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. ❤

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. 😛 )

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! 😛

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: