30 Aug 2015

my week #176

I spent this week catching up on some university work (see my Instagram for proof) as I had a few gaps in the timetable. On Tuesday, I was in theatre with a neurosurgeon and it was pretty cool - this'll probably be the only time in my life I'll ever see brain surgery (as I'm not considering surgery as a career option).

Thursday also meant I saw two of my friends who are on different placement rotations to me. I hadn't seen them for what felt like ages so it was nice to just get together and do some good old-fashioned Wii gaming. It was especially nice to win at every game we played. ;) This week was topped off by seeing another friend yesterday too. My social life has taken a beating so far this academic year and I can imagine it being this way for the rest of my life.

How has your week been?

27 Aug 2015

journals: looking back at how I've changed

Keeping journals is a nice way to look back at our lives when we were younger and perhaps less knowledgable about life. However, keeping journals don't mean you have to stick to writing down all your inner thoughts and dreams; I like keeping holiday journals too. My holiday journals are mainly for my holidays to Hong Kong because that's my heritage: my parents were born there so I'm 100% Hong Kongnese by blood. Therefore, I like to keep as thorough a diary as possible of my time there.

From top to bottom: a travel journal of my time in Hong Kong in 2009, my 'normal' journal from 2012 - 2015 and another travel journal of my time in Hong Kong in 2013.
After exams, I had a week or two where I genuinely had nothing to do - and I don't get to say that often - so I decided to have a flick through these old journals. And the first one I had a look through was my 2009 Hong Kong one.

This one is a journal from a brand called 'Sukie' and though the quality of the paper was a bit shoddy, I loved the retro design of the front. The inside was perfect with integrated mini-envelopes, ideal for slotting in those small momentos and tickets from the holiday.

Comparing the above journal with my one from my 2013 Hong Kong holiday, I've noticed that I'm less inclined to write about the things I bought and have referenced family events and food more in the 2013 one. I guess our priorities change as we get older?!

Also, I can see how technology has changed too because back in 2009, I didn't have a phone with a decent camera but in 2013 I did. This is reflected by a distinct lack of photos in the 2009 journal.

Finally, my 'normal' journal. It pretty much documents my journey from the end of my first degree to my current one. A lot of my entries were based around my medicine application/want to do medicine and some trivial worries including the thought that I was too young to be accepted onto a graduate-entry medicine course (completely ridiculous in hindsight). No images of the inside of this one unfortunately - as most of the entries are very personal!

Looking back at these journals has made me see just how much I've changed as a person and what values are now at the forefront of my mind. I'm glad I kept these journals as it allows me to reflect on what changes to myself have been for the better and what other areas of myself may need improvement in the future. After all, it's never too late to change into a better version of myself, right?

25 Aug 2015

a guide to packing for university

Today, I thought I'd write a guide on packing for university. Hopefully this'll come in handy for some of you who are starting university in the coming months as I want to share the tips that I wish I knew when I was 18 and going to university, back in 2009!

This post is aimed at those moving into a university halls' of residence but a lot of it is still applicable to those renting private accommodation. Before packing or buying items, try and find a list of things that are provided for you already.


As most people will know, the British weather is temperamental so choosing what clothes to pack can often be a headache. It definitely was for me so here are a few tips I have to share. Bear in mind that most halls' of residences only provide you with a tiny wardrobe and no hangers!

Another thing to take into account is that some of you will inevitably buy new clothes (ASOS, you just make it too easy for us students) and with limited wardrobe space, you might want to pack only the bare minimum.


- Co-ordinating: Pack clothes that go together. That one top that only goes with that skirt? Leave it. 

- Layering: Clothes that can be layered are amazing when the weather starts to turn a bit cooler.

- Packer's Remorse? You'll probably go home at least once halfway through the term and if you know you definitely will be, you can go back for that top and swap the clothes you've not worn so far for ones you wished you had packed.

- Coats and the Cooler Weather: One thing you definitely need is a solid winter coat!

- Loungewear and Nightwear: Don't underestimate the importance of loungewear and don't forget to pack nightwear!

