Sunday, 25 November 2012

It's the final countdown...

Not really, but I only have a week of class left.

Last physics quiz and lab on Monday, then my bio laboratory exam on Friday, but nothing else will be marked this semester.

My calc class was technically supposed to do up to Chapter 7, but as of Thursday had only reached chapter 5, so it should be interesting to see if she crams one chapter into each of the remaining days. I'm not particularly worried about that class, though. It's all stuff I've done before.

As the semester wraps up, I realize that none of my original study buddies are still there. They've all had to withdraw. I wonder how many students actually finish the first semester vs. how many started.

I have a feeling a few of my classes - four of which are continuations of classes from this semester - will be a lot smaller next semester. The prevets have figured out that though two semesters of physics are recommended, they only need one semester, and given how large a portion of my classes is made of prevets, I'm pretty confident it will be a lot smaller.

Exams start a week from Wednesday, chemistry and then biology on the Friday. The three remaining exams are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the following week.

Final marks will be in by December 18th. Going to be a loooong wait.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Deep Breath

My first final - chemistry - is in two and a half weeks. December 5th.

Then biology on the 7th, calc on the 10th, physics on the 11th and Spanish on the 12th. I'll be done my first semester in just over three weeks.

Hard to believe I've made it this far. It simultaneously feels like the semester has passed in the blink of an eye and that it has been the longest journey of my life.

If I decide to apply to U of A next year - still on the fence - then I'll be applying in ten months. Even if I don't, I'm only three semesters away from Ontario school applications. Based on how fast this semester went, that is no time at all.

Next semester, I'm going to start my volunteering. Just one thing every week, and other one-off opportunities as they come up. Just stuff to flesh out my application. I know what I can handle now and a weekly commitment is definitely feasible.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Thank you math hating people!

I really wanted to get into statistics for next semester but it was full. So I got on the waitlist.

As of yesterday, I'm in stats! Very excited.

It required dropping the online-only religions course I signed up for, but after talking to other students it sounds like that class has a LOT of writing, and I don't want any writing-intensive courses in my first year.

I am hoping to take two classes in the two summer terms, organic chemistry I and II. If my husband is home as planned, I should be able to manage it.

The insane part is that I am planning to write the MCAT in August. It will be my first attempt, and I'm open to the possibility of having to write more than once but since I want time to make sure I can write it in 2013/2014, before they make huge changes to it, I figure it is best to get it out of the way ASAP.

If I can get in to English 102 and 192 (composition and lit, respectively) for next year, then I will have all prereqs for all schools - except Manitoba because they require full year Biochem which my school doesn't offer - done. I want to take orgo in the summer specifically because most schools exclude summer classes from your GPA calculation, and it is the class I am most nervous about.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Why Science?

To many students, science classes are ones they just have to slog through on their way to the graduation stage. People seem to go one of two ways, they either love science and want to know more about everything, ir they abhor learning science.

So, why do I love science so much?

Simply put; my five year old son knows more about the universe than the most intelligent human being on the planet did a thousand years ago.

In a thousand years, a fraction of the shadow of a hand on the cosmic clock, we as a species - us, these infinitesimally small sacks of meat on a relatively tiny rock hurtling around a rather average star - have taken what were not so long ago seemingly impossible mysteries and come to understand them so clearly that a child understands them.

It's amazing, isn't it?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Rate of Absorption

I have my second chemistry midterm on Wednesday. I'd nearly forgotten about it and possibly would have until recently if it weren't for the fact that I have two weeks before each midterm marked in my agenda. So, two weeks ago, I saw my note and went "Oh crap."

As I missed two classes - one due to my son's surgery, one because he did a demo in class that uses balloons and I am allergic enough to latex to not want to be in a room with a ton of balloons - I was feeling totally unprepared. I sat down and did one of the practice tests and panicked. I NEVER panic with tests, so that was a bad sign.

So I've spent the past two weeks preparing. But with my husband home, he was very distracting during my study hours. Then after he left, the kids got a stomach bug and I spent much of the past week cleaning vomit and worse out of sheets, hair, clothing, etc. Completely exhausted and feeling overwhelmed, I asked my mother to help. So yesterday she took my pooping, vomiting kids for the day and I got to study undisturbed.

