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Memorisation Hacks For Med School

Personally, I think that when it comes to doing well in med school, memorisation is a large percentage of how you get that grade. I found it surprisingly easy to memorise certain concepts but found it just as easy to forget what I thought I knew a week later. I then had to put in more work to get all that info into my long-term memory so I could recall it once exam season came knocking.

When I think back to my anatomy lab exams, the reason I did well was because I had a good system in place of how to memorise names and locations of nerves, veins, muscles, ridges on bones (yes, even those have names!) and everything else I needed to know. When it came to my written exams, the same systems tweaked slightly helped me out immensely too.

I'm not posting this because I'm a perfect student (whatever that means to you), because I didn't do as well as I would have hoped in certain subjects like histology, but that's not important. I just want to share my tips because overall, I did do pretty darn great! I don't have an amazing memory to begin with, so I truly think these tips can help someone out there if you're like me and have to put some extra effort in memorising certain concepts. And if you're not a medical student, don't worry! I think these tips can definitely be changed up a little to fit whatever degree you're pursuing.

If you want to see a real-life "day in the life" of a medical student in China, be sure to check out my YouTube channel!

You cannot cannot cannot try to memorise something without having an understanding of the concept, no matter how general, in the first place. Here's what I mean; if I'm sat in a lecture about the 12 cranial nerves and my lecturer is explaining where each one is located, what each one innervates, what the consequence of damage to the nerve would mean etc, I can't then go back to dorm and start stuffing all that info in my brain if I didn't understand what was going on in lecture in the first place! I need to first go through the lecture and have a general understanding of the concept before I start with my memorisation routine. 

Actually, this very first step of having an understanding of the concept will make memorising it later on much easier! You're starting to build connections that can be strengthened, rather than trying to build those connections from nothing.

After I study the lecture and I have my understanding, I will then spend a couple of days going over it, just re-reading before bed or on the way to class on the bus. I do this again, to make the process of memorising easier.

My first tip is to use images and diagrams! If you've studied anatomy before, this is probably the first thing you turn to. I use diagrams whenever I'm making lecture notes, and even when using Anki (which I'll talk about later). I physically handwrite all of my notes - which is another memorisation hack, but I'll have a whole blog post up about this at a later date! - and the thing I love about handwriting so much is that I can draw a diagram easily. 

When you're trying to recall information later on, you're definitely more likely to recall an image rather than a bunch of text, so I utilise pictures whenever I can. When I was trying to remember the locations of all the carpal and tarsal bones right at the beginning of the semester, I drew out individual hands and feet and their bones (which made lab so much easier too!). 

Your hand-drawn images don't have to be great because my certainly weren't. They just have to be functional and useful for you! If you're looking for beautiful anatomy diagrams though, you've got to check out Bana Vu's Instagram page for the most dreamy studygram ever!

My next tip is to use a lot of mnemonics. I'm sure this is something we all use regardless of what degree we're pursuing, so I won't go on about it too much. I found them especially useful in anatomy for things that couldn't necessarily be learned per se, just memorised. Things like the cranials or branches of the external carotid artery all had their own mnemonics. They should be easy to recognise and as wacky as you can make them so you're more likely to recall what they actually represent!

Writing and re-writing is something that may seem redundant for some, but it is what personally helped me through sixth form, my first year of uni when I was learning Chinese, and now my first year of med school. Just the act of re-writing information and strengthening those connections is what will help you recall info if you're ever randomly asked by someone (which is something I like to do to my friends when they least expect it haha!).

This time around in med school though, I only use this for studying for my lab exams. The content for the written exams was much too extensive to spend time writing it all out again, which would have made this tip seriously redundant. 

A couple of weeks before a lab exam, I would get a big pad of paper and write down absolutely everything I needed to know over and over again everyday leading up to the exam, going over it on the bus to class or before I started studying my regular lecture notes. I'd also draw small images to help me out and once in the exam, it all just came jumping out at me and I was able to get full marks. I didn't find it time consuming at all, again because the content for lab vs theory was significantly less, and it seriously paid off!

