I have JUST found a sliver of extra memories from my job at the hospital.

Only just yesterday night, or rather, at 1am this very morning, I was telling you that being human has already started to erode away at the memory of my priceless experiences working at a hospital. And in that same blogpost, I had said the one thing I wanted most was probably to remember what I’d heard.

Until now, I probably only remember what I’d seen. The problem with remembering what you see is that eventually, you end up only being able to picture the layout of the emergency unit, but you can’t remember many specific scenes at all. All you remember is how the counter looked like, how the lift smelled like, how cold it was in the wards etc. Because when you’re in the same small space for long hours and for two months straight, all the scenes merge together to form a blurred image. Unless you had moved around much more, then you may be able to recall more specific scenes. In fact, I have read about this somewhere before, and that is how the human brain works. This is called “spatial recognition“.

(Spatial recognition is not to be confused with “spatial recollection“, which is another important concept I will be sharing with you in the not-so-near future. But, if you’re curious, I’ll include their meanings down below. I have even simplified it for your understanding!)

Actually? I’m here to tell you that I’d found some recorded moments, knowing that I would want to remember.

Just now, I sat on my bed and listened to the recordings on my phone. There was a lot of background noise in each one, but that’s what you get with low quality phone recorders. There was one recording of my high school classmates collective laughter. There were two of my retail colleagues promoting our travel products to our friendly customers.

And there were about six at the hospital, of my colleagues chatting and laughing. In one, I heard a baby crying in the background. It was probably receiving an injection or an IV insertion…. haha. Doctors spoke on the phone and nurses bustled around the registration counter. I could only make out their voices and no words at all, but truly that itself is all I am looking for.

Six short recordings is hardly anything compared to the two full months I’d experienced. Yet it is certainly still something. I’m happy to have found these memories.

Spatial recognition: Here, space (spatial) literally means empty space. Remembering and recognizing things by being able to picture precisely where those events took place. That’s how the human brain works.

Spatial recollection: Here, space (spatial) refers to time. Remembering things by spaced out re-reading of material, to slowly commit something to memory. If you want to remember something, you usually read it once tomorrow, once in a couple of days, then once next week, then next month. That’s how the human memory works.

For My Future: The Race Begins Today.

18 June 2020, Thursday

You know, when I was working in a little mall kiosk after SPM, things were fast-paced, but still manageable. During my 1 hour breaks off work, I would roam the entire mall on my own, or sit down for the whole hour and record down significant events in my diary. Sometimes I really wanted a coffee bun or a Starbucks cappucino, but I would sacrifice that wish for my journaling. I knew that the experiences that came with my first job, of dealing with my colleagues and my customers, would be something I would want to remember.

In February, when I got another job, this time at a small hospital, things changed drastically. There was no time for breaks, no time to breathe; it was certainly no time and NO PLACE to write in your diary at the emergency unit in a hospital. I tried typing in point form on my phone when I first started, but soon gave up when I had to wear gloves often due to the COVID situation. Together with that reason, and the fact that there was just so many patients coming in per shift, I was soon deluded that this was something I would remember forever.

As I familiarized myself with handling my job as a patient care assistant, the antics of my friendly colleagues of every skin colour, and the patients and their myriad of symptoms presented, on top of all the ice and fire emotional roller coasters I had ridden throughout my time there…. I did not think I would forget this. There was no way, no way at all, I could forget such an enriching experience.

Yet after I stopped working, my memories of my former workplace started to fade; and I acknowledged that was part of being human. I cannot remember everything like a computer. I was very consciously aware of all the memories slipping away, leaving only the most surface of memories: just the registration counter, the triage bay, the treatment room. Deep down I know just how many times I have set foot in the nooks and crannies of that tiny area – the emergency unit, yet I have already forgotten the things that happened there. Most of all, I have forgotten the things I’ve heard, which is the one I most want to remember.

I only hope that some of these are already ingrained in my system. Two months is not a lot, not a lot at all, to have stuck fast within me. But I do believe I will carry some of what I’ve learnt with me.

University has just started the beginning of this month (June), and I am already nearing the end of week 3.

First Sem Assignments!! Oh No…. We’re barely into Week 3.

It’s only Week 3 of the first semester. I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg. The very tip.

I wrote all the deadlines (except the one in blue) two weeks before the actual deadline, like a false trick to myself. To get me going early, so that I don’t rush and panic at the very last minute.

I also taped and stapled three coins, 2 pieces of scrap pink paper, and the ultimate one: a solar powered keychain with my name on it, to weigh the two pieces of paper down. Can’t even remember where I got it from already. The standing fan behind me blows too strong.

So as you can see, university life is going to be another hospital job. Rushed. Crammed. No time to breathe. Thus my blogposts, my writeups, will have to be of questionable depth in the next month, next year, or years to come.

Again, I will be deluded, tricked into thinking this is something I cannot forget. I wouldn’t forget a life I would live for the next six years (if I manage to get into MBBS (medical degree)), would I? But truly, all memories fade with time.

Yet, there won’t be time to document every university experience. Thus, I still must focus more on being in the moment.

Now, my first stop would be getting into medicine. I am going to brace myself, and rush toward my first finish line!

Second week of lectures, done!

HEY! Where did all the time go? Is the second week of university done and gone already?

Week 1 mostly consisted of ice breaking and briefing sessions. (Click here to read about my very first week at university!) I am now done with week 2 of foundation in science, and this week has been a reasonably manageable one, and the pace has not picked up so much that I cannot catch up – not just yet.

