Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sheltered Christians

Let me start off by saying that I am not the best Christian. I subscribe to the religion, I have accepted Christ, and I attend church and growth group regularly. However, there is much I have yet to learn about Christianity and God in general. This post is merely my two cents on something I've observed over my time as a Christian, which was made all the more apparent to me, coming from a non-practising 'Christian' background.

I don't mean to offend, but over and over again, I have made the observation that life-long, brought-up-in-Christian-families Christians can be quite...sheltered. I suppose that isn't all too surprising. If someone was brought up in a Christian family, grew up in church, had lots of Christian friends from cell group and conferences, maybe even went to a Christian school, they would have lived their life in a pleasant little Christian bubble where most people shared their values and beliefs. Which is fine and dandy, and I'm sure is great for growing their faith.

However, the real trouble starts once they are exposed to the 'real world', where there are numerous people of different religions and atheists and agnostics and people who are against religion in general. This is probably quite jarring for someone who had never been exposed to people like these. They are quite often horrified by many things, and their tolerance for being horrified can range from a boy and a girl being alone in the same room together to premarital sex with multiple partners. "Don't they know it's wrong!" they exclaim, quite distressed. "How can they do things like that!" The thing is, if you ask the people who practise these things, it isn't wrong. Let me explain why.

For someone who was raised outside of the Christian faith, their morals and values would largely have been shaped by their upbringing and society. With regards to upbringing, I have been told that church attendance today (as a percentage of the Australian population) is but a fraction of what it was decades ago. More and more people are atheist or agnostic, and fewer people identify as Christian. As a result, people's upbringing may not have been guided by the same values as a Christian family's. With regards to society, it's not news to anyone that we're heading in a direction away from Christianity, or indeed religion in general. Many things that are okayed or even promoted by society today are against what is written in the Bible. If someone lives their entire life being told by people around them that certain things are good, then as far as they're concerned, those things are good. Why would they think or believe otherwise?

This then brings into question the task of explaining the Christian view to them. A noble task, as it is an extremely difficult one. Fortunately or unfortunately, I think most sheltered Christians don't realise just how difficult it is, and they seem to be particularly bad at it. I've had these sorts of conversations with non-Christian friends, as well as observed such conversations between others, and have made notes on things you should never do. These include:

  • Only speaking and never listening
    Communication should be two-way. You're not preaching -- you're there to listen to their point of view as well as express yours. 
  • Disregard their point of view because it's 'wrong'
    Never, never, never do this. It's disrespectful and counterproductive. If you're hoping for them to have an open mind and listen to what you have to say, you should do the same for them.
  • Use Christian jargon
    This is a fault many well-read Christians possess. Non-Christians aren't going to really understand what you mean when you use language like 'slaves to Christ' or 'God's design'. At best, it will sound floofy; at worst, it will put them off completely. Using Christian jargon with non-Christians is kind of like trying to explain the colour pink to a blind person by saying "It's like red, but a little whiter" -- it just isn't going to work.

However, before you even begin having these discussions with non-Christians, you should take note of the way you view them. This brings me back to what I was saying earlier about people newly emerged from the Christian bubble. You cannot be horrified by the actions or beliefs of non-Christians, or the way they are. You should not expect them to uphold the same values you do, as they may not even be aware of them. You should not view them as bad or evil, and you definitely should not talk down to them. After all, aren't we all sinful? Isn't all sin equal in God's eyes? It crossed my mind the other day that there is possibly no one as acutely aware of their own flaws as a devout Christian. We have all sinned and we have all had evil thoughts, because we are only human. I think it's important to remember that. 

I've never blogged about anything to do with Christianity, because I've always felt like I knew too little about it to have anything worth writing about. However, the recent goings-on in Australia have allowed me to observe a fair few debates between people of different beliefs, and these sometimes turned quite ugly. I felt that I had something to say about it, and spent a fair while working on this post. This wasn't meant to offend in any way; I only aim to facilitate better communication and discussions, and hopefully encourage some self-refection.

Feel free to let me know what you think, or even call me out on things I've said that you don't agree with. Some healthy discussion is always good, and I'd love to know your thoughts on this. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Almost there!

