Hi guys! Hope you’re doing well and getting some well needed sunlight on your skin!
I’ve been in Finland for a week now and I’ve had a lovely time with my family enjoying the Finnish nature, but I’m already a little homesick. So I thought it’d be appropriate to share some shots from our day trip within the Netherlands – a day spent in The Hague. I really, really, really needed the Sea so I decided to go to the beach, even if going all the way to the South wasn’t possible. Thankfully my two friends decided to join me so we had a lovely day chilling by the beach, drinking some beers on the Pier and enjoying a lovely dinner with a friend of mine who lives in the city. I was really pleasantly pleased about the Scheveningen beach in the Netherlands – the NL is not really known for their beach resorts but I’m definitely going back and it was definitely worth the 3h train trip!
Pictures tell more than a thousand words, but in words; I definitely recommend a trip to the Hague!
Guess who’s almost survived the first year of med school?? This one behind the screen together with a bunch of students from the International track of Medicine from Maastricht University!
This first year obviously wasn’t quite what anyone expected. I mean, study-wise it was everything I hoped for and more, but corona did change our weekly schedules quite a bit since March. Even though I’ve known since a baby that I want to study medicine, I guess there was always a little piece in me that was worried ‘what if I won’t like it?’ or ‘what if I can’t do it?’. The first question was quickly answered – I love my studies to death and I’m eternally grateful for being able to study what I love the most. The latter question is a little more complex – clearly not everything went super smooth since I’m still not officially on vacation due to having jhust finished with my last resit and I still have 5 more, long years to go before I’ve really proven to myself that I can do this, but I do believe I can. And I like to think of resits as opportunities for making sure that you truly know what we’ve been studying and thereby strengthening our base of knowledge. As every student in the world, I would like to ace through everything on the first try but it’s the first year, it’s a long learning process and as long as there’s progress both with knowledge and study methods (in case they’re not working) I like to tell myself that it is okay and then just myself to work harder.
Anyhow, I didn’t want to write a post about my resits (even though that could also be an important topic, since I feel that especially in our faculty resits are a topic of embarrassment for many and I’d like that negative way of thinking to disappear!) but rather about the whole first year of medicine at the University of Maastricht on the International track.
As said, I’m in love with my studies. It’s so interesting – the human body is such a complex thing and despite of scientists knowing more and more every day, it’s still such an exciting mystery when it comes to certain topics. The interesting complexity of it does mean however, that there’s a lot to learn. So the general way of thinking that med school is tough is certainly not wrong. I’ve only ever studied medicine and that too only for 1 year so I can not compare the years or any other disciplines, but I do can talk for my part, and I can say that it is a lot of work. (obviously 100% worth it still in my opinion!)
Studying on the International Track means that our first 3 years of studies are in English (the last 3 are spent in the hospitals of The Netherlands so it makes sense that we have 4h of Dutch class each week to learn to language of the patients), that our 50-ish students come from all kinds of backgrounds and that our curriculum has a touch of more international aspect. Our gang of internationally minded people is quite cool; we have over 15 different nationalities represented, all of us are obviously interested in the same thing (that would be medicine in case it was unclear) and overall I feel very lucky to be studying with this particular gang – a good example is that when I asked their permission to share the picture up there from our teddy bear hospital – experience, everyone answered with a sweet/fun/both message of approval. Greatly appreciate it guys and greatly appreciate you! (I did promise to share this link to them and everyone who knows me and knows that I’ve been blogging since 2011 (under different title until 2016) knows that it takes me a long time to step out of my comfort zone of hiding my blog haha, but stepping out of that particular zone is always a good thing!)
As I mentioned before in the post about the Maastricht University and the application process, at Maastricht University, to family and friends UM, we use a system called Problem Based Learning, which for its lovers and haters is known as PBL. PBL is such an interesting and such a different way of education that I’ll get back to it throughoutly in another post, but for now I’ll just mention that it adds its own little something to our already very consuming studies. With PBL we need to research information on our own and we’re very independent regarding everything about our studies, so I would not call it easy. However, this independent and stressful education system also teaches us important life skills – in the ER there won’t be anyone telling us on which page of which book we can find the answer, and no one to hold our hand. (I like that idea tho, maybe we could therapy pets for healthcare workers in stressful situations?)
