Wednesday, 28 May 2014

How I organised my notes for college #1

I think planning and organisational skills are very important especially as a student. I know everyone has a different way of organising their notes which works well for them. I'm just going to show  how I organised my notes while I was doing my A Levels. Hopefully, someone will find it useful :)
N.B:  I apologise for the poor quality of these photos. I don't have a camera yet so I took them with my phone.

Most people use the filing system for taking notes where they write notes on pre- punched paper and then transfer them later into a folder. This method didn't really work for me as I  didn't like carrying those folders around in my bag. Also, sometimes I had to take some of the papers out of the folder in order to reduce the weight and then when I wanted to study at college I found out I had to refer to something on the pages that I had taken out. I would recommend trying different methods to find out which one works for you. I resorted to using notebooks coz they are just awesome. The A4 notebooks I used were hard cover and lasted the whole year. They were also very light and very easy to carry around. My notes were accessible at any time. I used different notebook for biology, chemistry and each of the maths modules.

I used different coloured pens for headings and diagrams and I used highlighters for important words and sentences I needed to remember. I found that the different colours motivated me to look through the notes as I found them attractive with all the different colours. The notes in the photo above are for biology.

These notes are for chemistry so they are laid out a bit differently with less colour. I probably should have used a different colour for the diagrams.

While going through my notes, I usually made annotations with a pencil and sometimes on sticky notes. I wrote down important points that I needed to remember which weren't already in my notes.

There were some diagrams that I found difficult to draw especially in biology so I cut out the diagrams from the handouts we had in our lessons and stuck them in my notes.

I put all the handouts we received in an A4 ring-binder and I arranged them in the order in which the topics were taught. I also included my unit 6 or coursework handouts.

I made summaries of my notes during revision and condensed the notes into mind maps with different colours. Mind maps work so well on plain paper. The photo above isn't a typical mind map but it was the only one I could find.

I also made flow charts and highlighted important words.

I also made summaries of topics on lined A4 paper. Sometimes on both sides of the paper.

Finally, I used index cards. I found these really useful because I could use them anywhere- on the bus, the train, even the bathroom. The only reason I used plain paper in making my index cards above was because I wanted to fit in more information on the cards and lined index cards didn't let me do that.

There were exam-style questions available in the textbook for each topic with answers at the back so I tried to answer those along with all the questions we had in the handouts we received during the lessons. My best advice would be to try doing as many exam-style questions as possible including past papers. You can never know how much you know unless you test yourself. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014


I had an experience this week which got me thinking about our mortality.
A few days ago, I woke up to go to work and it was a sunny day. It was one of those days when you feel it's just going to be a good day because you're happy :D I went to work in high spirits and I was ready to just get on with it.

I was upstairs in the residential section. I always put my trolley infront of the room I'm cleaning so I can get things from it easily. The door of the room I was about to clean was shut. Normally, if the doors are shut then that means there's someone in there with the resident and there's a sign outside which says "occupied". The sign didn't say "occupied" this time so I knocked on the door and opened it. I found the resident lying on the bed and there was no one else in the room so I thought "Oh she's asleep. I'm just gonna do my thing quickly and quietly and get out so I don't wake her up."

Just before I entered the room I could hear someone crying in one of the offices around the corner and one of the nurses was trying to comfort her. I didn't know what was going on but I continued to do my job so I went into the room. When I got close to the resident, I noticed she looked pale. Then I was like "Well she looks very still when she's asleep" I turned around and saw a stethoscope on the table and I was like "That is a really nice stethoscope." I was even thinking about trying it on later. Not that I'm allowed to but I was thinking it.

As I went out of the room to my trolley I met one of the carers outside and she waved me towards her. Then she whispered and said " Oh you don't have to worry about cleaning that room. We just found out that the resident has passed away." Then immediately it hit me. The door was shut coz she was dead. The woman crying was obviously a relative. The stethoscope had been used to confirm her death. She was pale and still. Of course she was dead. Silly me. I still cannot believe I was more interested in the stethoscope.

I didn't know this woman very well but I heard she was healthy. She was perfectly fine the night before. She didn't complain of any pains or anything. She just slept and never woke up the next morning so I can really imagine how shocked and heartbroken the relatives were.

Death, I know is something no one likes talking about but even though we don't like talking about it, we do think about it. It is somewhere at the back of our minds. It is inevitable. It is something that will eventually happen. It might be in your ripe old age when you've accomplished everything you want to in life. It might also be very sudden, untimely, unexpected. No one knows how their lives will end but it will someday.