It's been four days since OSCEs and I think I'm finally over the PTSD-esque flashbacks. Which is great, especially since those were hopefully my last OSCEs ever.

For those who don't know, OSCE stands for 'Objective Structured Clinical Examination', and it's the way med students are assessed in exams. It typically involves a student, an examiner, and a role player who acts as a patient whom we examine, take a history from, or give medical advice to. Of course, being a doctor isn't strictly limited to those things, so OSCE stations can sometimes test your practical skills, like the unexpected DRE (digital rectum examination) station we got last year (which I was and still am traumatised by!). Each station runs for eight minutes, preceded by a two minute period during which we read the instructions given and plan our approach. There are twelve stations altogether. Starting last year, it was decided that we would do all twelve stations in a day as opposed to doing six stations a day for two days. It sounded horribly daunting, but we were given a rest station after every three stations, so it was fine. Getting them all done in a day was probably better than having to have two days of exams, anyway.

There were a few stations I definitely wasn't expecting this year. The termination of pregnancy one really threw me, and so did the PPH (postpartum haemorrhage). The latter was an emergency station, which always makes me really flustered because it feels like everything needs to be done NOW NOW NOW. Thankfully there was a rest station right after so I had time to recover, but I also had to exercise a great deal of self control to refrain from beating myself up over what I felt was a poor performance. If there was a station I thought I really might fail, it would be that one. Still, I stabilised the patient and got the diagnosis and made some of the right arrangements, so hopefully I pass.

OSCEs really do require a lot of mental fortitude. Having back-to-back stations means you can't afford to dwell on the station you just completed lest you risk messing up the stations to come. Preparing for fifth year OSCEs is also incredibly taxing since they could theoretically ask you anything. I found this idea inconceivable in my earlier years of med school, but, while preparing for OSCEs, it just seemed normal, a fact of life. And now I'm done.

A few friends and I celebrated by leaving for Melbourne that very night. We met up with a few other friends there, and had a great time. It was so nice being back with the Hobart people -- I hadn't seen some of them in ages! We talked a lot, walked a lot, and ate a lot. Calories don't count when you're on holiday, right? Wrong. I came back a kilo or two heavier despite all the walking we did. But whatever, it was worth it. The places we ate at were:
  • Gami: Korean fried chicken and beer. So good! The Soy Garlic sauce was a little too sweet for me, but both Sweet Chilli and Spicy (which is actually pretty spicy) were A+.
  • Short Stop: Krispy what? This doughnut place is where it's at. My favourite is the Earl Grey Rose one, cake in the shape of a doughnut. They didn't have the matcha one I'd been wanting to try, unfortunately! 
  • Secret Kitchen: Dim sum. Sweet, sweet dim sum. They had pretty much everything you would find at a dim sum place back home, and then some. Biting into siu mai and liu sha bao for the first time in a long, long time nearly brought tears to my eyes. Everything was fantastic. Please go there if you can. Take pictures. Let me live vicariously through you.
  • Hot-Star: Taiwanese style fried chicken. Delicious, juicy, well-seasoned, and massive! There was also similarly delicious chicken popcorn for those who prefer a higher coating-to-chicken ratio. They also had deep fried Tim Tams, which sounded promising but were really nothing to phone home about. 
  • Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam: A pho place, but I got pork rice paper rolls because I just wanted a snack. There was another rice paper roll store just right next door, but this place appeared less commercialised and more authentic. There were also way more people. When I saw pictures of Jackie Chan eating there, I knew I had made the right choice. The pork was delicious and well-marinated, and the dipping sauce was good. A+ rice paper rolls!
  • Sakura Kaiten: Nominated as one of the best sushi trains in Melbourne, I think? It was delicious, and there was an incredible variety of options. You could grab stuff off the train as well as order things on the iPad, and they were sent to you on a little conveyor belt. We definitely don't have sushi like this in Launnie! Fell victim to the sushi train trap and ended up spending way more than expected, but woo, celebratory dinner!
  • Dessert Kitchen: Great Asian desserts, not so great staff. The Taiwanese style shaved ice was delicious and refreshing, but my favourite was the Dancing Queen (yeah, it's one of those places), which featured matcha ice cream, red beans, matcha jelly cubes, those little white QQ balls, and vanilla ice cream mixed with milk pudding. SO GOOD.
  • Lune: Need I say more? Lune is an incredibly popular croissant place. I had a cronut for the first time here, and it was beautiful. Cutting it open was beautiful. Feeling the crunch as I bit into it was beautiful. The Pear and Burnt Butter as well as the Kaya cronuts were beautiful. The amount of butter I knew I was consuming did not make me feel beautiful, but it was a beautiful experience nonetheless.
  • Industry Beans: This was the only place we ate at that I did not enjoy. I got a Truffle Egg, which sounded good. It was not, unfortunately. Sure, it looked all artistic and well-plated, but the meagre amount (they weren't kidding when they said 'egg', as in 'singular') combined with the downright strange amalgamation of flavours (pea panna cotta and weirdly sweet almond couscous) made me feel that it was not worth the $23 price tag. A friend didn't even finish theirs. It was unfortunate that this was our last meal in Melbourne.

