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.)

I Want To Play Firecrackers But Got Nobody To Play With

Moments after I tweeted about how I’m hearing firecrackers going off outside and wanting to see but felt lazy to, I went downstairs anyway. It was just some children throwing sparkly hand grenades that crackle and pop. If I’m lucky, some rich uncle will shoot up a RM200 box of fireworks. No one in my family is so gung-ho about that and burn RM200? We are chinese after all and the only money we will ever burn is the paper kind. But we are not chinese enough to want to make a hell lot of noise to usher in prosperity and good fortune though.

Firecrackers are actually so very fun when the entire family is back at the grandparents’ house and the older kids will light the firecrackers while the younger ones just stare and watch because ‘they are still small’.

The last time I played firecrackers was with my cousins in Malacca and it was the year 2008. The youngest ‘kid’ among us was my brother and he was already 19. Haha and I wasn’t the oldest. It wasn’t as fun because the adults really can’t be bothered since we are adults ourselves and we should know how to be safe with the fire crackers. So we stuck it in mandarin oranges and had the orange blown into smithereens, tipped a biscuit tin over the firecrackers and blackened the ground and a few years before that, my cousin brother stuck it into the dog’s poo and not only did the damn firecracker not take off, it zipped around the garden dragging the shit with it! 

When I was a kid, firecrackers were so fun. I had to close my ears tightly because the loud noise scared me. The only thing I was allowed to play were the sparklers and the tamer ones did not give out an array of colours. My older cousin brothers would run to the middle of the road and set the tiny firecracker canister on the ground and light it up before running away. It was so exciting to see the firecracker crackle and shoot out sparks in all directions! We were also given Pop-Pop to play with and a favourite thing to do was to put a whole bunch at the back of one of our parents’ cars and sit in fear (at the backseat) as they reverse out the gate. 

Looking at those children screeching with laughter makes me miss having a kampung to go home to where all the family members stay for a few days. It even makes me miss Subang. Yeah, it’s terrible, I’m already back in Kedah because we don’t get one week off. 🙁

All my relatives have their own homes now and gatherings are no longer sleep overs. I want to play firecrackers and fireworks with my family too but I’m at an age where the cousin brothers who once lit the firecrackers and ran off laughing are now in their 30s and the family is devoid of young children with arsonist tendencies. The only child is approaching 3 years of age and would probably cry the house down if I were to play firecrackers with him. And I don’t know where to buy firecrackers!! It’s usually a naughty teenager boy’s job!

I just felt really old while crossing my arm, standing outside my rusty gate like an old neighbourhood grandma – complete with a long batik nightgown, slippers, my hair up in a bun and the house keys dangling from my hand – looking at each hand grenade being thrown dangerously near my house. I also want to play leh. 🙁

What If Things Were To Ever End?

Sometimes I imagine myself having to look again if things between me and Chee Kiang should ever end. Please touch all the wood for me because I would never want that to happen. But shit happens, so I just try to imagine the impossible and its consequences. 

Firstly, it would be difficult for me because before I was in a relationship, all I ever knew about relationships was romance and what the movies told me. A hot guy with a sweet nature is all that is needed to sweep you off your feet. 

I just don’t know if there is anyone else out there who can firstly be attracted to me. If being attracted wasn’t difficult enough, he would have to put up with the person that I am. Not the one that I parade around for the world to see, but the girl who lives in a messy world (or room), who sometimes speak with so much of oblivion and self righteousness about issues that she doesn’t take to, who is infamous among closest and dearest to her with a mouth as big as Gua Mulu (though I’m working on it ever since I got into ugly situations with friends), who will eventually grow into a typical overbearing chinese parent (money + professional career FTW, nothing else. Passion what passion? Can eat ah?), who can’t take criticism of any kind, who actually doesn’t have much to offer except her self degrading sense of humour. (only she can degrade herself, btw)

I of course think what kind of relationships I would have with the many guy friends in my life. What kind of boyfriend would they be? Again, this is something I never knew when I was a teenager, but it is very, very difficult to find a personality that can match yours. Friends might change to become another person when they become a boyfriend. Not necessarily for the better.

I cannot remember what Chee Kiang was like as a friend. To be honest, what he was as a person back in school is quite a blur to me because as far as I can remember, he was already Boyfriend.  So it’s difficult to compare. You ask him lah, for sure he’ll forget what I was like as a friend. I’m the more sentimental one of the two of us anyway, so I’m laying down 20 bucks first. 😛

If things should ever end between us, I am afraid I might always compare the new ones to him. What if new boyfriends are bad tempered, cold, chauvinistic and pretty much a ladies (who are not his wives) man? I’d be there pining for my old Chee Kiang who never dared to raise his voice at me (though sometimes he does when he gets exasperated when I repeat my questions one too many times. But you know what I mean, I could never imagine having an other half who yelled at me constantly), who wasn’t a big flirt, who never ordered me to do things for him and who was always in a good jovial mode except when he needed to nap.

Could I ever stomach the fights that I never had in my previous relationship? I hate confrontations and I don’t think most guys would take an argument lying down. The both of us have learned of a way to deal with arguments and pretty much don’t hold it against each other and make-up within 24 hours. I hope this will last, I do! In another relationship this could be very different. The fictional boyfriend might fall into a really bad temper that could last for days and I’m the one who is supposed to cajole him and do all the apologizing. I don’t ever want to put myself through constant heartaches in a relationship. 

For fear of sounding nauseating, I think that I am really lucky to get it right the first time. What if I have to do it a second, third, fourth and fifth time before I decide, okay, this might be the one? It would be too long a process. 

