Confession: I’m actually writing about my first two months of school (sorry!). It’s been pretty busy since classes started, so here’s what you’ve missed!
We’re better sticking together
For the first couple weeks of class, I have to say I felt a little isolated because I tend to be an introvert before I’m comfortable in a new setting. Passing up on some of the extra social events, I preferred going to the comfort of my home at the end of the day to relax with Jonathan (my fiancé). There was always a classmate to walk with or eat with, but I was too shy to have lengthy conversations or to invite myself to study groups, so I studied alone. Naturally, I started worrying that I’d have trouble making friends since I passed up a lot of opportunities to do so.
Fortunately, I was forced out of my comfort zone when Jonathan got assigned a job in Texas for three weeks. Plus the fact that dental students spend five days a week with one another helped to mostly wear away my shyness by the end of the first month as my [new] friends approached and included me. I started showing my face at more events while I became relaxed in this whole new environment, and Gainesville and UF have now become my “normal”. I’m so glad I didn’t waste too many weeks being timid, because I absolutely love the friends I’ve found, and studying has proven to be way less boring in a group.
We’re still finding our rhythm
Dental students are a pretty hyper-organized group of people, but even we find ourselves losing our minds some days. I’ve lost
my lunchbox twice already. The second time, my apartment keys were in it, and I was riding the bus home when I realized I wasn’t going to get very far! I had to recruit the help of a campus security officer to walk around the dental school and unlock doors in pursuit of my missing lunch. Embarrassing enough?
One morning just last week, a friend was driving us to class when she got out of her car and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, Melissa!” She then proceeded to show me that she couldn’t put her keys in her pocket…because she was wearing her scrub top inside-out.
I haven’t gone a single week without spilling something on my scrubs during a meal. And let’s not forget that I left my laptop in the library one night.
But by golly, we won’t forget when we have a quiz coming up!
We completed our first two rounds of exams…and it didn’t kill us!
I truly did not know what to expect from dental school exams, in terms of difficulty. I was originally petrified that they were going to be way harder than anything I endured in undergrad. If that wasn’t enough to get my heart pumping, our schedule got skewed when Hurricane Irma hit in September.
Our professors did a great job trying to accommodate our missed classes, but we were unfortunately left with our VERY FIRST THREE EXAMS in the same week—Gross anatomy written exam and lab practical on Monday, Biochemistry on Wednesday and Developmental Biology on Friday. I was praying to simply pass the exams, let alone hope for the ‘A’ that many of my classmates willed for. I think part of the challenge was that I was secretly still trying to convince myself that I deserved to be here (which our admissions officers assured us is a common feeling, but that we were each selected for a reason and do deserve to be standing exactly where we are).
Meanwhile, we had classmates dealing with extended power outages and families living in areas being devastated by Hurricane Irma. It made tests and classes feel really small in the scheme of things. I appreciated the perspective and my heart continues to go out to families still recovering from the storm.
Nevertheless, exam days came and went. I not only made it through them, but I did significantly better than I expected! I didn’t pull an A on everything, but I’m keeping my head above the water and I’m stoked to finally be gaining some confidence! Oddly enough, my performance is the exact opposite of what I expected—I imagined I was going to be much better at hand skills and wax-ups than at didactic work, but dental anatomy and simulation lab are currently my weakest points, while biochemistry is my jam.
For anyone thinking about going to dental school, I believe heavy course loads and employment throughout undergrad prepared
me really well for managing a fast-paced schedule in dental school. It’s definitely not easy by any means, but it is manageable.The professors don’t teach too much superfluous information, but rather they expect you to know fundamental concepts and to have the ability to think critically. I’m really, really tired, but I’m working on finding life balance. Which brings me to my next point…
Yes, there is life outside of classes!
I love this quote by Sid Caesar. It’s so easy to lose sight of what’s important during
the rigor of school (or any endeavor in your life). I want to be the best dentist I can be for my future patients, and being the best version of myself means making time for a healthy mind and spirit, not just studying tirelessly.
Somehow, I haven’t made it to a football game yet, but I’m determined to before the season ends! I have, however, gotten to plan a fun trip for Fall
Break (future post with details to come), have gone out dancing a couple times, and am quickly checking restaurants off my bucket list. I’m all about seeing what this beautiful city and life have to offer! I even got to go home for a weekend to meet my perfect new baby nephew and be there for his park adventure. ❤
We promise we aren’t ignoring you!
If you have a dental student in your life, they might not be checking their phones while in classes or while studying. I personally keep my phone on silent unless I’m expecting a specific phone call. We love you and miss you, and we absolutely want to keep in touch! It just takes a little longer to reply than in our former lives—
by the time we get done with our 8 am – 5 pm day, have dinner, and study for at least another two or three hours in the evening, a mountain of emails, Facebook messages, and texts can be daunting to tackle. I’ve taken days to respond to friends or family because the message gets lost… especially in those group family chats. Shout-out to my friends and fam for being so patient with me!
Get ready to brace yourselves for an interesting four years!