Thursday, October 27, 2005


I've finished my last MBBS I exam yesterday!

The days leading up to those exams were horrible. Stress overload, thinking that my level of knowledge was inadequate and that I would make a horrible doctor. Then I smacked myself up side my head and realised that everyone else in the course must be feeling the same way with regards to level of knowledge that they have (or don't have) heading into the exams.

The first exam was the MSAT (Multi-Station Assessment Task), and it consisted of 9 stations, that were 9 minutes long. Each station also had a 9-minute instructional stations right before it so that you can prepare for that station. There were 2 stations on communication skills, 2 stations on history taking, 2 stations on clinical examinations, and 1 ethics station. I got full marks for most of the stations, not sure how I did on the ethics station (it was talking to someone in your PBL group who shows up late, takes very long breaks, makes derogatory comments about the patients in our cases, puts down female members of the group, and thinks that sociology and things similar are not necessary in the study of medicine). I just didn't know what the "right" path was. Apparently, everyone that did the Saturday (it was held over Saturday and Sunday to accommodate the 296 students that were schedule to take it) MSAT passed.

After finishing the MSAT, all motivation to study for the written exams went down the drain. It seemed quite anti-climactic. I went over all the past exam papers and my basic/clinical sciences revisions. The first exam was a bitch! There were 5 parts and one ethics essay. The essay was fine and a few of the papers in the exam were from past papers, so that made things a bit easier. However, they School of Medicine used way too many multiple choice questions, which doesn't really assess what you know about a particular subject area (the MCQs dealt with haematology). I know that heaps of people were quite annoyed with that form of testing. I rather have short answer than MCQ. The next written exam was 7 parts and covered pretty much whatever wasn't covered on the first exam. More of those papers were from past exams, which probably saved my ass!

After the last exam finished, a number of us headed to Claire's place to start the post-exam celebrations and have pre-party drinks and food. Too much fun was to be had...I forgot how much fun it was to be in a group of people and talk about things other than medicine. After getting some of our alcohol metabolism going, we all headed to the bowls club (lawn longer a geriatric sport!) by way of taking the City Cat (or what Claire likes to call it, "Shitty Shat"). It reached up to 31 degrees Centigrade and with that kinda heat mixed with copious amounts of alcohol consumption results in some weird shit. After several hours at the bowls club, most students headed down to the local waterhole, the Regatta (affectionately known as the Regretta). They were serving free drinks for an hour for med students and then after that hour, you could buy 4 drinks for $10. That mixed with top 40s music, a Leanne (voted "best dancer" by her PBL tutor), and some med school drama (oh the drama...even if I wasn't interested in medicine, I would stay in this course because of its drama!), resulted in a fantastic night!

It's now 10:43am on the day after my last exam. I'm sitting on the balcony having morning tea. The day seems to be like any other, and I've to keep reminding myself that I deserve a break. I have a week till I leave for my medical elective in India. So much shit to sort through before leaving - packing for India (can only take up to 20 kilos! and as anyone that has travelled to India...that's normally the weight for the carry on lugagge!), packing my room so that Dave and Suz can move my stuff while I'm away, need to get some last minute supplies for the trip, and to sort out some other stuff (address book, upcoming birthdays, etc) before I head out.

I can't believe first year is done (well, it will officially be done on December 2nd when the elective finishes)! What an exciting year it has been...and I would have done it all over again, exactly how it has, in a heartbeat. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2005


The past couple of days have been very right eye has been extremely photo sensitive, to the point where the room has to be dark. Any sort of light was quite painful to the point where tears would be streaming down my face. That being said, I spent most of my time in bed, with a sleep mask (courtesy of Qantas) and blankets over my head. Today, was the first day in which I was able to tolerate some sort of light.

Also, the past few days, I've been feeling quite annoyed (not sure at whom or what) and dissatisfied (once again, not sure if it is with myself or with my circumstances). This evening I got out of the house (which took Dave and Suz by surprise), I originally intended on going for a walk, maybe seeing a movie, and then chilling at a coffee shop. However, I decided to head down to South Bank (where World Expo' 88 was held). This evening, the Gujarati Association of Queensland was celebrating Sharad Poonam, which is a celebration of the harvest time in Gujarat. At the Suncorp Piazza (a large plaza, that has a roof over it, but not completely covered on all sides), there was garba and dandiya raas. I thought that I would go and make another attempt to meet people. I wasnt' dressed for the part, as I wore jeans and a t-shirt. On the way there, I ran into one of the guys that I met at Navratri. I introduced myself and he told me that he, and a number of other people, were really impressed with my dancing. He asked me if I was Indian, then Hindu. I told him that I was Hindu Gujarati (not that that matters). I got there and people were dancing and I dove right in. I recognised heaps of faces and people gave the obligatory smile when they see someone that they have seen before. Also, there was a really nice Gujarati girl that I met last time and she was here again tonight. I get so bashful...argh! It's quite irritating. Doing garba and dandiya raas with the opposite sex, is the Gujarati version of dating/flirting. You show off your hottest moves and styles. The best complement is if someone mimics your movements/steps. I doubt that I will see this girl again until next year. Then again, who knows?

