So You Want To Be A Dentistry Student in Asian Institute Of Medicine, Science and Technology, eh?

I know, I know. Packing your bags and coming up to Kedah to study something crazy like dentistry for 5 years is a tough decision to make.

But for most of us, it was not an option and it was a get-up-go kind of thing. We just saw the word, “dentistry course” and packed up our bags and left home within a few days. I myself had to forego one month of national service just to make in time for the course. Because it’s not easy to get into dentistry anywhere in the world and I am very fortunate to be here.

I had NO one to refer to and ask questions about Life In Kedah because there were no seniors. (I was lucky that David had a friend called Anton who is a 3rd year medical student to introduce to me. I stayed up till 4am chatting with Anton on MSN, bugging him for more information).

But lucky you!As a first year (pioneer) dental student approaching the end of her first year, I think I’m quite able to provide you with sufficient information. I’m just hoping to be one of the pages that appears on the first few results from google when interested potential juniors google about this course.

So here goes. My effort to appear on google’s search results:

AIMST, ASIAN INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, SUNGAI PETANI, KEDAH, MALAYSIA, DENTISTRY, DENTAL COURSE, DENTAL STUDENT, I WANT TO STUDY DENTISTRY, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE(because people like me, who wants to do dentistry there, can’t get in, will come here..which is not a bad thing.), PULLING TEETH AS A PROFESSION, I AM SCARED OF DENTISTS, DENTAL SURGEON, DENTISTRY, DENTISTRY, UNIVERSITY COURSES THAT OFFER DENTISTRY, AIMST KEDAH, AIMST SUNGAI PETANI, DENTAL COURSES IN MALAYSIA, PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES IN MALAYSIA, PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES OFFERING DENTISTRY IN MALAYSIA, DENTISTRY COURSES IN MALAYSIA, DENTISTRY COURSE INTAKES, BACHELOR OF DENTAL SURGERY, BDS, BDS DEGREE, DENTISTRY DEGREE, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO STUDY DENTISTRY, 5 DAMN YEARS I TELL YOU, DENTISTRY, DENTISTRY.

Okay. Try and google and see whether I appear or not! 😛 I sound like an old newspaper uncle.

Introduction and Location
Located in Sungai Petani, Kedah, AIMST was established in 2001 and we are still currrently in our old campus in Amanjaya. It looks a *little* smaller than the INTI College of Subang Jaya..BUT it is only temporary. The BDS classes are located in shoplots opposite the main campus for the time being. Oh, we’re used to it already.

By 2007, we would already be in our new campus in Semeling which is at the foothills of Gunung Jerai. How big is our new campus? DAMN BIG WEI. Bigger than Monash. Abit smaller than University Malaya. Maybe like the size of Nottingham Semenyih. Oh I don’t know, how big is 240acres?? We have an olympic size swimming pool.

Like TAR is funded by MCA, AIMST is funded by MIC. We have the support of Samy Vellu. 🙂 The dental course started in September 2005 with 40 students. Actually 80 students applied but only half paid up. The university has 50 places to be offered.

In the new campus, there will be a hundred plus dental chairs and a part of the university will be converted into a dental hospital. We will have guinea pigs, people. YAY.

Below are some photos I snitched off the AIMST website.


What the sports stadium will look like when the grass has grown. 🙂



Duration

The course takes 5 years. It’s a 5 + 0. But who’s complaining? At a steep but considerably low price for such a course, RM210,000 will not be RM210,000 anymore if part of the course is conducted in another country.

Fees
Fees for dental courses in other countries like UK and Aussie, some can even exceed a million ringgit.. and the cheapest that we’ve found was like half a million ringgit. So come to AIMST lah if you want your parents to have enough money to see them through their golden years. (however, when you have become a dentist, be a good boy/good girl and remember to give your parents money, bring them on holidays, bring them for nice dinners, visit them, let them jaga your kids because you’re a busy dentist… but my father said he doesn’t want to take care of my kids, but my mum can’t wait to take care of mine. hahaha)

Most of us applied for the PTPTN loan. All who applied received RM105,000 from the government and they pump RM20,000 into your BCB Bank Account every term. We have 10 terms you see. So 20,000 x 10 terms.. yalah, about RM200,000.
Yes, you’ll need a BCB Bank account to apply for a PTPTN loan. The good thing about the PTPTN loan is that there is a period of 20 years after your graduation to pay it back. I’ll be 43 years old when my 20 years period end. A decade shy of retirement. Should be able to pay back, KUAaaAa.

