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When we were all trying to survive Infectious Diseases (ID), the thought that kept a lot of us going was that M1 year was all downhill after ID was over. Several students from previous years had mentioned this, and their advice pretty much consisted of “Yeah, I think a couple of people failed Embryo, but it really wasn’t too bad – just don’t blow it off and you’ll be fine.” So, I approached my first Embryology quiz optimistic that I would finally have the chance to ease off the pedal just a little bit. I was wrong.

Especially for someone who has never studied Embryology before, it was hard. The first day, we talked about fertilization and that was fine. We moved to stem cells and implantation, and I had no problems. Then we hit gastrulation (where the two-layered embryo develops into three layers) and things suddenly got a lot more complicated. (Also, it is incredibly distracting to look at pictures when your first impression is that the embryo looks like the toadstools from MarioKart – photo taken from our lecture slides).

Watching videos over and over showing the development helped, but I personally found Embryology to be more difficult than ID. When I asked a friend of mine why former M1 classes advised that study demands would be lessened, her response was that they must have repressed the memory—I believe that observation was quite accurate.

Thankfully, everything started to come together in my mind during the second week, which was spent learning the development of each organ system. Going through the lectures, it was clear that without truly understanding the previous week’s material, the exam was going to be incredibly difficult. In slight desperation, I decided to re-watch all of the lectures from this sequence (which I accomplished over two days – I love being able to watch it at 2X).

By reviewing everything in a row, I was finally able to grasp the big picture and things started to make sense. In fact, by the time I took my exam on Friday afternoon, I almost found Embryology enjoyable. The fact that a clump of cells can somehow manage to form a human being is awe-inspiring and learning how this is accomplished is fascinating. However much as I may have liked Embryology by the end, I was still rather relieved when I finished my exam and learned that I had passed. Now, I can enjoy my three-day weekend.

Immediately after finishing my exam, I went to the Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics (DCM&B)’s annual picnic, which this year took place along the Huron River. It was great to talk to my friends and colleagues, but the best part was truly the weather and view. Seeing green all around and having the sun shining down, I was perfectly content where I was. There was nothing I felt an immediate urge to do, except soak up the warmth and smell the barbeque (sadly, no roses nearby).

Today (and tomorrow and maybe Monday too if I can swing it) I will be doing my favorite Memorial Day weekend activity – playing golf. I haven’t actually had a chance to go out and play yet this year, and I’m itching to pick up my clubs. Announcing the date for this year’s Dean’s Cup golf outing (July 13) this past week has only made the desire stronger. But the weather is beautiful, and I’m going back to the course on which I learned to play. It was also my high-school team’s home course, so I know every nook and cranny (or, more accurately, every divot, sand trap, obscuring tree branch, water hazard, or thick marsh), mostly because, at some point in my life, I’ve hit a ball there. Thankfully my days of covering every inch of the course are mostly over, and instead I hit shots more like these:

The first picture is from my drive on a par 4 and the second is for a par 5. These were taken a couple of years ago in early April, so the trees had not yet grown their leaves.

This lovely weather feels like summer and yet I still have one more week of classes, one more exam. The undergrads at Michigan were done in mid-April, so I’m ready to be done already. Our last sequence is Human Growth and Development, which everyone says is easier and hopefully they’re not repressing any memories this time. 🙂 At any rate, we are almost done and it’s been a long journey. The amount of information I’ve stuffed in my head (and subsequently forgotten) is astounding but I’m so happy to be here. I’m glad to be at Michigan; all that’s left to say is “Go Blue!” and, next week, I can finally say “School’s out for summer!” with an awesome Alice Cooper riff playing in my head…

Sara is a fourth-year medical student at UMMS. When not in the hospital, she can usually be found on the golf course or at a Michigan sporting event cheering on the Wolverines.