What does it really mean to study Medicine at Oxford?
You've probably heard that the Oxford Medicine degree means early-morning lectures; staring through a microscope in histology sessions; pointing out muscles on prosections; chalking up hours in beautiful libraries; and of course, your tutorials. But how do all of these elements fit together in a typical day for an Oxford medic?
Oxford Medicine: Hour-by-hour
Your days usually begin with a 9am lecture down in the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre (MSTC). That's just a fact of the Oxford Medic life. I'd love to say the early starts get easier with time, but I personally haven't quite worked out how to make that happen yet. Ah, the joys of not being a 'morning person'!
One thing I really like about lectures for Medicine at Oxford is that you get given a handout of the presentation slides so you can annotate them while the lecturer speaks. If you prefer, you can bring along your laptop or iPad and type it all up instead: there's about a 50/50 split between the two methods among my friends, so pick what works for you and run with it.
There's this one medic who is just the best- she likes to be doing something active while she's listening to a lecture as it makes her remember the content better. One time she brought along her wool and needles and knitted baby socks in a lecture! I'm still in awe.
In first year I wrote everything by hand in lectures because I was a bit scared that I wouldn't be able to type fast enough. But now, in second year, I'm using a mix of both methods and have got much more confident typing- you just have to go for it!
Pro Tip- If you're feeling bored in that lovely long Year 13 summer then start learning to touch type! It's a little skill that can help you so much at university and it's something I wish I'd practised before starting my Oxford Medicine degree.
While the MSTC isn't the most exciting place for an Oxford Medic when you don't have any scheduled reason to be there, it is very near the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
On days like this when we have an hour break between lectures, I often head down there with some friends to have a look around at the fossils and models of extinct animals. Or to grab a slice of red velvet cake from what we've affectionately named the 'dinosaur cafe'.
11am-1pm: More Teaching
In your first year doing Oxford Medicine, this little time period is often the most variable on your timetable.
Some days you'll have a couple of lectures. On Wednesdays, you'll probably be engrossed in the distinctive aroma of the dissecting room looking at prosected samples. And on Friday mornings, you tend to have a histology class that follows on from the morning's lecture.
On other mornings, you could be in the lab doing practical classes. You'll have these for the biochemistry, and physiology and pharmacology elements of the Oxford Medicine course (though these modules might be subject to change).
I think one of the very first biochemistry practicals we did in my first year of Oxford Medicine was looking at the osmotic potential of red blood cells, using samples and solutions of various osmolarity to find one that best matched that of our blood
Regardless of how this slot has been filled, you always have a scheduled gap in your timetable between 1-2pm for lunch.
Normally I head back to college for lunch in hall because it's fairly cheap and a nice social time to catch up with friends. If the college lunch menu isn't doing much for me that day then I might venture out to one of my favourite Oxford lunch spots:
- Cafe Creme on Broad St has a delicious selection of fresh baguettes and wraps each day, and some extremely tempting muffins and other sweet treats too
- There are so many independent food stalls in the Covered Market, such as Taylors and the Alpha Bar
- LEON on Cornmarket St is a great spot for something healthy but substantial, and they're known to be good for veggie and vegan options too
Or sometimes… I head to Boots for a meal deal.
2-4pm: Library Time
Well it had to feature at some point!
While your 'timetabled day' as an Oxford Medic often finishes at 1pm (though you will sometimes have a practical, lecture, or statistics class in the afternoon after lunch), your 'work day' is probably only just getting started. That means picking a place to study and settling down there for a good couple of hours while you get to work on your tutorial work. I typically do this for around 4 hours a day.
Where you choose to work is completely up to you. Oxford is famed for having some of the most beautiful libraries such as the Radcliffe Camera ('Rad Cam'), and the Bodleian ('the Bod'). But if you prefer a more relaxed working atmosphere then I recommend exploring cafes and smaller libraries.
Of course, the typical day doing the Oxford Medicine degree wouldn't be complete without mentioning tutorials! In first year, I usually had 3-4 each week, two for an hour each on a Wednesday afternoon and one at 4-6pm on a Friday.
Tutorials are great for asking questions about topics you're unsure on so you will get the most out of them if you prepare beforehand. For Medicine, you're usually set an essay for a particular tutorial. Having written that and done the background reading, you're usually just fine!
If you don't get set work for the tutorial then it's a good idea to have a quick look over your most recent lecture material to see if anything needs clarification.
6pm onwards: ~ Free Time ~
You're pretty much free for the day as soon as you've finished your timetabled teaching and tutorials, so your free time can be whenever you want it to be as long as you manage your time to get your work done too.
Things to do when you're not hard at work being an Oxford Medic:
- Chill with your friends or go and get food together
- Get involved with societies!
- Get involved with your 'JCR', it's basically a mini student union in your college and you can run for positions on the committee, like welfare officer, communications rep, or president
- Take some time for yourself to just relax. Eastenders, anyone?
After I've stayed up far too late online shopping trying to make the most of the final hours of a boosted student discount, it's finally time to call it a night.
And there you have it, a peek into the daily life of an Oxford Medic!
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