Strategies To Score in Exams

Let’s set one thing straight. The foolproof way to do well in exams is of course, by studying. There’s no shortcut about it! Ideally you should start studying from the beginning of the semester, consistently for several hours a day.

What? But that’s so nerdy!

You’ve got to be realistic. While there may be students who do well in exams without having to bury their noses in books all the time, those students are the exception. We average Joes, on the other hand, need to work for it. Yes, life’s unfair. Get over it! Besides, by just allocating several hours a day to studying, you’re not really sacrificing your social life (assuming that you have one). Trust me. You just need to prepare a well-balanced schedule and have the willpower to stick to it.

The following tips are to help enhance those who have studied all throughout the semester. But I guess those who haven’t studied much can also use it.. To pass, perhaps? Hehe.

OK, here goes.

When studying for exams, it helps to know: the format of the exam, coverage of topics and type of questions being asked. Why? Because I believe that apart from studying, students can also increase their chances of scoring better in exams with a proper strategy. You can only strategise if you know what you’re up against.

Format of the exam. This includes the duration of the exam, breakdown of the paper (does it have 2 or 3 parts?), do you have options or must you answer all? Check with your lecturers about the exam format. You may also refer to pass years’ final papers at the library or resource centres.
If you know the duration of the exam and the total number of questions to be answered, you can estimate how long it will take for you to answer a particular question. This will help you avoid not having enough time to answer all that you need. You may be surprised to know that when I grade exam scripts, there are students who took too long in answering some questions that they don’t have enough time to finish their papers. That’s marks wasted. For e.g, if it is a 3-hour exam and you need to answer 5 questions, roughly take 30 minutes to answer each question. The balance of half an hour can be used to draft your answers and to check your work.

Coverage of topics. To know which topics are covered in the exam, ask your lecturers or refer to the course outlines (syllabus). Don’t worry if your lecturers don’t give exam tips. It’s not the end of the world. I remembered when I was an undergraduate, one of my favourite lecturers, Ms Wai Li, will never give exam tips. Her rationale? I’ve taught my best. Now it’s your turn to study, understand and give out your best. Seems reasonable to me.

But my lecturer doesn’t teach that well! So how?

So what? Just because to you your lecturer isn’t doing that great a job, it shouldn’t stop you from gaining knowledge. In this age, there are numerous ways for you to augment what you learnt in class. You can checkout YouTube videos given by professors all over the world or Google the concepts that you’re uncertain about. Just remember to check the sources. The point is, by knowing what’s covered in the exam (even by just referring to the course outlines), you will be guided in your revisions. Otherwise, you’ll feel overwhelmed with so many topics and won’t know where to begin. Related to this, always refer to your textbooks, lecture notes and course materials. Those stuffs you read on the internet are extras. They shouldn’t be used to replace your main references.

Types of questions. The way questions are designed depends on your courses and fields of study. But generally, exam questions are either in the form of short answer (or structured); problems that involve calculations; case studies; long essays or multiple-choice. In economics, most of our questions are of short answer, problems and essay type. Occasionally we’ll have MCQs. So my tips will be based on these types of questions. Why does this matter, you may ask? Well, it really doesn’t if you’re good enough. But if you’re so-so or you haven’t studied as much as you should, then anything that may help you improve your score, is worth looking at, no?

Here are (some of) the strategies that I practiced as a student:

  • For short answer questions, choose questions with the more breakdown of marks. For e.g, a question that’s worth 20 marks may be broken down into 10+10 or 4+6+5+5. Choose the latter whenever possible (unless of course, you know for certain the answers to the former, then choose the former). That way, if you can’t answer one part of the question well, you can still collect marks for the other parts. In other words, you lose lesser marks for inaccurate answers.
  • For short answer and essay questions, whenever possible, opt to answer questions that involve graphs or diagrams. If you recall your lecturer sketching something or writing a certain formulae in class for that particular topic, include that in your answers. Besides scoring browny points for attentiveness, providing diagrams or formulates is a great way to complement your explanations.
  • Whenever possible, choose calculation-based problems over long essay type questions. But only do so if you know how to calculate or solve the problems.
  • For MCQs, the trick is to rule out the obvious wrong choices first and then, narrow your choices to the best answer. Sometimes you can see a pattern with the A, B, C, D options. The best answer is most probably the odd one out.
  • For essay questions, write each point in a new paragraph. It always annoys me to grade answer scripts that look like a bunch of logs. You know, it goes on and on with no paragraphs or indentations. They make examiners sleepy or lose focus. Good luck in gaining their sympathy.
  • Related to the above, you may use bullet points or numberings to answer essays (but do check with your own lecturers if they accept them). However, do elaborate your points well and by that, I mean write proper sentences and NOT leave your answers in point forms only.
  • To emphasise your main points in essays, underline the keywords. Or use a highlighter. This will direct the examiners’ eyes to instantly get what you’re trying to say, although your grammar ke laut.
  • Use good, dark-coloured pens or pencil leads in answering your essays or short answer questions. They make writing pleasant for the students and even more pleasant to read by the examiners. Remember, examiners are humans too. If you make their experience of grading your exam scripts less daunting with minimal grammatical errors and legible handwriting, who knows, they may be more, if not, slightly lenient in awarding you points.
  • I guess that’s it. I’ll add on more if I remember them. I hope by sharing these few pointers, you’ll have a more ‘enjoyable’ time answering your final exam papers

