an interview, make sure you go well -prepared,  dress smartly, adopt the correct body language and answer all the questions confidently, to the best of your ability. ( I previously attended an interview for Undergraduate Medicine and unfortunately wasn't offered a place at the medical school after my interview . I feel that the main reason for this outcome was the fact that I started to panic after being thrown off by one particular question which I didn't expect to be asked and so didn't answer most of the questions after this properly. So what did I learn from this??? Be prepared for the unexpected and never panic under any circumstance!!!)

6. An Alternative Choice.  Choose the fifth choice on your UCAS form wisely so that you have a back-up plan if you unfortunately don't get a place onto the Graduate Medicine Course. Alternatively, you may want to think about searching for a job in the field you have obtained your degree in ( in  my case, as I am studying Biomedical Science, I may want to think about finding a job in a research lab).

So all what's left for me to say is...GOOD LUCK!!! Applications for the 2014 cycle is just round the corner now!  If you continue to work hard, gain as much experience as possible and be well prepared, your DREAM of studying Medicine can become a REALITY. 


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Snow in Spring


The British weather this year has been absolutely crazy!!! Snow in Spring? Who would have ever imagined it!!! Just when I thought we had escaped another episode of snow for this year, it started to snow again this week, making my usual commute back to the Medway campus from London early on a Monday morning soooooo difficult, I just hope it doesn't snow again until next year!!! :(

The end of term is in touching distance now which makes me wonder just where time has gone??? It feels not so long ago when we came back from the Christmas holidays and now the second term is nearly over!!! Reality really did strike when I realised the timetable for the summer 2013 exams  was finaaalllllyyyyyyyy put up on the portal!!! I just can't believe how terrible the exam period looks!!! All my exams are one after the other on the 13th, 15th,16th, 17th, 20th and 30th of May and are each 2 -3 hours long. As I am  pretty bad at coping with stress during the exam period I know I have to plan the time I have now wisely ( i.e draw up a revision timetable and start revision as soon as possible!!!) I find that the best method of revision for me is to look back at my lecture notes and create mind maps on large A3 pieces of paper which I can refer to when I have a moment of panic (usually a few days prior to the exam or on the day itself when I suddenly manage to convince myself that I have forgotten everything I had ever learnt about a particular topic). This method not only acts as a very useful reference when I am in panic mode, it also helps me learn and remember all the key points and allows me to link various concepts to each other to gain a more in depth understanding of the topic (and of course looks visually good on the bedroom wall!!!) I also tend to give myself plenty of time to complete past paper questions so that I can familiarize myself with the format of the exam paper and the variety of questions which may come up. Having group discussions is another good way of revising, particularly closer to the exams when you can really put each other on the spot and test each other's knowledge on a particular topic. Similarly, teaching someone who is completely new to the concepts being taught by you is another great way of revising- you can be sure you have learnt the topic well if you are able to explain these concepts in a simple way, a way in which that person can get to grips with the topic easily.

I'm not going to call the next few weeks ahead of us a holiday as I know most of you will probably relax for the first few days and then head straight for the books (I know I will!!!) But in case I don't get a chance to write again before then, I wish you all the best of luck with revision!!! Revise Hard!!! ;) 

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Heart dissection


The past few weeks have been a busy few weeks. Lectures have been getting much tougher, there have been more lab sessions per week than normal and the March deadlines are fast approaching! I am finding myself in the red zone of the Drill Hall library more often nowadays than I had ever imagined was possible! If the second year is like this, I don’t even want to imagine how the final year will be! I will probably end up making the library my permanent second home if I could! The hope that I will be able to graduate with a first next year if I keep all this hard work going is my only motivation right now…

Last week, during the Physiological Systems and Regulation lab session, we were lucky enough to carry out a heart dissection on a sheep’s heart. As the cardiovascular system has always been an area of science that I have been interested in from a young age and an area which I had always hoped to specialise in (should I get the opportunity to study medicine in the future) I was very eager to get underway with the dissection the minute I entered the lab! I had carried out a rat and sheep’s eye dissection when studying Biology during my A-levels, so I was quite confident with the dissection procedures in the lab and knew exactly what to expect (some of my friends on the other hand who had never done any dissections before felt very queasy…. one friend in particular had to leave the lab for a while to get some fresh air because it was too overwhelming for her).  I found the lab session very valuable as it gave me the chance to actually apply the things I had learnt about the cardiovascular system in lectures and in various textbooks in a practical way, giving me a better understanding of the heart, such as all its anatomical landmarks and the way in which they function. I was so surprised just how small the atria were in comparison to the ventricles and just how strong the condrinae tendinae were! Although I managed to locate all the anatomical landmarks of the heart relatively easily, I was disappointed I couldn't locate the sinoatrial node (the pacemaker of the heart) – although I was reassured by the lecturer that it was very hard to do, after all the effort and time I put into trying to locate it, it would have been really satisfying if I had actually managed to succeed…

Apart from that, I have been busy trying to find voluntary work and summer placements I can apply for.  I recently found a really good opportunity to volunteer in schools, through an organisation called STEMNET, which allows its members to teach the subject they are studying/ specialise in- I've sent my application off and keeping my fingers crossed for that. But as for summer placements… that is a whole different story. I have searched and searched but still not found one! If anyone has any ideas where I can find a placement in the health/ research sector it will be much appreciated!

