Saturday, December 12, 2009

Paying him back

During finals week I was pretty selfish. I said "Hi" and "Bye" to my husband but that's about all the conversation I could commit to. I received a Subway gift card from his mom, an absolutely incredible care package from him, and now my mom has gotten me a "post-finals stress massage" hallelujah! I saved half of my Subway gift card to share with him, and he appriciated that. I can't really share my massage, and he doesn't like/won't use most of the stuff he got me. The hard part is, he goes through this stress with me. Though he doesn't have to take the tests, he still feels the pressure and empathizes with me, in fact he even helped me study one night, reading the flash cards to me (until he got pissed that he couldn't decipher the latin words and greek letters--he thought it should all be in English). He didn't get a care package, because he "just has to work", which is true, but now I am done for a whole month, and he still has to work. He is taking a weeks worth of vacation this month (so excited for that!) But right now he still has to get up and work everyday while I sit at home making Christmas candy and watching daytime TV.

I have decided to make him a "care package" or "thank-you-for-being-so-freakin'-wonderful-I-don't-deserve-you" package. I need ideas on what to put in it, homemade cookies is as far as I've gotten. Post your ideas as comments, I could really use the help. And don't worry, he doesn't read this. He says, "You tell me every detail of your day anyway, why would I wanna read it too?"--thanks honey.

1/8th a Veterinarian

So, I did it! It's over, successfully. I completed my first semester of vet school without a hitch...or much of one.

Finals week was seriously brutal. It was perhaps the most stressful event in my life to date, and the stress of it snuck up on me, I didn't realize quite how stressed I was until it was too late. I had been studying for these finals since the day after Thanksgiving. (Well, really all semester since they're cumulative) The week before finals I was studiously looking over my notes every night, preparing flash cards and basically doing pre-study studying. Stuff like organizing notes, making flashcards, highlighting important old material, correcting old exams, stuff that doesn't actually commit any of the information into my brain, but does make it easier for me to do so. Sunday, the day before my first final on Monday I really began to hit it hard. I spent each previous day, about 10 hours worth (not exhaggurating here) preparing for the next day's impending exam. I got absolutely no house cleaning done, I only cooked supper once, my dogs don't know who I am anymore, and my husband is feeling seriously neglected.

The histology final (the first one) was the easiest exam I have taken all year. I walked out feeling confident that I probably secured my "A" in that class. The next day was physiology. After our last wreck of an exam I was pretty nervous about this test. I prepared for days and spent a TON of time and effort on it the night before. Studying for these tests is super high anxiety. You could be asked ANYTHING from the entire semester, and a semester's worth of material in vet school is equivalent to a year's worth sometimes two in undergrad. I could have studied for weeks and still not known every small detail, how to work every dilution problem or how to decipher what exactly the question was asking. As you go through your notes, or study in a group, you start to really feel the pressure. You'll see a page of notes that you don't exactly remember, or the friends you study with with ask you a question on a topic you can't even remember discussing. Your stomach starts to turn, the lights get bright, the flop sweat begins and you sit thinking to yourself "I am never gonna know all of this, there's just no way." I finally bagged it up for the night and went to bed at a decent hour (Midnight is about as decent as it gets during finals). I know that I am not one who can "pull an all nighter". Not having sleep for me is as bad as not studying. I can get as little as 5 hours and still make it, but that is my breaking point, and 5 hours was about the most I got all week long. I went in to take the exam, armed with my flashcards for last minute review and was feeling pretty confident, until he passed out the exam...the hardest exam I have ever taken in my life. I am still not sure how I could have studied for 2 weeks, really committed myself to learning, and UNDERSTANDING the information and still not have understood 45 out of 50 questions. I did my absolute best, turned in the exam and cried the whole way home. I was really starting to feel the pressure now, apparently that histology final was just a "teaser". I took a 30 minute nap tried to snap myself out of it, but I just couldn't study for immunology, my brain would not stop spinning. I decided to go for a run, something I have been neglecting all semester. After about 2 miles, my head was clear again, I felt like I could breathe and I had renewed energy to hit the books again. Tuesday is also when the nausea started. After the physiology exam I wasn't able to really eat again until Thursday. Not sure why this happened, so much stress that I wasn't paying attention to I'm sure. I just couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, I could only study and take got pretty brutal. The other two exams actually went off without a hitch. I took my immunology final, felt pretty good about it and went to start studying for my anatomy final (the big one). I think the hardest part about finals is that even when one test is over, you can't relax or even have any downtime, you just have to start studying immediately for the next one. I tried to eat again on Wednesday, but the stress of the impending anatomy final made it impossible again, damn this was really starting to suck.

