Little Miss Globetrotter – From New Delhi-Boston- Grenada(and everything in between)

Passage to the World

First of all, I have never written a blog before but now I want to share my traveling experiences with everyone. A little background about myself  – I was born in New Delhi, India. I finished my high school in Delhi but my father lived in Europe(mainly Vienna and Munich) so my summer was spent traveling in Europe. I went to Boston University for my undergraduate. I got a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology. I fell in love with Boston so I decided to work there for 2 years and luckily got a job as a Research Technician in a Radiopharmacy lab at Massachusetts General Hospital.

I am so lucky that I got to travel from the age of 3 and then I was able to travel more during my undergraduate studies. I wish I could have started writing sooner! But better late than never, right?…

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Day trip to Phi Phi island

Now as my summer break is about to end, I have been busy being a tourist in Paris so I could not complete my blog about Thailand. But here I am, I am going to try and finish all my summer blogs for this summer.

Before going to Ao Nang in Krabi where I spent 2 weeks, I went to Phi Phi islands for a day. I took the morning ferry from Rassada Pier in Phuket. The ferry was approximately 90 minutes. As expected, there were a lot of tourists on the ferry. I have motion sickness and I was a bit worried but these ferries move so slowly and it put me right into sleep without even taking any medication :P. I had seen Phi Phi in the pictures and I was really excited. When I saw it in person I was really impressed. The scenery was straight out of a postcard – bright sun, long tail boats and crystal clear water. As soon as I got off the boat, I knew I had to spend the night here instead of Phuket. My friends and I walked on the beach on Loh Dalum Bay until we came across different resorts – we found “PP Princess Resort” right on the beach and it was $40 a night which was ideal.

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Made it to Phi Phi
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Nothing beats this scenery at Tonsai pier 🙂 

The room was not bad and there was access to the pool. The beach had a low tide so it was better to stay by the pool which was infact lovely. Well Phi Phi island has a lot of activities but unfortunately we didn’t do any of those and just relaxed on the beach and swimming pool all day.

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View was not bad 

 

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Life’s good 

This island is really small – you can only walk your way through it –  no cars, no bikes etc.  There were many backpackers from Australia and England in particular. I loved the vibe of this island, everyone was so relaxed and even the locals were so friendly. There were IMG_2078plenty of cute little shops with souvenirs, food and tour options. Since there were so many Europeans on this island, every single restaurant offered the same menu – Thai and Italian. Since this was a low season and also a weekday, the beach was quieter and cleaner. We stopped by this restaurant “Ciao Bella” for dinner. It was right on the beach and it had a very laid back atmosphere.

 

 

 

I had heard about the fire shows on the beach every night so we headed to Slinky restaurant and ibiza hostel around 9 pm. These fire shows are really popular in Thailand and I thought it was pretty cool. They were doing different stunts and even break dancing on the fire. A huge crowd had gathered to enjoy this and it lasted almost 2 hours. I even got a temporary UV light tattoo for free which was awesome!

I had a really nice day on the island and it was actually my favorite so far. People come to this island for snorkeling, monkey beach, scuba diving etc but I did not do any of that and did all the activities in Ao Nang instead.

Next morning I relaxed by the pool a little more and enjoyed the breakfast which was included. We wanted to spend the evening ferry back to Phuket but due to some reason the last ferry was at 2 pm. I was really sad to leave the island because it was actually my favorite so far. On my way to the pier I finally found a guy selling Ice cream rolls! I had been waiting to try these and I finally got a chance. It is really fun to watch the guy make the ice cream on the cold stone and add your favorite toppings.

After that tasty ice-cream roll, it was time to head back to Phuket which was a mistake I was supposed to meet my friends and colleagues in Koh Samui which is only an hour away from Phi Phi and I did not think it through and instead went back to Phuket where rest of my luggage was. I booked a shuttle and ferry service via Phuket travels for the next day. Little did I know it was going to be the longest and wasteful day of my trip but oh well it’s all about the experience. I will tell more about it on my next blog 🙂

 

Bangkok Diaries

So I am finally back from my 22 days trip in Thailand. I had a 2 week SGU program in Krabi.  I had never been to Thailand before so I used this opportunity to travel to other cities as well before heading to Krabi. It was definitely the most exhilarating and different experience of my life. I am used to traveling in Europe so it was wonderful to be able to travel in Asia. Thailand had been on my list for a while but I am glad I was finally able to travel there thanks to SGU’s selective. I will have to write few blogs for this trip since one won’t do justice.  My first stop was Bangkok. I flew by Jet Airways from New Delhi. The flight overall was alright because there were too many loud Indians at 2 a.m. on the flight which was not fun. I arrived in Bangkok on 2nd June and I spent 3 days there. I ended up coming back to Bangkok on one of the weekends during my selective.

Day 1 :  I was a bit nervous because apparently the visa on arrival is only for 15 days and my trip was going to be 22 days long. So as I arrived at the Bangkok airport, I followed the signs for “Visa on Arrival” . It was probably a good 10-15 minute walk from the gate. The area was crowded but not as bad as I had heard. There were two counters with a long line and the visa was 2000 Baht and the other were express counters and the cost was 2,200 Baht. I had all my documents ready but the lady at the pre check in was already apprehensive when she saw my return ticket for 23rd June. As expected, the lady at the immigration counter refused to listen to my side of the story and was not ready to give me a visa until I showed her a return ticket for an earlier date. I booked a ticket to Kuala lumpur since its only a 1.5 hour flight from Krabi and the visa is online for Indians. The lady finally approved and I was able to get a visa within 10 minutes. I got a local sim AIS when I was collecting my luggage. I got unlimited 4g data for 30 days for only 500 THB ($14.7). I was the first person amongst my friends to arrive in Bangkok. My day did not start on fun note because I was stuck in a traffic jam at 7 a.m. on my way to the hostel. Well, Bangkok has the worst traffic in the world so it was not a surprise and I was already in the mindset that no matter what I would keep calm and just enjoy every moment. So after searching for a while, the uber driver finally found Bob Hostel. The room and bathroom were great and the staff spoke English too which was nice.

