I have JUST found a sliver of extra memories from my job at the hospital.

Only just yesterday night, or rather, at 1am this very morning, I was telling you that being human has already started to erode away at the memory of my priceless experiences working at a hospital. And in that same blogpost, I had said the one thing I wanted most was probably to remember what I’d heard.

Until now, I probably only remember what I’d seen. The problem with remembering what you see is that eventually, you end up only being able to picture the layout of the emergency unit, but you can’t remember many specific scenes at all. All you remember is how the counter looked like, how the lift smelled like, how cold it was in the wards etc. Because when you’re in the same small space for long hours and for two months straight, all the scenes merge together to form a blurred image. Unless you had moved around much more, then you may be able to recall more specific scenes. In fact, I have read about this somewhere before, and that is how the human brain works. This is called “spatial recognition“.

(Spatial recognition is not to be confused with “spatial recollection“, which is another important concept I will be sharing with you in the not-so-near future. But, if you’re curious, I’ll include their meanings down below. I have even simplified it for your understanding!)

Actually? I’m here to tell you that I’d found some recorded moments, knowing that I would want to remember.

Just now, I sat on my bed and listened to the recordings on my phone. There was a lot of background noise in each one, but that’s what you get with low quality phone recorders. There was one recording of my high school classmates collective laughter. There were two of my retail colleagues promoting our travel products to our friendly customers.

And there were about six at the hospital, of my colleagues chatting and laughing. In one, I heard a baby crying in the background. It was probably receiving an injection or an IV insertion…. haha. Doctors spoke on the phone and nurses bustled around the registration counter. I could only make out their voices and no words at all, but truly that itself is all I am looking for.

Six short recordings is hardly anything compared to the two full months I’d experienced. Yet it is certainly still something. I’m happy to have found these memories.

Spatial recognition: Here, space (spatial) literally means empty space. Remembering and recognizing things by being able to picture precisely where those events took place. That’s how the human brain works.

Spatial recollection: Here, space (spatial) refers to time. Remembering things by spaced out re-reading of material, to slowly commit something to memory. If you want to remember something, you usually read it once tomorrow, once in a couple of days, then once next week, then next month. That’s how the human memory works.

For My Future: The Race Begins Today.

18 June 2020, Thursday

You know, when I was working in a little mall kiosk after SPM, things were fast-paced, but still manageable. During my 1 hour breaks off work, I would roam the entire mall on my own, or sit down for the whole hour and record down significant events in my diary. Sometimes I really wanted a coffee bun or a Starbucks cappucino, but I would sacrifice that wish for my journaling. I knew that the experiences that came with my first job, of dealing with my colleagues and my customers, would be something I would want to remember.

In February, when I got another job, this time at a small hospital, things changed drastically. There was no time for breaks, no time to breathe; it was certainly no time and NO PLACE to write in your diary at the emergency unit in a hospital. I tried typing in point form on my phone when I first started, but soon gave up when I had to wear gloves often due to the COVID situation. Together with that reason, and the fact that there was just so many patients coming in per shift, I was soon deluded that this was something I would remember forever.

As I familiarized myself with handling my job as a patient care assistant, the antics of my friendly colleagues of every skin colour, and the patients and their myriad of symptoms presented, on top of all the ice and fire emotional roller coasters I had ridden throughout my time there…. I did not think I would forget this. There was no way, no way at all, I could forget such an enriching experience.

Yet after I stopped working, my memories of my former workplace started to fade; and I acknowledged that was part of being human. I cannot remember everything like a computer. I was very consciously aware of all the memories slipping away, leaving only the most surface of memories: just the registration counter, the triage bay, the treatment room. Deep down I know just how many times I have set foot in the nooks and crannies of that tiny area – the emergency unit, yet I have already forgotten the things that happened there. Most of all, I have forgotten the things I’ve heard, which is the one I most want to remember.

I only hope that some of these are already ingrained in my system. Two months is not a lot, not a lot at all, to have stuck fast within me. But I do believe I will carry some of what I’ve learnt with me.

University has just started the beginning of this month (June), and I am already nearing the end of week 3.

First Sem Assignments!! Oh No…. We’re barely into Week 3.

It’s only Week 3 of the first semester. I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg. The very tip.

I wrote all the deadlines (except the one in blue) two weeks before the actual deadline, like a false trick to myself. To get me going early, so that I don’t rush and panic at the very last minute.