In the end I did pretty well on all of my exams except physiology. (No one did though, we had the same failing average on this exam as the last one, excellent) I haven't gotten my grade back in anatomy yet but I do think that there is a (slim) possibility I pulled off my Christmas miracle and finished with an "A". That would be such a welcome surprise, as it would cancel out the "C" I got in physiology. I wish I could be more disappointed in myself for the "C", but I'm just not. The truth is I worked as hard as I knew how to get that grade. I am not failing and a "C" in vet school is pretty damn good. Most of my classmates were excited to have "C's" and I think I would be selling myself short if I didn't honor all the hard work and stress I went through to get that "C". I have a "B" in immunology, exactly what I expected, perhaps an "A" in histology and maybe just maybe Santa will bring me my "A" in anatomy. That would be 4 A's 1 B and a C...pretty sure I can live with that.

I learned some really important lessons this semester and this past week:

1. Make note cards and study aids through the whole semester and SAVE them for the final, it would've been so much easier to just pull out old note cards rather than have to make them all over again.

2. Study old exams, if it was important the first time, its probably gonna be important again

3. RUN! I need to commit myself to running again at least 3 times a week. I had forgotten just how much I love it, and what an awesome stress reliever it is. More importantly, I think it will help prevent stress before it strikes

4. Physiology is hard, and you can never know enough to be prepared for an exam

5. I need to have my own textbooks, not borrowed copies so that I feel comfortable writing and highlighting in them

6. My husband is the best ever ( I already knew this but he keeps proving it to me over and over)

7. Finals are hard and stressful, I need to be proactive about the stress next time to keep it from sneaking up and striking before it's too late

8. It feels GREAT!!!!! to be done!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ahhhh Finals

Forgive me if I haven't been the frequent and dedicated poster as of late. It seems that it's finals season and I am consistently feeling under-prepared no matter how much I study. I am writing this as a hiatus from the 7 hour histology marathon I have just preformed sitting on my couch. I am tired, my brain is mush, and tomorrow is only our FIRST final. Three more to follow. Awesome. I keep trying to tell myself everything is going to be fine. My grades are in no jeopardy of failing and I mostly just have to get "B"s to keep my "B"s (I know you're shocked "B"s again) But there are several classes--ok all but one, where if I perform a test miracle and do what I haven't done all year I might actually pull out an "A" for the course. Histology, I currently have an "A" and would like to keep it. Anatomy and is technically possible for me to get an "A" but it is going to require a miracle come test day. I'm not sure that I am tough enough to force myself to do the kind of studying required to pull that miracle off, or that even if I did commit myself to that study-lashing, that it would translate on an exam. Lord knows it hasn't all year. Immunology an A is just simply out of reach, looks like I am getting a "B" pretty much no matter what. (well, I could fail this final and I think that would bring me down to a C) Somehow this is comforting I don't feel unbelievable pressure to do well on this exam, and I have comfortable breathing room to keep my "B". I like that feeling.

I helped a friend from undergrad study for his anatomy final the other day. It was such an eye opener. First, not only can I recall previous anatomy information, it pretty much comes second nature to me now, who knew it would actually seep in and stick? Second, there is such a HUGE difference in preparing for undergraduate exams and vet school exams. I hadn't really noticed it until that day but there is such a major difference in commitment level. I used to be like my undergrad friend, only memorizing the information I knew I needed long enough to do well on an exam. Not taking the time to truly understand the information, or let those seeds of knowledge percolate into my cerebrum, just rouge memorization. Now, it is made abundantly clear to us that not only do we have to know the information we are asked, we have to be able to integrate it from class to class, and remember it from semester to semester. (We can now be tested cumulatively from semester to semester, which means I could be asked something in third year from this semester--holy crap) Turns out they really want us to know this stuff, like we might actually have to use it later or something.

It simply amazes me just how much I have learned this semester. I truly think it is the equivalent of probably 2 entire years of undergrad jammed into one semester. Good news is, I like it, I still like it. And, although I am beyond ready for Christmas break, I still really love vet school, and for the first time I am able to say I only have 3.5 years left instead of 4. Ahhhh, I'm getting there.

To leave you on a nice note...I was having a simple conversation with Husband the other day about how I felt really left out when all my classmates received care packages for finals. (Ok, maybe I was whining a little) I have never been the recipient of said "care packages". My roommates and classmates in undergrad always used to receive them and I pretended not to be jealous, but this time it was hard to hold my jealousy in (I should work on that). The very next day Husband showed up at school prepared to take me on a surprise lunch date (love that) in the car he had waiting for me the best care package in existence. Good luck balloons, pens, pencils, highlighters, candy, cokes, snacks, bubble gum, post-its, and party poppers to pop after each exam is finished. He is truly so incredibly amazing, most days I'm not sure I deserve him. Then several days later in the mail, I received a Subway gift card from my mother in- law so I wouldn't have to worry about lunch during finals and could still eat healthy, how great is that? I am blessed beyond words and should really stop my jealous care packages were better anyway--no one else got balloons!

Forgive my truancy from this blog over the next few days, it seems my time is better focused in another direction. WISH ME LUCK!!!