Photo #244: Canada – An Infographic

October 29, 2012

Was reorganizing some folders on my computer today when I came across this inforgraphic by Kirstin Hallett. I thought it was pretty great when I first saved it and now I must share with you! I also find a lot of this quite accurate! ๐Ÿ˜‰

PS: I live in the centre of the whole freaking universe!

Photo #243: Study Feed

October 28, 2012

It’s study week which means too busy (or lazy) to cook. Solution? Make something easy that lasts for days and doesn’t require heating up. Deliciously healthy pasta salad with black olives, green peppers, red onions grilled in balsamic vinegar, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and dressing.


Photo #241: Last PBL Ever

October 26, 2012

Today was our last PBL session… ever! How quickly did this year fly by? I’m really happy to have been a part of such a wonderful group of people. You guys have taught me so much and made me laugh even more! Thanks Christine, Yoni, Roger, Chen, Alex, Jasmine, Joseph, Randol, Josiah, and Drew (our tutor)! All the best on your final exams!

Part 2: A Delightful Wednesday

October 24, 2012

Mike and I love food and wish we could go out all the time. Unfortunately, we are both poor students so can’t afford it! However, we do try to take advantage of as many great voucher deals as possible!

And tonight was such a deal: $69 for a 6 course degustation meal and a glass of bubbly for two at L’Academie! We had a good time there last year and thought it would be worth going a second time!

The week before we emailed in a reservation but never received a response. A little unexpected, but nothing a quick phone call couldn’t solve and we were booked for 7pm.

Always a nice change to get dressed up for a night out! ๐Ÿ™‚

Upon arrival, we were shown to our table and our degustation meal was explained to us. Unfortunately, the server did not speak very good English and also did not know the menu very well. We missed half the things she was saying and couldn’t really ask her any questions regarding the food (Ie. she didn’t know what a palate cleanser was). Throughout the meal, we had 3 servers, which I find out and just adds to potential confusion.

The bread had been put out at our table ahead of time, but we also noticed the bread in the kitchen was just sitting in a basket, also exposed to air. Dry, crusty bread isn’t very nice! And the same problem we had the last time.

I remember the first time I was at a banquet and had more than one set of cutlery – gosh I was so confused, haha! Certainly know better now ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hey dear!

We had a view of the kitchen from our seats

First course: Oyster 2 ways: Bloody Mary and au Gratin

I’m not a fan of oysters, especially raw oysters – but I figured I must try! Michael thought they were quite delicious but I simply couldn’t get past the aftertaste of raw oysters. The other components of the dish were good though! What I disliked: the undressed, out of place julienned carrot and onion. I also wish the chef had separated the oyster from the shell. Would make things a lot easier and look more appealing if patrons could just go straight to slurping the oyster!

Second course: Fried tofu with some Asian styled sauce with a side of salad.

Tofu was way overfried. Crisp but completely dry. Not enough sauce also made the dish quite tasteless, and I normally love tofu. And again, with an undressed and haphazard salad, this was our least favourite dish of the night.

By this time, they had not given us our glasses of bubbly so we had to request them. Unfortunately, it was a different server and he too, did not speak English well and couldn’t understand our request. It was fine though, as he asked the lady who initially seated us and she promptly brought them out. Seems like they just forgot, so no problem! In case you were wondering, it was 2 glasses of Charles Vienot Brut Cuvee.

Third course: Strawberry & citrus sorbet (We think! Couldn’t figure out if it was citrus or just lemon)

Nice but a little too sweet for a palate cleanser! I found the portion a little large as well.

Fourth course: Chicken skewer on a bed of greens

Chicken was amazing. Crisp on the outside, tender and perfectly cooked on the inside, I wish there were 2 skewers! The salad was a little weird for me, again. Raw zucchini skins are definitely not the tastiest things you can put in salad

Fifth course: Thyme and garlic pork fillet on Paris mash, saffron carrot & Blaukraut (got the full name off the menu on the counter beside us)

A very hearty dish, we were definitely getting full now! Pork was perfectly cooked and made me wish there was more than 3 slices and less mashed potatoes! The sauce was so overpowering (tasted mostly of Worcestershire sauce actually) that it made the Blaukraut (German braised red cabbage in red wine) seem like a really odd and weak-flavoured addition to the dish. Nevertheless, still quite tasty.

