Thursday, July 31, 2008

Picture perfect

Is the picture as perfect as I assume it is?

When we are in love with something, the tendency is to heighten all the positives and shrugging off all the negatives.

I'm supposed to be in Uni on Saturday to help them 'capture' the heart and soul of to-be students. You know, playing the part of the salesman where I need to extol all the virtues of the campus - its powerful research background, its top-end teaching technologies, its competent lecturers and the fact that only the creme de la creme can get into the course.

Until now, I always felt that my Uni life is like a fairy tale - I'm given the opportunity to develop myself. I got to be involved in a lot of things and make a lot of friends - which somehow make my Uni life a truly enjoyable experience and felt that Pharmacy is a great course. Of course there's some not-so-good experiences, but in the greater scheme of things, its insignificant, right?

By pure coincidence this week, I was assailed by numerous suggestions that the course is not as good as it is. Like what the Uni taught us was hugely irrelevant in the workplace. Or more and more people was disillusion about pharmacy that they wanted to do something else after graduating. How the quality of lecturers is getting worse. Or lectures are boring or disturbed by noisy students. How they simply change the name or structure of the course or campus without much consultation with students etc etc. Its just like a few firefly suddenly light up together so that you can see the snake on the ground. Just enough to sow seeds of doubt.

For me, I believe the first rule in selling something is about believing what you sell. If this keep going on, I would probably do a bad job on Saturday. I'm bad at lying. How can I convince people that the course is too good to be true when it is?

"We are so constituted that we believe the most incredible things: and once they are engraved upon the memory, woe betide him who would endeavour to erase them."
Johan Wolfgang Goethe.
Do hope you are right, Mr Goethe. Lucky for me most of my time will be doing campus tours. Nothing hard to promote buildings...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Life life life

Life's really not fair.

That's the very first thought that present itself in my mind after finding out that Prof. Randy Pausch passed away on Friday. He is this guy who got famous after delivering his 'Last Lecture' in Carnegie-Mellon University about his childhood dreams. Saw him in Oprah last year and was reminded about him after reading this post here.

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It is not fair how such a nice guy like him, in the pinnacle of his career and have three young kids got struck by the big C and found out that he had only a few months to live.

Indeed, come to think of it, everything in life is not fair.

Its not fair that some students in Malaysia may have got their scholarships or jobs due to their connections to someone, as in this post about scholarship in Education in Malaysia.

Its not fair that someone who is diligently working in the background got overlooked whereas the good-for-nothing shoe licking guy got the promotion.

Its not fair that someone did the housework whereas someone didn't even though everyone agreed to do them.

Etc. etc. etc.

So now we know the world is not fair. The next logical question is, what are you going to do about it?

a) Being bitter, angry and losing all hope for the world?

b) Adopting a victimised mentality?

c) Accept life as it is and move on?

d) Became a crusader to right the wrong and makes the world a better place?

Hmm.. I think once upon a time my reaction will be (b). Now it should be (c). I sort of accept that unfairness is an unavoidable facet of life, and hence there is no use whining about it. Hopefully it will be (d) in the future. Maybe I can be Batman then. Which reminds me, I'm going to watch the Dark Knight tomorrow! Yay!

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Grampians Trip

Followed the Wildfire (rural) club in Uni for an excursion to the Grampians yesterday. Grampians is a beautiful mountain range around 200km from Melbourne. Started off at 8 a.m.


Since this is an educational trip, the first stop is at the Ballarat Hospital pharmacy. Nothing much interesting I guess, as had countless placements already.


Then it's a stop-over at Brambruk National Park in Halls Gap. It is an Aboriginal cultural centre, where we got to watch a video about the origin of the Grampians ranges. The tour guide also went through some traditional medicinal plants.


Lunch is definitely the highlight. I was bracing myself for the worst (during last year's trip they got chips for lunch) but we ended up having crocodile skewers, BBQ kangaroo and buffalo sausages. Delicious and interesting.


To digest the food, we went for a short bush-walking tour, where we saw..


