Quand on est jeune on est libre

Tracy came over from Stockholm to visit this weekend and here’s a summary of our weekend in bullet-form:

  • Did a Bodypump group session at the gym
  • Pampering session with facials and massage
  • Possibly ate a greater amount of calories that we burnt at an Asian buffet
  • Shopping
  • Filipino super late Valentine’s party – Tracy’s first Filipino party ever
  • Witnessed our beautiful friend Marie’s coronation as Ms TFCCL of 2016
  • Spontaneous dinner at almost midnight
  • Our first night out ever at Harry’s
  • Sunday brunch
  • Gamla Linköping

As you can see, I’m all out. Not like my body isn’t in enough pain since our exercise session. I feel like a senior citizen who can barely walk or sit down. Nevertheless, it was worth it. The best weekend I’ve ever had in Linköping ever!

girlies red lipstick Call me Dr Sam

The girlies and I about to paint the town red with our matching lipsticks 😀

Despite being completely exhausted already at the debut of our weekend because of that insane group exercise session, I don’t get it but, we still managed to do so much anyway. We knew we needed to relax after exercise, so we immediately booked facials and massage straight after – thank you LetsDeal. Starving at the end of our pampering session, we proceeded for lunch buffet at Ginghis, which as many have told me earlier, have really good food. Whilst enduring a mixture of exhaustion and food coma, somehow we still managed to shop, and I still managed to decide and practice the song I would perform later on at the Filipino Valentine’s party. Good thing I did, since it turns out I had already forgotten the lyrics.

 

Since this was my first time experiencing the Filipino community in Linköping, I didn’t really know what to expect. Not gonna lie, I was worried what Tracy would think about my country’s culture after this party. However no matter what would’ve happened, Marie, our favourite contestant at this beauty pageant thing they had during the party made it unforgettable. As she went on stage several times to receive her awards and later to be crowned Ms TFCCL (The Filipino Christian Community in Linköping) 2016, we were her proud stand-in family members supporting her. We all had tears. They grow up so quickly.

Our beautiful friend is a winner and a queen!!! ☺️❤️ #soproud #theygrowupsofast

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Afterwards, we had a spontaneous dinner hosted by my amazing landlady Lena-Karin, followed by my first night out in Linköping, which also was Marianne’s first night out ever!  I was so excited to take her out and do her make-up hehe. We went to Harry’s, the place to be in Linköping apparently, and danced with two guys the entire night called David and Petter. We all had so much fun together, and at the end of the night, we just hugged each other goodbye and went our separate ways. If you guys know a David and Petter in Linköping and think it might be them, please tell them we love them. Please rap it too since apparently I was rapping all night and they nicknamed me the hiphoppare or “Hiphopper.” You can say Marianne’s first night out was a great success!

3 am shenanigans Call Me Dr Sam

Post-clubbing shenanigans, continuing the party all the way to bed hehe #tripletrouble

The next day of course, we had to start our day right. So we had an all girls Sunday brunch followed by a trip to Gamla Linköping. We had an hour (we were slow to start our day of course), and only managed to visit two places… but that just means we will be back! We visited the bank like last time I visited on Valentine’s (I just love the bank robbery story of 1854), and the man who works there delivers once again with his great stories. You guys should definitely visit!

 

When we came back from Gamla Linköping, it was then time for Tracy to return to Stockholm, and for us others to go to mass and prepare for the week.

It was an amazing one. Hope you all had a great weekend as well, and have an amazing week! 🙂

One month in, I’m a step closer to my MD PhD dream

In high school, I remember my schoolmates and I dreaming to become doctors. About a handful of us specifically dreamed to become double doctors, aka MD PhDs. Combining clinical practice and research, that was our shiny dream in the stars.

During my first research internship at Stockholm university when I was 16, I mentioned our dream to my supervisor. She then asserted me that doctors are primarily meant to be clinicians. The doctor interviewers at Karolinska (the most difficult medical school to get into in Sweden) were tired of hearing applicants say they want to do research she told me. They want doctors who want to be doctors. But what if one wants to be both?

