Life in YLLSoM as an M1

Maybe I’m googling wrongly, but there seems to be a dearth of information with regard to what life in NUS Med is like, which is why I’m attempting to write such a post – key word being attempting. In this post, I’ll try to give you a rough overview of what life as a first-year medical student is like, though everything expressed here is my own opinion, so don’t hold me liable to any damage to your sanity (did we even have any left after A levels???) if you enter med and realise it’s not like what I described.

A day in the life of an M1

(we’re M1’s, 2nd years are M2’s and so on)

  • The first lecture starts at 8.30AM; we normally have 2 to 4 hours of lectures every morning, with a 30 mins break in between to grab food
  • Lunch break!! How long you have depends on your afternoon schedule – or you might be able to go home on a good day
  • There may or may not be tutorials later on in the day, but they generally end by 4/5pm latest
  • In M1, we have 4 subjects: Anatomy, Physiology, Histology & Biochemistry
    • Anatomy: Lots of Latin and names of muscles you never even knew you had
    • Physiology: By far the most logical & interesting subject, cos it explains how the body works
    • Histology: 50 Shades of Pink; it’s been almost a year and I still can’t differentiate between the blobs
    • Biochemistry: Like H2 Bio all over again (memorising names and pathways) and thankfully not very significant in the syllabus
  • Anatomy hall is once a week, we get to examine the parts we’re studying on actual cadvers, thanks to our silent mentors (the people who donated their bodies to science)
    • Beware the fumes, and if you have a weak stomach…you’ll just have to get used to it.
    • It’s 100% free and easy, you can enter any time during your assigned 2-hour slot, and leave once you’re done with the session objectives
    • There are always many profs on standby to take your questions, so ask them anything/everything, cos they’re a treasure trove of info and can even give hints before exams 😛
  • Tutorials are compulsory, they take attendance
    • They’re for you to clarify stuff with your tutor if you’re the type who studies beforehand, or treat it as a 2nd lecture if you still haven’t caught up with the content
    • Is there anything more to be said about tutorials???
  • House system
    • You’ll be sorted into 1 of 10 houses at the start of M1. I’m in Honoris/House 8, so if any of you end up in our house, be sure to say hi to me!! 🙂
    • Each house has 30 people from your batch, and those are the people you’ll be stuck with for most of M1/M2, which could be good or bad, depending on how well you click with them. It’s pretty much like a JC class.
    • For our batch, they split each house into 4 CGs (7-8 people in each clinical group), and you’ll attend tutorials and visit hospital wards with them. If you don’t like your CG, don’t worry, you’re only gonna be with them for 2 years; from M3 onwards, you get to choose your own CG, so you can form it with your good friends instead! 😀

What I like

Image result for sleep social life

  • It’s very much an own-time-own-target way of life, you’re completely in charge of balancing your own studying, sleep and social life. For me, I picked sleep and more sleep. 🙂
    • Jokes aside, you really do have a lot of time outside classes/lectures to meet your friends and sleep, if you choose not to take part in school events (like Rag, Playhouse, Medicamp organising team) cos those are seriously time-consuming. If you’re the v enthu and outgoing type with endless energy, then those events and hall life in general will suit you well.
  • You can choose whether to attend lectures (erm technically they’re compulsory), or if you’d rather watch them in your own time.
    • You can sleep in if you rly can’t wake up, though
    • All lectures are broadcast live and also uploaded, so you can watch them live from home or after it’s over
  • No dress code!! (on most days at least)
    • You can wear whatever you like – some dress v nicely, while others give up and wear the quintessential Singaporean combi of tshirt+shorts+flip flops. And you can dye your hair whatever shade makes you happy – there’s a lot more freedom in uni, and this is the only time in your life when you’ll be free to do whatever you want.
    • I’m not joking, us med students only have M1 and M2 to dress freely; once we reach the clinical years, we’ll have to dress formally everyday 😦

…and the not-so-great parts

  • It’s near-constant studying, even if it’s only an hour a day. You should ideally study a little bit everyday during the school week, just to keep up with each day’s work, cos they finish topics very fast and you’ll be quite lost during tutorials if you go in with zero prep.
  • Time passes by so fast; the first semester is just a blur of new content…and 2 exams later, you’ve lost 4 months of your life.

How I’m surviving

  • Use the seniors’ resources fully; I haven’t touched a single textbook this year and am surviving off the famous Nigel Fong’s notes that can be found at nigelfong.net. This really depends on your studying style; almost everyone else prefers to use textbooks, especially for anatomy, but I’m easily distracted and have the attention span of a goldfish so…..nope :/
  • You can get away with studying around 1-2 hours a day (not including school hours), and consistent work really pays off. I’ve passed all my exams so far, which was my aim. Of course some ppl aim for DT (distinction), which requires 85%++. It really depends on your personal target; if you just wanna pass, you don’t have to study hard, but if you wanna get DT, pls start mugging before you even enter M1.

  • Google and Wikipedia are legit your best friends, especially for students like me who don’t have the attention span to read textbooks. They really do give correct answers 99% of the time!!

  • Stick to whatever sleeping habits you’re used to; I sleep at least 8 hours a day cos I’m a sloth cos I’ve been used to this amount of sleep my whole life. And apparently we won’t be getting much sleep from M3 onwards (we have to follow House Officers to do overnight calls in hospitals), so I’m sleeping more while I still can.
  • I don’t stay in hall cos I don’t live in some ulu part of SG, so I admittedly have a lot more free time on my hands. I’m not in any CCAs or event organising teams (which are rabak/tiring/hardcore max), and I only choose to commit to causes that I genuinely believe in devoting time to. So basically, my only commitments at the moment include volunteering at some organisations on an ad hoc basis, writing, as well as dance lessons outside of school.

M1 will be the least stressful (it’s a grade-free year) and most fun year of your medical student days, so use the year wisely. Make friends, pursue the things that make you happy, play hard and work hard!

I can’t think of anything more to write, but if you’re curious and wanna know more, feel free to drop me a question in the comments below. 🙂

xoxo, Faith

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