Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Study group

2 days to first paper of exams!

I had been busy studying. Here's the proof. Group study was kinda fun. There were so much laughter and unconcerned banter but we do get the things done in the end. It was akin to taking a longer route with lots of sidetracking but prettier sceneries.


I guess we all treat exams differently. Some prefer study alone, some in groups. Likewise, some of us very stressed, some still happy as if exams very far away:


But we are very lucky coz got Santa Claus bought Mamee Mee for us.


And Santarina who baked us cheese cake tart and lots of "happy food".


How I wish my exams are tomoro! Now I need to be stuck with my notes for two more days.

On a brighter note, my first blog post was finally published in the Monash Pharmacy Blog! It was quite a challenge to actually promote the campus on a subconscious level, ie. to promote it while not really looked like that I'm promoting it. And if you see the photo accompanying my post, I'm actually in it. =)


Anyway, for everyone taking an exam, best wishes!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Swot week

It had been of sorts, a very atypical swot week.

Usually I would spend the week before exam cloistered in the comfort of my room, using the previous time preparing for storm to come.

But this time it is so different.

For the first time in history, the week was punctured with some many fun days that I started to feel as if that the exams was already over. It all started last Sunday when a bunch of us decided to go shopping at Essendon DFO. It subsequently was followed by dinner at Boxhill and then movie at Knox City. So my study week really went off with a bang. If that was not enough, Wednesday saw us going off for dinner and then Gelati. Yesterday we went Karaoke, dinner then dessert at Brunetti.

But I didn't regret having all those fun because this will be probably the last few times we may see each other. Next year, everyone will be going their own ways pursuing their own dreams. As one of my friends said sometime this week, after this it can be either 再见 or 永別, meaning "see you again" or "goodbye forever". Friends are always more important than exams.

Keeping with the friends theme, it is also a bit of an emotional week as I said goodbye to a lot of people whom I may never cross path with again. Lucky that there's something like facebook and MSN nowadays. Nevertheless it had been really hard.

I also went library hopping to study this time round. I went with different libraries and studied with different people, and every time it is a different experience. I find that I can learn so much from other people, even though it was not academic-wise. Its a bit hard studying in the Uni library though, there's just too many people to catch up and speak to.

Even though my study speed had been a bit slower compared to previous years due to these "diversion", it was definitely sweet to spend swot week with friends around rather than by myself. Friends really makes the world go round and round and round...

And I will not regret my decision to spend my swot week this way.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lucky Guy 6

image When you start moving the rusty bearings in your brain, its like opening a tap and the water can't stop running. More and more long forgotten memories kept resurfacing in my mind in the last few days.

I came to realised that I had completely forgotten to write about a much hated but integral part of a student life: exams.

In our Uni, 80% is enough to get a High Distinction (HD). Sounds easy initially, so I vowed early on that I will get HDs in all the subjects I take in Uni. Unfortunately, like so many things it is easier said than done. In the first year, I fall short by one subject each semester. In the second year, it was short by 2 subjects per semester. In the third year... I can't bear to finish it. The interesting fact about exams result is that we receive it by SMS. So there's usually no time to prepare myself mentally reading the results.

The exams consume a whole lot of my life. Its like two whole month each year dedicated to study for them. It was so hard to condense 12 weeks of studies into 2 or 3 hour papers. Luckily most of the answers require rote memorisation, which is a skill I'm relatively good at. Many thanks to the Malaysian education system. but actually, the Australian system is not that much better. Memorisation is still the key to high scores. It was something I am a little disappointed about.

A lot of my friends assume that I got good results all the while since I am a JPA scholar, which is far from the truth. They will be amazed by how mediocre it really is. But anyway, I had slowly learnt that having good results doesn't mean anything much in the real world. There are so many other components for growth that is far more important.

There are really a lot of different people in Uni who can change your perception on things. I started to question my obsession to get high marks when I realised that they are some people who are just happy to get a credit. Getting high marks doesn't mean that I will be a better pharmacist; just that I'm better at taking exams.

One of my friends recently said  something which made me pondered a lot.  "You know Boon Phiaw, sometimes you do things that doesn't mean anything to you but meant a lot to the other person" How true. I was at the 'other person' end a few times during my first couple of years in Uni.

One such moment that stood out was in first year when a 3rd year student approached us and introduce himself to us. It was sometime in April during an informal meeting where a group of them wanted to introduce PISA to us. Up to then, no seniors had made the effort to speak to us. Even though he only asked us our names and where we are from, his action left a deep impression on me. For once, I felt that I'm not an insignificant freshie but someone who is worthy enough to converse with. I was made to feel important, like how it  was put by Dale Carnegie in his famed book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

I believe all the efforts I made nowadays to get to know juniors and assist them when the need arises stemmed from this encounter. I did it based on my own desire last time to have a senior  to mentor me, someone whom can be my role model. I am of the opinion that being a senior student, there's a responsibility to try and guide younger students so that they can reach their goals in life. I don't really know whether by doing this I made a difference or not, but at least I am doing something I believed in.

