Freshers – Flu, Fun, and Friendships

Freshers, formally known as ‘Welcome Week’, is a great time to settle into Uni. I had a fantastic experience, and as someone living on campus and becoming a Fresher again in the next academic year, I thought it might be fun (and helpful!) to share my experience with Freshers.

Fun

With a lot of parties and societies, Freshers can feel like American films set in college (although there’s so much more for those who don’t drink/like big groups of people). I recommend you sign up to events/societies! (My first society experience was the Marvel Society on the second night. They ran an escape room, which was great! Societies always have interesting and unique activities.) Besides, you’ll want to visit the fair for the free competitions and food.

Note: none of the above are confirmed to go ahead due to lockdown. I’ll update this blog if/when they’re announced, but Edge Hill and the SU’s social media will also update us!

My flatmates and I stayed in for the week. I can’t drink, but playing card games on the first night was a fun way to break the ice.

Friendships

As well as flatmates, I also had course Induction. They introduced us to our personal academic tutors, staff, and I met my coursemates. We all got along straight away! When I moved in on the Sunday, I was dreading having a‘ lesson’ the next day; I just wanted non-stop fun! However, the two days of induction made me so excited to get stuck in, so oddly the one part of Freshers I was against the most became one of my favourite parts! I made so many friends in Freshers, and more as time passed.

Flu

It’s true; Freshers Flu is a thing. Many students, like me, felt poorly for 3 weeks. I got messages off my flatmates at 3am asking if I needed water because they heard my coughing, which was sweet of them. I had so much fun in Freshers, despite feeling unwell.

Closing Words

While my/our Freshers experience will be different due to lockdown, I’m looking forward to it. I’m very much a ‘home’ person but all the excitement helped me settle nearly straight away!

-Tony

My Placement Experience

Our Foundation Year in Medicine at Edge Hill University is unique in that we have two weeks of placement in the academic year. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I was unable to complete my placement in May. However, I did enjoy my placement in mid-December 2019. I’ll be talking about my experience with placement in this blog.

Preparing

To prepare for placement, our class learnt how to effectively wash our hands, learn CPR, and learning skills we may need on placement (things such as safeguarding, but such issues didn’t arise). This took around a week, allowing us to best prepare. We also find out our location in advance, to organise transport. Our Medical School will choose a placement that’s most accessible to you, in either Lancashire or Ormskirk. A friend gave us a lift to mine and another friend’s placement in the morning, and I had taxis back to University in the evening.

The Support

Our Medical School, as well as I, communicated with my placement providers about my health conditions. We also got a card from our placement providers saying “IMSAFE”, another great example of our medical school looking after out wellbeing.

the “I’M SAFE” card we got for placement. We’re reminded to look after ourselves all throughout our studies!
The Week

9am-5pm Monday-Friday at a GP surgery was when we were in placement. We did so much: observe ultrasounds, GP/ANP appointments, the prescribing line, and working on reception. There, we observed and learnt so much, and all the staff were so lovely and welcoming. I really enjoyed being on the reception and placement helped me understand how a Multi-disciplinary team works together (as we learnt in lesson).

The experience made the idea of working in community more interesting. This is because there’s so many people to meet, conditions to understand, and you’ll see patients multiple times.

Closing Words

The placement, while short, taught me so much. I’m reminded of why I chose Medicine in the first place with experiences like placement. I look forward to more placements, and what I can learn from them. It’s so exciting to see where I’ll be in five years, but I am also excited to get back to University!

-Tony

Can I Go To University?

There are some stereotypes about University students which can be harmful. A lot of films and TV shows all University students as the same person, but this isn’t the case. In this blog, I’ll challenge any preconceptions about University students.

“Am I not too old?”

Media overrepresents the young students of University, and never really represents mature students. Rest assured, there’s plenty of mature students of all ages! No matter your age, occupation, or if you’re parent, you’ll be able to study any course you want (assuming you’ve got the qualifications/can use an access programme to get onto the course).

“Can I go to University if I’m disabled?”