Venus falls


Gorilla rock


and a majestic Kookaburra.


We then stopped at the little village of Coola to browse through some quaint shops and also enjoy delicious ice creams.

Reached back at Uni around 8 p.m. Since it was cold, Kheng Ying, Freda and me decided to go for some hot-pot. It was really hot. Really really hot (notice the red soup?).


Overall, not a bad trip. Definitely more interesting compared to my current placement in St Vincent's Hospital. 3 weeks is too long..

Saturday, July 19, 2008

First ever AFL match

Finally, I had managed to watch a Australian Football League or "footy" match today. Footy was proudly invented here in Victoria hence its status as the most popular sport around. Nearly half the sports coverage on newspaper everyday is on Footy. And thanks to Monash Uni for giving me the free ticket.


I went to the match with G and Kush, who are amongst my best frens in Uni. We're all very active volunteers in the Global Friendship Series (that's why we got the tickets).


The match was held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground or known as the MCG. It has a maximum capacity of 100,000 and was the stadium used in the opening and closing ceremony of the 06 Commonwealth Games.


The match was between the Richmond Tigers


and Essendon Bombers


It's hard to explain a game of Footy. Basically there are 18 person per team on the field; it was played over four quarters of 20 minutes each; and there are four goal sticks on each end: kick the ball in between the centre sticks and you will score 6 points, if kick between the peripheral sticks, you will score one point.


There was a big crowd and the atmosphere was unbelievable. We got some good seats, just a few rows from the field and around 20 degrees from the centre goal post.


The Richmond team hurdle before the game. Richmond is the Home team.


The start of the game. The person in the green is the umpire. He was bent over because in Footy there have this unique way to start the game - the umpire threw the ball on the ground, it bounces up and the players fight for the ball.


If the ball goes out of bounds, the throw-in is also unique. That's what this umpire was doing - he was throwing the ball over his head with his back to the playing field.


This guy was trying to score a goal. He did score and earned his team 6 points. The match was very close - close to a classic. Richmond was streets ahead during half time, but Essendon hit back in the third quarter, scoring 6 straight goals to take a slim lead. The crowd was ecstatic, waving flags and pom-poms whenever their team scored.


The last quarter was end-to-end stuff, which both teams alternatively taking the lead. In the end, Richmond won by four points, beating Essendon 108 to 104. It was really much much closer, as Essendon missed the last four chances of the game to score.


A truly enjoyable and memorable match.


Basically, I guess what was missing to make it a perfect experience was for a streaker to run across the field. But there's this funny sight of a yellow taxi on the field just before the game started.


The driver was probably a part time Indian student with a mal-functioning GPS system installed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Knowledge = power?

I guess I'm not much of an action man.

I am a voracious reader. I read a lot. I adhere and revere the maxim "Knowledge is power".

I have an interest for motivation books.

I just finished reading the Dale Carnegie's classic "How to win friends and influence people."

I had already read Stephen Covey's "The seven habit of highly effective people."

Likewise Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich dad poor dad."

Or Chris Howard's "Turning Passion into Profits".

And countless not-no-popular books harping on the relatively similar themes of effective public speaking, how to make money, how to make friends, how to be confident etc...

Hell, I even brought "The secret" and read "The game".

Anyway, you got the drift.

After turning the last page of Dale Carnegie's book a couple of hours ago, I suddenly felt very empty. It's like this sudden drop in endorphin level that left you mired in mild depression. I was wondering why then, had I not transformed into the person I want myself to be, even though I had these supposedly wealth of knowledge?

Then a light bulb moment. I realised that I'm not proactive enough.

I am a predominantly reactive person. I don't like to make decisions. I don't like choices. I prefer people to organise activities rather then I do it. Usually I only speak to someone if they initiate the conversation first. I let people add me on Facebook or Friendster rather then me adding them. Once I even wistfully hope that some girl will come chasing after me rather then the other way round. Sounds like a nice dinner joke now.

