Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pregnancy, giving birth and happy endings

So on our 3rd year as a medical student, we are suppose to do regular visits to a pregnant lady's house till she gives birth, as part of our course. I shall not do a report here on my experience cause I will have to do a graded report soon, and if I write anything remotely similarly, I will be accused of plagiarizing myself. I did not expect much from this at first. I thought I have been numbed towards the concept of pregnancy because my sister-in-law and sister have been pregnant before, and even though I have not been beside them while they were pregnant, I sort of know what was going on. We also learned about the process of pregnancy last year. So I thought, there can't be anything new in this!

I've visited her once when she was 30 weeks into her pregnancy and my partner visited her another time while she was still pregnant. Tomorrow will be our last visit to her place because she has finally given birth to a healthy baby boy! I had not much feeling about this visit initially till I read an article on facebook this morning. You can read it here.

When we talk about pregnant ladies, it's more common to talk about what colour the nursery should be, what colour the baby jumpsuits should be, what diapers to use or what milk powder will result in kids with the highest IQ etc. There are always so much joy and anticipation for the coming of this new being, even when you are just remotely related to this baby. The fact is, pregnancy and giving birth successfully have become such a common thing since labour was medicalised. Many people have taken for granted that it is actually a very dangerous process. A mother has to risk her life going through this painful process (thousand times more painful than any regular period pain), to bring another human into this world (while the dad watches). When the baby is born, he lets out a cry as a sign of life, everyone's happy and they live happily ever after. However, not every pregnancy is smooth and not every pregnancy will end in a happy delivery, even when most of them were filled with so much hope and anticipation. And when that happy ending doesn't happen, the disappointment is heartbreaking to experience and definitely heart-wrenching to learn even learn about as a bystander. Then people try to sweep it under the carpet, vow to never talk about it anymore and let time heal.

That story has definitely changed my view of 'pregnancy is always a happy thing', but that doesn't make pregnancy a bad thing. It makes me more grateful and sincerely happy for those mothers who have safely deliver their bundle of joy; it makes me really want to go up and give them a huge hug and pat them on the back for the job well done. While I was preparing gifts for the lady and her newborn that I will be visiting tomorrow, I couldn't help but be sincerely happy for her and grateful that this baby has come home safely.

Can't wait for tomorrow! :)

On the side note, Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday, February 6, 2015


Remember my previous post on the hope for social mobility and equality for all? Reflecting on my life lately has made me even more grateful of the chances I was offered - the opportunities to get good, quality education. I am nearing the halfway mark of my 6-years-long medical training now and many of my friends are graduating soon. As much as we dread to leave this Cambridge bubble and to face the real world, our predecessors told us to be excited about it! There are ample great opportunities out there, in the real world awaiting us.

You know how when we were young, how each of us spelled out our ambitions in our 'My ambition' 100 words 'essays'? How each of us wanted to be a doctor/lawyer/actor/banker? Remember when we were writing our secondary school essays, especially the always-super-patriotic BM essays, how we kept repeating we are 'the country's future leaders' in our essay without really knowing what it means to be tomorrow's leaders? We just wrote it in the conclusion of the essay because that's what our cikgu said and that's the trick so we can get high marks. Remember how during our JPA/government related organization scholarship interviews, how we 'vowed' in front of the interviewers to return to the country one day, serve the people and make a difference to our beloved Malaysia? 

Well, dude/dudettes - It is, finally, our generation's chance to make a difference. Most of us are the latest bunch fresh graduates, fresh from the oven, piping hot... the ones with so much energy, time and resources. We are the fortunate ones who manage to complete our tertiary education and to earn 4-figure salary as our starting salary. It is a progress for all in our nation, we believe. But is it really for all? If you care to look around, there are many people who are left behind as our nation progress (regardless of the picture the mainstream media painted that we are progressing/not progressing). Forget about the expensive after-school tuition classes we hate, there are many children in our own country who are still struggling to get good education. 1 out of 5 Malaysian children do not even complete their secondary education! Can you believe that?! Cause I can't! Reasons given were: It may be because of their family's situation, they are unable to focus in school; it may be because the lack of a conducive environment to incubate their curiosity and passion to learn; it may be because they are lacking resources like a pencil, pen, school uniform, shoes or...a good teacher to inspire them. 

