Arts and crafting through uni

For someone with a paralysed upper limb, I am ridiculously bad at keeping my hands still. I always need something in my hands. Whether it’s a crochet or cross stitch project, a pen to doodle, just something to fiddle with… Don’t make me sit and just listen. I am like this when I’m in a conversation with someone (making me a rather physical talker), watching a film or series, teaching, waiting in a queue or… you guessed it in lectures and while studying.

When I’m listening to a lecture, the easy solution is to take notes, like students tend to do anyway. But all those hours studying on my own, I need find something different to get my hands on, unless I just start highlighting and doodling entire pages of books, which gets messy. So, I need to come up with fun and educational ways of learning. As a teacher this mindset is great, I was able to spoil my students with projects. I made a 30 Seconds game with a board filled with scientists and cards with the concepts students had to learn. Then, split the class into groups and off they go. A lot of poster projects, reproductive anatomy colouring pages and other projects went around my classroom a lot. But now… I’m the student again, WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HANDS???

My first few weeks of studying were restless and jittery. Taking notes was fine, I unscrewed and rescrewed my pen thousands of times, but then, the teacher brain hit. I started making schematics of anatomical regions and vessels and nerves and bones. I couldn’t draw a stick figure if my life depended on it, but since I’m the only one who has to understand it… It’s fine. My course- and flatmate then showed me an anatomy colouring book, and it’s accurate! Guess what I’m doing while watching a series now? My life is starting to fill up with projects around my studies. I’m scatter braining in every direction, my creativity has taken the wheel and chaos is slowly taking over my desk. But I am thriving. This weekend, I’ve started on a developmental timeline of all the bones. It’s messy, it takes up a LOT of floor space and chaos is reigning. But the information gets stuck in my brain and on the paper, my hands get to move around all the time, and it feels more productive than staring at a book as well. On a lesser note: My shirt is covered in glue, there’s (glitter) pens, markers, and eraser dust everywhere… But I guess I’ll clean that up when I’m done, ugh.

Honestly though, try making something about your course material sometime. Research has shown that information retention is much higher when you try to interact and explain the material, and this is a great way of doing so, so get that creativity flowing people! Maybe I’ll make some embryological disk pancakes soon, with different topping as the three layers… Hmmm…. Pancakes!

Written by:

Hello, my name is Sophie, I am a postgraduate in Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology from The Netherlands. I did my undergrad in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Education, I do archery, a lot of different crafts and I thoroughly love sitting down with a cup of tea and a good book.

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