Thinking back, I guess I just don't like being responsible for the decisions I do. Or perhaps there is this inherent fear of rejection that is hard to unlearn. Or an ingrown what-ever attitude. Or a lack of confidence. Anyway, I guess I need a certain period of time to reflect on where it all goes wrong and rewire the circuit in me.

Someone once told me no so long ago that "Power is actually on the action you take based on the knowledge you have." I was skeptical at first. But now I guess I am converted.

Looking back, I started writing this blog "to chronicle my evolution to be a better person" (on my 2nd ever post in 2005). I guess I gonna keep my word and start being more proactive from today.

P/s: geez reading my previous posts make me suddenly realise that my English is tumbling downhill. Better brush it up too...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A day in the life of a pharmacy student

A new innovation of the campus is to have students write up their life as a pharmacy student in a blog form and let prospective students read about them (So that they will fall in love with the Uni and pledge their future here).  Wondered what's so interesting in the life of a pharmacy student. Decided to chronicle my life today as a dry run.

7.45a.m. Woke up by the mellifluous (I wish) chime of my handphone alarm. Brushed time. Dressed up. Breakfast with a cup of must-have cappuccino.

8.30a.m. Started the half and hour walk to Uni in the cold weather. you know here in Melbourne, poor International students don't have concession for public transport.

9.00a.m. Reached Uni. Worked as a Disability Liaison Unit notes-taker for one hour. Basically I sat through a lecture with 'a person with a  disability' (politically correct way to say it) and helped him jot down whatever the lecturer had said.

10.00a.m. Went to the miniscule library to use the Internet. As usual, too many people and not enough computers. Ended up chatting with friends and reading the Australian Medicines Handbook.

10.30a.m. A double lecture (2 hours long). Had fun observing people nodding off.

12.30p.m. Lunch break! Had an apple and a banana for lunch (being healthy). Crowded cafeteria. Saw some first years playing Uno. Seemed so fun. Wondered why I didn't do that during my time.

1.00p.m. Participated in the preliminary round of a counselling competition. No chance of winning - just went there for experience as gonna have an oral exam soon too. Didn't do too bad. In fact I think I did better then I had expected. At least my brain didn't go on freeze mode.

1.30p.m. Three lectures on the trot. On things such as what G-protein coupled receptors and homeopathic medication. Pure torture. Luckily the last one finished half and hour earlier.

4.00p.m. Sneaked to the common room for some ping-pong. Felt so good to send the ball spinning and smashing around.

4.30p.m. It's Global Friendship Series time! Its a free event for students to have fun and make friends. Today's theme is Japanese. So we had sushi and karaoke. Imagine singing karaoke in the Uni.

6.30p.m. Walked home. It was already dark... and cold. And going to start at 9a.m. again tomorrow.

Hence a typical life of a pharmacy student.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The beginning of the end

Uni restarts tomorrow.. for one last semester.

One last chance to reach the Uni's entrance, take a deep breath and say "ah.. another new semester!"

One last chance to go into the lecture hall and promise myself "I'm going to do my best this semester."

One last chance to meet friends and ask "How's your hols?"

One last chance to feel the freshness of a new semester, to taste something that promises so much.

One last chance to think of what I had not done in my Uni life and try to do it before it is too late.

Perhaps I should not be so melancholic but instead happy because after this coming 12 weeks, I will be at the end of an arduous 4 year course. Graduating. Ready for the real world.

 P3230159            Monash Uni Parkville Campus

It seemed not too long ago when I first laid my eyes on the campus. That slightly windy February day in 2005, with a smidgen of cloud and clear blue sky. I was wearing my orange T-shirt, dark blue jeans and a dark blue windbreaker. Walked along Princes Park, not sure where the Uni was until I saw the big blue signboard. Monash University. 381 Royal Parade. The surging feeling of pride of being able to make it to Uni at last. The promises of an exciting dawn. The beginning of a journey.


Once upon a time in 2005...