After a 2 hour nap and quick shower I was ready to explore what the city had to offer but I guess the traffic had something else in mind. My first stop was going to be Grand Palace. So as you may know I am not a summer person and I hate the heat so I decided to just uber it to the palace instead of taking the metro. Also, everything seemed to be cheap as I was converting it into USD(thankfully I stopped doing later). So after almost 2 hours I was at the majestic Grand Palace. First and foremost there are no shorts, tank tops etc allowed. I was wearing comfortable pants and a top but they thought it was inappropriate. There are clothing stores right outside palace so  I bought a top to cover up. By now I was drowning in my sweat. It was 35 degree Celsius and 90% humidity. The palace was flooded with tourists from all over the world. It was incredible. I wish I could stay longer and learn more about this magnificent place but I could not adjust to the heat and hence I had to leave early.

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Sawadika Thailand
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Wat Phra Kaeo
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Grand Palace

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My next stop was going to be MBK center. They say every Indian who comes to Bangkok definitely comes here. I was actually amazed by how huge this mall was. There are almost 2000 shops in this mall. I didn’t really know what I wanted so I just started walking from ground floor which had lines of stalls selling fashion, shoes and handbags, fast food outlets and a supermarket.  Part of the fun of MBK is exploring the long straight paths looking out for things that take your fancy. So basically I realized first few floors were for fashion and then 3rd and 4th floor have electronics and 4th and 5th have home furnishing and souvenirs. After a lot of bargaining I was able to buy shoes and bags. I was already exhausted from my day and my friends were about to arrive too. I stopped by at Samui Restaurant in MBK center for some green curry and rice. This was my first time eating authentic green curry so it was definitely exciting. The flavor was amazing but I knew there was a better green curry out there waiting for me.

The weather was pleasant now so I decided to take the Tuk-Tuk back to the hostel. I agreed to pay 250 THB to the driver. I was close to the hostel when I was stuck in a long jam. The tuk-tuk driver told me to hop on to one of the two-wheelers to reach my hostel faster. Apparently this is a thing in Bangkok but I had no idea about it so I refused. No way I was going to trust a random two wheeler. After a long day I was finally back at the hostel and met

By the end of first day I learned that Sawadika(hello) is said to Females and Sawadikhap to males :).

Day 2 : All my friends were finally here. I was so excited because I was meeting my friend Avashi after 3 years and John and Leo after 6 months. I was so glad that we were able to plan this trip so well. We all got ready and it was time to head to Chatuchak Weekend Market. This market is open on the weekend from 9 am -6pm and has more than 8,000 shops. Initially we just wandered around confused where to start and what to look for and then eventually we found a map for the market online and just used that to navigate. In Thai “Soi” means street so we just picked a random soi and then just walked until we came back to the same spot.

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You can literally find anything here from clothes,accessories, home furniture etc. It is a wholesale market basically and the prices are reasonable. This place is so huge that its highly unlikely that you will see the same store twice so if you like something buy it right away unless you want to see another store. Despite the heat, I absolutely loved this market. It’s definitely a must to attend if you are ever in Bangkok for the weekend. At 6 pm when all the stores had started closing we were really exhausted so we finally stopped for a foot and shoulder oil massage. It was 250 THB for 30 minutes and I am telling you it was totally worth it. I took the best nap of my life in those 30 minutes. I wish I had taken more pictures in this market!

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Happy after shopping

Day 3 : John and Leo left for Phuket and Avashi and I had an extra day to spend in Bangkok and we moved to Movenpick Hotel. This hotel is located in Sukhumvit soi 15 which is close to all the restaurants, malls and hotels in soi 11. It was a good change to move from the hostel to a hotel and especially the fact that we would not be wasting too much time in cabs. We went to checkout the rooftop pool at Movenpick which was decent and then we walked to Terminal 21 which is a huge mall in Sukhumvit 19. What made this mall different is that every floor is actually built like a huge terminal with different cities as the theme.

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Ground Floor : Rome – plunged with sculptures, paintings and ceilings. You can find luxury boutiques on this floor

Upper Ground Floor : Paris – mini Eiffel tower. You can find some Thai boutique and salons on this floor.

1st floor : Tokyo – Mostly women fashion

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2nd Floor : London: from telephone booths to 2 storied buses – most men fashion on tis floor

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3rd Floor : Istanbul – jewelry, leather goods, and decoration shops

4th Floor : San Francisco –  mini replica of the Golden Gate bridge which is adorable and this floor mainly had Thai restaurants.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 10.35.21 PM5th floor : San Francisco Pier – this floor had many other International cuisines to offer.

6th Floor : Hollywood : dedicated for cinema, spa and gym.

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I came back to this mall with my cousin when I had the weekend off in Krabi. We didn’t really know what we wanted so we just walked and explored around. This mall pretty much had every brand and designer boutiques so it would definitely take a day here if you really want to shop.

