Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Graduation Day at Cambridge University


26th-28th June was Graduation Weekend at Cambridge University.

Getting to graduation, for me, has been one long struggle; from dodging the hardbound copies of Gray's Anatomy hurled at me by angry professors to actually passing the exams to finding the correct damn graduation gown hood with the correct damn fur lining culled from the correct damn near-extinct species of Mickey Mouse-shape-toothed Siberian tiger. (Extract from actual Graduation Day notice to students: "The Praelector will strictly enforce the dress code on graduation day for all students and you will not be allowed to graduate if, for example, your socks are the wrong colour*.")

But I made it. I made it through 3 years of getting a ego-battering every day, of trying to survive in the midst of people who were so obviously superior to me, and who often didn't like me due to my different sense of humour, my different accent, and my general weirdness. So I don't have any regrets as I look back on this place one last time before I leave it.

Cambridge taught me many things, and although I didn't agree with its education system, I can't deny that it IS very good. (If getting your head forcibly crammed with theoretical jargon by researchers who see the light of day less often than Amy Winehouse appears in public respectably and seeing patients twice a year is your idea of a good pre-clinical education, that is. --Ed.) Maybe not for me, but generally. (So says the Times, anyway. Okay, okay, I'll stop with the schizophrenic double-talk already. --Ed)

So on to clinical school! I visit Cambridge often enough that people see me more often than when I actually studied there, but it'll be great to proceed to clinical school and start finally killing patients uhm, making a difference in people's lives (and all that other crap you wrote in your personal statement when you applied. Don't pretend nobody knows where you got it from! --Ed)

So yeah. I'm back, folks. And if you think my adventures at clinical school are going to be any less funny-in-a-sickening-schadenfreude-way, read on and (hopefully) laugh. (Unless you live within my clinical school's NHS catchment area, of course. In which case the next time your doctor asks if it's okay if a medical student takes your blood, FOR GOD'S SAKE SAY NO. --Ed.)

*One of my classmates unfortunately forgot to read this fine print on the Graduation notice, and was told his socks were the wrong shade of black for the ceremony. Yes, you read that right; Cambridge praelectors are trained to recognise DIFFERENT FRIGGIN' SHADES OF BLACK. Luckily for him his dad wore the correct colour of socks, and he was forced to trade socks with his dad 10 minutes before the Graduation Parade.

If there's one thing I've learnt at Cambridge, it's to ALWAYS read the bloody fine print on anything. One final-year student read the rules in so much detail he found a 16th-century regulation that allowed all candidates sitting for his exam to demand one leg of roast ham and a glass of wine during the paper. Unfortunately for him he hadn't read far enough; upon asking for his food and wine in the exam hall his demands were met, but he was then fined for not wearing a sword. Guess you can't win 'em all. Still want a copy of the prospectus?

29 comments:

Anibal said...

Congratulations!

Bongi said...

how would anyone know if your socks are the wrong colour?

Anonymous said...

Hi, could you please inform me of wthether the course is mainly lecture driven, or whether so called 'self-directed learing' is actively encouraged. Thanks.

Liz.

rlbates said...

Congrats! I'm with Bongi. Do they state what shade the ladies stockiings have to be?

Dan said...

wait, so i can get wine and some pork if i bring a sword to lectures?

do-able. where'd you read that rule?

The Angry Medic said...

Anibal: Aww thanks mate. Or in your language: gracias compadre. Feel free to smack me if that was horrible Spanish.

Bongi: Because they CHECK your socks. One. By. One. Whilst you stand in the heat wrapped up in god knows how many layers of thick cloth. This, as far as I know, is the only function of the praelector, as we never see him all year. Now you know why I decided to get the heck outta that place? :)

Obviously-Googling-For-Cambridge-Information Anonymous: It's both. The pre-clinical three years have tons of lectures and practicals and is very guided, but self-learning is also encouraged (where is it not?) If you have any more questions you can email me. Good luck.

The Angry Medic said...

Ribates: Wow that was a quick reply. And unfortunately, yes they do - however luckily I decided not to give in to my penchant for wearing ladies underwear that day and so didn't have to find out the hard way. Cough.

