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Social Life, Student Atmosphere and Getting to Know People

There are a lot of things that go through my mind as a high school student thinking about doing medicine - one of which is the lifestyle aspect of university. I've written a few things down below which I wanted to ask:
  1. How to make friends? Yes, I know, it's the most cliche/childish question to ask. The reality is that it's a pretty important question though. Specifically if you end up going to a university far away (where none of your friends or acquaintances end up going), how are you supposed to get to know people, make friendships and build stronger relationships with people? I'm guessing (on average) a medical school will have around 200-300 students studying per year level (and above 1000 students from all the year levels)? With such a large number of people, are there any ways you can get to know people better (e.g. are there certain activities or clubs you can join)? Also, is there much of an opportunity to meet people from other faculties (such as business, law schools etc.)? I suppose that with medicine being one of the most 'full-on' courses out of all in university, it must be hard to find the time to do this, but is it manageable to balance work and social life?
  2. Student Atmosphere. What is the student atmosphere like in most medical schools? Do they have positive and supporting environments where students can get to know each other well and interact outside of universities campuses? I've heard from students that smaller universities (such as JCU) have a more friendly atmosphere, and due to the lesser number of students, they get to more contact with each other and get to know most people on campus pretty well. In contrast, some students from bigger universities located centrally in more denser parts of the city (e.g. Uni Melb and Monash), feel like their environment is less student orientated due to the bustle of the city, and there is less opportunity to get to know people around campus. What are your thoughts on this, and based on past (or current) uni experience, can people share their current views on their uni social life?
  3. Jobs. Is it challenging to find a job which fits in with the time schedules of medical school? If so, what types of jobs do most med students take on, and what is the rough income p.a. needed to support a decent life (i.e. accomodation, food, bills and other expenses)?

*Couldn't find a specific thread that encompasses the listed topics. Please move as necessary.
 

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threefivetwo

suffering from chronic swag
  1. How to make friends?
You join societies (clubs) and branch out from there. You also make friends through courses. Yes, it's manageable to balance work and social life - it's all up to you. University is what you make of it, and that's really what the answer boils down to.

2. Student Atmosphere
I'm not a medical student (currently study Biomedical Engineering) but will pitch in with my understanding - I hope a current med student can chime in with their more relevant perspective. Generally, you'll find the environment to be supportive, and hopefully positive. There'll always be some toxic people, but that's just how it goes. I would be careful about generalising smaller university = get to know other people better. I go to UNSW, and find that there're as many opportunities to socialise (shout out to Roundhouse) - it's just up to you to seek it out. It's easier to feel isolated within a large cohort, but my personal experience is that you usually interact with a core group of friends with some uni friends in the mix, so in the long run it's not that much different. Whether you're troubled by the perceived lack of opportunities to get to know people better on campus comes down to your personality. I prefer having a smaller group of friends who I can have higher quality interactions with.
My understanding is that most medical students take on casual / part-time jobs which allow them to take on shifts as needed, or do other things such as private tutoring. Types of jobs - that's really up to you. Here's a guide on living costs for students. In general, you'll have some sort of financial support (to my understanding) - it's difficult to work the hours required to support without compromising your quality of study. You should also consider time spent cooking, commuting etc which are also a cost in themselves. Again, I hope that a current med student chimes in :)

I'll also note that the answers for these questions can be found with some research - the forums aren't a bad place to start!
 

dotwingz

Google Enthusiast
Moderator
My experience with making friends at uni was pretty seamless. You meet a lot of people very quickly, you're bound to click with some of them. Some join societies, some make friends at work, or from sports teams. The only difference with school imo is that you have to put effort into coordinating things with people, you just dont rock up to class at the same time and spend the whole day together like school (at least that was my experience with alot less tight of an undergrad degree than med is)

Student atmosphere is what you make of it. I'm the kind of person to have a close knit group of homies and not give a rats ass about the environment around me. There will always be try-hards, flogs, gossipers, etc... just stick to your own lanes and you will be fine. In general though, medical schools are good places to be, theres no reason for anyone to be overtly annoying, although these personalities do exist.

I would say most people work to help support themselves in graduate medicine, i suspect not as much in the early years of undergrad. It's very doable, especially part time with a set schedule around your uni commitments. I personally find that having a job is positive for mental health, even if it is boring. There's alot of information in these forums about uni timetables, and how people work around them.
 

