My Foundation Year Begins Tomorrow!

Hey everyone!

My foundation programme at university will begin tomorrow! I am so excited 😀

For the past week I have been binge watching – not Netflix films, not Astro, and not Youtube, but the live sessions on various topics organized by my university. Over the past week, my university has organized many live sessions. Other than the formal academic briefings and formal welcome by the university principal, there were also live talks on culture and ethics, real estate investing, creative writing, 5G and AI, all of which I took some notes down and thoroughly enjoyed myself. There were even talks by the university alumni, many of which were now staying and working overseas, or have started their own business or are working for large corporations.

Since I had never experienced live sessions on a large scale before, consisting of many university students and faculty lecturers or alumni, it was quite fun to attend these virtual meetings, while playing around with the control buttons in the video conferencing apps and the mic connected to the computer, to promote my smooth transition into the online lectures that would commence in two days time. Although I am still disappointed that I have missed all the fun of participating in my university orientation day, and the games and fun we could have had in real life were it not for the Covid 19 pandemic, this is also very much a unique experience.

My online lectures are going to be conducted on Microsoft Teams, which I have gotten reasonably accustomed to using by attending the various talks we’ve had this week. Microsoft Teams is a highly integrated and very useful live video conferencing and office 365 (word, excel, powerpoint etc) document syncing platform that our university has already paid for to have full access to all of its features. From what I know, Sunway College & University, a premium city campus in Malaysia, uses Microsoft Teams as well!

As I have mentioned above, with the commencement of my foundation course leading to my chosen MBBS degree, these online lectures will commence tomorrow! I have been taking this time to scrutinize my student portal and e-learning website, which we have been advised to check regularly for announcements and assignment updates. I have saved my lecture timetable and class plans to my favourites bar at the top of my browser for easy access.


It’s 1.16 am, I am a tired teenager and need to get some sleep. 😛 I will check out my lecture notes in the morning, and maybe prepare some empty notebooks for note taking!

College study tips: Is it easier to remember, or to forget?

Light Bulb
Credits: Pixabay

Remembering, the bane of all doctors and a highly significant contributor to their success in medical school and beyond.

How often do you try to recall something, only to realize the memory is already long faded and too late to trace back? Even worse, sometimes it feels as if it’s at the tip of your mind and you just. Can’t. Remember.

How often do you make silly mistakes, or do your brain cells feel completely drained, as you struggle to remember?

It certainly must be more difficult to remember.

But is it really?

Say I give you a polynomial equation: 9x^5/9+6x^4/2+x^3/5+7x^2/4+9x+8 = 0, and I ask you to memorize and repeat it back to me in five seconds. Then I ask you to try and forget a formula you’ve known from before – say the root-finding quadratic formula, in five seconds.

Does that first polynomial equation look easy to digest at all? Yet try as you might, you will find it ironically easier to memorize at least partially that polynomial jargon than trying to forget the quadratic formula that you have learnt before.

I am sure the concept of the above paragraph is nothing new to you. However, I am trying to put into concise terms to explain why we cannot give a blanket (general) answer to the question: “is it easier to remember or to forget”. We don’t remember things better just because it’s shorter and less complicated. It also depends on period of exposure – in other words, how long you’ve known it.

We are only human and are not able to over-compromise sleep or take in more knowledge than we possibly can a day. To excel in life, we must make connections with the things we learn. In this case, the transferable skill here is applying what you’ve learnt about memory from this blogpost to your study strategy!

It is learning to expose yourself, regularly but at the appropriate time, to the information you need to absorb. This is done through the well-known method called “spatial recollection“.

Spatial recollection is a scientifically proven method of recalling information through a series of carefully timed re-viewing of the information you need to absorb. It is said that when you’re trying to memorize something, you need to read and reread it the most times in the beginning, then once a week, then once a month perhaps. The neurons in our brains somehow process information in this manner.

Therefore in the beginning, it is crucial to pick your material up and go through it more than once at least. After that, your brain has a stronger hold on the information and it becomes less likely that you will forget it.