Dan: LOL it'd be too easy if it was lectures - it has to be a certain exam of a certain Tripos. And I didn't read the rule, I heard it from some drunk rugby player in Hall. One of your crowd, no doubt :)

Dan said...

that sux that it's so specific! argh!

drunk rugby player? hmmmm... somehow i doubt the reliability of that source. the last time i was drunk, i admitted to being mickey mouse and tried to tackle a car.

Dr. Wannabe said...

Question:

Is clinical school the same as the US clinical rotations, or residency?

Dragonfly said...

That is hilarious - both the socks bit and the leg of ham incident (are you sure that wasn't you?)
And I thought that my class being emailed to remind us that laptops were not allowed in exams was bad (we all made a point of asking the exam supervisors if they were sure about that during the actual event)....
Congratulations on graduating.
Oh and btw....when doing psych one of the child psychiatrists sat me down on the first day to have a discussion and see how much I knew and was VERY impressed that I'd heard of SBC. She may have assumed that I had read all of his papers and been closely following his academic career. I didn't say where I had first heard his name (though I have looked up some of his papers since then when reading more in depth about ASD). Win!

Ms-Ellisa said...

Congrats Angry!

I liked the story with the "sword" as a reply... :-D

Is it actually true or one that could be true?

Xavier Emmanuelle said...

"One final-year student read the rules in so much detail he found a 16th-century regulation that allowed all candidates sitting for his exam to demand one leg of roast ham and a glass of wine during the paper. Unfortunately for him he hadn't read far enough; upon asking for his food and wine in the exam hall his demands were met, but he was then fined for not wearing a sword."

Oh my god. SEriously?? If that's true, that is the most hilarious thing I've ever heard! Please let me know, so that if it's true I can go and tell everyone I know about it!

So, when you graduate I'm noticing from other English peoples' pictures as well as yours that you all have different coloured vest thingys. What do those colours stand for, is it like academic ranks or something? Here in Canada everyone wears the same colour.

Xavier Emmanuelle said...

P.S. so are you officially back now? I took you off my blogroll a couple of months ago when it became clear that you had abandoned the blog, but if you're officially back then I'll add you again!

ditzydoctor said...

welcome back!!!! :) i unfortunately fall into the crap time management schedule as well (hence endless time on facebook as well as trawling through blogs) so no worries! :)

hope clinical school gets better (it should, you will learn useful stuff although you feel like pond scum ;) but hey, it's for your patients right?)

meantime, enjoy undergrad life!!!! :D

The Angry Medic said...

Dan: LOL that made me laugh. Don't worry, it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's quite refreshing to engage in physical activities with a car whilst drunk. (Not that I'd know anything about that. Cough.)

Dr Wannabe: Definitely not residency; it's just the latter 3 years of our 5- or 6-year medical course. Fun for poor sods like me who've had hardcore theory stuffed down our gullets like Ron Jeremy's 'little friend' and know jack about clinical skills, though. (Sorry for the mental images.)

Dragonfly: LOL I can't believe the laptop thing - some comedian MUST have brought one in during some exam. Either that or the guy in charge of exam notices was a neanderthal, as so many exam officials are :) and whoa, see, reading my blog came of some real academic use! I am *sniff* so proud...

Ms Ellisa: Yep, unfortunately it's true. It was told to me by a Cambridge mathmo, and as we all know they're autistic or something and are biologically unable to lie :P

Xavier: See above - it's all true! And yep, at Cambridge anyway (and at all other unis that use the Cambridge-style hood - see what Google can do to your useless random info collection) the hood colours represent the degree you're going to collect. So the white ones we wore were B.A. hoods, but the graduating medics and lawyers had fancier colours. Meh...gimme three years and I'll be wearing those colours too. Right over my prison uniform :P

And yes, I'm back, so add me cos I've added you!

Ditzy:Aw thanks! That WAS a quick reply. I've stalked your blog some more. And undergrad? As a 4th-year I feel so old I have to keep reminding myself 'I am NOT a postgrad I am NOT a postgrad I am NO FRIGGIN WAY a postgrad...' :P

Boxer said...

