Friday, November 24, 2006

Bor Penh Nyang...

which means 'no worries' in Lao.

Annabelle, Claire, Nabila, and I have arrived into Vientiane (by way of Bangkok yesterday) and are having a fantastic time! However, my backpack didn't arrive with the others and is still 'missing'. Whatever - I've got me some insurance. The atmosphere here has been absolutely laid back, people are really friend, and the beer (Beer-Lao) is phenomenal! It's been a big adjustment going really hard these past few weeks to taking things slowly and as they come. A paradigm shift, if you will so call it. :)

Alright, I should be off...time to see whether the airport has found my backpack!

Friday, November 17, 2006

2nd Year - DONE

So, the second exam came and went. And I don't know which exam was worse, the first or second one. It seemed that most (if not all) people coming out of the exam was quite dissatisfied with the exam and/or their performance (a little from a and a little from b). Perhaps the medical school was using a completely cirricula than it gave us at the beginning of the year.
After the exam, some of us went do to the Pizza Caffe, had some good food and wine. We drove back to Claire's place, and drank more wine and watched some episodes from Season 3 of NIP/TUCK.

Thursday and Friday were spent pouring over our clinical examinations, history-taking skills, communications and clinical reasoning.

Saturday morning came and went - and I was so grateful that I finished on a high note! I know that I passed each station and I know that there were a few stations that I got full marks! After we all left the testing area, everyone was giving each other high fives, hugs and making the motions to get some booze into their system. I headed home to change (had some scotch & dry) and went ot West End to meet up with the others. I was out till 1am - yeah, that's not a big night but the endurance and stamina to be drinking all day can tire a person out.

This morning, everyone was tired and we headed out for breakfast. It feels surreal that we are done 2nd year (and hopefully will never have to repeat it). Dave, Suz and I have been packing and cleaning the house as we are leaving for South East Asia (I leave on Wednesday and D&S leave on Friday). We aren't renewing the lease so everything needs to be packed up and the house cleaned for inspections. Looking at all the stuff that I've accumulated over the past 2 years, I don't know how I will take this all back to Canada (that is if I decide to go back).

Okay, I should get off the computer and do some more cleaning/packing. Some people are heading out tonight (those that wrote their MSAT today) and I'll be meeting up with them for a few drinks.

Soon to come, the newest section of the chapter - South East Asia

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One down...

It's almost 10:40pm and I've recovered from the first exam that we had today. The lead up to this exam has been like none other. I started studying for finals in the first week of October and increasing the intensity all the way through SWOT VAC. In fact, SWOT VAC was the most productive study I've done all year! (For those that are not familiar with Aussie lingo, 'SWOT VAC' is period of usually two-three weeks before exams where there are no lectures or tutorials so that students can prepare for their exams) Last year, I spent SWOT VAC with Lou at her house, plugging away on the one seat on her dining room table (It's the seat that I always take if no one else is on the table). This year, I spent it with Claire and Annabelle up in Springbrook. The study was productive, consistent and (almost) effortless. The last couple of days have been especially hard because there is only so much that you can learn and absorb (and only so much that the SOM can actually test you on). The propensity to do nothing is much higher in the days leading up to the exams. And living with other medical students that aren't so frazzled only helps to calm the nerves towards the lead up.

On the way to the exam, I was feeling a bit off. I know what I know (and what I didn't know could potentially bite me in the ass). When I got closer to the where the test was being held, I was feeling a bit sick in my stomach. In fact, a number of people that I spoke with were feeling the same way. I got into the exam and during the 10 minute perusal, I looked through the questions and didn't feel too shocked about what was ahead. However, when I started writing, the knowledge in my head went to the furtherest corners of my brain. I felt as if I was blind with the added task of grabbing straws. At one point, I seriously thought what would happen if I got up, ripped up the exam and ran screaming from the room! Yes, a bit melodramatic but true. I quickly got myself together and plugged through until I could no longer do anymore. I had an answer for everything (I left only one thing blank because I really didn't know what it was - it was only worth 1 mark). I got outside and felt like retching and in fact, I had to go down to the toilet and get some of the retches out of me. brutal. I felt as if I would be a very lucky man if I passed that exam. Most of the people that walked out of the exam were looking as if they have been gutted and then had to eat their entrails or something - sick. After having a great dinner with Lou, Claire and Annabelle at Quan Thanh (the new best place in Brisbane for Vietnamese), I felt centred and know that tomorrow is a new day. After talking it through with Dave and Suz, I reckon that we all had our issues with the exam. There is something to be said for going through an experience with a group of people and having persevered until the bitter end.

