What we're doing this week, and how I work with biochemistry

Today marks my twentieth blog post on vettobe.com! I can’t believe how fast this autumn is going, it feels like it was September 1st yesterday. So since the Sunday posts are dedicated to the four-week project for the next three Sundays, I thought I’d give you a bit of an update about what we’re currently learning, and how I’m keeping up with my coursework.

If cell biology was a swimming pool, biochemistry would be the Atlantic in terms of perceived difficulty, at least for me. It’s been a while since I’ve done any chemistry, and even though I’ve grown to like it a lot over the past 3 or 4 years, I can still remember why I struggled so much with it in high school. Therefore, to “stay afloat” so to speak, I usually try to get a rough overview before each lecture. This week we learned about free energy, and oxidative phosphorylation, the process that creates ATP in the cells’ mitochondria.

The way I learn is that I first try to analyse the powerpoint presentation for the following lecture – what are the key points? In this case, I doubled down on the oxidative phosphorylation, and decided to see what would be said about the free energy in lectures rather than spend time on it beforehand.

After I’ve decided what to focus on, I usually start at the back of the chapter, see how the authors of the book have summarised it, and go look up videos or animations of it online to get a visual representation of it.

Since I have learned that I’m both a read-and-write and a visual learner (you can read a blogpost on how to find out what type of learner you are over at my old blog, link to the post here), I try to utilise a combination of drawing, reading and writing. I try to create a comprehensive document that I can use as an “encyclopaedia” later during the exam season, with both a simplified and a more in-depth explanation of the concepts. A great tool for creating the first simplified explanation is YouTube-videos. I find that the creators usually have to limit themselves because of the medium they’re in, while the textbooks can have run-on sentences, where it’s easy to trail off if you’re not completely sure what you’re reading.

I’ve been loving these “draw-along”-videos lately, and I’ll embed a few of the videos below:

After I’ve written the simplified summary, usually in the form of a numbered list, I create a second numbered list with correlating numbers to the first one. This time, I go into more detail, and primarily use the textbook to add to my original explanation of the mechanisms. Between these two, I try to create an illustration to go with the document, so that I can use it to jog my memory when I don’t have time to reread the entire text, like when I’m doing revision tasks, or practicing for the exam. At this stage, I usually call it a night and put the PowerPoint lecture into OneNote, so I can write and draw along during the lecture, or paste in parts of the preparation document I’ve created the day before.

And that’s pretty much it! I hope you’re all having a lovely Wednesday, and are having a great fall so far. I’m off to eat gingerbread cookies (yes, I know it’s only October, but I’m feeling Christmassy already) with my SO, and work on the vitamin- and carbohydrate chapters for tomorrow’s lectures. If you haven’t read it already, check out the first entry in the four-week series, and stay tuned for the upcoming post on “What should you know before starting vet school? – What background knowledge and animal experience is useful to have?”