I left for Phuket the next day with Avashi – I will write a separate blog on that experience. I came back to Bangkok for a weekend during my selective to chill with my cousin. We had a blast in this city because there’s so much to do. I had seen many posts about the Husky cafe in the city so we decided to go there. The cafe is called True love @ Neverland. I was really excited I wouldn’t lie. So here is how it works – they have 3 timings during the day when you can play with the dog for an hour. We went there around 3:30 pm and the next play time was at 4pm which worked out perfectly. The cost is 350 baht per person and that includes either a free drink or a slice of ice cream cake. We could hear the dogs running around and barking and I was getting really hyped up. At 4 pm – we watched a 5 minute safety video on how to treat the dogs. The place was well sanitized- we removed our shoes and wore foot covers and then we had to wash our hands before interacting with the dogs. There were alot of people waiting to pet the dogs. There were huskies running everywhere and it filled my heart with joy. WordPress does not let me upload videos but I have some really cute videos of those dogs. I know it’s awful that Huskies are not supposed to be kept in Thailand weather but I was quite impressed with how they were kept. They were all healthy and happy and their fur coat was amazing too. The only downside I think was that the dogs were not as playful which is understandable but I really wish they would respond more to petting. Overall I was really happy with this cafe and I would definitely recommend it to people visit it if they are in Bangkok and love dogs.

That’s all I have for Bangkok. It was a chaotic city but I loved it because it was unique in it’s own way. I have a lot of stories( and more pictures!) from Phuket and Krabi and I am excited to update everyone in the next few blogs about it.

Moving forward

I finally found the opportunity to write this blog as I am sitting in my flight from New York-Paris. . To begin with this term has been hard..harder than Charters Program but interesting nonetheless. I learned a lot more about myself, my study habits and also people around me. Now is the time I can really reflect back on each module and gather my thoughts for this term.

Term 1 is divided into 3 modules and 5 exams – Foundations to Medicine(FTM-2 exams), Musculoskeletal System(MSK-1 exam), Cardiology Pulmonary Renal (CPR – 2 exams). We had 16 hours of lectures a week and interactive MCQ session on Friday but sometimes we would have 20 hours of lectures a week too. There was also 2-4 hours session of small group per week and sometimes more.  The semester started with around 520 people in class but sadly we saw a drastic fall in those numbers later on. I am just going to be giving a  breakdown for each module and how I survived each of them.

FTM module : Well having completed FTM/CFP program put me to an advantage compared to others who came straight into term 1. This module heavily focuses on biochemistry, genetics, human cell biology and Histology. I had developed a liking for biochemistry in CFP so I was kind of looking forward to it. Biochemistry department at SGU is really good. Even if you don’t like the professor, the slides are always detailed and have every information that you need to do well on the exam. For biochem I just white-boarded all the lectures as I memorized them. The other classes were pretty straightforward because it was a repeat of FTM program. I had never taken genetics before so I was focusing on that. Luckily, I got good professors for genetics which helped me understand the material well. First couple of weeks were overwhelming because there was so much material being thrown at us and so little time. I realized I could n longer memorize every slide but I had to focus on the bigger picture and if anything was clinical. Few days before exam 1 one of my friends Henrik asked me if I wanted to study with him. In CFP I had a routine of studying by myself and then my friend used to quiz me before the exam, hence I said yes to studying with Henrik. We reviewed all the lectures before the exam and we realized we had a similar studying pattern. Our exams went well but both of us did not get the same score. For exam 2 we decided we would meet every weekend to review the lectures for that week and then review again before the exam.  I was able to score 92.5 on both the exams. I still had a life during this module because I was able to cook food and I could also take a night or two off on the weekend and still be fine. I even had time to pre read my lectures every morning. FTM module is a nice introduction to medical school but it was nothing compared to the storm(MSK, CPR) that was about to come.

MSK: I had heard a lot of negative things about this module before it even started. Some people called it the worst/hardest module in term 1 and some actually enjoyed it. I had decided that I would not let anyone’s opinion influence mine so I could decide for myself. Henrik and I decided that we had to come up with a game plan so we could succeed in this module. Little did I know I had many sleep deprived days awaiting for me. Basically this module comprises of Anatomy and little bit of physiology and histology. Anatomy can be scary initially because it is A LOT OF memorization and learning every muscle, nerve, artery and vein for that muscle can get challenging. Also, the anatomy department sucks at SGU. I don’t blame them because you can’t really teach someone anatomy We had our first day of lecture and everyone was freaking out because they had already thrown all the muscles of the arm at us. Henrik and I met up at the end of the day and opened our bible for the module known as – Gray’s Anatomy. We did 10 questions that night and guess what? We got all of them wrong. We did not let that discourage us and we met up the next day to do more questions. We gained a momentum and met every night to do questions and by the weekend we had a better grasp on the material. You can only learn anatomy when you see it hence we went to open lab hours to learn from the cadavers. We were also using Complete Anatomy app on ipad which was the best investment ever, There was a lot going on and I was hating every day. I was not getting enough sleep because we used to have lab 8-12pm and then lecture from 1-5pm and then we had to study again. I had started eating out everyday and I used to sleep during lecture, I did not lose hope though and I continued working hard with Henrik every single day, By the time exam approached we were already doing our Grays book for the 3rd time. I felt confident when I went to take that exam because we had done more than 500 practice questions so I was ready to read long clinical vignettes too. I came out of that exam feeling a little hesitant because I thought I might have lost my A to physiology but I knew I had aced Anatomy. That exam was hard..it was the most challenging exam I had taken for sure. When the scores came out I was pleasantly surprised because I got a 91.7 and my friend did really well too. We finally realized that we were going to be study buddies for a long time now. Our hard work definitely paid off and now we were more motivated for the upcoming CPR module.