Maybe this MD PhD dream was just a naive, juvenile dream that will disappear over time.

Call me doctor Sam first lab internship as a 16-year old at Stockholm University

Self-proclaimed nerd since 2010, at my first lab internship as a 16-year old at Stockholm University

Medical school applications started coming up, keeping in mind the primary focus of doctors, I didn’t mention my shiny dream. I started medical school with the same mindset, keeping away from the lab. Two years into medical school, somehow something made me explore my research curiosity. I was back in the world of academia, and haven’t left ever since.

I started with a summer research internship within genetics in Karolinska, which then continued to a genetics publication in St Andrews. The following summer it was working with drosophila and cancer therapy in France. When I started my clinical years, it became clinical trials within brain cancer therapy. At The same time during all those years, I started presenting at student and national conferences in the UK, then proceeded to international ones. Last March, I was presenting at a conference once a week. I guess you could say I was hooked.

So this is my posteeerrrrr… And I won first prize 😀 #startingwithabang #NSAMR2015

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However, throughout my years of medical school in the UK, although they encouraged my research interest, they couldn’t do more than give me projects to do on the side to satisfy my curiosity – without pay of course. Apart from the lack of financial compensation, I felt that something was missing. I wanted more. This, among many others, contributed to my decision to move back home to Sweden.

I made the bold move of moving back to Sweden to finish my medical studies, hoping to get more and bigger research opportunities. I was accepted and warmly welcomed to Linköping, and continued where I left off from the UK. A month in (last week), I decided to look at the research groups available and sent an e-mail to the one I found most interesting. I received a reply within a day, met the Professor a few days later, the research group a week later, and now, I have taken my first few steps towards my MD PhD.

You know that feeling despite things going well, it still doesn’t feel right? Like as if you’re meant for something else? That’s how I felt anyway, and luckily, my gut feeling was right.

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One month into Linköping, somehow I’ve taken a step closer to realising my shiny dream in the stars. I don’t know how it happened, but I do believe in fate, destiny, God’s plan – or whatever you want to call it. Turns out, this MD PhD dream wasn’t just a phase after all.

Watch out, in a few years, you can call me Dr. Dr. Sam! 😀

 

Making it in Linköping + #ootd

On Valentine’s day last week, I posted a photo from Gamla Linköping (Linköping Old Town), which caught the attention of the Linköping tourist agency, Visit Linköping.

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But first, where is the water tower?

Naturally, I had to go find the water tower, and as I luckily live with two who have lived in Linköping their whole lives, I had guides!

On Thursday evening, we went on a hunt for a good vantage point, which involved climbing walls of parking lots… and later realising that you could walk around.

Nevertheless, we managed a photo! Or well, somewhat of a photo.

My camera and/or my photography skills are simply not good enough. You can somewhat make out that it’s this photo below and my Instagram username @fileea on the screen right?

Outfit:

Blouse: From an Italian boutique in Linköping, given to me by my landlady
Skirt: From Åhléns own brand I bought ages ago
Bag from London Fog
Boots from Bianco
Jacket from Nautica

A night in Radiology

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Evening shifts at Manchester wasn’t really a thing, unless it was within obstetrics, so I was quite happy to find out that we had a evening shift at our first clinical placement. I didn’t really know what to expect but, who knew sitting in front of a computer looking at images for several hours could be so tiring. I’m in bed writing this and it’s not even 10pm…

If I could summarise the night with one word, it would be -ish. Or the Swedish equivalent, typ. For example:

  • “It is bigger-ish from the last image”
  • “There is -ish a lot of gas and faeces in her bowel, probably the reason for her constipation-ish symptoms?”
  • “There is a white-ish, shaded area on the inferior-ish lobe of the lung. Infiltration/inlammation/infection-ish?”

Like the Radiology trainees/registrars/ST-läkare told us all, even after a few years they’re still getting the grips of analysing radiological images. Many of the times, they’re pretty clueless too. You’ll never really know for sure they said.