We were only there from Tuesday night to Thursday afternoon, but managed to cover all these places. Suffice to say, we were almost constantly full, and also very satisfied. Besides all that eating, we did manage to do other things. Like go to the museum! (Thanks for entertaining my nerdy request, friends.) Using our student cards for one of the last times, we entered for free and explored the dinosaur, WWI, and brain/mind exhibitions. We also did some shopping, window or otherwise, which brought about a nice sense of familiarity. I miss wandering around malls! Also, Emporium reminded me a lot of Pavilion. At night, since things were still open (shock! horror!), we went to 'sing K', as I have learnt that it's called. It was all a lot of fun, and I was glad to have had the company that I did.

Now, I am back in the peace and quiet of Launceston, enjoying my last few days off before uni begins again. One and a half more rotations and a portfolio interview to go, and then I will be officially done with med school! Five years have gone by so slowly yet so quickly, and I cannot believe that we're nearly there. I used to feel woefully unprepared to be a doctor and far from capable, but at this point, I think I'll be okay. I really do.

I will probably post a longer, soppier post about my feelings on this when we actually finish. For now, though, I'm going to enjoy what little time we have left before we have to start getting stressed over logbooks and our portfolios and things like that. I've not felt this relaxed in a very long time, and I am going to savour it as much as I can, while I still can.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Michelle Yeoh boleh!

Hello, blog! It's been far too long. Uni placements and job applications are keeping me quite busy, but I recently came across something I really wanted to blog about.

I don't normally keep up to date with pop culture and movies and things, but this bit of news caught my eye: Michelle Yeoh, a Malaysian actress, is keeping her Malaysian accent in the new Star Trek series. So what?, you may ask. It's just an accent, what's the big deal? Ah, but it is indeed a big deal, to me at least. Let me tell you why.

I am a Malaysian Chinese. In 2013, I came to Tasmania, Australia to study. It wasn't very long ago, but Tassie back then wasn't the popular tourist destination it is now. It was one of the less cosmopolitan parts of Australia, with a predominantly Caucasian population. Some people had never left the island, never mind Australia, because they were perfectly happy where they were.

Enter me, a Chinese girl who spoke English as her first language and didn't actually speak much Chinese. I didn't foresee communication to be a problem at all. It'd be fine, I thought. I'd talk to people, make friends, ask questions if I needed to. It'd be fine.

It was not fine.

Within the first few days of being on the island, I quickly realised two things:
1. People couldn't understand me because of my accent.
2. People assumed I couldn't speak English well.

Number two sometimes happened independently of number one. They saw me, a timid-looking Asian person, and just assumed I had a poor command of the English language. And that I was from China. Because all Asian people are from China. But anyway, I'm not here to rant about that. Let's talk about number 1: my accent.

When I was still in Malaysia, I was told by a few friends that my accent 'wasn't very Malaysian'. Whatever that meant, they probably weren't right, because my born and bred Malaysian accent was one that just could not be understood by the locals in Tassie. Close to nothing I said got through. Conversations got awkward really quickly, and it got to the point where I dreaded having to converse with anyone. One particularly memorable exchange happened in Woolies.

