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November 30, 2016

Summer is coming

Whitepepper dress / Saltwater sandals / Evolution tote / DW watch*.

For a Sydneysider, I'm really bad at dressing in hot weather. I overheat and get sweaty really easily. This outfit is the only one I have for when it's more than 30C and I have to walk around outside. The style of this dress allows for maximum air circulation. I bought it on a whim three years ago, and it's been a summer staple since then, so impulse shopping does work out sometimes.

November 28, 2016

An overcast picnic

Every time in the last few weeks we tried to plan a beach day or a picnic for what was predicted to be a sunny weekend day, the weather forecast would immediately turn to rain. So we would cancel the plans, to find that it wouldn't rain at all on the day. We'd finally had enough of it, so we decided to risk a picnic on Sunday, despite the 40% chance of showers.

I'm yelling "look candid!" as I take this shot.

We were in the Botanic Gardens, where we always go for a picnic.

Over-ate as usual.

While it was overcast, it only briefly sprinkled very lightly, so it was a good call.

After a while it did get a bit chilly, so we packed up and moved on.

November 23, 2016

Reading spree

I've been on a total book binge since exams finished, since I'm finding it easier to concentrate on new books now I'm not that stressed anymore. I have this thing for reading in cafes, which is costing me a lot of money, so I'm going to have to try and do it more at home or in food courts...

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta. I've enjoyed most things Melina Marchetta has put out, so when I saw it was detective-in-London themed I went and bought it, no questions asked. It's really good - if you've read her other books, you'll know she does twists well. As with most of her writing, it also deals with teens and cultural identity. The romantic relationships in the story didn't quite click with me - they seemed a bit forced.

Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford. A rare non-fiction book. Clementine Ford's articles always make me thump the table and exclaim yes, thank you, so I wanted to support her book. The book is good and full of zingers, although dare I say the pop culture references got on my nerves a bit. I agree with everything she says so it would be interesting to hear the opinion of someone whose feminist views differ to mine.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Set in 19th century Iceland, it's about the last days of a woman to be executed for murder. The plot was a bit predictable, and I wouldn't read it again, but the writing was very atmospheric and I liked the setting.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh. This one was Booker shortlisted this year. It's from the perspective of a young woman who works at a juvenile correctional facility, and she's definitely one of those characters who are supposed to repulse you. The plot gets almost bizarre, actually. It's a good character study type novel.

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy. Another from the Booker shortlist. It's about a young woman who's travelled with her ill mother to southern Spain for treatment. It gets really weird and surreal, I'm sure there's a lot of symbolism I'm missing. Not really up my alley but I can see how it's objectively well written.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. Set in the 19th century, an English nurse is called to Ireland to monitor a child who is supposedly surviving without eating. Straightforward but I enjoyed it, it was pretty gripping. It also had interesting views of Irish Catholicism through the lens of an English character.

The House of God by Samuel Shem. I've not really read those books people tell you to read if you're going to be a doctor - this one is my first. It's a satirical and sarcastic fictional account of a doctor's intern year. A lot of it rings true, including unfortunately the way that the more jaded doctors talk and think about patients. But I found it hard to keep track of the characters and it went around in circles, so I was kind of bored.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It was almost set up to be a potential new favourite book. Dracula/vampire themed, dark atmosphere, travel scenes (Eastern Europe has now been bumped up my list), a historical mystery... at 75% of the way through I thought it was going to join my list of top books. But the twist and resolution ended up being kind of lame. I would still re-read it for the first part of the book, though.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. An academically gifted but socially awkward teen and her professor father move into a new small town for her final semester of high school. The book has an interesting structure. There are "visual aids" (drawn by the main character) and the writing is littered with in-text citations for her references (not all of which I got). It spends a while setting up its mystery, and then everything is crammed into the end of the book. It gets weird, but it was enjoyable to read overall.

November 21, 2016

Wear to work

Last of the hospital outfits of the year! Next year I can finally start referring to hospital as "work" and stop worrying and confusing new visitors as to how sick I am. I'm aware the sunlight reflecting off the ground in these makes me look like a jack-o-lantern.

November 18, 2016

Life lessons from med school

I've finally come to the end of six years in uni... Six years! That's more than a quarter of the time I've been alive. I went into an undergrad medicine program straight from high school, lacking life experience in the extreme, and here are some of the things I'd tell my seventeen year old self if I could go back in time to meet her.

1. Keep in touch with your old friends. My gang from high school (and some from even earlier) have stayed friends through uni, even though we studied different things. They've kept me grounded and have made sure I can still hold conversations about non-medical topics.

2. You can't do this alone. For a long time, I thought having an external support group was enough. But as well as my non-medical friends know me, it's hard to convey what a bad day on the wards feels like to people who haven't been there. Having people in the same situation as you to debrief with lightens the load a lot. Also, I would not have got through these last two years without study-slash-gossip sessions.

3. Prioritise, then balance. The idea of "balancing" studying, social life, and other things came up a lot but no one actually told me how to go about it. Before you can balance, you need to be able to prioritise what's more important to you. Is the difference between a mark of 70 and a mark of 80 worth it if I'm miserable because I'm never seeing my friends? Is taking half an hour off to go for a run really going to be the difference between a pass and a fail? My first couple of years were horrible because I couldn't figure this out. I was studying all the time and getting good marks, but I hated my life. I spent the last two years studying less, but making sure I was seeing my friends at least once a week, and I was way happier.