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Nevertheless, despite our lack of radiological expertise, it was still quite an exciting and educational evening. Sure, sitting in front of a computer for hours might not sound that great, but when you get to see images of medical emergencies happening literally at that moment, that makes it pretty damn exciting. For example, we saw images of someone who fell off an apple tree, someone who jumped in front of a train, and lastly ended the night with images of an aortic dissection (when the biggest and most important artery from the heart gets a tear and could lead to a rupture). As you see, knowing that the correct analysis of those images could lead to saving a person’s life, makes what we were doing a lot more than just sitting in front of a computer looking at images. Pretty damn exciting. I was happy to be a part of that, at least for one evening.

My groupmate and I luckily had a very nice doctor who showed us so many different types of radiological cases, and gladly explained them all. When we were looking droopy, tired and hungry, he gave us a break for however long we wanted. Possibly the best part in my case, he had patience for my Swedish-as-a-second-language difficulties. Luckily.

At the end of the day, my head was just such a big mush. I was wobbling from side to side on my way home, and accidentally bumped onto lamp posts a couple of times. My first 12h “shift” at the hospital done, and I’m sure there will be many, many more to come. Until then, hats off to everyone who works at hospitals who can keep their minds sharp even until this hour. I am clearly not there yet.

But tomorrow is another day. Another 8am start at Radiology. Our second to last 8am start at Radiology that is. Better make the most of it. Good night! 🙂

White coat first week-sary

It’s been a week since I’ve been back in a white coat. And it feels good.

Despite not having white coats as a part of our uniform in the UK, there has always been that association that white coat = authority. Even though I’ve worn white lab coats which are essentially the same thing as white coats in the hospital (the ones I used to wear at Karolinska when I did research there were the exact same ones as the hospital), somehow it’s not the same. There’s something different about wearing a white coat in a hospital and wearing one around a lab. I think it’s because this time, this white coat also represents my years of medical school, and the knowledge I’ve acquired along the way. Well, I hope my acquired knowledge is still there somewhere anyway.

During my first week, I have been placed in Radiology. Throughout the week we have been going through different radiological cases. In other words, it’s been quite a lot of relaxed office-ish type work, sitting in front of computers analysing photos. Fortunately, I was placed in a small group of four – rather intimate, giving us plenty of time for one-to-one teaching too. In my case as well, it has been easier to dare speak up during sessions and interact with my classmates. Less daunting. Luckily, they’re all super friendly and welcoming so that wasn’t a big issue anyway.

Soon I have been a Swedish medical student at Linköping for a month and I still haven’t regretted my decision. By the end of this week, I would’ve not only finished my first clinical placement, but also, this week I will also have my first choir rehearsals (yeah I know it’s pretty intense, we’re performing Carmina Burana at the Concert Hall this April so we have two choir practices this week and I’m sure more during the upcoming weeks!), my first proper night out in Linköping (again with the choir) and lastly, I will be starting my new research project. You know me, I can’t get enough of my research. I’ll be a cancer researcher once again!

Nevertheless, I can’t say it enough. It feels good to be back as a medical student – now in a white coat!

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Single Awareness Day 2016

Let’s face it, it’s in the air. That lovey-dovey butterflies in the stomach type of feeling. Hearts everywhere, and heck, strawberries are on a deal at the supermarket. Yes, that day of love that reminds us all of our loved ones… and for some like myself, loved ones we don’t have. Happy Single Awareness Day (SAD) to us! And to all of you other lucky people, Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

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Every year, it is tradition for me to write a song for Valentine’s day. Surprise surprise, it usually reflects my relationship status at the time. This year, like two years ago, I celebrate Single Awareness Day. Two years ago, I wrote my first Single Awareness Day song ever, and this year, I decided to remake it. To reflect my current situation of course.

After continuously being in and out of relationships for the past few years, I since November have told myself that enough is enough. I ended whatever the last guy and I had and decided to focus on myself. So far so good I must say. Last time I checked I’m still single.

Since November, I told myself that before someone else enters my life, I want to know for myself that I am where I exactly want to be. I can’t focus on my journey fully if I have someone else’s life to think about. But until then, I can dream about Mr. Perfect right?

