Monday, December 3, 2012

Just Skim It

When I studied for a semester in Spain during undergrad, I took a class on Don Quixote.  The professor "understood" how hard it was for us non-native speakers to read it, so she tried to "make it easier" by telling us which were the important chapters and which chapters we could just skim.

Now, I don't know how many of you have attempted to read any book in a foreign language, much less Don Quixote in it's original Spanish.  It's pretty much exactly like reading Shakespeare... but not in English.  Now, I can't skim Shakespeare and still have a clue what's going on, and I also can't skim even young adult books in Spanish and have a clue what's going on.  I pretty much have to pore over every word to have even a faint idea about what's happening.  So I certainly couldn't just skim 50-100 pages of olde Spanish a night and be able to talk about it intelligently in class the next day. 

This relates to med school, I promise.  Stick with me...

me, reading
I'm working on a research paper that involves reading a billion other papers (more or less) on a rare disease and pulling out specific quotes from those papers.  My boss told me to just skim the papers for the quotes we need.  But since I don't know much about this disease, I feel like I need to read the papers in their entirety so I can actually understand what's going on.  Which is making it go much slower than it probably should. 

In the Don Quixote class, I survived by (DON'T TELL ANYONE EVER) occasionally reading the non-important chapters in English (or much much worse, I even read the spark notes for some chapters --- don't look at me, I'm so ashamed).  I'm still working on a solution for making the research paper go faster, but for now all I'm doing is hoping that the more papers I read, the more I'll understand about the disease, and the faster it will go.

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