Explaining concepts to someone is another thing I'm sure we all know and use, so it's not one I'll delve into. I do prefer to study by myself, but sometimes I would study with my friends and we'd help each other out by explaining concepts that we were really comfortable with to the others. It really helped out because it tests whether or not you know what you're talking about.  *flashbacks to GCSE Spanish when I would practise phrases on my dad in the car*

Piggybacking off of this point is to talk out loud to yourself! I love this even though it makes me look a little crazy haha. One thing I've noticed about Chinese students is they all seem to really utilise this point. Our campus library has sections for quiet study, where you'll get stared down if you make noise just flipping a page in your textbook, and entire sections for people to walk around with their notebooks in hand speaking entire essays out into the room. I've been using this point since my A-Level days, so I can 100% back this up!

Lastly, and I think the most important tip is to use spaced repetition and active recall. There are more than enough videos on YouTube and scientific studies explaining what this is and how to use it effectively and why it works, and I don't think I'll add anything new to the table, so I'll only explain how I use it here. If you do want to know more about it, you can check out Ali Abdaal's video on what the concept is because he is in my opinion the king of spaced repetiton!

I use is Anki, which is free to download even in China which I was so happy about. I have individual decks for each subject I'm taking and I add flashcards to those decks a few days after I do the whole understand the general concept thing I mentioned above. Each deck can have as little as 50 cards to as many as 200 sometimes. The best thing about the software is it will rate how well you know the card and decide when next to show it to you again, which is the spaced repetition element. You can make basic flashcards which have a front and back, cloze captions which make you recall a specific part of a sentence, and image occlusion which are the basic cards in picture form. I love the image occlusion cards especially for anatomy, and I add images to the basic cards too, whether I copy them from Google or screenshot the entire Powerpoint slide and stick it on a flashcard.

The user interface for Anki isn't very user friendly in my opinion, so it took a while to get into the swing of using it. The add-ons for Anki make it much better to use too. I use the mobile app as well as the desktop version, and sync my decks after every time I go through them. I try to get through each deck everyday, but sometimes it's impossible, and the thought of going through 400 cards everyday is certainly off-putting, but it's so so helpful! I usually go through them on the bus to and from class, in between class breaks, lunch time, and when I'm chilling before starting a study session. Just to throw this out there, this isn't sponsored by Anki, but if someone from Anki happens to be reading this right now.....

So those are all my tips for how I memorise info in med school! They're very different compared to just last year, let alone sixth form, and they've been so vital in maintaining my grades - not just my major but for Chinese language which I still take.

I hope you all found them useful, and even if you don't study medicine, can tweak them around to suit you!

Comment below your own tips for how you memorise things in uni. I'd love to try them out!

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6 Things To Do When You're Stuck Inside


The words "cabin fever" have never felt more relatable in my life, because we're now entering the 4th week of being on lockdown here in China! The rules of our dorm have toughened up a little bit - we used to be able to go out at least go out once a day, but now its been cut to three times a week. Other university students can't go out at all, so we're a little but more fortunate than some. But even with that small amount of freedom, I haven't been going out at all because the cases of those who have the coronavirus in my city are increasing day by day.

That leaves me indoors with nothing to do! So naturally, I've written a few things that I think can help you not lose your wits and pass the time. I think it's only fitting that after last week's blog post, this be the follow up don't you think?

I spent a lot of money last semester eating out because I didn't have much time to cook, and over time it started adding up, so when the holiday started I told myself that I would start cooking again. I've mainly been making loads of curries and different types of pasta sauces that I wanted to try out when school was hectic. I typically meal prep because it stretches the food out longer, but sometimes inspiration will hit me and I'll cook something there and then. 