We may not have the capacity to directly change their lives overnight or be at the frontline now, but we can definitely make a change by supporting the teachers who dedicate their energy and time to teach and inspire these little ones. YOU, can make a difference NOW NOW NOW by supporting the #RedCampaign! 

1. Take a red marker, write your ambition/profession on your palm 
2. Take a selfie (you pros!) 
3. Share on social media and tag 5 friends. 
4. Donate RM5 (or more) at to support TeachforMalaysia! 

It's that easy! It's only 96p if you are donating via PayPal from the UK. 96p man...and it changes someone's life!

Like us, every child has the potential to be our nation's next great leader. He/she may be the one who would make our daily news something awe-inspiring, instead of our daily dose of comedy/joke; he/she may be the next great research scientist and Nobel prize winner; he/she may be the next Putlizer book prize winner; he/she may the next great entrepreneur; he/she may be the next Oscar prize winner! But he/she may just be silenced because of those reasons, those reasons that didn't seem to bother us at all - Education inequality. Supporting education for our younger ones can thus be the best investment you would ever make. Let's fight it together, you educated lot. :) 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Missing Malaysian Food

No matter how many stars that michelin restaurant has, no matter how good that authentic tapas is... I still miss the oily, spicy Malaysian food. While you can get some pseudo-Malaysian food here, like char kuey tiao or satay made by non-Malaysians to extort money out of lazy Malaysians, you can never find those authentic mamak roti canai and my favourite...Roti Tissue! Oh dearie me...I have no idea why I kept craving for Malaysian food lately. I kept thinking about the sour and spicy Boat Noodles (RM1.90 per bowl!) and also the spicy, crunchy chicken only available in KFC/McDonald's in Malaysia. Looking at instagram just make everything worst - scrolling through my friends' food photos at 1am is the worst torture ever!

And...I am not even planning to go back anytime soon. How?! *cries*

On the side note, my project is going super well that it will probably end really soon. My first ever proper project. Glad to be able to contribute to the scientific community, even though it's just a tiny weeny piece of information.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cups and cups...

A typical morning desk situation
Hazelnut latte 
I have a confession - I'm a coffee addict. (Ok, probably not worth a confession if you know me in real life)A day without coffee is like a day living in fog. I will be like a living zombie, walking around the town, go to lecture and talk to people, without really absorbing what's going on at all. When I miss my morning cup of java, it's usually the days when I wake up 15 minutes before lecture, and I know the day won't be splendid. It'll be fine, I mean, I don't have drug-addict like withdrawal syndrome. Oh wait, I do get really irritable and if I could, I would hang a card on my neck, 'you owe me a cup of coffee. Get me one, or get lost!' Whenever I am idle, my body fall into a default state of mininaps every few minutes, though this article says it's the key to success. *shrugs* I rather be sharp and less irritable. So since year 1,, no, since A levels, I have had this habit of drinking at least 1 cup of coffee every day. And I've been doing well keeping it to 1, or at most, 2, on the days I go out for coffee with friends. 

I've been living well with any sort of coffee for the past 5 years, you see. From the RM1.50 canned Nescafe from the vending machine during college years to the 40p instant coffee from the vending machine in Pathology tearoom, I was happy as long as the liquid in my cup tasted like coffee. Then these random coffee shops start popping up in UK and Malaysia, so I started cafe-hopping whenever possible. To enjoy the cafe ambience and to enjoy the good coffee. The thing is, a cup of latte costs around 2-3 quids. If I drink 2 per day, that's at least 6 quids... And we haven't even take into account the amount I spent on food! I have a hunch that if I ever become broke one day, it'll most probably be because I spend all my savings on food.  

