Nothing quite prepares you for the long slog of Medical School. No amount of keenness at school and tip top exam results will get you through. I used to joke that getting in was the hard bit, I was wrong. The hardest thing about Medical School is conjuring up the stamina needed to sit through baffling lectures, follow consultants around for 10 hours on a ward, and still have energy to retain huge volumes of symptoms, signs and curious conditions that you will probably never see.
So how do you do it? Sounds counter intuitive but you really need to get involved with as much other stuff as humanly possible. Being a lone ranger at med school just doesn’t work. You need to make up the most fabulous support network of people who, like you, know just how it feels to nod off during a dull MDT.
Societies are great for things like that, not least because they mix you with students from other years who have great advice on all aspects of medical school and also provide a familiar face on the wards. I joined medics hockey and although I never actually played a single game, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I met amazing friends through the club in a variety of years who I know I’ll keep in touch with. Sport not your thing? Don’t worry, the Uni has a stressfully large amount of societies, so I’m sure there is at least one for everyone.
Another thing I highly recommend is ‘MedTour’ – a mystery weekend away and Medics Ski Trip. Med Tour is an opportunity to mingle with like minded medics (and the occasional physio/dentist) in a European destination filled with Christmassy sparkle. I visited Hamburg in my first year, Luxemburg in my second and I co-organised the trip in my third year when we went to Cologne. If you like Christmas markets, culture, yummy food, fancy dress and painfully long bus journeys then this is the trip for you. Ski Trip is very similar but swap the Christmas markets and culture for snowy mountains.
If by some crazy miracle none of the societies appeal to you then Cardiff itself has an amazing amount of activities and fun things to do. Maindy gym has a spin instructor lady who will scare the living daylights out of you and make your thighs tremble. Well worth it to be able to go out and enjoy the culinary delights of Cardiff guilt free! There are far too many delicious eateries in Cardiff to mention here but some of my favourites are ‘Fish at 85’ (expensive so maybe go when your parents are paying), ‘Troy’ (meat feast), and ‘Waterloo Gardens Tea House’ (tea, cake, brunch, yum!). Finally, even if you haven’t got a penny to spare, get out in the fresh air (and occasionally sun) and walk around one of the many beautiful parks and green spaces Cardiff has to offer.
Most importantly enjoy yourself! No point being a miserable stressed medical student. Having a balance of hard work and carefree happiness is vital. After all mums always say ‘all work no play makes Jack a dull boy’!