Sunday, January 14, 2018

Auscultating : MEXT Scholarship 2018 Part 1- Application and Selection Examination

Dear MEXT candidates,

Search engines probably would have brought you here for this little experience that I had in applying for the MEXT scholarship for POSTGRADUATE studies in Japan. In my case, I applied through the Malaysia's Japanese Embassy, under Japan Information Services (JIS)

It was a long process, but the hardship and stumbles along the way worth every sweat and blood you shed throughout the timeline.

1) Application

I don't think I would need to elaborate much on this part. The application period is usually between March and April each fiscal year, in 2017 they were a little later than 2018 for an unknown reason. So look out and keep refreshing the website along those lines of period. I wanted to apply in 2016, but my Final Year Project supervisor, who turned out to be a MEXT scholar herself previous suggested to do it on 2017 because I had more time to spent with her for her to assess me as a student personally, at the same time allow her to have some space to talk to her supervisor in Japan. Hence, connection is extremely important too to pave your way into a successful MEXT application.

Application basically means following every single instruction stated in the application form, without missing any changes that the embassy would apply on every single year. They can be very subtle and insidious, so you might want to be extra careful.

There are usually 2 ways of filling up the form, I usually choose the typing and printing ones because it is much neater and easier as compared to filling up by hand. Plus, there is always a soft copy available online in their website. Make sure you get the forms ready way before the deadline hits because they can be extremely picky on punctuality. You have had ample time to get ready so don't screw it up. And always get a huge envelope and label your information correctly. Where the "MEXT POST GRADUAT 20XX" should be placed is also very important. You can always choose to leave your envelope on the guardhouse to the guards to be sent to the office because they are pretty efficient and trustworthy, at least in Malaysia.

So basically there were No. 1 to 8 on the application form, where only no. 6 and 7 were the ones I had troubles with. No. 1-5 and 8 were all about your details. However, no. 6 was about your past research, and no. 7 will be the research theme you are proposing to be done in Japan. The embassy stated specifically that no guides will be given in preparing these two parts of the application, which made it a huge problem for veterinary students like me as we had little to no research background apart from our FYP because our program geared us towards being a clinician as compared to Japanese vet schools where research remained as their base for the last 3 years in vet school.

For no. 6, it was basically a summary from my previous research. We had to write and abstract for all the thesis we prepared for the FYP, so I modified my abstract and used it for no.6.

As for No. 7, there were 3 parts; a) the current research, b) the theme for the research in Japan and c) the research proposal in Japan.

a) was basically my modified abstract again
b) would be the title of the research in Japan
c) would be the detailed proposal, from the introduction, why is there a need of the research, the objectives and the outcome; and don't forget your references.

Where did I get all my inspirations? To be honest, I've already managed to secure my prospective supervisor way before I applied for MEXT, thanks to my FYP supervisor who used to work under my new supervisor. Hence, you might want to start looking out for potential supervisors and contact them, propose to them your interest in continuing education in their lab or institution with the support of MEXT, then get a title from them to use it as your resources in applying for MEXT.

Once you've gotten all this done, send your application away.

2) Selection Examination

The letter is usually sent to you around May or June if you were successfully selected for the selection examination. For postgraduates, there are 2 main papers to be taken which are the English paper and the Japanese paper.

You might be thinking that Japanese's level of English may not be as hard as you think; this is when you need to think twice. The English can be easy, but tricky. You need to be as obnoxious, as OCD, as detailed and as grammar Nazi-mode as you can get during the whole examination. I would strongly suggest you to attempt the past year examinations to gauge your level. For a person like me who have gotten Band 5 in MUET, 108/120 in TOEFL and Band 8.0/9.0 in IELTS, it was still a little tough.

Japanese paper was divided into 3 levels, basic, intermediate and advanced; I tried all 3 but I would say it was still extremely hardcore for a non-native speaker, despite my JLPT at level N2. Don't worry if your Japanese is elementary or close to zero because the only gauge for post grad is actually the English test. If you feel like you don't wish to waste time or stress yourself attempting the Japanese paper on the exam day, you may leave after writing your name.

For the test, be punctual and make sure you have your stationery prepared. They are using 2B pencils still, so its pretty much the same as other tests you have been taking. Make sure you do not stop checking your English paper answers over and over again even after you have completed. Check and check all the grammars, all the possible permutations and read if the sentence actually made sense. These helped me pass the test.

So this is basically the first round. Part 2 will be on the interview and second application instead.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Auscultating : Ending 2017

I pretty much feel like the blogosphere is dead, but who cares right?

2017 was quite an eventful year. Plenty have happened throughout the whole journey, and probably the chronology of pictures would speak more for themselves!

Apart from finals, January was basically filled with a massive load of work on my final year project. My first taste of research started here, along with my passion for diagnostic imaging in veterinary medicine. I was very lucky to be able to work under and with one of the best sonographist in our country, my supervisor who thought me the fundamentals of ultrasonography, the meaning of persistence as well as the spirit of excellence. Our topic was on the different layers of ultrasound in cats, hence we got a lot of hands on experience on both ultrasonography and histology (the study of cells).