ME: Excuse me, do you guys have any kale? It was in your catalogue.
WOOLIES GUY: Sorry, what?
ME: Do you guys have any kale?
WOOLIES GUY: *stares at me intently* Do we have any..?
ME: Kale?
WOOLIES GUY: Um. *looks super uncomfortable* *starts looking around for help*
ME: Y'know, kale? K-A-L-E?
WOOLIES: K-E-L... What?
ME: No, K-A-L-E!
ME: Okay, never mind. Thanks.

Thankfully, it wasn't this bad at uni, where lecturers were more familiar with Malaysian and Singaporean accents due to previous students. I still avoided asking questions whenever I could, though, instead choosing to utilise Google (who never misunderstood my typed rather than spoken questions). I also stuck to people who spoke the same way as me, people who could understand me and whom I could understand effortlessly. Speaking to anyone local was difficult and uncomfortable and made me feel very small.

It wasn't long before I started seeing my accent as an embarrassment. It outed me straight away as someone foreign and different, someone who wasn't from here and didn't belong. My accent was not one of a predominantly English-speaking country, like America or the UK, so people found it difficult to understand. I often had to repeat myself a lot, and even then I slowly grew used to watching people's eyes glaze over as they gave up trying to understand me. Communication was hard, and it was all my own darn accent's fault.

So I adapted. My accent slowly became a weird Aussie-Malaysian hybrid that I detested but knew was necessary. Over the years, I like to think it's become more Aussie and less Malaysian (though I do still speak with a Malaysian accent normally!). My accent is now less clumsy and comes more naturally, and my tongue stumbles less over the round vowels and drawls of the Aussie accent. I can comfortably hold conversations with classmates, doctors, patients, people at church, people at the gym...anyone, really. Also, I've made some great friends along the way!

Not every Malaysian and Singaporean goes through this dramatic an accent transition, however. There are people who speak with their (toned down) normal accents to locals, powering through the awkwardness until they are understood. Whether by choice or because they can't, their accent never changes, and I respect them so much for it. I think it says a lot about someone who doesn't change who they are or the way they do things purely to make life easier.

Which brings me back to Michelle Yeoh keeping her accent. From what I've seen around the Internet, she's already been receiving some flack for it ('Hire sum1 who can speak English!!!11'), but reception has been mostly positive. I, a Malaysian, am so proud and so grateful that she wasn't embarrassed to speak with the accent she was brought up with. Of course, this accent has been flavoured by her time in the UK and Hong Kong, but it is ultimately her own Malaysian accent. And I am so glad to hear it.

Thank you, Dato' Michelle Yeoh, for being unafraid to speak with your Malaysian accent on a platform that will be viewed and heard by many. Thank you, director and producers of Star Trek, for allowing this to happen.

One of the best things about globalisation is the normalisation of different accents. I hope this means that we will no longer feel ashamed of our own in the future. Lah.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Leaving home (again)

I've just checked in for my flight and I am upset.

This break has meant the world to me. It's been a time of rest and reflection after a stinker of a year (good riddance, 2016!), it's been an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, and it's been a lovely period of being spoilt rotten by my parents. Also, I can't tell you how nice it is to be more relaxed about money -- no more covertly converting currency in my head and chastising myself for contemplating buying things I don't need. Man, is it great to be able to afford to eat out more.

Speaking of which, the food! The food! Chilli pan mee and nasi lemak and pork noodles and roti canai and duck rice and claypot loh shi fun and banana leaf rice and chap fun and Hokkien mee and lin chee kang and various biscuits and kuih and oh my goodness have I put on weight. But it doesn't even matter! Home food is the best food! I'd missed it so much! And I'm going to miss it so much all over again when I leave.

Going back to Launnie signifies the end of my freedom, basically. It's uni and the final exams of my uni degree and freaking job applications and graduation, and then work starts the very next month. I ask myself all the time how I got here so quickly. It seems like just yesterday I was super excited about going to Australia to study.