CPR : MSK gave me me hope and determination that I could survive medical school. Physiology was not my strong forte but before this module I had changed my mindset and I told myself I was going to stay positive and make Physiology my little bitch. Henrik and I knew how to study and we had  a nice momentum going. We met up every day after lectures and we just white boarded and talked out loud. We realized talking physio out loud was really helpful. Some days were frustrating because the material was hard and we would spend 7-8 hours and still not understand. I finally started getting the true feeling of being a medical student. I did my first ultrasound on the heart and lungs. I also learned how to listen to different heart, lung sounds and how to take someone’s blood pressure and pulse. I realized I could now study for 15-16 hours a day and still be fine. This was my life now. I was trying to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep but I had started eating junk food. I was eating out for every single meal and I used to only go back home to sleep. Those were some monotonous days but I was not complaining because I knew everything would fall into place before the exam. Again before exam 1 for this module we had already done over 500 practice questions and I thought I knew my material well. I finally understood physio which was exciting. I got a 91.7 on this exam which boosted my confidence furthermore!Henrik did really well too and we knew there was no looking back anymore. This module was different because we also had our first OSCE – basically they get a fake patient for us and we have 5 minutes per patient to do certain tests, ultrasound or whatever is required. Towards exam 2 I was a lot more relaxed because I knew it was the home stretch and also physiology was not scary anymore.

You must be wondering that I don’t have a life outside study hall and my whiteboard and you are right. Buy post exam I got to relax and enjoy the weekend. I became good friends with another person from my small group. Henrik had  a jeep so we formed a tradition to go on a long drive on the island to unwind. It was the best feeling ever and this was the time I actually loved the island and did not hate it. Also, I love my apartment. i am glad I don’t live in a dorm because at the end of the day its nice to go back to my room and also after the exam I can relax in my lovely pool.

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My beautiful pool
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Taking a quick break before the last exam!

As I am sitting on my flight, I just reflected back on this term and I realized this term was challenging but fun. I don’t know if fun is an appropriate term to describe it or not. If you ask me now which module was my favorite I would say it has to be MSK. I know i know I said I hated every moment of it when it lasted but post-MSK I realized that if I can survive this module I can survive anything and I also learned about my new studying habit. I never used to study with another person before but it’s important to have a study buddy in medical school. Henrik and I were able to motivate each other every day and if I didn’t understand something he filled in the gap and I did the same which benefited both of us. I am so happy that I found a great friend and hoping that we will be able to crush all the way till Step 1 and beyond 🙂 What would I do differently?I definitely need to eat better food or find some time to cook. I also need to make sure that I don’t exhaust myself.

I am so glad that this term is over and I know I made friends who will support each other all the way till we take our Step 1 exam and beyond. I have an exciting summer ahead of me and hence I will be writing more often now. I was in NYC for 4 days and it was so nice to have good food and be back in civilization again. I will be in Paris for 10 days and then I will see my mother in New Delhi. I am doing the Thailand selective in June through SGU and I cannot contain my excitement. We will learn about Ancient Chinese Medicine like Tai Chi which should be interesting. I will be back in Paris in July but I plan to study. My friend and I will be tutoring the upcoming Term 1 in fall so we have to prepare our slides and material for the sessions. I am really looking forward to that because I enjoy teaching and also it will help me with my cumulative exam.

Anyways if you made it this far on this blog, I am thankful for your time because this one was long. I am going to try my best next term to write more often. Till then I will have some exciting travel stories this summer and I cannot wait to write about them 🙂

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We survived term 1 🙂

Med school journey begins…

I have been meaning to write this blog for almost 2 months now. Gosh! I can’t believe it’s been 2 months already since med school started. I literally have no time to do anything besides studying and probably getting few hours of sleep.

To begin with, I had my white coat ceremony back in January which was exciting. I love the idea of having this ceremony before starting the medicine journey. It was very motivating and it finally got real when we read the oath. My brother was able to make it to the ceremony which was even better.

It’s a SGU ritual where students have to get their white coat pictures taken at the docks so obviously I had a little photo shoot there with my friends. After the ceremony we celebrated with a nice Italian dinner at Laluna which is actually my favorite restaurant in Grenada.

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It’s official 🙂
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My roommies came out to cheer for me!!!

I am going to to get into the seriousness about Term 1 later but before let me talk about all the fun I had before the term started and when I had a life. My semester had started in full swing when my brother arrived here but I was still able to spend some time with him and show him around.img_1402The first thing I did was obviously take him to the beautiful Grand Anse beach.  We relaxed on the beach for few hours and then went to Umbrellas which is by the beach as well and probably my second favorite place here. They serve American food and it’s pretty good for Grenadian standards. Actually the location of the restaurant is the best and it’s good spot for both tourists and students. We rented a car so my brother was able to drive to Carenage and explore St. Georges by himself while I was suffering 4 hours of lectures. We did wake up early one of the days to go to the beach which is  a 10 minute walk from my house. This beach is extremely quiet and relaxing and unlike the Grand Anse beach, it has black sand.

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L’Ance Aux Epines beach

So Grenada has the infamous seven sisters waterfall which is a common tourist spot. I wanted to do show something different to my brother so we decided to drive to Concorde Falls instead. These falls are in the North of the island and approximately an hour drive from True Blue. I drove to the falls and Garun drove back. I must say that I finally feel confident with my driving skills after driving on the hills and one lane roads. The drive was really pretty and we encountered different landscapes on our way from the beautiful Carenage to the mountains in the North shore. 76125563-4382-4C2A-A116-92909755497D.jpegWe arrived fairly early at the falls so there was no one there and the weather was perfect too. The water was slightly chilly but refreshing at the same time. In India, you can’t really jump into the falls or swim because there are poisonous creatures and threat of other reptiles. The good thing in Grenada though is that apart from mosquitoes and weird creatures, there are no poisonous creatures so it is safe to swim at the falls.