You Only Live Once or you have only one life as I like to put it.
YOLO so do you live it each day as if it were your last?
YOLO so how are you going to be remembered?
YOLO so are you happy with where you are now? If not, is it too late to change that path?
YOLO so have you let all your loved ones know that you love them?

If you've gotten this far in this post, I bet you feel like this.

Haha I would do this to me if I said YOLO again. Ooops!!!

How do you make the most of your time?
Who are you?
Where are you coming from?
Where are you going?
What is your purpose?
Just something to think about.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Recipe: My 18th birthday healthy chocolate cake :D

I am so very excited because today is my 18th birthday. Yup. That's right. I'm officially an adult :D How exciting is it to finally turn 18. I went to work though and my colleagues were so nice. They all signed a card for me.  It was so sweet of them to do that. I never really expected it.

I decided to make a healthy birthday cake this year. I'm new to making cakes but I really wanted to make one for my birthday. This was the final product.

It actually turned out better than I expected. It didn't taste bad either :) and I found out that the flowers were in fact edible. The cake was unbelievably moist on the inside and I loved the texture.

  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups of brown flour
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tsp of vanilla

Here's a video of how they actually made the cake including the frosting.

I plan on doing more posts about baking in the future and actually adding my own twists to the recipes to make it different. Until then, I'll just sit here and enjoy this delicious chocolate cake :)

Sunday, 18 May 2014

My Race For Life Event

So at the beginning of this year I decided to start losing weight because I wanted a healthier lifestyle. So far I have lost 20lbs and I am still going to lose more to get to my goal weight of 120lbs. The whole idea of losing weight at the beginning seemed impossible because it was something I had tried countless times before and I had given up. This time around, it was different because I stuck to it.

I haven't always enjoyed running but every time I go out for a run, I tend to find it more tolerable. A few weeks ago I went out for a run and I was able to complete four miles without giving up. I was very pleased coz I remembered the very first time I tried running where I turned around and walked back home after running for 5 mins. Just as I got home that day, the Race For Life ad was on tv. I was feeling very inspired and I said to myself "Why not use what I have to do something for others" So I went to the website and booked my event for the 8th of June. I'll be doing a 5k run at 11am.

I received my Race For Life pack containing all I'm going to be needing for my race.

I got 2 wristbands to tear off and wear on the day. The pink one's for me and the blue one's for whoever I like. They are just to show support :)

This is a checklist just to make sure I get everything done on the day before going for the event :)

This is my race number. I'm supposed to wear this at the front of my t-shirt during the race.

I also got a sponsorship form in case I wanted to raise funds.

I'm supposed to write my reason for doing the race on this piece of paper and stick it on my back. I'm gonna decorate this later coz I would want it to look pretty :D

This is a cheering board for friends and family. They could write anything at the back of it in order to cheer and support me during the race.

This is the envelope where everything came in. I suck at opening envelopes so sorry it looks really tattered :D
The t-shirt and bandana I ordered from the race for life shop finally arrived. I am so in love with the colour. They are so pretty. Now that I've got everything I really can't wait for the race :)

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Looking on the bright side

Like I mentioned in the previous post, I work in a care home as a general assistant. The care home has 56 elderly residents (some have dementia) and it is divided into 2 sections- residential and nursing. The residential section is mostly made up of those who can move about and take care of themselves and the nursing section is made of those who need a lot of assistance daily.

The other day, I was working with the domestic staff upstairs and I had just started cleaning one of the residents' rooms in the nursing section when I heard someone say "help me please" from the hallway. I rushed out the door to see what was going on and it was one of the residents ( a sixty-something year old woman who probably has dementia) standing next to the window.

 Me: What's the matter, love? Do you need something?
Resident: Oh help me please. I need to get out the door. I need to go to work.
Me: *Stands there looking confused as there was no door next to her*
What door?
Resident: This one. *Points at the window*
Me: That's not a door, love. It's a window. You can't go out the window.
Resident: No, help me please. I need to get out this door. I'm gonna be late for work. I can't stay here all day. I'm cold. I need to go to work.
Me: If you're cold darling, then maybe you need a cup of tea and a blanket. It's cold outside.

I turned around to get back to what I was doing as I saw a carer coming and I knew she was probably going to attend to her.
Resident: Oh no please don't go *Starts screaming and crying as I begin to walk away*

She was screaming at the top of her voice and uttering very piercing cries for help and throwing tantrums just so I would open the window she thought was a door. All I could think of at that moment was "What have I gotten myself into?" The carers and I tried to calm her down but she became even more agitated, started swearing, knocked down her frame and started banging on the wall.

