Sunday, December 02, 2007


Setting: Pharmacology lab session

Student: ... ... Then, what's above Professor?
Professor: Nothing...... God?!

Jennifer (listening 3 feet away): ... ...

Imagine being among great minds.
I love getting great teachers. They inspire you, stimulate your interest, enhance your understanding... That's what makes a great teacher.

Friday, November 30, 2007

How does it all work out?

Chung Hua Miri

I struggled to wake up early in the morning but I smile when I see Sung Sung as I walk into the classroom.

I was displeased at not being made a prefect but I laughed when we formed the non-blazer gang, when we were the first to reach the canteen every lunchtime, when we did caricatures of our teacher's faces on the whiteboard, when we rejoiced in the extra time that we had when prefects were on duty.

I was embarrassed when I tripped and nearly fell over in the school compound but was pleasantly surprised to hear a good friend tell off some onlookers who had smirked at my carelessness.

I was never athletic, but I could not stop laughing when we played basketball in lower secondary and Andy refused to let go of the ball.

I was not the most outstanding student in the class, but I was proud when my classmates walked on to the stage to receive prizes for all sorts of competitions.

I gripe over having to be bored to death by History, but I marvel at the appearance of Chai Ing’s history book before every exam.

I am bored while I wait for the bus, but I am comforted when I get to chat on the bus with Lu Yen, Yew Jye, Nai Hui or Tzyh Cheng.

I was unsure about taking extra subjects, but always chuckled when my total marks were the only ones to shoot over 1000 and everyone seemed to notice(but of course my average wasn’t brilliant).

I was sad to not be able to see my friends so often after I left for Singapore, but I was touched when everyone looked so happy to see me on my return.

Hwa Chong Institution (+Boarding School)

I was apprehensive about sharing a room with others in HCIBS, but after some time, I knew that I had the best set of roommates in the world: Ming Hwei, Yit An and Christina.

I was clueless when I was informed that I had been posted to Hwa Chong, but I soon found out that it was a brilliant school.

I was disappointed at having only 2 other ASEAN direct scholars with me in HC, but I grew to treasure the bond that I had with Christina and, later when she left, Lau.

I was astounded by how varied people’s sleeping habits could be… but we as roommates exchanged secrets late at night as we all lay in our beds talking through the darkness, not able to see each other, but comforted that we were all there.

I griped about getting the bed furthest away from the fan, but was envied when I developed a higher tolerance for heat compared to the others.

I had never had my birthday celebrated for me by friends before, but I was touched whenever we had a birthday celebration and gathered together by the benches in the boarding school.

I always managed to avoid getting dunked in the pond, and I laughed as my friends and seniors were shoved into the water, Yong Hoong memorably losing his spectacles after being dunked, resulting in everyone whipping out their handphones to illuminate the water as he searched for them.

I was afraid that I would not have many friends, but I was comforted by the friendliness of other direct scholars as well as the ASEAN seniors who welcomed us and made us feel like part of the family (particularly the Hwa Chong Fah-Mer-Lee!).

I was daunted by the thickness of the Biology notes in Hwa Chong, but was surprised to find that I had put down an answer in my A-level paper that people from other colleges had no inkling of.

I wondered whether my seniors would ever be able to spare some time for me… and I rejoiced inwardly when we all sneaked into the Chinese High hall to play badminton together and jogged on the high school track at the crack of dawn, and chatted in the gym as Jia Voon and Alvin did weights.

I was torn apart when I was offered the JPA scholarship midway through my first year in college… But I remembered Lau Shi Ern, Daniel, Alicia, Jia Voon, Wan Xin, Mei Sheng, Ming Hwei, Yit An, Yee Yong, Jocelyn, Wei Wen, Adrian Lim, Adrian Ee, Yong Hoong, Kok Hou, Khai Ming, Tze Leong, Wei Seng, Dominic, Yen Nee, Kah Hwee, Vee Vee, Kai Rou, Jun Hui and all the other ASEAN scholars who had made such a large impact on my life within the space of a few months…… And I made the decision, unbelievable as it was, that I did not want to leave.

Nottingham University

I wondered how many people I would be able to befriend in my first week, and then I was put in Cripps Hall, where I met the most amazing people: David, Raghav, Yang Chi, Irene and the gang.

I wondered whether I would get along with my flatmates, and I realized that once again, I had a great set of people to share my first year with: Aisyah, Anis, Subha and Wendy.

I wondered how many Malaysian first-year medics there would be, and whether there would be only a handful of us huddling together in the lectures, and what do you know? 18 of us! We rock!

I am starting to get sick of having nothing but lectures, but I look forward to meeting my fellow Malaysian medics every morning.

