Moving forward

I finally found the opportunity to write this blog as I am sitting in my flight from New York-Paris. . To begin with this term has been hard..harder than Charters Program but interesting nonetheless. I learned a lot more about myself, my study habits and also people around me. Now is the time I can really reflect back on each module and gather my thoughts for this term.

Term 1 is divided into 3 modules and 5 exams – Foundations to Medicine(FTM-2 exams), Musculoskeletal System(MSK-1 exam), Cardiology Pulmonary Renal (CPR – 2 exams). We had 16 hours of lectures a week and interactive MCQ session on Friday but sometimes we would have 20 hours of lectures a week too. There was also 2-4 hours session of small group per week and sometimes more.  The semester started with around 520 people in class but sadly we saw a drastic fall in those numbers later on. I am just going to be giving a  breakdown for each module and how I survived each of them.

FTM module : Well having completed FTM/CFP program put me to an advantage compared to others who came straight into term 1. This module heavily focuses on biochemistry, genetics, human cell biology and Histology. I had developed a liking for biochemistry in CFP so I was kind of looking forward to it. Biochemistry department at SGU is really good. Even if you don’t like the professor, the slides are always detailed and have every information that you need to do well on the exam. For biochem I just white-boarded all the lectures as I memorized them. The other classes were pretty straightforward because it was a repeat of FTM program. I had never taken genetics before so I was focusing on that. Luckily, I got good professors for genetics which helped me understand the material well. First couple of weeks were overwhelming because there was so much material being thrown at us and so little time. I realized I could n longer memorize every slide but I had to focus on the bigger picture and if anything was clinical. Few days before exam 1 one of my friends Henrik asked me if I wanted to study with him. In CFP I had a routine of studying by myself and then my friend used to quiz me before the exam, hence I said yes to studying with Henrik. We reviewed all the lectures before the exam and we realized we had a similar studying pattern. My exam went well but both of did not get the same score. For exam 2 we decided we would meet every weekend to review the lectures for that week and then review again before the exam. So far the strategy was working for me but I was not too sure if it was working for Henrik. I was able to score 92.5 on both the exams. I still had a life during this module because I was able to cook food and I could also take a night or two off on the weekend and still be fine. I even had time to pre read my lectures every morning. FTM module is a nice introduction to medical school but it was nothing compared to the storm(MSK, CPR) that was about to come.

MSK: I had heard a lot of negative things about this module before it even started. Some people called it the worst/hardest module in term 1 and some actually enjoyed it. I had decided that I would not let anyone’s opinion influence mine so I could decide for myself. Henrik and I decided that we had to come up with a game plan so we could succeed in this module. Little did I know I had many sleep deprived days awaiting for me. Basically this module comprises of Anatomy and little bit of physiology and histology. Anatomy can be scary initially because it is A LOT OF memorization and learning every muscle, nerve, artery and vein for that muscle can get challenging. Also, the anatomy department sucks at SGU. I don’t blame them because you can’t really teach someone anatomy We had our first day of lecture and everyone was freaking out because they had already thrown all the muscles of the arm at us. Henrik and I met up at the end of the day and opened our bible for the module known as – Gray’s Anatomy. We did 10 questions that night and guess what? We got all of them wrong. We did not let that discourage us and we met up the next day to do more questions. We gained a momentum and met every night to do questions and by the weekend we had a better grasp on the material. You can only learn anatomy when you see it hence we went to open lab hours to learn from the cadavers. We were also using Complete Anatomy app on ipad which was the best investment ever, There was a lot going on and I was hating every day. I was not getting enough sleep because we used to have lab 8-12pm and then lecture from 1-5pm and then we had to study again. I had started eating out everyday and I used to sleep during lecture, I did not lose hope though and I continued working hard with Henrik every single day, By the time exam approached we were already doing our Grays book for the 3rd time. I felt confident when I went to take that exam because we had done more than 500 practice questions so I was ready to read long clinical vignettes too. I came out of that exam feeling a little hesitant because I thought I might have lost my A to physiology but I knew I had aced Anatomy. That exam was hard..it was the most challenging exam I had taken for sure. When the scores came out I was pleasantly surprised because I got a 91.7 and Henrik did well too. We finally realized that we were going to be study buddies for a long time now. Our hard work definitely paid off and now we were more motivated for the upcoming CPR module.

