2 more months to starting MBBS! – What have I achieved so far?

It’s the 3rd of August today, marking just two more months to the start of MBBS (medical degree). Already three months have passed after my Foundation Year final exams!

These are exciting times, as we progress into the 4th month of my break. I do hope we get to attend blending learning (some online classes mixed with some physical classes on campus) at least! That would make the experience more rich and memorable.

So, what have I achieved in the early months of my break, and what do I plan to do in the following 2 months?

Looking back, in the past 3 months I have learnt a few new piano songs, and memorized a few existing ones. I have since practiced at least half an hour daily until now, knowing that I may never have this chance again. As the commencement date of my degree approaches, I have become increasingly aware that, based on past experience, I would hardly play the piano when I become busy, what more if I were to start studying for MBBS, the purportedly most busiest studying stage in my life up till now. Unless I still have a waiting for housemanship gap year after I graduate, this would be the last time I will be able to competently play the piano songs I so enjoy.

Secondly, I have also dipped my foot into a couple of MBBS courses, to do a bit of preparation for what is to come. Although I have not yet studied enough to form much of a buffer for when the hectic MBBS schedule starts, I am still very grateful for the opportunity to try studying some lectures beforehand. This is because I get to play with various study techniques, which gives me an idea of which method is more suitable for me / for each particular course. The courses I have checked out are Cell and Molecular Biology, Anatomy and Physiology 1, and General Pathology 1. So far, I have found General Pathology 1 the most interesting, and Cell and Molecular Biology the most boring. Haha~

Lastly, here are some of the fun things I have been doing on the sidelines. I have been helping my mom with cooking various dishes, and trying to remember the recipes; jogging around in the house every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to get some exercise; reading the 3rd book of a Fantasy trilogy (Firesong), skimming halfheartedly through a book on Finance and Marketing (my dad’s old book), Googling and reading a couple of articles on the Internet (but it’s not enough, absolutely NOT enough! I’ve been taking naps more than I’ve been Googling, and that is against my wishes.), scrolling through Instagram (of course… but it’s very time wasting), watching all 20 episodes of the Korean drama “The Good Doctor” in just 3 days, gardening (transplanting a Hibiscus plant) and playing video games like PUBG (after years of this PUBG craze, I decided to try playing a bit to see what it’s all about!) and an old computer game called Civilization 3. Civilization 3 is not really my thing, but it’s a strategic game that my dad has been playing for more than 10 years, and we’ve listened to the game soundtrack all the time since we were kids.

For the next few blogposts, I will be touching on some of these little things I did recently, which is during my break months. Because when my MBBS degree starts, you know what it’s gonna be — all about studying and the study environment! I think I can make these possibly boring blogposts about med school life interesting for you guys. This is because I have a unique outlook on each of my experiences, and am easily amazed by the little things.

I am truly grateful for the diversity in my schedule during this break, that has allowed my break days to be fun and enjoyable. However, I am also not very satisfied with the meagre amount of studies that I have done thus far – so I am aiming to ramp up the effort on my studies a bit in these final two months. I want to make more progress in my studies so that I may provide more breathing space for myself during my first academic year in med school.

I am also going to record all the piano songs that I can play, just in case this will be the last time I will ever be able to perform a piano song (if opportunities to practice these songs decline in the next few years, I can still play the song, but will no longer be able to perform it. By perform, I mean to play it continuously without much mistakes, and without looking at the music sheet. Having practiced every day in these 3 months, although I might have come to take for granted my improved skills in piano memorization and playing, I know that once I stop playing regularly, the level that I have practiced so much to attain will drop sharply, and knowing how to play almost 10 songs fluidly will become a very memorable Once Upon a Time).

Now, I must get back to studying and preparing for MBBS! Peace out~

Getting my AZ vaccine jab! (22 June 2021)

With all the concern for the AstraZeneca vaccine possibly causing blood clots in young ladies, and I was both young and a lady, my family was not sure if I should sign up for AZ. Eventually, after doing some research and getting more reassurance that the chance of occurrence of blood clots was really small, we decided to go for it.

