Confessions of a Medical Student: Dropping Out and Other Thoughts

As the academic year comes to an end, I thought I’d reflect on my first year at university.

Here’s the thing- we all have a tendency to sugarcoat. We share all the good, but seldom the ‘bad’ times. Sure, there’s the occasional (or frequent) posts about workload and stress; but how many of us actually openly share our experiences when the goings get really tough? Following my last blogpost, I’d really like to keep the honesty streak going.

First term was a bit of a nightmare for me- it was almost a process of trying to rediscover myself in a sense. Maybe it had something to do with coming to terms with the fact that I no longer had to be the same person that everyone knew me as back home. This blanket of expectation had been lifted; it was a breath of fresh air, yet I was struggling to take it in. I had a tight grip on the past and I didn’t really know how to let go.

I started off Fresher’s Week (fortnight, actually) just fine but quickly began finding all of it both overwhelming and underwhelming. Underwhelming because honestly, the whole Fresher’s Week thing kind of felt overrated and way too hyped up; but overwhelming because there was so much going on- so many new names and faces. It came to a point where I honestly had close to no interest in socialising with people in general. And this scared me. All my life, I had been tagged as the social butterfly of the bunch.

Everything seemed to keep getting worse. I felt like Alice- falling down what seemed like this unending rabbit hole of gloom. Next thing I knew- I was practically not going in for anything because the only thing I wanted to do was curl up in bed, watch Netflix and video call my boyfriend. (Long distance sucks- even though he’s only at Southampton for uni. HI JOHN, MISS YOU! Medicine at Imperial > Medicine at Southampton. Fight me.)

It reached a point where I was becoming overly demotivated and began losing interest in the one thing I had worked so hard for- Medicine. I’m struggling to put how it felt into words but it was almost like being stuck in time as everything and everyone else carried on past you. I spent days on end questioning whether I belonged at Imperial and whether I belonged at medical school. I was petrified that I was ‘burning out’ already and that maybe the best option for me was to drop out before I proved to be even more of a disappointment. Like nobody mentioned frequent breakdowns and existential crises as part of the uni life description, am I right? Or maybe I just missed the memo- huh.

As I desperately need to get back to cramming for exams, I will unfortunately have to put off elaborating on my journey to the ‘light side’ for the time being.

As a quick overview- I have since pulled myself together with the help of my boyfriend; some counselling at Imperial; seeing a GP and being put on medication; and most importantly, finding my best friends here. Shoutout to Anush, Trish, and Prak- who have so graciously put up with my bossiness and mad google sheets for our current property search. Love you guys :’)

In the GIF above, you will find footage of me being attacked by tube doors. I am actually Carrie Bradshaw.

Sending all my love (and all the luck in the world for those of you who have exams),
Alex (:

6 comments for “Confessions of a Medical Student: Dropping Out and Other Thoughts

  1. Hey Alex!

    I’m an international student coming in this October and I would like to ask how the Freshers Week was like. Would it be possible for me to skip it and do you know when actual classes start for the Life Sciences?

    1. Hey Julie!
      Sorry for the late reply! That’s super exciting – a massive early welcome to Imperial! So for Freshers- you’ve got your general IC (Imperial College) Fresher events that take place over one week. Additionally, each ‘department/union’ organises their own events as well. So for instance, School of Medicine (and Biomed) put together this 2-week long schedule of events. Really depends on how much your respective department has planned for you! Moreover, if you’re staying in halls- I believe most (if not all) halls have events planned too!

      As for general IC Freshers, I’d say it’s not massively important to be here for the entire week but may be worth popping in for a couple events as it’s always nice to know some familiar faces. However, in all honesty- I didn’t really attend any of the IC Freshers events. Unless you count Freshers’s Fair- that’s definitely worth going to! It’s when all the different clubs and societies set up stalls around campus trying to recruit new members- you’ll have to wait for a Freshers week schedule update on the Imperial website for the date of that!

      In terms of classes- for us, the first week or so was filled with introductory lectures with an overview into the year and how exams, coursework etc is set out. I believe term begins at the very start of October.
      So to conclude, I’d say it’s not the end of the world if you miss out on Freshers Week but it’s worth being there for at least some of it!
      x Alex 🙂

  2. I seriously appreciate just how open your blog posts are. It’s pretty important that we get a reality check about life at Uni since it’s hyped up so much during our last couple of years at school. I’m still super excited to start next year but it’s definitely useful to be aware things might not pan out to be totally perfect.
    Love the gifs btw.

    1. Hi Sameed!
      Thank you so much- I know not many people are comfortable putting that sort of content out there for the world to see but it was obviously worth it!
      Some people seem to adapt better than others into uni life but, at least from personal experience, it has gotten much more enjoyable throughout the year. Even genuinely excited to start 2nd year as I now feel like I’ve gotten into the swing of things. Best of luck for whatever you do and wherever you go! Fingers crossed you genuinely have a great time from the get go!
      x Alex 🙂
      P.s. YAssss- GIFs for life.

  3. I feel the same, especially about first term and freshers- I too got sick of superficial conversations with people and gave up within a week of it and isolated myself in my room. I spent a lot of Easter thinking about how i wanted to drop out and work in a supermarket because I wouldnt have to deal with of studying. Good job on reaching out for help, i’m sure things will get easier for you.

    1. Hey there,
      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment- always nice coming across more reassurance that others have at some point felt the same way.
      Glad you pushed through, by the way!
      x Alex 🙂

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