November 29, 2012

Tips for Passing MERP

I've taken over this blog here once again, but now as an official a medical student!! I would like to thank our family and friends for supporting us these past few months. Your encouragement and support has truly made us feel blessed.

I thought I would write a post about how I was able to survive MERP (and, no, surprisingly enough, I didn't get by on my charm and extraordinarily good looks).

So here is Matt’s MERP survival list!!
  • Go to class. Some people liked to just stay at home and media site which is fine, but going to class you are able to hear the questions from students, you are able to hear the little tips the professors will give before/after lecture and the big thing is, it gets you out of your house. But find what works for you.
  • Study! Seems obvious, right? But you need to start studying from day one.  Everyone has their own study style. Find what works for you and stick with it. You can't study the same way you did in undergrad. You need to understand the material, not just memorize a bunch of facts, take an exam and forget them. Everything builds on each other.  If you aren't getting something, then change how you study it. Just don’t let yourself get behind.
  • Don’t let your classmates psyche you out. Everyone has different learning styles but be confident in yourself and your abilities. Just because something worked for one, doesn't mean it will work for you.
  • Find a good study group. I don’t know what I would have done without my group!! PBL #2!!! If you are in a group and you feel you aren't being productive, go somewhere else. A good study group is key to success (in my opinion anyway!).
  • Do QUESTIONS!!!! Honestly this is how I learned the material. Every Sunday I would meet up with my group, and we would just go over questions. We used old quizzes, BRS (physio) and Pretest (physio). We would also ask each other questions we came up with. Make sure, however, you aren't just memorizing questions but understanding the concepts!!
  • Challenge yourself! Keep trying to relate everything together or come up with possible real world scenarios. For example, if we came across a question in BRS that didn't really pertain to the material we had learned, we would change it so it would.
  • Take the quizzes seriously. Yes they are collectively only 7% of your grade BUT they are a good indicator of your knowledge of the material and they are good practice for the mini. So if you bomb a quiz don’t sweat it, BUT go over what you missed and understand why you did.
  • Ask questions!! If you are too embarrassed to ask the faculty, then ask one of the junior faculty. Go to office hours, go to anatomy lab, send them emails, ask in class - what ever you have to do just make sure you understand!
  • Get a schedule and stick to it. Set times for breaks, dinner or SLEEP. It’s easy to get burned out quickly if you don’t.
  • Every day spend a few hours away from your notes: go workout, watch a movie or SLEEP!! On Saturdays, my friend Jon and I would spend a few hours snorkeling. Just to get away and to get a break in our 12-15 hours of studying.  The biggest thing to get over is that it’s ok to not be studying every waking moment. But, balance is key. You didn't come here to socialize. You came here to go to medical school. 
  • Most importantly…enjoy it! A positive attitude will go a long way.
Well I hope this helps. Just remember everyone is going to be different. Just because someone studies a certain way, doesn't mean you are studying wrong. If you begin to feel overwhelmed (which you will) just take a step back take a breath and tackle one thing at a time. If you don’t do well on the first exam or quiz, its not the end of the world, just go back and figure out what you can do differently.

Finally, don't let the pass rate intimidate you. Just study hard and stay focused and worry about yourself. If you have any questions still please feel free to email me matthewswells04[at]gmail[dot]com. Be strong, be confident, have faith in yourself and enjoy the crazy ride!!


November 27, 2012


We're HOME!! Yes - we've been home for a little while now, but we've been so busy, this poor little blog has been the last thing on my mind.

Our flights were just fine. Everything was on time - even a little early. And thank goodness for medicating before flights, too, as there were no panic attacks. Just some amusement for the people in the Miami Airport when I passed out on the floor waiting on our flight to Detroit.

We had quite the welcoming crew. Sheila, Chris and my favorite little man, Landon, were there with my parents. We walked out of baggage claim to have Landon running right at me. It was the perfect homecoming.

From there, we stopped to get some lunch. We had great customer service and great food. Again, a great homecoming. The waitress felt my deprivation of Dt. Coke and brought me an entire pitcher to enjoy. What a lady.

No, I didn't drink the entire thing. But it was delicious.

And then we got to see our Emmy dog! She made a beeline for us when Matt's parents brought her over. And she snuggled right between us that first night we were home. She's doing pretty well. Her leg has gotten bigger, but she's still fairly active and has her appetite - all good signs.

We've been lucky enough to get a lake cottage to stay in while we're home. It's a cozy, sweet home that is just perfect for us three while we're here. 

So we've spent this last week doing a lot of shopping, enjoying family, and relaxing. And then more shopping and preparing for Dominica. I think I've been to Target at least three times already. And each time has been wonderful. 