I have tried this method and found that it works greatly for me. Try this out in your study strategy, and I’m sure it will do wonders for you!

Learning Raya words the fun way (Selamat Eid Mubarak Everyone!)

See the source image
Credits: FreeImages

Today, the 24th of May, is a big day for all Muslims – it’s Hari Raya, the day where the month-long fast is broken!

Selamat Hari Raya to all my Muslim friends, and others who may also be celebrating the Muslim new year. May you be forgiven of your apparent and latent sins (Zahir dan Batin), and be blessed throughout your new year.

Above all, may life be full of happiness for all of you, Muslim or non-Muslim!

After having spent two months working at the Covid 19 frontlines of a hospital, I have met many Malay colleagues who were friendly and very fun to work with. Since I have collected their contacts over time, it has delighted me to see that all of them have been enjoying Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid Mubarak) and the puasa (fasting) month to the fullest, even while working at the Emergency Unit of the hospital, and then at home united with their families, not forgetting to take the necessary preventive actions such as wearing face masks.

To the non-Muslim Malaysians just like myself (or anyone interesting in learning!), it is good and can be fun to learn some of the Malay – specifically Raya – phrases your Muslim friends are using that you may not understand. Not only will it help us understand the Muslims better, it can also be quite interesting to learn! Here are just a couple of terms that I’ve learnt from reading my ex-colleagues Whatsapp statuses:

Terms commonly used during Raya season:

P.s. Admit it. You’re bored by this point, and you’re going to close this tab. Do not fear, for I, Rachel Tan HX, am here to make everything fun for you to read! So read on…. or close the page. 😛

Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Eid Mubarak

Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Eid Mubarak are both used to refer to the same day, which is the Muslim New Year. However, have you ever wondered what “Aidilfitri” meant, or are you simply pronouncing it by muscle memory, like you would say “Abracadabra”, the word used by magicians when performing a magic trick? (In fact, Abracadabra has a meaning, too. I will tell you its awesome meaning soon.)

“Aidifitri” means “To return to the pure, innocent original state that Muslims believe all humans are both with.” Hari Raya Aidilfitri, then, literally means “the day of celebrating the return to the original state”. This original state supposedly refers to being washed of all sin and pollution.

What about “Eid Mubarak”? “Eid” is the Arabic term for feast. “Mubarak” means “blessed”. This “blessed feast” is held on the Eid Mubarak, which when put into context becomes “festival of breaking the fast”.

Therefore, we can say Hari Raya for Muslims is the day where they are cleansed of their sins and where they can break their month-long fast.

Maaf Zahir Dan Batin

Are Zahir and Batin names of historical Islamic followers? That’s what I thought at first, but I was so wrong. Don’t think too much, as we say. It is actually very simple to understand.

“Zahir” refers to “the sins that are obvious”. This refers to crimes committed, including stealing and deception.

“Batin” refers to “the sins that are hidden”. This refers to bad intentions and evil thoughts, even if you do not act on it. If you act on it, it becomes Zahir.

“Maaf Zahir and Batin” is the Muslim way of asking for forgiveness for all committed and hidden sins.

Khutbah and Ameen

Khutbah: sermon, a religious talk that may or may not be in the form of a prayer

Ameen: the Muslim variation of “Amen” for Christianity, which means “may it be so”, uttered after a prayer.

Those are a couple of terms used during the Raya season. Learning a new language can be really fun at times! If you’re thinking of taking up a new language, go for it. It will take time, but if you enjoy the process, it will be worth it, no matter how much effort it takes at first.

And NOW….. What does “Abracadabra” really mean? Is it really just gibberish made up of the first four alphabets – a, b, c, d?

In Hebrew, Abracadabra translates to….

“I will create as I speak.”

Prepping your phone for Uni life, Part 1: Clearing The Mess

So you’re finally a university student? Fret not, let me be here to start uni (or med school) with you and walk alongside you on this journey, whether you’re starting uni this year with me in 2020 or many decades later.

