Preparing for a new semester

It’s not long at all until I start back in college for my second year. I’ve been getting organised, in between work and seeing friends and family, and I thought I’d share my routine with you!

 

First thing I do is organise my notes from the previous semester. After exams, my notes are in a total shambles, so I have to put everything back in order before I do anything else. It’s good for refreshing my memory on what we’ve already covered as well.

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Next, I get my big binder. You can buy them new but there’s always a local office ready to throw out a pile of them so try asking around. They’re usually happy to get rid of them, you don’t have to pay for them, and in the end you’ve managed to save something from the dump which is great for the planet!

 

My college has a website which lets you browse through the modules on different courses, I think most do. I use it to look ahead and see what modules I’ll have, what kind of assessments there are for each of them, and what kind of content there is. It gives me a rough idea of what the semester will look like. If you can get chatting to someone on the course, definitely do it! Their first hand experience is really helpful.

 

This one is fairly important: find your uniform! Every little bit – fob watches, shoes, ID cards, whatever you need. Anything that can be washed, give it a wash. My uniforms sit in a bag for months when they’re not used so I like to freshen them up and make sure I have everything.

 

I also check things like my backpack and food containers for any sign of damage or wearing down. I bought a new (cheap) backpack during first year and didn’t check it but found a big tear in the top of it on a rainy day – not ideal. So throw an eye over your everyday pieces and make sure they don’t need repair or replacement.

 

Next, I get out my planner (I always buy from the Happy Planner Company). Any dates like study breaks, placement blocks, birthdays, deadlines…they all go in as soon as I can write them down. I am one of those people who can’t function without some kind of diary and I always recommend people use one whether it’s a big paper one or an app on your phone.

 

One of the last things I do is look at stationary. I make sure I have all my bits and pieces for college and for placement before  go to the shops. Usually all I have to buy is black pens and refill pads. I’m a really visual learner so I try to have a good stock of colourful pencils and markers for my notes.

 

How do you get organised?

 

 

 

 

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How I stay organised in college

One of the most frequent questions I’ve gotten in the past few weeks is how I organise my notes for college. This is just my own little way of organising things, it’s what has worked for me personally. It might be totally different for you. Trying a few different things will help you figure out what works for you. This system might even change for me in second year, change again in third year..it’s all about adapting to what you need.

 

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So first thing I look at is my main folder. For now, I use one giant ring binder for each semester. Within that folder I have a few dividers to keep my notes for each module separate.

 

 

In each module section I have the module descriptor, so I can keep track of what exactly I should have done and what’s coming next. It’s especially useful for figuring out which topics I need to revise at the end of the semester. I print off almost all of my notes (I swear I do love the planet but I just can’t read off a screen), pop them in each section, and try to make one page summaries of each piece as we finish covering them in class to make revision easier.

 

As well as all these sections for each module, I keep a calendar at the very front. I buy a pack of week-to-week sheets from Flying Tiger (see the picture on the right below). Because our timetable is constantly changing it’s a much easier way for me to keep track of where I need to be. I write in the topics we cover in each class at the end of the day. I keep track of my placement hours, extracurricular activities, and study plans in these weekly charts too. I also have the full year plan at the very front, so I can look ahead to placements, exam weeks, breaks, anything.

I put together all of my assessments in one document which I keep near the front of the ring binder. It reminds me of the assignments every time I open the folder, and lets me keep track of deadlines and learning objectives.

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For my every day notes, I try to keep things as small and light as I can. It saves my back and leaves more room for snacks in my bag too. I bring one plastic envelope folder, which I aim to sort out the night before so that I can enjoy those extra few minutes in bed instead of pulling apart my ring binder looking for the right notes. In writing this post I’ve had the idea that maybe I should keep my weekly planner pages in that folder too – I’ll try it out and see if it makes any difference.

 

We only have one or two written assignments per semester, so I keep those in separate folders. I always end up printing heaps of research for assignments so I prefer to keep them out of my regular class notes. If I need to refer back to them for something it’s a little easier to pull out the right part.

 

And then I have my giant placement folder. I keep copies of my placement evaluations and learning objectives in here, as well as copies of my clinical skills book. I have a record of every day that I attended placement, the hours I worked, and the names of my preceptors, as well as the guidelines for my scope of practice for every placement. If I get any handouts or take any notes I keep them in here as well. The folder is pretty full already after just one year so I might need to take a few bits out and store them somewhere else. Remember, it’s all about adapting to changes during your course!

So last year before I started my course I wrote an essentials list for midwifery students (which you can read here). After a year of working with what I had and envying some of the things my classmates had, I thought it would be a good idea to update a little! This is the college list, for when you’re in every day. The placement list will be posted soon!

 

Plastic folders: I prefer to use one plastic envelope folder for all my class notes everyday. It’s pretty durable, keeps all the notes safe from leaking bottles or rain soaking through my bag. I also find that I’m less likely to forget things if it’s all in one folder that I ideally prep the night before.

Ringbinders: I used one gigantic ringbinder to keep all my notes from the semester. So I’ve one for first semester and one for second semester of first year and I plan on doing the same for second year. I have little dividers in to separate each module (and everything is colour coded).

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Notebooks: whatever you want to write in. I use unlined A4 paper, one book at a time rather than one book per module just to reduce how much I’m carrying around.

Pens, pencils, highlighters: all the regular stationary bits. My pro tip comes from my mam – I have tendonitis in the hand I write with so during my Leaving Cert my mam bought me like a million pens with all different widths. When my hand started to get sore I just changed to a pen of a different size.

The books: The two main books are Mayes and Myles. I do not recommend buying a textbook before you start. Wait until you get in, talk to the lecturers, and have a nosy at the different kinds of books in the library. Textbooks are pretty expensive (I paid about €45 for my Mayes on http://www.bookdepository.com). However you’re probably safe enough investing in a skills book like this one.