I hate it when a lecturer is boring or inaudible, but I grin when I hear someone else in the vicinity saying the same thing just loud enough for me to hear.

I dislike the prospect of a boring lecture, but I am happy to walk into LT1 together with Duo Ying, Fiqa, Puteri, Jennie and Naj every morning, and to hear the usual banter about hogging side seats… And to ask "How was your weekend?" and to listen to all the stories and occurrences that you did or did not witness...

I feel drained after a long string of lectures but once I step outside, there are familiar faces to see, and who in small ways are comforting: noticing Sin Wee reading at the seats outside LT1 and stopping to say hi; playing the piano and watching Atiq as he runs hastily down the spiral stairs, late for the lecture yet again; poking Hwe Ling mischievously in the shoulder as I pass; waving at Joon Wee as he is seen passing through the medical school; saying hi to the other seniors who walk by……

Yes, case studies can drive a person up the wall… But Group Ii is an absolutely brilliant group of people: Ben, Dan, Robin, Tom, Natalia, Charlie, Lauren, Nichola, Julia, Jennie…. I wouldn’t exchange any of you for anyone else. Your enthusiasm for the group, eg. in our MBM seminars, is so contagious that I couldn’t withstand it if I wanted to!

At the end of the week, a feeling of fatigue and meaninglessness sometimes creeps in, but badminton creates the chance to vent all the pent-up emotions and stress. Meeting more familiar people: Choy Onn, Yi Lin, Kexin, Kennis, and everyone else…

Conclusion? This is my life, through my eyes, and I thank God for it... for all the people whom I have been privileged to meet on this journey, for their presence, their support.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad...

The 22nd of October is one of the most important dates on my calendar, but this year I didn't put it on the calendar (I don't have one) and therefore promptly proceeded to forget its significance. As it is, on the very day fifty-one years ago, a great man came into the world, without whom I would never have walked the face of the earth. I am referring, of course, to my father.

A truly important person in my life, he never failed to be there when I needed him. In fact, I could never finish writing (or in this case typing) about all that he taught me. He literally made me who I am and was a key factor in getting me where I am today.

I remember being proud of him for as long as I could remember... Although there was a stage at which I did not like being seen with him, as a whole, I was proud to have such a father. Although there were things he did which I did not agree with and caused me pain, I would never exchange my father for any other. Never would I wish for a different set of parents.

When I was little, he apparently spent a great deal of time with me. Taking me to see aeroplanes taking off from the airport, singing to me... And he read to me... Which was how my English became what it is now. He told me how I would be attentive and responsive to what he was teaching me, and I could not believe that I was so compliant. Yes, he punished me severely once and only once in my childhood, and I have never received any punishment at home ever since.

As I grew, I loved to please him with what I did. I valued his praise and his opinion. And I loved to talk to him... To hear him speak and to learn from his words. His interests became mine, many of which, especially music, remain with me to this day. And I would cry if I felt he was displeased with what I had done, or if he was absent from home too long and I missed him.

As the eldest, there were many things which I was expected to understand, even though I did not. I was told many things that I did not want to hear, yet I did not contradict him. I could not.

However, there are so many wonderful memories. He is my greatest advisor and my best friend. He made me have faith in my own beliefs and always encouraged me to do what we both believed was best for me. He always knew best, in short, and I agreed with him. He introduced me to the world of music and badminton. He taught me to cook. He encouraged me to sharpen my mind and to love learning. He made sure I ate 3 full meals and slept 8 hours a day. He helped me draw my first mind map and write my first essay. My entire training in badminton was based solely on his one sentence: "Never let your eyes leave the shuttlecock."

He was with me every time I made an important decision. I would never do anything until I was sure that I had his permission/approval. The ASEAN scholarship, JPA scholarship, coming to England, medicine... Half of the decision was mine; the other half, his.

In terms of character and principles, he seemed so perfect. I can hardly find a flaw in his beliefs, which is probably why he is still my greatest role model. Everyone looked up to him, and he was feared at work. Lazy members of staff feared him for they knew he was strict. Yet he was always fair, just and responsible.... too responsible.

I would be counting myself fortunate to become half the character he is, yet I can hear him telling me that I must never take the easy way out, never lose out on a chance to improve myself beyond my own imagination. To only settle for becoming half as good as him would be an insult. He would want his children to realise their full potential, to be a balanced, morally upright individual, to be a lifelong learner just as he had been.

I know, as I write this with tears flowing down my face, I am living his dream, reliving his life, studying in the same country that educated him, savoring the joy of learning and the taste of knowledge. We both know that life is not easy, and we both know that we can make ourselves better than we were before, as long as we want to. We both know the importance of our family, we would both make sacrifices for them. We both know the work that God is doing in us and for us every day of our lives. We can also see all the beautiful things in the world around us and cherish them, things that are small but magnificent, the handiwork of our great Creator, who created all those things and us as well.