Not everyone can afford a laptop to bring to school at first, and then there are tons of assignments and projects that you wish you could get a headstart on in between classes. Perhaps your phone is cluttered with the heavy storage load multiplayer FPS games you played in high school, emails with 99+ notifications due to too many trashy subscriptions, and 10 social media accounts (you can’t have it all, friend!)

In between certain mobile apps your university may or may not require you to install on your phone – a university owned app, a video conferencing app, e-learning platforms etc, and your phone bugging you every day with “storage is full, please deep clean” messages, you may need to concede and help out your phone who is in pain. If you intend to become a true doctor displaying empathy, you’d better not abuse the health of your phone, who may play a significant role in ensuring you can catch up with your assignments when you’re out on campus!

As a matter of fact, my phone has also been complaining about stomachache for a long while now, and yesterday I finally took the initiative to try and transfer at least my photos and videos to new my computer. Read about me getting a new computer during the coronavirus season here!

All the while, my family has been transferring important documents using wires and pen drives. Recently, perhaps owing in part due to my university and my new computer which had One Drive pre-installed on it respectively, I had learnt of this thing called One Drive that can sync your documents throughout your connected devices: whether it be the computer or your phone. One Drive is basically the Microsoft owned version of Google Drive.

Syncing my old photos to my computer
22 May 2020
Credits: Rachel Tan HX

I had always been a bit lazy in terms of clearing my phone by transferring some stuff to the computer, since I never quite understood the whole wire + USB pen drive concept. Yesterday, I tried uploading my phone photos to one drive (I have included the steps to transfer folders using One Drive app to your computer). Since One Drive is a syncing platform, almost as soon as one photo finished uploading onto the One Drive app on my phone, it appeared in the One Drive – Personal section on my PC! It takes only about 1 second per photo! For a video, it can take up to 10 minutes, but you can leave your phone there to do its work while you busy yourself with other productive things.

Before One Drive, I had attempted to transfer my files using Bluetooth, but although I had accepted the Bluetooth connection on both the phone and PC, nothing went through and an error occurred. Why that happened I cannot be sure, but I think One Drive is a great way to transfer documents to your PC and keep other work or school documents synced on both devices. Although there has been no order yet from my university to do so, I foresaw that this would be useful for on-campus studying and went on to prep my phone for this stage.

Now not only has One Drive cleared some of my phone storage to facilitate focused learning, it has also given me a platform (with limited storage) to sync some of my coursework. It will not beat a laptop, however, we can make do with what we have. If you don’t have access to a handphone, that might be a bit inconvenient, but you can still use the university computer lab once in a while. Don’t see these little things as major obstacles. There is always a way round them.

If you’ve been wondering what is the difference between One Drive and Google Drive, they basically do the same thing. I have used both before, and both are very useful. If you want more information on their differences, I have already done some research for you! Go to this website and scroll right down to the “Conclusion” section. I believe those last three paragraphs can give you concise picture of which syncing app to use.

Enjoy your university life while it lasts! 😉

Steps to upload photos from One Drive mobile phone app onto your computer.

Note: One Drive needs network access. It is an online syncing app.

  1. Download the Microsoft Drive (Google Play Store) mobile app onto your phone, and the One Drive app (Windows Store / Microsoft Store) onto your PC.
  2. In the One Drive app on your phone, click on the + icon at the top right of the screenshot I attached above to upload any documents from your phone.
  3. Upload your documents/ folders and click open at the top right of the screen.
  4. Your files will begin uploading as shown in the screenshot!
  5. Open up the One Drive computer app on your PC.
  6. Select the folder you want to transfer out of One Drive into the computer itself. This is because One Drive has limited space and you cannot store everything in there. Use the storage wisely!
  7. When you select the folder, there will be a set of dropdown options to choose from. Click download, then go to the download section of your PC and transfer it to your preferred section of the computer (Documents, desktop, etc. Or you can choose to leave it in the Downloads section.)

Once in forever: I am now officially eighteen!

“What’s the first thing you want to do on turning eighteen?” asked my mother.

