Feelings about starting Medical School

So I will be moving into my accommodation in London on Saturday. I could say that I am excited to move in but also nervous about what lies ahead, but the actual feelings that have been running through my head are a little more complex. I think it is fair to say that I have been feeling every single pre-university feeling possible; nervousness, excitement, fear - you name it and I have probably felt like that at one point in the last month.

Here is a snapshot of what has been going through my mind in the last few weeks:

Excitement - I am excited about the fact that I will be studying a subject that I love, unlike school where you are forced to take certain subjects. Of course every course will have its positive parts and negative parts, but at least there will be no more General studies lessons, and most importantly, no more compulsory lessons!
Another thing I am really looking forward to is the independence and the start of a new lifestyle. This will probably consist of partying until stupid 'clock (and because it is London, this will bleed my wallet dry as one drink will cost £8), turning up to lectures half-asleep/hungover/on a caffeine high and eating Tesco value instant noodles. Of course once you realise mid-way through the year exactly how much you don't know and that you probably should have turned up to more lectures, the all-nighter revision sessions commence in an attempt to pass the year.

Worry - It is overwhelming to think that I will be going to an entirely new environment and worrying about whether I will make friends and fit in. Of course me being the paranoid person I am, I do have concerns about whether I will be mugged/drugged/attacked on a night out or what I may do in London with a high blood alcohol concentration, e.g. throw my phone in the Thames, eat a kebab from a rat-infested takeaway or fall asleep on a tube train, but hopefully this doesn't end up happening!
Financial worry is also another huge issue, especially in central London where the loan barely covers the rent! This is probably not a worry during Freshers week where we buy tickets to lots of events and spend hundreds of pounds on drinks. However, after the week we will probably have about £200 for the rest of the term so I will have to live on beans on toast and Tesco value noodles for the rest of term.

Fear - This one is probably more specific to Medicine due to the sheet amount of information we need to memorise. There are a ridiculous number of textbooks, each costing more than you will have ever spent on a book, or even a night out for that matter. The UCL reading list has almost 100 books for the first couple of years, and although most of them will probably be for reference, we will still need to learn some of them cover to cover. Each one is like 1000 pages long and the font is about size 6. On top of that, at UCL medical students are blessed with lectures from 9am-5pm pretty much every day. To top up my fear, my dad is a doctor and he constantly reminds me and lectures me on how medical school will drain the life out of me. Because the summer holiday was essentially 3 months of nothing, I feel like half of my brain cells have died along the process and I can't imagine what this would feel life for gap year students. I am wondering how I even got the grades to get into UCL in the first place!

Denial - After spending a summer holiday of doing absolutely nothing, I cant help but feel that all this is not really happening. It doesn't exactly feel like I am about to go to university and start my training as a doctor. In fact, because of this summer holiday I have become so lazy to the point that a part of me doesn't even want to go – I kind of just want to sit in my bed or in front of the TV all day with no purpose in life. It will probably hit me that I am studying to become a doctor when I will be hungover during the first introductory lecture on the Monday of Freshers (yes that is correct, we have lectures during Freshers week) at 10 in the morning.

Optimism - I was talking to some people about the future in terms of medical specialities, iBSc choices and all that stuff. I don’t meant to sound weird or anything but just thinking of career choices just made me really excited about my future and my working life. The fact that I am going to one of the top universities for a top course really fills me with optimism that I can achieve so much in my professional life and that I cam look forward to the future when the outlook is unfortunately more gloomy for so many other professions.

Hopelessness - However, with optimism always comes hopelessness. Just looking at the sheer competition for the top medical specialities makes me wonder how good I really am. Some surgical specialities have competition ratios of more than 20+ applicants per place, and this number is probably even higher in some hospitals. All people applying will have Medicine degrees and it is just scary thinking about how I will ever get to pursue the career path that I want to do.


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