    Good luck!


    My Birth Story

    They say each birth is different. It’s true. My eldest daughter was delivered normally after 15 hours of labour. My son, born six years later, was delivered via Caesarean section due to cord prolapse. This is my third pregnancy and I’m attempting to do a VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean).  

    23/4/2012 (Wednesday)
    I had my first bloody show early this morning in time for my weekly checkup at the hospital. Met my doctor around 9AM. She did a vaginal examination (or VE) and found that I was already 2cm dilated. I was ecstatic as this meant labour has started. I was then sent to the labour room to do a CTG (a machine that basically detects our contractions and baby’s heart beat). The nurse strapped my abdomen onto the machine and my readings were recorded for 20 minutes. True enough, I was already having contractions. They were regular, but mild. Guess that’s why I wasn’t feeling anything. 
    Back at the doctor’s office, she asked me what I wanted to do. Since I’m already in labour, I can be warded immediately, but the downside to this is a higher chance of being induced if labour isn’t progressing ‘well’ enough and perhaps go through a C-section if other complications arise. My other option is to go home and come back later when the pain is stronger, but the risk with this is that there’ll be no monitoring of the baby inside me. I mentally weighed the pros and cons of each option. Suddenly everything I read regarding births in the last few months flooded my mind. In the end, I followed my instinct and chose the latter. If possible, I wanted to avoid being strapped onto the CTG and lying in the hospital bed as I did during my first delivery. It was uncomfortable and very restrictive. 
    We headed straight to Baskin Robbins after that. I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to eat ice-creams during confinement so I’m getting my final indulgence -two scoops of my favourite flavours with banana chunks! Haha.. On the way home, we dropped by my office to settle some last minute work. My colleagues wished me luck and I bid them a temporary adieu. Then Hubs and I had lunch. When we arrived home, I settled our laundry, prepared our newborn’s cot and beddings and lightly cleaned the bedroom. After Zuhur prayer, I bounced on my gym ball to get the contractions going and chit-chatted with Hubs. I wasn’t feeling any pain but we decided to go back to the hospital at 4.30PM as we didn’t want to miss the doctor in case I was further dilated. 
    Back at the labour ward, the midwife recorded my contractions and did another VE. I was still 2cm dilated! Oh, how frustrating. She called the doctor and I was given the same options as that morning. I decided to go home again. That night I cooked dinner and this time I felt the cramps come and go. Before bed, I saw that I still have a bloody show. Feeling hopeful that my contractions will get stronger in the middle of the night, I went to bed. 

