Monday, 19 March 2012

To Warwick

Currently listening to: Touch Me - The Doors

Short version: I'm amazingly happy, it's slowly beginning to sink in that come September I'm going to be a medical student at Warwick!

Long version: It would be pretty fair to say that in the weeks between having my interviews and getting my Warwick offer, I felt progressively more and more disillusioned about the whole UCAS process. My bemusement continued when I (with justification) got rejected from the Barts and The London A100 course after that awful interview. I say with justification, but that didn't make the rejection any nicer to deal with, so for nearly three days I was in the most depressed, mopey, anxious mood I've ever been in, even worse than during the darkest days of my biomed degree. The irony of the matter is that I shouldn't have been depressed over this rejection at all. This is because a few days ago Barts and The London emailed me to say that whilst I haven't been successful for their GEP, as a consolation they'd like to make me an offer for...their A100 degree! My precise reaction to this..?

Because quite frankly, it meant that I put myself through three days of pure hell for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Admittedly, my anxiety isn't BL's "fault", but all the same I do wish they could have made up their mind properly instead of jerking me around for a week. Ah well. So with that, UCAS 2012 is over for me, and I finish with two offers: Warwick GEP and BL A100 and two rejections: Southampton GEP and BL GEP. A brilliant result, and what I'd been hoping for since October.

The decision as to where I'm headed next September is therefore very easy to make. Because of the fact that GEPs are shorter and come with tuition fee loans and A100 degrees don't, I'm off to Warwick.

I think a large part of me will be very sad to leave BL, QMUL and the East End. I came here when I was 18 and I lived in QMUL halls for all four years so I feel a pretty deep attachment to the university and the campus. I had a lot of unique life experiences, experiences I'll never forget here, made many good friends both amongst students and staff, and for that BL and QMUL will always retain a special place in my heart. Whilst I have got into BL and can choose to stay on here, the fact that fees are now £9K a year instead of £3K makes it a largely worthless offer, especially without a tuition fees loan, since I just don't have that kind of money lying around. So it's time to close the QMUL/BL chapter in my life and start the Warwick chapter.

And I'm very much looking forward to Warwick. At the moment it seems new and unfamiliar, a bit like when you leave a primary school you feel safe and warm in and go to a massive, mysterious secondary school. But very soon you settle into it and have a good time. I'm sure Warwick will be exactly the same. The interview was lovely, the staff and current students were incredibly friendly and the medical school looked really nice, and I did say last month that I could definitely see myself there. So whilst I feel sad that my time at QMUL came to an end last year and my time at BL will come to an end shortly, I feel very happy because where I'm headed next seems just as nice. Roll on September 3rd!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The beginning of the end of the Grumpy Biomed

Currently listening to: Let It Be - The Beatles

I was in a bad place when I wrote the previous post, I felt like everything I'd been working towards since the beginning of my BSc was slowly crumbling away at the final hurdle. Matters were not improved when I logged onto Track this morning and saw I had a rejection from Southampton. But as they say the darkest hour is before the dawn...and in that dark hour yet again I saw my future as either continuing as a bored Grumpy Biomed...or taking a year out and reapplying which would mean having to redo my personal statement, resit the UKCAT, go through interviews all over again...the very thought made me feel exhausted. I just wanted it to finish.

Real life pulled me away from these thoughts however, as I went into uni to meet a potential project supervisor. I went through all the motions, but in reality my mind was elsewhere. Got on the bus, went back home, logged on, not expecting anything else except perhaps another rejection and saw the best email subject in the world: "Warwick offer for Joint Degree of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery"!

Opened the email and read: "We are delighted to inform you that the Course Selector for WMS, Education & Development has considered your application and recommended that you be made an unconditional offer of a place on our Joint Degree of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery programme"...but in reality all I saw was the words "unconditional offer". In that split second my heart stopped and then the adrenaline rush began as I began to fully comprehend exactly what this means. It means no more sleepless nights from UCAS stress, no more faffing around with Western blots, no more doing what I dislike, and most importantly: no more being a Grumpy Biomed. It means that all that obsessing over the UKCAT, pulling my finger out to get a 2:1, preparing for the interviews etc has paid off. And because it's a GEP it means I get a tuition fee loan and won't have to be totally destitute. It means I get to finally be totally contented and begin training towards something I've wanted to do since childhood. All I can say is roll on September!