CPR : MSK gave me me hope and determination that I could survive medical school. Physiology was not my strong forte but before this module I had changed my mindset and I told myself I was going to stay positive and make Physiology my little bitch. Henrik and I knew how to study and we had  a nice momentum going. We met up every day after lectures and we just white boarded and talked out loud. We realized talking physio out loud was really helpful. Some days were frustrating because the material was hard and we would spend 7-8 hours and still not understand. I finally started getting the true feeling of being a medical student. I did my first ultrasound on the heart and lungs. I also learned how to listen to different heart, lung sounds and how to take someone’s blood pressure and pulse. I realized I could now study for 15-16 hours a day and still be fine. This was my life now. I was trying to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep but I had started eating junk food. I was eating out for every single meal and I used to only go back home to sleep. Those were some monotonous days but I was not complaining because I knew everything would fall into place before the exam. Again before exam 1 for this module we had already done over 500 practice questions and I thought I knew my material well. I finally understood physio which was exciting. I got a 91.7 on this exam which boosted my confidence furthermore!Henrik did really well too and we knew there was no looking back anymore. This module was different because we also had our first OSCE – basically they get a fake patient for us and we have 5 minutes per patient to do certain tests, ultrasound or whatever is required. Towards exam 2 I was a lot more relaxed because I knew it was the home stretch and also physiology was not scary anymore.

You must be wondering that I don’t have a life outside study hall and my whiteboard and you are right. Buy post exam I got to relax and enjoy the weekend. I became good friends with another person from my small group. Henrik had  a jeep so we formed a tradition to go on a long drive on the island to unwind. It was the best feeling ever and this was the time I actually loved the island and did not hate it. Also, I love my apartment. i am glad I don’t live in a dorm because at the end of the day its nice to go back to my room and also after the exam I can relax in my lovely pool.

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My beautiful pool
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Taking a quick break before the last exam!

As I am sitting on my flight, I just reflected back on this term and I realized this term was challenging but fun. I don’t know if fun is an appropriate term to describe it or not. If you ask me now which module was my favorite I would say it has to be MSK. I know i know I said I hated every moment of it when it lasted but post-MSK I realized that if I can survive this module I can survive anything and I also learned about my new studying habit. I never used to study with another person before but it’s important to have a study buddy in medical school. Henrik and I were able to motivate each other every day and if I didn’t understand something he filled in the gap and I did the same which benefited both of us. I am so happy that I found a great friend and hoping that we will be able to crush all the way till Step 1 and beyond 🙂 What would I do differently?I definitely need to eat better food or find some time to cook. I also need to make sure that I don’t exhaust myself.

I am so glad that this term is over and I know I made friends who will support each other all the way till we take our Step 1 exam and beyond. I have an exciting summer ahead of me and hence I will be writing more often now. I was in NYC for 4 days and it was so nice to have good food and be back in civilization again. I will be in Paris for 10 days and then I will see my mother in New Delhi. I am doing the Thailand selective in June through SGU and I cannot contain my excitement. We will learn about Ancient Chinese Medicine like Tai Chi which should be interesting. I will be back in Paris in July but I plan to study. My friend and I will be tutoring the upcoming Term 1 in fall so we have to prepare our slides and material for the sessions. I am really looking forward to that because I enjoy teaching and also it will help me with my cumulative exam.

Anyways if you made it this far on this blog, I am thankful for your time because this one was long. I am going to try my best next term to write more often. Till then I will have some exciting travel stories this summer and I cannot wait to write about them 🙂

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We survived term 1 🙂

The Caribbean Experience begins…

I am going to start off with a rant first about my flights to Grenada. My flight from JFK was on 7th August but August 6th night was spent readjusting my luggages. It was definitely very stressful as Brian(my friend in New York) and his mom spent 2 hours helping me out. Anyways fast forward to JFK and I had no issues with Caribbean Air. I had a huge smile on my face at 4 a.m. and the attendant was super nice to check in 2 luggages and 2 carry ons and only charged $30. I slept like a baby on my first flight to Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago), oblivious to the nightmare ahead of me. It was supposed to be an 8 hour layover in POS and also you can’t check in your luggages all the way. Basically one has to exit and come back to departures for check in.

