Special Senses #1

Here I am, just one week into the Special Senses module and M.I.A. again. It was a tough week, considering how high I was before crashing into the abyss of medical science. *I miss EAMSC T_T* Well, it’s not the science. In fact, the science is what keeps me there. It is the medical education that kills.

A part of “going to school” means going through tedious cycles of PBLs and plenary sessions, not to mention dealing with some pedantic facilitators who are more than happy to point out every tiny bit of discrepancies from the Twelve Commandments of PBL. [I would like to clarify that this breed of PBL facilitators represent only a minor portion of all facilitators]. This is what effectively prevents students from actually studying; we are being preoccupied with stuffs that should’ve been easily bypassed.

On the topic of special senses itself (sight, hearing & balance, smell, taste), I am somewhat ambivalent. I think the physiology of the senses is one of the most interesting and understandable compared to other body systems, although it can be quite complex at times.

Studying anatomy and histology in this module will take extra effort because we are studying multiple unrelated organs at the same time. I will also have to overcome my squamishness when seeing diseased eyeballs. Urgh. I can stand the sight of exploding intestines, but it takes willpower to stare at an acid-injured eye.

However, I think I have made a progress in this side: I watched an entire cataract removal surgery on YouTube. The surgeon was sticking all these tiny devices into an eyeball as if it were a pincushion, destroy its cataract, and replace the lens. And I didn’t even look away. Oh yeah.

Entering the second week, I am bracing for the rough waves ahead. If you think this writing is incoherent, you should take a peek into my thoughts. Gotta get some ZZZs.

A new dawn…

… that stings your eyes and burns your skin. The agony eats you inside out.

My sixth semester officially starts tomorrow. Blurgh. It will be a long one, with four six-weeks modules before another break. The Special Senses module (indra in Indonesian) is set to kick things off. Guess what my first day will be? A lecture-a-thon from 8 AM till 3 PM.

Despite my previous post, I haven’t moved a finger to get me back on track for a sound academic life. And for that reason, I am giving myself a pat on the back.

By the way, I got my hair cut today, which is predicted to speed things up in the morning quite considerably. Now I’m just hoping that people can still recognize me.

Which reminds me I have to get up early every-freakin-day for the rest of the semester. Then, the image of Jakarta’s abysmal traffic just ran through my brain. Add the current random stormy weather to that chaos. FML.

On a positive note, Glee is coming back this week :D My wish that the traitor Kurt will get eaten by a troll is not coming true anytime soon, but I am still very eager to watch the new episodes. Along with that, I have a safe supply of 30 Rock, SNL, and The Simpsons to prevent back-to-school blues. Not to mention the steady stream of CSIs in AXN and the new season of American Idol.

Oh yeah, I am also very excited to work with the new “season” of AMSA-UI (the AMSA chapter in the University of Indonesia). We shifted the day-to-day leadership towards our juniors; hence, I am looking forward to even more fresh ideas and clever executions. At the same time, we starting the recruitment process for new AMSA members. Ah, new addition to the family :))

And, in three weeks, I will be going to Yogyakarta for yet another AMSA Indonesia event!

Wish me luck and pray for my sanity.

EAMSC 2011: Sights

Bangkok is a beautiful city, you gotta give’em that. There is barely a corner not adorned with Thai culture. Wondrous wats, small shrines, all a pleasure to see. It probably helps that the Thai language has its own script, making everything feel much more exotic *LOL*.

The EAMSC organizing committee treated us to selected essential Bangkok sights. Amazing sights + wild friends = we’re making scenes everywhere.

We all went for a dinner cruise on the Chao Praya river on the second night. Exceptional food followed by pounding music got the river rockin’! Thank goodness we were on an exclusive boat; can’t imagine how other tourists would have reacted to the riot we cooked up. For a night, there was Lady Gaga on the Phraya!

By the way, the title of this post obliges me to tell you that the cruise passed by the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, several bridges, and … some other buildings. They looked so elegant at night, but alas, my camera (or rather my photography skill) wasn’t enough to capture all the glory.