Qualifications
There are people who came in with STPM qualifications, A-Levels qualifications, SAM qualifications, HCE qualifications, CPU qualifications, Foundation Of Otago University,NZ qualifications, Government matriculation qualifications and obviously if you take AIMST’s matriculation programme, you’re enable to try for a place in our dental course.

For more details: click here

Okay. So you’re in.
Schedules, Terms, Holidays
Basically, at the beginning of the academic year, a book will be given to you which gives details about the subject outlines, your daily schedule and your holidays(yay!).

The academic year is split into two terms. Each term is split into two modules. An assessment will be held at the end of every module. Finals at the end of the academic year.

Your daily schedule is according to the book. It is not the regular 8-12pm type of classes. Somedays there are only two hours of classes. If you’re lucky, they start at 9.30am and end at 12pm. If you’re unlucky, first class is at 9.30-10.30am. Second class is at 2pm-3pm. Ha-ha. Remember to check the dentistry notice board for a change of schedules. Happens pretty often.

Holidays are usually 1-2 weeks in between modules. In december, there is no break until 23rd of Dec or something right up after the new year. It sucks but it doesn’t suck too much. Imagine spending christmas in Kedah. 6 weeks of break in between your academic years. It’s not alot, but once you’re here doing dentistry, even if they give you a 3 day break, you’ll be so thankful.

Campus Life
AHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. What campus life?

There is none.

But what’s stopping you from being that ONE person who makes this university happening? If you’re a christian, good news for you. The Christian Fellowship programme is very active and they seem like a close knitted group. They meet up on Thursday nights and sing songs together. I’ve been declining invitations from poor Jamie time and time again to attend their meets.

There is something called a Friendship Club. But I have no friends who are in the club, so I have no idea what they get up to.

Accomodation
I’m not sure exactly when the new campus is ready. (though it was said that by the end of 2001 everything will be ready. Then they promised 2002. Then they promised by end of 2003. then they promised by end of 2004. Then I came in and sang happy songs about moving in by the end of 2005 and the medical students laughed at me and said, “yea, sure.”. So even if we’re told 2007, we’ll just say “well, make sure it’s before we graduate”).

So while we’re still in the temporary campus, hostels are actually double story houses in a housing area called Bandar Puteri Jaya 8km away from the temporary campus. There is a bus that takes you to and fro, so no worries. Except the bus only makes it its rounds at 7am, 12pm, and 5pm and then 7pm.

7 people to a house. 2 single rooms(RM500 per person), 1 double room(RM450 per person) and a triple sharing room(RM450 per person). A cleaner cleans the house every week so that’s settled. You’ll have a fridge, an ironingboard, a cupboard and a bed. Study tables and chairs are provided. Meals are included in the monthly fee.(you pay at the beginning of every term). Water bills and electricity bills are included but anything more than RM100, you’ll have to

But if you want me to give you an advice: STAY OUTSIDE!!
You’ll have more freedom that way. But I’m not sure how they want to allocate the new students since they have such nice big empty hostels in the new campus. And if it’s empty, it’ll be a loss for the university. I stayed in the hostel(the double story houses) for 6 months and it was okay. Only thing bad is that the security guard pops by every now and then(a rare occasion..) and if there is a member of the opposite sex hanging inside your hostel, it’s to the Student Affairs Office for you the next thing in the morning. Very annoying.

So if you appreciate more freedom in forging, ahem, friendships with er, you know, people…. stay outside.

Transport
Around Kedah: Four words: Get. Your. Own. Car. or be nice and buy your housemate nice things, chip in for petrol, wash your housemate’s car(I can hear Lie Yuen screaming “BULLSHIT!!”)..

Getting Out Of Kedah(YAY!!!): In town, there are two bus stations. The one facing the police station is the one you will have to go to if you want to go back to another state. If you want to go to Penang, as far as I know, no buses go to Penang Island straight. You’ll have to take the RM3.20 bus from the other bus station to Butterworth and take the ferry to get on to the island.

Since I only take buses to KL, I can only provide you information about how and how much it is to take buses to KL. For a one way ticket it costs RM27.00 if you buy it many days in advance. Buying the ticket on the day itself will cost you RM30.00.

SriMaju is comfortable but the timing is horrible. What would’ve been a 4-5 hours ride can extend up to 6 hours.
Konsortium is o-kay. Something made me lose my trust in them..what was it again..AH YES. Lousy airconditioning system.
Some obscure names can bring you to your destination within 4 and a half hours, but some can’t even bring you to KL.

All buses go to Pudu. Be very very wary about taking buses during festive seasons ESPECIALLY KONGSIDEEPARAYA. Super sien I tell you. For these occasions, remember to buy your bus tickets at least two weeks in advance.