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Concorde Falls

Well this was the last time I had fun. I just got done with my second hardest exam for this term(first is next month). I finally have a weekend to relax and catch up on life. Last 2 months have been crazy and I will be updating on my study habits etc tomorrow 🙂

Course breakdown for FTM/CFP

I remember when I was starting this course, I searched for every source to gain more information. There are not a lot of detailed blogs out there so I decided to focus this one to give  a breakdown for every class and I hope it will be helpful. Remember that everyone studies differently, I am just giving a breakdown of what worked for me so it may not work for someone else so it’s really important to figure out your studying habits by quiz 1. If your studying strategies don’t work in quiz 1 then change them ASAP. Do not wait till midterms because it would be too late by then.

Anatomy: I really enjoyed this class. I know i know it is a lot of memorisation but you get used to it. I made sure that I looked at a single anatomy lecture atleast 3 times in 1 week.  I used to keep white-boarding until I was able to memorise the material and I realised this was extremely helpful for embryology where I was able to summarise the entire lecture on a single whiteboard. My friend used to quiz me by the end of the week once I was done memorising and she used to quiz me again before exams. I used to mark the slides I was unable to memorise and came back to them some other time. I made a master histology sheet and also made a blank copy and I used to label it myself before exams.

  • Anatomy lab : I used to spend my Sunday evenings looking at the lab images. I used to remove the labels from the lab images and then try to label them again. I made sure I was prepared for lab and I took the printed images to lab as well. Lab and buzz quizzes are not worth much but honestly every point counts in the end so it is important to score well on them.

Physiology: This was the hardest course for me. I did not have a good start because I was not sure on how to study for it but I identified my problem post-midterm and I really got my grade up. At the beginning of the course I was clear on my concepts but I could not apply them to practice questions which was a huge issue. To resolve that, I made sure firstly I understood the lectures. I used to make a concept map on the whiteboard and then add extra information by reading BRS textbook for that topic. I used to do BRS questions after that and I also did questions from Guytan and Pre test but they were harder. Also, I tried to reason why other options were incorrect. I used to try and do 15-20 MCQs in 1 hour for every topic and realised it was OK to get them wrong, that was the whole point to make mistakes then and not on the test! In the end I just wish I had done more practice MCQs for quiz 1 as well.

Biochemistry: Whiteboard! whiteboard! whiteboard! Yes I cannot emphasise enough. You will memorise gazillion pathways, enzymes and their regulations but it’s all doable if you whiteboard because it really helps you with recall. I used to draw out the pathway, regulated enzymes, activators and inhibitors and the location of the pathway. I used to take a picture of that whiteboard and then later try to draw it out again without looking.I only  focused on the lecture slides and paid extra attention when the professor spent more time on one slide over another.

Molecular Biology: Again I would only stick to the lecture slides. I memorised the slides and made sure I looked at those tiny fonts under the images because that could show up randomly on the exam. She dropped the lowest quiz grade so I made sure I aced my quiz 1 and did not have to worry as much for quiz 2 even though that information was on the final. I also went for SL sessions for this class and I found them extremely helpful. The exams were all first order questions  which was good.

Abnormal psychology: This was my favourite class, hands down. I will also sound biased because this was my minor in undergrad but either way this class is really interesting. I went to every lecture and wrote down all the examples she gave in class and also the videos she used to show for that topic. Whenever I studied for it next time, I could hear her voice playing in my head. I memorised the medications and then made sure I knew the diagnoses and durations thoroughly. Do her online practice questions because they were helpful and used to show up on the actual exam.

So this is a general breakdown but I could answer questions on how to memorize specific topics(e.g. muscles). As I said this worked for me but not necessary would work for everyone. It is extremely important to study smartly and not just hard. You could study for 12-13 hours and still not understand a topic. If you are stuck on a topic, MOVE ON. Yes move on to  a different topic and then go back to it. Apart from that it is important to get proper sleep. I made sure I slept 7-8 hours and at least 6-7 hours before the exams. You don’t want to be tired when you are taking an 8 am exam. Anyways, I hope this will help someone and feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions 🙂

I survived FTM

Where have I been for the past 2 months? Well, I had been at Modica study hall since my midterms got over. I just wanted to say that I successfully passed Foundations to Medicine Program and I received my acceptance letter to School of Medicine. This course was rigorous and as I had mentioned before that you have to maintain a 3.5 GPA and score 75% on PMSCE which is a cumulative exam at the end of the term.

First of all what worked for me? I moved out of Grand Anse dorm to the campus dorm. That place was a rumor mill and full of drama so I just wanted to distance myself from all those people. I had a strict schedule that I made sure I followed. I did well on my first round of exam and then midterms so I didn’t have to change any studying strategies except in physiology since that was my lowest grade. I met up with the course director and got his feedback and he identified the problem. I knew my concepts but I just could not apply them when I had to do MCQs. Hence, I started doing 1 hour of practice questions everyday and I used to reason out the incorrect answers as well. I was getting ready for the 3rd round and I made sure I was on top of all the tasks.

It was time for 3rd round of exams and I performed well in all my classes and I was able to raise my physio grade up which I was happy about. I was still focused but now the last stretch was approaching. Things around me started falling apart. People in the course didn’t perform well so more than half of our class withdrew. We started with around 200 people and were down to 90 people. Basically, if you take the final and if you don’t have the GPA then you can never come back but it you withdraw then you get a refund and you can repeat the semester. Pretty much FTM was a mess but I had to keep myself focused and not let anything or anyone bother me.

 

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Puppy therapy is the best therapy!