II have a lot of support on both my course and by the University’s Inclusion team in ways I couldn’t imagine when it comes to my disabilities. I was worried about being a disabled student, but when I arrived I realised I wasn’t alone, and even if I was, I had all the support I could ever need and more. In Sixth Form, I only had Extra Time, no support in lessons. This isn’t the case at University! I’ve had support for placement and all my tutors understand and respect my health conditions. Your living situation and wellbeing will be covered by our Inclusion team, too.

“Is there any point if I don’t drink?”

Of course! I know a lot of people, including me, who have had some of the best times of their life sober while at University. Everyone in the movies seem to drink alcohol, but in reality, there’s a lot of students who don’t drink. You’re bound to find non-drinking buddies on your course and at societies, and there’s even ‘dry socials’ in Freshers week to get involved in!

Closing Words

When considering University, please ask yourself, “is University right for me?”, not “am I right for University?” You absolutely are! Here at University, you’re a part of a community – one that’s diverse, and the people you’re surrounded by won’t judge you if you step outside what a lot of people consider the ‘typical’ University student. We’re all here for the same reason after all, to have a good time and get an education.

-Tony

To the Future Medics

I am writing this blog as if I am writing to my seventeen year old self. I felt like I was always surrounded by people who were one step ahead, and I’m sure this is a common feeling to many. Therefore, I hope this blog resonates with you.

Don’t Compare Yourself

Medicine is competitive, but it’s important to focus on yourself. Some people are fortunate enough to have weeks of work experience, whereas you may have one week, or only volunteering experience. That’s okay, it’s about what you learn in those environments. You can learn just as much in one week as another can learn in a month. Focus on what you learnt, not what your fellow applicants might’ve learnt.

Struggling is Okay

If you’re struggling in Sixth Form, that doesn’t mean you’re not fit for Medicine. Struggling is human, it’s something I’m learning to accept even now. Your capabilities as a medic are not defined by how you handle a heavy workload, no matter your age. You’ll always be supported by peers, family, and friends. Medicine is demanding, but our support network grows as we progress and we become more able to cope.

Keep Trying

I’ve mentioned this in previous entries, but it’s important. You may get no offers in Year 13, you may not get the grades you need, and you mightn’t get a place through Clearing. That’s okay, Medicine is competitive, and even the best applicants miss out. Your age isn’t a factor, and you may even benefit in ways you wouldn’t think in taking gap years/alternative routes. I encourage you to read this document if you were unlucky the first time.

Closing Words

I remember how I felt early in Sixth Form. While at a Medicine event in early Year 12, I was one of the only people out of near 100 who didn’t have work experience, which was discouraging. My two weeks work experience wasn’t as clinical as others, but that didn’t matter, because I learnt so much from it. While there was a lot of waiting and luck in my journey to Medical school, it was all worth it.

-Tony

What Can You Do to Prepare for University Today?

If you accepted your offer to study here before the 31st May, you should have your room offer. I had my room confirmed the other day and I was excited! When I was coming to University, I received my room offer a few weeks before starting my course, so having my room offer months in advance is exciting. But what can we do with all this pre-University buzz? I’ll be sharing what I’m doing in this blog.

Join Social Media Groups

If you’re comfortable with social media, I encourage you to join groups for your halls and course. Your email confirming your accommodation will have a link to all the Facebook groups for accommodation. This can be a great way to meet your flatmates months in advance and break the ice! I didn’t do this last year and I settled in easily, so don’t worry if this isn’t something you’re comfortable with.

Talk to Current Students

You’re likely to come across current students in social media groups. However if you don’t use social media, student representatives (such as myself) are free to talk to on our website! Drop us a message with any questions you may have, whether it be our Uni life, accommodation, courses, or anything else. Remember that you’re also free to comment on our blogs with any questions you might have!

Learn Some Skills

I was pretty dependent this time last year, however my mum began teaching me how to cook. I ended up experimenting more with recipes at University and improving that way, but I recommend that you consider cooking this summer. Besides being an important life skill, it’s actually enjoyable and a great way to feel productive in these times!

Closing Words

While you can’t go out and buy the Uni essentials, you’re able to equip yourself with knowledge and skills for University from the comfort of your home. If you would like any more prompts or ideas, feel free to comment below!

-Tony

What I Love About our Campus

Edge Hill University is a campus based university, with all its facilities on one site. There’s so much to see and do on our campus, and in this blog, I’ll discuss what I love about our campus!