P1010868 Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn

P1010862Somewhere along the river, we passed by another dinner cruise ship, which looked like a snoozefest compared to ours :D


The third day was spent in the Grand Palace complex, which includes Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of Emerald Buddha. Everything inside does the word “Grand” justice; totally marvelous. The temple itself was closed for visitors because apparently there’s a mass prayer for the King of Thailand’s health that day. It was touching how hundreds of monks and laypeople come together to wish him well. I don’t even dare to imagine such thing happening here.

P1010901 P1010903 P1010916This guard’s gonna give Buckingham Palace a run for its money 

Another bit of info, all 30ish Indonesian delegates wore batik that day because we had a country exhibition session. Our booth, showcasing traditional customs, snacks, arts, and crafts, was a hit! A friend even brought a batik-making set.

After the exhibition, we batik-ed up the Grand Palace and … the ladyboy cabaret show later that night o_0 Let’s all come clean, everybody enjoyed the show (although I would prefer a beter word rather than “enjoy”. “Enjoy” simply doesn’t sound right in this context) because we knew they were ladyboys and we were ready to accept their shortcomings in the, let’s say, female anatomical proportions. Otherwise it would’ve been a cheesy batshit-crazy show.


P1010927 Let me save you the trouble of shouting: “WTF!?”

P1010931 Wonder”Girls”, or perhaps QuestionableGirls

Our last sightseeing trip took place on the last day. After the closing ceremony, we went to the Bang Pa-In Palace in Ayutthaya, which is supposed to be the summer palace of the Thai royalty, if I’m not mistaken. Apparently, it is a sprawling complex full of various magnificent buildings of different styles. A Chinese palace (or a temple, really couldn’t tell) on one corner, a Thai building on another, and European houses here and there; complete with a lake, a lookout tower, and a bridge with Roman statues . Stunning place, but sadly not enough shade from the scorching sun.

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A good thing about the heat was that we decided to rent golf carts to explore the vast area. I took a turn driving it, Jakarta style!! And I assure you, we didn’t have to do CPR on my passengers – or reconnect anyone’s limb, if you are wondering.

P1020075 P1020097 This is LJ from South Korea, who became an impromptu cart driving instructor

Thank you for putting up with my less-than-perfect economical photography ;p and here is another group picture, this one in the Grand Palace court.



Nothing injects me with more melancholy than the end of any long holiday. The prospects of trading these joyful anything-goes days with tedious academic stuffs that eats you from the inside is not so great in my book. Even though I’ve gone through this holiday-to-holysh*t transition for a gazillion times, I cannot simply brush it off with a “been there, done that approach”. Pity me :(

As said in Lord of The Rings that “one does not simply walk into Salemba”, I think I have unintentionally compiled a to-do list before waving the semester break bye-bye.

Sort EAMSC memories. I uploaded the pics from my camera and have tagged almost everyone in it, but photos are not the only thing I brought from Bangkok.

First of all, thank you to my AMSA friends for the beautiful souvenirs we hastily traded during cultural night ;p They are very dear to me. I have kept them in a safe place and I will immediately put everything in its rightful place.

Second, I have to arrange who will get which gift from yours truly. Although I am quite flexible on this matter, I don’t want to give a cutey sparkling little Thai elephant keychain to my professors. They deserve something with more dignity, and less sparkle.


Last, I need to properly store my souvenirs from the conference and the Bangkok tour I had. There are conference booklets, business cards, books, fliers, and other whatnots to give home to. Additionally, I am proud to admit that I splurged on sweets in Bangkok supermarkets. Yumm, those chocolate chip cookies sure are tasty.

Reorganize school stuffs. Usually I would have done this at the start of the holiday as a part of my moving-on done-with-you ritual. However, something got in the way this year. Probably laziness.

The ritual starts with moving all the previous module’s materials to an external drive. Because my laptop is one of the centers of life, moving the files symbolizes my strong will to keep school out. And I just don’t like the digital clutter.



Then, repeat step #1 but in meatspace (that’s the opposite of cyberspace). As last the previous semester progressed, small ad hoc medical libraries sprouted in every corner of the house. Psychiatry textbook here, atlas of anatomy there, and I was surprised that no book chilled in the fridge.

Next, take care of the piles of medical handouts I-will-need-in-the-future but I’ll-forget-them-soon-anyway. By taking care, I mean buy a plastic folder and let them fall into oblivion there.