    24/4/2014 (Thursday)
    Today’s my due date. And nope, still not feeling anything. In fact, I had such a good night’s sleep I might’ve dreamt the whole thing. The only thing real was my persistent bloody show. After preparing our daughter for school and seeing her leave, I took a shower. 
    Called the doctor’s office around 9.30AM. I was informed that she’ll be away starting Saturday for the entire week. Oh dear. I wish I was OK to have my delivery with any other doctor or person, but I’m not. I’m comfortable with my doctor and would want her to deliver all my babies. So with a heavy heart, I agreed to be induced that midnight. Nonetheless, I silently prayed to Allah, begging that my contractions would progress naturally.
    After Zuhur, hubby brought me to OU for lunch and we strolled with our son. I had my other last indulgence before delivery at Delicious café. Then we fetched our daughter from school and went home. 
    I didn’t feel like cooking that night as the water rationing was taking place. Besides, I felt the cramps getting more frequent and a bit stronger than yesterday. My sister offered to buy us all dinner. My mom came around 9.45PM. During dinner, told Hubs that I think my contractions are picking up. Regular as before but stronger this time. He told me to get ready and pray Isyak. After a hard time tucking the kids to sleep (it was slightly over 10.30PM), we left the house.
    In the car, I started timing my contractions. They were about 5 minutes apart but each contraction was short, only lasted for about 30-40 seconds each. “Lama lagi ni”, I thought to myself. Hubs asked if I wanted to drive around before reaching the hospital. I agreed. So we drove around KLCC, passed by the hectic and colorful bars and bistros. Watched the night life. Finally around 11.40PM, we reached the hospital. I decided to walk to the A&E unit from the parking lot. After settling all the paperwork and registration, the attendant offered me a wheelchair to escort us to my ward but I declined and we walked instead.
    In the ward, we started to get comfortable. I changed into my home attire and wore socks while Hubs inflated my gym ball.  
    A few minutes later, a nurse came in and checked my blood pressure. I told her that I could feel the pains now. She later returned with the CTG machine and recorded my contractions for half an hour. 
    When asked how everything was, she said the baby’s heart beat is good, “result cantik” and that my contractions were regular at 5-minute intervals lasting about 40 seconds each. She then unstrapped me from the CTG and told me to rest. Will come in the morning to check again, she said. I was so happy! This is exactly the kind of early labour I’ve been dreaming of. To be left alone in my ward (not labour room) without being strapped to any machine, no drips, no catheter, no drugs.. So I’m not getting induced after all. Alhamdulillah! He heard my prayers to have my labour progress as naturally as possible. 
    In the next few hours, the contractions got more painful but still bearable with the breathing techniques that I tried to emulate after some last minute reading and YouTube watching. I know I should sleep but I was too excited. Finally at 2AM, I climbed next to Hubs (who was already asleep) and dozed off.