 

 

There was 1 month left to finals and I had no time to waste. There was no time to work out, I was talking to my mom for only 5 mins and I barely spoke to my father. I never stressed out the entire semester but I was getting exhausted now. Before coming here I had never abused caffeine as such but I realized I was drinking caffeine every single day. It wasn’t because I wanted to stay up but only because I had to keep going. 2 weeks before the finals I started having caffeine withdrawals. I couldn’t eat properly and I was always nauseous. I was crashing by almost 8 pm. It wasn’t just me though, my friends who were still in this course were in the same boat but we had to motivate each other to keep going. I finally caught up on all the sleep and decided to avoid caffeine as my finals were approaching. But now I thought I was going insane. We spent 14-15 hours sitting on one chair in the study hall. There was a point where I wanted to just scream. I finally changed my study location and studied more outdoors which really helped me focus again.

Well finals week was finally here. The exams were the same difficulty level as before and they went well. I can’t explain that feeling when I submitted my last test. It finally hit me that everything was over and I only had PMSCE left. I had decided to take that night off from studying. The scores came out the same night and I was extremely happy! I was able to maintain an A in all my classes and I was able to pull my grade to a B in physio which made my GPA into a 3.778. I don’t think I had ever worked this hard before and I am glad I did. PMSCE was a cumulative exam and I was told that if you did well in all your classes then it’s easy and no extra studying was required. The information was true because I passed PMSCE as well. I went straight to the beach after that when we all got the results. Everyone was just screaming and crying. I could not believe that it was all actually over and that I was about to officially start my MD journey.

At the beginning of the term, I got the best and worst advice ever – you need to be selfish here. I took the advice and now 21 exams, I am here. Despite the ups and downs I am glad I took this course. Four months ago, I can’t guarantee that I would have been ready for medical school but now I am mentally ready too. I finally believe in myself and I have a more positive attitude.  I know my studying habits and what’s required to get work done in Medical School. I am extremely excited because the countdown to White Coat ceremony has begun and my parents will finally see me wearing that coat in a month.

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Best study buddy ever! We both made it and she is going to UK for 1 year!

My next few weeks are about to be exciting. I was chilling on the beach all day and I explored Grenada. I am going to be in New York on Sunday and about to be reunited with my friends. After that I am flying to Munich where I will meet my father and then finally after 1 year I will be going to home sweet home India.

Ps: next blog is only going to be on “how to survive FTM” for people looking for more information.

 

Sometimes I have a life outside the books

What’s the first thing I did after I finished my physiology exam? I napped! Sounds cliched but I really needed some sleep before getting  a headstart for my weekend.

My first stop after napping was to grab lunch at container park.  So basically, container park  is true to its name, there are bunch of cafes and restaurants in huge containers. My favorite is Mocha Spoke for their delicious smoothies and iced coffees andContainer Park Friday Food Fest also Island Fever because they always have a trendy menu. There is Shawarma King too and their food is amazing! It’s such a good break from the food options available on campus.

I did not know what to do first so I just decided that it was time to HIT THE BEACH FINALLY. As I said, I had not been to the beach in over 2 months so I could not miss the opportunity. How I missed the water – so calm and so warm. Surprisingly, the weather was not too hot either which made it even great. All FTMers were just cooling off in the sea. I literally just relaxed for few hours on the beach until it got dark and well it gets dark at 630 pm here in Grenada. I just ended my Friday evening at Bananas with some good food and good music.

Saturday was the most relaxing day I have had in months. I woke up at 7 am (usual time for classes), realizing that I had no classes and I didn’t have to study for anything. It was the best feeling and hence I went back to sleep. I stayed in bed till almost 1pm, something I had not done in forever so it felt great to be lazy. I finally got the energy to get ready and head to the beach again. I went there around 4 pm when the sun was not too bright All my friends had gone for snorkeling but I chickened out because I remember how sea sick I was the last time I went. I just laid on the warm sand and enjoyed the mesmerizing sunset with some music. I never realized how amazing it can be to just sit and not do anything. Sometimes, you just need one of those days. The great thing about the caribbean sea is that it never gets a high tide(atleast in Grenada), it’s always calm and peaceful. I think that’s why they call it the “Island time” here. Just going off topic here but the days are long and slow and so is the service at any restaurant/supermarket etc and hence the term the “Island time” was coined to describe these situations. No matter how much you really complain, it’s not going to change anything but only increase your frustration so you might as well stay calm and enjoy your time here.

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Well after my introspective evening, it was time to get some dinner and my roommate and I headed to Yolo Sushi. Asian food in Grenada is very average and this place proved my point. I miss good Asian food and I guess I ll get my fix for it when I am back in New York in 2 months.

I wanted to spend my Sunday exploring the ‘Carenage’ but I did not realize that it’s closed on Sunday. I will have to go back after finals. Carenage is in the heart of St. George’s . It has beautiful houses, spice markets and restaurants. My roommate and I gathered a group of 7 to go hiking instead to the “Seven Sisters Fall”.

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Carenage looks like a painting

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Empty streets of St. George’s

A little background here, as the name suggests, you can hike up to 7 waterfalls and it takes at least a day but our plan was to cover only 1 waterfall. So we called Sheldon. Sheldon is a reliable taxi driver and he literally reminds of my driver Manoj back in India. He is extremely resourceful. Also he charged us 40 EC each(~15USD) for roundtrip to the falls and also for being our guide during the hike. Usually this trip would have been at least 50 USD.

Interestingly, one can go from one part of the island to the next in 1 hour. In other words, you just need to fill the gas tank once to complete exploring the island.