- Fancy Dress: Think about the events you may be going to that term. You might want to consider packing some black tie outfits for these! For themed events, local pound shops should have you covered on that front so don't worry too much about packing clothes that fit the 80s theme/toga theme/any other theme.

- Smart Clothes: If you know you'll have placements or days where you'll need to dress smart, pack more than one shirt and more than one pair of trousers/skirts. That way, you won't be stuck with only one outfit.

- Sporting Gear: Definitely bring some of these - university is a brilliant place to pick up a new sport and sports clubs are great for meeting new people.


Depending on the type of accommodation you're moving into, what you need to pack will vary. My own accommodation was self-catered so my bare minimums were:

- Plates, Mugs and Cutlery: These are essentials! Bring two of each item - this will encourage you to wash up and if you break them, they can be replaced pretty cheaply. Also, Freshers' and Careers' fayres are a good place to pick up free glasses and mugs.

- Cooking Essentials: Go cheap. Asda were pretty good for me and also pretty good quality for the price! A saucepan, wooden spoon and a microwavable bowl (such as one of those Pyrex sets) are the bare essentials. Maybe throw in a colander if you are impartial to the odd pasta meal.

- Food: Honestly, buy these when you get there. Ordering online with the use of discount codes (I've seen ones online for Tesco, Sainsbury's, etc) is a good and frugal way to stock up on tinned goods, pasta, etc. from time to time and saves you lugging them back from the supermarket.

- One Pot Cooking: Consider investing in a rice cooker or a slow cooker so that you can cook quick, cheap and easy one pot meals. A lifesaver during exam and busy periods!

- Tupperware: Perfect for freezing portions of food for those days where you don't feel like cooking. Perfect for storing snacks in to ensure they stay fresh. Perfect for packed lunches.

Books and Stationery

- Textbooks: Don't buy these before going to uni! Borrow them from the library and then buy the ones you keep renewing and using. Alternatively, older students occasionally sell their copies at a heavily discounted price and you might find that they've already highlighted or stuck in sticky notes in the most important sections.

- Stationery: Bring what you used in high school. You'll inevitably end up buying new stationery when your loan comes in or when you want to try out a new study technique you've seen online. Freshers' and Careers' fares are also another place where you'll come away with pens, notepads and post-it notes.

- Desk Storage: The plastic drawers you can see above are perfect for your desk. You can get similar ones quite cheaply online and are ideal for storing paperclips and other small bits of stationery. Or make-up!

Bathroom and Laundry

- Sharing a Bathroom? Bring a pair of flip flops for when you get out of the shower. In my first year, I shared a bathroom with five other guys (yes, really) and I think that's when my obsession with cleanliness started. Bring a shower caddy - I used a basin so that I could easily carry shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, a shower pouffe, two towels and everything else on each hygiene trip!

- En-suite? You can forego a pair of flip flops here if you want. However, be prepared to shell out for toilet roll on a regular basis!

- Laundry: Get a laundry basket that is tall rather than wide. This is especially important if you have a smaller-sized room. Also, if you know you'll be using a laundry room that only takes certain coin denominations, start keeping a coin box in your room. Every weekend, empty your purse of these coins and then you'll always have money for laundry.

- Laundry Bags: Perfect for when you launder those more delicate items such as your favourite dress or top that you don't want to get ruined. Make sure you read clothing labels to see what can and can't be machine washed too - this'll save you the disappointment of seeing your favourite jumper shrink to a quarter of its size.


- Wall: Some halls of residences don't allow blu-tac so be really careful what you use to pin up posters/photos. In my first year, there was a pin-board so it wasn't really an issue and I ended up filling my walls with photos and posters. Definitely consider doing this to make your room feel a little bit more homely.

- Desk: Desk estate may be an issue as some halls only give you a small desk! However, I like to keep small trinkets on my desk so that it feels more cosy (as you can see in the photo above).

- Room: Depending on the size of your room, you may forego any other decorations. One potential thing you might want is a doorstop but other than that, there won't be many other essentials in this category. A good way to keep your room smelling nice is to use reed diffusers and they also add an element of decoration too.


