Settling In

The shock of just how different PT school would be from undergrad is something that hit me hard and quick. Throughout grade school and high school, I was always a pretty smart kid. I enjoyed doing homework and learning, school was never very difficult for me. I ended up graduating from high school just a few credits short of earning my associate’s, I was one of those students. When I got to Florida International University for undergrad, there was a bit of adjusting. I found myself studying more and having to apply myself more than I ever had previously but I still did well without putting forth maximal effort. (In hindsight, I should have taken it a bit more seriously and because I didn’t, I retook some classes before my acceptance to UMPT. But hey, I ended up just where I wanted to be so I’m not stressing it!) But then, I started PT school and anything less than high gear wasn’t going to cut it! Settling into PT school was something I didn’t quite perfect until about a year in, and that’s still debatable, but I surely had to make adjustments quickly!

So, what was so different?

Free time doesn’t feel like free time

Until anatomy, I never had felt so guilty turning Netflix on ever in my life. A new season of Orange is the New Black came out on Netflix the week of our second exam, I told myself I was allowed only one episode a day and only if I had completed “X” hours of studying before it. I would literally watch the episode with a constant little voice in the back of my head reminding me of all of the productive things I could be doing…even if I had been productive ALL day! It took me some adjusting to allow myself to enjoy free time, and plan time into my busy weeks where I could just sit back and turn on Netflix. This became a lot easier once I started to feel like I was doing better in my classes.

Free time might not actually even exist

So unless it was a break between semesters free time never truly existed. Yes, I made sure to give myself time blocks to be as unproductive as possible but by no means was that synonymous with free time. In my program, there was never a time where my to-do list was blank. There was always another quiz coming up, a daunting week of midterms/finals lurking ahead, or housekeeping kind of things to do. But just as I scheduled time for myself to grocery shop, cook, eat, workout, and sleep I scheduled myself “free time.” I may or may not have had days where I binge watched Grey’s Anatomy for 5 hours just because it was a rough week. But hey, I earned some fake free time!

Studying is not a night before kind of thing

Unless you’re trying to make yourself miserable or you’re a super genius, studying the night before just won’t slide anymore at the graduate level. I personally found myself studying practically every day! And when a big test was coming up the studying turned into high gear a few days prior and an all-out stress fest the night before. In undergrad, I was such a last-minute studier! One specific time I recall is going out to a Halloween party, making it home around 3 A.M., taking a shower and 2-hour nap then waking up to cram for an 8 A.M. exam…. Yeah, I can’t say I’m not proud of the fact I still did well on that exam but I could never and would never try to pull that off in PT school!

The content wasn’t unbearably unrelatable, finally

At last! Class wasn’t just a place to sit and scroll through social media anymore. It’s such a nice change to finally enjoy what’s being presented to you. No more microbiology of a plant or statistics. Seriously, who thought we’d need two courses of statistics to become a physical therapist? Or physics… do not even get me started. But yes, finally the content of our courses was relevant, interesting, and challenging in a way that made me want to understand everything. There’s something so much better about learning when you’re passionate about the subject. I complained a lot about all of the studying I had to do and some pretty dry lectures but everything I learned in PT school was so much more interesting than undergrad! Now out on clinicals I can actually see a lot of the things I’ve learned come to life. How cool!

Motivation blossomed out of me

And naturally, with all of the above being said I was truly motivated. Motivated to learn, to understand, to do well. I have always been one to set high standards for myself and do well in school but the stakes got higher. I was motivated to understand everything so that I can go out there and be an amazing PT that represents “The U” well!dsc_3466.jpg

The transition from undergrad to PT school wasn’t something that happened over night after the first day of classes, or after the first semester even. I spent a lot of time toying with my schedule, study habits, and work-life balance to ensure I was giving myself a fair shot at doing well and not becoming an insane homebody. Looking back, I think I did a pretty decent job! Now… how do I balance my life as a real adult with no school when that time comes?! I guess I’ll just have to settle in again.



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