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Port Louis

As we progressed uphill, our view changed from the buzzing ports to empty roads with abandoned houses and cars. The views were breathtaking. There was just so much greenery around us which was remarkable. I have lived in big cities all my life and honestly seeing so many trees around me is kind of a big deal. img_0541

 

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Entering the dense rainforest

My previous blog had pictures from “Grand Etang” so this time I wanted to make sure I went to a different waterfall. Our hike was only an hour and the trail was not too bad. Honestly this was the second hike of my life. My first hike was literally 2 months ago to Neuschwenstein Castle near Munich. I never considered myself as an ‘outdoor’ person. I was concerned that I would be out of breath and I would slow others down during the hike but I was actually impressed with myself that I was able to complete it without any issues. I actually enjoyed myself. The path was really muddy though and my shoes were completely ruined and my feet were just filled with dirt but I guess that’s the trade off for hiking in a rainforest, right? I also learned that Grenada does not have any poisonous creatures which was a relief. Surprisingly, I did not encounter any bugs or even mosquitoes while hiking.

We could finally hear the falls as we got closer.  So we skipped the Annandale Falls and went to the 2nd falls out of the 7. We decided to go here instead of the touristy/crowded Grand Etang. This area was secluded and we were the only group there which was nice. We relaxed at the falls for maybe an hour.

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Finally made it!
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The water was cold

The water level was fine near the rocks but apparently closer to the falls was really deep so we did not even bother going directly under the falls.Also, the water was really clean and refreshing. I would not dare do this anywhere else in the world(especially India) but in Grenada as I said there are no poisonous creatures and there are no reptiles(except for lizards). My friends found a  spot for cliff jumping. I just stayed on the side to get their pictures. I have decided that I will cliff jump after I complete my 2 years here in Grenada 🙂

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Post-Midterm relaxation 🙂

We had a nice day out at the falls and shout out to Sheldon(the guy in green t-shirt in the back) for guiding us throughout the hike. I can finally say that I do enjoy outdoors as long as it’s not too hot(hah). 14697322_10154603998969579_987161173_oWe did not go to the other falls but we did end our hike by stopping at the Grand Etang Lake. You know the cool thing about this lake? It’s a unique crater lake and no one knows the depth because of that.

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We were starving by the end of this day so Sheldon took us to a Grenadian buffet called Creole Shack in St. George’s. This was my first time trying Grenadian food and it was rather interesting. My plate had veggie rice and noodles, plantains spicy eggplant and a potato salad. Grenadians use a lot of spices and I realized these spices are similar to the Indian ones. Almost every dish has turmeric in it and so does every Indian dish. This restaurant did not have doubles but if you every come to the Caribbean, I would highly recommend it. It’s a local dish with spicy chickpeas wrapped in a roti. I would compare it to Chana Masala wrapped in a Roti(indian bread).

I had a pretty adventurous day in Grenada. I still have a lot to explore on the island but I just want to take it slow. After returning home from that long tiring day, I just spent rest of my evening catching up with all my friends in Boston and Delhi. I realized how much I miss them and I am looking forward to meet them again in December.

I really needed this weekend to recharge and be geared up for the last 2 months left in this semester. I have 2 more round of exams so I just need to come up with a new study schedule but continue using the same strategies that I have been using.

Unwinding

Wow, I don’t know how to begin describing my last 3 weeks.  I spent in a small cubicle in a study hall with my laptop and white board(my new friend). I had 5 midterms last week and now I am finally free. I just did not get time to update my blog. Honestly, I felt like eating and even taking a shower felt like a waste of time sometimes because there was so much work!

Since my first round of exams, I made sure I was on top of all my material in my classes and I was reviewing over the weekends. I did not want to cram anything last minute so I was whiteboarding a lot. I realized that since I did well in my first round, I wanted to make sure I continued my strategies for the midterms as well. I made sure I was reviewing the new material everyday and going back to the old material on the weekend. I am really not into group studying since I find it distracting but I did find a study buddy. Her name is Tamseela and she is the nicest person I know here. We made sure that we studied on our own during the week and did not lose track and then over the weekend we used to quiz each other. If one person was behind, then the other made sure that they were caught up. I think this strategy really helped me. I had 22 lectures to memorize in Anatomy(including both old and new material). I made sure I did not ignore anatomy at all and reviewed atleast 2 lectures per day. Closer to the midterms, Tamseela and I were able to summarize most of the lectures into 1 white board session (like our 3 embryology lectures below).

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Hard work will pay off?
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I literally drew out muscles on myself to memorize them x_x

I also made sure I did practice questions for physiology every day since I did not do as well I wanted to in my first round. Over the weekend, I just went over all lectures from biochemistry and molecular biology. There was no time to waste, not even time to cook or do groceries. I was told that Foundations to Medicine is probably the hardest course and they were right. I think more than testing our knowledge in our science courses, SGU is trying to test how we manage our time, stress and workload. It is really important to have a positive attitude to keep yourself motivated.

Anyways, in the last 3 weeks I made sure that I was never stressed out or demotivated.  I kept myself focimg_0469used by finding different ways to unwind. Well to begin with, I have always hated running. I don’t mind working out but I am not a fan of running . I did not have time to go for my boxing classes so I found a new way to get my workout in. Whenever I felt like I was loaded with work, I put on my running shoes and just went around the campus and then realized how hard it was to go uphill(picture below). Well, my aim is now to be able to run up these stairs without losing my breath by the end of this month.

I found a cliff on my campus and it has the most amazing view. The cliff is extremely peaceful. You can just hear the waves hitting the rocks and the gushing wind. Since I had not gone to the beach in over 2 months, I started coming to this cliff to ‘unwind’ every weekend morning.

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Away from the crazy life

As I said I always studied in a quiet study hall and it used to get depressing at times to be stuck in the same cubicle for 16-17 hours in a day :/ . If I was not working on my laptop, I used to take a break from the study hall and study by the docks if the weather was pleasant.