Sixth and last course: Choc Hazelnut Gateau

Yummy! The other time we had dessert here, it was a crude and dry brownie. This cake (even though it was precut and refrigerated) was moist, decadent, full of hazelnut crunch and the serving size was enormous! I would’ve been more than happy with a piece half that size, but who was complaining!

With our bellies bursting with happiness, we said thank you and headed home ๐Ÿ˜€

Overall, we had a good experience. Staff were friendly but really need to work on learning their menu items and ingredients. Some dishes were quite tasty but we hated the undressed filler salads that came with many plates. Dessert was super generous and delicious which ended the night on a high note. We understand L’Academie is a training restaurant, and with such mixed reviews on Urbanspoon, we definitely did not walk in with any expectations.

Will we come back?

For a good price we would. But I think we’re more interested in trying out a new place next time.

L'Acadamie on Urbanspoon

Part 1: A Delightful Wednesday

October 24, 2012

Met up with Christine for study date – lunch at Petit Four in Wintergarden Queen St Mall. Christine had a ‘tasting’ voucher – $15 for the 2 of us which I thought was definitely worth it!

I had read a number of negative reviews on Urbanspoon but was quite happy with the pleasant service! We were patiently instructed on our options and what we could choose:

  • 2 hot drinks (approx $5/ea value) – I chose a hazelnut chocolate milk while Christine got a strawberry mocha. My milk was nearly hot enough to even melt the chocolate so I ended up with a clumpy chocolatey drink. Fortunately, it still tasted good.

  • 2 chocolates ($3/ea value) – Wild passionfruit for me and a rose shaped fudge for Christine. Yummy chocolates!

  • 4 small macarons (approx $3/ea value) – Pistachio and citrus for me, strawberry and pistachio for Christine. I really enjoyed these but haven’t had them enough to know if these would be considered ‘great’ or not.

  • 1 tart (approx $5/ea value) – Lemon meringue. Nothing special but tasted good.

  • 1 square (approx $5/ea value) – Chocolate mud cake. Didn’t really like this – barely enough chocolate flavour and not very moist – definitely not a ‘mud’ cake.

  • 4 finger sandwiches – We got one of each flavour: egg & dill, chicken, tuna and tomato/cheese/ham. Again, nothing special but they were good!

Overall, the food was quite decent. And really, how could you complain when you paid $15 for all of that food, in Brisbane?

There were also numerous people who came to redeem the same voucher (which expired the next day). I was amazed at how impatient and stuck up some customers can be. Hello?! You chose to be cheap and purchase this great deal… what on earth are you so high and mighty about? Some people really need to learn to be a little more respectful!

Anyway, Petit Four is located in a corner of the mall so you don’t expect much. But they do have a cute environment withย  clear plastic chairs and little tables (seat 2 or 4) as well as clear stools for 2 big counters for customers to sit at. We set up shop at one of the counters and ended up staying for close to 5 hours, mainly studying with some chit chat ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not once did we feel pressured to leave and the tasting definitely filled us up for a while!

Would I come back? Yes! But only when I’m not so cheap and poor… ๐Ÿ˜›

Petit Four on Urbanspoon

Finally got home around 5:30pm to these! So pretty!

From this guy! ๐Ÿ˜‰

We had a dinner date that night (you’ll see in Part 2!) so he decided to get me flowers… awww, so sweet!

PBL 36 – Lunch at Mike & Sandra’s

October 23, 2012

PBL 36 came over for a potluck lunch today – so much fun and such great food!

Thank you so much to everyone for not only coming, but for putting the time and effort into making the lunch a success!

