Merry Christmas everyone, and welcome to exams. May the odds be ever in your favour.
Exam season has descended on Copenhagen University, and we’re feeling it too in my study group; as the library have currently become our second home and we each other more than we see our families.
As I’ve mentioned before, at Copenhagen University, we study in blocks. This means that normally we will have 8 weeks of studying, 1 week with exams and 1 week off. With some topics though it’s different – as it is this time around. At the moment, we’re preparing for exams in immunology, pathology and microbiology.
Each subject has lasted 2 blocks, meaning 16 weeks, and now we have 2 weeks of exams. It doesn’t sound too bad, however each of the topics has huge curriculums.
As many will know, immunology is the study of the immune system, pathology the study of diseases and microbiology is, well, the study of microscopic organisms. Every exam is written with closed books and a couple of hours each. Doesn’t seem too bad when you write it like that, but somehow, we’re still running around in minor panic, trying to cram everything into our heads.
Which is also why we, along with most of our year group, have started preparing for exams now. On a normal day, my study group - which besides myself consists of the two girls seen above – meets in the library at 8, armed with more than 2500 pages of books, candy and lots of tea. The first 30 minutes is often spend catching up on whatever happened in the few hours when we didn’t see each other, where after we will work separately on whatever we feel we need. Intermittently interrupting each other with questions, or random stories.
Later we will talk over all the things we have been reading, and thereafter make different games to remember it. Sometimes it’s hangman, other times its quizzes or flashcards. On a normal day, we will then leave the library at 6. The leaving time being later and later, as we get closer to exams.
Personally, I love drawing, that’s how I learn and remember things – especially in a subject as “messy” as immunology. Which is why I often turn to the whiteboards we’re so lucky to have. Currently I’m trying to make sense of all the sequences of the immune system, and how they follow each other, and which ones comes first and last. That has taken up a significant amount of my time, as many veterinary students will be able to confirm, it isn’t always completely straightforward. This is however how the board turned out yesterday, and I must say I was pleased.
However, preparing for exams isn’t all about constantly reading and studying. It’s so important to relax a bit every now and then, and just have a laugh, otherwise I honestly believe I would lose my mind – I’m probably not the first student to feel that way. This is another reason my study group, is worth their weight in gold. An older student told us when we started: You don’t become a vet alone. This may not be true for all, but it’s definitely true for me.
Besides a great study group, doing something else than studying is important. I spend a significant amount of my time walking dogs, which is a lovely part time job, but also gives me that breather I need every now and then.
In the end exam studying is 4 weeks of really hard work, way too much caffeine and not enough sleep, but when you’re truly passionate about what you’re studying, its manageable. The best advice my parents ever gave me, and what I try to pass on to everyone else is: Ground yourself, take a deep breath and do your best.
And remember to take a break.