30 Nov 2014

my week #137

It's been a weird week. Whilst it seemed to go by exceedingly slowly, it also seemed to pass by in a blink of an eye - hard to explain but when I look back, I do think 'where has the time gone?'. Maybe I've just managed to keep myself busy without even realising it.

Now that we're almost in December, I have my Christmas cards at the ready! It is also less than four weeks until Christmas and I am totally excited for a bit of R&R. I spent yesterday tidying and decluttering my room and I still have a long way to go. Although I threw out three bags of things to be recycled and two bags of rubbish, I feel like there is still more I can get rid of and having already bookmarked a date during the holidays to declutter again, I am sure I will be able to purge more non-essential items.

Today, my plan is to get some studying done as I did none yesterday because we all need a day that is completely unrelated to what we do on a daily basis :)

How has your week been?

27 Nov 2014

term one's group work notes

I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to keeping organised and for group work, I like to use bound or spiral notebooks if I can. I try and keep the notes within them as tidy as possible because they will be used as revision notes nearer to exam time so here is a glimpse into one of them that was used for the first term of year 'three' (technically my second year but it is actually the third year of medical school).

The notebook itself is from Artbox and I bought it over a year ago so I'm not sure if they still stock it. It is quite minimalistic in design with a red cover, spring green spine and back. Inside, the paper is cream in colour with is ruled. On the first page, I've made a contents page so that each week can be found easily and to aid with this, I've also placed a round sticker (folded in half) at the top of each new section.

I try and keep the notes as neat as possible. There are diagrams present too and although I use coloured gel pens to highlight things, I keep these to a minimum and instead, opt to use Zebra Mildliners where possible. The pastel nature of the Mildliners are easier on the eye and are easily my favourite highlighters ever.

That said, I still use colours when they are appropriate - an example is when it comes to 'staging' things and in diagrams.

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into my group work notebook from this term. Would you like to see more of these notes or others that I take? If so, let me know and I may make this a more regular thing :)

25 Nov 2014

little bits of happiness

Having started a happiness journal earlier this year, I thought it would be fitting to write a post on the little bits of happiness that surround me on a regular basis. The number one happy thing in my life has to be my network of family and close friends - they keep me sane through difficult and stressful patches and without them, I'm not sure what kind of person I would be!

1) Cute notebooks

Notebooks that are a joy to look at on my bookshelf make me happy. Another happy thing is that you don't have to splash out to make notebooks aesthetically pretty on a shelf, you can washi tape spines in a DIY project.

2) Adorable cushions and house furnishing

These cushions are usually on my bed but sometimes, they are forced to migrate to my bookshelf if I there is something I want to hide (in this case, a medicines and first aid box!).

3) Positive posters

This cute poster from Nina and Other Little Things is something that is on my bedside table. During stressful times, falling asleep is easier said than done so I try do as much as I can to create a relaxing environment and beautiful illustrations like this help.

4) M&M Pretzels

These are seriously hard to find in the UK and when I found a supplier based in London, I quickly placed an order. I eat one packet every one or two weeks as a treat as I find them a bit too sweet to eat often (sometimes, one pack lasts me for two days) but I like the balance between sweet and savoury flavours.

5) and 6) My happiness journal and Hong Kong journal of memories

I started this happiness journal to try and just document things that happen each day. My worst fear is looking back in ten years' time and not remembering those little moments that brought a smile to my face so this journal is perfect to write down three lines of happiness that occurred each day.

My Christmas holidays were spent in Hong Kong and during that two week period, I took loads and loads of pictures. I wanted a way to remember this precious time in my life because this may be the last time I visit Hong Kong in a long, long time; so, I decided to create a memory journal.

7) My favourite scent at the moment

Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb is my current perfume of choice - it is feminine but not too girly, and playful without being too immature.

8) Reading in bed

There's nothing better than snuggling under a duvet with my Kindle! I love reading and often wish I had more time for it, so I try and read a chapter or two whenever I have a spare moment.

9) Pens that are a pleasure to use

Muji gels will always have a special place in my (stationery) heart but these Pilot Juice pens are definitely well on their way to being my joint favourite gel pens.

These are the little things and moments that make me happy - they aren't expensive or hard to come by and I think that is the most important thing to remember: happiness does not have to cost you anything or much financially. Although a new and luxurious purchase can bring joy; generally, happiness cannot be bought so crack a smile and enjoy each moment :)

23 Nov 2014

my week #136

This was the last week of placement and I can say that is has been exhausting five weeks. Seeking out learning opportunities takes up a lot of energy and I am glad to go back to another five weeks of lectures and group work where I can have a bit more sleep.