  • Drew – awesome fruit punch
  • Yoni – apple pie
  • Alex & Josiah – lovely cheese board with crackers and condiments
  • Randol – pinto beans and corn bread
  • Joseph – Singaporean noodles
  • Jasmine – salmon salad
  • Chen – Frankfurts wrapped in puff pastry
  • Christine – ‘Death by Chocolate’ trifle
  • Roger – mini chicken sandwiches
  • Mike & I – curried eggs, meatballs, cinnamon buns & chocolate treats

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I had a great time playing Articulate and hearing all your stories – I hope we get the chance to do it again soon!

Some of the spread!

Mmm… especially grilled haloumi!

Tasty chicken sandwiches!

Jasmine and Chen!

Mike and Christine

Hi Joseph ๐Ÿ™‚

Roger! Always so smiley

Hey boys! Randol, Rog, Jossy – you guys made it to my Photo of the Day!

The girls look good, the guys… a little silly…

Desserts! Apple pie with ‘PBL 36 +’

Mmm… death by chocolate

Cinnamon buns!

Photo #236: The First People I Met in Australia

October 21, 2012

We surprised Deebah at her 25th birthday tonight at Char Char Yiros in West End. Her reaction and happiness made it a complete success – thanks to Mabel for organizing and letting us be a part of it! This was one of the pictures taken at the end of the night – the St Leo’s College crew! Deebah, Mabel, Joe, Rachit, Mario, Mike and Yoni were the very first people I met upon arriving in Australia because we all stayed at the same temporary accommodation. Memories! So nice to have a picture with all of you ๐Ÿ™‚

(I will replace with a better quality photo when I receive an original copy from Deebah!)

A wonderful Friday surprise

Last Friday (October 19), Mike and I decided to have lunch at The Coffee Club in West End after PBL. We had bought a voucher that was expiring within a few days – $25 for 2 breakfasts or lunches and 2 glasses of wine/juice, so had to use it!

After a delicious lunch, we did what we usually do when we go out for food: hang around for a few hours and study. During that time, I got a message from Joseph saying “OSCE marks are out!”

I told Michael excitedly and then with trembling hands and a pounding heart, we logged onto Blackboard to check our scores. I don’t know If you remember, but a few weeks ago I wrote a blog after the OSCEs detailing my experiences and the fear that I may have failed.

I held my breath and loaded the page:

Yay! I passed! Michael was slower and was even more nervous to load his page, but he passed too! Yay us!

I was unbelievably happy. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Michael and I booked our flights back to Ottawa for the second week after final exams in case we’d have to redo the exam but now we can have a real holiday in Australia before going home instead!

Headed out after studying and stopped in Bent Books – sooo many books! Loved it!

Three Monkeys Coffee & Tea House on Urbanspoon

We then decided to stop at Three Monkeys Coffee & Tea House for a slice of celebratory cake. ๐Ÿ˜€ Our friend Lauren introduced this lovely cafe to us last year. Although it has great ambiance, cozy indoor and breezy outdoor seating, their cakes are unfortunately quite average while overpriced. Nevertheless, fun times! And make sure to check out the decor if you stop by! All the different “See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil” monkeys really gives the cafe its name!

Kimono on Urbanspoon

Decided to call it a day and head home. But during the walk back to Cultural Centre bus stop, we passed by Kimono – a sushi train restaurant we’d never seen before. Sushi is our weakness… so we decided we had to give it a try!

We were loudly greeted by the chef as soon as we walked into the door and felt immediately welcomed. A server showed us to our seats and briefly outlined the dinner options, which included an AYCE buffet option! Alas, we weren’t hungry enough for that so we ordered a few rolls instead. They were made on the spot, well priced and all were quite yummy!

When we went to pay, the server commented that we didn’t eat much but we told her we’ll definitely be back!

What an amazingly happy day! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

Remembering a kind soul: Msgr. Andrรฉ Drouin

Earlier this week, I called my grandma to express my condolences after hearing Ong Bay had passed away. After talking to her for a few minutes, she said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you. Remember Father Andre? I only just found out recently that he passed away after a long battle with cancer.”

My heart sank.

That day, I found out that not one, but 2 people dear to me had left this world. And I didn’t get the chance to see either of them one last time.

Click here to read his obituary

Many of you probably don’t know Msgr. Andrรฉ Drouin so let me tell you the story of how I got to know him.