How Close Everything Is

Having everything so nearby is great, especially as I have mobility problems. Knowing lessons are a couple of minutes away is comforting, and it also means you’re able to go to other facilities relatively easily between lessons. If you want to get a coffee with coursemates during a break, you can go to one of the many cafes on campus; you’ll never be far from one!

The Sights to See

There’s many great sights to see on our campus. We have lakes and gardens; and they make for nice places to socialise, rather than being inside during the summer. They’re also home to ducks, squirrels, rabbits, and even hedgehogs! If your accommodation is in Founders, you’ll be near the gardens. If you’re in Chancellor’s, you’ll get a nice view of the fountains and water; maybe even our beach!

Facilities

I might sound like a broken record, but I love coffee and our cafes. If you bring a re-usable cup to certain cafes, you’ll even get a discounted price!

Our Catalyst is fantastic. It’s very modern; checking out and returning books using machines feels like something I would see in a film.

I love using our Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre for our course. We’ve only been in there a few times in our Foundation Year, but I can’t wait to use it more and more as the years go on!

The Accommodation

Our accommodation is award winning, and for good reason. We have halls for everyone; alcohol-free, quiet halls, same-sex, etc. and the rooms are fantastic! I’ve seen all of the rooms and I think they’re all a great size. As well as this, they’re all very affordable! I recommend you check out images online here, and take accommodation tours on an Open Day!

Closing Words

I love our campus. I’m looking forward to studying and living here for the next five years for all the reasons listed, and more! I’m really missing our campus, and I can’t wait until it opens up again.

-Tony

What I Wish I Knew in Sixth Form

I had my final A Level exam just over a year ago. It’s strange; I feel like the year’s gone quick, but it also feels like so long ago! While it was only two years of my life, I learnt a lot (and not just syllabus content). I feel my reflection on my experiences might be beneficial, so in this blog I’m going to discuss what I wish I knew in Sixth Form (besides the final exams answers!)

Recognising Burnout

I always assumed burnout feel like fatigue. This wasn’t the case. I went into my Year 13 practicing for two admissions test (UKCAT and BMAT), preparing for interviews, and studying three subjects. I did all my work and I had time to enjoy myself, so I didn’t understand how I could burnout. My mock results shown that I had, however. Meeting deadlines doesn’t mean that you’re learning effectively! I should’ve left time to process information, not just to ‘de-stress’.

It’s Okay to Not be the ‘Best’

Getting into University is competitive, but it’s okay to not be the best. There will always be someone who gets higher grades than you (and someone who will get higher grades than them) and that’s okay! Just be kind to yourself, because doing your best is what’s important. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. All my teachers expected my best, not my predicted grades.

Results Day is Not the End

I was expecting to not get my predicted grades on Results Day for numerous reasons. I didn’t, but was actually okay with it on the day. You’ll realise there’s a lot of opportunities: re-marks, Clearing, and sitting exams again. Some opportunities may mean you start your next career path later, but that’s okay! We have a lifetime to ‘sort out’ our lives, it’s okay to have a hurdle in the way. It is discouraging, but it’s important to persevere.

Closing Words

Sixth form was a formative experience for me and many others. The ‘take home’ message from this is to look after yourself. It’s already a stressful time, and taking small steps like this would have certainly helped me. Hopefully being aware of lessons I learnt the hard way will help you!

-Tony

What Am I Looking Forward Next Year?

I submitted my final assignment two days ago, so my Foundation Year is officially over! However, I can’t stop thinking about the next academic year. I figured this blog would be a great outlet for the thoughts I have right now. This blog should give insight on anyone going into first year Medicine, or how you may feel going into summer after your first year of studying!

Seeing Old Friends and Making New Ones

It will be at least six months since I have seen my friends when I see them next. To say I’m looking forward to see them again is an understatement. However, with fifteen students joining our class (and more students at societies, events, etc.) there’s more friends to make, too!

Placement

This is subject to lockdown, of course. A few weeks into my course, my Wednesday mornings are expected to be occupied with placements. Placements are a great way to contextualise learning and get a taste for what lies ahead for us when we graduate. I can’t wait to start them!