So the way med school generally works is that the first year we study how everything is supposed to work (= we study everything in the human body) and then on the second year we start studying pathology (when things go wrong). This means that our past year consisted mostly of physiology, anatomy and histology. Our academic year is split into 6 blocks, that are 3-8 weeks long. Each block surrounds a specific theme, in that block we study the healthy biology of that theme. At the end of each block we have a block exam, and in most blocks we also had one or two additional assignments such as essays or presentations and possibly also a mid term exam. This year our blocks were development; circulation & respiration; regulation & integration; thinking & doing; digestion & immunity and diabetes & obesity. Simply put these were genes & embryology, blood & breathing, kidneys & hormones, brain & the lower body, digestive track & immune system and the last one was as straight forward as it says.
In addition to all the biology and small bits and pieces of chemistry and physics we also study behavior. This, as far as I know, is a specialty of Maastricht University (and one of the reasons why I decided to apply to UM). We have a course called CORE, which stands for something that I have shamefully forgotten. In this course we solely practice empathetic behavior and asking the right questions in a consultation. How amazing is it that we study something so important already on the 1st year!! I will also make another post about how the CORE course exactly works – stay tuned, it’s very interesting!
We also have throughout the year -courses like imaging techniques and Skills, in which we practice clinical skills. On top of these and the block courses, we follow our progress via Progress tests. These occur 5 times a year (except on years when corona changes things eh), and they have always the same set of questions out of which you randomly get 200 on your screen. The difficulty of these exams stays the same throughout the bachelor, which means that in the very first progress test we didn’t know almost anything at all, but my our last PT at the end of our third year we should already get a score that is significantly better than all our last PTs. In short, it’s a very interesting way to follow our progress. It’s an international examination so it’s taken by med school students all around the world on the same day. Med school students – unite!
On top of these courses we also had a gala for med students, worked at a teddy bear hospital for children, spent countless hours in the uni canteen and cafes complaining about our studyload, and did what ever we do on our free time (sports associations, parties, dinner dates etc).
As this post, the first year of med school has involved a great deal of information. It has been an adventure and sadly it was affected by the pandemic for the last third of our academic year, but thankfully UM did quite a good job with their online education possibilities. I am so excited for the next parts of this adventure, and will surely keep writing more about my studies as a med student now that I’ve presented the base to you as well. Until then I have a summer vacation to enjoy (before starting my summer job that no, unfortunately has nothing to do with the medical field but maybe next year!). Right this moment I’m sitting with my mask on on the airplane on my way to Finland, where my summerjob, family and Finnish friends await. So hopefully I’ll also have something else to talk about than my studies for the next few weeks at least! I did already have a lovely week of vacation (before I knew of the resit) that I spent home in Maastricht with my friends there, doing little trips close by and just enjoying the freedom to sleep as long as you’d like. I hope you’re also enjoying the summer, on holiday or not, and I hope that you’ll also get some free time for yourself and if you also still have an exam / a resit to make, the best of luck for that! We can do this!
(also, where did all you followers come from and who are you? I love it that you are there! I’m just surprised haha and would love to hear back from you sometime so leave a comment down below if you’d like me to write about something specific, have any questions or would just like to say hi! xx)
Everyone has days when they’re down or tired. Some of us struggle even some extra with our mental health and also get days when we’re both – and both on an extreme level. When I say I’m extremely tired, I mean that it’s causing me extreme effort to move any of my muscles. I mean that it’s causing me extreme effort to handle simple tasks. I mean that it’s causing me extreme effort to fall asleep, cause I’m too tired to remember how to do or how to allow myself to do that.
a good cup of tea is usually a good nutrition for cocoons (but never enough nutrition, it’s important to walk all the way to the kitchen certain amounts of times a day)
Then I become a cocoon. I lay on the bed/couch, wrap a blanket around myself and just wait. Just wait that I slowly get my energy back. I have phases when I just use all of it, and like all kinds of electronics, people too need to recharge. You can only so long work on 1%. Then the battery dies, and using a dead battery didn’t do anyone any good.