For the majority of my life, my grandparents lived downtown in Ottawa and regularly attended St Anne’s Parish where Msgr. Andrรฉ Drouin resided as pastor.

During my childhood, my sister and I often stayed at my grandparents, and of course, if they went to daily morning masses, then so did we.

I don’t recall since when, but for as long as I can remember, we called him Father Andrรฉ and he loved us. He would acknowledge us with a wink during procession and after every mass, we would wait patiently for our turn to say hello. Once he saw us, he would greet us with open arms and a loud, “Ah, my girlfriends!” while bending down to swoop us up. We’d always give him a peck on the cheek and he would turn us to the other parishioners and introduce us as his girlfriends. He would also always show off a little detail like, “Guess how many languages they speak? Tell them girls. Three languages! And what are they? Yes, English, French and Vietnamese!”

We grew up over the years and no matter how busy, he always had time for us, our grandparents and later – our numerous cousins. Made us feel special and somehow, despite all the people he met, always remembered the little things we told him. During high school I told him I wanted to become a pharmacist. Years later when we met again, he asked about pharmacy even though I had long moved on. He always remembered.

My grandparents eventually moved to our neighbourhood, and as a result, attending mass at St Anne’s became a rarity. Weeks turned into months and months eventually turned into years. My grandparents would see him once in a while, and tell me Father Andre had asked about us. My grandma got his phone number for me and told him I would get in touch.

And I wanted to. I certainly meant to. But life kept getting in the way. Now isn’t that a common excuse you often hear? I was busy with school, then I was busy taking care of my dad, then I was busy with school again, then busy with preparations of getting ready for Australia.

I never made the time to visit him and now I won’t get chance.

Although it saddens me, it’s now an important reminder of life. Never be too busy to make time for those you care about. Time flies, situations develop and people change. Nothing and nobody will wait for you, nor will they be around forever. โค

Father Andre was definitely someone who was able to find time for other people, read about his caring side HERE and HERE

Rest in peace.
January 01, 1934 – June 04, 2012

Photo #234: A Little Piece of Heaven

October 19, 2012

Books galore! I could spend all day here at Bent Books in West End. I have also long decided that one day, I will have my own library. It will be a large and haphazard collection containing:

  • Many medical textbooks at the rate I’m amassing them
  • Novels by my favourite authors
  • Books on my favourite topics
  • Stories that were a part of my childhood that I will introduce to my kids, and more!

Photo #233: USMLE… sigh.

October 18, 2012

Tonight, I made the decision to write the USMLE Step 1… hooray… sad face. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Finally took a serious look at the First Aid book I bought last year and a part of me died inside. There is a lot of material to know. I should’ve decided to write this earlier. Why am I doing this to myself? Oh wait, I should already know all of this stuff… it’s the thought of having to remember everything inside out that makes me cry. At least I can now say I’m not closing a door to my future!

Photo #232: Songza – My Current Favourite App

October 17, 2012

I discovered an amazing app, called Songza, that offers hours and hours and hours of great music. The best part? It can go straight to the Apple TV and be played through the stereo. sums up some of its other features perfectly:

โ˜†100% free. No audio advertisements & no monthly listening limit.
โ˜†Stream thousands of original playlists handmade by music experts.
โ˜†Let Songzaโ€™s โ€˜Music Conciergeโ€™ find the right music for your moments.
โ˜†Browse a curated playlist library organized by activity, genre, decade, & mood.
โ˜†Save your favorite playlists & share them via Facebook, Twitter or email.

Check out their article for more information: Definitely worth giving the app a try! ๐Ÿ˜€

Recently made dishes

I had made this meatloaf a few weeks ago and again for Mario‘s Thanksgiving lunch this past weekend. Ground turkey works fantastic for this and I now enjoy cooking with it over ground chicken.

Baby asparagus with a little bit of butter and sprinkles of salt, pepper and grated Parmesan

Grilled cheese with some home grown yellow cherry tomatoes

Pasta salad with pesto, broccoli, green peppers and olives. Tasted great, but can you tell I had veggies to use up?