I also taped and stapled three coins, 2 pieces of scrap pink paper, and the ultimate one: a solar powered keychain with my name on it, to weigh the two pieces of paper down. Can’t even remember where I got it from already. The standing fan behind me blows too strong.

So as you can see, university life is going to be another hospital job. Rushed. Crammed. No time to breathe. Thus my blogposts, my writeups, will have to be of questionable depth in the next month, next year, or years to come.

Again, I will be deluded, tricked into thinking this is something I cannot forget. I wouldn’t forget a life I would live for the next six years (if I manage to get into MBBS (medical degree)), would I? But truly, all memories fade with time.

Yet, there won’t be time to document every university experience. Thus, I still must focus more on being in the moment.

Now, my first stop would be getting into medicine. I am going to brace myself, and rush toward my first finish line!

Two days in Week 3 of university life!

14 June 2020, Sunday

Aaaand it’s the start of the third week already, just like that. It is a Sunday, and the pace is already picking up. After telling us that we needed to form groups of four for a biology presentation during Week 1, our lecturer finally attached the assignment guidelines for this video presentation during the weekend, on our e-learning platform. I immediately scrolled through it and downloaded the video presenting app they suggested we use, Active Presenter, and will be exploring and familiarizing myself with the functions as soon as I have the time. Fortunately, I had formed a group of four the very instant the instructions left my lecturers lips, and had secured my group and created a Whatsapp group specifically for us.

We were happy to realize that we shared identical timetables for the whole semester, and I began to get a grasp on how the system of assigning timetables worked at our university. Perhaps being in the same practical group for chemistry had something to do with it. Chemistry is a core science subject, so that is entirely possible.

Now, what we need to do is to decide on any topic in the field of biology that is within our foundation syllabus, and do a comprehensive 15 minute video on the subject. There are still three weeks until the deadline, so I will be focusing on the more pressing matters (other assignments) first.

15 June 2020, Monday

2pm: My chemistry tutorial class and practical class took most of the morning and afternoon. The chemistry report I was assigned today must be turned in today. I also have a lot of odds and ends to get done, most of which are tutorial questions, that are compounding both in volume and difficulty.

I must learn to keep up with all these, stay on top of my game. It is necessary for survival, while still being able to enjoy myself. I need to work harder and faster. I need to push my boundaries.

If I were to be very honest with you, I have not being pushing myself to the max; my bed is available nearby and I keep falling asleep after a long lecture.

No. I need to keep going.

My current motivation to keep at it is reminding myself of the bigger picture and why I am doing this. The thing about studying science is that although it is so universal, it causes us to lose focus of the main purpose very easily.

In an hour I will go for my last lecture of the day: math. Then I have until dinner to pick up the pieces.

Forgot to tell you, today is also my mom’s birthday! After my math lecture ended at 4pm, we immediately went downstairs to cut her cake. My mother ordered her favourite, exotic flavour: pandan gula melaka. The cake had coconut shreds on top.

This is why I am only back at 5pm. Our math teacher taught us the remainder of the first topic: Sets, which was a concept we had already learnt in secondary school.

“So, what is the universe?” he asked.

At first I thought I heard him wrong. Then I realized he meant universal set, the encompassing set that includes all sets given in the question.

“You must choose from this universe,” he stressed, hovering his cursor over where the universal set was.


Wow! Do you mean to say you know of dimensions other than this, sir?

Second week of lectures, done!

HEY! Where did all the time go? Is the second week of university done and gone already?

Week 1 mostly consisted of ice breaking and briefing sessions. (Click here to read about my very first week at university!) I am now done with week 2 of foundation in science, and this week has been a reasonably manageable one, and the pace has not picked up so much that I cannot catch up – not just yet.

This week, we have just been given some assignments to do, and I am learning to adapt to this different part of uni life that is having to complete tutorial questions and practical lab simulations before attending tutorial and practical classes respectively. In high school, we seldom had to complete anything before entering the classroom – homework was always given to us to do after the class.

This week may have felt a bit short because Monday was a public holiday for Malaysia, so there were only 4 days of lectures. Our lecturers did not hesitate to set replacement classes throughout the week and the next, to make up for lost time.

Due to a replacement class for math on Thursday morning and a combined scientific report writing and APA citation & referencing workshop on Friday, the last two weekdays of Week 2 were FULLY BOOKED. That is effectively 6 hours of (four) lectures on Thursday, with breaks in between, and more than 5 hours of lectures on Friday, with no break in between – I was literally seated in front of my computer, attending live sessions from 8 – 1.40pm back-to-back. Non-stop.

