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My Post-Quarantine To-Do List

Quarantine, lockdown, social distancing, and self-isolation are the big buzzwords of 2020. I've read them so many times since the end of January, and not one day goes past where I don't read them while scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, and even WhatsApp now too! I've been thinking a lot about what life will be like moving forward - when university goes back to normal and I'm able to be outside for longer than one and a half hours at a time. My university dorm is still taking the coronavirus very seriously, so the strict rules that applied a few months ago are still applicable for us now.

There are so many in my area, as well as the area around the medical campus so I really have no excuse not to! I'm not a study-at-a-cafe type of person, but I am a visit-a-cafe-and-pay-for-an-overpriced-drink-and-pastry type of person, so I'm just patiently waiting for my time to shine. My favourite bakery Rosa has recently renovated and added a cafe section right by my dorm, so that will be the first spot I hit up when the time comes!

My city has this amazing art center showcasing Van Gogh's works in really cool ways with rooms decorated floor to ceiling with his paintings. I had planned to head there this past winter holiday but we all know what transpired... So, I will hopefully pay a visit this summer, but we'll see. They do discounts if you have a student ID, so I'm excited to save a bit of money too!

To celebrate my birthday back in October, my friends and I headed to a Japanese restaurant for some ramen because I was really really craving udon at the time (very specific I know). Fast forward a few months and would you believe I'm still craving udon! I'm a big big fan of noodles and all forms of ramen in general, so a trip back to the same restaurant is definitely on my list.

As I've said before on the blog, we're only able to go out for an hour and a half 3 times a week. If you head to Walmart you're given 3 hours to allow for travel because all the locations are pretty far and require hopping on the bus or using the metro. So it only makes sense to head out for the supermarket or to pick up some takeaway nearby and swiftly head back to dorm before we get scolded by admin. When we can finally head out without restrictions, I need to head to my favourite stores and stock up on some skincare I ran out of recently. I miss aimlessly wandering around Miniso anyway, so I'll make sure to do that just because I can!

This is such a "me" thing to happen, but back in January I decided to start going for a run 4 times a week. I told my dad about it so he could keep me accountable, yet only managed to head out for a run one time (!!!) before our dorm went into lockdown. I want to properly get into it and make it a long-lasting habit, but that can only happen once we get out of lockdown, so I'm putting it on my list to make sure I actually do it.

My medical school schedule is hectic and doesn't always allow me to have a lot of free time. Despite this, I really want to diversify the content on my blog by showing some of the best bits of my city. I'm estimating that when this semester is over, we'll be out of lockdown mode and I can properly schedule time to head out and get some shoot new content. This one is a bit up in the air but I hope I can make it happen!

Not only are there many cafes in the area, but there are also a bunch of milk tea shops that opened up, and every time I head out I feel like an old one closed down and a new one shop opened up! I'm pretty good at avoiding dairy in general (lactose intolerant), but there's just something about milk tea that I just can't do away with just yet. It's a struggle dealing with it afterwards if you catch my drift, so it's a dangerous habit I will get to working on one day...

I'm thankful that China has some very beautiful natural spots that I haven't even scratched the surface of yet! A lot of parks here are free to get into and are the perfect place to capture some lovely photos and relax with friends. So far on my list are Meixi Lake, Xihu Park, Huaya Pavillion, and maybe I can squeeze in a trip to Zhangjiajie, but the list is ever growing as I search up new places online.

Really, just because.

A lot of my friends are back in their home countries, so we've been keeping in contact via video calls on WeChat or through those tags going around on Instagram (lol). I get excited thinking about what it'll be like once we're all back together again and able to head to these places and eat all this food!

So that's my post-lockdown/quarantine/self-isolation/social distancing to-do list! I've been indoors since the end of January, and if I had to estimate the days, it's probably been between 75 and 80 (that number alone is making my head spin). It's been tough, but I'm still managing and able to keep myself positive and excited for this chapter in my life to firmly close and hopefully never open again!

I'll see you in the next one!

The 3 Apps I Used To Up My Insta Game

Just before we went into lockdown over here, I decided that my Instagram needed a boost, and a big one at that. I was at the same number of followers after about 6 months of not posting, and the theme I had been trying to keep up with was looking a bit worse for wear. So I decided that it was time to start putting more effort into Insta again and boy has it paid off!

My grid is looking very *chef's kiss* at the moment, so I thought I'd share the apps I like to use for editing!

To start off, I only use my phone to take photos; I don't have a camera and don't plan on getting one either. I snap and edit all on my trusty Samsung.

I either take photos straight out of the stock camera, or use Foodie (which I often opt to do). Foodie has so many filters that add an amazing effect to any type of photo. It was originally an app made specifically for food, hence the name, but they have since updated to perfect your landscapes, flat lays, selfies, and anything in between. The standard filters I use to take a photo are YU2, IN3, or BQ2 depending on the type of photo.

It's a perfect app all on its own; you can change up all the basic settings like shadows and whatnot, and you can also add grain and dust which I like to use for my stories!

Once I've snapped the photo in the filter I want, I immediately transfer it over to Lightroom. I didn't have a proper handle on Lightroom in the past and the photos were just terrible now I look back. But now, I've got it down thanks to a preset I made for myself. 