The peanut butter and pickle combination

Curiosity got the best of me the other day. I had cut up too many pickles for a previous meal. We had bread to eat up and there was plenty of peanut butter in the house. So I decided, “It’s time to try it.” and put together half a peanut butter and pickle sandwich.

I didn’t even think of taking a picture (doesn’t look very appetizing), but this is pretty much what my sandwich looked like:

Verdict: Nuh uh. Thank goodness it was only half a sandwich. I simply couldn’t taste the appeal… guess this combo is just not for me!

Photo #231: Remembering Ong Bay

October 16, 2012

I called home this morning and was told incredibly sad news. Ong Bay – my grandpa’s younger brother, had passed away from a very unfortunate accident. Although he lived in Vietnam, I was lucky to have had opportunities to spend time with him. Each time, he greeted my family with a toothy grin and insisted we stay to have a meal with his family – cooked with his own birds and vegetables. We also had to travel by boat to get to his place but he would make sure never to send us back without lots and lots of fresh fruits from his garden… ๐Ÿ™‚

It saddens me more that I was in Vietnam just a year ago, but was too busy with my own stuff to visit him and his family, Now I will no longer have that chance. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain he experienced, how scared and how alone he must’ve felt during his last moments, but I pray and believe that he’s now at peace and in a better place…

We will remember you Ong Bay.

(Photo taken June 26, 2007)

RIP October 10, 2012

Thanksgiving lunch at Mario’s

October 14, 2012

Mario invited a bunch of us over to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving… it was amazing ๐Ÿ˜€ Everybody brought such delicious food… let’s see if I can remember everything:

  • Mario – roasted pork belly and duck fat potatoes
  • Mike & Sandra – Meatloaf and apple tarts
  • Yoni – Sweet potato salad
  • Janet & Ben – Mac&Cheese and green been salad
  • Stacy – Pumpkin pie
  • MyCo – Wings (& salad I believe)
  • Jen & Alex – Roast lamb
  • Lauren – Salad
  • Saji – Drinks
  • Ben – Pumpkin risotto
  • Sarah – Mezze board
  • Sarah & Max – White chocolate mud cake

Is that everyone? I hope so! I’m sure everybody had super happy bellies by the afternoon ๐Ÿ˜‰

I wish I had taken photos, but here are a few from Mario:

Setting up the tables with only some of the dishes

One of Sarah’s mezze boards and white chocolate mud cake – yum!

Shot of my apple tarts

Group photo!

And another group shot taken by MyCo

Thanks again to Mario and everyone else for a lovely lunch!

Photo #228: Splashes of Purple

October 13, 2012

After an incredibly windy day yesterday, the jacaranda trees were looking less lively than we had hoped, although they’re not yet in full bloom. With the lack of rain and hot sun, there was also no luscious green grass in sight. Doesn’t make for the prettiest picture but it was the best I could do! We’ll try to scout for a better location sometime soon.


She can put a smile on your face: Atong

My dearest chocolate friend, Atong, never fails puts a smile on my face.

If you’re lucky, you know her personally. But even if you don’t, I hope sharing this story will make you laugh too!

She’s currently in New Orleans and obviously having a blast. Sent the girls the following update yesterday:

Ladies, I cried in a restaurant last night. Lol. No joke. Tears came out of my ducts and rolled onto my face. Then I stole a goblet. My food was so good that I actually cried. No joke. I cried in the middle of the restaurant. I then stole the cup (it’s actually a goblet – it’s huge!). Actually, when I say ‘stole’ what I actually did was call the waitress over and ask her how she felt about me taking the goblet. She said she didn’t see anything and then helped me hide it. I love this place.

I went for a jog outside this morning. First of all, it’s hot. Second of all, the boys are so nice. I’ve been called a ‘pretty young thang’ so many times that I’ve lost count. Lol. I’m not coming back to Ottawa. There’s nothing there for me.

I’m just going to find my first husband in the next few days and just lock him down. This is the new me. Get used to it.

