Last semester in foundation, Week 10

In a blink of an eye it’s already week 10 of my 3rd semester in foundation!

It’s the last semester in my foundation year at university, a crucial time for all of us trying to get into our preferred degrees. Getting into medicine definitely takes a bit more effort due to the higher requirements. But I’ve been lagging behind a bit, as I get tired easily. Coming up next week are two exams, one assignment deadline, and possibly a live presentation – there is no time to lose. (And yet I’m blogging! I’ll start after this. πŸ˜› )

I love learning, but I haven’t been able to keep up with so many courses (subjects) at once. Lately I’ve been quite clueless with regards to my studies. So, I’m planning to ramp up the efforts and give it my all from now on till our final assessment week. I’ll do that until my understanding improves.

Everytime I return home from campus, I’m pretty exhausted. I become thankful then for the next day, which is usually purely online, so I can rest when I need to. Nevertheless, exploring the campus has been a lot of fun. We tried out a few restaurants in the area, and I learnt a lot of Mandarin terms for certain types of food, through asking friends and observing the menus. It was fun to eat together and chat about random things.

The wifi connection in our campus sometimes is not so good, and our lectures lag a lot. But those are small things and we just find our way around it, such as studying on floors where the connection is better.

We also had to shoot a video for one of our assignments. We tried to shoot a brief intro and conclusion in one of the stairways at our campus – it was quiet enough since this is the COVID season. But it was a great laugh when one or two people would enter the stairway and wonder what we were all doing.

Finally, I hope you – whether you are a random local or foreign person or one of my coursemates from my university – will be with me as I run toward this small finish line in my academics. I thank you for reading, because then it feels as if you are with me. There is a lot to catch up with and I am maybe more than slightly worried that I cannot make it. But I will do my very best, to catch back up so that my courses become enjoyable again. I’ll do that, so that I can come back and share with you the joy of learning.

And of course, I will also get to share with you the joy of relaxation after my final assessment is over (in a few weeks time).

See you in another blogpost! ❀

Returning to campus – finally!

After 6 months of attending online university lectures, we finally were allowed to return to campus for certain classes on the 1st of March, 2021!

Yes, indeed, it’s already 26th of March today, and I’m in the midst of heavy academic load, with the coming week filled with exams, but I thought I’d take a wild risk and stop by here to do a brief update.

Besides, the 1st of March (Monday) is certainly a fun date to remember.

The night before, it was a bit nerve wrecking, but I fell asleep eventually. Surprisingly, when I was finally on campus, I did not as awestruck or nervous as I thought I would be. The campus was very quiet, as most of the students had still chosen online mode.

Our campus has a very strange architectural layout, but you get used to it. It’s quite fun to navigate the university, with stairways hidden here and there, narrow corridors, and lights with sensors. I kept thinking that this must be a different experience for us as compared to our seniors. If we had entered our foundation year while the block was choked full of students, a lot of details may be missed.

I met my assignment teammates in real life for the first time, and we chatted animatedly. Then our lecturer arrived. “Is this my class? Are you my class? Yes lah, should be my class.” She asked, carrying her lab coat, all the while walking at a very fast pace toward the lab on the right. We laughed, surprised to meet our lecturer for the first time. Then we put on our lab coats and entered the lab.

The lab has really bright lights, and for such an early time in the morning it was a little jarring. But I entered the lab with much curiosity. That was the first time I’ve been in any sort of learning space with a group of students, ever since I graduated from high school in 2019, due to the COVID pandemic.

Our first lab session was to dissect a goat’s heart. I did most of the dissecting while my labmate took many great photos. The heart was a little slimy and slippery. This was my very first dissection, as I had never had a dissection lab experience in high school. Some others already had the experience.

Actual goat’s heart, 1/3/2021

After that, we went to the library to attend our online classes. As I did not have a laptop then, it was a little difficult to access some learning materials (I finally got one last Monday though! I’m thankful for the convenience now). It was amusing to be able to see our friends unmute themselves to answer the teacher when their names were called, then here an echo of their voices through our earphones.

Then came our last class of the day – chemistry tutorial. There was a lot of “Sir, we saw you just now!” “Sir, you were walking about in front of the lab, but didn’t see us” “Well students, I saw two girls in the lift just now. Who were they? Who were you?”, and of course, a lot of real time and echoed laughing.

Then it was the end of the day. It takes me about 30-45 mins to reach home from my campus. I returned home quite tired but also happy.