Suffice to say I am quite dreading going back. I want to stay here. I like having free time, and selecting books to read from our massive collection, and having meals with my family. I like meeting up with friends, catching up with them and hearing about what had been happening while I was away. I like wandering around KL, appreciating both the old, weathered shoplots as well as the towering skyscrapers. I like being able to converse freely with people in Manglish or Malay, or even my woefully clumsy Mandarin. I like it here. This is my home.

But of course, nothing is permanent. The bliss of the holidays must end. Soon, I will be back in cold, small Launceston, trying my best not to get too stressed out about, well, everything. I need to constantly remind myself that I'm lucky to be there, that I'm lucky to have the opportunities I do. Deep down, I know that and I am thankful. I really am.

Unfortunately, it doesn't really make the homesickness any better.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye, 2016

Well, what do you know, it's year end post time already!

As I'm sure many people can attest to, 2016 has been an awful year. Really and truly. The worst. Celebrities were dying left right and centre, numerous acts of terrorism and shootings were happening across the world, there was the shock of Brexit and then the Trump presidency, and the world heard about the horrors happening in Aleppo which included bombings of MSF-supported hospitals. On a lighter note, closer to home, Dato' LCW unfortunately missed his last shot at an Olympic gold medal (although the three silver medals in badminton that our athletes brought back are certainly something to be proud of). Anyway, all in all, it's just been a really bad year in general.

Burn, 2016, burn!
(Gif from here)

It's been hard on a personal level as well. Wait, hold on, I have a lengthy disclaimer. It feels kind of disrespectful to talk about my (largely inconsequential) personal life after all the truly horrible things I mentioned above, but I know far more about what I'm going to write about compared to world events. In any case, there are countless articles written by people far more knowledgeable and opinionated than I all over the Internet, so I don't think there's any need for my contribution to that at the moment.

Anyway! This year has been a difficult one for me. I mentioned some posts back that I'd had trouble adjusting to Launceston, but what I hadn't mentioned was just how much trouble I was having. For a creature of habit like myself, having to adjust to a new environment, new hospital, new friendship group, new house, new housemates, new everything, was a nightmare. It took me a very long time to settle in, and I was utterly miserable. Which is not how you want to be in a new everything! You want to be friendly and outgoing and adventurous, but instead I was withdrawn, self-conscious, insecure, and very, very sad.

It me
(Image from here/Fanpop)

Given the drastic life change I was undergoing, I figured this was a normal reaction and told myself to wait it out. Things only got worse, unfortunately. Later in the year, I started having problems with anxiety (I am normally a bit of a worrier anyway, but this was almost nothing like it). After talking to a few friends and after much encouragement, I went to seek help. It was the best thing I could've done. I will forever be grateful to the friends who shared their own experiences with me, who encouraged me to see someone, who commiserated with and comforted me. Thankyou for being there when times were hard. You guys really are the best.

I'm being a bit fuzzy with the details, I realise, but that's because I don't really want my entire mental health journey on the Internet for the world to read. In fact, the only reason I'm writing about it at all is I believe mental health is something that needs to be talked about. When I told people about this, it sparked great discussions about their own experiences with mental health issues and how they dealt with them. If you're interested, I'd be happy to talk to you about my own experience in more detail; I'd be happy to listen as well if you'd like to talk to someone. (Malaysian friends, I'll be around till Chinese New Year!) Mental health issues are far more common than you think.

To be honest, all that kind of clouded my entire year. Things back home weren't so great, either. There was much turmoil over having to give away Pugsy, our very first dog, due to DBKL's one-dog ruling. It was extremely hard for my family, and I felt guilty for not being there. All I could do was post on Facebook and ask friends if they or anyone they knew wanted an old purebred Pug. Everyone was sweet and understanding and did all they could to help. In the end, my mom found a suitable home for Pugsy, and she's now very well taken care of along with two other Pug half-siblings. It's actually really cute.

Miss you, Pug dog
(Photo credit: New owner -- I don't actually know their name)

If I've learnt anything from the dark clouds surrounding the year, it's that friends can be the most amazing silver linings. I've been so blessed to have the best people with me in the worst of situations, and there aren't enough words in the dictionary for me to express how incredibly grateful I am.