Things to note: She cried over food and she plans to find her first husband. Haha

She then added:

I had deep fried shrimp wrapped in crab stuffing. Sooooooo good. Sandra, if you do your rotations here, I will visit ALL THE TIME. The weather is gorgeous. The only downside is that I didn’t bring my booty shorts. Sad face.

I stole the goblet because it’s huge! It’s the equivalent of 3 drinks. It’s magnificent. I’m going to drink every thing out of it. Coffee, cocktails, beer. I might even put soup in it.

I miss this girl! ๐Ÿ˜‰

A study date at Bellissimo Coffee

October 11, 2012

Mike and I were in the area running an errand and decided to stop by Bellissimo Coffee during down time to study. What a neat little place! Although I’m not a coffee drinker, reviews on Urbanspoon certainly agree that Bellissimo deserves being the most awarded coffee of 2010 and 2011.

The shop has 2 levels. You can place your orders downstairs, check out some coffee roasting and even buy some coffee beans to take home.

We didn’t get any food but will definitely next time!

Then head upstairs where there’s plenty of room to grab a seat. Neat tables made from milk crates and coffee machines line the wall.

I’m not a coffee drinker but Michael said it was great coffee and we were both quite impressed at the latte art

Productive study date, yay!

Bellissimo on Urbanspoon

Cooking with Yoni

Remember the perogies? Well, it was yesterday that Yoni came over for this wonderful adventure. I was super excited to make them (because I’d never tried before) and eat them (because I haven’t had any in so long, and I love them)!

It took a few hours, but the results were amazing, we couldn’t have asked for better tasting perogies! We high-fived a few times to celebrate our success and then proceeded to eat them all. Too yummy!


Delicious and healthy artichoke tea

We went grocery shopping the other day and I saw these enormous artichokes. It brought back memories of when my mom and grandma would make pots of artichoke tea and keep jugs of it in the fridge. A distinct flavoured, light and refreshing tea, great served cold.

For $2, I had to buy one and try making it myself. Result? Success!

I cut the artichoke into 4 and boiled it in 1.5L of water for about 25 minutes. Added about 1 tbsp of sugar just to enhance the sweetness of the artichoke. I used white sugar, but I’m sure raw or cane sugar would’ve been great! Once cooled, I strained the tea and stored it in the fridge.

I was curious to see if anyone else drank artichoke tea so did a little research – how surprising! It’s actually quite popular and potentially has health benefits. Research has shown some compounds in artichoke can reduce the body’s synthesis of cholesterol and reduce excess blood cholesterol. Now… isn’t that interesting!

Photo #225: Amazing Homemade Perogies

October 10, 2012

Yoni and I made perogies… from scratch! We didn’t know what to expect, but they turned out UH-MAZING. I got the dough recipe online and we made our own 2 fillings: plain potato and potato with bacon, onion and cheddar cheese. We ended up with about 40 and… ate them all. Despite how delicious they were, I don’t know if I’ll be making them again anytime soon, they take a lot of work!

Mmm,, perogies with a sour cream and sweet chili sauce

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

My sister gave me a Survival Kit in a Sardine Can before coming to Australia. It was a neat little gift that I wanted to save for the inevitable zombie apocalypse but curiosity got the best of me. I did hold out for nearly 2 years though, that’s got to count for something!

Here’s the little tin, it’s quite small and fits in the palm of your hand. It’s also packed pretty well so once you open it and unpack the items… it nearly impossible to fit everything back in.

Kit contains one of each:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol/Panadol)
  • Adhesive bandage
  • Alcohol prep
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Book matches
  • Tea bag
  • Chewing gum
  • Compass
  • Sugar
  • Whistle
  • Fire starter cube
  • Wire clip (paper clip)
  • First aid instructions
  • Fish hook and line
  • Note paper
  • Pencil
  • Razor blade
  • Duct tape
  • Salt packet
  • Energy nugget (a mini Tootsie roll)
  • Safety pin
  • Signal mirror (I don’t think I had this in my kit… am I supposed to use the inside of the tin as a mirror?)
  • Waterproof bag

There was also a little sheet that came with instructions and ideas on how to use each item – could be pretty useful ๐Ÿ˜€

The stash! That razor blade is normal size and that compass is as big as the tip of my finger so you can get an idea on the size of the other objects.

