I am returning to campus NEXT SEMESTER in October!

This is my last blogpost regarding university before I go on hiatus yet again for my final assessment in three weeks time!

We have just received notice that all students of our university will be returning to campus for the October trimester, but only for tutorial and practical lab sessions. The 2 hour lecture classes for each course will still be conducted online. Hooray! I truly think that is a great combination. It does not drain us with having to attend university daily, and gives us an occasional change in environment which I wholeheartedly believe would be healthy for my academic performance. I just think it is the best balance ever, being able to attend physical lab sessions WHILST attending lecture classes from home which would need rapt concentration and silence for taking important notes; and I would honestly campaign for this arrangement were it possible. Unfortunately, we will probably return to physical lectures eventually, when the coronavirus has died down completely.

It’s already WEEK 12 now of my first semester at university. I have just completed my second round of mini tests (known as Test 2) in my first semester, with nothing left but a Biology full report and two presentations (one live and one prerecorded) for two different courses, before we have to ramp up the effort for our Final Assessment, known as F.A.. That will be in Week 15!

Which is REALLY soon.

Over the past few weeks all I have been doing is study – I mean, there’s not much to do, is there, since we are studying online and due to the COVID situation. But it’s been very fun, asking our lecturers for help with questions past 11pm at night, and laughing in astonishment (and immense gratefulness) when they actually reply; or judging our coursemates solely based on their Microsoft Teams profile pictures, and recognizing them by voice, since no one ever turns their cameras on. Although now I definitely cannot survive without a computer, and using it for long hours make me feel rather uncomfortable – I think I may be quite sensitive to the emitted blue light.

I have submitted a mini “research paper” for my English assignment, which my little four people group and I will be presenting to our English lecturer on Week 13 – next week. We have worked hard and long on this assignment, learning so much through reading all sorts of scholarly articles and research journals on our chosen subject, Medical Errors, and painstakingly citing each and every source we use according to a strict format. We have also picked up a few software skills along the way, such as discovering the screenshot function on Microsoft Word and the screen recording function on Powerpoint; which, when you are in our position of really needing that function to conduct your project, is a wonderful joy and surprise.

There are, of course, a few funny things that happened along the way. During a math lecture, a boy was shocked to discover that inverse tangent 1 got him a value of 50, instead of 45, on his scientific calculator. He voiced his concern in front of a Teams Lecture meeting of about a 100 people. “Inverse Tangent 1 = 50?” our lecturer said calmly. “Then you need to throw your calculator away. Your calculator is damaged.”

“Really ah?” the boy’s voice rang throughout a meeting of 100 people, and he laughed uncertainly. He sent a photo of his calculator, and our lecturer eventually found out that he had set his calculator to a different mode, resulting in the wrong value.

“Your calculator is high,” quipped another boy in the meeting chatbox, meaning high on alcohol and rather dizzy. “The calculator’s value is also a bit high,” commented yet another, because the correct value should have been 45. Finally, the boy with the malfunctioning calculator replied in the chat.

“High on weed,” he agreed.

Then our lecturer ignored the chatting, as he usually does, and ended it with the best touch. “So, you don’t need to throw your calculator away. It is still a very good calculator.”

Alongside all these, I have also been trying to make notes for each of my lectures, knowing full well that my big final assessment is drawing near. The perks of online learning is that we get to review old lecture videos, pause whenever we like, take a rest when we need to, and begin again with renewed purpose. We also get to take screenshots from our lectures and compile them into notes and print them out! At least, that is what I do for my own learning. Being able to use the Windows 10 screenshotting function, Snip and Sketch, is truly a useful thing. I have printed many Whiteboard notes (Whiteboard is a virtual whiteboard, with markers of all colours, true to its name) from our lecturers. Our lecturers also are able to change between the colourful markers easily, so that our lecturer writing look something like this:

Really love the digital rainbow marker pen.

I have mixed feelings about studying online and in real life. I AM yearning to attend classes on campus for the first time too, as I have never been on campus for any studies whatsoever due to the coronavirus.

However, online learning has so many benefits. There are less distractions, there is so much opportunity for further reading and exploration of internet resources, and I am better able to care for my personal needs specific to myself. I also compete with myself only and no one else, which leads me to set my own standards and not be complacent if others around me are doing worse, or become disappointed if others are doing way better.

It is, in short, a controlled environment whereby I am the thermostat.

Now, I really must go! It is the weekend and this is the precious time which I have to fully utilize and catch up with my work.

Goodbye for now!

~Rachel, 15 August 2020.

*Disappointed update: With the COVID situation now, the returning of campus in October, my second semester has been cancelled, with all classes back to being online. Now I think our entire foundation will be online, and some.

I do hope that we can at least begin our degree in real life. I do want to meet all my MBBS coursemates in real life and see their faces.

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.