“Welcome to medicine,” said my father, when he saw me hurrying upstairs after lunch, to continue with the third lecture on Thursday. “That’s probably how studying for your medical degree will be like.”

“I don’t think so,” I replied. “Medicine must be way busier than the second week of our foundation year.” I huffed and puffed as I bounded up the last of the steps, not allowing myself to be deterred by my busy schedule – but only because I knew studying medicine must be a ton lot more hectic than this, and if I could not survive this now, then there was no need to talk about going up to the degree level. So this little bit of busyness has to be beneath me. I do not mean that in an arrogant way, but simply because with the start of my path in medicine, I know I must shift my very definition of “busy”.

Still, I am thoroughly enjoying the new experiences of online classes AND the different way of studying required at university, despite being stuck at home 24/7.

It’s Saturday and I am using the weekend to do some self-studying of Cell Biology. Time to throw myself into the third week!

I am in a university lecture call now!

6 June 2020, Tuesday, 1.13 pm

And with that my first lecture week has ended and the new week has begun. About an hour ago I just finished attending a class on cell biology. I fell asleep out of exhaustion, despite having a lot of messy Biology notes to organize, and I literally woke up to the sounds of my father waking me up for my next lecture class: English.

I felt immediately embarrassed. My dad has to wake me up to attend my own classes! It should be my responsibility. I made a note to myself to set an alarm on my phone if ever my lecture periods are quite close to each other, and I plan on getting a cat nap between then.

1.35pm: Our teacher is going through How To Make Inferences now, but she is a little bit rushed in her teaching and I struggle to keep up.

2.10 pm: I am out of the lecture now. I have to take some rest, again. After that I will start working on Bio and leftovers of English.

2.45pm: I did not set an alarm. However I think my body, despite being extremely tired from staying up until 1.30 am last night watching my Biology teacher’s prerecorded videos on Carbohydrates, could not fall into a deep sleep because it knows it has things to do.

Now, let’s get to work!

I did manage to glean two quite useful things from my English lecture, and that is

1. inferences made must elaborate on and demonstrate a deeper level of external understanding as compared to what the paragraph is clearly stating, often including things that may be implied by the paragraph or is not even stated anywhere in the paragraph, and

2. the main idea of a paragraph can be found by underlining the main points as if you were making a summary of the paragraph, then writing a blanket main idea that seeks to cover the concept of all those key words as best as possible.

As for the details on how to answer the questions, I might go back to the replay and watch again. Time is tight, though, and I still have my biology notes, which needs thorough organizing for a smooth flow of thought, and a partial report to prepare. I have one more lecture for the day, though, and that is….

A mathematics tutorial class! From 4-5 pm. I’ll update you on that after the class! For now, I really must work a bit on Biology and English. See you in about three hours, real time.

3.19pm: I’m back so quickly, to tell you about something else. I went back to watch my Biology replay first. But I cannot concentrate on understanding what my teacher said in reply to a question I posed during the lecture, even though I know full well I need to. All I can focus on is judging my very own self, for my tone, for my fluency and confidence in communicating, for the way I asked the question, the way I “hassled” my teacher for the answer. Some part of me knows I am only being persistent in my studies, knows I have tried my best, knows I probably wasn’t being as annoying as I felt I was. Only I think so. But I have never been good at things like this.

I will keep working on overcoming this. It’s a small problem, and soon I will learn to judge myself less and be more natural. I already find my foundation so interesting and gradually I know being passionate and absorbed into my courses will take my mind of silly things like picking at the itty bitty details like the tone of my voice of my lack of confidence. Remember, if anyone can love yourself the most, it is you. So don’t waste time judging yourself for every single flaw. Acknowledgement of these flaws are still important, but don’t start feeling disgust of yourself. It is very debilitating and unhealthy.

I know my burning curiosity for learning will take me far, and all these barriers within myself will eventually fall away.

5pm: Alright! I am now done with my first math tutorial class. I have never had such a tutorial session like this before university, and it is a useful type of class specifically for asking questions based on a set of questions given to us to do. I think such sessions are very helpful indeed, and it makes us keep practicing.

5.15pm: I’m going to sit on my bed next to my window, just to soak up some Sun. I haven’t felt the warmth of the Sun on my skin for ages now.

6.20pm: Phew! It’s really hot. I’ve drawn the curtains. I’ve made a list of coursework and other odds and ends I need to get done, all academic related. I’ve got five things on the list. Going to get them done now, one by one! Hopefully I can get them done before dinner, which is…. too soon. Oh dear.

Let’s go.