In 2014, I wrote the original version of Single Awareness Day together with my friends, after we had a daydreaming session of our perfect guy. So the original song is a collaboration with my single friends and I. This year for this remake, I once again asked my friends for contributions and this is the result. Here is the Single Awareness Day remake for 2016, hope you guys like it!

My previous Valentine’s Day songs:

2015: Valentine
2014: Single Awareness Day – the original version of this song which I sang with Hana, do watch it! 🙂
2013: You 
2012: A song for you – my Valentine’s day songwriting tradition was born!

Enjoy! 😀

Lyrics & Chords

Single Awareness Day 2016

Capo 5
Verses: C F G
Chorus and outro: C G Am F

Verse 1:
I know it’s a little sad to say, but yes I am alone today
The day of love, Valentine’s or
Single Awareness Day

I’d like to think that I know why, coz I know I’m not that shy
Then I thought and realised that hey,
I’m just waiting for the right guy

Chorus 1:
I want a guy who aims for the stars but keeps his feet on the ground
He will hold me close at night, make sure I’m safe and sound

I want a guy who can sing me to sleep
I want a guy for me to keep
Through thick and thin, or when I fall, he will be there through it all

Verse 2:
I know I’ve moved, lived here and there, was there noone anywhere?
Or maybe it was me who felt that hey,
I’m simply not yet there

Maybe I needed time to see, that I’m okay just being with me
But when I meet him then I’ll see that he’ll
Make me a better me

Chrous 2:
I want a guy I can cry on his shoulder, when the times get rough
He will help me stand up tall, on days I’ve had enough

I want a guy who will kiss my hand, I want a guy who can understand
The way I am, the things I say
He will love me anyway, he will love me anyway

Outro:
I want a guy who will make me smile
I want a guy who’ll make it all worthwhile
I want a guy who will hold my hand, through the times it’s hard to stand

I want a guy who’ll be there for me
I want a guy who will care for me
I want a guy who will look at me and say, who cares about Valentine’s day
I’ll love you everyday

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Being a medical student in the UK vs Sweden

Third medical school, third country. Third time’s a charm, right?

Two weeks has passed and I’m slowly transitioning from being a British medical student to a Swedish läkarkandidat. Slowly, I’m leaving the feeling of being a tourist only observing from the outside, to being a part of Linköping’s Läkarprogrammet T7. On good days when I overcome the language barrier of course. It’s okay, I didn’t expect the transition to be easy. But so far, I’m happy. And that’s what’s important.

Nevertheless as expected, I can’t help notice differences between my previous British medical education to my current Swedish one. So far, this is what I’ve noticed during my two weeks of Swedish medical school.

1. People don’t judge you if you admit you didn’t understand

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Sweden: Someone in my class raised their hand up during a lecture and said: “Sorry I didn’t quite understand that, could you explain it again?” and no judgemental murmurs were heard in the room. I was shocked. In a positive way of course.

UK: You don’t understand something? Tough luck, go over it on your own later. Or ask the lecturer on your own time, and not waste precious lecture time.

2. Student life is based on a lot of singing

Sweden: Aside from the alcohol of course, a lot of the traditions are based on singing. It is even a requirement for the main event organisers to sing. It doesn’t matter if you have a good singing voice or not, but you sing anyway. And everyone knows the lyrics. If not, there’s a songbook.

UK: Traditions differ, but it’s all based on doing silly things with alcohol, and not that much singing. Unless you call drunken screaming singing. Not as melodic.

3. Breaks are a necessity not a privilege

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Sweden: For every lecture we have that is over 2h, it is a MUST to have a break in the middle. Otherwise the lecturer gets a negative comment for forgetting on the evaluation form. Also, every time the lecturer asks whether we want him/her to continue the lecture without a break but a longer lunch break instead, that suggestion is always quickly shut down. Breaks are sacred. They’re for stretching your legs and getting coffee.