I did this right at the beginning of the winter holiday - taking clothes I didn't wear anymore and putting them away, sorting out my desk and the contents of all my drawers and suitcases, sorting out my laptop and all the files that accumulated since September, and doing the same to my phone. There's something so freeing about letting go of your literal baggage, whether it's right in front of you, or somewhere in your digital space. I also took the time to cut down on how many social media accounts I follow, and that felt just as great too. 

If you're interested, I wrote a whole blog post about organising and decluttering your digital space, which is the blueprint that I used when I was sorting through all my stuff.

I haven't been reading as much as I thought I would if I'm being honest. Reading throughout the semester didn't happen, unless it was a textbook for class. I have a few books on my list that I want to read sometime this year though - Atomic Habits by James Clear, I know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Crescent  by Diana Abu-Jaber, and Once In A Promised Land by Laila Halaby.

Crescent and Once In A Promised Land are both written by Arab-American women who explore the central theme of identity in their writing, and I found out about them from a friend who wrote about them in her thesis. I loved her work about the books so much I decided I just need to read them both myself!

Atomic Habits is a book about building good habits, which is just right up my alley. It's very popular in the self-help community and I really want to give it a try. Lastly, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is the only book I actually have on hand at the moment, and it's one I've had for an embarrassingly long time but haven't yet finished. I'm planning on finishing that first and getting onto Crescent! I'd appreciate some book recommendations down below if you have any!

... or a few. There's something so great about watching a movie you've wanted to see for aaaages, especially if it's raining outside and you're warm inside with snacks, tea, and a huge fluffy blanket. I just watched the Korean movie Parasite and it's easily one of the best films I've watched recently. It was on my radar since the trailer was released last year, and it did not disappoint. No wonder it did so well at the Oscars!

I have a blog post about 5 Korean movies I think everyone needs to watch, and after I watch a few more, a part 2 will definitely come soon.

Another film I want to watch is a Chinese movie whose title translates to Hide and Seek. It's a typical home invasion movie but I saw a snippet online and thought that it looked so cool!

I've also been watching some anime and K-dramas, but I think that's a post for another time to come.

I've been doing this since the winter holiday first started, and I think it's easily one of my favourite things to do. I found my blogging mojo and started writing again, and along with that, I've been reading a lot of awesome content!

This is by no means exhaustive, but a few blogs I've loved recently are Nicole-Eva, Samantha. J, Misty Prose, Daisybutter, and From Roses.

I've had so much free time on my hands I've been reading a lot of new content everyday, so I've loved more than just these five, but if you're looking for some new bloggers to get into I definitely couldn't recommend these lovely ones enough!

This winter will definitely be one to remember, not only because of the obvious, but because of all the late night video calls I've been making my friends. Its been lovely catching up with all my friends back in the UK, my cousins back home, and my friends here in China too. Med school is so busy and there was never time to spend an entire afternoon just chatting away on my phone.

My roommate and I have also been going downstairs (and having people come up to see us!) to see some friends who are also still in the building, and talking to our families a whole lot more too! If you're stuck indoors this winter, give your mum, old uni friends, and even grandma a ring!

Other than the usual scrolling of social media and YouTube (because, come on...), that's how I've been passing the time here in my little dorm room. It's been nice catching up on things like organising and blog reading, but I'm more than ready for us to be allowed out again.

Anyway, until then please do leave all your recommendations down below! I'd love to know how you spend time indoors!

Why 2020 Hasn't Started Off Great; Living in China During the Coronavirus Outbreak

2020 was supposed to start off great, and it had no reason not to; entering a new decade and the overall excitement of entering a brand new year was supposed to be the mood for January all through to March. However, so much has happened that put a real damper on things, making this year pretty terrible so far.

Let's set the scene: it's December 31st. I'm at my desk with a hot water bottle on my lap (because the winters here are just painful), my un-studied neurology notes right in front of me. I'm cursing at myself for not studying them thoroughly before because my exam is now just one week away, when the clock on my laptop reads midnight. My roommate and I high five to ring in the new year, and both just get back to work. January brings with it 4 exams, and its now the long awaited winter break! My friends and I make so many plans (very few of them actually executed), and then we're hit with the news about the spread of what was first called the Wuhan pneumonia, now called the coronavirus. Very quickly, we're told to go out less, buy masks, and report any physical symptoms to the admin. As the days go on, we're told not to go out at all unless you absolutely have to, and by this point, 80% of the people who were going to stay in China this winter have all flown back home.