Wolverine

Member
How to make friends? Yes, I know, it's the most cliche/childish question to ask. The reality is that it's a pretty important question though. Specifically if you end up going to a university far away (where none of your friends or acquaintances end up going), how are you supposed to get to know people, make friendships and build stronger relationships with people? I'm guessing (on average) a medical school will have around 200-300 students studying per year level (and above 1000 students from all the year levels)? With such a large number of people, are there any ways you can get to know people better (e.g. are there certain activities or clubs you can join)?
There's generally a lot of people who don't know anyone so definitely don't be too worried! There's often a lot of events put on by your medical society/the medical school when you're initially starting your studies ranging from things like orientation week to med camp. Due to the structure of my medical course, I'd largely have classes with the same group of people for pre-clinical classes and so I found these were a fantastic way to get to know medical students who I might not have had the opportunity to meet outside of a classroom setting. Additionally, there are generally plenty of groups in medical school whether they be the medical society, sports teams or even things in terms of performing arts (think orchestra or med revue). So those are another avenue where you can meet other students (especially from different years).
Also, is there much of an opportunity to meet people from other faculties (such as business, law schools etc.)? I suppose that with medicine being one of the most 'full-on' courses out of all in university, it must be hard to find the time to do this, but is it manageable to balance work and social life?
I think an important piece of advice I got given when I got into med is to not get stuck in the 'medicine bubble'. You spend significant amounts of time with the same people in med school and so a lot of people fall in to solely interacting with people from medicine. so it's good that you're planning to look to interact with students from other faculties. Speaking generally, most universities have a wide range of societies that encompass the broad range of students across the entire university. Definitely get involved in these as they're great ways to meet students outside of your own faculty. I'm not sure what university you might be attending but societies can range from things in sport, cooking etc. (something for everyone :) ). While medicine is 'full-on', I honestly don't view it to be that significantly different in terms of workload compared to other courses in the first few years (perhaps it is different in post-grad) so there's certainly opportunity to get involved with some if you'd like to!
Student Atmosphere. What is the student atmosphere like in most medical schools? Do they have positive and supporting environments where students can get to know each other well and interact outside of universities campuses? I've heard from students that smaller universities (such as JCU) have a more friendly atmosphere, and due to the lesser number of students, they get to more contact with each other and get to know most people on campus pretty well. In contrast, some students from bigger universities located centrally in more denser parts of the city (e.g. Uni Melb and Monash), feel like their environment is less student orientated due to the bustle of the city, and there is less opportunity to get to know people around campus. What are your thoughts on this, and based on past (or current) uni experience, can people share their current views on their uni social life?
I'm not too sure what you mean by this. If you clarify what you mean, I'd be happy to reply again :)
Jobs. Is it challenging to find a job which fits in with the time schedules of medical school? If so, what types of jobs do most med students take on, and what is the rough income p.a. needed to support a decent life (i.e. accomodation, food, bills and other expenses)?
I know a significant number of students who work so it's certainly not uncommon. The most popular one I believe is tutoring due to the flexibility of scheduling and with medical students generally having good academic results. I've also know medical receptionist is another popular one. Something to keep in mind is the medical school's policy on attendance. They may expect you to always be available any time from Monday to Friday 9-5 and will not accept work as an excuse for not attending.
 
1.
- depending on your definition of "friend," making friends can be easy to hard. if you define friend as someone you can vibe wit then it's super easy to make friends - imo very easy to make acquaintance + party mates/ppl you can hit up to meet up. if you define friend as someone you can trust then ofc itll b a bit more difficult to find friends :))
-top tip: try to not stay wit your high school mates 24/7 n try talkin to ppl by yourself (super hard though but you got this!)
-in yr 1 we share many classes together wit the same ppl so you tend to see the same lads in your class - makes it a lil easier as you can sit next to them n chat
-advice id give would be to be PROACTIVE + make the first move bc most of the time ppl r a lil beta + shy. 2 of my closest friends i made from med was bc i made the first move by msging them first about rando stuff haha so yea make the 1st move n if theyre not interested then cop that L + try again with someone else! easy to say but hard to do, i know. jus give it a shot n put yourself out there basically
-sign up + attend voluntary events - eg medsoc stuff, peer mentoring etc
-if you have any alumni from your high school then hit them up n ask for advice - most of the time they should be very willing to offer advice!
-defs manageable to balance med workload wit social life - it's all time management but also what marks you want. eg if you jus wanna pass then obvs more chill but if youre aiming for HDs then likely lesser of a social life but you can still have one! it's all about efficiency my g