This week, we have just been given some assignments to do, and I am learning to adapt to this different part of uni life that is having to complete tutorial questions and practical lab simulations before attending tutorial and practical classes respectively. In high school, we seldom had to complete anything before entering the classroom – homework was always given to us to do after the class.

This week may have felt a bit short because Monday was a public holiday for Malaysia, so there were only 4 days of lectures. Our lecturers did not hesitate to set replacement classes throughout the week and the next, to make up for lost time.

Due to a replacement class for math on Thursday morning and a combined scientific report writing and APA citation & referencing workshop on Friday, the last two weekdays of Week 2 were FULLY BOOKED. That is effectively 6 hours of (four) lectures on Thursday, with breaks in between, and more than 5 hours of lectures on Friday, with no break in between – I was literally seated in front of my computer, attending live sessions from 8 – 1.40pm back-to-back. Non-stop.

“Welcome to medicine,” said my father, when he saw me hurrying upstairs after lunch, to continue with the third lecture on Thursday. “That’s probably how studying for your medical degree will be like.”

“I don’t think so,” I replied. “Medicine must be way busier than the second week of our foundation year.” I huffed and puffed as I bounded up the last of the steps, not allowing myself to be deterred by my busy schedule – but only because I knew studying medicine must be a ton lot more hectic than this, and if I could not survive this now, then there was no need to talk about going up to the degree level. So this little bit of busyness has to be beneath me. I do not mean that in an arrogant way, but simply because with the start of my path in medicine, I know I must shift my very definition of “busy”.

Still, I am thoroughly enjoying the new experiences of online classes AND the different way of studying required at university, despite being stuck at home 24/7.

It’s Saturday and I am using the weekend to do some self-studying of Cell Biology. Time to throw myself into the third week!

Just got my university online lecture notes!

Just checked our university’s e-learning website and some of the notes (all of them are in powerpoint presentation form) are ALREADY UP! I am not sure whether these are our main notes, or just for casual reading, but it is something, for sure.

Update on 28th of January 2021: Those were not our main notes, they were old notes just for our reference.

I have printed some out to start studying already. MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) is one of the most rigorous courses, and to achieve AND maintain a CGPA of 3.5 in foundation leading to the degree course, the minimum requirement to enter our institution’s MBBS degree course, I absolutely have to get going!

I would like to repeat again that although this blog is meant for everyone, its main purpose is to be a guide, or simply a companion, for my peer and future-generation friends who are looking to pursue medicine as a career. Through this blog, I also hope to connect with you and would love to be friends. You can find me at Instagram (@racheltan_hx).

As of now, our e-learning environment has put up lecture notes in the form of presentation slides, along with some videos for certain chapters, and quizzes to test our knowledge. It has a very simple user interface (layout and design). However, I still find exploring the student portal, e-learning platform etc interesting.

I must remind you that I have only just attended my e-orientation, and the commencement date for the foundation programs is later in June; however fret not! I have signed up for some online talks, hosted by my university as a welcoming for new university students. Still, there has been no instructions to read the notes in the student portal, and there have been no lectures at all yet.

I am currently still unsure how we will be informed when there will be a online lecture; but I will cross the bridge when I come to it 😉

For now, I shall check some of the notes out. There is already a lot of content on the e-learning platform. Cell Biology, here I come!

~Rachel Tan, Blog author, 16 May 2020.

I’m turning eighteen, and I’m finally getting my own room!

Guess what: I’m finally getting my own room. I’m so excited! 😛

Me in my new room
8 May 2020
Credits: Blog author, Rachel Tan HX

My dad is famous for giving us false hope. In 2017, he asked casually if I wanted my own room. “Nah,” I said passively, as I always did to many of his questions, thinking if he really wanted to give me one, he would give me one. Expressing too much enthusiasm to rewards would raise suspicion, so I tend to play it cool. He didn’t give me one that year, and I wasn’t too surprised; my dad was just exploring possibilities.

In 2018 he said, more definitively this time, that I should have my own room. “You need one,” he said, “To study for your major exam, SPM. It will decrease distractions. We may give you one next year.” (My major exam was in 2019.) I did not voice objection. It sounded like it was going to happen!

He never gave me the room in 2019, and I spent an eternity in our studyroom, specifically meant for the son or daughter who was going to take a major exam that year. I was sitting for SPM that year. The door remained closed at all times, and I alternated between doing model exam papers and taking a “quick lie-down nap” on the backless, rock-solid, head-cracking wooden bench that was my seat….

A week ago, my dad brought up the subject of my own room again. This time, he drew up a small map of how he felt the layout should be like.

Then yesterday, on the 8th of May 2020, it really happened!

Dad chose the 8th because “faat” in Cantonese means eight, which sounds exactly like the word “prosperity”.

So with lots of sweat, groans and head scratching in contemplation of where everything should go, the four of us heaved and yanked everything that was not mine out, shoved it haphazardly into the room next to it, and arranged my bed and bedside table into my room.

Me in my new room 2
8 May 2020
Credits: Mother of Blog author

Dad promised to put up a new wooden sliding door for my room, sometime after the COVID situation has improved. This is because we have always been using the existing plastic sliding door from the previous owner of the house. We have already been living in this house for more than ten years!

(Update: It is 28th of January, 2021 one and still no news of the wooden door. Oh well. I’m happy with my old door anyway!)

After that, we laughed when we saw what a disaster the room next door looked like. Time to decide where some of these should go…. in that room. How terribly overcrowded! My new room instead appeared spick and span, for now. University may just bring a tornado through it!

Finally, I have my own personal space. I can’t wait to decorate or personalize it a little bit with pretty things. I may find something next time, when I’m shopping outside. Let’s hope the coronavirus situation improves soon!