I've been Instagramming my whole experience living in China during the coronavirus outbreak, and I just want to thank all the lovely people who sent messages of encouragement, because they all meant so much to me. I've not been sharing figures like how many people are infected, or the death toll because I want my Instagram to be a positive place, so I've been mostly sharing the memes running around the WeChat circles and how my university has been handling it.

When we found out the severity of the virus, my roommate and I took 2 trips to the supermarket for food and other bits we'd need. One was completely out of veg, so we had to go to a different one, to find people scrambling for what they could there too. After 11 days indoors (!!!), we did another food shop, and luckily found veg this time, along with other things that ran out. We're avoiding meat completely, especially since my province reported cases of bird flu a week ago. We'd rather not risk anything!

When you leave the dormitory, you need to wear face masks to even be allowed out. Before entering the supermarket, your temperature has to be taken to make sure you don't have a fever. The same is for those who use the subway. Half of the exits are no longer in use and there are more guards there than usual. The subway also give free hand sanitizer to use before you enter the carriage and they also don't let you on if you're not wearing a mask. When we come back into the dorm, you need to disinfect your shoes and hands before coming in, then once you're in, you need to sanitize your belongings and outer clothes. You get your temp taken again and sign it in the books before you're allowed upstairs.

Other rules in place are: not being allowed to go to anyone's university and absolutely no guests from outside are allowed. If you want to go out, then you can only do it once a day. You also need to disinfect your room and go sign in downstairs to show you've done it everyday. A nearby university has stopped allowing students from leaving their campus at all, and I won't be surprised if this is enforced for us soon too.

The reality is that staying in your room for days on end really really sucks and it feels very depressing sometimes. Especially when I just wake up, and before I've even opened my eyes I know it's going to be another day surrounded by these four walls without anything to really look forward to. Sometimes, I go look out the window at cars going past, wondering how I even ended up here in the first place (this all sounds very dramatic, but it's the truth haha!) I'm constantly thinking about the stuff I wanted to get done this winter and the places I wanted to visit, but those plans will just have to wait until the next holiday!

Something I've been reading online is how residents of Wuhan are being discriminated against around China. Those who live in other cities, for example Beijing, are being told not to enter any establishment or are just being insulted, just because they're from Wuhan but were probably nowhere from where the virus first emerged. There's also been a surge in xenophobia and racism against any East Asian around the globe as well, no matter if they're Chinese or not. It reminds me of the time when Ebola first broke out and suddenly every black person was definitely African and carrying the virus, meaning they should be discriminated against whether or not they had even been to Africa in the first place. We're all feeling unsure and afraid, but it doesn't mean our empathy and kindness should be thrown out of the window. Michelle wrote this blog post on being a British-Chinese woman in the UK in the wake of this coronavirus crisis, and I urge everyone to read it.

This post doesn't really have a purpose to it and I'm sure you can tell by how jumbled my thoughts are coming across (because I keep reading it back and nothing seems to make much sense haha) - I just needed to get my thoughts out about this coronavirus and thought a blog post was the best way to do it. I've tried for a week to get my thoughts together, and they're still jumbled up because on one hand, it's scary being here (whether or not I can fly back home is still being looked at. Not only that, but the risk of catching the virus at the airport or on the plane now it's progressed this far is just too high), but on the other hand I don't want to be in this panicked state any more so I do as much as I can to be positive.

The situation is still developing and we find out more information everyday, which is why it's not good to speculate. I hope we can all continue being strong in this situation, especially everyone in Wuhan right now. 中国加油!