Also, I've started to miss my family a lot. I guess because the feeling of staying in Australia has finally gotten into my head. I can't wait to see Mum next month and then the rest of my family (sans Hasit and Johanna) including Vinay and Bhavisha near Christmas. What good times to be had. :)

Alright, I should get back to studying about antibiotics. I'm at Lou's place - we are having a study party and at this rate, we are going to be up for most of the night. fun, fun.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The final week...

This is the final week of lectures for the MBBS I at UQ. The atmosphere amongst the cohort is quite charged - people have become withdrawn, moody, unusually cheerful, while some have become apathetic, lethargic and just wanting this ordeal to be over with.

Being the type of person that I am, I need to have my social interactions but with these final exams looming, I feel a bit guilty for wanting a bit of time to just have fun. I can hear my parents in the back of my head say, "beta, you know dhat ishtudy comes furst, den you can play, okay" (or in Gujju-che speak, "Beta, thenay kaberche ke banavanu bowaj important che. Exam pacche, taney je karvu hoi, ee chut che.")

But I found myself to start thinking about what happens if I fail my exams? It's a serious possibility (this is not to say that I have done nothing all just means that no one can guarantee that they will pass all the components of the exams). I have a friend that went through a very similar situation back in Canada. She failed first year and repeated it. In the beginning, she wouldn't tell people outside her med circle of friends that she had failed. However, she got over the stigma of failure and held her head up high. She became a resource for her cohort. And I can see myself doing the same thing. If I do fail, then I would make sure that I would develop friendship more and that I would be a resource for others. However, I doubt that my parents and family would agree with that. I have no clue as to where I would get the tuition if I were to repeat first year.

Alright, now I have just successfully scared myself (once seems to be a daily ritual at the moment that I scare myself into thinking that I will fail and shiite like that). through the nose and out through the mouth...[Veevek takes a deep breath]. That's better.

Also, it doesn't help that at the moment that I'm studying about suicide, domestic violence, and drug abuse. These are all very important topics because these are many of things that prevades all societies and doesn't get reported often. And why don't doctors ask about domestic violence? Well, first off, lack of skills and training; belief that it is not common; fear of offending the patient(s); privacy beliefs; perpetrator may be a patient; belief that nothing will change from intervention; belief that women will provoke the violence; and (one of the most common) lack of time with the patient.

Okay, I need to get off the computer and go over some past papers with Annabelle and Kim. It's going to be a very long day...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

So disappointed...

Well, yep. I am. I was looking so forward to Saturday night. Why? Every year around this time of year, millions of Hindus celebrate Navratri. Navratri is an annual festival is a Hindu festival of worship and dance. The word "Navratri" literally means nine nights; Nav-nine and Ratri-nights. The festival is celebrated for nine nights every year at the beginning of October although the dates of the festival are according to the Hindu calendar.

The state of Gujarat is most famous for its Navratri celebrations. Traditionally, Navratri was celebrated only by Hindu women only, in the honor of goddess Amba/Durga. Amba/Durga is a believed to be a Shakti (literal translation "energy"). Women would put "Garbha deep"(an earthen pot with holes, which has a lamp inside of it - representing life within a womb) in the center, as a symbol of shakti/godess. And at the rhythm of prayers and folk songs, they dance with clapping in concentric circles around "Garbha Deep" or "Garbo".

Even more popular is the dandiya raas. Dandiya raas was traditionally performed by men only. Dandiya is actually a pair of bamboo or any wooden sticks of the length 1.5 to 2 feet. Men would held this sticks in hand, and start with a circuluar formation. Nowadays, both sexes do garba and dandiya raas.

Alright, there is the information bit of Navratri. So, why am I disappointed. Well, I got all dressed up and got down to the place where it was being held. The hall was massive! And I would have to say that there were similar number of people as would come out on a Saturday night during Navratri in Calgary. People were beautifully dressed (there were some absolutely beautiful girls tonight) and hearing people talk in Gujarati made me feel a part of a larger community. However, I also realised some very harsh things about the community. You need to know people in order for them to introduce you , to what is a very closeknit, to their social circles. Everytime I would go and make conversation with someone, they would say "hello" and then leave. I did recognise a few people from uni and perhaps if I see them around, I will go up and introduce myself. I guess I took that for granted in Calgary because my parents are very active and social within the community. I did some garba (have several blisters on the sole of my feet), which was great! Even if I just had one extra person with me, it would have made all the difference. Some of my friends were going to come but, at the last minute, they weren't able to come. This is going to sound so fucking stupid...but my feet, ears, hands and eyes were feasting on the dance, people and sounds. However, my heart wasn't it in because it was the first time in a long time that I felt as if I didn't belong.

Alright, enough with this post. I told myself that there is no point in being disappointed anymore. I just have to keep trying and next year's Navratri might be a whole different experience.

Now, I need to go and nurse these blisters...