We plan to have a barrel packing party this weekend. You all are welcome to join. It's sure to be a good time.

Our barrels will be stocked full of kitchen supplies, rain gear, mosquito spray, snap-tight tupperware and more. And toiletries to last us near 16 months. We found some good things like quick-dry towels, collapsible kitchen supplies, mildew resistant shower liner, etc. One thing Freeport has taught us, is what can be valuable when living on an island.

So the next week or so is filled with last minute shopping, packing and finishing up all of the required information for our visas. 

I feel like we're on a wild goose chase. I just keep repeating, it will get done, it will get done.

Thanks for all of the prayers and support for our trip home. We are very thankful to be here during the holiday season to spend the most wonderful time of the year with all of our loved ones. 


November 17, 2012

Matt Passed!

Matt passed MERP!

So we are officially off to Dominica in December. Couldn't be more proud of him. Lesson learned that no matter how many doors are shut, to keep on trying and it'll happen if you want it to. Matt's had his fair share of obstacles, but in the end, hard work, determination and blessings from God have made it possible. It's funny to think how we were put here in the exact right time, providing us with great friends, Matt's had a great group to study with and I made some wonderful, lifelong friends, too. Never doubt His timing. Medical school here we come!

We are wrapping up our last day in Freeport! The car we rented with the Womack's has paid off already after just one day of running errands. Tomorrow morning we'll head to the airport around 5:30 a.m. and then we're off. We should land in Miami around 8:30 a.m. and then Detroit around 2:15 p.m. Prayers for a safe, uneventful flight are appreciated, as my anxiety has already kicked in high gear! Any recommendations on how to get over this fear are appreciated!

Today we are off to finish up at running errands and take Vedant to the airport. I'm sure it will be a sad goodbye! Then we are off the Port to finish up some shopping.

Regardless, Matt and I are more than ready to be home and be surrounded with friends and family during the holiday season before we start our next journey December 28. We couldn't be more grateful to our friends and family for all the support, prayers and encouragement during this sometimes difficult, sometimes stressful, sometimes fun transition in our lives. In the end, it was definitely worth. Seeing the accomplishment in Matt's eyes when we saw his final score made it all worth it.


November 14, 2012

'Twas The Night Before Mini 3

'Twas the night before Mini 3 and all through Sunset,
Not a med prep student was stirring, not even an activated platelet.
The book bags were sprawled all over without care, 
covering a desk that used to be bare.
The students were passed out sweaty in bed, 
while visions of med school danced in their head.
And the lizards were still and the pigeons were moanin',
And I closed my eyes to increase melatonin.
When out near the pool there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the patio I flew like a myelinated axon,
Tore open the door without any slacks on.
The haze from the moon gave a dim light
made the yard look like it was covered in tellurite
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a guy on a dirt bike; man I need a beer.

I came back inside, went back to bed.

The power stayed on, no sweat on my head.
The dreams, of the material, oh they did come.
As I vigorously stimulated my GABAnergic system.

And that's all we got folks. I'm sure Mr. Moore is appalled at what we did to his brilliant poem.

But it's sort of like Christmas Eve here.

Except there are no presents. Or games. Or family. Or snow. Or any type of fun actually.

But the anticipation is just as high. In just 13 hours Matt starts Mini 3. Four hours after that, he'll be done with MERP and onto Dominica.

I will no longer be able to call him a med prep student. As he will officially be a medical student.

He's been studying all day for the past few days. Walking around the apartment talking to himself, sitting at the table, on the couch, standing in the kitchen. Just anything to keep moving and stay focused.

Again, he feels pretty good about the test. He's worked hard leading up to Mini 3 so that there isn't a substantial amount of pressure on him to pass. But he is still going to work hard and get the most out of MERP as he can, as it is good preparation for Dominica.

Yesterday at about 8:30 p.m., the power went off. It was one last reminder of the amenities here in Freeport, and how we take reliable power for granted in the States. It was only off for a couple hours, so Matt finished up his studying by flashlight and candles.

He's going to finish up studying early tonight, so he can relax and rest his mind. He's talking about watching Storage Wars this evening, as this was his routine before Mini 2, and it certainly worked in his favor then. I don't know that I would recommend this study habit for everyone, though.

So, be thinking of us over the day or so. Here's to 15 weeks of MERP. Now, time to go wrap presents. And by wrapping presents I mean making dinner. Nope, still not as fun as Christmas Eve.


November 11, 2012

Our Favorite Freeport Moments

We have exactly one week left in Freeport! This week will be filled with things like packing, running last minute errands and of course, Matt studing like crazy. While Freeport has had its fair share of ups and downs, it did serve as a tremendous learning and growing experience for us both. It wasn't exactly how either of us had anticipated spending our first few months as newlyweds, but it has prepared Matt and I for the next step in our journey as we are now preparing for Dominica.