Which clinical school are you in now?

tracy said...

Yay, Angry!!! You're da Man!!! Soon to be da Doc!!! i heart you, baby!

Eeeeeewwwwww, he actually had to change socks with his dad? Am i the only one more than a bit grossed out by that thought? And believe me, watching my own large laceration being sutured didn't gross me out...!
:)

zoo said...

ooh. looks who's bloggin' again x)

Chrysalis Angel said...

Congratulations, Medic!! I hadn't realized you'd been writing until I saw you had visited our friend, Seaspray. Glad to see you back.

Socrates said...

Ms Ellisa: Yep, unfortunately it's true. It was told to me by a Cambridge mathmo, and as we all know they're autistic or something and are biologically unable to lie :P

An Autistic Writes: A very positive and commendable view of autism, that I hope you will carry through to your clinical activities...

Bo... said...

I feel your pain. Once in nursing school I was summoned to the psychiatric nun's office to be held accountable for something some snitch noticed about my underwear as we changed in the OR changing room....

Anonymous said...

An Autistic Writes: A very positive and commendable view of autism, that I hope you will carry through to your clinical activities...

Kenny Writes: another autistic trait is the inability to understand jokes. but then again saracasm should be a problem as well. confused much...

The Angry Medic said...

Boxer: Oho wouldn't you like to know? It's public knowledge but I try not to post it here directly - the last time I did I got stalked. (And NOT by hot chicks, which is what, um, usually stalks me. Cough.) I'll be posting more on it soon though.

Tracy: LOL yeah it was pretty disgusting no? Luckily it was in the early morning and they were both fresh. And wow, you must have nerves of steel! Your doctors must be thanking their lucky stars they got a patient like you :)

Zoo: Surprise surprise! Hope you're doing fine at home, you antisocial bum you.

Chrysalis: CHRYSALIS! Aww thanks. It's SO good to see you. I'm coming over to haunt your blog too now. (Aha, regretting looking me up already aren'tcha?)

Socrates: Aw thanks. I hope you weren't being sarcastic, as autism is a special interest of mine and I spent my research year doing it. I share the research view that autism and dyslexia can be a 'gift' rather than a disability. Thanks for dropping by, it means a lot to me :)

Bo: Oh. Oh gawd. Thanks for the mental images :P You get up to the weirdest things, Bo!

Jade said...

Just came across your blog, cool writting.Congradulations!! If your clinical years are anything like ours you'l mos def enjoy them. It's all it's said 2 be times 10. You will change people's lives 1 patient at a time, all depending your attitude and approach.
If you are allowed foreign electives i would suggest south africa it will be the best learning experience ever.

Midwife with a Knife said...

Congrats by the way, socks and all! :)

Dr. Deb said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

HOORAY!!!!!

The Angry Medic said...

Arsehole Anonymous: Wow. Get beaten up much? That's an extremely offensive thing to say. Another trait of assholes is to be completely insensitive and write stupid things that just prove how far up your own ass your head is. Guess who the retard here is? Here's a hint, Newton: go look in the mirror.

Jade: Aww thanks, that's really nice of you. Yeah that's what clinicals are turning out to be (not including the whole med-students-are-the-lowest-lifeform-on-the-planet thing, of course). And yes, our teaching co-ordinator is from South Africa, so ddefinitely looking there for electives!

MWAAK: LOL thanks - I, you see, was well prepared and spent valuable studying time searching for just the right shade of socks.

Dr Deb: Ooh it's the increasingly famous Dr Deb - here! *shudders with schoolgirl giggles* heh. Thanks!

ThuSpin said...

Congratulations!

You sound really happy. If I was you I would be too.

I'm sorry, this was so cheesy but I'm so tired right now. I meant that it's a grate place to be. So good luck for the future ahead of you.

David said...

Funny in a way but at the same time feudal and mediaeval.

Especially now at a time when students at supposedly prestigious institutions like Cambridge charge top dollar.

When King's College suspended me for being gay on a course funded by the Iranian government, the provost ("Sir" Patrick Bateson, a noted defender of animal but not human rights) justified his decision on the basis that I had failed to obey his orders.