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Studying with a view 🙂

 

I have only spoken about studying in my whole post but that’s my life right now and there is nothing else exciting going on. The only thing different in the last 3 weeks has been my room! I moved out of the room at Grand Anse dorm to a dorm on campus. I could not have been happier. My roommate and I found 3 roaches in a span of 1 week in the old dorm room. I AM TERRIFIED OF BUGS. I know I know, India has a lot of bugs too but I am still really scared of them. We had to call different people each time to kill the roaches for us and it was really affecting our studying time. Whenever I was in that room, I could just sense a roach was nearby. You know what made it worse? These creatures can fly…Anyways we told the housing to fog our rooms or relocate us. Luckily they had a double room open, so we got it. The room is small and I don’t have the beach view anymore but I can’t complain because I have my own kitchen now and I literally wake up 40 minutes before class.

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New view from my new room 

I finally signed the lease for a condo for next year so that is exciting and I can’t wait to move in!! I will have my own room and my own bathroom finally!

I am just glad my midterms are over. I am literally impressed that my brain could hold so much information, now I just need an external hard drive to store that extra information I will learn in the next few weeks 😛 . I had the best post midterm weekend too and I can’t wait to upload all my pictures and update everyone about it in my next post 🙂

Round 1…Check

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Most peaceful spot on campus

 

Phew! That was quite a week I had. I just survived round 1 of exams in Medical School and I am proud of myself. This past week has tested my patience, sanity and everything in between. I adopted new study methods and also realized a lot of things about myself as a student. Molecular Biology and Biochemistry were on the same day and then a day later I had Abnormal Psychology. I started my weekend with positive vibes and making sure that I would not lose focus or give up. For molecular biology and biochemistry, I kept reading the lecture slides till I had all the material memorized. I was psychology minor so I naturally put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in Abnormal Psychology. I really enjoy this course and I used to same technique for studying as I did in undergrad. I used to focus on the bigger picture of the disorders, compare it with other disorders and find distinguishing features. The night before the 2 exams, I went to bed around 9 pm so I would be well rested and I also felt confident about my knowledge. I did really well in all of my exams in this week and I was actually in top of my class. I was so happy and it was a huge confidence booster for the upcoming hell-ish exams!

The next big guns were Physiology(Monday) and Anatomy(Tuesday). I had to memorize almost 150 bones and almost all the muscles in the body(overwhelming!) . I was trying not to freak out during the weekend. I had to give up on sleep so I could study for these exams.

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Some productive time before the exam

Though it is really important to get sufficient amount of sleep to retain the information, I had no other option here because there was so much material. I downloaded some anatomy apps which were extremely helpful too. I was feeling good about my preparation but I was a little nervous on how they would test me on the material. Unfortunately I did not do as well as I expected to on physiology but aced my Anatomy exam. Physiology exam was hard!! The class average was a C but I am not going to complain because now I have a better idea on how to study for it.

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Taking a study break 🙂

I am happy I found a study buddy too. After I used to finish self-studying, I used to go over all the lectures and important concepts with my friend. We literally white boarded every concept out there possible and since I love talking, I explained her the material and she loves listening so she just filled in the gaps. I never realized the power of white boarding until now. It is the best learning strategy out there and I wish I knew about it in my undergrad too.

Now I know that I need to continue doing what I am doing because it seems to be working but I need to change the way I study for physiology. I need to ace that midterm in 2.5 weeks!

You know what kept my sanity? Studying with this view! It’s so quiet and peaceful though it gets really hot in the afternoon, it’s pleasant during sunset. I made sure I was taking breaks when I studied and I used to just come here and listen to music eat some ice-cream.image-1-2

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They say FTM course is hardcore and they were right. 5 exams in 1 week + ongoing lectures everyday = lethal combo Anyways, I am just happy that I am done and now I need to focus on my midterms. I tried to relax yesterday and caught up with Narcos on Netflix. I will finally treat myself by going to the beach this weekend.

 

Round 1 made me realize that I CAN DO IT 😀

The journey begins

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Enjoying Paradise from a distance

I literally just took a break from memorizing the different muscles in the body. I can’t believe I am about to complete 3 weeks of school and the days have been nothing but intense. The first week of school I was literally on the beach the whole time and now I just get to see the beach from my room. I used to love watching shows on Netflix, chilling with my friends but all that has been replaced with group studies, Nettflix and flashcards(that’s a thing) and more studying. I finally have a routine but I try to change it around.

Not to brag but in high school and undergrad I could study for few hours and relax and could still manage a good score. Medical school is completely different. You know how in high school and undergrad classes, professors said “you don’t need to know this, this is  advanced level”. Well guess what, I had that realization that I am in that advanced level now. For the last 2 weeks I have been memorizing the different muscles and bones in the body. Next week I will get to work on a cadaver for the first time. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I have a 4-way system for studying here –

  1. Preview- 15 minutes for next days lectures
  2. Review – 90 minutes review after each lecture on the same day
  3. Long term review – spend atleast 2 hours per course for review on the weekend
  4. Self-testing – Practice MCQ for each course and review the incorrect answers

Phew! So basically I attend lectures from 8:30 am-5pm and some days till 7pm with some free time in between and try to manage to fit in the above routine. So for now Work-1, social life=0. I make sure that I take a break on Friday night and also try to go to the gym. I am glad they have kickboxing here so I go twice a week. As for sleep, I try to be in bed by 11:30pm everyday but I have to stay up longer on the weekend. I am afraid I will start needing caffeine soon.

Anyways, I have 4 exams coming up next week and after that I will be free for few days so i am excited. I am already looking forward to spending my time on the beach, exploring St. George’s downtown and possibly go hiking.

I will sign off with this brownie that I was really craving so I went to Umbrellas restaurant which is right  on the beach. They have amazing food and dessert menu and since it’s right next door, I don’t mind taking a study break 😀

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