Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The dilemma

Currently listening to: Country House - Blur

Not much to report so far this academic year. MSc induction went well, I've met some cool new people and also several fellow QMUL biomed grads who are now studying a related course (Cancer Therapeutics) at Barts and The London which shares a module with my course. Also met a few of my old lecturers from my final year biomed cancer biology module, who'll be teaching me this year. In short, it's been fun but also very busy.

In addition to my MSc, I've also been thinking a lot about my application to medical school which is due in just over two weeks, and I've reached a bit of a dilemma regarding my final choice. I am now 99.9% certain I will be applying to Barts and The London for the 5 yr and 4 yr degrees, and also to Warwick's 4 yr degree. And I was happy to pick King's College's 5 yr degree as my fourth choice, until they informed me that if I were to get an offer from them it would be conditional upon getting a Merit for my MSc...even though I have a 2:1 for my BSc, which is what their prospectus says their requirement for graduates is! Very annoying!

Well there's no point arguing about it, that's their rule so I can either accept it or find somewhere else to apply to. I thought back to Southampton GEP but realised they're just too risky. I've been reading a lot of the old threads on New Media Medicine and other forums, and Southampton rejected a lot of promising applicants, and since they don't interview you have no chance to prove to them face to face how good you are. So I then began considering five year degrees outside of London, in Leicester for example, but realised it's just too damn expensive. Thank you Tories and Lib Dems for succesfully commercialising education and ensuring only rich public school kids can afford studying medicine as a graduate.

This brought me back to Newcastle GEP, which I'd toyed with earlier but rejected as I believed my UKCAT wouldn't be high enough (697.5). I rang them earlier today, and I was told that their GEP cut-offs for the past three years have been 690, 685 and 682.5. Which was surprising since I'd always thought their cut-offs were in the mid 700s. To be honest with you I'd love the chance to study in Newcastle, the city looks amazing!

So as it stands I'm now seriously considering Newcastle GEP instead of King's College London. I can't guarantee that I'll get a Merit for my MSc (even though, of course, I'm aiming for top marks)...and I also don't want to go through the stress I did during my BSc. I've already done my three years of killing myself with worry about getting the grades, I actually want to be able to enjoy my MSc, and get a nice unconditional offer for medicine (if I get an offer at all, that is). But on the other hand, my UKCAT score is only 7.5 higher than last year's cut-off...so if it rises drastically this year I'll have wasted one of my choices. Ahh, decisions, decisions.

Monday, 19 September 2011

A year - or more?

Currently listening to: A Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum

I'm starting my MSc at Barts and The London in a few days. I've taken various modules at BL over the past three years, but this is the first time I'll be an actual student here and I'm really looking forward to it. Obviously being affiliated with QMUL (where I did my BSc), it's all very familiar. So familiar in fact that over the past few days I've bumped into some of my old classmates from biomed who are now doing medicine at BL.

Afterwards, thinking about it, I suppose it struck me that once again I'm stuck on the outside looking in. This is the second time in my life I've had to watch my classmates move onto medical school whilst I go off to do something else, the first time being after sixth form. And it really does suck. It's not that I dislike my current degree, or that I'm ashamed of what I do (anyone who knows me will know that I'm quite a proud person), but it is a bit frustrating to be constantly left behind as everyone else seems to progress to what they want to do. This isn't me being jealous or envious of my old classmates; they worked hard, and they deserve their places at medical school. It's not even anxiety or depression; I'm now closer to medicine than I've ever been before. I have a decent UKCAT mark, a good mark for my degree and my application is coming together. I suppose I'm just a bit annoyed that I have to wait nearly an entire year to get started with what I really want to do (if I get in that is), and I sometimes do wish things would just work out like they do for everyone else and not be such an uphill struggle. And if I was really honest with myself, I suppose there's a small worry that if I didn't get in this year, I'd be left behind again, which would be quite unbearable tbh. I'm just a little bit tired of doing things I like but don't love.

Friday, 9 September 2011

And so to EC1

Currently listening to: True Faith - New Order

I used to live in London when I was little. When I was about 10 we moved. I won't say exactly where to, but it was close enough to London for commuting for my parents, but far away enough to not have any of London's charm and attractions. So when I was 17 and filling out my UCAS form, the University of London was the obvious choice and I firmed Imperial, expecting to live in South Kensington for a few years. A few badly done exams and a missed offer later, I ended up at Queen Mary, and Stepney where I lived for a year, and then two years in Mile End. I slowly grew to love the convenience and close knitness of a campus university and E1 on the whole. It was grim, urban and yet lovely in its own way. And I don't mean that the way those pretentious hipster kids do, I genuinely did like living there, warts and all.

But since all good things come to an end, so my time in E1 seems to have as well. My classes start on the 28th of this month and will nearly all be in Barts and The London's West Smithfield campus in Charterhouse Square. So I moved to EC1 yesterday which is very different to E1. This is central London in the truest meaning of the word and it's taking some getting used to, even though it's completely amazing living in the thick of it all. As weird as it sounds when I first moved into my room yesterday I felt a bit nervous about it all...moving in, paying the deposit for my MSc, etc, it seemed like things suddenly got real. I've got my timetable (all day classes on Wednesday and Thursday - two 9AM starts!) and I get the feeling that the antics I used to pull during undergrad, e.g. sleeping til noon, probably won't be acceptable during postgrad, the same way that when I started my BSc it just no longer seemed appropriate to skip assignments the way I "forgot" to do my homework during A-levels. I know that no-one's holding a gun to my head, and I am excited about starting something new, but it also feels like I've somehow committed to something really big and significant, and completely different to anything I've ever done before. I really hope I'm not rambling here, so I hope you understand what I mean.

It feels like life is moving really, really fast and everything from my room to my course seem really unfamiliar. So I suppose a feeling of disquiet is natural, so I'm trying to keep busy, not least by starting to get through the preliminary reading list for my MSc and also by attempting to write my personal statement for medical school. I've written quite a detailed plan, but the first paragraph has stumped me a bit, I can't quite explain exactly why I want to do medicine even though I do actually know in my head. It feels like a lot of my motivation to do medicine is just too personal to put into writing to a faceless stranger...and I don't want to resort to writing clich├ęs either. But I'll obviously have to get over this and, like my MSc, commit, even if it feels quite daunting. But so far in my life, things have nearly always worked out in the end, so I feel no reason to be worried or stressed.

Hope all of you are well, and if any freshers are reading this, good luck for the coming days and weeks!