I feel like I am really fortunate to not be able to tell if a year has been a good or a bad year because it will mean that despite my terrible memory, there are certain events big (good or bad) enough that impact me significantly for me to remember. All I can say is that 2016 has been very enlightening.
At the beginning of the year, I was still in Year 4, which means I was still in a relaxed state of mind. When people tell juniors that Year 4 was a very free year, I would beg to differ because honestly it was one of my busiest years. Yes, there wasn’t any major exams but because of that, we had to compensate with other things. Year 4 meant mainly minor postings that would last for 2-4 weeks tops which meant very intensive learning and taking exams every 2-4 weeks. Year 4 was also the year I joined the most events like first aiding and health screening, just because I could and I didn’t want to leave university feeling like I hadn’t achieved enough. I didn’t want to remember only days and days of me having my head between pages of textbooks the thickness of my thigh (which is frankly very super thick I’m cry). I had a lot of fun preparing for the CNY event with my group mates. I also had to choose location and department for my electives that would be at the end of Year 4. It was both fun and stressful because it was set to be Kuching, Sarawak for the 1st month and either Korea or Australia for the 2nd month. I finally settled for Australia. When I got all the paperwork and emailing done, I could finally heave a sigh of relief because it had been that mentally exhausting. It was truly one of the most fun I had in an academic year because despite the intense schedule, I knew I did not have a major exam awaiting me by the end of the year. It was also the year where I got to go on a family trip as 5 to Singapore for CNY.
After Year 4, I had to leave home for 2 months for electives which frankly wasn’t even that long a period for me to be away from home. It was a norm and that thought made me sad. I had been away from home officially for 5 years, only occasionally going home every 2-3 months. Sorry I digressed. I spent 1 whole month in Kuching, we would take turns to drive and we were very enthusiastic in exploring food and tourist attractions. I also celebrated my birthday there with my friends. I felt like I could live in Kuching, it was just like a bigger Ipoh with much friendlier people. I already loved this place too much by the time I left. I could see myself working here and living here. Sarawak General Hospital was kind to me. The 3 of us were at Medical department for the first 2 weeks but it was quite uneventful. We mainly attended sub-specialty clinics, followed ward rounds and clerked patients followed by discussion after. For the next 2 weeks, I attached to the Surgical department. The surgical team was honestly so much love. First day in and I already felt so loved. Mainly because I was an electives student I guess that I got more attention than the in-house students there. I hypothesised that it was because I was there for electives so I didn’t have other obligations or classes, so I could be there day in day out as long as I wanted to. And I wanted to. Why not, if there was a bunch of really kind and friendly souls who would just about teach me whatever they could? They took the trouble to learn my name, went out of their way to inform me of surgeries and procedures, involved me in every patient’s history and physical examination, pretended that they really needed me as their chaperone when they could actually just call for nurses etc. It was all just so that my electives experience was maximised. It was all things they didn’t have to do but yet they did that touched me.
Next up was Melbourne, Australia. I have never been to an angmoh country in my life prior to this so I was half excited half nervous. It was such an eyeopening experience because everything and everyone was just so nice. Sorry I couldn’t help but to compare. Public transport was top notch. If there was a tram that had broken down, there would be a replacing bus so no one would be caught by surprise and would run late. Coffee everywhere was love. The 7-eleven $1 latte I had every morning was the standard of the coffee in a legitimate cafe in Malaysia. The coffee was more of a hand-warmer than anything, a really delicious cup of hand-warmer at that. I went sightseeing everywhere alone (mostly) but felt really safe. Everyone was exceptionally friendly without a reason and that helped me feel so at home. Hospital was great. Despite the early days, I learned a lot most of the days. I was exposed to how hospitals in a first world country operate. The doctors and nurses had the best attitude. I realised I had so much to learn. The family friend I was living with for that 1 month had been nothing but too kind to me. She would prepare food for me thinking that I was always starving even though I couldn’t possibly. When I arrived home a little later than I should, she would call to make sure I was fine and that I knew my way home. She’s the reason why I didn’t choose Korea in the end. Both places’ hospitals required the same amount of attachment fee but if I chose Korea, I would have to pay for accommodation which wasn’t cheap at all. This was a very special experience that I wouldn’t get anywhere else and for that, I am thankful.
Then came final year. Final year had been really fun despite the stress of a major exam awaiting us. I was really grateful to have a bunch of easygoing group mates. Lecturers had been very kind to us this year for some reason. Maybe excited that we were finally leaving soon (hurhur). I discovered my love for Surgery and realised no matter how much I love kids, I didn’t want to do Paediatrics.
It is now 15 days into 2017 and about 3 months to my final professional exam. I promise to buck up after CNY because I really have no time to lose. If everything goes well, I graduate in August and start work by the end of the year. I am excited because this feels like an adventure and a challenge at the same time. Fingers crossed.