AIMST Dental Students’ Day Out Into The Sunlight

With only two more weeks to go before my life as a university student ends, I am trying really hard to be appreciative of everything around me before I leave this place for good. I don’t even feel the end drawing near because of the pressure cooker that I’m in everyday at school what with our quotas and clinical management report (an assignment where we handle a patient’s case from beginning till the end to be presented to an external examiner during the finals), patients’ compliance, lecturers’ expectations.. I can’t begin to tell you how I much I wish for everything to end. But to end everything would mean facing the music, putting myself through the stress of finishing up all that I have to do in order to sit for my final exams.

Melvin and Jimmy while waiting for the rest of the dental students to pose for a photo for Prof. Comfort who wanted a nice shot of all the dental students in their clinical uniform to be used as a photo for the following year’s handbook. I am not sure which year the handbook would be for. Maybe for the new batch of clinical students. Who wants to place bets?

Then there are the final exams. What to study? Every damn thing, that’s what. Can I do it? I don’t know.. I can only hope so.

I believe I echo the sentiments of my entire class, the 37 of us who have spent the last five years together. We always talked about how much we would change by the time Year 5 comes around. We talked about how graduating and becoming dentists and hearing people address us with the title Dr would get pretty surreal. Something so impossible as how everything in the future is like. Uncertain.

But it’s only around the corner now. It is becoming a reality. Year 5 is ending soon.

With the closest girlfriend I could grab at the moment, Angela.

Though not all 37 of us have been extremely close. We have our own dinner cliques whom we spent almost everyday with and spontaneous weekend getaways or shopping trips with. You guys know who you are. 🙂  We met when we were still teenagers and we have finished the journey together in our mid-20s, the dreaded age we used to moan about back in Year 3 about how ‘old’ we will be when we graduate. We are already here, guys.Yet we go about everyday like we are coming back again after the end year holidays.

Another year of academics where we wait in anticipation what the school of dentistry have in store for us ‘first borns’. It is always a surprise (some pleasant, some not so pleasant) with us being the first batch and having no seniors to forewarn us. Long ago, these surprises came in the form of lovely news about the setting up of a simulation lab for us to practice our dental skills where we will learn how to do simple restorations and a technology lab where we learn how to make dentures and the likes. The most exciting was when the dental hospital was officially opened and after three years, we had a building to call our own. I remember stepping into the polyclinic and being in awe of how vast it was. It’s still pretty big to me now and that’s because I feel it is such a pain to get things from the counter when I am placed anywhere after Bay 18.

See Magesh? This is not a silly face what. 🙂 Proof that you don’t always make sien faces for my camera.

Don’t know if many of you read my sappy article in the program book during the dental dinner (and of course my non-BDS friends and blog readers (all remaining three of you!) wouldn’t have). I wrote about how much I looked forward to coming to AIMST in Kedah despite the uluness of it because I believe I will be making a whole new bunch of friends. New faces who will become familiar faces. It was so hard to imagine at that point in time but so very exciting too to leave my comfort zone.
During my free time in national service, I would pull out the AIMST brochure to see. There was an artist impression of the campus, with a lake glistening in the (artist drawn) sunlight that spread across the grounds. The building that caught my eye was the admin building (pictured below) and there were steps leading up to it where I imagined myself running up to when I was late for classes. Or even sitting at the steps with the entire university population enjoying the evening sun while seeing probable ducks bobbing around the lake.

Tiny figure in pink is Prof Comfort directing the dental students to the slope for the photo. This is the first time where the dental students are allowed out of the dental building in our scrubs. So it was indeed very invigorating.

But of course if we ever did that now, many of us would have died of heat stroke or be chased away by the security guards. No AIMST student in their right mind would seat along the benches on that huge stretch of pavement between the dental building and the admin building.

I found Lie Yuen!

Nicer photo of me and Lie Yuen without me looking like a character from Sesame Street.

I knew I would be making many new acquaintances when I went off to university. I never expected to see familiar faces like Lie Yuen, whom I said goodbye to when we had our A-levels farewell class party sometime in June 2005. The Lie Yuen in A-Levels and the Lie Yuen I have come to know and love here in AIMST like my very own sister, is so different.

This first impression goes out to all whom I met on my first day at AIMST. Brenda and I talked a lot about the blogs that we read and I thought “Damnit, must talk to her more!!!” We did grow apart over the course of first year mainly because we hung out with different people due to *cough* transportation needs *cough, thanks guys* but eventually found each other again in the consequent years and she’s one of my closest friends here among a few others. Same goes with Cze-Yin who was my very much feared housemate back in Year 1 due to her strict and cool persona whom I too grew apart when I went out to stay. We immediately grew close again when she became my housemate in 2008 and there are so many more levels to Cze-Yin to be accessed. The cool persona is just superficial but deep down, she is a quirky sweetheart:).

I love this picture because those are genuine smiles, not the ones we reserve for the camera lens.