Surviving In Sungai Petani

1. There’s a Tesco in Lagenda Heights. Are you feeling better now?
2. The average cab fare from the bus stop back to AIMST/Bandar Laguna Merbok/Bandar Puteri Jaya(areas were AIMST students stay) is RM12. Just tell the taxi guy that the other guy offered RM9 and settle for RM10. Fares are half priced in the early mornings.
3. Central Square offers extremely cheap movie ticket prices. RM4 – student price. Cental Square is abit better than Summit in terms of shopping. Better than Summit USJ, lousier than Sunway Pyramid. I blew RM80 two weeks ago when they had a promotion where they brought it clothes from Thailand. Damn cheap! Rm15..RM10…Rm20..RM30…
4. You apply for Streamyx in town. It’s located at the TMpoint near the bus station with buses that goes to Butterworth.
5. Places to eat: depends on how adventurous you are. AIMST CAFE IS A NONO.(though the lunches these days are getting better)
6. Don’t go out at night alone. Don’t you read the papers? But I’m still safe and sound, so you would be too. No worries to your mums and dads aights!
7. YOU NEED MANDARIN AND HOKKIEN TO SURVIVE. DO NOT REPEAT MY MISTAKE, KIDS.
8. I have yet to chart the mating season of the green insects. But I strongly suspect that it is related to the rainy season. Give me time, people. Come back here in a few month’s time. *dusts more green insects of my bed*

Bachelor Of Dental Surgery Culture

1. Surprise birthday parties are a norm. I know, I also don’t know why it is still called surprise.
2. The class is mainly separated into the BPJ/Hostel Gang, Lagenda Heights Gang and Bandar Laguna Merbok Gang. You hang out more due to proximity. Ie. you eat dinner with those who stay around you.
3. We like to cater our dinner. Cheapest Rm2 something, most expensive RM5.50. I buy the RM5.50 one. Got three dishes!
4. We bring our breakfast into classes depending on who’s lecturing.
5. Labcoats can be used as blankets.
6. Studystudystudystudystudystudystudystudystudystudyeatstudystudystudy.. i’m still trying to adapt to that culture.
7. If you’re staying in the hostel, Rice Cookers can be very useful. Usages of the ricecooker: making steamboat, spaggheti, cook kangkung, make tong yuin…oh yeah, and cook rice too.

Attire
APPARENTLY, the Malaysian Medical Council has instilled a rule that all institutions which are nurturing future members of the medical profession should force their boys into icky stuffy strangling < --that's what the boy's say. I say yummy sexy gorgeous neckties with sleek long sleeve shirts and slacks. *air liur meleleh*. As for the girls, no sleeveless tees, no spaggheti tops, no skirts above the knee, no tops which are too short  it’s best to dress like your grandmother. Initially you’ll pretend that you are really a professional already by donning tailored shirts, formal skirts, slacks.. but very soon you’ll just turn up in baby t-shirts and jeans day in day out. No different from college, girls have it way easier than the guys.

Do watch out for the security guards though. They seem a little anal about skirts which shows your knees. I myself have gotten reprimanded so many times that the security guard says to me, “YOU AGAIN!!”

I don’t like him.
Starting Classes

Orientation Week

The usual boring drill where the lecturers will come in and introduce themselves and the boys flock to one side while the girls flock to another side(yes this shit still happens in university). But give it a day or two and the two sexes will eventually be friends with each other.

On the third day of your orientation week, you will be required to come back to the campus after dinner for the Ragging Session! I will not spoil the fun for you by telling you what to expect but let’s just say I had to throw away a t-shirt and my sneakers.

Going To Class
Like I’ve mentioned, classes start at 9.30am and the latest class ends at 7.30pm. You could be stuck in uni for hours with nothing to do if you have such shitty time tables.

Just bring notepads(I prefer to use A4 paper to maximise my notes-taking) and a pen, an attentive ear, a clear mind and you’re good to go.

Most of your notes can be saved into your USB drive. So remember to buy one.

Subjects
Since I’m only in my first year, I’ll just list out the subjects that I’ve taken so far.
We have:-
1) Anatomy
2) Physiology
3) Biochemistry
4) Dentistry
5) Oral Physiology
6) Oral Anatomy

and the LAN and University Compulsory Subjects:
1) Malaysian Studies (LAN)
2) Moral Studies/Islamic studies (LAN)
3) General Psychology (University subject)
4) Sociology (University Subject)
5) Critical Thinking (University Subject)
6) English For General Academic Purposes(EGAP, also a university subject)
7) English For Specific Academic Purposes (ESAP)
8) English For Professional Academic Purposes (EPAP)

Most students who have taken their LAN subjects in their foundation year at other private institutions can breath a sigh of relief. PLEASE REMEMBER TO TAKE YOUR LAN CERTIFICATES WHEN YOU COME TO KEDAH. Don’t be like me, my mom had to fax my certs to the dean office, and had to courier the real certs to the student affairs department etc. Not worth the trouble.