Did another practice test, and I sailed right through it with just a few minor mistakes that I noted on my summary sheet to go over again.

As a general rule, I despise cramming but I'm damn good at it when I need to be.

Fortunately, the calc test I have on Thursday won't be difficult. It's only on two sections of one chapter - chain rule and product rule - which I can do in my sleep.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Because I can..

I'm going to take a minute to talk about my son.

He is awesome. Extremely difficult kid a lot of the time, but he is so smart that sometimes it catches me off guard. Today we went tote bookstore. He asked what I wanted to get and I told him it was a book about physics, so he asked what physics was. I explained, briefly.

He asked me if gravity was physics, so I told him yes, we use physics to understand gravity.

"Gravity means we get pulled to the middle, right?" We'd had this discussion before, so I said yes.

Over our discussion following that, he came to the following conclusions:
We get pulled if nothing is under us to push us up.
- The sun has more gravity than the earth which is why we go around it.
- If you put a bird in space, it couldn't fly because it had no air to push against. 

It's fascinating, to me, that he can understand these concepts. Yet, he struggles to play with other children. He is such an interesting mixture of amazing and frustrating. I adore him so much. 

Thank you, subconscious

The past couple nights I've had very little sleep. The time change screwed up my children's internal clocks so they have been up very early, like 4am early. My husband was getting up with them and letting me sleep,but he left on Wednesday.

Friday I had a quiz. On one question, for the life of me I couldn't remember the answer, it was on the purpose of chloroplasts in guard cells. I had read it, I could see where on the page the answer was, but I couldn't 'read' it in my mind like I normally can. This question was worth 20% of the quiz.

So, I used what I know of how things work, made a logical conclusion, and put down an answer that sounded good.

After the lab, I checked my book. I was right.

I love how even though I couldn't remember the exact answer, it was possible to logic it out based on the functions of the structures in question. That's the beauty of science. It makes sense, pieces fit together, and you can figure things out by logic.

That's also why comprehension, not memorization is always the more effective study goal in the sciences.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


I am slightly obsessed with spreadsheets. So much so that I have Numbers on my phone and keep things updated as I go about my day, and that syncs with my iPad and computer.

This evening, I updated my grades spreadsheet which I had been slow about doing.

Although I just lost my 100% in calc due to two lost points on a recent quiz (which I am kicking myself over) my average is up overall since I last reported it. I have, as of right now, 97.13%

My lowest mark is in chem, surprisingly, at 95.16%. I had a rather disappointing showing on the last midterm (89.17%, 53.5/60.) I lost four points on a very simple question that I completely blanked on. I answered what I could and got two points out of six. I was pissed at myself over that. I lost another point for a stupid arithmetic error, one point for not explaining the intricacies of Rutherford's gold foil experiment in enough detail, and the remaining half point was where I wasn't careful enough and wrote down the wrong thing. Largely, stupid stuff.

I am always very frustrated with myself over stupid mistakes. On that chem midterm, if I had been more cautious, I'd have had a respectable 56/60 (93.33%) instead of the disgustingly low mark I got. The midterm was significantly longer than the sample ones had been, so I rushed myself too much and didn't double check some of the lower value questions, and that is where I lost my marks.

In the ruthless pursuit of excellence, constant self-review is a must. The second chem midterm is next Wednesday. I am going through and doing every single question assigned (roughly 80) for the relevant sections to ensure I know it front and back. Much of it is stuff that I have not done in a class setting before, so I need to drill constantly to ensure my understanding is absolute.

My first final is in 27 days, so I'm slowly stepping up my review for that too.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


As I've mentioned before, I'm being very strategic about my course selections. Everything is made to optimize my GPA and increase my chances of getting into med school.

So far, so good. I have spectacular grades, I'm flying through. I enjoy going every day and feel very out of sorts if I don't get my studying time in the evenings. My husband was just home for a while - from October 27th until today - and I actually felt a little miffed that he was cutting into my study time. I was glad he was home, mind you, but I really, really enjoy working on school stuff.