We weren’t extremely close to Nien, Zhu Zen, Poh Yee, Sock Nee etc etc as we stayed in different houses when we were still in ‘hostel’. Our ‘hostel’ back then consisted of terrace houses in the same residential area which was pretty much devoid of any life form. It was only in Year 3 where we started celebrating birthdays together and having dinners more often that pretty much strengthen the bonds among a huge chunk of the class.

So many of my closest friends here today are the ones I gelled so well with on my first day and then grew apart over the next couple of years only to come back to talking cock like long lost childhood friends in our later years. (Yes, Jimmy, I mean you. I can still remember talking cock with you during our bus rides from BPJ to uni.)

Despite having our own nuclear bunch of friends, the entire class is pretty much like a big family. I don’t mean to be corny, but when I am around them I just feel so comfortable, so used to it.

Prof Comfort with her sunnies whilst giving us directions over to the slope. That’s Dr. Sathya in the background who was helping out with the photo taking.

Being the first batch of dental students at AIMST University, our dean has always been particularly attached to us. We looked forward to everything he had to say whenever he stepped into our year 1 class room. (Not so much when he stood in as our Conservative Dentistry lecturer due to lack of staffs back in Year 2. But how things have changed. I have lost count how many lecturers we have now!) He always brought with him great news about our progress as a young dental school.

One of the many ‘lucky’ few whom I managed to snap a picture of while we were scrambling to get into position on that steep slope.

The 40 of us back in 2005 constantly felt lonely and isolated from the rest of the university as we did not have any juniors or seniors to engage us in various activities. Not that we are extremely integrated with the rest of the university now but at least we have almost 300 other dental students to mix with.

Aik Munn never hesitates to smile for my camera. <3

Of course most of us wanted an overseas education but just how many can afford nearly a million ringgit just to get a dental degree from a good university abroad?

I think we should be grateful with what we have. A fully functional dental hospital where classes are conducted on the top floor, specialist clinics on the second floor, polyclinics and oral surgery on the first floor and the reception, common room, locker room and more lecture theaters on the ground floor. You have to agree, it is already pretty awesome!

As with Zhu Zen. 😛

The novelty may have worn off but think of the days when we did not have a sprawling campus with its own carpark, a cafeteria that can cook whatever you want (be grateful for the roti canai and maggi goreng okay!), a convenience store with enough snacks to save you that trip to Tesco, an in-campus ATM machine, a library maybe 10-20 times the size of the small little excuse of a library we had in the old interim campus, hostels where single rooms come equipped with air condition that you can leave on for 24 hours PLUS internet (not that I care since moving out of hostels in 2006)… so much have changed since that pathetic plot of land in Amanjaya where our classes were held in stuffy shop lots. I never want to go back to the sauna where my Year 2 classes were held. Remember how the aircon NEVER seemed to work while the afternoon sun effortlessly streamed in and we had to stay in that classroom from 8.30am to 6pm almost everyday?!

Now we have to bring jackets into our classrooms. *smiles blissfully*

Myself, Gerv and Kaixuan in the hot afternoon sun. My hair’s a mess!!

Ever since Year 5 began, classes have become few and far in between with our time being dedicated to polyclinics and postings to various specialist departments. Sometimes we even see more of certain juniors compared to our own classmates. That’s how it has become. The school has kept us so busy this entire year that we did not even have time to think or even breath. Like Prof. Smales once mentioned during a lecture, “Put down your instruments and think” (before preparing the cavity) I don’t even have time to think about how much I will miss everyone.

Ponytails – the standard hairstyle for girls in the polyclinic

It will be hard for us to meet again as we make our way back to our hometowns in different states all over Malaysia. Even dental conferences are divided to northern zone, central zone and southern zone. Perhaps one or two might end up as my colleague in the government service later on. Or even a colleague when I head into the private sector after a few years.

I love this! If only the person with the bent arm didn’t spoil the photo.

There will come a day where my mind will travel back in time yearning to be among my friends in dental school. Similar to how I will wish on my most stressful days to go back to kindergarten or high school just for that bit of freedom that the lower levels of education often came with.

Jeeva’s winning smile. Hahaha.

More blue.

This is just a small fraction of the 140+ dental students who are already performing dental treatments on patients. Each student sees up to 3-4 patients a week (us Year 5 students may have to take in more patients what with our crazy schedule), so I can proudly say that it’s about 400 patients getting treatment at the dental hospital every week? 🙂 We have 4500++ patients in our database now.

I’m gonna miss these faces that I see every morning in the locker room and around the dental building.

And most of all, the many jokes that we share on facebook which we continue when we see each other every morning, only to continue online again when we get home.

It has been a great five years despite all the stress and mental torture that comes with dental school. Never again will I be in an institution where I have friends around my age like in primary school, high school, college and uni. This is the last leg of my education. (I don’t think furthering my studies will come with the joy of being a student surrounded by activities and friends of similar wavelength, so I will definitely miss this.)