Finally, on the 22nd of June, 2021, it was time for my jab! My dad drove us to Bangunan Peperiksaan, Universiti Malaya which was the health facility where I was going to get my jab. As I was there, I made note of the timeline of the entire process! Here it is below:

My AZ Process Timeline

1.30 left house
1.50 reach, easily found parking, scan My Sejahtera, take temperature and verify appointment time, number is given
1.55 sit at station 1 waiting area
2.00 number called, go to station 1 counter to receive consent forms
2.05 fill forms at station 2 waiting area, wait for doctor consultation
2.10 number called, go to station 2 counter for doctor consultation
2.15 done consultation, sit at station 3 waiting area
2.24 completed vaccination, go to station 4 to wait
2.27 number called, go to station 4 counter, passed consent form to lady, lady gave vaccination card and said second dose date will come out in 2-3 months (dose also will be in 2-3 months)
2.30 left vaccination hall

*All times above are in p.m.

Things to note

There was no observation time, I’m not sure why.

Links To Scan In MySejahtera During The Process

Normal QR code: while you’re outside lining up to take temperature and verify appointment

Links in timeline:
Link 1 (QR code, click here when arrived at vaccination centre): scanned at station 1 counter
Link 2 (QR code, can’t remember what link says): scanned at single chair right outside jab room
Link 3 (not a QR code): click here when taken vaccination jab at health facility

How I Felt About Taking The Jab

The process was really simple to understand. The only slight confusion was with the links I have mentioned above, all of which the staff present made clear to me during the process. The jab is only slightly painful at the moment of the jab, and I did not feel anything once the needle was removed.

Post-Vaccine Symptoms

My vaccine appointment was supposed to be at 2pm, but I got it just slightly later at around 2.30pm. At 10.30pm (around the 8th hour post-jab, my forehead started to heat up slightly. At 2.40am in the middle of the night I woke up from a fever of 38.6°C. I was feeling slightly nauseous and quite feverish, and had to use a wet towel to sponge myself. It reminded me of having fever as a child, when my mom used to pat me with a wet cloth to bring down my fever. At around 4-5 am, I woke up again in a cold sweat, but soon fell back asleep.

The next morning at woke at 7am with a slight headache. I was feeling quite weak and did not have the appetite for breakfast, but tried to eat anyway. Then I went to get more sleep until 11am. I felt much better after I woke up. My limbs still ached with weakness, but other than that my fever was already dropping at around 0.2°C at a time.

So I would say that my symptoms so far are considered quite mild, nothing too serious, no extremely painful headaches or fever beyond 39°C. It was not comfortable at all, but still bearable. I will still continue to monitor my symptoms though as it has only been one day since I took the AZ vaccine. I’ll update here if I face anymore symptoms!

Things You Need To Bring With You

I’d assumed most people already knew the list of things to bring with them on the day of the jab, but realized that people around me had still forgotten to bring a pen, etc. So I made a list here again, in case anyone might need it:

  1. IC (identification card)
  2. Pen
  3. Handphone (to scan MySejahtera)
  4. Any medication prescription that you might need to show the doctor during consultation

So that was basically how my experience of taking the AZ vaccine jab was like! Do feel free to let me know how it was for you too,

My “Jogging Program”

A few days ago I had added jogging in the house to my daily routine, after realizing that it would be quite a while before I could actually go back to jogging in my neighbourhood park, under tall trees laden with morning dew and to the sound of various elderly people doing Taichi.

On the very first day of the initiation of my “Jogging Program”, I brought my laptop down to the living room, to play some music. I had chosen the living room as my running track, as that was the most spacious space we had in the house. Still, I could do not much but run around the table, then to the empty space near the front door of our house, and back again.