Everyday, I remind myself that I truly must make the most of my experience at university, so that I will graduate without regrets.

MUET Speaking Test 2021 – done!

Recently, I completed the MUET speaking test with much relief at my university. As I had mentioned earlier, I am taking MUET because I need a BAND 4 to enter my medical degree. I am taking MUET with the new format implemented since this year in 2021. Having been allocated the first possible test date and the first possible time slot, which was on the 17th of February, 7.30am early in the morning. I knew with some amusement that I was among the newbies for this new format.

On the day of the test, I entered the block after scanning the respective QR codes and taking my temperature, due to the current COVID situation. We entered the quarantine room of which we weren’t allowed to leave after 8am. The quarantine room consisted of chairs and tables arranged in columns and was divided into two halves, each for students designated to two test rooms (known as test centres). The quarantine room was right at the end of a corridor, while the two test rooms were both right outside the quarantine room, facing each other on opposite sides.

A lady examiner announced to the entire room of the MUET speaking 2021 new format, and any new expectations of us that we may not be aware of. There were a few rules that were surprising to me, but I took it in my stride. Here are some things she said.

Notable things the examiner said regarding the 2021 new format:

  1. Task A (individual presentation) and Task B (group discussion) are no longer related to each other. Therefore, during Task A, it is not necessary to jot down notes to use in Task B when other candidates are giving their individual presentation. Just listen to them will do.
  2. Due to the COVID pandemic, the current rules for stationary are that you bring in your own pen and pencils, but paper will be provided to you.
  3. If you are accustomed to underlining keywords on the question paper, this time you cannot, as the questions are within a clear holder for COVID SOP.
  4. For Task B (group discussion), you may add your own ideas that are not included in the mind map provided.
  5. You may not ask for clarification on the meaning of words in the question paper (while previously it was possible).

As for other details of the 2021 new format (links to Youtube videos and other sources), and things you must bring along, I will include BELOW at the end of my blogpost.

We also had to surrender our phones into a plastic bag labelled with A, B, C or D (indicating the candidate that you are) and seal it with masking tape. We were told to take everything with us when it was our turn, since we would not be allowed to reenter the test centre.

I observed what people were wearing and realized that I had chosen much more formal wear as compared to them. The attire we were told to wear was semi formal / smart casual. To be safe, I had worn a long sleeve red office shirt, with black slacks and black, slightly heeled flats; whereas for others, although they had avoided jeans and T-shirts altogether in compliance with the semi formal rule, had worn sneakers / jogging shoes and less formal tops. Anyway, it can’t hurt to be safe! The quarantine room was cold on my wild predictions, and my long sleeve shirt kept me warm.

This was my third time on campus, and I was becoming more at ease in this strange environment. I felt a little nervous, but really I was more nervous in the days leading up to the exam than today. It was as if now that the test was so close to happening, it’s already almost over! Anyway, I had my mind on the topic that we would be given, and on mentally preparing myself for the flow of the exam, how I would begin my presentation etc.

Finally, it was my group’s turn! My nervousness had already subsided almost completely, since I had had some time to even speak with my allocated three other group members and get to know them a little. They are all older than I am but very friendly. I do regret not having exchanged contacts with them. I packed my bags and belongings and moved to the test centre. We had to put all our belongings at a corner of the room. Then we sat down at the tables meant for each candidate, which were all a few feet apart to maintain social distancing. The two examiners sat at each end of the small room.

I think everything mostly went quite smoothly as I focused on generating ideas for the topic given, which was on technology. My specific situation was How Technology Helps In Housework, and I thought of the recent Chinese New Year Eve and dished out a few remotely technologically canggih equipment that I had used in cleaning the house. Haha! I may however have neglected to relate back to the question though, which is crucial. I only realized that after the exam. The group discussion on the use of technology in education also went great, though I wished we had covered more of the other points (which were given in the mindmap in the question). But time was running up already, and one of us concluded the discussion.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable exam for me. This is because I always love the opportunity to learn, and as I spoke on this topic, I saw many opportunities for me to offer some general knowledge that I had, and as I shared these things with my groupmates and expressed them out in formal English, I found myself learning things that I didn’t really realize before. However, for Task B (Group discussion), I believe I did not manage to consider properly the other points given, and I focused only on debating one side of the equation together with my teammates. It is in a small way a lost learning opportunity, and also a less complete discussion that should supposedly debate every aspect of the topic. All in all, it was still very enriching and fun. It is times like these where I truly do appreciate exams such as MUET, because I find it to be such an enriching experience, though I know it is also a nerve-wrecking one for many others. I wish we had more opportunity to carry out more discussions like these, perhaps without the weight of grades and without heavy criticism from others. Then we would learn so much!