15 Things To Stop Doing For A Happier You

We all do things that may make us unhappy for a time, and constantly doing these things will definitely make us unhappy for much longer than need be. Over time, we get used to sticking to the default and eventually these actions become habits that are difficult to break away from. Sometimes, the people around you also become used to this default version of you that these actions are now expected of you too, and if it's one thing I don't like, it's being put in a box and having expectations put on me.

Today I want to share some things that we all (me included) need to stop doing. Things that are reflex actions and not carefully thought out, leading to being placed in that box mentioned above. Have a look at the list and see if you do any of these things.

1. Stop procrastinating
I have a whole ton of blog posts about productivity, because if it's one thing that just doesn't sit right with me, it's not being productive!  You can have a read through them right here.

2. Stop apologising for everything
This is a habit I had trouble breaking but now that I have, life is just so much... easier. I don't know where that habit came from but if it's one thing I want to say to past me it's this: chill out because not everything is your fault!

3. Stop being the "yes" man
If you want to be a better friend (or a better person in general), stop being the "yes" man! Tell people when they've messed up, and how they can improve. Don't allow people to go through life without letting them know where or how they can improve. Trust me, it sounds daunting at first but if they're someone who deserves to be in your life, they'll thank you for it.

4. Stop comparing
This is something I need to work on, especially being in medical school where for some people, grades are everything. They're important, but not the be all and end all. If you think someone is better than you in some way, don't forget that you're only seeing their highlight reel, and not the full picture.

5. Stop judging
Judgement is an ugly colour, and I hate when people just pass judgements without knowing the full story. Discernment is important to have, but if you find yourself throwing judgements around left, right, and centre, take a look at why that is.

6. Stop allowing people to make decisions for you
Ooohhh, this is a big one, and one that will undoubtedly make anyone feel some kind of way. However,I do feel like in this current social and political climate, people are more upfront and unapologetic about what they want, and that's amazing.

7. Stop spending money on things that don't add joy to your life
Self explanatory. Just stop it.

8. Stop focusing on the negatives
If you were gifted a beautiful piece of art but saw a tiny notch on the frame, would it take away the overall beauty of the painting? Of course not! I apply this analogy to life whenever I catch myself in a string of negative thoughts and I think it really helps.

9. Stop being so hard on yourself
When I think of all I've been through and all I've managed to accomplish, I can't continue being hard on myself anymore because I remember that if I've been through all that I can go through anything (as cheesy as that sounds...) Please give yourself a break. You deserve it.

10. Stop making excuses for people
Sometimes, what people need is to be told where they've gone wrong and where they can improve. If someone's doing something that you know is wrong but you give them a pass, explore why that is and work on fixing it.

11. Stop making excuses for yourself
See as above.

12. Stop holding onto items that have no use in your life
We're in the age of Marie Kondo-ing everything we have, and I for one love it! I'm working on shifting to being more minimal, and it's actually harder than I thought. I came to China with a lot of stuff that I thought I'd need, and decluttering them all will take some time.

13. Stop eating food you know isn't good for you
All my take-away lovers say HEY! I freaking looove food, and sometimes it's easy to just think "whatever, I know I had a burger yesterday, but if I have another one today, my next one will be at the weekend". Just me? Well, those burgers may taste good in the moment, but when your digestion starts suffering as a result, you'll only have yourself to blame.

14. Stop neglecting your sleep schedule
My sleep schedule has been through it all - I've been on top of it, I've been on track for a time, then I've gone around and completely neglected it. As I get older (I'm only 22 but I think about old age more often than I think I should...), I'm learning that sleep is super super important and if I don't want to be a half-functioning zombie, I should try to sleep better. Nancy wrote a great blog post about sleeping better, which you can check out right here.

15. Stop holding grudges
I think of holding a grudge with the analogy that you're allowing someone to live in your mind rent-free! Most of the time, they've moved on from whatever it is that transpired and you're still going through that scenario over and over again. It is absolutely not worth it.

How do you fare when it comes to these things? Anything you need to work on? Tell me below!

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