Each 12 weeks block passed by one by one. Each started with a feeling of excitement and hope. Of new things to look forward to. New challenges. New adventure. And tomorrow, I will walk the same way,  see the same scenery, a bigger signboard. However, the feeling will be different. This time, it will be the beginning of the end. Whether to feel sad or excited, I have no idea.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Postcards from Sydney Part 4

imageIt's Day 4 in Sydney! Gosh. Time really flies. We have nearly reached the end of our short trip. Its gonna be an early start for us today, as we are making the 2 hour journey for the Blue Mountains!

It's a day for the greens and blues - green forests and blue mountains that is.

First on the itinerary was the search for wild kangaroos. Not that interesting. Even the kangas don't look interested.


Then its time to see some waterfalls.


And the mountains.


The famous three sisters are a bit shy to see us - hiding mysteriously under a shroud of mist and fog.


For a bit of jungle adventure, went to sit on the steepest incline railway in the world. Actually not that scary. Just like a short roller coaster.


Ended the day with some nice food (again!) This time went for some hot Japanese ramen;


and cold Lindt chocolate.


That nicely conclude my Sydney trip. Day 5 was uneventful - just breakfast at a random food court and then transit to the airport for the flight home.

As noticed, didn't include pics of any of my travel mates coz didn't have their permission to do so (dun wanna get sued). Besides, this blog is about me. =P


New fact of the day: Gloria Jean in Sydney opened for service at 7a.m. Never knew they open so early. And yeah you can't buy alcohol in Sydney after 12a.m.

Interesting fact of the day: I never had ramen. First impression - a more sophisticated version of Maggi Mee. 

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Postcards from Sydney Part 3

imageDay three! Another happy sunny day. What's a better way to start the day other than having some delightful breakfast? So off we go to Zilver for Yum-cha!

The dim-sum there super yummy. Especially the cha-siew.


Then went shopping. Spent >$100. Enough said.  Also to Paddy's Market - which is like Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne but with a Chinese tinge.


Keeping to the Chinese theme, went to Chinatown afterwards. Things real cheap here compared to Chinatown Melbourne.


Then its to the Chinese friendship garden - which was really like a secret paradise hidden right in the city.


After that its time to visit the most famous beach in Australia - the Bondi Beach. Too bad its winter - no bikini gals. And its size failed to impress too. Just slightly bigger then Damai Lagoon in Kuching.


Anyway, around there was a store selling Deep Fried Mars Bars. Yeah its chocolate deep fried. Triple cholesterol but worth the risk.


Better things to follow - went to Hurricane Grill for dinner. Had huge pork ribs and lamb ribs for dinner (so big that it cannot fit into the pic). Still salivating while looking at this pic.


End the day with more shopping at Bondi Junction. Great leisurely day. Especially for the tummy.


New fact of the day: The Mars Bars in the fried Mars Bars was melted after being deep fried. I thought it will be intact like fried ice-cream.

Interesting fact of the day: I spent more money while shopping for clothes compared to the gals. How can this be?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Postcards from Sydney Part 2


Day two in Sydney also very sunny - which is good compared to the cold and windy Melbourne weather. A good day for the zoo! ~

First stop today to the Fish Market for some fuel before the zoo trip. Tucked into fresh and yummy-licious oysters and lobsters and sashimi.


Then hopped on a cruise to the zoo - passing by the harbour bridge and opera house along the way.


Taronga Zoo very nice coz its on a island. Giraffe here want escape to Harbour bridge also cannot coz it can't swim. Too bad a few exhibitions closed due to renovations. Not to mention all the hibernating animals. Its like one sleeping wombat. Two sleeping wombat. Three sleeping wombat...


After that went to Pancake on the Rocks for pancake. Tasted as good as it looks.


Night time trip to Sydney Uni. Loved their campus. Really like scenery from 'Love in Harvard'. Quaint old-fashioned pharmacy building too.


Went for ice-cream afterwards. Don't think I will describe how it taste like. Don't wanna you all be Incredible Hulk.



New fact of the day: Didn't know gals can devour pancakes so quickly. Dinner finished in less than 15 minutes.

Interesting fact of the day: Forgot to mentioned that we took the train - the train here are double deckers and the seats are reversible!