So I tried to save by having instant coffee and milk at home. But once you go on cafe coffee, you can't go back! Somewhere in your mind, you'll know that you're missing out something! and that something is clear - a good cup of coffee. 

One day, a close friend's coffee machine broke down. (Many of us used to leech on this lawyer/barista's good coffee :p) He was looking for a new machine, and he was aiming for a 130 pounds one. I had a look at the review and did some maths (thank God for almost non-existing math skills). If each cup in the cafe is 3 pounds, and I have it twice a day, I can easily spend 130 pounds on coffee in a month. 

If I make le coffee on my own: 
  • Each Illy coffee capsule for the machine is 40p 
  • milk from Sainsbury/M&S 25p for a cup.  
  • Total cost for a cup of good Illy coffee, in the comfort of my room is only 65p. 
  • So I save 2.35 pounds for a cup. 
  • After only 55 cups, I would have covered the machine cost 130 pounds. 

That is so cheap! I get to enjoy good coffee anytime I like and also practise milk steaming and pouring skills to be a barista just in case medicine doesn't work out...

It has been 10 weeks since I got my machine. I'm learning bit by bit from my friend and from Youtube videos while experimenting different pouring skills and recipes on my own. The affogato's espresso was made from the Illy espresso and it's oh-so-good! And I bought a bottle of Hazelnut syrup from M&S today to make my first ever Hazelnut Latte and it tasted soooooooo good! Planned to go proper barista classes, but have yet to save enough for the classes after making a few major purchases for the past few months...but I'm definitely planning to go to for one! 

Investing in a coffee machine may not seem attractive at first glance but if you are drinking as much coffee as I do, and enjoy having good coffee. I said investment, because look at the amount of money and time it saves, and the amount of good coffee it brings! So, if you are in doubt, don't ask me, because you'll definitely buy one after you ask for my opinion. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Something different every day

I just had lunch. Cooked dark soy sauce chicken with chilli flakes and some lettuce. When my bedder came in and saw the food hot from the hob on my table, 

'Looks really yummy!' I could almost see her drool coming down.
'Yes, they are. Thank you. You can hoover tomorrow.' And I sort of implied her that she's suppose to leave my room now before my food disappears in front of me. 

Dark soy sauce chicken is really the easiest thing you can cook if you couldn't think of any other way to cook chicken. I  mean, being Asian, we always have soy sauce lying somewhere in the kitchen right? I have been cooking chicken so often that I have no idea how else to cook them anymore. I only have about 15 minutes to cook a meal, so something complicated or takes a long time like ginseng chicken soup or curry chicken are no-no. There are only a few ways to grill or fry chicken. What else can you do? If you have some good recipes, share with me! :) 

I can really empathise with my mom and those housewives who cook every day now...How on earth can you come up with something different to cook every single day? I'm staying on my own, so even if I want to eat soy sauce chicken every day, it doesn't bother me. But what if you're cooking for the whole family? Obviously you can't cook the same thing every single day right? You'd want everyone to be well-fed and happy. You'd want to keep the table conversations interesting. Imagine how dull the situation would be on the table if a housewife were to cook dark soy sauce chicken everyday:

'Yum! Soy sauce chicken!'
'Oh yea, delicious soy sauce chicken, again!' 
'Oh darling, you put too much soy sauce today.'
'Dar, this chicken could do with more soy sauce.'
'Oh dear, did you dump the whole bag of salt into the pot?!'
'Did you change the brand of the soy sauce you use?'


*scurry to expand recipe library* 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rationalise out of the defensive mode

Oh, look at how time flies! The last time I blogged was 2 months ago. And I just turned 22 last Christmas! :)

Ok the reason I stopped blogging for these past 2 months was because  I was busy saving the world right after the last post, I had a supervision with a King's College supervisor. I got the worst-ever feedback for my essay and some nasty comments on my language. It affected my self-confidence for quite a while. I almost cried but I thought, wait a minute, keep calm and take a step back. Was she trying to help or was she just enjoying the position to criticise a vulnerable soul here?