4. You'll get through this. There were so many times when I thought I would never get the hang of something. There were so many times when I thought I wasn't going to get through an exam, or a rotation, or even a week. But I did. And I've started to keep a mental list of all those times, so whenever I face down something daunting, I can remember that I survived and sometimes even gave myself something to be proud of.

5. Shake it off. One of the best things I've learned to do in these past few years is to laugh at myself. I can't even count the number of stupid or embarrassing things I've said or done in front of relatively important people. I'm a really awkward person (one of those people who think of an incident from years ago and cringe for five minutes) and pretending I'm in a sitcom (hello Scrubs) or some sort of dark comedy movie actually helps a lot. Doing recaps and re-enactments for your friends from #1 and #2 works well too.

And thus closes another chapter! Let's see how well I can remember these lessons when I start work as a doctor in late January. I'm terrified.

P.S. Check out my interview at Blog Socks! It's a great concept and I've found a bunch of new bloggers to follow through it.

November 15, 2016

Shortcuts for packing lightly

I actually love the challenge of packing and trying to pack as light as possible. When it comes to cutting down on the clothes I take, it helps that I don't mind wearing the same thing for weeks on end, and also because my activities don't veer into very fancy or very outdoors-y. The following items help a lot when it comes to packing lightly.

Merino wool thermal
Mine is from Icebreaker. I wear it under my usual clothes when I'm travelling in cold climates. That way I don't need to wash my shirts as much, so I can get by with two long-sleeve tops for pretty much any length of winter trip. The thermal itself doesn't need to be washed often because merino doesn't hold odours - I've gone a month straight wearing this daily! If you do want to wash it, it's machine washable with your other regular clothes. It's not itchy either (and I have sensitive skin). So basically this thermal is my favourite thing (I promise I'm not getting paid to say this).

Quick drying t-shirt
I find hot weather is harder to pack light for, because I need to wash my clothes more often. If I still want to keep the number of tops I take to a minimum, I find quick-drying clothing is the best bet. The t-shirt is from the men's section in Uniqlo (the packaged Dry ones) and is on regular rotation in my everyday wear as well. It's 75% cotton and 25% polyester, and even though I'm supposed to hate synthetic fibres, the polyester helps it dry quickly overnight after a wash in the sink. I bought a Uniqlo Airism tank last year in hopes of using it as the warm weather version of my thermal, but I didn't find it particularly cooling. When it comes to replacing this I might look into a lightweight merino version for a t-shirt that can go longer without a wash.

Travel towel
I can't believe I only thought of buying one of these last year. These towels fold down to about a third of the bulk of a regular towel of the same width and height. They also dry more quickly. They don't dry you as efficiently as regular towels do, but they do the job. I got mine for $5 from Kmart, but you'll find them at other travel/camping stores as well. I keep it in a perforated/netted zip-up case that I can clip onto the outside of my backpack if we're on the move while it still needs to dry.

Menstrual cup
Saves you from packing months and months' worth of sanitary products if you're going somewhere you might not be able to get the kind you like! I talk/rave more about it here. The only thing is I'm still a bit apprehensive about emptying it in situations where I can't do ideal hand hygiene.

If you liked this post, you might like the one on my travel first aid kit!

November 13, 2016

Getting formal (again)

Grana silk shell and pants / Daniel Wellington watch and cuff* / Saltwater sandals.

There was another opportunity to dress up last Friday for our clinical school grad dinner, so the silk two-piece I wore to grad ball came out to play again. I'd actually been planning on wearing my white silk blouse, collar open, with these pants, but I had a mishap at the beach the other week (sunburn) and my chest is in no condition to be exposed (bright pink, skin peeling). The dress code was cocktail, and I think the more casual dresses I own (like this one but without those tights) could have worked. But I liked the idea of subverting the expectation that women should a) wear dresses to look formal and b) continually come up with new outfits even though men are allowed to wear the same thing over and over again. I did step down my accessories since it was technically a more casual occasion than the ball. Anyway, despite it being almost the exact same outfit I thought it'd be nice to have some photos of it with my head attached (sunny afternoon lighting is the worst though)!

November 10, 2016

All over the place

Just a good old couple-of-snaps-from-yesterday kind of post!

In the morning, we had a critical care simulation skills session and I took the rest of the afternoon off.

I took the train to the city and had lunch. I'm addicted to the burritos from GYG.

Then went to check out the White Rabbit Gallery, which is just behind Central Park. I'd been meaning to visit since I saw the Hanging Bodies piece from the outside during BEAMS fest. The gallery is focused on contemporary Chinese art and I'd recommend it, it's really good.

Went to browse the shops (gift-hunting) with a Starbucks break (I hate that I love their Christmas drinks). I read my book while concurrently keeping an eye on the US election results. I think a lot of other people there were also watching the horror unfold.

Met up with YY and Wai Lam in the evening. We meant to go to this grad exhibit, but we went to the wrong place twice and ended up traipsing all over Kings Cross and Darlinghurst in the pouring rain. I was wearing comfortable and (relatively) waterproof shoes so I found it hilarious; the others not so much. We ended up giving up and going to dinner.

We ate at NaruOne, which is a Korean place. It's cosily decorated and their barbecue exhaust things are a trendy copper, but their fried chicken wasn't that great.

November 6, 2016

Post-exam life outtakes

All the miscellaneous photos from the last few weeks on my phone - mostly food, as usual.

November 1, 2016

Sculpture by the Sea '16

The plan on Sunday was to take advantage of 30C weather to go and get a tan. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the beach, it was actually too breezy to lie around in a swimsuit. Luckily, since I was kind of expecting the weather to be fickle, I'd chosen to go to Bondi so I could see Sculpture by the Sea instead.