When coming back to posting on Insta, I decided the theme I wanted to follow was a moody slightly de-saturated but still warm theme, so to make my preset I just went into the Profiles tab, selected Modern 3, added some grain, de-saturated it, added some texture, made the shadows and blacks stand out, made some colours more vibrant and saved it as a preset. Now, I just copy and paste it onto the photo I'm editing and tweak it slightly depending on the type of shot, so if it's a shot of a sunny day I'll amp up the blues and greens, or if it's a flat lay I'll increase the whites and highlights.

It was a toss up between Huji and Kuji but I settled on Kuji simply because it's what all my friends use to edit their photos! I use this app simply for the dust effect I like to add as the final step. There are over 30 to choose from and some extra ones that look like snow (that would have seriously come in handy if it snowed at all this year!) This is the final step in my editing process and if there's something I want to add like de-saturating or increasing the exposure I'll do it here. Of all the filters available I only really like KJ, BL, A2, and A10.

The app is also great if you want a vintage shot - there are options to add the date, make it slightly more 3D, and filters that you can use to really get that ~aesthetic~ if that's what you're after.

To plan out my feed and make sure I'm not posting the same type of photo 3 times in a row, I use the app Preview. In the past I used to use Planoly but didn't like how it only let me upload 30 photos in a month. With Preview I can add as many as I like whenever I like and it's great!

So those are the apps I love using to edit my Instagram photos and it really took my grid from awkwardly changing colour scheme every few photos to having a solid theme I'm really happy with at the moment! I hope you enjoyed this post!

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Med Diaries 001

 Happy April everyone! A new month has brought a new blog series to these parts and I can't wait to share it with you all!

Med Diaries will be a once-a-month series where I share how the past month has gone for me in terms of my life as a medical student, and as well as that I'll be sharing resources, accounts, websites and anything else that I've found useful that I think other medical students will find useful too. I share my daily med student life on Instagram so if you want a day-to-day glimpse into the life of a med student in China, be sure to follow me on there!

Also, to see my real-life "day in the life" of a med student in China, be sure to check out my YouTube channel!

We started online classes on the 24th of February so it's already been over a month of this new lifestyle. I made a blog post on the reality of online classes where I gave tips for anyone who has now shifted online, but it was pretty general and applicable to any kind of degree.

As an MBBS student, online classes are really not conducive to our learning. I know in other countries, online lectures are preferred by a lot of students, but for us in China actually being in lecture is the only way we're taught. We don't have labs anymore (more on that later) so our days are only spent on live lectures and studying. This semester, I'm taking regional anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, Chinese language and Sports (lol yes, that last one's online too).

Anatomy was my favourite last semester because systemic anatomy is very straightforward - we went through each system in the body starting with the skeletal system and ending with neuro anatomy. This semester is regional anatomy where we go through each region of the body and learn everything to do with it at once. We started with the upper limb, the thoracic region, then the lower limb and pelvic region, and we started the back today - all online! It's much more difficult than last time because having to learn all the nerves, vessels, muscles, diseases and everything else all at once is overwhelming and taking up a lot of brain power.

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that biochemistry is essentially the bane of my life right now. I'm not naturally good at chemistry so it's been hard motivating myself and understanding the content. Some parts have been pretty good - carbohydrates, lipids and amino acids so far have been decent but the rest of it is just not meshing well with me. I've been trying to find a good study method for it, so we'll see if that works over the coming weeks.

Lab is an essential part of a medical student's education. This semester we were supposed to start dissecting cadavers in anatomy to work on finding all the structures we learn about in lectures, but we aren't able to do that with our university still not opening. Our lab exams make up 30% of our final grade for anatomy and biochemistry, and if we happen to open as normal near the exam, it'll be near impossible to study well and pass with a good grade.

I'm worried about being rushed to study everything in a short space of time and not have enough time to review everything we're rushing over. It's scary how our education has been essentially put on hold and pushed back indefinitely. Considering how hard regional anatomy is compared to systemic anatomy, and also throwing in the fact that biochemistry would be 100x easier to understand if we had lab, the fact that we don't have lab is just very unfortunate.

We had an online lab session for anatomy where we watched a video of a dissection and had our lecturer explain what was going on but it's just not the same!

Physiology has been an amazing subject so far! We have a specific Chinese-English textbook we're supposed to use, but since we haven't been able to go into school to buy textbooks, we're left to our own devices. I looked for it online and ended up finding another gem instead - Guyton & Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. Everything in it is laid out clearly and the illustrations help with understanding the info. It flows well with the way our teacher's PowerPoints are laid out so I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything that would be in the Chinese-English textbook.

For biochemistry, I need all the resources I can get my little hands on! USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes for Biochemistry & Medical Genetics, and Lippincott Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry have been good for trying to understand the difficult bits of content we're covering. 

All the PDF versions of these books can be found with a simple Google search if you think they'll be useful!

The only online resource I want to share right now has been Teach Me Anatomy. It is hands down the best website for learning anatomy. Everything is simple and straightforward and it takes the most difficult concepts and makes it easy to understand within a single study session. I've been using the website since the first semester of med school and it's just as handy now as it was back then. They lay out each part of the body and everything to do with it - so everything to do with the head is all in one section, and same goes for the leg, or pelvis etc. If you're a med student, bookmark it and save it for later because it will definitely come in handy!

So that's been the first edition of this new series I've been thinking of doing for a while now! 

I hope it's been interesting for the med students out there and if you have anything you've found useful or helpful this semester in med school, do let me know in the comments below!