Anyway, I'm done talking about the bad stuff. I suppose if I think back hard enough, there were some good things that happened this year.

I mentioned before that friends were a great help throughout this year. Another great blessing was church. Moving to a new place also meant moving to a new church, and I finally found myself in The Branch. I've always taken a while to adjust to new things, but somehow ended up joining a growth group relatively quickly. It was a great decision, because growth group was large enough to have a good number of people for discussions and small enough that I was able to contribute to them. It was where I got to know people better since the things we talked about at growth group were more in-depth than after church conversations (it also meant I didn't have to approach or be approached by new people, things I'm still working on). At church itself, I met and made new friends from Tassie, the mainland, Malaysia, Egypt, and Germany. Diversity is a great thing, and our church clearly isn't lacking in that department! The Branch is a great church, and I'm excited to bring friends who will be in Launceston next year there.

10/10 would go again
(From their Facebook page)

Other good things that come to mind about this year all involve leaving Launceston. I don't mean to offend anyone, it's true! I went to Hobart a few times this year and loved every second I spent back in that city/town. It's amazing how much I miss the place. I must've looked like a crazy person, happily strolling down Collins St going, "Hello, RHH! Look at all that construction work. Hello, Woolies crossroads! This is where I used to do my shopping! Oh, there's Pigeon Whole! They have great almond croissants!" while my friends shook their heads. I miss the pier, the ice cream, the city, living in the city, Soldiers' Memorial Avenue, the coffee places...and the people, of course! Every visit back meant meeting up with Hobart friends I'd missed dearly, and that made visits all the more treasured. I even managed to make it for OCF one Friday night! Sigh, Hobart. I could go on and on forever about Hobart and how much I miss it, so I'd better stop here.

Another thing worth mentioning is our various trips with the Burnie people (plus one Hobart person that one time)! Over the short breaks we had over the year, we went to Grindelwald, Russell Falls, Cradle Mountain, Anvers (a tourist attraction in its own right, if you ask me), The Nut, and Narawntapu National Park. We stayed over in Burnie a few times as well. Getting out of Launceston and away from all the stress and worries of med school was such a welcome respite, and I enjoyed seeing the Burnie people again! They were incredibly generous and gracious hosts/hostesses, and made sure we were well-fed and comfortable. You guys are A+.

Have you seen anything more beautiful in your life? Anvers is amazing.

I should have blogged about Cradle Mountain and given it its own separate blog post, but I'll attempt to condense the story here. The day we attempted to climb to the summit, it was wet and drizzly. It was the best the weather was going to get at that time of the year, though, so we decided to stick with the plan and plough through. The climb up was fine, but got daunting towards the end -- there was no trail, and we were scrambling over gigantic rocks that were wet and slippery. One of us had already called it quits and gone back to the rest stop to wait for the others. We got to the final stretch and saw that it was even steeper than the route we'd just come through, and the drizzle increased to an ominous 'don't-do-this-don't-do-this' patter. We took a vote and ultimately decided to turn back. So close yet so far! In my mind, I'm counting that as having climbed a mountain, never mind that we were unable to make it all the way. That's one thing crossed off the bucket list!

To be fair, the hike started off nice

"Why not try again one day?" you ask? Let me tell you why: Coming down was agony. I am afraid of heights and sometimes get a little dizzy descending a particularly steep flight of stairs; descending a mountain was about a million times worse. My friends were happily striding and/or sliding down slopes all around me, while I clutched onto the nearest stable object I could find and slowly shuffled down. To make matters worse, I experienced hypoglycaemia for the first time. I was giddy, nauseated, shaking, incredibly grumpy, and couldn't concentrate on anything. Initially, I attributed all that to my acrophobia, but when I finally reached the rest stop (long after everyone else had), my friends took one look at me and told me to sit down. I was very pale, apparently. I sat with my head between my knees, accepting gummy bears someone had brought out. A few gummy bears later, I felt remarkably better, and that's when I figured it out: hypoglycaemia. It's something you know about, have studied about, but never think to apply to yourself if you don't have diabetes. I ate other stuff we brought along, more complex carbs, and made it back down alright (albeit very slowly). So those are my reasons for not attempting it again: acrophobia and hypoglycaemia. Climb every mountain, they say; sure, but at what cost?