I opened a Chinese song playlist on my laptop and started playing the songs; these songs were not my absolute favourites, but I had decided to explore a bit on the different song genres available, only during my jogging times. That way, I could get a feel for other types of songs, and maybe one day I’d stumble upon something I didn’t know I liked!

So I started jogging. I jogged on my bare feet for a good 20 minutes, but my ankles soon felt sore as it repeatedly took the weight of my entire body; then I started to jog flatfooted, which is not the proper way to jog, and which reduced my momentum. I felt that this would not do, so I thought of a plan.

After the session, I proceeded to wash my long neglected jogging shoes. I scrubbed the base thoroughly, making sure to get all the grub out, and then put it out to dry the next day.

Two days later, I tried jogging in the living room with my clean shoes on. It felt much more comfortable, with the cushion of air in the base of the shoe. From my laptop, a lady sang a breathy song in Mandarin. It also felt good to sweat a bit, as I hadn’t moved around a lot in ages.

It’s good to have started on a healthy routine like this, but I also hope for better days when COVID is over, more of us are vaccinated, and I can go out to my neighbourhood park to jog, play basketball, and breathe in some fresh air!

A cute time management technique: Pomodoro!

The story about how the Pomodoro technique came about is really simple.

An Italian university student was having a hard time focusing on his university assignments. Finally, he decided to focus on studying for a short period of time, and then take a short break after. He went to the kitchen and took a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to use to time himself, and that’s how the name Pomodoro – which means “Tomato” in Italian – came about.

Can you imagine focusing on a productive task in short 25 minute sprints, and then taking a break for 5 minutes, and repeating that step for the whole day?

I did exactly that a few days ago, and instantly became a whole lot more productive. Starting from 6am, I had my pomodoro timer on, a digital one of course. It’s called Pomofocus. Here it is:

Link to Pomofocus, a very simple-to-use, adless Pomodoro timer.
Disclaimer: I don’t own this site! Just recommending it because it is really useful.
It is even red-orangey in colour, just like a tomato!

Here’s how the famous Pomodoro Technique works: You work for 25 minutes (Pomodoro) and take a 5 minute break (Short Break), and you do this for 4 rounds. Then, in the 5th round, you also work for 25 minutes (Pomodoro), but you get a longer break this time: a 15 minute break (Long Break).

It will look something like this:
25 mins work + 5 min break
25 mins work + 5 min break
25 mins work + 5 min break
25 mins work + 5 min break
25 mins work + 15 min break

And you keep repeating the 5 rounds above!
For me personally, instead of working for just 25 minutes, I work for 30 minutes. But that is entirely up to you! You can adjust the time period for Pomodoro, Short Break and Long Break (as seen in the image above) by clicking on the SETTING button (top right of the image).

The first thing that I realized this technique did for me was, since I had become much more conscious of every half an hour I spent, I did not sleep and laze around as much as I usually did. In fact, on my first day of trying out this technique, I hardly lazed around at all. I filled my half an hours with productive things like playing the piano, doing a little bit of studying, cooking, reading the news, etc.

The second thing was that since I was working or doing one of these things in short 30 minute bursts, I would focus on trying to reach a goal by that half an hour. Setting these small milestones made it so much less of a burden to get something done!

All in all, it was quite fun to see just how much I could do, if I just paid a little more attention to where my time was actually going.

Right now, I have actually stopped using the Pomodoro Technique full time, and have decided to use it only when I am studying. The Pomodoro Technique was originally meant to be used for studying anyway, not to time everything in your day’s schedule from your breakfast to the time you take to cook! However, now I am thinking if I should fix certain days of the week where I incorporate the Pomodoro Technique for the entire day. This is because although it is a little exhausting at first, it is very motivating to see how much you can achieve in a day when you fill each and every one of your 30 minutes with productive activities. (Or 25 minutes, depending on how you set the timer.)

Note that, by productive work, I do NOT necessarily mean you have to be studying or working on daily chores. It can be anything you like, your hobbies, or spending time with your family. The main goal of the Pomodoro Technique is to allow you to become aware of the time you spend daydreaming and lazing around.

