I’m Bethan and I am currently a first-year medic at Queen’s. I’m from Ingleton, which is a small village in the Yorkshire Dales, and I went to a state school nearby.

Medicine at Oxford is quite different to many other universities. Being a traditional course means that our first three years are pre-clinical, and so are very focussed on the science underpinning medicine. In the first year, the content is divided into physiology and pharmacology, organisation of the body, biochemistry, and medical genetics. We study these in a variety of ways, including lectures, tutorials, and seminars. Much of our learning is reinforced by practicals. Anatomy is supported by sessions in the demonstration room, where we have access to prosected specimens, and we have histology practicals where we use microscopy to look at the cellular organisation of tissues.

Tutorials are a brilliant opportunity to discuss topics you have learnt/will learn about in lectures in much greater detail with tutors who are knowledgeable about the subjects covered. They’ve definitely been one of my favourite aspects of the course, particularly because the tutors at Queen’s are so friendly and patient. Our organisation of the body tutorials in the first year are run by practicing doctors, which means that we’re able to discuss anatomy, embryology, and endocrinology in a very clinically relevant way. Our tutorials vary in size – for biochemistry and physiology & pharmacology tutorials, we go in pairs, while our organisation of the body tutorials are either in threes or with all six of us together.

Another part of the course that I’ve found very rewarding is the patient/doctor course. This involves us going in pairs to meet patients with diseases we’re learning about at the time (e.g. diabetes or a heart problem) in their homes, where we get to talk to the patient and start practicing history-taking. After each meeting with the patients, we then meet as a group at a local surgery with our GP tutor, and discuss the patients we’ve seen.

College experience

While the workload in Oxford is pretty full-on, there’s still lots of time for doing other things, both in and out of College. I took up rowing this year – while I’m very much lacking in ability, I’ve really enjoyed the social aspect of it, with tug of warpids (the off-water replacement for Torpids, which was cancelled because of the river levels) being a particular highlight. There have also been a number of Medic bar crawls and crewdates throughout the year which have been fun ways of getting to know the other students doing the course and making friends outside of College.

My favourite thing about Queen’s is the people – everyone is so friendly – and it is lovely to have the opportunity to get to know people from such a wide range of backgrounds, and with such varied interests. The Beer Cellar is a social hub, where I have spent many a happy evening chatting with friends, as well as attending the ‘bops’ (parties) that take place there. The library at Queen’s is also a wonderful resource: with three floors, each with a distinct atmosphere, there’s a desk for every occasion (mainly frantic essay-writing after a period of procrastination).

One of the aspects of life at Queen’s that I have found most reassuring is the College family system. Each Fresher is given college parents, who are there to be asked stupid questions, to give advice about your course and student life, and as friendly faces to look out for around College. Evensong in the chapel is another thing I’ve found very relaxing, and you definitely don’t need to be religious to appreciate it. I’m an atheist, but I love listening to the choir singing so beautifully, and it’s the perfect opportunity to take some time out from the busy Oxford life.

It would also be criminal for me to talk about life at Queen’s without discussing Hall. College lunch is the highlight of every day, and is what keeps me going through long mornings of lectures. The roast dinners also deserve a mention – I have been known on several occasions to have one for both Sunday lunch and Sunday dinner, which speaks volumes about how delicious they are.