A diary: I have always gone with the Happy Planner Company but any planner will do the job as long as it fits your needs. Your timetable will likely change from time to time during the semester, and midwifery comes with a fairly busy schedule so it’s important to keep track of things somewhere you can check easily. Some people use their phones which is perfectly fine, I’m just a pen and paper kind of person.

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💐BACK IN STOCK💐Super excited that our student #Midwifery week to view format planners are now back in stock 😍 Those of you who preordered and are awaiting yours, they are being posted out today and tomorrow! If you’re awaiting a birth register with your planner, the set will be posted out after our birth registers arrive (hopefully!) at the end of this week❤️🎉! Make sure you order if you haven’t yet, delivery times may start to increase over the next few weeks as we steam in to our busy season! Paramedic, ODP and nursing planners in stock too! #thehappyplannercompany #midwifery #midwives #midwife #midwifelife #midwiferystudent #studentmidwife #studentmidwives #studentmidwifelife #midwiferyupdate #futuremidwife #midwifeinthemaking #midwivesrock #healthcare #inittogether

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Reusable coffee cup: you will drink copious amounts of your favourite hot drink throughout your career, and it’ll start in college. Lots of colleges and cafés offer discounts for using your own cup which is great for saving money as well. And you’ll be helping the environment, which is good for everyone, especially all the babies you help into the world.

A decent lunchbox: I went for an insulated thermos type lunchbox, purely because I prefer my dinner in the middle of the day rather than the evening. It’s not a bad idea to invest in a really good leakproof box because you’ll use it in college, on placement, everywhere. I sometimes carried my lunch in a separate bag just to keep it away from all my college gear.

Powerbank: this is my lifesaver. Trying to get a socket in college is near impossible. I’m constantly on my phone checking timetables, reading emails, messaging classmates if we’ve a group project on, chatting to my friends at home and abroad on their lunch breaks. It’s also very handy placement when you accidentally leave your phone on in your locker all day and the power is drained when it’s time for you to get home.

A backpack: not a shoulder bag. Not a handbag. Looking after your back health starts now. A backpack with proper straps and supports is the best choice you can make. Make it big enough to fit an A4 folder or laptop, whatever your essential bit of kit is.

Laptop case: I tend to not bring my laptop to college because it’s a bit chunky and heavy, and I prefer hand writing my notes. But if you’re bringing one, protect it! Put it in a case that seals all the way up and ideally is waterproof (be prepared for every disaster).

Water bottle: I use the bobble 1L bottle because we only have two water fountains in our building as well as the café which will refill bottles for free, but I hate queuing so I like being able to just use any tap. Staying hydrated will help to keep you alert in classes.

 

 

So those are the essentials as far as I can remember. If you think I’ve left anything out let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

2013: why I failed and why it’s okay

Apologies for the long gap between this post and my last post! I have no excuse other than laziness and procrastination. And so today I’ll be touching on that same laziness and procrastination.

As I’ve said before, I sat my Leaving Cert twice. Once in 2016, and once in 2013. Obviously I was a lot more successful on the second try! But I’ve been thinking about what went wrong the first time.

I have never been particularly studious. I know I’m intelligent and more than capable when I put my mind to it. But I had always done the bare minimum amount of work. I was pretty sure I was going to get the points that year, and get my place, and go off to college alongside my friends. I would be qualifying as a midwife this September instead of starting the course. It’s a strange thought.

But clearly, that didn’t happen. About this time four years ago, I was offered a place in the Pre-Nursing course. I remember it so well, I picked up the post on my way to a study session in the school (it was the easter break) and the letter was there. I bounced into the library and was congratulated. I wonder did I get even more  laid back from there? Was I doing any work at all before that point? Or did I, as my mother predicted, sit back and relax with the security of having somewhere to go that autumn?

 

I remember getting my Leaving Cert results that first year, and feeling sick. I threw myself into helping my friends add up their points, congratulating every single girl near me, avoiding the teachers who would ask how I did. I went home and got back into bed. I had a really, really long cry. I went out and did everything I could to avoid thinking about any of it. I avoided checking my email when college offers came a week later.

I felt like the biggest failure. I struggled to be excited about starting the one year course. After about ten days, I just had an intense feeling of relief. At least I had somewhere to go, something productive to do for the next nine months. It would at the very least get me a job (which it did), and the best that could happen would be it got me into midwifery (which it didn’t).

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I think the point of this post is to not let one failure feel like the end. I have more failures to ramble on about, 2013 is the first of many. But as I see offers and rejections in the UK rolling out, I do sometimes get pulled back to that feeling. I can only speak for myself, but I am quite glad that I didn’t get what I wanted in 2013. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Now, at twenty two, I am so much more experienced than that eighteen year old girl. I am stronger. I am smarter. I have finally started to grow some kind of backbone, and stand up for myself in professional settings. I don’t take things so personally. I’m happier too, and I think that’s so important. If you get rejected from one or more university, if you don’t get your first choice (or any of your choices, like me), it is absolutely fine to fall apart for a little while. The key part is getting yourself back in one piece.

If you find yourself facing rejection, I have a few tips to offer:

  • Let yourself feel sad. It’s okay. You can wallow for a while, this is tough stuff.
  • Do something to make yourself feel good. Do your hair or your nails, get up and dance, go to the ocean or the mountains.
  • Do not lock yourself away.
  • Do not give up. Look at this as extra time in the journey – what experience can you get between now and the next try? What can you do for yourself?

So, accept failure! It is definitely a learning experience. If you have stories to share about failure in your college applications, job applications, anything at all, leave it in the comments (you never know who it could help). If you want to chat about anything I’ve brought up, please let me know!  ❀