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.

Final Exams: 2nd Semester (University)

My exams began on the 21st of December and ended on the 26th, a day after Christmas. For Christmas, I received a little stand-up makeup mirror, with a little container as its base to to place a tiny number of makeup items. I don’t have a lot, so I filled it with just my 3 nail polishes that each cost only about RM5 from Shopee, and a few of my mom’s lipsticks she gave me. I am quite a simple person; little things like these are enough to make me happy.

The edges of the mirror even has a light. You just touch the mirror itself and the edges light up! Cool.

On the 21st of December I sat for Math. My math is a little weak, and I did not really like the chapters we were studying for math in the 2nd semester (we study different chapters of math in all the 3 semesters), so I’m not sure how I did. I had reviewed all my lectures, but not done enough tutorials and did not do any past years, so I must admit that I did not practice enough. I have resolved to do much more practice for the math course in my 3rd semester. There were quite a few questions that I did not know how to do, so I definitely did not do as well as the other courses. (At university, we do not call subjects as “subjects” but rather “courses”. This is because three courses, such as Math I, Math II and Math III are all under the Math subject, but are separate courses).

On the 22nd of December, I sat for Communication Skills. I watched some debates on Youtube, and a video with very simple English on conversations at a workplace, just to get my mind set for writing dialogues. Eventually, though, I did not write a dialogue, I wrote 5 really short stories on cultural interactions, which was pretty fun, since I based many of it on my personal experiences. In the hours before my exam, I perused all m lecture notes at top speed and made handwritten summaries on them.

On the 24th of December, I sat for Inorganic Chemistry. Since it was an open book test, I made a handmade content page to make referring to my printed lecture notes easier. I had gone through most of the lecture notes in the week before the exam. Since there was a one day break between communication skills and chemistry, I used it to read all of my tutorial answers and a past year paper that our lecturer mentioned would be similar to our final assessment this semester. For Chemistry, all answers must be handwritten, so everything was rather rushed, but I still completed everything in record time and I believe I did well.

On the 26th of December, a Saturday, I sat for my last paper, Modern Biology. Modern Biology is the most interesting course this semester. So far, all the biology exams at university, being completely open book, were the most enjoyable for me because I get the joy of learning while sitting for an exam. I can search the Internet for a better answer, to complement my knowledge from our lecture notes. (Since all our courses have to have open book exams, the examiners have increased the difficulty of the questions, making them much more indirect and requiring much more thought. Yet with the Internet, my lecture notes, my tutorials and past years all next to me as I do my exams is one of the most powerful and enriching exam experiences I’ve ever had. It is, really, a food for thought on how we structure our exams in the future, even when the COVID crisis is over.) For Modern Biology, I reviewed my tutorial videos. I also made a summary on what we’d learnt for all the topics, and it made for great reference during my exam.

Then, phew! It’s time to relax! “You have to study soon, you know,” said my father immediately after my exam, pouring cold water all over my head. Oh well. But I still get to relax for a while first. Haha!

My results will be out in a 1-2 weeks. I do hope I did well! Then comes a hectic 3rd semester…. I am ready for the challenge.

3rd Semester for Foundation Year at university: Exams, Commitments and Opportunities

Having completing my exam, I am having my three week semester break now. One week has nearly passed already. It hasn’t been a very busy 2nd semester, at least not relatively as compared to the previous and coming semester. This is because I took only four courses in my 2nd semester, while for the 1st and 3rd sem I am taking 5 courses. It is fixed by my University, for foundation in science Health Science Stream students.

On top of that, I have signed up to take my MUET exam (an English Language Proficiency Test) which I must score at least a BAND 4 as a mandatory prerequisite to enter MBBS (medical course). I am also hoping to involve myself in some extracurricular activities, specifically helping the freshmen adjust to university life, and possibly taking potential students and their parents on some campus tours if we return to campus. One thing though – a few dates for training and bonding during the semester break have been set aside by our senior mentors, which I am still not sure I can commit to. It has been on my mind for a while, ever since I found that we will have training soon.

All these will fill my 3rd semester with the most commitment required so far, but I know medicine is going to be tougher. So the effort doesn’t daunt me. It is my father that may get in my way of participating in these co-curricular activities. Yes, even if these activities are all online, due to the COVID situation and rising cases. I have yet to break it to him, these activities. But these are things I want to and feel like I can contribute to. I am also hoping that these opportunities will open my eyes to interesting things.

My exam results may come out in a week or two, and so will our universities announcement on their decision regarding our academic study mode (physical, mixed or online). I will update you guys again when the time comes!