    25/4/2014 (Friday)
    Around 4.30AM, I was awakened by a sharp, stabbing pain in my abdomen. I tried going back to sleep, even asked Hubs to lightly massage my back..  but the feeling was intense and persistent, it was hard to ignore. In the end I got up and took long, slow and deep breaths with every jolt of contractions that came. I varied my attempts at dealing with the pain (mentally I tried using the hypnobirthing terms, “pressure” or “sensation” but I feel it apt to use ordinary, ‘scary’ language in writing). I walked slowly around the ward, swayed my hips left and right at the edge of the bed, stretched back and forth on all fours on the floor, bounced on the gym ball, rolled on the gym ball..  Kept repeating all those things while breathing deeply with every contraction (or “surges”). It’s a good thing we were in the ward so I could control the lights. I kept the room very dim with only the bathroom lights on. This seemed to set the mood to help me concentrate on my breathing. At times, the contractions were bearable but since the frequency has increased (I’m sure it was every 2-3 minutes now), it was quite exhausting. 
    At 6.30AM, a nurse came in to check on my blood pressure. When I told her that my contractions are getting stronger and more frequent, she immediately alerted the midwife. Around 6.40AM, she said it’s time to go to the labour room. She offered a wheelchair but I decided to walk as I heard that walking can induce the opening of the cervix naturally. Each step was accompanied by that sharp pain. Felt like little stabs in my abdomen, especially around the uterus. Somehow, I managed to walk to the labour room. There the midwife took charge. She told me to change into the hospital garb and lie down. Amidst the pain, I noticed the hospital had changed it’s gown colour to maroon. “Hey, it matches my maroon socks!” Hubs walked in with our personal belongings at this point. It felt slightly terrifying as I lied down on the bed. To distract myself from the pain, I looked around the labour room. It was bright. There were scrubs, syringes and other medicinal supplies on the cabinets on my far left. The CTG machine on my immediate left. The baby’s weighing scale and platform (for cleaning , I presume) was on my right. A seat on my far right for our companion. For the doctor, there was a stool, yellow boots and plastic coats. There was also a small mobile mirror for moms who wish to see their babies crown (not me!). My eyes finally settled on two metal leg rests, which are used to support our legs during stitching. All these things are ready to welcome a new life into the world. 
    The midwife came and did a VE. I was already 8cm dilated! No wonder it felt painful to walk. I was already in active labour. Full dilation of the cervix is 10cm to enable the babies’ heads to appear (or crown), after which comes the pushing stage. It was 7AM when they told me that my doctor was stuck in traffic. If she doesn’t come on time, then I’ll deliver with the midwife. I was too busy focusing on my breathing to care. I tell you, it’s much harder dealing with the pain while lying down and strapped to the CTG. You can’t move much or even turn left or right properly. All that lying down puts a pressure on your back, it hurts. At that moment, I totally understood why some mommies decide to give birth at home (yes, a controversial topic among birth advocates these days). 
    Around 7.45AM the midwife came to do another VE. I was still 8cm dilated! Apparently my contractions were consistent at every 2 minutes but they weren’t strong enough. What?! That’s over an hour of pain (but not painful enough, I should add) with no progress! I felt so frustrated.. This further proved you need to be free to move about to open the cervix naturally. But rules are rules. In the labour room, you must be on the CTG. Then came the next blow. The midwife informed me that my doctor has an operation at 8.30AM. In fact, she has four surgeries that day. So they’re gonna have to speed things up for me if I want to deliver with her. Great. Not only I’m already in pain (but not painful enough), I need to make the pain stronger artificially. If I was a hardcore gentle birthing advocate, I would’ve declined this unnecessary intervention. But I’m not. I’m just a regular mom who, yes, aims for a drug-free birth, but in the end, I just want a healthy baby and my delivery to be attended by my chosen professionals. In the midst of painful contractions (“surges”!), with Hubs by my side, I agreed to speed things up. I heard that when things are ‘sped up artificially’ it is much more painful. Good grief. I’m already writhing in pain as it is, I can’t imagine how it’ll be any further. But, I came all this way to have my delivery with my doctor, so I’m not about to chicken out now. 
    The midwife returned later with a saline case and syringe. She inserted the drip on my left wrist so that the saline can enter my system to help make my contractions stronger. Hubs asked if it was Pitocin, she said no. Just a regular saline with ‘ubat’. I was busy focusing on my breathing to even bother reading the label so the heck with it. As long as no other drugs enter my system, I’m willing to accept this slight intervention. 
    A few minutes later, the midwife told me that she’ll be rupturing my amniotic sack. This is basically breaking my water bag. I was already drowsy from slow breathing and enduring the current pain, what’s a bit more eh? I was like, “Bring it on!”
    True enough, within minutes I felt volcanic eruptions within my abdomen and spine. At some points, I felt like throwing up. Good thing I didn’t eat or drink anything that morning, otherwise, I would’ve thrown up. I tried to focus. Tried to breathe deeply and slowly. Tried to remember all those gentle birthing techniques -rainbow, alphabets, balloons, waterfall.. Oh crap. All that ain’t working anymore. I was in a delirious state. Couldn’t talk properly now. Just motioned weakly for Hubs to hold my right hand. 
    My doctor rushed in around 8.05AM. She was saying something to Hubs and the midwife. I could only hear remnants of their discussion in between my hard contractions.. “Ingat tak sempat tadi”.. “Jalan jam!”.. “Dua hari dalam perut”..
    Several painful minutes of hard contractions went by, but it felt like an eternity. Then I felt the urge. The urge of passing bowel. I told the midwife (doctor went out for a while to put on her scrubs) and she encouraged me, “Kalau rasa nak buang air, lepas kan je.” Then she did one final VE. She smiled and said, “Baby’s coming.”
    Even in my delirious state, I’m still embarrassed and didn’t want to poop on the delivery bed. Then my doctor showed up. She swiveled the stool and sat right in front of me. They assured me it’s OK. They’ve seen so many things from so many people already. Hehe.. When the urge came again, I can’t believe I FORGOT how to push, what more to “breathe my baby out”! They were chanting “Take deep long breaths, then push as you exhale”.
    Then Hubs said something funny. “Let it go! Let it GO!” It’s funny now but at the time, felt like wringing his neck!
    You know in movies where women in labour looked awful but managed to push the baby out in a few attempts? That wasn’t me. I mean, I still looked awful but I really had trouble pushing. Think I used the wrong technique. I didn’t (or couldn’t at that moment) push from my abdomen. I pushed from the throat. So needless to say my throat hurts for a few hours after delivery. I almost gave up when I begged Hubs to help me and to “get it out!”.. The only thing that motivated me to not actually stop pushing was I didn’t want my baby to be forced out. Enough with the jendul that came from my genes, I’m not about to enhance it further with vacuum or forcep!
    With every push, I felt a gush of water fell out of me. After several excruciating tries, I felt the ‘ring of fire’ (a term used when the baby crowns). The doctor further encouraged me “Yes, we can see the head!” The midwife kept cheering “Amik nafas panjang, pastu release!”.. Hubs was excited too. “You can do it yang, baby’s almost here!”
    That’s all I needed to hear. In one of the most taxing minutes of my life, I took deep breaths and pushed so hard I swear, I think my internals gushed out as well. I could literally feel my baby’s movement as it exited my womb. First, was the head. That part was hard. When it appeared I imagined the doctor skillfully turned the head and untangled the umbilical cord around its neck. Next, was the toughest part, to reveal its shoulders. Then the final push(es).. The entire body slithered out with my doctor’s help in gently pulling the baby out. So at exactly 8.23AM, our baby was born. Alhamdulillah! And just like that, all those pain subsided almost instantaneously. That’s the miracle of birth.
    The doctor immediately placed our baby on my tummy. I saw it changed colour from whitish bluish grey to light purple, then pink. I was too exhausted from all the pushing I couldn’t move my arms to embrace it. Then the midwife took the baby and started to remove liquids from its nose and mouth. Patted its back.. and then I heard soft cries. I almost forgot.. “Is it a boy or a girl?” Hubs smiled and said, “It’s a girl.”
    While our little girl was being measured and weighed, I felt contractions again. This time it was me delivering the placenta. The doctor injected me with something to expedite the process. I didn’t mind. She told me that I only needed very few stitchings as she let me tore naturally without any episiotomy.
    My legs were plopped onto those metal leg rests and the doctor began stitching. Most women find this exercise extremely arduous. It is, but I just squeezed a watermelon out of my precious. So to me, personally, nothing beats that! My doctor’s really good too. She’s quick (remember, she has surgery at 8.30AM) and I hardly noticed she was down there. Haha.. While I was being stitched, I glanced at Hubs who was reciting the azan and iqamat into our daughter’s ears.
    We chit-chatted happily despite me feeling extremely tired. I thanked the doctor and the midwife for being supportive of my VBAC intention. Though it wasn’t as gentle as I had hoped for, we can only plan and at the end of the day, it is US who need to decide and follow our instincts. Admittedly, I was really afraid of not being able to do a VBAC but the medical team (especially my doctor) supported me and gave me options, whenever possible to accommodate my request.