- Laptop: Definitely something to consider buying if you have the funds! A desktop computer isn't a necessity as you'll most likely want to take your laptop to the university library from time to time.

- External Hard Drive: I'd almost count this as an essential! Remember to back-up your documents and external hard drives can be bought fairly cheaply now.

- Gaming Devices: Not really necessary - my advice here is to see how much time you spend studying in your first term and if you find yourself sorely missing your Xbox/Playstation/Wii and you have the time to spare, then it might be worth bringing it with you after Christmas break.

- Television: Again, not necessary. The TV licence is a hefty fee for any student and most halls' have a television anyway. Plus, watching TV in the common room with others is another way to be sociable!


- Bedding: Bring two sets! And bring a pillow or two. Cushions and a throw are a nice touch to make your room look and feel more homely. Also, consider bringing a duvet that has an adjustable tog for when the weather turns cold halfway through the term.

- First Aid Kit and Medicines: Fresher's flu and colds are pretty much inevitable! As are study-induced headaches.

- A Torch! Because you never know when that power cut may or may not happen.

- Alarm Clock: Your phone one might be sufficient but never underestimate your ability to sleep through a single alarm!

* * *

If you're really struggling for space, like I was, you can pack up a box of stuff that is heavier/bulkier and not essential for the first few days and send it to your new address by courier so that it arrives after you do. Just bear in mind that most of what you bring with you to uni needs to be moved out at the end of that academic year...

There are probably many more tips out there but these are the ones I can think of that I wish someone had told me before I first went off to university. Any questions? Let me know in the comments - I'll try my best to get back to you or maybe another reader will :)

23 Aug 2015

my week #175

This week, my neurology placement made me seriously consider a career in this specialty. It's a bit annoying for me that this has happened - almost every placement I've done, I've thoroughly enjoyed and this trend looks like it might continue this academic year...

For the last few weeks, I've found myself reaching for my stash of fountain pens more than usual. I've even started using them to make my revision notes when usually I'd reserve my Muji gels for that! You may have seen a post of my notes on Instagram this week and the notes in that photo were made with a Lamy Safari. More on this fountain pen love soon (or maybe not so soon - it depends on how busy uni gets!).

How has your week been?

19 Aug 2015

a peek at my sister's university notes

When it comes to note-taking and note-making, I'll be the first admit that I'm quite meticulous and a bit perfectionist when it comes to my own. However, I think my sister may have secretly one-upped me...

The notes I'm about to show you are from a few years ago and are when she did her degree. She is almost two years younger than me but due to the way the academic year is here, she is one academic year behind me. She studied chemistry (I know what you're thinking, what a pair of nerdy and scientific siblings...) and her notes are just... wonderful.

A Pukka Pad Project Book was here weapon of choice and I can kind of see why - the allure of 90gsm paper, a super thick cover and move-able dividers are definitely winning features.

Her handwriting is less printed compared to mine but it is still very neat. She has used colours but not to an overwhelming amount. I'll let the photos do the talking...

Even printed notes that have been glued in are done so neatly...

And she even had a hand-drawn picture of the heart! She did a module called 'Medicinal Chemistry' which explains this random diagram of the heart.

The notes below aren't in the notebook but are separate sheets that have been stapled together. She says that yellow paper is easier to revise from but for me, I still prefer my bright white Oxford-brand paper.

And finally, some typed up notes. Even these are annotated beautifully.

I think I have note envy but then again, my sister has always been better at artistic things than me! Today, I thought I'd show you her notes just to give you a look at someone else's for a change. She's definitely upped the note-making game in this family and I'm sure that will only spur me on this academic year! (Joking of course. I make notes for myself, not to compete with others!)

17 Aug 2015

trying to be everything and anything at the same time

Today is a PJ day. And not out of choice. I don't usually blog on a Monday but I'm taking today easy because I've been sick. And I'm never sick. At least, it happens once a decade or so which means today has been a day of reflection so far. And it's only 10am. However, I've been up since 6am - doing my normal morning routine in preparation for a day in clinic and then on the wards but then just as I was about to leave the house, disaster struck.