Thanks again sis! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Cinnamon Challenge: Stupid!

What is the cinnamon challenge?

To swallow a tablespoon of powdered cinnamon without the aid of water in under 60 seconds.

It is unbelievable the number of people I’ve seen on YouTube attempting this challenge and failing… horribly. And it never stops, people just keep doing it and proudly posting their videos online!

Here’s a great compilation to show you what I’m talking about:

What did they expect would happen?! I’m sorry if anyone reading this has tried the cinnamon challenge but you have to admit… that was a really stupid decision. With that being said, I’m sorry you had to go through that nastiness, and had to clean up the mess afterward.

Cinnamon is spicy and the powder will completely dry out your mouth, your salivary glands will not be able to release enough saliva and you won’t be able to swallow. As soon as you take a breath, those fine little spice particles are going to on into your lungs and down your oesophagus causing: choking, vomiting, even aspiration pneumonia. Also, who knows what else can develop down the road if the cinnamon never gets cleared from your lungs!

Just stick with the Saltine Cracker Challenge… at least it’s safer!

Photo #222: Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

October 07, 2012

This weekend makes me long for home and to be celebrating Thanksgiving weekend with my family. The smell of turkey roasting in the oven, the bustle of a busy kitchen and sitting down at dinner with the entire family for a feast… mmm! I did, however, have a lovely banquet dinner at The Vietnamese with friends and ended the night with a tummy ready to explode. This is a picture from my last Thanksgiving in Canada (2010)

Photo #221: Untouched Colours

October 06, 2012

I thought of autumn today. There are a few things I miss about Canada, one of which… the amazing autumn colours creating beautiful sceneries. Thinking of colours made me think of this untouched palette. Perhaps if I develop a sudden and inexplicable degree of boldness, I will finally dip into these pots!

Photo #220: Fruits of His Labour

October 05, 2012

After many months of tender care and loving touch, Michael’s tomato plants finally started to bear fruit. Unfortunately, before all of them could grow and ripen, unknown creatures of the dark (probably possums) decided that tomato leaves were the best thing in the world to eat and devoured them all. A few of what we were able to harvest before the plants croaked on us!

Santos City of Lights & Sunsuper Riverfire

Went down to South Bank with Nicole on Sept 28, after attending the UQMS International Info Night, to catch the last light show of Brisbane Festival! It was a lot better than I remembered it to be!

Came across an outdoor concert on the way home

The following day, we went to see Looper with Mario, Yoni and Stacy. The movie ended a few minutes before 7pm, just in time to see the fireworks! ๐Ÿ™‚ I really wish we had an aerial view, that would’ve been amazing!

Sooo many people

My video doesn’t do the fireworks justice, see a better one HERE

OSCEs over and now the wait starts

3 weeks ago, I mentioned my year 2 clinical exams (OSCEs) coming up.

Well, I’m happy to say they are finally over! As part of the first batch of students taking the tests, we were scheduled to be at the hospital by 8am today. I was so nervous and worried that I woke up at 5am to read through everything again… 5am! Very rarely would I wake up that early because I’m so stressed!

At 8am, we were ushered in a conference room in the Outpatient Clinic at RBWH. We were signed in, divided into groups of five and were notified of the station we would be starting with. After being given a lovely speech of encouragement from our program director Dr Schafer and once everyone was ready to go, we were directed to our respective hallway and proceeded to sit down at our first station.

There were a series of 5 stations. At each, we had 2 minutes to peruse (and make our way from the previous station), followed by 8 minutes to carry out the specified task. 10 minutes total per station.

I started with Station #3: Clinical Reasoning.

The blaring horn went off to signal the beginning of 2 minutes perusal. At this station, the patient presented with abdominal pain. I had to read through the complete history and come up with 3 likely diagnoses and support them with positive and negative findings. Two minutes flew by so quickly, I had barely read through the entire history and only had just written down my diagnoses. The annoying horn went off to let us know 2 minutes was up and it was time to proceed into the room. For this station, I get an additional 2 minutes to collect my thoughts before speaking. Before I knew it, it was time to start. This station overall went well for me, although it wasn’t until I stepped out the door that I realized my 2nd diagnoses should’ve been my first!