I opened the email two hours ago, but I'm still grinning like an idiot. It hasn't quite sunk in that I'm going to be a doctor. I, the grumpy, incompetent, thoroughly pissed off and demotivated biomedical scientist will finally be able to hang up my lab coat and start doing what I want to do. To the best of my ability and with no resentment or dislike whatsoever. Of course, it will be difficult, it means four more years of uni, lots of debt and no doubt stress...but being stressed out or working hard has never been an issue for long as it's for something I want to do. And this most certainly is something I want to do.

I've still to hear from Barts and The London's GEP, but in all honesty, if I got a rejection, I would still be totally ecstatic because tonight, for the first time in a very, very long time, I will be able to sleep with total contentment. And nothing can change that. Getting into medical school was the objective, and I've done that. That's all that matters.

This post wouldn't be complete without a thank you. I've said before that I blog for myself, and not my readers, and that's still true. But the very fact that I post on an open forum like Blogger means that I'd like to get a response and input from others. Over the years lots of people have left kind, encouraging comments and words of wisdom, both med students and fellow applicants. So for that I'm very grateful and would like to say thank's always nice to rant and rave on here and know that in a few hours someone can write something that makes me feel a bit better. So cheers, you guys are amazing, and you won't have to put up with my grumpiness for much longer!

I still can't believe I'm free from biomed purgatory. Getting a 2:1 was an amazing feeling, now I've been able to use it to get my ticket out of here, so I'm totally elated. This feeling will take some getting used to...I can't believe this burden has been lifted all because of a simple email. So, so, so happy right now!

And if anyone's interested, a new blog has been registered for September!

Cheers again!

Grumpy Biomed (but only for few more months)

Monday, 5 March 2012


Apparently it's not enough for me to have hated my BSc, immensely disliked my MSc and to have encountered several health problems over the past few months. A less resilient person might have thrown in the towel by now, but I get by by telling myself that compared to 99% of the world I have it very good indeed (which is still true), and of course, there was one thing which seemed to be going well and that was my medicine application. I got a UKCAT score on the 90th percentile and invites to all my interviews. I told myself that the hoop jumping, endless waiting and putting my future and career in the hands of the admissions tutors would all be worth it in the end.

Or not. After 5 months of umming, and ahhing, falling behind in my MSc due to interview preparation and of course, endless amounts of continued chronic stress and anxiety (which I've long been advised to cut down on), Barts and The London have rejected me for their 5 yr degree. To some extent, this is no great surprise since the interview did not go well at all, but all the same, I was secretly hoping that they would see beneath my nervousness and that in fact their grilling was some subliminal technique to see how I'd react to stress, and that maybe by some fluke, I'd land an offer. Clearly I was wrong. My nervousness got the better of me, and their grilling was just that, and I failed to live up to their expectations.

When I opened Track and saw "unsuccessful", there was a split second of physical pain in my chest, which quickly subsided, only to be replaced by a dull, heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach, which still hasn't gone away. So now my chances of getting into med school have now dropped quite significantly, I would do what I normally do which is to get roaring drunk and try and forget about it all, but of course, I have a massive pile of boring, pointless MSc group work still to do. Joy of joys, I get rejected from what I want to do, and forced to do what I hate. What a fantastic life the Grumpy Biomed has.

In my previous post I said "I can't keep up the Grumpy Biomed gig for much longer without a glimmer of hope, a sign that possibly things might be improve soon"...well it looks like the light at the end of the tunnel is getting fainter, leading me ever closer to going off the rails at my complete frustration at life and how utterly crap it's becoming again.

I really do hope that the next few days bring better news, but let's be realistic, if I get rejected from Warwick, I'll almost certainly be rejected from the BL GEP too (interviews were joint and BL has less places), and my personal statement is hardly Pulitzer Prize winning material so that's probably Southampton out too. And that's the lot. One rejection isn't the end of the world, but when two of your other choices are linked together, and the other has a highly arbitrary selection procedure, it's a bit hard to feel optimistic. In short: I'm screwed.