The 5 most important lessons I learned from last semester

We’re two days away from the exam. By the time the next blog post goes up, I’ll be officially done with cell biology. Just writing that gives me chills. One of the seniors told me that those who worry about failing usually aren’t the ones who fail. So if there’s a direct correlation between the two, I should be good.

While I am still feeling the nerves, I have learned so much from this experience. Therefore, I thought I’d share the five most important lessons from cell biology I’ll be taking with me into the next block:

  1. Write things out by hand: I wish I’d started doing this sooner. This has been so helpful in limiting myself, as I am prone to over explaining things, and taking way too many computer written notes, that I never even bother to print out. Lately I have been using this non-lined ring binder book, and I’ve been loving drawing out processes and making little diagrams. It has been especially helpful when it comes to biochemistry, for setting up equations and metabolic cycles. The next block is all calculation based, so I’ll definitely be making a similar sort of “rule book”.
  2. Going to an allocated study space helps A LOT: I’ve always thought I was the type of person who studied best in the comfort of her own home, but boy was I wrong! It seems the only three things I need to study are a comfortable chair, decent lighting, and a steady stream of caffeine. So while I will be investing in a better chair for our apartment, I’ll probably continue using the school study space.
  3. ASK MORE QUESTIONS: I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve failed my resolution of asking more questions in class miserably. However, after seeing how much difference asking even the most embarrassingly basic clarifiers makes, I will try to make good on my resolve.
  4. Reading the syllabus actively: I have gotten so much use out of our textbooks! Usually, I hear people complain that they only use three or four chapters in their expensive university textbooks, and that they’re pretty much a ploy to get students to waste money etc. But that hasn’t been my experience at all! While you can google pretty much everything, I’ve found that reading the facts from a reliable source takes much less time, and the books are (most of the time) better formulated than what I’ve found, scouring the internet. One thing I would recommend any student, in any field, is continuing to read books in their free time. It doesn’t matter whether they are novels or non-fiction. Just continue to read as much as possible. Being able to just sit and read for longer stretches of time is an underrated and incredibly useful skill.
  5. Preparing for lectures in advance, and then reviewing the lectures directly afterward: While I have read in advance for almost all the lectures last semester, I haven’t reviewed my notes until I was preparing for the exam. This next block, I’m going to go about it a little bit differently. I’ll continue reading in advance, because I prefer going into class with a rudimentary knowledge of what we’re going to learn that day. However, instead of waiting until the last two months to review my notes (which I won’t even have time for, since the next exam is just one month away), I’m going to start to review the notes directly after the lecture, and stay behind in school for an hour or so, just to make sure I fully understand everything.

That’s pretty much it! I’ll be going back to plasmid vectors and reading about cloning now, but I hope you’re all having a great Sunday, and a great Super Bowl Sunday for my American readers. I plan to try to stay awake for the halftime show later, but by the time it’s on, (the broadcast starts at half past midnight Norwegian time), I’m sure I’ll be fast asleep.

Keep your fingers crossed for me this upcoming Wednesday!