Next was Station #4: Clinical Communication Skills

Two minutes to peruse how I would facilitate a ‘behavioural change’ discussion with a cardiac patient who needed to quit smoking. Prior to today, this was the station I was most worried about but I think I did fine. Hopefully I addressed the patient’s concerns appropriately and explored the necessary details. I said the patient was in a contemplative stage but unfortunately, didn’t have time to completely wrap up the interview.

Station #5: Procedural Skills

A sigh of relief. I looked down at my sheet during perusal to see the choice of skill to be tested was a less complicated one. I didn’t have to do venepuncture or cannulation. All I had to do was take BP, RR, HR, and measure peak expiratory flow. This was the only station which I finished (comfortably) within 8 minutes. Thank goodness.

Station #1: History Taking

A woman presenting with fatigue and weight gain. It was a classic hypothyroidism case. At one point during history taking, my mind blanked and I had a long awkward pause followed by putting my hands over my face and mumbling, “Ah, I’m sorry!” However, I did pull it together and thought I took a decent history, even though I forgot a few specific hypothyroidism questions (ie. nail changes and thickened skin) I also ran out of time, so had to blurt out that I would also want to address the patient’s family/social history.

And lastly… Station #2: Clinical Examination

I was asked to do an examination on a patient with a suspected diagnosis of lung cancer. This was the station I was most prepared for but I don’t think practice can ever prepare you for an intimidating (almost rude) examiner. I felt he was really aggressive and didn’t let me finish anything I wanted to say. I started with asking the patient his age (check if hes oriented to person/place/time) but before the patient could answer, the examiner yelled, “Why would you ask that? You were told his age on the paper! It says he’s 48! … Oh, well his mental state is fine!” Every time I mentioned that I would be looking for ‘so and so’ and before I could actually touch the patient, he would cut me off and loudly say, “Normal!” … every time! As a result, I could barely ‘examine’ the patient. I was also told to move on to other parts of the body when I knew there were things I needed to mention but didn’t get the chance. By the end of the examination, I had only been allowed to do a few percussions and feel a few lymph nodes. One stupid mistake I made: not realizing I had said ‘hypertrophic pulmonary osteoarthritis’ rather than ‘-arthropathy’ and not cluing in when he repeated ‘arthritis?’ I am genuinely worried about failing this station because I felt like the examiner did not judge my ‘examination skills’. Instead I had to verbally stutter my way through the station because I wasn’t really given the chance to fully talk or examine the patient.

Even though we were told not to fuss if we didn’t finish a station, I can’t help it! Oh well, I guess all we can do now, is wait and see!

Things I enjoyed:

  • It’s nice to have the skills I’ve learned these past 2 years be tested. It’s obviously necessary if we want to perform well next year on the wards!
  • Very well organized and very grateful to all everyone (staff, examiners, patients) who made the day possible.

Things I wish could’ve been better:

  • 2 minutes perusal time includes leaving the previous room and settling into the next station. Then 8 minutes at the station includes entering a room and having a brief introduction with the examiner. The seconds are so precious and add up quickly… I would have liked to see more time allotted per station.
  • Perusal during clinical reasoning was quite distracting when you could hear the other stations through the walls!
  • I had mostly good experiences with examiners but also one particularly bad one. From comments on our FB page, it seems many other students felt the same way. Just as our patients are standardized, I wish our examiners were as well. I wish they had been specifically instructed on how to evaluate us. Discrepancy with examiners can lead to an experience like mine or like others who were able to perform (while verbalizing) an actual examination on the patient.
  • The alarm/horn was so nerve wracking! Please use a nicer sounding chime (like Westminster) next time, and NOT THIS – gives us mini heart attacks each time.
  • As examiners pass or fail us on the spot, it would be great if we could get our final P/F grade at the end of the OSCEs. But logistics makes it understandable.

The wait begins…