She finally calmed down after a while and I was able to get back to what I was doing. About half an hour later, I found her sitting on a chair next to one of the offices- drinking a cup of tea ( that same cup of tea I had told her she needed and she had decided to slay me) Apparently one of the carers had succeeded in convincing her into having a cup of tea. She beckoned to me as I walked pass and I immediately thought my presence had suddenly made her agitated again and she was probably thinking about maybe washing me down with her cup of tea.

Resident: Can you please cover me up with this blanket? *Points at blanket on the floor*
Me: Of course darling.
Resident: Thanks love. *Smiles at me as I walk away*

Then I realised it was either she didn't remember what had happened a few minutes ago or she had decided all of a sudden to forgive me for not yielding to her request. Either way I was happy that at that particular moment, she knew me as the girl who covered her up with a blanket when she was cold and not the one who tried to stop her from going to "work".

Just as I finished work and was about to go home, it started raining and I didn't have my umbrella so I had to wait a while in the staff room and I was like "This day couldn't get any worse."

Now for the point of this post. Sometimes, life throws situations at us. Situations we never expect.  Not all of them will be good. We always hope and pray for the best and we expect the worst. We know exactly what we will do when good things happen- welcome them with open arms. But when the worst comes, do we forget all about the positives and start thinking negatively or do we accept the negatives and try to make positives out of them? It is often easier to notice the negatives and complain about everything, than to be grateful and rejoice with everything that's going well. It will help a lot if we can transform our outlook and stop taking our blessings for granted. We say behind every dark cloud there is a silver lightening but in trying times, do we actually look on the bright side?
Just food for thought.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Trying to find a hospital job

So one of the very important goals I would really like to accomplish this gap year is to find a job in a hospital. Most medicine applicants on a gap year tend to apply for healthcare assistant (HCA) jobs in hospitals but there are other jobs like porters which can be found. HCAs work under the guidance of qualified healthcare professionals (most commonly nurses) and their roles may also vary depending on the health care setting.

I started applying for jobs after I finished my A Levels (June 2013) but I really should have started earlier because these jobs take time to come by. I couldn't apply for an HCA job or a care assistant job in a care home because I wasn't 18 yet. I finally was able to find a job as a general assistant in a nursing home and I have been working there for a while now. The job involves cleaning residents' rooms, toilets, offices, working in the laundry and also assisting in the kitchen. The best part of the job for me is chatting with the residents and making them smile even if it's just for a second because their families can't be with them all the time. It is not too bad for a first job but I think I will be better off working in a hospital. The experience would help me update my personal statement and also give me something more to talk about at the university interviews.

I have been stalking the NHS website since the very second I decided to apply again. The thing about these jobs is when you see one and you know it's what you're looking for, just apply for it immediately. There is no point wasting time coz they might not be there the next minute. It doesn't matter if the closing date is still far off. Employers can make the closing date earlier.

So far, I have been able to find 2 HCA jobs in a hospital close to where I live. The first one is for the Sexual and Reproductive Unit but it's only 5 hours a week- on Saturday. The other one which I have applied for is for the Outpatient Department. All the others require you to have had at least 1 year experience :( I am still on the look out though and I'll keep applying as soon as a good one comes up. I just really hope I can get one before I apply in October.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Medicine Application: The 8th rejection

This is going to be my very first post as I have decided to give this blogging thingy a try. I had planned my first post to be about a medicine offer and not about my 8th medicine rejection but I guess life doesn't always work out as planned does it?

So just like the title says, yesterday- Tuesday 6th May 2014, I received my 8th medicine rejection. This rejection was very different from all the other rejections I've had because it was the most heartbreaking of them all. It was from my first choice university- St George's University London. I had an interview back in December and I was placed on the waiting list the next day. So I have been waiting for over four months for a rejection basically.

I also applied to Aberdeen, Dundee and Sheffield. I got pre-interview rejections from the Scottish universities and an amended offer for Biomedical Science from Sheffield. This 2014 application has been one hell of a roller coaster ride which didn't end well unfortunately.

I had just finished signing out of work when I received an email notification from SGUL. After I read the content of that horrible email, I had to fight back tears during my twenty minute journey back home. My crying is not pretty so it would have been really embarrassing for me haha. Anyway, I managed to get home safely and then the flood gates came crashing down. After curling myself up in a ball and crying for over an hour, I decided there was no point dwelling in the past. I had to pick myself up and decide what I was going to do next. After doing some thinking, I have decided to try a third time. I know a couple of people who have gotten in the third time.

This rejection has given me determination. It has encouraged me to fight harder. I know that if I get more work experience, I could make my application stronger than ever. After all, third time's a charm right?