Term 1 • Year 2 Bristol Med School | Reflection


So, I don’t do these much – a solid year has passed since the last one. Well, here I am, giving you my less-than-wise perspective on how I found the last few months. So, it’s rumoured Term 1 of Year 2 is objectively the most leisurely time of your entire medical school experience in Bristol, to which is a statement I do not object – but it’s not saying much compared to everything else.

Let’s skip over explaining all that standard lecture curriculum stuff you can read on the website; what’s differed from Year 1 is that after finishing a lecture-based teaching block studying a particular system in the body (i.e. respiratory, gastrointestinal, renal) lasting between two to three weeks, we all get placed into a hospital in or around Bristol. Our stethoscopes slung proudly around our necks (£90 worth of the hypocritical attitude “Just don’t ask us to properly use it”), it’s the ultimate committal point-of-no-return investment.

I’d really like to point out how it positively warms my heart to watch my medic colleagues take a history and do clinical examinations on actual patients – everybody slowly emerges with their little personality quirks. Like that intimidatingly buff dude who got in Clicendales last year who is actually adorably soft-spoken and displays great open body language. Or that girl always rocking denim overalls you’ve never really properly talked to who unconsciously leans very far forward, engaging far more with the patient. Or the legend card guy on nights out, who consistently makes sure to repeat back the information to put the patient at ease she/he is being actively understood. I’ll even say it’s humbling to being a part of the beginnings of my peers’ medical career – sappy? Yep.

Aside from that, you’d think medical students would find the clinical environment extremely exciting; and don’t get me wrong, we did desperately yearn for those hospital placements after living in E29 (groggily waiting as the clock ticks a few minutes after the scheduled hour before somebody shouts “LECTURE CANCELLED, CHECK YO EMAILS!” which unfortunately happened far too often). However, there was a surprising collective thought a few of my fellow colleagues had about the 3-day formalities:

“I’ve realised people are just…so tiring. Is that bad?”

We’re still figuring it out. Even myself, I found the weekend leading up to ICS Placement was a bit of a dreaded countdown – it’s the culmination of having not finished going through the Respiratory Element and then we’re expected to know Gastrointestinal pathologies for the following Monday; exhaustion from everything else in our lives not medically-related; fear of the much-too-real insight into the lives we will lead in the many years ahead…

I guess it’s some mild form of empathetic burnout – honestly, actually sitting down with patients is always incredibly humbling and we would never be insincere about it. And yet, at the end of the day, you flop onto your bed in bare-below-the-elbows attire with the lanyard uneven around your neck, utterly exhausted. And I swear, if I met somebody new during that period, I would’ve immediately blurted out the preprogrammed “Hi-my-name-is-Holly-I’m-a-second-year-medical-student-etc-etc-etc”

Anatomy was chill as always. Top tip: no matter how weird your question, ask. Really. As long as you use anatomical terms, you can practically ask anything whilst sounding vaguely intellectual – the demonstrators will possibly be the more openminded people you’ll meet, given the niche nature of their job. And even though your friends (you know who you are) are cackling at your sincere curiosity of the science behind certain, ahem, activities, you’ll certainly thank yourself for not needing to do an uncomfortable Google deep-dive without UV protection from the bare exposure to everything but the science.

And now, January exams have ended (before I hightailed into London – what is it with me escaping to that city after tests?) and Term 2 has begun with the highly anticipated neuro (negatively rumour-drenched from older years). A brief review of Week 1 so far? Let’s just say, I’m seriously enticed to do work rather than celebrate my birthday next week.

’til next time.


Term 1 • Year 1 Bristol Med School | Reflection

  • The mock anatomy spot test was better than expected, but that isn’t to say it was easy. Plus, I had fun. Too many flashbacks of the senior maths challenge when having to draw a straight line through the bracketed letters, and of those SAT summer classes I took centuries ago when I had no geographical preference about university (until I realized the US vs UK difference; now I’m in Bristol).
  • I can finally put an anatomical term to those creepy figurines with abnormal body part sizes seen in every science museum ever: homunculus. Phew. What a word. I definitely glossed over that word on placards.
Homunculus. Just if you needed a reference. Kinda regretting putting it on because I didn’t realise it would be so large… (Image courtesy: Front_of_Sensory_Homunculus.gif)
  • Also, when I look at people attempting duck-face for a selfie, all I can think is, “LOL nice work obicularis oris gr8 job”
  • Rocotillo’s milkshakes are incredibly divine (but frown upon student funds), and I hate how it is less than 250m away from me. So, so tasty. Mmmmmmm.
  • Will’s Memorial Library + “The Imitation Game” soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat + “The Theory of Everything” soundtrack by Jóhann Jóhannsson + late-night anatomy revision = a productivity arising from new-found motivation, because you realize there are bigger things in life you can accomplish by succeeding the upcoming obstacle.
  • It’s hard to find people to eat out with, because money will be a pertinent issue with students. But then again, I guess I can afford it because I’m a bit of a loner who spends money on food & experiences >>>>>>> alcohol & clubbing.
  • The Great British Bake-Off had some outrageous drama and apparently that’s major with all the British kids. And I’m still enthralled by X Factor because I’ve never kept up with any TV show in my life and this is all new to me, so it’s a guilty pleasure because I never grew up with Simon Cowell on TV.
  • Bristol is a very hipster town (apparently). I don’t really see it, or maybe because I feel Bristol is exactly as how I’d like it to be. “Raise the Bar” do fantastic slam poetry events, original Banksy artwork is all over town, I’ve seen enough shops that have plentiful vegan options, and the vinyl shops stock John William records including “Revenge of the Sith” which I was tempted to buy but realized I didn’t have a vinyl record player.
  • Speaking of “Revenge of the Sith”, I will definitely be making a post about “Rogue One”, because I don’t care about those people who passed out negative reviews due to lack of lightsaber battles to satisfy their sad little George Lucas inner 1970 child.
  • Dough balls from Pizza Express is…a thing. We don’t get those in Thailand. We get something similar, but everything is just so English here I cannot help but make a clear distinction of “Thailand VS England” when there really isn’t. I saw this Facebook event about free snowball dough balls day – what even!? It was quite exciting because I’ve never done anything that infringes upon my education – the shop opened at 11:30am, the biochemistry practical started at 11:30am, the chef comes out with an impending frown and says to come back at 12:00pm, so my friend and I Naruto-run to the Biomedical Sciences Laboratory Building up the hill just in time to put on a lab coat with the rest of the med crew but I am madly perspiring all over the equipment like a sinner in church.


  • P.S. ^ The above is my version of going out to SWX on Friday night.