View on the way down, when the fog lifted a bit

But I digress. I'm supposed to be talking about good things. Well, Cradle Mountain was a good thing, it just had some not-so-good aspects.

Anyway, electives were good! I did two weeks of oncology at the LGH while waiting for results to be released (more on that later), then two weeks of psychiatry at SGH. They were pretty different experiences, but both a good two weeks. Everyone in oncology was lovely (I'm sad the regs won't be there when I'm on med rotation next year!) and the intern turned out to be a senior and friend of mine. I got to do an ascitic tap, which was pretty cool! The thing that struck me the most about oncology was the arsenal of treatments we now have, and how specialised things could get. (Did they have this particular cancer? Did it have an EGFR mutation? What kind of EGFR mutation did it have?) It was also really nice to see how well some cancer patients looked. It showed me that, yes, cancer can be something you die from, but more and more it's becoming something you can live with. I think that's great.

Psychiatry in Singapore was mainly clinics and blue letters (what is known in Australia as consultation liaison psychiatry). Because it wasn't a hospital specialising in psychiatry, I saw mostly the usual depression and anxiety, which was really strange to me since GPs deal with that in Australia. I did get to see a floridly manic patient, though! Her husband described classic manic characteristics, it was incredible. It was also incredible to see how much people put up with before they thought to seek help. What is 'normal', anyway? Oh well. It was a great four weeks in total of electives, and I'm glad I spent them where I did.

SGH is massive
(From the SGH website)

The reason I did two weeks in LGH was to see if I needed to stay back in Tassie for supps. I'd studied hard and practised OSCEs a lot, but it had been a hard year for me, and I couldn't shake the feeling that I might fail something. The day before I was due to fly home, I found out that I'd passed. I heaved a massive sigh of relief, and prayers of thanks were said. The breakdown would only be released days later, but I was content knowing I wouldn't have to change my flights. Elated, I flew home. Due to the three-hour time difference, the breakdown was released while I was still asleep. I awoke that morning to notifications from classmates alerting me to the fact that breakdowns were out, and scrambled to check my email. When I finally received it, I opened the email attachment with bated breath...and yelled.


I'd done better than I'd ever done in all my years of uni. It was unbelievable. I read the attachment over and over again -- had I misread a number? Was that really what I thought it said? Should I put on my glasses? I did, and the number remained unchanged. I still couldn't believe it. It would take a while for the disbelief to melt away into joy and thankfulness. It was incredible that despite the tough year, I'd managed to do so well in my exams. I don't have the words to express how immensely grateful I am to have been blessed with exactly the right people and resources I needed in order to get through the things I'd been going through. My heart swells just thinking about it. (God is the best.)

Oh, since we're talking about good things about the year, I feel like Pokemon Go should get a special mention.

Have you guys seen the Christmas Pikachu? Isn't it the cutest?

It was nice to have a non-med-related sense of purpose, almost, and it was great because it got me out of the house. My friends and I went on a few Pokemon hunts, and all that walking was great exercise! There is a spot in Royal Park where three Pokestops are in close proximity with each other, which means lure modules are supposed to interact and be more effective. I don't think I'll ever forget the sight of a cluster of people around these Pokestops in the cold and dark night, heads bent over their phones, excited faces illuminated by the blue-white glow...and my shaking my head at myself as I was about to join them.

So that was my year. It's been rocky and rough and uncertain, but I'm glad to be able to look back on it with thankfulness and a whole bunch of lessons learnt. Next year brings final year of med school, job applications, goodbyes, and other stressful things like those, but I'm hopeful that it'll be better than this year. It'll be another year of learning and growing, which I'm excited to do. I'm just excited for 2017 in general, to be honest -- I've never been more ready for a year to be over.

Goodbye, 2016! Thanks for all the lessons, but really, shoo.

Hello, 2017! Please don't suck as much as your predecessor.