Here are some pictures from the heart dissection I thought I’d end this month’s blogs with…


Friday, 1 February 2013

Working hard


It's been just a few weeks into the new term now and second year is really beginning to prove just how different it is from the first year.  We now have lectures from 9am every Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and usually about two lab sessions on alternate weeks.  We have also been given various assignments to complete before the end of February and have been informed about several phase tests (which are practically like small unit tests) that we need to complete as well. The content we are covering in the second term (Pharmacology, Pathobiology, Metabolism and Disease and Bioanalytical Techniques)  are topics  that we have never covered before and are completely new to us, so a lot more hard work is required to understand the concepts taught in the lectures and really get to grips with answering practice questions on them. I have been trying really hard to review each lecture and make notes/ research around the topic as we go along...before the next lecture is taught... so that I don' t fall behind (so far so good....let's just hope I keep this up for the rest of the term and not get too lazy!

The Refreshers Fair was held last Wednesday for those of you who missed the Fresher's fair during Fresher's week. It was a huge success as usual with many societies participating, large crowds of students attending, freebies being given out, raffles/ mini competitions being held and much more! And it was a particularly special event for us Biomedical Science students as it was the launch of the Biomedical Science Society, set up by a group of Biomedical Science students on the course, who hoped it would be a great way of sharing our passion for science with other students by discussing various topics covered in lectures, inviting guests with a scientific background to give presentations about their profession, organising trips etc. And as expected, the launch was a success, with around 40 new members signing up for the society on the day itself! (For those of you who didn't get an opportunity to attend the Refresher's Fair, fear not! You can still sign up for the society of your choice or even set up your very own society through the SUUG/ UMSA website.)

And before I forget, I thought I'd just remind those of you who are thinking about living in halls next year that the application for 2013/2014 are now open. Although I would really like to rent a house with some of my friends next year, I have got used to living in halls for the past two years and find that it is much more convenient to stay in halls next year as well. I sent my application off a few days ago and I know my friends have too... so if you guys are also thinking of living in halls next year, it is a good idea to apply as soon as possible!  I just really hope I am given a place!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Happy 2013!!! :)


Happy New Year everyyyyyoneeee!!! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas/ New Year and just about ready to face everything the second term of uni has in store for us!

As you all know from my previous blogs, the Christmas holiday was one holiday I've been waiting for for a loooooooong time (not just because of the stressful month of coursework/exams we had to face in December...but also for the festive fun, new year celebrations, amazing food, catch-up sessions with family and friends, Christmas movies, massive sales  all over London and everything else that happens around Christmas & New Year!!!) In fact, as weird as it may sound, I much prefer the colder winter weather compared to summer, so this really is the perfect time of year for me!

As the term ended quite late for us compared to everyone else, I only had the weekend to buy Christmas presents for my family and friends (wrapping the presents was an absolute nightmare -  no matter how hard I tried..I just never managed to master the art of tying the ribbon around them!!!) Christmas day itself was the usual ( opening presents, enjoying Christmas dinner with the family, watching the Christmas special of Dr Who and other programmes on tele etc.) but it was still really nice!!!!) Boxing Day of course means sales shopping and that's exactly what I did with my friend in Westfield! Although it was a mission trying to get through the large crowds of people just to get inside at least ONE shop, it was well worth the trouble as I managed to buy a Guess Bag in the sales (something I've wanted for a long time!) And as for New Years Eve, I spent most of the day with my friends in China Town and then with my family as the countdown into the New Year began. New Years day itself involved going to the temple for New Year Prayer and visiting more family. My friend from New Zealand, who I hadn't seen since Year 8 had also come for a visit, so it was really nice spending the rest of the holiday with her and catching-up with some of my other secondary school friends who I hadn't seen for a while either (Winter Wonderland was A-mazing!!!)

So after two weeks of fun, I'm sooooooooo glad we've got a week left before we start the new term. I'm definitely going to spend pretty much most of the week finishing off my lab book and lab report which is due in when we get back and also reviewing some of my lecture notes to refresh my memory on last term's work. I recently had a look at this term's timetable and I was sooooooooo shocked to see the four 9am starts I've got this term...  each day consisting of at least one lecture and IT/practical lab session...the only day I have free is the Wednesday! :( So I guess my new year's resolution would have to be waking up early for these 9am lectures (and of course...losing those extra pounds I've gained over the holidays...) What's YOUR new year's  resolution???