Due to my son's surgery last week, I missed two days of class and everything felt wrong. I think I may go to pieces next month, after my exams are done, when I have nothing to do for three weeks.

But, as much as I am enjoying all of this, I'm kind of sad. As much as I enjoy biology, physics is and always has been my first love in science. It challenges me,  and forces me to think differently. It helps me express the world outwardly the way I've always seen it mentally: as a complex, interwoven fabric of mathematical relationships.

I want to take more physics courses, but felt I'd limited myself by my strategic choice of the life sciences version. However, after speaking to my prof, he told me I could get into several of the upper year courses with the permission of the instructor. He said I'm a strong enough student that it shouldn't be a problem.

I am so, so tempted to take a few of the classes. Waves and oscillations, astronomy, biophysics, and modern physics are the ones that most immediately come to mind.

Thing is, physics classes have a tendency to be GPA killers. Everyone says so. I'm not so sure it would be for me, because I am extremely interested in this stuff. But, that doesn't guarantee success.

So, my two favourite things are coming head to head. Physics vs my chances of getting into medicine. A difficult decision. Lots of other premeds recommended I not take those classes, but whatever happend to the desire to learn for learning's sake?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

"It's good being alive isn't it?"

My rather optimistic five year old said the above this evening.

He's healing very well. Incision site is a bit purple and bruised, but there's no redness or swelling. The stitches are dissolvable so he doesn't need to be seen again until the 4 week follow up. He'll be back to school tomorrow.

Well, provided he isn't throwing up like he was this morning.

While at the hospital, the nurses were talking to me, taking history, etc. My husband generally defers to me in these things, because I've ended up with a better idea of his own medical history than he has.

I suppose it may be in the way I explain things, but any time I'm giving my (or my son's) history, and I do mean every time without fail, I am asked "Are you a nurse?" If I'm wearing my school sweatshirt or have my backpack with me, they ask if I'm a nursing student (that is obviously a recent development.)

Usually, I explain that I'm not and that I just have a lot of nurses in my family so I've learned the lingo, so to speak. Honestly, though, I've just spent so much time as a patient, and discussing medical stuff with family members, that I default to speaking in medical terms and I have to actually have to think about it if I want to explain things differently. I don't do it to sound smart or sound educated, it's just how I catalogue information in my mind. Seems wasteful to store two ways of saying something.

There is a problem with this, though. In my experience, some doctors do not take well to patients who use medical terminology. The 'are you a nurse?' is generally an insult coming from them, I think, at least by their tone. So, I make it a point to dumb myself down when I am meeting with a new doctor and explaining my complaint, at least until I get to know them.

And it's funny, when I think about it. I've only been asked a handful of times if I'm a doctor. They always ask if I'm a nurse, and once I was asked if I was a med student. Curious about that.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

I'm Procrastinating

I have a paper due at 1:30 tomorrow. I'm almost done, but I just really don't want to write the last little bit right now so I'm procrastinating.

My son had his surgery this morning. It was fairly minor, done in 45 minutes or so. We spent the last few days leading up to it talking about what he could expect. As I've had a few surgeries in my time, I knew how to describe things to him; how he'd feel afterwards, what it'd be like to fall asleep,the IV, etc.

When the nurse came to take him to the OR, he smiled, took his hand, and waved to me on his way down the hall. He was downright enthusiastic. The nurses were very pleased with how well he took everything. He's not really afraid of much, and we talked a lot beforehand so it seemed to have helped a lot. He found the IV absolutely fascinating. Not a tear was shed, no fear, nothing. He was a perfect patient.

When he came back from recovery (parents aren't allowed in the recovery ward) he was still sluggish but was telling me that he wants to be a nurse. He seems to barely notice that he had surgery, hah. Except he keeps wanting to show everyone his incision site (it's bandaged, so you can't actually see it.). Problem is that it was an inguinal hernia repair. If you don't know what that is, google it and you will understand why him showing people the site probably isn't the best idea. Especially in public.

With his permission, I'll post a photo of him heading in.