So as I arrived in POS, the immigration and customs all went down smoothly but as I exited the customs, I was hit by the weirdest rule – no trolley allowed for baggages in the arrivals area..WTF? So basically now, I had 2 big luggages, 1 backpack and 1 carry on and I couldn’t use a trolley. Anyways they had “Porters” who charged $1 per piece. As I approached Liat air they informed me that I can’t check in my luggages so early and they only allow 3 hours before the flight. This was at 11 am and my check in would not start before 6 and I had 4 bags on me! I literally sat in a corner and could not move. I was starving and finally found a porter who took my luggages with me to a subway and then got me back. Finally checked in at 6 pm and Liat air opened my check in luggages and tossed everything around. I was losing my patience now. The lady tells me my carry on is over 15 pounds and I need to check it in or empty it. I explained to her that I got it from JFK and everything was fine there. She basically refused to acknowledge anything. So I started emptying my carry-on into my luggage, and guess what? The lady tells me my luggage is now overweight. Obviously what did she expect?? Anyways, I paid $90 for that and I was done complaining and I just wanted to reach Grenada. The flight was delayed by 2 hours and I was afraid that I would have to spend the night on that airport. I finally found some people who were going to SGU and on the same boat as me (even worse), so I felt a lot better and tried to stay positive.

Anyways after 18 hours, I finally made it to Grenada and I was SO HAPPY. I can’t explain the joy I felt when I saw this sign –

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People at the airport were really nice and students from SGU were welcoming us at the airport as they directed us to our cabs. It didn’t take me more than 20 to get out of the airport and to my dorm. I suddenly forgot about my whole day and just promised myself that I will never fly Liat again and would rather pay more for a direct flight 🙂

 

 

Packing Madness

3 more days to NYC and 6 more days to Grenada! Phew! Last 2 months have been crazy for me, from quitting my job in May to moving out of Boston in June and then traveling in Europe and MSAP in July.

I was really worriedIMG_7279 about packing initially because I had to fit my whole life in 2 suitcases! Everyone keeps emphasizing that everything is expensive on the island.Keeping that in mind I tried to pack smart(hah). I am flying Icelandair from Munich-NYC and I am allowed to take 2 suitcases and 1 carry-on and 1 laptop bag(SWEET!) . The problem is from NYC-Grenada. I am flying Caribbean Air from NYC-POS and then Liat air from POS-GND. I have heard terrible things about their baggage policies but I had no other option since I booked my tickets so late.

 

 

I packed all my essential items in my bigger suitcase and carry-on incase the airline decides to send my 2nd luggage separately(boo!). So here is a mini list of items:

  1. Duvet, 2 bed sheets, pillow cover – I put them in a vacuum seal bag and saved so much space. I had no idea about these bags until recently. They can easily be found on amazon and here is a picture below. IMG_7275
  2. Stationary items
  3. Kitchen items – fork, spoons, knives, chopping board, pressure cooker etc
  4. Beach wear (it’s the caribbean after all 🙂 )
  5. 2 jackets and 2 hoodies(incase it gets cold in the study room or lecture halls)
  6. Tons of summer clothes, flip-flops, sandals.
  7. Makeup and sunscreen

One of my suitcases was overweight by 5kgs, it must be the pressure cooker I think. I tried to move things around and got it to 23kgs and the other one is 17 Kg. Well, I am nervous I won’t lie but I am just going to risk it.

I will finish my shopping in NYC. I just need to buy insect repellants and big shampoo bottles and other toiletries that might be expensive in Grenada. Also, I realized Indian grocery is cheaper in NYC than in Munich so I will buy all the spices and my favorite maggie noodles there as well. I will just need to buy pots, pans and utensils in Grenada.

Packing takes a lot of time and making a checklist definitely helped me. I will make another post once I get there incase I regret something I should have packed but didn’t.Now, my plan is to go to the airport at 6 am on 7th August with my cute smile and hope that the attendants are in a good mood too and my 14 hour arduous journey will be a breeze! 😀

Anyways, since I am done with packing now, it’s time to binge-watch Stranger Things on Netflix. xx

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ALL SET FOR THE JOURNEY!

 

 

Little Miss Globetrotter – From New Delhi-Boston- Grenada(and everything in between)

Passage to the World

First of all, I have never written a blog before but now I want to share my traveling experiences with everyone. A little background about myself  – I was born in New Delhi, India. I finished my high school in Delhi but my father lived in Europe(mainly Vienna and Munich) so my summer was spent traveling in Europe. I went to Boston University for my undergraduate. I got a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology. I fell in love with Boston so I decided to work there for 2 years and luckily got a job as a Research Technician in a Radiopharmacy lab at Massachusetts General Hospital.

