This is possibly the longest time I’ve neglected this blog…whoops! My intercalation year has been over for quite few months now. So, let’s talk a little more about this year before everything about it slips away from memory…
Intercalation didn’t quite match my expectations in many ways. I wrote this post a few months into the year about some of my initial thoughts and expectations that didn’t quite align to reality (both the good and the bad). One of the main reasons why I intercalated was to get that break for Medicine and that it did manage to give me! I also expected a nice and relaxing year, that however was not quite what it was at all. I took this year by the horns and packed in a lot so it actually became one of my busiest years at uni, completely unintentionally. I wanted to use this space to reflect on some of the different things I took on and how I found them.
Teaching in a Secondary School
One of the things I did this year was take up a role in teaching a class of year 7 students Science. It was an amazing experience and I would probably go as far as saying once in a lifetime, because had I not done it this year, I wouldn’t have ever had the opportunity! The role involved 4 hours of teaching per week and lots of behind the scenes work. Knock off a star because it was a very very big time commitment. A lot more was demanded of the role than was initially anticipated. I’ve learnt that teaching 4 hours of lessons per week certainly does not equal a 4 hr a week commitment. You’ve got to add in time for lesson planning, marking work, mentorship and staff meetings, running intervention classes for children and also parents’ evenings! Any practical aspects of Science took even more time: ordering equipment, planning the session an d all the clearing up afterwards! I cannot believe just how much behind-the-scenes work goes into teaching at school. Having said that, it was an incredible experience being given complete control of a class of children and immersing myself in all that comes with a teaching role – something I doubt I’ll have the opportunity to do again in the same way.
Working as a Covid Vaccinator
I began vaccinating in April and in the following months I administered nearing 2,500 Covid vaccinations! Really enjoyed this role – the days I vaccinated were long and some days were insanely busy (particularly nearing the beginning of the vaccination drive) where we’d be going none stop. I felt like the human interaction of the role when screening for suitability (under supervision of a Pharmacist in case anyone presented with anything we were unsure of, of course) answering any questions posed by people and also reassuring those who were anxious was the most enjoyable. Was nice to feel some sort of link back to medicine too. I can probably now say I have administered more vaccines in this short time frame than I will for the rest of my career, which is a little mind-blowing!
Virtually Learning Arabic
I joined a live online course with Al-Salam Institute. We had lessons every Sunday running from 10am-6pm (with a very short lunch break in between). The course was very well organised and very well developed. Tonnes of resources, learning material and new information which was great, but that also meant that it was accompanied with lots of homework, exams and a number of graded assignments throughout the year! It was very good, but I can’t deny that as the year went by keeping up with the hours of weekly lessons and learning became more and more difficult. I do wish I was able to commit to more to it later on the year because I’m sure if I did I would’ve gained so much more from the course!
Expanding My Stationery Shop
If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know about my the little (though, not so little anymore) sustainable stationery shop. Up until this year I’ve kept it very small and manageable, but this year I worked on growing it hugely. We went from holding 4 varieties to over 40! Re-branding as Paper Daisy, launching a brand new student range and moving into a new office space! If someone had told me that this is where it would end up at the end of the year, I don’t think I would’ve believed it. There were many nights I went to sleep at 5am, after sunrise, working on developing new things for the brand and over the course of this year it really has developed into a true passion project. I have lots more up my sleeve, but now having returned to Medicine, time is not as freely available, so it is perhaps one of the best things I was able to do while intercalating! Feel free to follow along the journey on my instagram and TikTok.
Studying the Course Itself
I chose to study Healthcare Ethics and Law in this year. No particular reason beyond an interest in ethics and that fact that I wanted to do something as far as possible from Medicine and Science so it felt like a true break. This course definitely achieved that! I don’t think I could’ve chosen anything more different than I did! It actually felt rather unusual at times when were delving into the philosophy of ethics and semantics of ethical principles as I couldn’t see how this level of depth could then by applied to medicine – but then I suppose that was what I wanted!
The course itself was 100% online, which in all honesty made it quite difficult to engage with the material. There was reams and reams of weekly reading that we were just left to get on with alone, which I wasn’t a great fan of. I expected the course would involve group work and engaging discussion and debate, which all in all, it didn’t. Before I started I knew the course would involve essay writing, but little did I know what a burden that would truly be! A couple of months into the year we were assigned a legal essay to write, which was genuinely quite overwhelming having not written any form of essay since A-levels, never mind a legal formatted one.
Overall, I do think my experience of the course could’ve been a lot better, but I do put a lot of that down to the fact that the course was modified and contact hours significantly reduced due to online learning.
I spent a lot less time on the course than some of the other activities I took on this year – in fact I used to joke about how I’m treating my Master’s as a “part-time” role rather than my main focus for the year. All in all, I guess that allowed me to really make the most out of the year so I wouldn’t take it back!