Today has been a reminder of why it is so important to take care of yourself. If you saw my week last week, I was on placement between at least 9am - 5pm (or 9-12 on Wednesday as is standard) but I did an on-call shift on Friday too so technically, that was a solid twelve hour day. No biggie - I've done twelve hour days as a waitress before but I usually get two rest days at some point when that happens.  But no, I decided to spend this weekend studying. I'd fallen behind a little in my own schedule I've made for this academic year. This weekend, I used up two full gel pens (I usually go through one a week) so that gives you an indication of how much work I did.

Furthermore, it's been an emotional week: Monday was sad - a patient I clerked poured her heart out to me and it almost broke my own heart; Thursday was sad and angry - another patient's wife started crying when talking to me (her husband had had a severe stroke) and then a scheduled teaching session didn't happen. And Friday's on-call was emotional seeing worried people and their families in Accident and Emergency. I used to think I was quite a strong person emotionally but I'm beginning to doubt this now.

Anyway, the point of this blog post is that I need to take care of myself a bit better. Last week was emotional but also jam-packed where I was going non-stop. I should've taken a breather at the weekend but instead, I've ended up ill today with sickness and severe abdominal cramps which signals a flare-up of a previously diagnosed condition I have.

If I were to write in my own patient notes for today, my 'plan' would be as follows:

1. Spend the day in pyjamas and rest
2. Stay hydrated and eat regularly and well.
3. Books are your best friend.
4. Journal - pour everything out re: the previous week.
5. An early night is essential.

At least my pyjamas are cosy and cute, eh?

Let this be a reminder to us all that we must all take good care of ourselves. After all, there is only one of us and we must realise our own limits of what we can and can't do. And also how much we can and can't do. Agree or disagree?

16 Aug 2015

my week #174

This week, it was my first proper week back on placement. I've just started a five-week block in neurology and it's been much better than expected. Neurology is one of my better topics when it comes to exam results but it's not necessarily one that would come towards the top of my list of 'specialties I'm interested in'. There isn't much time for patient contact as this week has been filled with lectures and the fact that we're not attached to a ward doesn't help with that side of things either. On Friday evening, I shadowed a senior doctor who was on-call in the evening and I really enjoyed it. I seem to enjoy on-call shifts a lot and this makes me seriously consider A&E as a genuine career option.

Anyway! The madness has begun again and I'm envisaging a busy twelve months on the horizon. I'm not complaining though - I'm doing something I've always wanted to do and enjoying every moment of it.

How has your week been? :)

13 Aug 2015

medschool: respiratory medicine placement

Last year, I had three five-week blocks of placement: one on a 'medicine' placement, one on general practice and one on a 'surgery' placement. For my medicine placement, I was placed on a respiratory medicine firm and I knew it would be good based on reports from older students. Plus, some of the respiratory teaching we've had from various consultants have been excellent so I had high hopes.

For this placement, we were given a handbook of things we were recommended to attend - these varied from clinics to watching some lung function tests to attending teaching sessions. To ensure I was as organised as possible about all these sessions, I used my Iconic essay book to draw up a timetable for each week of the placement block.

To ensure I was as prepared as possible, I revised some common respiratory conditions and these included asthma, COPD and pneumonia. I made sure I knew the common presentations, investigations and management for each inside out just in case I was asked by a consultant or registrar. Personally, I think it's bad form to go into a placement without at least knowing these basics about the most common conditions.

Anyway, onto the bulk of the placement.

Ward Rounds

For me, ward rounds got a bit boring after the first few times. My placement was in November time so most of the patients were in hospital because of acute exacerbations of asthma/COPD or had pneumonia. Most of them had also been in hospital for quite some time so when it came to presenting patients on ward round, it became a bit dull after the third or fourth time.