That, I think, is very important.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On seeing the 100% perfect girl

Haruki Murakami, the famous Japanese writer wrote a story titled "On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning."

I first read it in Hsiu Yinn's blog, and she gave me the link to the story last time.

It was the most beautiful story I had ever read.

One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo's fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl.

Tell you the truth, she's not that good-looking. She doesn't stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn't young, either - must be near thirty, not even close to a "girl," properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She's the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there's a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert.

Today, I have the same feeling. The girl was young and not the most pretty girl I had seen, but there is this something about her that attracted me, that gave rise to the feeling that I should know her. That I should go and talk to her. The urge was just so strong.

"So anyhow," he says, already bored, "what did you do? Talk to her? Follow her?"

"Nah. Just passed her on the street."

But like the protagonist in the story, I didn't do it. I don't know how to start the conversation. I just let her walk past me. And probably live to regret it. And I am quite angry with myself now. How in hell did I let my fears overcome me again? I still think too much.

Potentiality knocks on the door of my heart.

Now the distance between us has narrowed to fifteen yards.

How can I approach her? What should I say?

"Good morning, miss. Do you think you could spare half an hour for a little conversation?"

Ridiculous. I'd sound like an insurance salesman.

"Pardon me, but would you happen to know if there is an all-night cleaners in the neighborhood?"

No, this is just as ridiculous. I'm not carrying any laundry, for one thing. Who's going to buy a line like that?

Maybe the simple truth would do. "Good morning. You are the 100% perfect girl for me."

I am supposed to be well trained by now to talk to girls. I now felt like a soldier who had endured all the hardships in training camp, spending years learning to be the best soldier, only to froze at the first moment of battle and got shot on the head.

I take a few more strides and turn: She's lost in the crowd.

Now, of course, I know exactly what I should have said to her. It would have been a long speech, though, far too long for me to have delivered it properly. The ideas I come up with are never very practical.

Oh, well. It would have started "Once upon a time" and ended "A sad story, don't you think?"

Well, I don't know how to end this story. Perhaps fate will intervene one day and I will see her again. If I did, I'll swear I won't let the chance go. There is the risk that I may find my preconception about her is not what I think it is after I talked to her, but at least I would have talked to her and put the matter to rest. Not knowing is the probably the worst state to be in.

If I didn't, probably I will write it into a story like Haruki Murakami did.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lucky Guy 5

image I can't seem to recall my first ever lecture in Uni. It was Elizabeth Yuriev's intro to Med Chem, at least that was what the timetable say. But I can't place her in front of the lecture theatre during the first lecture. All I remembered was that we were late, and when we reached the lecture theatre, it was full. I had to sit at the very last row. This was in stark contrast to this year, where the lecture theatre is never even half filled.

I liked Elizabeth because her lectures are easy to learn and very systematic, and she was rightly voted the best lecturer by the students that year. She taught us a total of 37 lectures in just one semester. As she taught two different subjects, a sentence she said which stuck in my mind is "now lets take off our med chem hat and put on our pharm chem hat." She said this when the lectures are one after the other. She also loved saying something about "turn off your mobile phone" and "no drinking in lectures".

The only intro lecture that I remembered is the one by Roger Nation, which is the Head of Pharmacy Practice. This is because his lecture material is about the same as the one Louis Roller gave in O-week. Roger really got overshadowed by Louis as he was not as charismatic. Nevertheless he is quite a good lecturer.Most of the lecturers are good, only a couple who-should-not-be-named should consider spending the rest of their live cocooned in the comfort of their lab.

I recalled that the thing which impressed me most in first year was the ability of lecturers to blurb out names of medicines in machine gun fire fashion. David Kong, the Malaysian born lecturer is a pro in this. In lectures about medication safety, he loved to let off a string of medicines with similar names, like Zyrtex vs Zantac, Losec vs Lopid, Zocor vs Zoloft, Indocid vs Inderal... I was often left in awe: "How in heaven does he do that? Will I be able to do that when I finished my degree?" Now after four years, I can safely say most of the names ring a bell. So I do learn something after all.

I missed only a few lectures during the entire year. It was a commendable achievement considering we had four 8.30am starts per week. We used to motivate each other by saying "Hey, a lecture costs RM100!"

The very first presentation I made in Uni was in Week 6. It was assessed and I presented a talk on health and exercise. That was the first of many presentations in Uni. I always elected to go last in presentations - that was my trademark. The presentation was memorable in that I managed to regurgitate the entire memorised speech out. Luckily Uni taught us well. I didn't do that now.