I am so lucky that I got to travel from the age of 3 and then I was able to travel more during my undergraduate studies. I wish I could have started writing sooner! But better late than never, right?…

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Medical School Assessment Program

What made me pick Grenada, you will ask? Well, first of all I have always been open to new experiences. I am lucky that my parents are supportive and will always understand if I decided to move anywhere in the world. I took my MCAT in 2014 and my score was weak. I was managing both work and studying for MCAT and it was tough. I took the new MCAT in 2015 and performed a little better. I knew that applying to Medical Schools in USA as an international student will be hard. I did apply to couple of universities and had the same response from all of them. I was a little disheartened but did not lose hope. My father wanted me to study in Europe since it would be cheaper for him and I would be closer home(also US schools don’t give financial aid to International students, smh).

I was applying to English Medical schools in Europe in January 2016. Well, there are limited English schools in Europe besides the UK obviously(pre-Brexit). I applied in Prague, Netherlands, Hungary. I was getting accepted to these schools too but I was NOT ready to leave the US. There was this lingering fear, I don’t know why. I didn’t even feel the same way when I was leaving Delhi for my undergrad.

I knew couple of people from Boston University who were studying in St George’s University, SOM. I got in touch with them to know more about the university and their experiences. As I began looking more about the university, I could see myself living on the island and studying my a** off for 2 years. I saw that they had 97% USMLE Pass Rate and also you get to do your clinical rotations in New York (my favorite city). I heard only good things from the students and how the university prepares you for the exam. I saw they accept international students too so I went ahead and applied in March 2016.

The application process was simple and I applied directly on their website. After 2 weeks or so I emailed the counselor to check the status and she said my application was still under review. I got my interview in April. I was still working in Boston so I had a skype interview. Usually SGU alumni conduct these interviews and it was the same for me. My interview went pretty well. It was more of a casual talk than an interview for sure. I felt confident after the interview and 2 weeks later I was accepted into the Medical School Assessment Program.

I am not sure what the criteria is for MSAP or Charter’s Foundation Program placement but if you do not score 80% in MSAP, you are automatically placed in CFP. Well, I had heard MSAP was intense and I heard right. 4 weeks of intense studying. Honestly you need to study for more than 30 hours a week. I quit my job in Boston and came to Munich to stay with my dad for a month. I was trying to manage MSAP and traveling to Berlin, Prague at the same time. Anatomy, physiology was completely new to me because I never took it in undergrad. There were weeks when I did not enjoy the course material but some weeks were definitely more interesting. In the end, I made it to borderline and was admitted to CFP. I am actually looking forward to it now because it will strengthen by background and make term 1 easier. CFP requires you to maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher and is definitely going to be challenging but I am mentally prepared to take up the challenge. I was able to learn 4 months condensed material in a month for MSAP so I am all warmed up 🙂 .

Sorry for the long post but if you have any questions about MSAP, I will try my best to answer them. My next post will focus on packing and getting excited. 7 MORE DAYS TO GO!!!

Little Miss Globetrotter – From New Delhi-Boston- Grenada(and everything in between)

First of all, I have never written a blog before but now I want to share my traveling experiences with everyone. A little background about myself  – I was born in New Delhi, India. I finished…

Source: Little Miss Globetrotter – From New Delhi-Boston- Grenada(and everything in between)

Little Miss Globetrotter – From New Delhi-Boston- Grenada(and everything in between)

First of all, I have never written a blog before but now I want to share my traveling experiences with everyone. A little background about myself  – I was born in New Delhi, India. I finished my high school in Delhi(Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram) but my father lived in Europe(mainly Vienna and Munich) so my summer was spent traveling in Europe. I went to Boston University for my undergraduate studies. I got a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology. I fell in love with Boston so I decided to work there for 2 years and luckily got a job as a Research Technician in a Radiopharmacy lab at Massachusetts General Hospital.

I feel lucky that I was able to travel from the age of 3 and then I was able to travel more during my undergraduate studies. I wish I could have started writing sooner! But better late than never, right? I always knew I wanted to join Medical School and this year I was accepted to St. George’s University in Grenada. This is going to be a unique experience for me and I want to write as much as possible and share it with everyone 😀