After 5 weeks of strenuous sample collection, processing, data collection and analysis, the ultimatum was to produce the thesis as well as the presentation to the panels 2 weeks after the semester began. The level of stress, precision and in-depth knowledge on each aspects of our topic were just overwhelming. With luck and immense amount of diligence, we all managed to leap through the hurdles and produced our work. The late nights looking at histology slides with my 24" monitor were quite lonely and tiring, but I am quite glad I managed to complete this saga.

March was nuts, but it was great. My supervisor finally joined the married status bandwagon and tied the know with the love of her life! I was thrilled and happy for her, and myself because I was basically the only DVM student invited to her wedding! At the same time, I also got to meet with the Japanese veterinarians who were going to be my colleagues if I were to fly to Japan for my postgraduate studies. My supervisor does seemed to be the word hard and play hard type, I'm sure all the students will be stunned with the reactions and gestures my supervisor did during the wedding night!


After all the fiasco back two months to complete our FYP and Clinical Conference write up and presentations, the remaining months were left to complete our clinical rotations as well as preparations for the upcoming comprehensive examination in June. April was basically the time for me to complete my remaining experiences with livestock animals, because I knew I wouldn't be practicing in livestock much in the future. Wearing the coveralls, going into farms and getting dirty with the cows, pigs and chickens; its something I would miss a lot but not able to live with in the future.

May was all about wrapping up our last bits and pieces of memories, activities and involvements in the faculty. Like every April or May in the previous years, our faculty held the Majlis Silaturahim to cherish the fact that vet students do not just rock in our studies, but on stage performances as well. The theme this year was Korean Wave, but the four of us here got stuck doing the girly dance to woo our Oppa. It was fun, the choreography was crazy and we had 1 long night to practice. But it was fun.

June was probably the climax of the evens in 2017: our comprehensive examination. 5 years of knowledge, blood and sweat (no kidding, we lost a lot of blood from bites, scratches and cuts) are all tested in the 3 long weeks. 6 essay questions on pre-clinical, para-clinical and clinical veterinary science; 150 MCQs on 3 clinical parts and 20 minutes worth of oral examination on all 3 clinical parts as well. Long afternoons of group studying, long nights of insomnia, long hours of procrastination; but we all passed, so every moment of hard time was worth the pain. 

After our battle with the final boss in our veterinary student lives, it was time for a good catch up before our departure in our future lives. It was a relief that this bunch of beautiful people accepted me into their group despite the fact that I was from another batch. It was also a relief that we all had the same ideology and aims to strive for the benefits of animals and humanity. We may only have had 5 years to know each other on daily basis, but our friendship will persist till we become old.

August was a lot about releasing stress and meeting new people. And as vet students, a very great way in knowing more people from the inside and outside of the country would be joining international conferences such as IVSA Congresses. Malaysia became the host this year, and I joined as a participant instead of a committee to meet old and new friends from abroad. I have to say our bunch is pretty Asian-centered, probably because a lot of the Europeans couldn't cope with our games, and we couldn't cope with theirs either. Nevertheless, these people were one of the coolest ones around during the whole Congress! #Asianpartyrocks

I finally joined an employment workforce in September, as a full time vet with a full time job! I was, and still am very lucky to be able to join a modest companion animal practice with a passionate and great boss and veterinary team. Trying to pick up clinical skills with ample eloquence to deal with clients and patients was not easy after 2 months of slothing, but my boss is always there to my rescue. 

Plenty has happened in October, the good and bad in 2017. The good thing was, our buddy from our vet buddy line got married with his high school sweetheart! The whole wedding was simple but extremely down to earth and cozy to all who attended. The videos were really sweet, the band wasn't too loud and the food was just amazing. I guess I'm the next male Buddy scheduled to get married, but probably the guy buddy after me would go first haha. And the bad was I got into a huge accident, where I am safe but my car needed to be sent to the factory for a major makeover. Our insurance covered it but my parents weren't too happy about it.

November was quaint but exciting because it was the time for our graduation ceremony! Receiving the certificate of registration as a veterinarian in the Registrar of Veterinary Medicine of Malaysia was exhilarating, because it means that I'm no longer an apprentice or student, I'm a full-fledged veterinarian in Malaysia now. Adding bonus to my academic years, I managed to receive two faculty awards with my name listed on the Hall of Fame in our faculty foyer!

After 6 length months of waiting, December marked as the best time of 2017. Santa came late this year, but he brought an amazing gift, a fully-covered ticket to Japan for the next 5 years. I've managed to secure the Japan Government MEXT scholarship to pursue my postgraduate studies in Hokkaido University, with tremendous amount of help from my FYP supervisor and support from the people I know. This also market my last few months in Malaysia, as I will be embarking my next phase of life in Hokkaido, Japan.

2017 was a great year, I managed to learn a lot in my field, marked multiple achievements I never imagined I would, and accomplished my dream of living in Japan after 10 years of prepping myself for the country's system. The best thing about it is that I get to live there and also do what I love most, working with animals. 2018 surely would be awesome, and life as of now is extremely beautiful.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Auscultating : Graduation

November became quite an eventful month for me this year.