I have really enjoyed placement though and talking to patients and interacting with other healthcare professionals just reinforces how right this decision is for me.

On Friday night, I celebrated my birthday (a few weeks late!) and a whole group of us went and had a night of bingo. It was something none of us had done before but it was an interesting experience to say the least and a lot of laughs were had.

How has your week been?

20 Nov 2014

university: finals and general exam preparation

Final year at university is a scary time, even for the bravest of us. Exam results and coursework marks count for more than ever before and how we do in this year can make or break our future. Having done final year once before and with a lovely reader requesting this blog post (sorry it took me so long to write!), I thought I'd try and give some advice on how I dealt with final year the first time round back in 2011-12. Hopefully, by reflecting on it, I can tackle my future final year (2016-17 hopefully!) better.

1) Work backwards from exam dates

Find out when your finals are. Knowing when they are is key because building a revision timetable backwards is easier than doing one blind and without knowing how many topics there are and what you need to do for how long to ensure that you are adequately prepared for each exam. This also ensures that you start revision at the right time, minimising the risk of burn out.

2) Make Lists!

For me, this is easy - I'm one of those geeks who just finds the process of list making an extraordinarily amount of fun. The main lists you'll want to make are:

- lists of what you need to know
- break down those lists into smaller lists of more manageable tasks
- stationery that you may need (post-its, page flags and sticky tabs are always useful)
- the places you want to revise in.

By making these lists, you can realistically estimate how much time is required for each topic and the tasks within them. The stationery list is obvious - making sure that you have enough stationery before you start saves you time spent buying/ordering stationery during revision periods. Finally, a list of places to revise is useful when you draw up a revision timetable and within this section, you may want to do a list of pros and cons for each place.

3) Work out how you will revise

Are you the sort of person who has a short attention span? If so, factor in regular breaks. And what is your goal for each revision session? Is it to do practice questions? Or is it to understand a particular theory or signalling cascade? When it comes to timetabling (see point number 4), set a goal for each revision period.

4) Revision Timetable!

This is the last stage where you will now make your revision timetable. Try and alternate the topics you revise so that you're not doing the same topic for more than two days in a row. Alternatively, if you're in the mood for a particular topic one day but you're not scheduled to revise it until another day, swap that day for another. The most important thing is that everything is revised in time for the exams.

Give yourself at least one day a week off to do nothing study-related. And when I say nothing, I mean it! Your brain will be fried if you try and keep going seven days a week - we're humans, not Duracell bunnies.

In the earlier stages of revision (i.e. the furthest period away from exams), putting in time to create revision notes and mind maps is acceptable. However, doing these things when the exam is a week away is not acceptable - you're not giving yourself enough time for everything to sink in if you do that!

I hope that some of this post is useful :) These were a few of the things I do for all exams, not just for finals and I have found that these techniques work for me. However, some things may need to be tweaked and optimised to fit in with your own methods and schedule.

18 Nov 2014

book review: the oyster catcher by jo thomas

Every now and then, I start a book that I find myself unable to put down. I'm a fairly busy person - university keeps me occupied from the hours of 6am until 7pm during the weekdays (including travelling time, getting ready to go uni-time, etc) and I also try and work part-time too; so if I'm purposefully finding time to read a book, this means it must be good (at least if you're into the same genres of books as I am).

The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas is one of those books. When I read the first few chapters, I did question if I could ever really get into the book properly and thinking back - it was such a stupid thought.

The Oyster Catcher follows Fi as she seeks a new life and Sean - a misunderstood individual who has kept his heart and home locked up for various reasons. The more I read, the more I wanted to know what would happen next. There are just the right number of characters in the book - not too many and not too few - so the plot was easy to follow and whenever someone was mentioned, I didn't find myself thinking, 'who is that again?!' which does happen with books that have too many characters.

Having lived in London for the last five years of my life, this book made me want to head back to the countryside (where I had lived previously) - the seaside and salty air sounds like heaven but the thought of slipping on a pair of wellies still leaves me a bit nervous. I have an irrational fear of them! Anyway, back to The Oyster Catcher...

I would describe this book as a chick-lit book but not one that is overly slushy. It is an easy read and is very well written and has drama at all the right times with likeable characters (but there are some others who aren't too!) and will appeal to most people who enjoy a feel-good book.