However, that's not to say they aren't good learning opportunities - ward rounds enabled me to see how doctors determined management plans for patients and also learn how to write in a patient's notes. I also learnt about prescribing on drug charts and even wrote up a few drugs myself (but of course, had them checked and signed by a qualified doctor!).


Clinics were a good opportunity for one-on-one teaching. The consultants on my firm were extremely friendly and keen to teach so I enjoyed all of the clinics.

Before each clinic, I would read up on the common things that may come up (so, for example, in the cancer clinic, I'd read up on lung cancer and their different types and also mesothelioma) so that I wouldn't seem like a deer in the headlights if the consultant asks me a question. I also tried to gain at least one learning point per patient.

Clinics can seem mind-numbingly dull to some but to me, they were an ideal time to shine. I could show the consultant how interested I really was by asking questions (and I was! Respiratory medicine is interesting!) and also get some one-on-one teaching which is actually pretty hard to come by.

Consultant Teaching

I was quite lucky in that there were a number of consultant-taught sessions throughout the placement. If you have these - go to them! Teaching is teaching and can help you reinforce concepts that you may have found difficult. We had sessions on taking different types of histories, interpreting blood and ABG results and also radiology interpretation.

Ward Work

I'll be honest here - I didn't take as much blood as I probably could have done and I didn't insert as many cannulas as I could have done either. What I did instead was practice clerking patients as it was recommended that we clerk an average of five patients a week - a number I did in fact manage. In hindsight, I maybe could have clerked a few less and inserted a few more cannulas. I don't mind doing practical procedures - I actually quite enjoy them - so this year, I'm going to try and get a few more of them done.

Other Bits of Learning

On this placement, I learnt a lot about asthma, COPD, lung cancer, mesothelioma and pneumonia. As a result, I felt extremely confident with these topics and very little revision was needed because I clerked at least one patient with each of those conditions.

There was a sad moment where I attended a meeting with a patient's family to talk about what action would be taken if the patient were to have a cardiac arrest. This patient was very, very poorly and they had deteriorated significantly over the last two weeks so the decision was taken to keep them as comfortable as possible. It was a sad moment when I went to the ward one day to see their bed now had a different patient in.

Respiratory medicine allowed me to see how patients were managed acutely (I had a week on an acute ward within this placement too) but also see how long-term inpatients were treated too. There were some sad times but overall, the staff and patients were mostly lovely and I learnt an awful lot in a short space of time.

Overall, I really enjoyed my medicine placement and in all honesty, I probably would have enjoyed this placement no matter which specialty I had been allocated to. The main thing is to throw yourself into it and just take an interest in patients! Remember why you went into medicine in the first place and use that motivation to get you through the hard times but also bring you back down to earth during those really, really good times.

10 Aug 2015

fifth blog giveaway winners & a discount code!

Hello! So, just over two weeks' ago, we hosted a giveaway in conjunction with lovely online store that is The Fox and Star and today, I'm pleased to announce the winners with the aid of the Rafflecopter engine below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway As stated in the T&Cs, the winners have seven days to let me know of their delivery address otherwise a new winner will be drawn (I've already email you both!).

Thank you to everyone who entered and commiserations if you didn't win. However, I do have a little treat from Ari at The Fox and Star. She has kindly offered all Paper Lovestory readers a little discount code.

To get 10% off your order, just enter 'PAPERLOVE10' when checking out. Thank you to Ari for her generosity with the giveaway and discount code :) The code will remain active until Friday the 14th of August, so ready... Get set... Go! With your orders.

9 Aug 2015

my week #173

This week was my first week of my penultimate year at medical school and intense was one word to describe it. However, it was nice to get back into the swing of things and see some familiar faces too. It's all becoming too real too - talks now focus on 'what we need to know as an F1' and though that felt like an age away when I first started in 2013, it now feels very, very real.

On Wednesday, as I'm approaching my 25th birthday, I had my first cervical smear. Here in the UK, women are called to a screening service that happens at three-yearly intervals and this starts at the age of 25. I'd be lying if I said I was looking forward to this 'landmark' event but there is a serious message here. One of the prerequisites of screening programmes in the UK is if there is a life-saving treatment available for said condition if found at an early stage. There are other criteria it must fulfil but that one is the key one I want to highlight here. It's one of the key reasons why a smear is worth those five minutes of discomfort and embarrassment.

