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10 Things I Learned in My First Semester of Physical Therapy School

1. I’m capable of learning a huge amount of information

It’s amazing how much information you can learn in one semester. We took 15 quizzes, 20 exams, did 2 presentations, and completed 1 project in 16 weeks. We read articles, books, attended guest lectures, memorized so many powerpoint slides, and understood hundreds of muscle attachments, actions, and innervations. It was so easy to feel overwhelmed at times especially because the exams never seemed to end, but now I can look back and feel so accomplished at all that I learned.

2. PT school is so much better than undergrad

It’s really cool to have 31 other classmates that are always there to support you, make you laugh, and challenge you. My college had 30,000 undergrads and 10,000 grad students, and it was so common to have classes with hundreds of people and then only see one or two in future classes. Anyways, there have been plenty of ups and downs, but I always had lots of people I could talk to when I needed them. I always had someone to study with whenever I was tired of working alone. Sure, school is hard work and I don’t love some of the material, but I’m finally learning information relevant to a career, and I’m learning it with an incredibly inspiring group of people.

3. I’m working a lot harder than I did in undergrad

Physics I and II are still the hardest courses that I’ve taken because they were confusing for me, but PT school courses are more challenging in that there is so much information thrown at you, and you have to learn how to study efficiently and retain the information well. However, I enjoy studying for the most part. I’m pushing myself so much harder to keep a 4.0, where I aimed for B’s in undergrad.

4. Coffee doesn’t taste as terrible as I thought

Occasionally I would drink white chocolate mochas or something else that’s full of sugar because I couldn’t stand the taste of coffee. Now I stir in hot cocoa mix with coffee, and try to drink it only one or two times a week. Sometimes I would drink it after class when I had trouble focusing on schoolwork. I know that a few classmates stopped drinking coffee entirely because it was making them more anxious and stressed out.

5. I’m still great at procrastinating

I watched all of Parks and Recreation and Gossip Girl, and got through ½ a season of Jane the Virgin. I started playing Fantasy Football, and I spent hours online shopping and wishing that I could buy all the cute clothes that I want. I tried to keep my Netflix binges to a minimum, but we all know that it’s so hard to resist watching another episode when Netflix automatically plays them!

6. I had plenty of free time

I also realized that I had no excuse to not exercise that much. I did have spare time, and could have went for a run instead of watching a 2nd  TV episode. My plan is to get back into the habit over winter break and winter semester, so that way I’ll keep it up when spring semester begins.

7. I took out too many loans

I accepted the maximum amount that was awarded to me, because I didn’t want to be stuck with not enough money. My program told us the tuition for the entire year, but your first loans only need to cover you through spring semester, so I wasn’t sure how much I actually needed. I do have more than I need, so that interest is building up unfortunately, but I don’t have to worry about paying for anything.

8. I need to create a budget

I do have plenty of money, but that makes it so easy to spend without worrying about how much is in your bank account. I did keep my expenses down and didn’t go out to eat too often, but I’m sure I could have spent less than I did. Now that I know about how much the cost of living in my area is, I should be able to make a good budget and stick to it.

9. It’s hard to keep in touch with your loved ones

I did my best to call every 2 weeks or so, but I’d like to call more often than that. It’s difficult to call during the week because there is a 3 hour time difference, so I would call at 11PM to make sure that my parents were home and were done eating dinner by then.

It’s so easy to just focus on school, especially because staying in contact with family and friends takes effort. My college friends are also busy right now with their own grad schools so we don’t talk often unfortunately.

10. I love physical therapy

Yeah, yeah, I already knew that. There have been countless points in the semester where I’m so interested in the material that it doesn’t feel like studying, or when I look up information for fun. I kept saying that I wish I was a 2nd year student already because they’re learning tests and measures and working hands-on with each other and with patients. I’m so excited to keep learning and spend more time with my classmates


What surprised you about your first semester of PT school? Share your story below!

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