Feeling jittery about the first day of a new semester at the Windsor University School of Medicine? Here’s what you can do to start the semester on the right foot!
While you are preparing for the next semester, it wouldn’t hurt to reflect on the last one. Have you met the milestones and academic, health and fitness, or interpersonal goals you had envisaged at the beginning of the last semester? Did things work out for you exactly the way you planned? If you have not checked off all the boxes, don’t tell yourself you will try harder next year. Setting unreasonable goals will not only set you up for failure, but also leave you demotivated and discontented. Instead, you need to assess what went wrong and forge different paths to get closer to your goals.
On the other hand, it is also important to figure out the things that did work for you, so you can continue doing them. Perhaps you tried a new system of study or joined a study group, which improved your grades. If sleeping for more than 8 hours a night helped you focus, pulling all-nighters won’t do your studies any favors along the road too. If working out, either pumping iron in the gym or playing sports in the beautiful outdoors on the island, increased your productivity, stick with the habit!
Your new semester doesn’t have to be all about having your nose in the books – unless you are looking for a burnout. Once you receive your new schedule at the start of the semester, start planning to make the best of the time between classes. It is vital to take care of your physical and mental health and even to “kick-back” and relax after an exhausting, long day. Whatever helps you unwind, make sure to prioritize those off-hours activities regularly to keep yourself emotionally and physiologically fit. For some students, relaxing may translate into binge-watching their favorite shows, reading a book, or playing a musical instrument, while some may prefer to work out or hit the gym to take their mind off their next paper or project. The important takeaway is that as a medical student, you must make sure you’re making time to mix in relaxation, along with your studies.
A little preparation will go a long way towards ensuring you are always two steps ahead. Before your first day of class, go through each class and organize details about lecture schedule, assignment due dates, and exams. You can use Google Calendar for scheduling and Google Tasks for reminders. This will help you set up automatic reminders for your exam or a project deadline. It’s also important to know which textbooks and other materials you need ahead of class. It is prudent to order or buy the most important books in advance so you don’t fall behind the rest of the class.
If you are apprehensive about a class, it is best to seek advice from someone who has recently took it. Talk to your seniors and ask them about the required resources, as well as the lecture style, podcasting options, exam questions, etc. Also find people you know in your class or make new friends for group studying in the future. While we are talking about meeting new people, try to get to know your faculty on a personal level to gain access to a knowledge base that extends far beyond the curriculum they teach. These are the people who will support you every step of the way, as you embark on a career in medicine. Learn from them by scheduling one-on-one time, asking questions, and developing a relationship.
When you are entering a new semester at your Caribbean medical school, it does seem tempting to take it light during the first few days – after all, exams seem like a lifetime away at this stage. But why wait until the night before an important test to start cramming everything in? After all, authentic learning is all about understanding the concepts and building upon each idea and theory you learn. Cramming, on the other hand, may get you by with a brief stint of temporary memorization only. Our advice is to start studying on day 1, even if it is for a few minutes only. This builds good habits and momentum. The earlier you start, the more time you will have throughout the semester for fun, exercise, and relaxation, and of course much less stress!