UK: “Oh look, we have a short break in between our lectures! I’ll just put my head down for a few min and then I’ll look over the next lecture.” Breaks were a privilege, and such a privilege must be used wisely. For the past few years in medical school in the UK, I haven’t had a lunch break. Lunch break for me has always meant quickly eating then studying. Or eating whilst studying. Now breaks in between lectures/classes/for lunch are for socialising. And additionally for my case, fighting my urge to take a quick nap or running off to the library.

4. Taking an interruption during one’s studies is normal

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Sweden: Apparently I wasn’t the only one who was new in our class because many returned from their leave of absence(s). Also, many in my class have told me that they too have taken a break from their studies in the past. Some are even planning on going on another semester’s leave. When you ask what they did during their leave, a common response is: “travel, work, have fun.”

UK: You can only take a break from medical school if you have a valid reason such as taking a Masters, illness or personal/family issues. Also, your application on taking a leave of absence has to be assessed and evaluated, with reasonable documented evidence. I recall seeing several doctors at the medical school about mine. The final being the medical school psychiatrist assessing whether I was “mentally stable” to make such a decision.

5. It’s okay to admit you didn’t prepare for the session

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Sweden: I had a meeting with the co-director of the medical program at Linköping, who explained to me about their medical program. When she came to the part about our group sessions (PBL sessions like in Manchester), she said: “If you didn’t prepare, just say so. You may have had an event in the weekend and didn’t have any time. It’s okay, we all have bad days!”

UK: In St Andrews, if you came unprepared to a session you get a “yellow card.” Three yellow cards means a meeting with the disciplinary head. So if you’re unprepared, fake it until you make it!

6. Exams are 6h long

Goodbye exam ✋

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Sweden: 100-something point exams are normally 6h long and most use up the entire time.

UK: We have 2.5h for our 130 point test? Perfect, that gives us just about over a minute for each point!

7. You failed? Just take the resits like the other 30%

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Sweden: To pass, you need 65% and above on the exam, and it is normal for 30% or even more to fail. It is actually expected. And if you fail, it’s okay, just take the resits. If you fail the resits, just take them again. And again. And again. Until you pass.

UK: Passing depends on how the rest of your class does. So if you’re in a pretty studious class (my class in St Andrews broke records for having the highest averages…), you better study. Because if you fail, you only have one chance to redo the exam, otherwise you have to repeat the year!

8. Internationalising is encouraged

Sweden: Within my two weeks of medical school in Sweden, I already applied for going on a semester’s exchange (with scholarship of course) and also got my application for doing a clinical rotation in the US signed and accepted. I got my application back with a note saying: “Happy trip and placement!”

UK: Doing clinical rotations abroad or even at a different hospital in the UK was basically impossible, unless special circumstances like in my case. I was doing medical French as a part of my European Studies, so I was allowed to do a clinical placement in Geneva. Otherwise, you have your final semester of medical school after finishing your final exams to do a clinical elective abroad, not earlier!

9. Group work is actually group work

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Sweden: Group work (in this case I mean PBL sessions) means discussions and encourages inquisitive thinking, and everyone contributes with something. You think together and share ideas, and together come up with a conclusion. Also, you don’t look at your notes because if you forgot a detail, someone else probably remembers it and fills that detail in.

UK: Group work (PBL sessions) was an opportunity to show off the random rare things you learnt from books with complicated names and from newly published research. Did you actually memorise that? No one knows, since you’re just reading from your notes anyway.

10. Medical school isn’t a competition, but team work

Sweden: As a final tip, one of our lecturers said: “Do not compare yourselves to your classmates, because you will all get there in the end”

UK: I used to describe entering the lecture theatre as entering a battle field. Your grades depend on your classmates, and your rank in your class will determine your future. Like what a classmate told me, “We’re all on the same race, and our goal is to come first.”

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Both systems are different with its own pros and cons. Looking back, my years in the UK were difficult, but until now, I still say that my first three years in the UK are the best three years of my life so far. The British system had its own hardships especially coming as a Swedish student. However, through my years there, I feel that I was hardened. I learnt self-discipline and how to work hard. Now, I’m hoping I can use my four years worth of experience in Sweden. I am grateful for the past four years and am looking forward to my final two years of medical school. Doctor Sam, finally, here I come!