Overall, this is probably one of the top 5 books I've read so far this year (and this is the 24th one I've read) - I would rate this book a 9/10 and I am a harsh critic when it comes to books but it definitely impressed me more than most of the other books I've read in 2014.

16 Nov 2014

my week #135

Under six weeks until Christmas now and I am seriously excited. This time of year turns me into a big kid where I become obsessed with Christmas jumpers, tinsel and spreading some festive cheer. With two weeks to go until December, I'm now armed with Christmas cards ready to be written and posted out to family and friends around the country and world. Is anyone else as excited as I am for Christmas?!

Also, having had the chance to see my blog on a retina screen, the images in each blog post look very blurry to me. I'm working on a way to get them clearer and I've not been successful yet. Any suggestions welcome!

How has your week been?

13 Nov 2014

staedtler triplus pens: prisms of fun

When I was in high school, Staedtler Triplus fineliners were a regular feature in my pencil case. I tried other brands of coloured fineliners and yet, I always went back to the Staedtler brand when it came to this particular kind of pen. Fast forward many years where I've moved over to rollerballs and gels. However, I recently discovered that Staedtler also do Triplus rollerballs and highlighters too! 

In terms of design, the rollerballs look identical to the fineliners until you remove the cap. Having had positive experiences with their fineliners in the past, I was expecting great things from these rollerballs and they definitely didn't disappoint. Ink flow is excellent, the nib is smooth and not scratchy at all and the colour is highly pigmented. They aren't the most comfortable of pens as there isn't a rubber area for the tips of your fingers but the thin design mean that prolonged use wouldn't be as painful as using a thicker pen.

As for the highlighters, the colour is subtle and not too damaging to the retina but this may be because of their fine nib (compared to chisel nibs many other highlighters have).

I love using colour when it comes to my planner pages and also in my revision and university notes so these pens will no doubt come in handy.

Thank you to Helen at Equinox for sending me these pens to review :)

NB: Although I received these products as review samples, I have reviewed them just as I would have if I had paid for them.

11 Nov 2014

introducing: popbasic!

Do any of you subscribe to monthly beauty boxes or even Graze/snack boxes? Subscription boxes are something that have become quite big in the beauty world but have you ever thought of buying a box every month that include a few basic items that can transcend any season? Popbasic are a company that offer this and although they are based in the United States, they ship worldwide... For free!

This month, the Frankie box retails at $78 with the collection consisting of a grey marl long sleeved top, a white leather belt with a rose gold buckle and a polka dot scarf. The grey tee is soft and fits well - I am a big fan of basic long sleeved tees because I like wearing them on placement. I need comfortable basics that can be dressed up when paired with a pencil skirt or a smart pair of tailored trousers and this top fits the bill in that respect. The sleeves are easy to roll up too (sounds trivial but I find that some tops have sleeves that roll down of their own accord - bad because the uniform dress code states that we must be 'bare below the elbows').

The white leather belt can be worn on the waist or on the hip. The scarf wraps around my neck comfortably with seriously soft fabric that feels luxurious against my neck. It is large enough to also be worn wrapped around your shoulders, like a shawl - useful if you're a student who sits in lecture theatres or work in an office that only has two temperatures with one of them being freezing cold.

I like how the box comes with a small postcard that introduces the items in the box and also provides outfit ideas.

Overall, this was a box that was a pleasure to unwrap after a long day at uni - the items will suit everyone and they are all of decent quality. The price may seem a bit steep for those in the UK, especially when you compare them to Primark prices, but looking back at some of the other Popbasic boxes, they do have boxes that may provide better value for money!

Thank you, Madeline from Popbasic for sending me this box to review :)

NB: Although I received these products as review samples, I have reviewed them just as I would have if I had paid for them.

9 Nov 2014

my week #134

This week, I've been staying late on the wards everyday and I have to confess, I am exhausted this weekend! I'm learning a lot more than I ever did sat in lectures so staying late is definitely worth it.

In other news, my Macbook Pro is working again but it only works when connected to mains power. I think the battery is completely screwed as whenever I unplug the power cable, it switches itself off.

With only eight weeks to go until 2015, I am now starting to write a list of resolutions that I want to achieve - things like 'be more confident by talking to more patients', 'believe in myself more because I've put in the hard work, therefore I am adequately prepared to put everything into practice', etc. I'm not the most confident person but I know what I want at this moment in time (to do well at medical school and be a good doctor in the future) so all my little goals are about achieving these bigger goals.