    Updated post..

    Here’s Khalissa who just turned five months 😊

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    Our Missing MH370

    One of our Malaysia Airline’s plane went missing last Saturday. That’s right. MISSING.

    Quoting the news, “Flight MH370 was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing about an hour after taking off from the KL International Airport at 12.40am Saturday”.

    When the news first broke, like many others, I went online to ‘search’ for the story. During that time, many thought aloud and posted questions on their statuses or timelines, some even made jokes about how such a large aircraft can go missing. Over the next few days, numerous theories and conspiracy ideas are heatedly shared and debated in social media. Not to mention how some Malaysians began to rear their ugliness by constantly blaming the authorities or each other for being incompetent, inefficient or having a lack of verbal skills when dealing with the press during PCs (but these are not the focal points of this entry).

    Like my fellow Malaysians, I too am stunned at this tragedy. We pray for the SAR mission to be successful each day. To date, many of our neighboring countries, China, USA (even the FBI), Australia etc are assisting our nation to find our lost flight. With so many state-of-the-art technologies being deployed by our SAR partners in the forms of aircrafts, ships, submarines and even satellite, it’s amazing that we can’t find the MH370. Whenever we can, we tune in to the news to hear for progress by the authorities, but to no avail.

    Of the many interviews being aired on mainstream media, I admit to not having the time to watch them all. So I selectively listen to clips that friends generously shared on Facebook. I don’t know why but this particular interview of Captain Norudin Abd Majid, a former pilot of the B777 fleet, struck me. I felt extremely humbled, sad.. and scared even.

    His sincerity in accepting that the aircraft just went missing, which was what we all knew from day 1 but quickly dismissed as a fact, is just humbling. If you haven’t the chance to hear him, here’s the interview.