A very happy birthday, old man.... I thank you, and God, that I came into this world through you. I am proud to have your blood running through my veins and arteries, and I am proud to call you my father and to say that I love you.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Yeah, anyway, I just did a very rash thing two weeks in a row. I hurt my foot before the first session of CSSA badminton and yet I still played. That resulted in a foot that hurt the whole entire week. Tonight, I went to Jubilee Sports Centre resolved to only socialise but not play. Alas, my plans so backfired. It is just seriously too tempting to sit there and watch people playing my favourite sport. I just couldn't resist and got up to play a few rallies. I paid for it by feeling a renewed pain in my left foot as I walked off. Ouch, I will have to apply more medication to it...

I have no regrets save for one these few weeks. And that one is not really paying attention to my studies. Other than that, when talking about joining badminton, Heartstart, playing the piano at QMC till everyone else is bored, I have no regrets. Only thing is, I'd have to apologise to anyone who has gotten bored of my music over at QMC. I only do it for my own entertainment and for relaxation. Getting to know more people, getting to know people better than before, sharing interests with similar-minded people... It feels relaxing. And to think some of it happened to me just because I wore badminton shoes and carried a badminton racket to the NMS meeting... It's amazing what can happen based on a leap of faith. It really is.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

First GP Visit

Yes, only 3 weeks into the medical course and today I had my first visit to a GP surgery. Needless to say, I was excited. I really wanted to see what it was like to see patients here in the United Kingdom. The sad fact though, was that the practice I was attached to was in Derby, so not only did I have to wake up early to catch my transport from QMC, but I would have less contact time with patients compared to colleagues based in Nottingham.

Nevertheless, I sprang awake at 5.30 this morning eager not to miss my transport to Derby, which would leave QMC at 7.30. The anticipation was not damped by the fact that it happened to be a morning with temperature circa 8 degrees celsius, although I did make a mental note to start carrying my gloves around. I found a number of my colleagues, all of which were posted to the less accessible areas of Nottingham, waiting at the entrance to the medical school. Soon we were on our way, four of us sitting in a van to Derby. If I am not mistaken, ours is the furthest among all destinations.

At 8.35, after dropping off the other three at their respective surgeries (we all had different ones), I finally set eyes on Mickleover surgery, which on first impression seemed to be a neighbourhood surgery. It was a practice of 3 doctors. The staff were friendly enough, welcoming me into the clinic to wait for the doctor to arrive.

At about a quarter past 9, Dr Gayed arrived and invited me into his office. I sat in the corner of the office. He gave me a brief introduction to each patient's condition before the patient entered the office. Fortunately, none of the patients I saw today were against the idea of having a medical student in the same room.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience today and was reluctant to have to leave at ten past 11. I could readily have sat there for 2 more hours absorbing all the information that each patient was introducing to me. However, I had done fairly well today, managing to see 11 patients over the 2 hours i was there. And I had already accumulated a list of items to be researched over the subsequent days.

I had also obtained insight into the primary health care system. And my immediate conclusion was that I would love to be a general practitioner here. Perhaps it was due to the cultural difference, but a visit to the GP here seemed to be far more active than a typical one in Malaysia. And I started to wonder whether beliefs and principles of a doctor who was trained here could hold in a different country, as I would experience after graduation.

My colleagues and I all agreed that we would have loved to attend GP visits more often... And I'm sure we all eagerly anticipate our next visit, which is the last one before Christmas, 2 weeks from now. I know I do.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Settling down

This is what we call the hallway in our flat. The open door is mine, Room E. The thing attached to the wall is the heater, and after passing it you get to one toilet. Picture on the right is what I now consider the greatest discovery of man, the wonderful bed.

Right, now that's my room in its neater moments. As with most students, the table tends to get extremely messy, more so since it's not a desk with drawers and the like. And there are actually books on my bookshelf already.... Errr.... Some of them I took from the Greenfield Medical Library only because I did not want to wait for others to use them first. I can borrow up to 12 books... And right now, I've barely used half of my quota.

Today I visited the annual Nottingham Goose Fair with fellow Malaysians from the Nottingham Malaysian Society.

It was really huge fun fair with countless stalls of games, rides, food and merchandise. I did not go on any of the rides this time, because I was too cowardly and refused to risk vomiting the food I has just taken. However, I tried some of the game stalls... with no luck.

Then as my flatmate was not feeling well, three of us decided to head home by cab first. Near the exit, I spotted a man with a signboard claiming that he could guess a person's age within a +/- 1 year allowance. If his guess was wrong, the person would get a small toy. I recklessly decided to give it a try. After handing him 2 pounds, he looked at my appearance and wrote down a number on his pinboard. It was the number 24. I could not suppress a laugh, and told him my real age. He seemed rather unhappy about his lack of accuracy, and handed me...