To be honest, it is very easy, as a foreign student, a minority in this society to take this as a case of racism. Every time when you not treated the way you wanted,  it is easy to feel you are discriminated against by a local. It is easy to go into that defensive mode and start crying wolf, or scream something like 'you racist th*at!' But if you take a step back, breathe and analyse the whole situation, very often it is not a case of racism. One, you can't always get the thing you want, regardless of race, religion, great wealth or background associated with the royal blood. erm...maybe you can but that's not the point. Two, there are rude and inconsiderate people in all communities! When they are rude, that doesn't mean they are against your whole race. They are just, being human. Unless you have a concrete evidence, explicitly or implicitly but very clear, that you are being unfairly treated because of your background, it is never a good idea to take things into the 'racism' realm, because it will never get your problem solve, and if anything else, it'll get blown up to a completely different argument, involving the whole population of two races. What's the point?

As the supervisor was rambling on how terrible it is for the College to admit a student like me, I thought why should I take these criticisms this way? She's trying to help here, and even though she could have put those criticisms in a more constructive way, her intention was clear - to teach me and to make me a better student. Listen to her words clearly, her criticisms were based on the mistakes I made on paper, and not any statement she made was against my background or my identity. It was clearly not a case of racism. So as these thoughts were running through my mind, I smiled and gave her my director of studies' contact details. She emailed him, he emailed me and we arranged another supervision to help me in improving my writing skills. I was extremely glad because I got my decade-old confusion in grammar resolved and an English language lesson from a Cambridge expert, tailored to me, for free. Hey, private language classes aren't cheap! (Still a Malaysian at heart!)

Note to self: When facing criticisms and accusations, we go into a hyper-defensive mode immediately and start denying and fighting back mentally/verbally every single thing the person says. But try to put ourselves into another person's shoe the next time: each of us has a very unique background and myriad of distinct encounters in our life; each of these pieces inevitably forms the filter through which we see our world. On top of our 'just brilliant' ability to communicate clearly in this modern world, misunderstandings are often a result of inability to see from another person's point of view. Empathy  is the way to go! However, to truly understand another person's point of view will take a hell lot of time and energy. And obviously, it is not possible to do that with every acquaintance. Knowing this fact, an easier way in getting around this problem is, not to let your emotions take control and dive into defensive mode immediately the next time you face criticisms/accusations. Take a step back. If you can't rationalise on the spot, then move away until you can think through the situation properly, then only go talk it through. So...when facing criticisms and accusations, it's a good time to practise empathy!

Happy Week 2!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cambridge Medicine Interview: Round 2.

So what have I been up to?

Egg Benedict at Tom's Kitchen
Sloane Square 

Yes, I've been slightly drowned by work after a weekend of fun-fun-fun and no-work-at-all! in London but I'm not slacking a single bit on writing.

Remember I wrote an article on Cambridge Medicine Interview before? Recently, I wrote another article on Cambridge Medicine Interview for an organization called Malaysian Medics International (UK). You can head over and read it. Share it with any friends you think would appreciate it. And also, thank you my dear friends who volunteered yourselves for the interview. :)

Besides, I will (possibly) be facing my second med school interview soon! When I first got in, I thought this is it, I am done with the scary med school admission interview but when I arrived here, they told me, no, you will have to go through another round of application to get into Cambridge's Clinical School because we only have space for half of number of medical students in your year. 

Wth? Another round of cambridge interview?! I have only realised this very recently when I talked to my friends from Imperial and UCL. This only happens in Oxbridge. (They say, do your research before you go for any university. I obviously didn't take that advice very seriously.) All other London medical schools students don't have to go through this! No wonder our intra-species competition was so intense so the past 2 years because it all depends on your merits/results to stay. :/ 

And now everyone's scrambling to fill in their forms and preparing for the interview...*sigh*
Urm interviews, no please, please don't give me nightmares, again. KEEP CALM THIRD YEARS!

If any seniors who have been through it are kind enough to save us from this misery, could you please message me or comment below? We shall be eternally grateful for your contribution. Thank you. :)