And once you are in ...

(Musings of a Firstula)

- Ayesha Mushtaq
1st Year MBBS
(Class of 2014-2019)

Episode 2: Click Here
(By Hajra Saeed)
Episode 3: Click Here
Episode 4: Click Here

So, it has been one month at King Edward Medical University (okay, slightly over a month). One month at the oldest medical school of Pakistan; one month of being a medical student. Oh, and a month of being a hostellite. Which means no more homely comforts, no more doing as I please. No more having the whole bedroom to myself. No more steaming hot lunch and dinner, lovingly cooked by mother dearest and waiting on the dining table only to be consumed :’) No more breakfast in the mornings and no more ironed clothes. Becoming a hostellite also meant spending only one day per week at home, and the frenzy every Monday morning, leaving home while it would it still be dark…

That said, it also marked a transition from being a protected child to a responsible adult. This month had its various shades, from the satisfaction of settling in a much better place than our seniors (the joy is short lived though; we’re shifting to the ruined old hostels in a year’s time probably), to the first pangs of homesickness, that multiply every time we are subjected to the extra spicy hostel food. 

The place that is second home now

Orientation week started on a good note with the white coat ceremony and group photo ( and remarks by certain passers-by seniors: “ye dekho, new first year; pehle din he overalls pehen aye hain” :P ). There were a few lectures in Mayo Hospital’s Academic Department of Psychiatry in the name of ‘Introduction to Behaviour Sciences’ (and I heard later that it was actually a module – the Behaviour Sciences Module). The lecture by Dr. Nazish Imran on ‘Positively Coping with Stress among Medical Students’ was easily the best and most beneficial one. Also, we got a chance to interact with the wonderful and very hospitable Dr. Ali Hashmi, who also came to our rescue when the entire administration of KE ditched the firstulas; and it was Dr. Ali Hashmi who took us to a visit of Mayo on the day allocated for orientation to wards (actually two days were allocated for the purpose – on the second, we were actually abandoned. Nobody turned up at all). He was even kind enough to arrange for us to go into ICU (though it was against protocol!) and obliged to all the wishes of the girls in the group, taking us into cardiac wards as well. Other groups visited various other departments of the hospital and university including emergency, blood bank, forensic museum and minor OTs.

Then there was the welcome we received by a few daring seniors within the relatively safe confines of the hostel in the form of flowers and chocolates (but not before they had given us a taste of what ragging would be like!), and warden’s strict action over the entry of *unauthorized* persons within the hostel. And the way multiple notices sprang up on hostel gates overnight as an aftermath was definitely a source of amusement. Real ragging followed soon enough in university, and some people got ragged really bad too. Everywhere that we firstullas went, seniors seemed to be glaring with predaceous eyes (and they still do, for that matter).

Many were ragged right in front of these posters !

And of course, who can forget the ultimate highlight of orientation week that was saved for the very end, appointment of GR and CR, and the very interesting debates that followed over CR’s initial selection, both on Facebook class group and in hostel rooms. Needless to say, the decision was revised subsequently and the rightful person (merit no. 3) made CR.
The adventurous few undertook the very first trips to Anarkali during orientation week itself, and later more or less everybody had to turn to good old Anarkali whether for the nameplates required by Ma’am Mahjabeen or for getting books. And what a whole load of books it was. What a sight it would be, to see girls holding bags full of books, and running to catch the hostel buses at off time!

Then came the first module and the first lectures as medical students. Seeing and hearing the first insults (not experienced yet :D ), and of course the unforgettable first tumultuous round of applause after the wonderfully French biochemistry lecture by Dr. Ismat on cell membrane! And then the first bunk when back to back lectures on molecular biology became too much for our small brains to absorb.

Days whizzed by; and while we enjoyed the first pizza parties in hostel, when aalo k parathay were on offer in mess one fine night, and the first tea party, the module test slowly drew nearer and nearer. The cheerful, carefree outlook slowly faded, and a depressing gloom settled over the hostel as everybody put their hitherto hidden *theeta* superpowers to full use. People were seen studying in the mess and on stairs, in broad daylight and in emergency lights during loadshedding. Some had their Guytons and Laiq Hussain’s histo wide open while others could be found bent over the lecture slides on their laptops, tablets, or mobiles – whatever they had and whatever they could find. Even the Candy Crush fans took off some time from gaming and employed their mobiles to view the slides instead. And now I see what a good strategy it was – everybody could be smug thinking that you were gaming or texting on your cell, and there you would be, studying (rather cramming) right under the preying eyes of others! The usual table talks were replaced by the frantic questions, “kahan se parhna hai?”, “kitna parh lia?”, “kaisi tyari hai?”, and so on; with group study taking the place of late night chit chat sessions.

Anyhow module came and went, and the first intermodular block sent us running from the old auditorium to one department and then another in search of our classes and, rarely, in quest of the notice boards. After the module test, evenings were spent in a rather leisurely manner, and we hostellites sometimes enjoyed a game or two of badminton or table tennis. Everybody inevitably heaved a sigh of relief over the result of the module test until a few blessed people brought to mind the stark reality that we’ll probably be facing the first substage soon. Meanwhile, we celebrated the first birthdays in hostel, and made the first trips to MM Alam Road.

We left behind our families, and integrated into a new family at hostel, with the feeling of oneness reaching its peak when a majority unanimously decided not to attend university the day PTI was supposed to shut down the city (yes there’re a few spoilsports everywhere though). And what a vibrant family it is, featuring colours of not just various provinces, but various countries as well. All welcomed the foreign students with warm hearts and open arms. We stood as one during testing times as well, with the entire hostel united in feeling sorrow and anguish over the highly condemnable and heartrending attack on APS Peshawar. And of course, near midnight on the 18th of December,  as we all gathered in front of Warden House to hear the announcement about winter vacations. The cries of excitement and the wide smiles at the thought of going home, and then the environment became subdued, as the realization of why we were being sent home and directed to vacate the hostel in the first place, settled in. The hurried packing, the emotional goodbyes and the steady stream of departures since early morning marked the end of the first month as a Kemcolian.
All in all, it has been a month of firsts of all sorts. With the exception of the first substage. And here’s hoping that the substage is kind enough to us firstullas.


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