    Yes, we have all prayed for a miracle to happen. It has been 3 days.. It WOULD be a miracle if everyone on board survive.
    I believe many of us share the sentiment that this tragedy is a reminder to all of us, especially Muslims. A reminder that our Creator, Allah SWT is far above and beyond all this scientific modernization and knowledge that we think we have. Due to our busy schedules and commitments, we tend to forget our purpose of being here on earth as Caliphs. There is no better time to remember that we are just specks of the universe, if not now.

    That Nagging Hijab Issue..

    There’s this new video on Youtube that was posted a couple of days ago. So far it has garnered over 65,000 views (and counting). Not that viral yet but I’m hoping it would. It’s about three friends who invited non-Muslims to don the hijab and see what their reactions and responses would be like. I’ll let you check out the vid first before I continue with my ramblings ;)

     

    Don’t know about you guys, but I thought it was a decent act. A good attempt at trying to create awareness and understanding about the hijab and why Muslim women choose to wear them to non-Muslims. In light of current hostility and bad press about Muslims and Islam, I think anything that can bridge that gap is good, even a little bit.

    I was happy to see that the very same video was posted HERE on Facebook. 

    But of course, in anything remotely fun, we can always expect party poopers. I almost asked myself, where are they..? And then BAM, there they are. Loads of them. Flocking with comments in that Facebook page and perhaps on Youtube too (I’m just too lazy to check). These are basically people who find life incomplete without having to point out the flaws or incompleteness of something. But to them, it’s just ‘giving reminders’, or saling menegur in Malay. At first I wanted to include some of the nasty comments here, but honestly, I’ve got more important things to do. And since my break time is limited, I’ll just focus on rambling. Hehe.  

    Yes, these ladies are happy with how they don the hijab. Perfect or not, it’s not up to us to judge. They may take their time to perfect it. Years in fact.. but even if they don’t ever do perfect their styles of wearing the hijab, how is that any of our problem? I have read some remarks about it being our responsibility, as Muslims, to always keep reminding others of doing good. Yeah, well, you do that. I’m also here to remind you do-gooders that most of these women ARE aware of how the hijab should cover the chest, or how there shouldn’t be any camel humps on their heads, or how they shouldn’t wear too much make-up etc.. But, they just choose not to do it (yet), for whatever reasons, which only Allah knows. Let’s not assume that they are ignorant, not assume that they need teaching, and above all, not assume that they’re committing sins. Whatever happened to husnudzon, or bersangka bank (positive thinking or assuming only positivity) towards others? That is also very much demanded in Islamic teaching, no? It’s funny, most of the active commenters on this subject are men. Really, guys. You have so many other responsibilities as husbands, as sons and as caliphs that I’m amazed you actually have the time to spare in this issue. 

    But alas, if these people feel like they are being “better Muslims” for constantly pointing out the imperfections of others, then I guess we’re all imperfect, aren’t we? ;)


    Hello 2014!.. And New Year’s Resolutions (of course)

     

    Happy-New-Year-2014-Fireworks

    It’s already the second day of the new year.. how time flies!

    I was determined not to have any new year’s resolutions this year because, let’s face it, most of them don’t get done anyway. But after spending the entire day yesterday cleaning my eldest’s room, re-arranging her books and de-cluttering her mess in preparation for the new school year, I might have to resolute myself into doing just that. And stick to it.

    This year, I resolve to:

    • Go home early. As a lecturer, I’m pretty lucky to have flexible working hours.. but that was before I had my PhD and before all this craziness enthusiasm of my institution to embrace the Research University status. Now we’re expected to be more actively involved in research along the USUAL teaching workload, plus, the fact that I’m an academic advisor, which means additional responsibilities in students’ affairs and administration (though admittedly, I really do like this part of my job, next to teaching). All this really keep me longer at campus even after office hours. That’s about to change, I hope. Starting today, I plan to go back at 5PM, OK, latest by 5.10PM. Why, you might ask? That’s my next resolution.
    • Cook dinner early. We don’t have any helper so I usually cook dinner after work. Before this I tend to be laid back, sometimes starting to cook after Maghrib or even at 8PM (it helps that my other half comes home late from work). Why would I want to cook early, you might ask? The reasons are twofold. One, I heard that it isn’t good for kids to eat too late, lest they lack time to process their food before bedtime. So it’s high time I do this. Two, that is my next resolution, and my most important one to keep.
    • Help my eldest with her schoolwork. One of the reasons why I did my PhD before any of my kids started school and determined to finish it early (well, relatively early compared to most people I know) was because I wanted to be able to spend more time with them and help them with their school work. Though initially, it didn’t start off like that. When I was little, I vowed not to be like my mom who is a tiger mom. She was very strict with our homework. Making sure we complete them first before TV, eh, ke no TV.. I can’t remember. The rotan was never far from her reach whenever we misbehaved. But after having my own kids, I finally understood why she did what she did. I think I am a tiger mom, but not the classic type, because at times I do give in to my kids’ requests.. But most of the time, I am the bad cop and the killjoy. Hehe.. Anyway, that was the plan, many years ago. However, as work started, I got busier.. and it’s true what they say. Academic life only starts after PhD. But that’s about to change. I resolve not to be too reliant on the teachers (or too much outsource, as they say), to be with her when she does her homework and to help her study. I pray that I’m strong enough to do this, because everyone knows how schoolwork and kids just don’t match.

