I thought I was so grown up pulling up to campus with my high hopes and dreams and what I thought was my brainiac of a mind and though I was so nervous, I was so excited to see what this school had to offer me. Since then I have learned a lot about myself, what my future career holds, and about the world. I can now look back and think wow I was so naive, but one thing that remains unwavering is the passion and drive that I have.
My expectations were high, I was going to be a biochemistry major, I was going to get all A’s, I was going to make tons of new friends, and I swear I felt like I was about to take on the world. Well one thing about that list is true, I made a lot of friends and that is one thing I am grateful for.
I learned biochem is hard! I hate chemistry! It is not like high school chemistry at all, which I am not sure why I would ever expect it to be, but something about how all these atoms make up everything but you can’t even see them is just hard for me to conceptualize. And there’s more: there are even SMALLER particles that make up an atom! And if that is not bad enough, you have to take through calc III just incase you would not hate your life enough. I wanted to do biochem because I heard it is extremely impressive for medical schools, and now I understand why because it takes a genius and someone with a death wish to pursue a degree in biochemistry. Then I found out that medical schools do not even care what you major in as long as you take the prerequisites to do well on the MCAT and oh man did that save my life. I have decided to major in biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience as well as a minor in gender and health and it feels so good to be intrigued and studying on my own time because I am interested in what I am learning instead of crying in my room about pi and sigma bonds and how apparently they have these imaginary anti bonds.
That leads me to my next point, C’s really do get degrees. Just because high school was ridiculously easy for me and I was able to slack off does not mean I can actually try my best and get an A. Sometimes your very best is a B or even a C and that is okay! It does not feel great, I am not going to lie but once I realized that I am trying as hard as I can I am still getting the most I can out of that class and that is all I can expect of myself.
The last thing I learned was take time to relax. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with stress and to do nothing but study and homework, but it is SOOO important to still take care of myself. Time went by so fast so if I am studying for 5 hours straight, do not be afraid to take a break and run or hang out with my friends. I will never get this time back in my life so I need to not just do well in school, but make incredible memories and amazing friends. They say these are the best years of our lives, but if my nose is always stuck in a textbook I won’t be able to experience the beautiful campus and lively people that I am surrounded with.
When someone says stress, us college kids have no reaction because stress is a normal thing that is built into our lives. As much as we feel like we literally are stress, the noun, we do not suffer much compared to a lot of people. In discussion we learned about the immense levels of stress that people of lower socioeconomic status have to deal with whether it be the neighborhood they live in is unsafe or being uncertain about how one will put food on the table.
Being in a lower socioeconomic status comes with its own stressors, so people apart of this community that also have to deal with racism have an even more dramatic health deficits than those who do not. Not only do they have to worry about struggling financially and all that comes with that, but they have to worry about how others around them are perceiving them and deal with being judged by nothing other than the color of their skin.
We have all seen the news articles with the headlines about people of African American descent being unrightfully shot by a Caucasian police officer, or someone being assaulted for wearing a headscarf and someone assuming they are a terrorist when it means nothing other than religious and cultural purposes. We have seen first hand racism right here at U of M where everyone is suppose to be open minded and accepting. In lower income areas, this is emphasized and the repercussions for it are limited.
My question for all of you is what are some additional stressors that racism might impose?
On the way to my first semester of college, I was the most nervous I have ever been in my entire life. Up until that point I had always gone to school with the same group of people and never really had been on my own. If only I would have known all the valued friendships I would make or all the fun I would have I probably would have jumped in the car and drove a hundred miles all the way here. It is so funny reflecting on the person I was then and how much I have grown in such a short period of time. In a personal sense, I have become so much more comfortable in my skin and really embraced the person that I am. I have really come into my own and found myself, which I think this community aided me to do. In a professional sense, I have gotten a lot of experience in professional settings like hospitals because of the observations along with interviews. Talking to a professional can be really intimidating, especially when you do not known them. So it has given me a lot of practice to interact and learn key concepts to build a professional relationship. Things I want to improve on next semester is to actually put time into studying and to figure out what studying habits work for me. I am really awful about getting myself to do such an unwanted task and I end up waiting until the day before to actually crack open a book. In my letter to myself I told myself that I was going to put time into everyday and really focus on my academics here, and I just sort of laugh at my eager, nervous self and click the play next episode of Netflix, telling myself I have time for one more before I have to start studying for my exams.
Social identities have a bigger impact on our health than we realize. Before attending U of M, I just assumed that everyone got treated the same when it comes to health care; a broken arm is a broken arm right? Well that is definitely how it should be, but sadly that is not accurate. Sometimes your social identity affects the quality of health care you receive, and a lot of it is done unintentionally. In discussion we discussed how gender is one of the social determinants of health, and I can definitely testify for that. I feel as though being a female sometimes is a disadvantage because as a sex we are stereotypically looked at as more fragile and (as much as I disagree) a wuss when it comes to pain (yet we somehow manage to push a CHILD out of our UTERUSES??). I have had terrible pain in my legs when I run which is terribly inconvenient seen how in high school I was a runner, and still to this day it continues. My coaches and trainer at my high school would just tell me to run through it, that it was nothing. When I begged my parents to take me to the doctor they just tossed it aside and said it was probably nothing. Well after a year I ended up going to the doctor, whom multiple times said I prob just had weak muscles but I knew something was wrong. I ended up having deep muscle tearing in both my legs and now I may have trouble ever being able to run without pain again which could have been prevented if everyone would have just taken me seriously to begin with. That is just a specific example of how gender has affected me personally. A social identity that I think I have an advantage with is probably the fact that I am caucasian just because data shows that overall that race tends to have the best quality of health care, which is very wrong and should not be a determinant in what type of care you receive. My questions for you guys are how much do you think these social determinants affect health care as a whole? What are some examples where you guys feel that you have an advantage or disadvantage when it comes to social determinants in health care? Do you think that there is a way to change this?