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,

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 😀 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! 🙂

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 not only do I hope that what I write eventually benefits people — it also 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 😛

Watching from Malaysia: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft First Attempt to Capture a Sample of Asteroid Bennu

“We just want to jump up and shake hands and hug right now!” exclaimed Michelle Thaller, an astrophysicist from NASA Goddard’s Spaceflight Centre. “But with COVID-19, we’ve got to stay apart and protect each other.”

Defining moment in NASA’s history:
OSIRIX-REx Spacecraft touchdown – first attempt to capture a sample of Asteroid Bennu, and bring it back to Earth by 2023

“Touchdown declared.”

Sampling is in progress.”

At 6.11am, Malaysia time, (6.11am EDT time), I jumped up from bed and opened Youtube on my phone – just seconds after OSIRIS-REx’s first sample collection attempt from the surface of Asteroid Bennu 200 miles away from Earth, known as Touch-And-Go on the agenda. 39,000 people were already watching the livestream. NASA’s TAG Team cheered after a successful historic first touchdown attempt to collect the largest asteroid sample since the Apollo era (that would be in the 1960s). The only extraterrestrial sample that could be larger than this would be samples collected from the Moon decades ago.

NASA TV’s simulation of the view of the sampling camera (SamCam) approaching Asteroid Bennu’s rocky terrain
So close! NASA’s OSIRIS-REx preparing for touchdown

The exact mass of sample collected, though, would have to be measured using a special method.

The reason why I’m so excited about this moment is because Asteroid Bennu is an ancient boulder-filled terrain, about only as tall as the Empire State Building, scattered with rocks and dust which may help trace back to the birth and origin of the solar system. Carbon-based compounds were found all over the surface of the asteroid, and these samples may just contain the ingredients for life.

I cheered, watching NASA in the US on the other side of the planet, who were themselves keeping an eye on the data sent back from OSIRIS-REx, 200 miles away from Earth.

Missed most of the action! But after scrolling through the live chats of thousands of people around the world congratulating NASA, and rewinding the live stream, I realized all of the images were only simulations. “We are collecting tons of images right now”, said James Tralie, social medialist and producer at NASA Goddard’s Spaceflight Centre, “but we simply don’t have the data rate to get the images back in real time. So they are getting backed in the spacecraft’s memory and we’ll start looking at those tonight, and we’ll have them available for everybody tomorrow morning.”

I can’t wait to see those images!

On social media: thousands of people around the world supporting NASA’s historic attempt !

This actually isn’t the first asteroid sample to be brought back to Earth. According to National Geographic, Hayabusa, a spacecraft developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, returned with the world’s first asteroid sample in 2010, and Hayabusa2 will drop its cargo—a capsule filled with several grams of the asteroid Ryugu on December 6 this year. But these Japanese missions picked up only small amounts of fine-grained material. Asteroid Bennu is designed to pick up up to 2 kilograms of material, although the exact amount of mass collected is yet to be measured (in a day or two’s time).

“We backed away successfully from the asteroid surface – the team is exuberant back there. Emotions are high, everybody is really proud, and.. we have some work to do,” said Dante Lauretta, professor at the University of Arizona and Principal Investigator of the OSIRIS-REx mission. We don’t yet know how much sample we have collected. The next thing that we’re going to be looking for is, once the spacecraft has cooled off – probably got pretty warm as it approached the asteroid surface – once it’s stabilized, it’s going to point toward the Earth and start bringing that data back. Those SamCam images are going to tell us a lot of information about how the events of today went.”

OSIRIS-REx’s Touch-And-Go (TAG) first sample collection attempted completed flawlessly!

According to the National Geographic, who posted just moments after the livestream ended, the mission was first proposed in 2004, but was only competitively selected for the third mission in New Frontiers Program in May 2011. OSIRIS-REx’s original leader, University of Arizona planetary scientist Mike Drake, died only months later due to liver failure. Drake’s deputy, University of Arizona planetary scientist Dante Lauretta, took on the role left by his mentor. The OSIRIS-REx mission has since been carried out in Drake’s memory.

If you’re curious, click here to read about the Ten Extraordinary Things You Didn’t Know About Asteroid Bennu, a curation of all the various information I collected from various sources about this ancient asteroid dating back in time and history, simplified for easy understanding and extra-fun discovery. I will also be including in both this and that blogpost the links to the relevant sites!

James Tralie, producer at NASA Goddard’s Spaceflight Centre holding a mini model of Asteroid Bennu, inches before OSIRIS-REx’s touchdown.
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Poll on Twitter: How much material do you think I’ll grab from asteroid Bennu today?
21 October 2020, 6.11 am Malaysia Time
Sampling process completed! The TAG Team cheers.

I’ve been so excited for the latest space updates lately, with three new crew members boarding the international space station just last week on October 14, Wednesday, 1.45am EDT time (1.45pm Malaysia time).

Unfortunately, I’m an aspiring doctor, far from being close to such opportunities, haha! If you want to become an astronaut, astrophysicist or be involved in space agencies, an engineering degree would increase your chances to fulfill such dreams.

For now, I am eagerly waiting for the photos to finally be delivered to Earth tomorrow morning, in Malaysia time (or tonight in EDT time), and for OSIRIS-REx to finally return to Earth by the estimated date of 23 September 2023 !

Asteroid Bennu’s a small and spunky one, both posing a threat to Earth while seemingly carrying evidences of dried up rivers or long gone life as well. A great big congratulations and salute to NASA’s TAG team, who worked so hard to overcome the numerous challenges posed by Bennu’s small size, and boulder-filled surface! We probably know Bennu up and down now, seeing the unprecendented amount of calculating, regular correction and up-to-2-centimeters detailed mapping required.

Brief self-intro: I am a Malaysian university student and aspiring doctor, and I post about anything and everything that interests and enriches me and my audience.

What you didn’t know about my blog…!

Hey everyone! I have not been blogging for more than 3 weeks now and I have SO much to tell you. My first semester is almost up, I am just done with my second round of mini tests and will be briefly updating you on a bit of my life in ANOTHER blog post after this before I go on hiatus again for my final assessment for the five courses I am taking this first semester, which will be here in no time. But first, I would like to share with you something you didn’t know about my blog.

The truth is…

I actually have only about 3 viewers average per blog post.

The reason why it has not been growing much is also due to my hesitancy to spread it on various platforms to give it a name. Although I know full well the means to get a blog to grow, I prefer to let it find its own way, given time.

This is because a lot of the things and events that I’m sharing here are semi-personal. In fact, if you have subscribed / been a reader of my blog for sometime, you would have noticed they contain snippets of the lives of other people I have met as well, such as my experience as a teenager working at a hospital in February and March this year (2020) and a tiny snippet of my interactions with patients at the hospital here. I am easily inspired by beautiful people, and the smallest of things make me define a person as beautiful; so if I can’t bear to write sparingly, I must share sparingly, in respect for my and their lives lived.

That is why this blog has not gained much traction, but for now I am happy with it that way.

I might give up on online fiction pieces I am working on, etc, but not this blog. I would like to continue working on this for as long as I can, throughout my life. It is not only be a place for me to share my story with you, it will also become a documentation of the roads I have tread for myself to relive years later.

To my current readers: I am so happy you have chosen to follow me on this journey. Thank you for being a silent supporter of my endeavours.

In my next blogpost, which I will write right after this, I will update you on the things that have happened in my university life recently! Hop over to the next page here!! 😀