How has your week been?

5 Aug 2015

review of my last five purchases

My aim of this post is to make myself feel more accountable for the things I buy. I've got to a point where I now dislike showing things I've bought for the sake of showing so in this post, I'm going to explain what these items have been used for, why they were bought in the first place and also do a mini-review of them. This won't be a regular feature but it's a way for me to show how I use my most recent additions without breaking them up into a few separate smaller posts :)

1. midori brass number clips

I bought these with the aim of using them to prioritise things to revise during my exam period. The numbers on them were ideal for this and they came in very, very handy. Not only that, the brass metal ensures they will last for years to come and can be re-used time and time again. After all, there are always things that need prioritising, exam time or not.

One drawback of these brass metal clips is that they can rip the paper if you're not careful or leave them on for a bit too long. So although they seem ideal as markers for each month in a planner, I wouldn't recommend them for that use because of this. Or maybe I'm just an idiot - probably the most likely explanation!

2. kaweco fountain pen & other Tiger Pens goodies

So, I've mentioned this pen so many times now and my review of it can be found here - but this was one of my most recent purchases. This Kaweco Skyline Sport wasn't a purchase I had planned so soon - I had originally planned to buy it this month or next but back in March, a friend convinced me it would be worth it and that I would like it. Talk about bowing to peer pressure - something I don't usually do!

For a cheap fountain pen, it is worth every penny and the mint colour is just so adorable and perfect for the summer.

3. the Harry Potter signature box set

My original copies of the Harry Potter series are seriously battered and although I don't see myself throwing them out anytime soon, I also wanted to be able to read them over and over again (which I do about once a year). As a result, I needed to buy a new set that was durable (read: hardback) and looked as close to the originals as possible.

This boxset delivers on the majority of those fronts: the inside of the books are identical to the originals and they are all hardback editions. However, the covers are different but they all have a ribbon bookmark and the illustrations on the spines and sleeves are just beautiful.

4. a horse pendant necklace

Earlier this year, I lost one of my favourite necklaces which had an owl pendant. I've still yet to find it so I'm assuming it's lost forever so I've been hunting for a new favourite ever since. Whilst browsing ASOS, this galloping horse pendant necklace caught my eye and for something that only cost me a few pounds, it's a worthy replacement (but still isn't quite the same unfortunately).

5. lumie bodyclock

Though this is one of my pricier purchases of 2015, it was one that I had been planning for at least six months. I originally borrowed my sister's Lumie to test it out during the winter (as the early mornings were crippling for me - energy and mood-wise) and it really did make a difference for me. I know they don't work for everyone but they seem to have done my energy levels a world of good when I need to wake up before sunrise (which happens more often than you think due to this ridiculous commute).


I suppose this blog post was a way for me to justify my most recent purchases and also do mini reviews of them :) It's also nice to know that everything I've bought recently isn't from one main category such as clothes, shoes or stationery (though there is a lot of that latter!). For the purposes of this post, I've omitted food purchases and other essential purchases such as toiletries.

Do you ever review your most recent purchases? :)

2 Aug 2015

my week #172

These two weeks of my 'summer break' has gone by far too quickly for comfort. This week was filled with spontaneous activities - I didn't want plans filling up my pages when they are usually filled in during term time (wait til you see the beast of next week)! I also took this opportunity to practice using ink and brushes to work on some cursive calligraphy (is there any other kind? I'm still a newbie at this!).

I'm definitely sad to see my two week break go - the summer weather's has just started to get going and my penultimate year of medschool is already here. I can still remember the day I got my offer for medschool and how I screamed the house down: it was a cold February evening when the email came through and I thought it was a joke! And here we are, two and a half years' down the line, the weather all sunny and warm and I'm halfway to being a doctor. Scary, eh?

How has your week been?