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  • Gazala Hitawala

Medical school – a lifetime in 4 years


The term ‘medical school’ is too overwhelming for anyone who is either aspiring to be there or someone who is observing from a spitting distance, but it is a completely different experience when you are actually “in it”. Reaching at the end of my final year, when I look back I see that there were so many things for which I had a completely different opinion when I was preparing for my entrance and even after getting selected. There are a thousand things we can search on Google about medical students, their life, the education system etc. but alas! Google hasn’t advanced enough to let you experience that life in a click of the search button. Having said that, I wanted to put forward what I thought and expected about medical college and what it really looked like:

1. Infrastructure

I believe that every student who’s as naive as I am might have dreamed of a “5 star medical college”, and I give full credit to the lovely movies that I watched. Just like movies have idealized romance in certain parameters, similarly, I had some sky rocketing expectations about the infrastructure which of course didn’t turn out to be true. The first day of my college I realized that this institution is pretty basic. There is no grand door like in ‘Mohabbatein’ welcoming you nor a prodigious hallway with towering pillars, but walking through the corridor when I reached the lecture hall I was contended with the spotless vanilla floors, the fixed wooden benches, the podium at the front with mics which were apparently non-functional and the projector screen. When I’m talking about wooden benches there have to be some stories engraved over them which our seniors branded. It’s always intriguing to read those lines and form stories in between them. The projector screen however needed manual handling; a student had to climb over a stool to ‘draw the curtain down’. When I used to fantasize about the infrastructure I never gave a thought to the restrooms and when the reality hit me, it turned out to be a nightmare (it still is). Words fall short in expressing the horror I was submerged in (metaphorically) at my first encounter of the girls’ restroom. Fortunately, I’m a day scholar which spares me from writing about the hostel life.

2. Seniors

I was always fearful with the thought of interacting with seniors and how the dynamics of the senior-junior relationship would turn out. I was relieved to know from a few of my friends that there was no ragging, or maybe my chromosomes (46, XX) proved lucky for me. My first ‘official’ meet with my seniors was fun; we were supposed to see the senior girls in an ‘introductory meeting’ and they turned out to be very welcoming. They shared their experiences regarding classes, exams, college events and pretty much everything which we might face down the line. It was really unexpected that something which I was terrified about gave me the most comfort. The thought of people like us who managed to survive through it was palliative. In a similar encounter we also met some of the senior boys and this interaction too was delightful. Everything was completely new for me in college, but the help that I received with regards to books, exam papers or how to dress contributed in my sustenance. Even after 4 years, whenever there’s any trouble and I call for help, they’re always there, no matter how seldom we stay in touch.

3. Dress code

The most fascinating thing for me before entering medical school was that I’d no longer need to wear a uniform. I could choose to wear anything that I liked, it just needed to be decent, but in reality it had to be more decent than I expected. We were supposed to wear kurtis or suits during college. I hardly used to wear such things. This was the most distressing thing for me. I had to give up all my fancy desires and settle for some elegant kurtis. Later I realized that this represented the way we were conducting ourselves as professionals before our professors and patients. Years later, I find myself instructing my juniors to wear the same, and the cycle goes on.

4. Fantasy

It will break your heart to know that I found neither McDreamy nor Armaan Malik in the 4 long years. Neither did I get to witness a McDreamy making out with his intern. The Idiot box just misleads us into fantasizing about things that never come to pass. ‘Meeting someone and suddenly the wind starts to blow and your dupatta starts waving in the air’ is just too filmy to happen in real life or maybe my life is too mundane.

5. Friends

The most disturbing thing for me was the behavior of guys from our batch towards girls. It was like a Hindustan-Pakistan thing going on between us. There was an LOC in every classroom to part us into two divisions. The boys would start to hoot the moment any girl entered the classroom. If such a war is going on how can two people from the opposite sex ever be friends. Even if they did, they would be a fuel for their own pyre of judgement. However, the connections changed with time and the interactions became more casual and friendly. When we are travelling the same road and facing the same hurdles, a sense of compassion leads us to become friends eventually. Everyone has a different perspective towards situations, nobody is right or wrong, it’s just that only few frequencies resonate with each other. I met so many good souls and experienced a spectrum of emotions with each passing day. I am still bewildered by the thought that it is almost the end and we managed it till now. Feels like only yesterday I had a friend next to me in the DH who was nauseated by the sight of the dead bodies, the pressure that a friend put on me to participate in the sports week and was prouder than me when I won, the way we used to laugh so loudly in the class that even after getting a scolding from the professor we couldn’t gather the words to apologize, the adrenaline rush when a friend reveals a secret and we celebrate that day every year in remembrance, feels like yesterday when I made more new friends whom I wish to keep forever, feels like yesterday when I fell sick and these beautiful souls had tears in their eyes.

For sure, in this journey we all had our share of good and bad experiences but all these memories are of great value. There’s still a long way to go. InSha’Allah we’ll all pass and become great doctors one day. Ameen.


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