Oh yeah, you’ll need your MUET(Malaysian University English Test) for the course. A minimum of only Band 4 will be required. :)

Anatomy
Your best friend and enemy will be Prof. Somayagi who lectures at the speed of a bullet train with the most detailed anatomy notes you’ll ever have. So start practising on the speed of your notes taking, ya?

Anatomy is a subject which tells you that when A is A, A is A. There’s no explanation why your body organs are where they are, it’s just there. So if you are good at memorizing then Yay..

Practical session will be held at the Anatomy Dissection Hall

You will have a variety of lecturers for the subject and it gets abit annoying because each of them have their own style of lecturing and some goes for the simplest powerpoint presentations(black and white – the best variation no doubt) and some are SO fancy with coloured background all that crap which makes printing their slides a pain in the ass as you’ll have to slowly modify one by one back to a more eye-friendly version.

Books…mm.. the books that they recommend on the book list did nothing for me.

I’m relying heavily on the notes(you can’t go wrong there) and Atlas Of Anatomy by Frank H. Netter is good. If you can lay your hands on The Anatomical Basis Of Dentistry, get that. It’s quite useful as well.

Physiology

The best best best best lecturer is Prof. Maurya. He has been lecturing all over the world and so he is quite experienced, with a book under his wing and all. His notes are the best! When he gives notes, he lets you know when you are moving onto a subtopic and after his class, photocopied notes from his book will be given out.

But if you can find his book, Physiology For Dental Students by R.K. Marya and C.M.Marya, then by all means, grab it. The photostatting guy in AIMST sucks.

Physiology is quite a straight forward subject. It’s like a story, flowing and easier to understand.

Biochemistry

DIE.

Really. Die.

Dr. Ong K.K. sets the craziest questions and majority of students have been known to fail the biochemistry paper. :(

I’m relying on Harper’s Illustrated Biochemistry and occasionally flipping over to Lippincott’s(which is recommended in the booklist) if I need to. Other than that, the notes are there as well to guide you.

Dentistry

Perhaps the most vague subject among all the subjects in the course. But the topics are few and are regarded as introduction to the year 2 subjects. I have no advice for you on how to attempt the dentistry subject because I myself am having shite. You’ll have notes from your lecturers though. Must take your own notes as well during lecture. (ok, that’s like duh..)

Oral Anatomy

Prof. Luke was flown in from the UK to stay with us for nearly three months for this subject. Loads of practical sessions as oral anatomy consists of tooth morphology(which means knowing which teeth is which). You’ll be sharing a set of model teeth to play with with a partner and you’re supposed to learn how to recognise the teeth. His notes are brief but he hands it out before the class. So be prepared with your superb notes taking skills once again and scribble all over the notes that he has given you. Very very useful to do that. I now regret for dozing off constantly in his classes.

Recommended book: Oral Anatomy, Histology and Embryology by B.K.B.Berkowitz.(already listed in the booklist)

Oral Physiology

We had another guest lecturer from the UK called Prof. Ferguson. He wrote a book which apparently cost 100 pounds, so we did the next best thing and headed to the library and photostated the entire thing for RM20+.
Crazy ar? RM700 for a book?? I can’t afford that!

Well his book, Oral Bioscience by David B. Ferguson is highly recommended, though it’s difficult to understand sometimes. But what can you do? :(

Dealing With Cadavers

You can read about my first experience here.

Initially it’ll be very gross because the closest most of you have come to a cadaver which is in an advanced stage of decay would be on the National Geographic Channel when they feature mummies.

You won’t have to cut the cadavers yourself as they are already dissected for your viewing pleasure. But to touch is to learn. *shrugs* 50 cents for a pair of gloves at your friendly anatomy hall.

Don’t worry lah, after awhile you’ll even recognise the cadavers and go, “Oh hey! this guy again!”

Exams
We have three assessments before an end year final. 40% from the assessment and 60% from your finals. We have four modules and at the end of every module there’s an exam. Have fun.

Upon getting a D for your finals, you’ll be called for an oral interview..and if you fail that one, you’ll have to resit. If you fail your resit papers, then you will have to repeat your first year.

Well, I think that’s about it. If there’s anything that you’d like to enquire, feel free to drop me a line or two! I took nearly two weeks to compose this:P

I’ll add more details next time when I can think of more nonsense.

I better get back to my books or else I’ll be your classmate in the next academic year. :(