Now, I've several ethics essays to read and to go over respiratory, gastrointestinal, arrhythmias/valvular disorders and immune/infection/defence before tomorrow's exam.
I doubt that I will learn anything new, except for the fact that what I know I know. The important thing about tomorrow's exam is that it will be the last comprehensive year-long exam that I will have to write in my medical school career! The next time that I will have to write a comprehensive exam will be when I sit my speciality exams, which won't be for quite some time. The plan for tomorrow night is to have some dinner with some friends, have a few glasses of wine and watch as many episodes of Season 3 NIP/TUCK. Thursday will be a long day of clinical skills preparation for the clinical exam on Saturday morning.

One down...two more to go.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Can't believe...

Hello! It's been a while since I've last posted and I do apologise; things have just been quite hectic around here for the past couple of weeks.

FIrst off, I've changed the template of the site (as you can clearly see). I was getting sick and tired of the underlined text and I thought that I might as well just give it a fresh look. What do you think?

Soon after I posted the last post, I was getting geared up for Diwali (Diwali Mubarak & Sal Mubarak everybody!). I always knew that a lot of work goes into preparing for these jamvanus but I was really underestimated the amount of work that goes into it. When I was living at home, there would be mass mobilisation of people to help clean, organise and cook for the party. There were multiple trips to the grocery store to get those last minute fresh items, e.g. coriander and green chilies. The house would be cleaned to a shine that only Mum and Dad approved of, games would have to be organised to keep people happy, areas set up for dining, socialising, etc. This year was no different! I had invited about 45 people for Diwali jamvanu (fortunately only 35 or so people came). I got up early (6:30am) to get ready for a 7am cook-up. I cooked at Lou's place because her kitchen is massive and she had numerous pots and pans. The house was decorated a few nights before the actually day. Multiple runs were made to Coles to get some last minute items. I had a fear that I would not have enough food for everyone. But in the end, there was enough
food and then some!

Dave, Suz and I dressed up in our Indian clothes (because we could) and I must admit that I was brtimming with joy! There is something to be said for cooking for that many people, being a good host and ensuring that everyone is having a great time. Pam (an Indo- Newfoundlander in my year) said that she felt as if she was back in Newfoundland at a Diwali function. Mum told me that I was crazy to have organised such a thing - but I wanted to see whether I could pull off something like that. By the looks of it, everything was a great success! That being said, I know that I won't be pulling a massive Diwali (or any other dinner function) without having other people to help with the cooking and stuff.

Here are some photos from the night: (sorry about the spacing between the photos, I tried to fixed it several times but the same thing happened over and over again)

The menu was: cauliflower mughlai, muttar paneer, roasted eggplant & potato curry, naan, rice, raita, salad, and bhajiya (onion & potato fritters that have been battered in besan flour).

As for dessert, there was fruit, ice cream, soan papdi, kaju katri, and caramel slice.

Here are Dave and Suz in their Indian finery! I bought Dave's outfit when I was in Delhi last year. Mum got Suz her sari. I reckon that a woman's wardrobe is not complete without a sari. Whereas for a man, no wardrobe is complete without a custom-tailered suit. :)

Here are Claire and Annabelle showing off their bangles. Annabelle's fushcia kurti is from the legendary "Fab India' in Delhi. These two ladies (along with Nabila) are travelling with me in South East Asia. I can't wait for this upcoming trip, as it is going to be a ripper of a time!

Suz and I - I am really going to miss her and Dave next year. They are moving up to Rockhampton for their 3rd year. Rocky is one of the sites that the UQ School of Medicine has a Rural Clinical School. There is one good thing out of this. A trip to Rocky to see them! :)

In other news, things have been getting frantic about the 2nd year final exams that are fast approaching. There is quite a lot of speculation on what will be on the exams and whether we will pass (or for some people, how well they will do). There is still are still 9 full days before the onset of exams. It's plenty of time to get through everything. I'm heading down to Springbrook, the hinterland of Gold Coast, for the week today with Claire and Annabelle. It's secluded, no mobile coverage, and we have to bring our own food. Claire's parents have a house down there that we can use. It will be nice to have no distractions and be focussed on the upcoming exams.

I can't believe that I've been living in Australia for almost two years. To further complicate things, I think that I can see myself living in this country. I've been looking into the process of getting my permanent residency papers. Apparently, I've to start compiling components of my application. Now those of you that know me can testify that I'm always on the move, never feeling fulfilled by staying in one location. Even though, I've taken a number of trips whilst being in Brisbane, it's a great base to have. Now, if only I can convince some of you to come here... :)

I've also got my details sorted for coming to Calgary this Christmas season! I will be in Calgary from December 23rd til January 3rd and then back again from the 11th till the 15th. For those of you in the Calgary and environs, it would be awesom to see you again. Just drop me a line.