This little guy here. My reward for looking older than I really am.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

First steps

I only believed I was finally a medical student in Nottingham when I stepped into Queen's Medical Centre for the first time on Monday morning. Then my companions and I tried to find our way from the South Entrance of the hospital to the medical school. We had to thread through numerous corridors and pass by many doors, some of which, from the nameplates on them, housed our future lecturers.

Since then, the pace of life is speeding up. We were bombarded with more and more things to do and in particular read, as reading lists and timetables came, followed by lecture notes. I have several modules to complete over the academic year.

Behavioural Sciences
Clinical Laboratory Skills I
Cardiovascular System, Respiratory System and Haematology
Communication Skills
Structure function and pharmacology of Excitable Tissues
Human Development and Tissue Differentiation
Molecular Basis of Medicine
Early Clinical and Professional Development I
Public Health and Evidence Based Medicine
Human Development Structure and Function I

I've also met my personal tutor, Dr Victoria Tischler. She's a psychologist and works in the Department of Psychiatry. She's a very nice person, and I'm waiting to see what her Comm Skills lectures are like.

Today also granted me a small revelation.... that of how well Hwa Chong's Bio department had prepared me. I had the opportunity of explaining what the cytoskeleton was, as apparently my fellow medic did not understand it even after the lecturer was done. My reward.... Being called a geek, aka nerd. Damn.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Flat 37 Madison Court

Well, that's my new room in Flat 37, Madison Court, Raleigh Park. Had to wait in a long queue to collect my keys because many international students live on this site and many of them moved in today.
I'm still unpacking, so the room is a superb mess. I'll only think about another photograph once I'm fully unpacked and my room does not look like it belongs to a perfect slob.
Right now I've got 4 flatmates: 1 from China, 2 Malaysians and 1 Bruneian. And the total of 3 Malaysians represent the 3 main races in Malaysia. Cool, isn't it? But I must admit I'm missing the friends I made in Cripps Hall the first week. It felt so nice hanging out with them that I wish I could continue to do so. Sadly, we all moved into separate accommodations.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pictures from overseas

These pictures are taken in Dubai airport. The cars are a Porsche 911 Carrera GT whereas I cannot remember the exact model name of the Merc. The bike is a Harley Davidson. And by the way, they're the prizes of a lucky draw.

What the transit wing of the airport looks like:

Views from inside the B777-300 cabin:

After Glasgow I sat through a whole lot of countryside on the motorway down through England, but I couldn't get pictures of cows and sheep because by the time my camera reacted, the sheep had passed us. And being on the motorway, I couldn't well ask my cousin to slow down.

As luck would have it, I saw Sheffield before seeing Nottingham.

However, I soon reached the university that I was eternally thankful to for accepting me.

This is the Queen's Medical Centre, largest hospital in England, maybe even Europe. It has 28 miles of corridors and 1100 toilets. The inside joke is that the 1100 toilets are there for those who have problems finding their way through the 28 miles of corridor. No surprise. This photo shows only about 2 blocks out of 4 that make up the medical centre, and then, not even those two blocks in their entirety.

This pic isn't mine, i picked it off the net to emphasise the size of QMC.

Most of those who did not take the university coach from Heathrow to Notts (like me) were put into Cripps Hall first as their temporary accomodation, resulting in me being separated from most of the other Malaysian first year medics. This is what Cripps Hall looks like.

Fields of Gold.... full of duck and goose crap too...

Fact File #1: The university campus measures 330 acres.
Fact File #2: The place is full of birds. Colour Key: White-swan, black head-goose, green head-male duck, brown-female duck.

Fact File #3: They know how to cross the road! Well, the geese at least.
Now I'm not sure how well you can see it, but I suggest opening it with Windows Picture and Fax Viewer and click on the button for actual size. In fact, I think just clicking on the picture will show you a huge actual one. There's actually one goose leading half the flock across the road, and cars stop for them! They stop for me, of course, but... them?
Squirrel I spotted outside Hugh Stewart, next to Cripps. It's cute, and some of us want to keep them as pets.
Today I went to Nottingham City Centre for a short while. In England you hardly have to worry about time if you're on the streets. The church bell towers remind you of the hour. I love hearing the bells toll. It almost seems to remind me that I'm in England for real. The coffee and hot chocolate are from Costa Coffee and cost about 2 pounds for a medium, which is the glass's size.

Right, that's as far as I will go. I'm tired, and I skipped visiting a famous student club venue tonight in favour of a movie and beauty sleep, so good night!