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The weather in Ann Arbor these past few weeks has been absolutely lovely. It’s amazing to think about how much we complained (justifiably so) during the long winter, but this weather reminds me of why I love Michigan to begin with.

Yesterday was the 10th annual Dean’s Cup golf outing, where faculty and students come together to compete in a scramble-format tournament, generously sponsored by the Office of Medical Student Education. I was rather concerned all last week, when the forecast predicted rain and occasional thunderstorms (the bane of any golfer’s existence). We were lucky, however, and the weather was perfect as the event went off without a hitch.

One of the best features of the Dean’s Cup is the ability to meet faculty and students from other departments or other years in a friendly, low-pressure venue that involves many laughs and much fun. The Dean’s Cup also offers the opportunity to meet some of the incoming first-years and, in honor of this, I thought I’d offer some advice to the incoming M1s:

  • Don’t study during the summer. It’s one of your last real vacations; enjoy it!
  • If you feel you absolutely need to study this summer, please don’t study textbooks. For those coming to Michigan, I’d suggest reading The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman. It’s required reading (usually by December). I would also keep track of important quotes – it helps refresh your memory of the book later on and will be helpful in your essay reflecting on the book.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new study techniques and switch if you feel it’s not working for you. I probably tried every method under the sun my first year before ultimately deciding on my preferred method (which didn’t happen until mid-January). For those with printed coursepacks, one method I tried was having the pages spiral-bound so I could carry it around with me without needing a heavy three-ring binder.
  • Have fun getting to know your classmates during the first few weeks – you may feel a desire to study the new material but don’t forget to meet the people you’ll be surrounded by and depending upon the next four years!
  • The activities fair is great for learning about all the amazing opportunities students have at Michigan. However, it can be rather overwhelming and you may over-commit yourself without realizing it. I’d suggest thinking about which organizations interest you beforehand. Feel free to sign up for a bunch of email lists (you get so much email, what’s a few more…) but carefully consider the organizations in which you plan to invest time and energy.
  • You will feel overwhelmed at times (or at many times). Breathe and prioritize your to-do list. If all else fails, get a deferral.
  • There are times where you will hate medical school. There are also times where lying in your bed is the high point of your day. (These may coincide). Try to regularly schedule activities that you enjoy so you have something to look forward to. (Exercise every day also helps). Treat medical school as your job – work 9 to 5, then take a break and relax. And remember, it will get better.
  • Read Code Blue. It’s currently being updated, but last year’s version is already available. Previous students give their opinions and advice for each sequence, as well as helpful information about surviving medical school and enjoying Ann Arbor.

For the incoming students, looking forward to meeting you in August! And go outside and enjoy the weather!

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.