Last, prepare for the next module – NOT! The only thing I’ll have to rectify soon is my circadian rhythm, which is now more like a circus than a cycle.

Enjoy live as a free person. The most essential component of any school break.

Monitor the FAILblogs. Watch some weird viral videos. Read a novel. Load my preowned-by-dad iPod with cool apps.  Download the latest episodes of 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live (Eisenberg-Zuckerberg encounter was crayzeeh). Wake up with the sun shining directly above. Eat the whole mall. Come up with other activities normal people do on holidays.

If followed properly with great liberty to modify accordingly, those steps will certainly recharge me for another month of sleeping in class. Medical students rawkz!

EAMSC 2011: Academics

AMSA conferences, be it the AMSC or EAMSC, always have an interesting academic component. The topics chosen are very relevant and close to medical students. The theme for EAMSC 2011 was Adolescent Health with the tagline "Embrace the Future, Better the World”. The academic program included a lecture, group discussions + presentation, site visits, and competitions.

As a whole, the program was interesting and painless – we learned so many new stuffs without realizing. Well, mostly because we spent so much daytime in snooze mode; but trust me, we actually gained tons of knowledge to share.

The academic program was opened with the keynote lecture “Global Overview on Adolescent Health” by Dr. Maureen Birmingham, WHO representative to Thailand. (Now that I’ve just realized how important her lecture was, I feel so bad not taking a picture of her :( She’s in the photo below, on stage wearing the white jacket).

P1010802 She presented adolescent health problems by the numbers, putting them into perspective. The usual suspects are there: maternal death, infection, NCDs; but what caught my attention, despite forgetting the numbers, was how high the mortality rate of injuries is. Traffic crashes are taking the lives of so many teenagers, especially guys. Indonesian stats went on screen when she highlighted the results of Global School Health Survey regarding injuries, bullying, and smoking. For these, I wrote down the numbers but they are too depressing for this blog. This is a happy blog!

The group discussions were very informative since each member shared the perspective of his/her own country. The 20 groups were divided into 7 topics, ranging from the “traditional” issues (sex abuse, tobacco) to “modern” issues (eating disorders, obesity). My lovely group 15 discussed about alcohol addiction. It is an intriguing topic but I don’t know where Indonesia stands there. We seriously need to tickle more data out of this huge population.


The results of the discussion was presented in the last day. Groups were free to choose how they will share the results, and my group opted to perform a role play. My creative friends concocted an light-hearted alcoholic version of A Christmas Carol complete with the three Ghosts of Alcoholic Past, Present, and Future. Everybody had a good laugh during our performance. By the way, I starred as a drunk-driving grandma-hitting “Scrooge” of the future. Pretty violent and so much fun :D


In the scientific paper competition, my team and I represented Indonesia with our paper on sexual abuse victims in Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital. Before the conference, we had been selected into the Top 10, which meant that our presentation would be judged. It was a nerve-wrecking experience, especially the Q&A session. We didn’t place in the Top 3; but scores aside, I think we did surprisingly well. The presentation went without a hitch and the questions were all answered, more or less. In fact, I was very proud of myself, I learned a lot from the experience, and I am looking forward to represent Indonesia again in the next conference. Insya Allah.


There was also a poster competition. My friends from Pelita Harapan University represented Indonesia with their poster on teenage pregnancy. Their scientific and public poster won them 2nd place, congratulations :) And again, I feel bad for not taking a picture with their poster T_T

My favorite public poster was Hong Kong’s, which brought the issue of gaming addiction. Another poster that left a good impression was Singapore’s poster about teenage depression.

P1010898 P1010895

The site visit took place in Rajavithi Hospital. There was a lecture on how bad the effects of alcoholism are on an individual and on the society as a whole. It was quite compelling if the professor didn’t try to cram a phonebook-load of statistics into a presentation right after lunch. So, instead of enlightening, the lecture was sleep-inducing. I would be very grateful if I can grab the handout, though. This is our group picture before the ordeal.


And once again, words will never suffice in sharing the wonderful experience of EAMSC 2011. Joining AMSA is definitely one of my best life decisions :))