How has your week been? :)

6 Nov 2014

book review: a special delivery by clare dowling

I love a feel good story and when I received my Bookbridgr copy of A Special Delivery by Clare Dowling, I was so ready to get stuck in. Christmas is coming up and what better time to read a slushy story, eh?

The blurb for A Special Delivery reads as follows:

"Every family has its ups and downs...

Aisling Brady is miserable. So is her husband Mossy. The three kids are too. Yet nobody dares say a thing. Instead the Bradys keep their heads down and grimly look forward to another miserable Christmas in Dublin.

What Aisling doesn't know is that this year, they will get the most unexpected gift of all. One that will bring joy and heartbreak, hope and a string of sleepless nights.

As their world is turned upside down, questions have to be asked. But are the Bradys ready to face the truth about themselves? And what each of them has done?"

From the blurb alone, I was drawn in and totally ready to dive straight into the book. What secrets are each of the characters hiding? It's quite obvious from the book cover what the 'unexpected gift' is but the book is almost 400 pages long - it can't just be about that surely!

The book begins at a decent pace - it gave me time to take in each of the characters and build a picture in my head. As the book wore on, it was interesting and well written enough for me to want to carry on reading but towards page 300 or so, I was starting to get a bit bored. There was almost no plot to the story - it was just about a family that were going through one rough patch after another where not much seemed to be going their way. Maybe I'm a bit too young to relate to Aisling but for me, I found myself reading it for the sake of finishing something I had started, rather than because I was eager to find out what was the next twist in the plot.

That said, I can understand why someone else would enjoy reading it. In my opinion, the amount of drama is proportional to the number of pages and I think it is a better read for someone who is of a similar age to the main characters (who I guess are in their early forties) because I just found it really hard to relate to them. When I was about halfway through, I remember thinking that Mossy and Aisling would be pretty bad parents to have in the sense that Mossy is stubborn where whatever he says is gospel and that Aisling is too overbearing.

This is the first time I've read a book by Clare Dowling and I think she is a fantastic and engaging writer. I'm eager to seek out other books she's written as although this one wasn't my cup of tea, I think she is one of the better story tellers out there. I gave this book 7.5/10 as it is written very well but is un-relatable for me (for reasons outlined earlier in the post).

4 Nov 2014

introducing the iconic: seize the day planner (a mini 'review'!)

Did you know ASOS do stationery? No, me neither. Being an ASOS Premier member and armed with a student discount, I knew that this could be a dangerous combination whenever I find myself on the ASOS website. Now, when I saw that they stock the Iconic Seize the Day planner, I instantly added it to my basket and checked out before I had the time to add anything else I didn't need to my basket. I've mentioned the Iconic brand before so I knew that I'd be letting myself in for a piece of stationery that is beautiful and minimalistic.

Because only the grey version was in stock, this was the one that ended up in my hands the day after the order was placed. 

The Iconic Seize the Day planner is spiral bound with a plastic, textured external cover. Inside, there are monthly planning pages:

There are a lot of weekly planning pages that have a margin on the left with the rest being paper that has a rectangle pattern to it. It's not quite square patterned paper but it still looks pretty neat.

Towards the back are some notes pages in a white geometric print adorning a pale pink background and right at the back is a sheet for personal information with a plastic pocket to the right of that. There is another plastic pocket at the front of the planner too.

Overall, I love this planner and I am now torn in my decision as to what planner to use for 2015! Having had my heart set on The Planner by Seeso, part of me also wants to give this one a whirl. I might have to be super patient and let this one wait in the wings until 2016 instead - I'm glad this one is undated!

2 Nov 2014

my week #133

It's been a bit of a weird week where I've not actually been that busy, yet I feel like I have been. Anyone else get weeks like this? On Wednesday, I had a bit of a disaster where I managed to spill a significant amount of water onto my Macbook Pro so anything electronical is a bit of a pain at the moment. I am borrowing a Windows laptop and I definitely miss my MBP's trackpad. I'm seeing an Apple Genius during the week so hopefully I'll get an idea of the repair cost (seriously sad face) but I'm hoping that the fact I've had it off since the accident means that most of the water will have evaporated, leaving behind minimal damage (wishful thinking!).

In other news, someone from university came up to me to say that they read this blog! Hello if you're reading and apologies for the embarrassment - never in a million years did I think that something like this would ever happen :)

How has your week been?