Starting university can be a really daunting experience, especially for a subject that is notorious for being tough. Looking back at what I’ve learnt over the last two terms, here are five things I wish I knew before I started studying Medicine at the University of Cambridge!
1. Asking for essay extensions isn’t the end of the world: It is important to stick to deadlines, but supervisors are generally very understanding if you can’t. (Just remember to contact them to let them know!) Don’t be afraid to ask for help, not only for your academic work but also for absolutely anything else that’s going on in your life. Sometimes things can get really overwhelming, and you just need a small breather before getting back on track.
2. Your mental health is everything: Pressure will be put on you from all angles. This will be academic pressure, financial pressure, time pressure, pressure to always uphold medical professionalism, etc. etc. Sacrificing your mental health is never the best solution to solving this balancing act. Find time and ways to allow yourself to relax and rejuvenate – you deserve it!
3. It is very possible to spend too much time studying: Much like the Occamy from the world of Harry Potter, your work will take up as much space in your day as you give it. Giving yourself six hours to slowly write a three-page essay about metabolism may seem like an absolute dream, but I can promise you that there are much better ways you could be spending the majority of that time. Try to only allocate as much time as you need to each piece of work. This will help you to study efficiently, leaving more time to do the things you actually want to do.
4. It is possible (and encouraged!) to have a hobby on top of your degree: Medical students have long contact hours, and we often have supervisions at unsociable hours. In my first ever group meeting with my Director of Studies, she told us that we should have an extracurricular to take our mind off Medicine, and I couldn’t agree more! Find at least one thing you love doing and do it. Some of my best memories so far come from doing shows at the theatre and learning TikTok dances with friends!
5. Making friends is a definite priority: I would be lying if I said Medicine was an easy degree, so it’s important to establish a reliable network of friends where you can support each other through these next six years (and beyond). My advice would be to make socialising your number one priority during the first term – join societies and say yes to trying new things! Just please also try get some of your academic work done too..!
Make sure to check out Bolin on Instagram @lemonhoneystudy !