More Work

The Foundation Year is a full-time course, but there is a greater volume of work in the First Year of Medicine. I’m looking forward to having more to learn, especially since I feel more prepared thanks to the Foundation Year!

University Life

I love living at home and seeing my family (and dogs!), but I do miss University; I miss being able to go for a quiz on a Monday evening, or seeing my friends whenever I wanted. I’m certainly going to appreciate it more come next year.

The Facilities

At home, 98% of the coffee I drink is black. I love it, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t want a caramel latte from the Hub’s Starbucks in my hand while catching up with old friends. I also miss sandwiches from Subway, too. With that said, I’m sure my bank account is appreciating the break…

Closing Words

I’m aware next year is going to bring a lot of challenges. However, I’m looking forward to them, and all of the great aspects it’ll come with! Sadly there is no telling when we’ll be back at University, but I’m looking forward to it starting again; whenever that may be.

-Tony

My First Year in Recap: Academics

As someone who didn’t originally consider a Foundation Year in Medicine, I didn’t know what to expect at first. However when I read more into what I’d learn, I became more and more interested. But what was it like to experience it? I’ll be discussing just that in this blog.

Lessons

In a class of seventeen, we all have opportunities to contribute. Our five weekly lessons cover: science, the Multi-disciplinary team, personal and professional development, public health, and communication. Every two weeks we learn study skills on a Wednesday afternoon. We learnt 9am-12pm and 1pm-4pm from Tuesday to Thursday, giving us four days ‘free’.

Opportunities

We had the opportunity to teach CPR to members of the public, and two of our classmates went to a conference in London to meet medical students from across the country! The staff are always looking for opportunities and are always asking us what we would like to do.

Assignments

There was a nice mix. We wrote a vignette essay to discuss how Multi-disciplinary teams help patients, presented for the communication theme, wrote a public health report, and completed a reflective portfolio. The independent learning involved with these assessments allowed us to develop understandings which will be of great benefit in our career. I also have two upcoming exams: an online science exam and three case based scenarios.

Placement

Unlike most Foundation Years, we have two weeks of non-clinical placement: one in a CCG and one in primary care. Our second week should have been this week, but my first week in primary care in December was fantastic! Placements are in the North West and I observed the reception, ultrasound appointments, ANP and GP consultations, and the prescribing office all within five days. The staff were lovely and welcoming and I can’t wait for my next placement!

Closing Words

Being assessed in different ways, having plenty of opportunities, and being on placement have made this year a great learning experience, while also being less stressful than the first year of the five-year programme. I feel more prepared to deal with the challenges ahead thanks to the Foundation Year!

My First Year of University in Recap: Non-Academics

So, in three weeks time my first year at University will be done. This year has given me a lot of opportunities and I can only wonder what my final three months could have been like. After all, the first six months were fantastic! In this blog, I’ll talk all about the non-academic side of my first year.

Forming Friendships

The first few friends I made were coursemates and some flatmates. They will likely be your first friends too. I made some great friends attending a few societies on the free evenings I had, but I made a lot of friends in employment.

Working

Our University offers paid opportunities for students to represent the University at events. I always enjoyed helping out on Open Days at school/college, so the money was an added bonus. I knew some people from societies who worked as a student representative, so I went to the training day with them. They introduced me to their friends who also worked as representatives, and from there, friendships formed! Everyone is friendly, and it’s a fantastic way to meet people from different years and courses. The staff in charge are lovely as well, and I enjoyed working alongside them.
Being a student representative is a rewarding job in which I’ve made some great friends I would have never otherwise met.

Trying New Things

I wanted to go to shows, but they’re expensive and I never saw the point in karaoke as I can’t sing. However at University, there’s no excuse to miss out on these things! There are free shows all throughout the week. With weekly karaoke being a minute’s walk away, sometimes you just need to ask yourself, “why not?” Even in my flat, I learnt new skills, such as cooking (most of the time I was too ambitious, but the result was edible, no matter how it looked…)

Closing Words

In my first year, I have made some great friends, learnt life skills, and took part in things I would never have done if I studied at home! My advice for anyone going into First Year is, when faced with an opportunity, to ask yourself “why not?”, not “why?” You never know who you might meet or what you might learn!

-Tony