    So that’s it. I’m being realistic by not having too many resolutions. Just keeping them short and hopefully, doable :)


    My (Brief) Take on Doctors and the Medical Profession

    I’m currently following (on Twitter) a doctor who gives study and life advice to pre-med and medical students. His tweets are always full of positivity, and sometimes humour, that I’m sure they are meant to give motivation and provide these young souls the strength to embark on their journeys to become doctors.

    After reading and following him for some time, it’s not hard to know that life as a med student IS difficult. The amount of stress they have to endure, the number of things they need to remember, the minimal requirements of passing their courses, the number of hours they put into studying and later houseman-ship.. The expectations from parents, sponsors and society in general.

    Having this perspective in mind, I find it sad that some groups in society, especially young and social media hip parents, take doctors and the medical profession for granted. Criticising them for lacking compassion, not caring enough for their kids (if paediatrician) and accusing them for “simply wanting money by injecting chemicals and vaccines or giving antibiotics to their patients”.

    True, I’m sure there are some unethical doctors around. I sympathize those who had awful experiences with their doctors, but believe me these bad apples exist in other occupations too – lawyers, businessmen, politicians, contractors, heck, even educators.

    But does that give us the right to put all, or most, doctors down? To label them as ” they don’t know everything” and that we are better at certain things just because we spent HOURS and MONTHS reading many, MANY journals on certain issues? These doctors spent YEARS of their lives wallowing in medical knowledge. For everything learned, there are epistemologies to understand, the history and reasoning of why’s, there are ethics and proper procedures to be followed and for Muslims, maqasid shariah to be complied. If I could give an analogy, it’s like when people haven’t any formal training as a professional photographer but claim to be a “photographer” just because they’re good at using Instagram, Camera 360 and the like. Hmm..

    I’d like to have faith in humanity. I still do. That is why for every bad apples around (in any job, I might add), I believe there are many more good ones to counteract. So I choose to believe that most doctors are good. They do have their patients best interest at heart. There’s nothing wrong with equipping ourselves with medical and technical knowledge, but we shouldn’t get too cocky and claim that we are better. Especially when we didn’t endure what they did.


    Can’t Say What?

    I’m trying to remember since when it became so rampant, so widespread, all this prohibitions for Muslims from WISHING other devotees on their festive days, like, we can’t wish Merry Christmas, can’t wish Happy Chinese New Year.. Or the forbidding from wishing Happy Valentine’s Day. Not forgetting the most recent debate on not allowing Muslims to utter R.I.P to the deceased who aren’t Muslims.

    Not that I’m a modern, liberal Muslim but I’m just wondering, where do we draw the line?
    I’m guessing that one day we can’t even wish “good luck” or “happy birthday”.. Or be embarrassed if we’re caught uttering them.

    Is it not enough that we DON’T celebrate those days? Must we also be that strict as to not/can’t convey well wishes in the spirit of muhibbah? I know I’m not that pious nor do I have the depth of Islamic knowledge like some people, but I sincerely cannot fathom how well wishing can threaten one’s iman. Are we that weak and easily swayed? I guess we are, since we Muslims impose this on ourselves.

    I had my primary education overseas (though for a short period of time), went to a convent school when we came back, was even taught by a nun (for English :)), had wonderful friends from various beliefs, my BFFs were Hindus and Christians before I went to residential school.

    In retrospect, I’m so thankful my parents gave me that sort of childhood. The exposure of other races, other customs, other surroundings when in the States.. It made me more respectful and tolerant of others while appreciating my own religion more. It made me the person I am today.


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