Would I be able to control my jealous nature? At this point in time, Chee Kiang still finds it amusing and is quick to side with me when I start to tear a girl into pieces in my head who flirts with him like she has known him for years. Fucking bitch. *gets a bit angry at the memory* I have moments when I cannot accept female accompany around him though he has known some of the girls for so many years that the thought of anything is ridiculous. Tell you what, let’s blame it on my period for some of those outbursts. But on the whole, as long as he has introduced me to the girls, and we get along like a house on fire, then all is well. I don’t recall ever seeing Chee Kiang jealous though. Only times when I’m having an exposed cleavage or I stick out my chest for friends to read my latest t-shirt, he’ll be like, “Wei!” and puts his hand over to shield it from the adoring public. 

Also, when you were younger, financial status was never an issue. But there is always an imbalance. If you get together with too poor a man, it doesn’t mean that you’re a gold digger for resenting him, it is because you foresee his lack of ambition and the possibility that he might live off you. If you get together with too rich a man, statistics show that most of them can afford to have affairs and they have you bounded to them financially. I need to find an equal. So difficult to find an equal you know? (from what I have heard) 

Now let’s look at the flip side. How can I let him go back into the sea for fishing women with all the amazing qualities that he has shown to me? I would break into pieces knowing some other lucky girl laughs hard because she knows what is going on when he takes off his glasses. How he would share his super spontaneous story telling skills of imagined scenarios without so much as a pause, filled with things that he thinks are awesome? (international neighbourhood… basically he would love to be in the United Nations, joking about possible scandalous children etc.)  

I don’t know if I were to hurt more if he treats his next (NEVER!!) girlfriend just like how he treated me. I would definitely definitely hurt if he did more things for the next girlfriend than he ever did for me. Which girl wouldn’t? It’s something that I really cannot bear to imagine. Some people love to mend a broken heart (good for writing poems and songs and such), but I cannot. 

Think further. If he were to marry someone else and not me and go on to build that family we often talk about, how would I feel? If I were to bump into him at some shopping complex with a couple of his kids with those double eyelids and height that I so wanted for my own children, it would probably kill me.  If, if, if. So many ifs. 

After five years, the possibility of starting over is a daunting process, too tiring, you can’t bear the thought of playing the game again, you just want to keep going closer and closer to the next phase in life.. so should everything end, you would lose what you have worked on so far. The efforts and the time all down the drain. Meaningless years. I hope we will always make it work.

To Emo At 2.45am

Sometimes I believe I am the worst person I know. Most unkind, cruel and unrelenting. I was never this person. I used to let the entire class borrow all the colour pencils from my pencil box and it would all go missing and it was okay. That has always been the act of naivete I compare with whenever I look back on my primary school years, a time when I was timid and submissive. 

I changed when I entered high school because I was at that age when I needed to create an identity for myself. But fortunately for me, that identity stuck but sometime between form4 to my college years, it toned itself down and I matured a little. I was loud but I was not that crazy 14 year old who went around slapping boys’ backsides and grabbing other girls’ boobs just for shock value for the surrounding friends. No one sued me, everybody had a good laugh. 

Being assertive is a good thing. But sometimes, when is too much? I am more scathing and I get angry easily. I believe I do get angry for the right reasons too because where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Where there are stupid people, I’ll be there bitching till the sky falls down.

Should a person spoil my day and maybe a few consequent days after that, I put on a really vocal show to my friends about wanting to make that person regret his or her actions and maybe even vow to arrange for actions to be taken against that person. But in the end, I couldn’t do it. Somewhere deep inside this bitch that I am, I found myself wanting to give a chance. Not that I’m expecting the person to change because she never will. But I don’t want to take away something that I still don’t know the importance of because I’m not out there yet. One day I too will depend on something and I can imagine should that be taken away from me, I would be broken and broke. Karma is an ugly thing. So I’m just going to leave it for now.

Sometimes when people have taken steps to cross the boundaries set by the judging and invisible hands of their friends, what should the friends do? Turn a blind eye? Would I understand and do the same if I’m in a similiar position? I mean who are we to judge. We might do the same too. We might.

Envy. I am envious. I do wonder if the same will happen for me. But how is it done? When it actually happens, do you roll your eyes even though for years you have told yourself that you want it so badly? Will it even happen for me? What’s the purpose of it when the answer is already as obvious as day?

Somedays I think, when will I stop ordering this plate of chicken rice from the same chicken rice stall? I love it so much. The soya sauce bathing the slices of steamed chicken, with cucumbers of random bitterness and a bowl of soup that is always there to wet my fragrant rice with. I know I sound like some Amy Tan knock off but bear with me. When I see it, I want it. But sometimes Bak Kut Teh is more enticing. And so many other selections at my favourite foodcourt. I will always go back to my chicken rice at the end of the day because I enjoy slurping the skin. Yes I slurp the smooth chicken skin, it is THAT smooth. You should try it if you have the chance. Sometimes the Bak Kut Teh aunty will look at me with a bit of sadness when I walk pass her stall without buying anything, but I am like that, I love chicken rice too much.

But taste buds are a funny thing. Sometimes they may want to have yam cake for lunch instead. Sometimes if I’m rushing for time, just a char siew pau. I know I don’t make sense but I know precisely what I am talking about. 

Sometimes I just run out of ideas and I wonder what this means. If I try, it’ll come out wrong, if I don’t, I’ll just hate myself for not making the effort to.

I wonder if I’m the only one.