The thing I live to regret during my first year is not taking enough initiative to talk to people and befriend them. I was saying to the new International students in a speech at the beginning of this year that "During my first year in Uni, I was this sort of people whom in a party, you are likely to find standing alone in a corner, pretending to be invisible." It generated a few laughs but it was true. I just stick with a small group of people and only talk when spoken to. I was still too shy and introverted then I guess. It was funny now that I know more students in younger year levels compared to people in my own year.

I also didn't take part in any club activities. Even though I promised myself to be involved heavily in social activities before the start of Uni, there was this something keeping me from raising my hands up during clubs election time. To start off, there wasn't many clubs to join compared to now. Missing orientation played a big part too, as I was quite hazy what clubs were there on campus. I had no idea about MPSA, VPSA or other As those students were promoting at the front of lecture theatre. I was too busy marvelling at their ability to speak in front of nearly 200 students. That for me, was the epitome of self confidence, and I really did wish I can do it one day.

Luckily I did manage to force myself to join PISA's committee at the tail end of the year. PISA was the International students society on campus, and it was just established in April. Hui Bing was already on the committee, and she encouraged me to join. I still remembered that the meeting was at 5pm. I spent the whole afternoon tossing and turning in bed, weighing up my decision on whether to join the club or not. I reflected upon my Uni life, and really felt that up to that time, it was not what I envisioned, and I didn't try my best.

In the end, I decided to walk the 20 minutes to Uni for the meeting. Not many people turned up for the meeting, and I got elected to the post of Publications Officer for the next year. That moment was the whole turning point of my University life.

Footnote: Sorry Lucky Guy is always behind schedule. Life been busy. And thx to the cute girl who suggested that I can find out from my timetable what was the first lecture in Uni. Lecture notes were consulted for writing up part of the post.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Last day of uni

A mixture of emptiness and disbelief that time flew by so quickly.

That was it.

I was neither happy nor sad.

Just a bit dazed.

Throughout the entire week, I had been wondering what would I be feeling at that precise moment when the lecture say: "That's it. It's the end."

Now I knew.

This was be the last time four of us sat together in a lecture theatre. Gosh we had been sitting together for nearly four years.


The day started with a morning tea of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.


The theme is 80s, hence a number of people dressed up accordingly.


The last ever lecture of the entire 4 year course was given by Kevin McNamara. This was probably the only time a rock star was here to give us a lecture. He only lasted 20 minutes -


Before being replaced with a cowboy -


who was also giving his last ever lecture after a staggering 50 years at the campus.


It was quite an emotional speech (but he didn't cry!!) as he went through the changes in the campus in his half a century here and gave us some advice. At the end of the speech, everyone gave him a standing ovation.

It was apt that the lecturer who was the first to gave us a speech in orientation was there to gave us the last. It somehow bought a sense of closure to everything.

Well, now all that are left are 3 written paper and a prac exam.

Monday, October 06, 2008

GOR The Story


One day Tai Ko very bored. He got an idea: "Lets go see Twelve Apostles in Great Ocean Road!"

He think think think... then say "eh, need friends leh..."


He saw some Tin Soldiers in Geelong. "Adabakadabra! Be my friend and go to GOR! Heh heh heh.."


"Blink!" Like  magic, friends began to appear from the Tin Soldiers.


"See what see? Everybody follow Tai Ko to GOR lah."


Evil evil...Steal some money from Mum so we can all go play..


"But, Tai Ko,  very hot leh!"

Tai Ko: "What I teach you? Go eat the sun lah!"


"O... yummy!"


We row, we row, we row...


Yeah reach GOR liao...yahoo!


Wah so beautiful...


Hehe..tickle tickle.. izzit itchy? hehehehe...


Tai Kah Che "Aiyoh, so pretty mah bring home la..."


Wah got lighthouse also...




and tree-top walk!


"Tai Ko, we all tired liao leh..."

Tai Ko: "Okay lah lets go back to my mansion."


and BBQ!


Yum...such a fun trip!

A short note

Today will be the start of the last week of Uni. Beside lectures, will have photo taking session and group discussion for assignments.

Practice exam on Tuesday.

Oral exam on Wednesday.

Will sit for last ever lecture on pharmacy on Thursday.

And it will be the end till exams on 24th October.

One week holiday was too short.

Three barbeques in a week.

Three days two nights trip to Apollo Bay and Great Ocean Road.

The other time busy finishing assignments. Add a little bit of study.

One month from today, I will be sitting for my last exam paper.

It will be a hectic end.

And one hour of my precious time got eating due to the end of daylight saving. Now the difference between here and Malaysia will be 3 hours. Take note, Mum.

Updates on Lucky Guy and pics from trip when I find the time.