22 February 2012

Theory test passed.

So today, I braved 3 hours of public transportation to take my UK driving theory test in Watford. It was definitely as easy as the first time I took a written driving test, although this time there was a video portion.

They called it "Hazard Perception", and it's actually a pretty good idea. You're given a bunch of videos and you have to click the screen when you see a hazard developing and when it gets in your way and have to stop or slow down. It's not the easiest thing ever, but I passed it.

Now on to the practical driving test! Hopefully I'll be able to pass that sooner than later and buy a car before my first placement at the end of March.

18 February 2012

11 weeks.

Soooo....exams are coming up in a couple of months (just under 11 weeks, to be exact), and I'm already starting to get a bit worried. I mean, I'm pretty much on top of lectures and things. We've been doing our Respiratory strand for the past 2 weeks, and we have 2(?) more weeks before we start Renal. And then we have Easter break for 5 weeks.


For some reason, I'm sincerely terrified. Last year, my body did not have the best reaction to stress, and it manifested in some not cool ways (panic attacks, really). I don't want that to happen again, which is why I've tried to stay on top of things with lectures and clinical scenarios and such.

This year, instead of 5 separate exams, we have 2: an MCQ paper and an EMQ paper. I'm still not really quite sure what an EMQ is, but it's basically like multiple choice answers with a bunch of different (short) clinical scenario questions. The real reason I'm worried is because a large portion of last year's class failed the first time around, and some people from that group failed the second time around also. Long story short: I don't want to be put in a situation where I have to defend why I deserve to have a second shot at 3rd year...hence why I'm starting to worry about exams 11 weeks from them.

So. I think I will set up a revision schedule (Hermione anyone?) so that I feel more comfortable/less stressed about the upcoming exam in May.

Will it work? Probably not. But it makes me feel better at the moment.

On a personal note...my family had to say good-bye to one of our beloved cats, Cosmo, this week. I'm still having a pretty hard time coming to terms with the fact that I couldn't be there to say good-bye. I will really miss him.

12 February 2012

Driving on the wrong side of the road.

Today was my first foray into driving in the UK. I drive a manual at home, so I figured I'd try and get a manual license (because if you don't, you're restricted to buying a car that's an automatic). Anyway, my instructor picked me up at 9am (ungodly hour that I am for some reason repeating next Sunday) and brought me to a nice quiet street not far from my house. He gave me the run-down of what his strategy with me would be teaching-wise, and then handed me the keys to the car.

My first thought was "f*ck I just forgot everything." (A similar thought ran through my mind the first day of exams last year).

It ended up being ok, though. The pedals are all in the same place that I'm used to, which made my life just that much brighter. The main difference is the way I am supposed to drive in order to pass this test. Granted, I completely understand why they are so super aware about driving here. One, the roads are a heck of a lot smaller than in the US. Two, the roads are SUPER narrow and windy. Three, did I mention the roads? I mean, god. They're small.

Anyway, today, my instructor told me that I was a very good driver, but I was too fast coming to junctions and I didn't check my mirrors enough. For the test, I need to be checking my rear-view mirror every 5-8 seconds (to which my reaction was WHAT). For my speediness, I will blame the Mini Cooper that I drive at home, because darn it, it's just more fun to be zippy in that thing than cautious! But really, the checklists I need to remember to drive here are just bonkers.

Example: moving off from being parked on the side of the road. First, place the car in 1st gear (note: it's still got the handbrake on). Second, find the bite point (basically where the clutch picks up the gas and you no longer need to have your foot on the clutch). Third, 6 point visual check (left blind spot, left side mirror, ahead of you, rear-view mirror, right side mirror, right blind spot). Fourth, release the handbrake, move off, and check ONE MORE TIME on your right side to make sure you're not about to run some poor person over.

Suffice it to say that I had a hard time trying to remember everything in the order I'm supposed to do them. And I've been driving for 10 years. I mean, I'm sure I do similar things at home just because I'm in the habit of doing them (and I've managed to remain accident-free for the majority of my driving career thus far). But goodness. It can be a bit overwhelming.

Bottom line: re-learning how to drive on the wrong side of the road is a bit of a drag.

04 February 2012

I heart cardiology.

We finished our cardiology module this week. It was seriously one of the most fun module thus far. And really, I think one of the reasons that it was amazing as it was, is because the lecturers were SO invested in us learning the material.

I will say, though, that all of the lecturers here are invested in us learning the material. But the cardio lecturers seemed to just have so much fun teaching us.

For example: for our ECG lecture, the lecturer literally acted out (in interpretive dance) the heart cycle. And then gave examples of what different arrhythmias would do to the heart cycle. Also, Adrian Boswood is hysterical and cracks jokes all the time during lectures, which makes paying attention very easy.

So yeah. I'm sad that the cardiac module is over.

And I just realized that I've only got 7 more weeks until I begin my clinical EMS. Yikes. And only 3 months until exams. Double yikes.

PS: here's the video for the Mad Professor, who our ECG lecturer got his ideas from.