doing relaxing things can be helpful for the cocoon
I’ve been the broken device before. I’ve forced myself to work with an empty battery. It leaves deficits that take a long time to repair. So I don’t want to get there ever again. That’s why I become a cocoon. Being a cocoon is safe. Being a cocoon gives me time to become a butterly again. Being a cocoon is protecting my dead battery. Being a cocoon consists of making yourself to eat some, making yourself to drink some and making yourself to forget about everything else. Being a cocoon is not just my method of evolving into something better, it’s also my protective mechanism. Sometimes the cocoon phase takes a day (when started early enough), sometimes it takes longer. It’s very important not to rush out of the cocoon. No matter if you’re an extra fragile butterfly like me or just a non-issued butterfly who had been flying a little too much, it’s important to your body and become a cocoon when needed. My promise to myself is to always remember to be a cocoon when my wings get a little too heavy, and to always be honest about my experiences with my heavy wings, so maybe other cocoons can avoid crashing like I had. Cocooning is good. Self care is good.
cocoons can smile again after having given themselves enough time
So I found this old blog post that I apparently never published, and me being me here I am publishing my Happy New Year post since I think it’s always better late than never. And also since I started this year by listing things I promised myself I’d do this year, I thought it’d be nice to go through the list and see how well it’s going. And maybe, just maybe (don’t want to jinx anything here) the worst worst of corona (obviously not at all the whole corona itself so let’s keep washing our hands) could be over, so we could all consider the end of some restrictions as a new year again? And please let’s let it be a ’year’ when we improve on how we treat each other, the planet and ourselves. And my almost mid year resolution is that I’ll try to be on time a little better! I will report back (sooner or later). Without further ado; my thoughts from before this crazy year started;
New Year, New me? Not so much. I think we’re all pretty great the way we are. Unless you’re evil. Then you should seriously consider a new you.
Instead of becoming a new me, I’d like to dedicate the next decade on experiencing new things. That includes gaining new experiences, meeting new people, restarting some lost habits and finding new reasons to be happy. Since it is the year 2020, I thought that a list of 20 things would be quite reasonable.
I’m sorry about the long blog absence – again. Except that I’m not that sorry. I needed some time. First I needed some time to get into my dream university. Then I needed some time to say bye to my Finnish life. Then I needed some time to get used to my new, Dutch life. And most of all, I needed some time to get better and to find help.
I loved last year. As mentioned, I got into my dream university, which was a pretty big deal. I gained some amazing experiences, I had some amazing travels, I met some amazing people, I went to some amazing parties, and overall had a lot of amazing days. But I also had a lot of really bad days. Those of you who know me or have been reading my blog for a while you know it’s not the first time I’m saying this. But this time it was different. It’s like I was smart enough to understand what’s going on, and for a while I was able to help myself, but then I just got locked in my panic attacks and depressed days and couldn’t get out anymore. That’s when I reached for my support net; all the dear people in my life. And I got help. Most of all, I got strength just by knowing that they’re there, and I managed to get myself to get some proper help. So now for the first time in my life I finally have a referal to a psychologist and I’m so happy about it that just getting the referal made my life a lot easier already. The help would probably make it even more easy, but I’m not that far yet. It’s one of the 20 things tho.
Anyway, I’m back. Again. And this time I feel like I’m here to stay. Both in the blog and hopefully spiritually – feeling like you’re floating away sucks so I’m not interested in repeating that. Blogging gives me so much that I don’t even know why I’ve let it go again. Also I’m so excited to share life as a medical student, that I think that if any time in my life would be perfect for blogging (apart from the exchange year that properly started this all), it’s these 6 years. I hope that it’ll work out. I’m feeling quite positive about it.
To start my latest comeback here’s the promised list of 20 things I will be doing this coming year on top of doing more of the things I enjoy in general . As everything in life, new year’s resolutions should be something that make you happy by improving your life in one way or another, and that’s what my list is all about. So I consider this an idea list – no promises made. So if in 365 days I still have some bits unfinished, that’s quite alright. This year let’s all be a little kinder to ourselves, we deserve it.
Read more books
Go to London again
Avoid dairy even more efficiently
Go to at least 1 new place
Make pancakes more often
Learn another conversation in Hawaiian
Play violin again
Sing a little more
Get back to dancing
Send Holiday cards
Get at least 1 moomin mug to the Netherlands
Drink more water
Save more money
Sleep a lot
Well, being halfway before it’s the middle of the year ain’t too bad! I’ll improve on the rest later, but oh boy how much joy these 10 items have already given me. Maybe I’ll add making lists of things that make me happy and I should do more regularly, because these lists themselves make me happy! I hope you’re also doing things that make you happy and that you’re still staying safe and healthy! Take care xx