Here's a look at some of the things we will remember about our time here in Freeport.

The gorgeous color of the water.
Favorite place on the island - Gold Rock Beach
Survived our first hurricane.
First seafood meal.
Beautiful roses from the husband.
Many weekends were spent here at Taino Beach.
Matt studying nearly every free minute.
Taino Beach Regatta
Learning to dislike cooking a little less.
Visiting the Freeport Inn where my mother stayed in 1975.
Sunday night grilling dinner with the Womack's
The wildfire!
Seeing all new types of wildlife.
And of course the Conch.
Flying on a turbo prop for the first time.
Getting used to new neighbors.
And of course, our famous lobster.
And the lobster hunters.
Crystal clear water
Gorgeous Taino Beach
Love Banana Bay.
Still love Banana Bay.
And some more love for Banana Bay.
First crab!
Gorgeous views
Awesome blue water.
White sand beaches.
And just have to put some more of Gold Rock Beach in here.

And I know this didn't happen in Freeport, but it's by the far the cutest thing I've ever seen. Or you that you will ever see either. And I got it while I was in Freeport. So it counts. My favorite!


November 8, 2012

Single Digits

We're in single digits now before we get to go home! The pessimist in me is checking the National Hurricane Center every day because I'm sure there will be a hurricane or something to keep us from coming home, even though I know it's extremely unlikely this time of year.

My patience is just running a bit thin. Something that is so close, but we still have to wait a bit. And if you know me at all, patience is not my strong suit. I'm just so excited to see family again, snuggle Emmy and just be home. Plus, we are coming home right around holiday season. What a better welcoming than Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We've had a busy week preparing for Dominica, too. We've secured our housing at a place called Comfort Zone. It's a small one bedroom on the third floor. It comes with a back up generator, back up water, maid service and routine pest control. Fancy! Definitely a priority item that has been great to check off.

Here's a clip of what it will be.

And we booked our flights! We will be leaving December 28 out of O'Hare. We fly into Miami and stay overnight. From there, we leave early morning and arrive in San Juan. Then we head to Dominica and arrive around 2 p.m. on December 29.

We also chipped away some more on our shopping list - battery operated lanterns, fan, mini crock pot, bedding - all checked off.

And the Womack's got a car rented for us to use the last weekend. That way, we aren't having to pay a taxi or rely on a taxi to get everything ready to go. It will be less money and much more convenient! It's no QQ since we needed to get a SUV to fit all of our luggage, but it will do!

The weather here has been absolutely wonderful! We're certainly getting our fall weather fix. And I love not having the AC on. I have been wrapped up in a blanket most of the day. And I wish I would've brought pants.  But don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying every shiver.

Matt had his last class today! Yay! From here on out, they will just be having review sessions to get ready for Mini 3. One week from now he'll be all done!


November 5, 2012

Home Stretch

We are in the home stretch! This is our last full week here in Freeport. Looking back, it does seem like we've been here for a long time, but the days go by rather quickly. I think everyone here is ready to go home.

Matt's final is next Thursday. So needless to say, he is preparing in many different ways for Mini 3.

This week's schedule has been altered a bit to accommodate time for more review sessions. However, they are still learning new material until Thursday.

Starting this Friday, there will be review sessions every day up until next Thursday's test. The first half of Mini 3 will cover the material learned after Mini 2 till current. The second half is a cumulative test for the semester. They get four hours to complete the test.

Here's his strategy for these last couple of weeks:
  • First, make sure to learn all of the new material.
  • Second, go back and review all of the previous material. It's important to understand the concepts and high yield topics.
  • Third, knowing how all the materials relates to one another. 
  • Doing several Q & As to figure out where there are holes in his knowledge.
  • Finally, focusing on the now. He's trying not to get wrapped up in going home or thinking about Dominica. 

Here are a few things he's doing to prepare physically for the Mini.
  • Sleeping well! His goal is to be in bed by 10 p.m. - no later than 11 p.m.
  • He's planning on getting up around 5:30 a.m. to get some studying in before the review sessions.
  • Eating well. Suppose that means I'll be making Taco Pie.
  • Start running again. (Poor guy has gained about 15 lbs. since we got here from just sitting around and studying all the time.) The running will keep his mind fresh and just help to make him feel better overall.

So while Matt's head is in the books, I'm preparing for Dominica. I've checked several things off of my shopping list thanks to online shopping. I'm a little overwhelmed by the fact we will have to ship everything the first week in December to be sure it arrives when we do. That means, we have two weeks to get our Visas sent in and finish shopping so we can ship. Yikes!
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