2.
- at unsw, fantastic student atmosphere. ppl share notes, we vibe together n ive barely encountered any toxic ppl or gunners [however i acknowledge everyone's exp is diff]. ppl are super open n like you can hit up your peers to ask med related questions - we b supportive asf (i ask the dumbest qs all the time issa vibe)
- ppl send memes in the cohort gc n we banter a lil after our exams xx
-unsw has a pretty smashing social life n the ppl ive met are all super chill n ive met so many funny ppl so 10/10 exp so far x

3.
- it is somewhat challenging to find employment due to the 5 day sched of med, but it's defs possible + easier if youre self employed eg tutoring
-like wolfie said, ppl tend to be tutors or receptionists. i kno a few ppl who work in retail, albeit christmas casual positions
-unsure what income is needed to support standard of living as i dont live on-campus + dont rely on a job to finance me atm

hmu if you have any other qs n if you end up coming to unsw! id love to meet you kiddo x

love
 
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Hey everyone, thanks so much for your responses!

Wolverine, by the social life aspect of universities, I was mainly referring to the differences in the student atmosphere in the universities themselves. i.e. do some bigger universities (such as the go8) have more study-orientated students who are less outgoing/friendly compared to smaller universities (e.g. JCU) where students may be more tight-knit. Or is this just a stereotype altogether? I hear from students at Uni Melb. that the atmosphere in the campus can be a little gloomy because it's right in the middle of the city and there isn't much of a 'student' vibe, compared to students at JCU who tell me that everyone is really friendly and there is a great student atmosphere because the campus is quite spread out. Would like to hear your opinion on this based on personal experience, or maybe what friends from other universities say about their student atmosphere!

Thanks Deceased for those comments, they make me feel much more reassured about med school! Good to hear that UNSW has a great student atmosphere as well. And I would love to meet you too! I'll be a 2023 student, so not sure if you'll still be there, but UNSW or Monash are my goals for uni, so hopefully I might be able to meet you (depending on if I get accepted or not of course haha). Btw what were your ATAR/UCAT to get in to UNSW?

It's so awesome to hear first-hand student opinions from everyone. In reality, it's quite hard for me as a rural high school student (without a medical school nearby) to ask questions to med students at all. And of course, every university likes to promote their own program and claim they have a 'great student atmosphere', but it's quite hard to know the truth until I ask people like you - so thanks! :)
 

forevafrensbear

Regular Member
You make friends relatively quickly. Depending on the culture of the year but most people will form their own social circles either via tutorial groups, mutual classes, social events or otherwise. These can evolve over time, especially on clinical rotations when you are in smaller groups and previous friends rotate elsewhere. It is important to keep in touch as your friends and colleagues can be lifelong. And makes it easier to refer to one day!

Whilst many will seek part time employment to make ends meet, be aware that your clinical supervisors will not accept “work” as a reason not to meet your term expectations or attendance. You’re a full time student in their eyes. Communication is key here to avoid a poor impression. Tutors, phlebotomists, casual work ... are options.

From what I have heard, UMelb is more competitive than the other Victorian schools. This is however a generalisation.

most importantly, student life is fun! It’s more self directed and independent. You get out of it what you put on/want whether it is social, academic, a balance or otherwise. Enjoy it. And congrats!
 

LeSpicyGinger

Flinders BClinSci/MD I
I thought this was somewhat relevant to this thread but the AMSA national convention is occurring in Adelaide this year. I haven't heard too much about the convention but could someone shed some insight as to if it's worth the ~375 entrance price?
 

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dotwingz

Google Enthusiast
Moderator
$375 will get you close to a 1000 standard drinks worth of goon 😳😳😳 I think this is one of the few times you shouldnt listen to chinaski and avoid trying to recoup your costs
 

forevafrensbear

Regular Member
I see AMSA conferences haven't really changed... hopefully they're no longer making the news documentaries for medical students destroying museum exhibits or other shenanigans. I don't think the tour around the country challenge (where one aims to bed a student from each state) is considered politically correct either these days.

On a more serious note - difficult to speculate on whether AMSA is worthwhile given interstate and COVID-19 restrictions may change how it operates and attendance. Traditionally it was a fun time of social networking.
 
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