So there you have it, a cool time management technique, and a very cute sounding one too, named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer. Do let me know if after reading this you have decided to apply this technique, or if you know of any other cool time managing methods!

Breakdown of my 3rd semester subjects in Foundation Year (courses)

As I have mentioned in my blogpost about my recent graduation from foundation (!), I usually do a breakdown of each of the courses I am taking that semester. I will talk about what each course is all about, and how I feel about them! If you’re interested, you can read here my breakdown of my courses in my 2nd semester: Uni Semester 2 starts! … but it’s not what we imagined it to be. Due to the need to adapt quickly to university life, I did not do one for the 1st semester. However, I have still written many blogposts that describe my first experiences in university, all of which you can find in my blog.

The courses I took in the 3rd semester consists of 5 courses: Organic Chemistry, Introduction to Physiology, and Programming Concepts, Math, Physics. This semester’s courses are very practice oriented. Any amount of studying from the lecture notes alone is not enough; you need lots of practice too. But with practice, you can get very good at it.

ORGANIC CHEMISTRY for me required studying from the lecture notes, and then once I was done covering any chapter, I felt like there was still nothing I can understand yet. However, I told myself to do the tutorials nonetheless, and I kept referring to the notes again and again, until I became very familiar with the knowledge taught in the syllabus. Each chapter is very intertwined; they overlap a lot, and it soon became fun to see the connections, and draw out the various chemical structures, and “make” useful chemical compounds through a series of steps.

INTRODUCTION TO PHYSIOLOGY can be said to be an introduction course leading to our health science degrees at our university. It was very interesting and fun, as it covered the basics of each of the major systems in our bodies. However, I feel like I did not get to do it in proper depth, therefore I’ll be studying more of it during my long 5 month break. I am quite looking forward to that! ❤

PROGRAMMING CONCEPTS was very much like learning English. The programming language we learnt was Python, and we used an application called IDLE to write our code. It just required a lot of practice, and soon the things you master become like English Grammar: it becomes natural. There is even a word for “Grammar” in Programming language: “Syntax”. There is a specific layout that you must roughly follow as you write your code: 1. imports (importing modules that will help the program recognize specific types of codes), 2. constants (using an equal “=” sign to assign a value to something (For instance, age = 18, purchase_done = True, etc), 3. Various types of codes (print, user input, codes that make the program run only if a condition is fulfilled, and codes that repeatedly run again and again until a certain condition is met). I found this course quite enjoyable and enriching as it is requires very logical thought, and because I also got to programmed simple programs that I could relate to, such as cashier systems, computation (calculation) programs, and the hardest being a basic airflight ticket reservation system. The best way to study for this subject is to code a bit every day, watch some Youtube tutorial videos (they are really helpful), until you get used to the “Syntax” (programming grammar).

MATH was quite difficult for me, but I pinpointed the main problem: not enough practices and past years were done, as I had been focusing on other subjects that also needed a lot of investment in practice, such as organic chem and programming. I might be studying some math during the break too, as there is always math rooted in every field you can think of. I do like the challenge that comes with solving a math question. Math is the king of all subjects, so I’ve got to work on it! 😛

PHYSICS had a lot of formulas to memorize; so I prepared a list of formulas and important things to know before the exam. It is also a subject that requires much past year practice. Since it was open book, I could refer to them. However, Physics is probably my least favourite subject ever since I first came into contact with it in high school (secondary school). Somehow, I had always done quite well in it, yet I do not like the subject particularly, Still, Physics happens to be the King of all Sciences (though not the king of all subjects like Math), and it does explain some interesting phenomena that we see around us in daily life, so it can be interesting at times too.

To conclude, I found all of the courses quite enjoyable; however with the tight schedule of this semester I only managed to skim through all of them, therefore I did not build the best foundation in these 5 courses. With the coming break, I do hope to be able to make the learning process more enjoyable for myself by reading about each of the topics in more depth!