Life in a year

by Leoné Pretorius

Even though the year 2021 and its academic activities have not yet come to an end, I think most of us will agree that the first part of this academic year has been filled with a lot of events and challenges that it has felt that we have experienced a whole year within six months. At least that is how I have experienced it…

With a rocky start to commence my studies in February, within the BMedSc Applied Anatomy honours stream, I was still optimistic for the academic year ahead and was prepared to use every opportunity given to me to make a success. I was given the opportunity to have contact classes and dissections for the first part of my General Techniques, Modules 1 and 2 courses.

It has been a real privilege and thrill to be able to interact with other students in my stream and from other streams that dissected or had a class with us (The Biomedical Engineering Master students and the Neuroscience honours stream). Having this opportunity to interact proved beneficial with relaying and solidifying my knowledge in the field together with working up close with my study material.

I had the experience to dissect properly following the relevant study block and it proved immensely beneficial while studying and recalling what I had seen, while I had traced and searched for certain structures. All in all, I was very intrigued by my learning environment and how I was growing throughout it. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, some events would hinder or disrupt these opportunities, and some weeks we would have to resort to online learning. The transition was smooth but commencing contact classes thereafter would prove challenging in the beginning.

Coming from a different university, where I had completed my undergrad, then adapting to UCT (a new setting, lifestyle, and academic activities) has been challenging here and there but also beneficial. Despite some technical difficulties faced with my transition, I must admit that the kindness and support in this environment (with regards to my well-being) is not something I am used to, and I am grateful to my peers and academic team for this experience.

Contact classes, although in my experience, can be very interactive and beneficial can also prove to be very draining, and commencing my Modules 3 and 4 stream was a blissful break in the form of an online platform. Although, being cooped up after 6 weeks, I wanted to go back to class again.

Finishing all my tests, assignments, and exams during this first part was stressful and I have doubted myself more than once, but the assistance and aid given to me was nothing but reassuring. Looking back at all that I have accomplished or overcome, even in this week with 3 exams, my SciComm Infographic, and this reflective piece, I truly am amazed.

For the future and maybe even for prospective students in this field, I would not be able to give an analogy of how I would do things differently and more readily to ensure a successful academic year. Because, as the year 2020 and 2021 has proven to us, no matter how prepared you are or you think you are anything can happen at any time and although being able to adapt is a good trait to have, it is also okay if you struggle at first or do not have the right approach at hand. If anything, I would just like to remind myself and others to always be kind to yourself, the rest will follow.

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