Any other teenager may have said learning to drive, for those who did not start on turning seventeen. Cheekier ones may have joked about going to a pub and taking their first drink.

“Open a fixed deposit account,” I said.

Fairy Lights and Me 2
the 21st of May 2020
Credits: Blog author, Rachel Tan HX

Eighteen years ago today, on the 21st of May 2002, I was born.

Yes, I’m turning eighteen today!

(The nerve! This is my first time putting up a photo in my pyjamas. Hopefully I still look presentable.)

Today is a happy day, even though it’s still CMCO (Conditional Movement Control Order) due to the Covid 19 situation. My mother and I took a quick trip to the mall (masks on, hands off elevator railings, walk ten miles away from everyone, etc) and got us lunch. Then she redeemed two free Tealive drinks, hazelnut milk tea, which she won from joined a mini online contest.

Hazelnut milk tea from Tealive
21 may 2020
Credits: Blog author, Rachel Tan HX

A stall across from Tealive caught my eye, and I bought a little box of cappucino almond biscuits for myself. It had a cyan-coloured ribbon tied around its cover. I was delighted.

“I love almond,” I gushed. “And cappucino. And the colour cyan.” I pointed at the ribbon toed around the biscuit container. “That’s why I’m getting this one.”

It was my first trip out of the house to the mall since MCO for Malaysia begun on the 18th of March, 2020. (However, my contract work as a patient care assistant with the hospital ended only early April. Read all about it here and here!) I eagerly kept my eyes out for the little details that I saw at the mall today, knowing full well that after this short trip on my birthday, the next time I left the house would be who knows when. So it’s like that – temperature taking at many shops, long lines going into departmental stores, recording of names and contact numbers etc. One of the clothing outlets had an especially long line, and I was surprised. Clothes are in demand? At this time?

Long line in front of Jaya Grocer
21 May 2020
Credits: Blog author, Rachel Tan HX

Then I remembered Hari Raya (the Muslim new year) was coming soon for the Malays. Maybe that’s why!

Still, mom said I hadn’t seen the real thing. “Back during the first few weeks of MCO, the mall was half deserted, all the shops were shut… and there was free parking.”

On returning home, my father called: “Follow SOP! Quarantine everything else except lunch. Lather your handphones with hand sanitizer. Bathe and wash your hair.” We do so.

It was only after that that we were allowed to enjoy our lunch – Nandos! We said again how amused we were by the catchy words on the brown paper bag. See, that’s the difference between us and bags. Humans only live once, bags can have many happy returns. Please recycle this one.

In its next life, this bag wants to be a bag.

Funny text on Nando’s paper bag
21 May 2020
Credits: Blog author, Rachel Tan HX

We go back to doing our own things. At tea time, it was time to cut the cake. For our family, birthday cakes are always cut and eaten at tea time (around 4pm). This year, my mom bought me a cake of really unique flavour – a delicious lemon earl grey tea cake, ordered online.

Earl grey tea has a really exotic, out of this world taste. Try as I might, some hours after eating the cake, I could not recall its taste. When I tried to think of coffee, the memory of its taste was vivid, even though I hadn’t had coffee for a month. Maybe that’s the way coffee becomes addictive for some people – it has a way of latching on to your brain cells.

“I like things that are different.” I said to my mom. “It’s a breath of fresh air. And I love the experience.”

My family and I, on my 18th birthday
21 May 2020
Credits: Blog author, Rachel Tan HX

Now, I am writing this blogpost to share all of this with you, enjoying the final hours of my birthday while it lasts. I would like to thank all the beautiful people – my family, my old classmates from high school, and ex-colleagues from my retail job (first day at work: retail job) and hospital job (first day at work: hospital job) – for all the kind wishes for my 18th birthday, and my future.

I am now a legal adult. But with more freedom also comes more responsibility. It will be tough, even alien, at times – but I am prepared to tackle all these challenges bravely as they come my way!

~Blog author, Rachel Tan HX

Officially Eighteen