Bet a Beer on It

I assume you want to do well in medical school. A trick I’ve learned since coming to Grenada is this: talking helps. After you’ve read about the sympathetics and the parasympathetics, spent some time in the library committing the topic to memory and worked through a handful of practice questions you start to feel comfortable with the material. Then you find yourself in a conversation with a classmate, trying to explain the concept to him when you realize: I don’t really know this. You stumble over your own explanation and a couple of excellent questions later you think about all the time your spent working on your wrong answers and you want to cry. At least I do.

That was my second week of class in Anatomy. Afterwards I started studying with the guy that asked the great questions and made sure that we talked through all the concepts every couple of days to keep each other on the ball. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to know that it works like gangbusters. After that we found another person that asked great questions and he was studying with us too.

We were lucky to find each other early on, stick to our schedule for covering each course, and to end up testing well. With the confidence of doing something correctly, you start to see the game emerge between the students and teachers. You begin to read the notes and see the test questions buried inside them. You start coming to group review with questions that you’ve created to stump your friends. They come with questions of their own and you fire back and forth. You bet a beer that such and such will be on the test. You bet three beers and four beers. You have to get out flash cards to keep track of all the bets. And at the end of it all, exhausted from the exam, you meet at the bottom of the hill in front of the D-store to tally-up and celebrate with your class. It’s intoxicating.

Remembering the thrill of learning and the excitement in the eyes of a person that “achieves understanding” of a difficult topic is what you cling to when two solid weeks of exams loom two weeks away and you’re holed up in the library hating the clock as it ticks past midnight. You remember that and then you see an interesting detail in the notes that you bet your friend doesn’t see. And you write it down. And you think about that beer you’re going to win.

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