I left the exam room happily. At ground floor there were lots of chairs and tables in a corner, and my friend beckoned for me to come discuss the topic. Together with me that day was this friend who had travelled quite a distance (interstate) to sit for this exam, whom I was meeting for the first time, due to our studies being completely online ever since June last year, since I entered my foundation year at this university. It was fun to meet them and say hi, and discuss the exam topic with much enthusiasm and amusement after it was all over.

I texted my relative, and they said they would pick me up in about 45 minutes time. Meanwhile, I explored the university a bit, trying to familiarize myself with the place I would soon call my second home.

Then it was time to go.

I’m glad my speaking test is over now! I can finally heave a sigh of relief. I have two exams coming soon and I do need to focus on studying. Later on, I would have to prepare for the rest of the exam components – MUET reading, writing and listening test, which is on a later date. For now though, the speaking test is out of the way and I can focus back on my studies for a while.

Do let me know in the comments below if this blogpost benefited you, it would make me really happy to know that I could be of help! πŸ˜›

If you’re taking your MUET speaking test soon as you are reading this, I wish you all the best!


MUET Must Brings:

  1. IC (identification card)
  2. MUET registration slip (printed from MPM’s site)
  3. Any police letters or supporting documents from your university / institution that will allow you to pass roadblocks (specific to the current COVID-19 situation)

MUET 2021 new format resources attached below!

MUET 2021 exam new format briefing:

MUET speaking example video by MPM (Majlis Peperiksaan Malaysia) according to MUET 2021 new format:

Discovering a new audience

Hi everyone! My semester break has already ended, and I am now already in my 3rd week of my final semester in foundation πŸ˜€ As you might have noticed, I have not been posting since the semester began.

This is because I have noticed that lately, more and more people from my university are discovering my blog, and I stopped posting for a while – simply to think about how I feel about this matter, and how I should adjust the way I write.

After taking into account the people who may have visited my blog, and realizing how I felt as I considered abandoning my passion for writing, my final decision is that people discovering my blog is not a bad thing. I just have to get accustomed to writing for the public eye, and tailoring what I write toward the new audience I am discovering. So after proofreading and editing all my previous blog posts, I have decided to continue posting! πŸ™‚

I have a message for my fellow peer coursemates who have found my blog, and anyone who has read or are involved in my blogposts. One, this blog is specifically targeted at our immediate juniors who are considering medicine, and to give them some insight into what medicine is really like, while covering other minor details of university life and my experiences in general. I do not do this for followers. Two, I will change facts and protect your identity if ever I wish to touch on anything that even slightly involves you in this blog. I will also try to restrict most written experiences to my own only. If ever you are uncomfortable with what I have written, for any reason at all (not necessarily privacy reasons), do let me know!

I am well aware that, by telling stories of my experiences, there is a huge crowd of amazing people involved: my family, my previous and new friends, and my ex-colleagues. It is difficult to talk about my experiences when they are so intertwined with other people.

However, I also understand that your privacy and your comfort must be ensured. I will definitely take these factors into account for every post that I write.

I realize that this is a learning process, and I am grateful for my decision to start a blog, because it constantly refines my line of thought and expression of self, and thus my maturity.

Thank you! I really do hope you will enjoy the contents of my blog πŸ˜›

Dear doctors, be kind to each other.

Very important message here. Whether you are a patient or any member of the healthcare profession, please read this.

Dharmaraj Karthikesan's Blog

I met a young doctor who used to work with me recently. I had just completed my night rounds in the hospital and I was leaving for home.

And then I saw him. He was unkempt, exhausted and appeared famished. Worst of all, he looked like a man who has totally given up on being a doctor. He appeared hesitant when I asked him what was wrong,but I could not just leave him there.

After much persuasion and insistence on my part he agreed to join me for a late supper. While he ravaged through his first proper meal of the day, he finally opened up. He has started working for the past week in a new speciality. Though the hours are longer, it was not an issue. He was well aware of the sacrifices he was expected to make.

However, the degradation, humiliation and constant harassment have finally taken…

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