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!

Graduated from foundation! Next stop: medicine! (Hopefully!)

I just completed my entire foundation year at university, having finished with my 3rd semester final exams a few days ago. Yay!

I have a few things to update you all with. The most significant thing would probably be that our coming medical intake has changed from May to the end of September!! That gives me a long 5 month break in between. and I plan to fill it with small, productive plans.

Normally I will do a breakdown of what the subjects (usually known as courses at our uni) are like, and how I feel about them, but I will do that in a separate blogpost here. In the final two weeks before our exam, right after a bunch of us sat for MUET, I was trying to study efficiently for my exams, but I struggled to focus quite often. I sometimes went to campus to study in peace and quiet, and that helped a lot. It is quite a nice environment, but it is probably due to the COVID situation that the block is nearly deserted.

I really enjoyed my programming exam, even though my programs were not eventually able to run, not completely. But it was still a fulfilling experience, when I managed to come up with efficient programming codes. It was also satisfying to fix bug after bug, although I did not manage to fix all of them. The things we needed to program were things we could relate to in daily life, so it was quite fun.

Introduction to physiology, which is can be considered a sort of pre-health science introduction course, went fairly well. As it was an open book test, I appreciated being able to search the internet, and it was actually quite enjoyable to learn even as I was sitting for an exam.

I spent a lot of time working on and doing practices on Organic Chemistry, which I was a bit weaker at. Eventually, my organic chemistry improved by a lot, but slightly at the expense of my preparation for Math, which I neglected and paid for dearly as I sat for my finals. My advice is to learn to study and keep up consistently during lectures, so that you will have time to do exercises and past year papers as the exams approach. Since I am not so good at focusing during live classes, I intend to work on this weakness during this 5 month break. I intend to try to work on keeping up with the present, instead of always running to catch up from behind. That is one of my goals for this long break.

Physics was the last paper. After I finished the paper, I was very glad for the break! I am looking forward to getting some good rest, doing some things I enjoy doing, and doing things that contribute to my growth and confidence before I enter my MBBS degree (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery).

In view of my delayed medical intake, I have also continued participating in one of my university programmes that welcomes new students to the university. I have found it to be a very enriching where I meet all sorts of warm and friendly people studying various degrees and courses, and where I constantly find my comfort zone being breached. It tests my limits in many different aspects and I love being part of this fun family.

Now, I am looking forward to doing all the things I wished to do but did not have the time for throughout this foundation year, and also relaxing a bit, as this is truly the last time I will ever have such a long break, very possibly for the rest of my life if I become a doctor! The first two years will be heavy duty studying, next three years will be clinical years, then housemanship, then medical officer posting, and so on. I am at a exciting point in my life and I will make sure to prepare thoroughly for it, and then live it without regrets. ❤