Well, last year it was eventful thanks to the Fukuoka trip. This year, it became eventful because of my graduation.

Yes, I've finally graduated from vet school! Thanks to all readers who have stuck to thick and thin me with throughout the 6 long years, though I'm sure multiple of them have vanished from the blog-o-sphere.

Anyways, time for pictures!

Basically for vet students, our main event for graduation wasn't the scroll retrieval from the Selangor Sultan (yes, we get our scrolls from His Royal Highness); but the Oath Recital Ceremony in the faculty in front of the registrar of Malaysian Veterinary Council.

Similar but different medical graduates taking their Hippocratic Oath, we take our veterinarian oath with main objectives to alleviate pain of our patients, reduce suffering at all times, provide sufficient safe protein source to the country, and protect the safety and health of the general public.

Most people still thinks MD protects the health of the public, but little do they know, veterinarians are also protecting the health of the public, just in different and indirect ways than MD would.

Apart from the oath taking ceremony, our faculty also boasts as the faculty with the most faculty awards to be won. Most faculties hit about 20 prizes max in UPM, but our faculty hits up to 50 faculty prizes to be won by the students from DVM 2 up to post graduates for their hard work in studies.

I was lucky enough to win only 2 out of 5 prizes in the awards offered, for my Avian Clinical Conference presentation as well as Swine Clinical Rotation.

At least, I left my name on the boards around the faculty foyer. Did I not mention we literally had something like a Hall of Fame in the foyer? Basically award winners each year have their names listed on the boards for each prize won, sponsored by the industry player of the veterinary field in Malaysia.
Well, the path as an undergraduate in UPM has finally ended. I'm glad I made the wise decision in taking the road unwanted by my parents and ended up in my current life. I couldn't be more happier with my life right now, just that relationship is probably not what I can juggle currently. Heck I can't even get in shape, let alone trying to attract a mate. Maybe some light fun along the way, but probably hasn't reach the point to meet the One.

Until the next post, I will be flying to Bali tomorrow for another workshop on ultrasound. Eventful November it is!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Auscultating : Stark Difference

Most people probably would say, "It's because your parents know you are independent enough,".

Well, being a child one would still expect some, attention.

Or my middle syndrome still kicks in all the time.

5 years in my veterinary school, I had little to no help to get to place; except for my poultry practical where my mom knows the boss from high school. The boss owns the company which is on Bursa Malaysia so its probably the biggest deal I had.

Apart from that, I lived the DVM life probably with minimal support from the family.

However, other siblings probably have even more help from the family in their career development.

Going all out to get the best coach, the best shoes, the best racquet and all the contacts in the world to get the sister into the national team; and still going all out.

Sending in name cards, getting companies, fixing appointments in and out of the country to get the brother into a good internship program; all in the family Whatsapp group.

And I basically, update about how busy my working hours are and not expecting anyone to actually appreciate nor understand what I go through. Sometimes I do wonder if I should be bothering to update anyone about anything at work.

Not that I'm complaining about my work because everything is great. 
I'd probably wish someone is there to listen. 

I'm probably asking for a lot, while the family is busy with everything else my new niece, my sister's badminton career and my brother's credit to graduate.

Maybe I'm too independent, to cause the start difference.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Auscultating : Working, now, week 1

I has been 1 week since I started working, and it have been crazy, literally.

The first day of work I started with my first spay in a 1.5 years hiatus from surgery, with the diagnosis from A-Z including blood smears, ultrasound, IV ports, blood works and towards the spay.

The spay was, eventful seeing how things have happened.

Nevertheless, my boss saved my ass, and the patient is now on 4 paws after 5 days of great care thank to the team.

Working have been, interesting.

I began to get used to people calling me a Dr, although I seldom introduce myself as one. I just don't think it's really right to use the title on demand; it should be from an earned title when people see what you can do to help their companions.

Handling the clinic was not easy at all. Despite most warded cases and stable under my boss's care, the outpatients can be quite a handful.

I am just extremely lucky my boss is a very open vet, who is constantly willing to listen and answer to my pleas and confusions as a budding vet. No questions are stupid, and every little bits are actually a chance to learn.

Overtime is still a very normal thing to happen on daily basis, but I should strive to hit the car by the right time soon so both me and my boss wouldn't get a burnout.

As for personal life, I knew that after the beginning of work, I will lack the time and space to handle it; even more when I should be learning all the appropriate ropes as a young vet. Maybe I should just not bother about any stuffs, at least not until I am on my feet and ready to actually commit time for something as delicate and another special person in life.

On the other hand, my boss gave me a challenge to hit my DVM 1 look by the time I leave the clinic in January. I took up the challenge, but I should stop eating like a king for dinner...

Until the next post then!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Auscultating : Work

Finally, I'm employed and I will be starting the job tomorrow.

After a 3 good months of not doing anything.

I'm quite excited, yet nervous. But it will only be wards duties tomorrow so I guess its still okay.

The real deal will start on the day after, when consultations officially start holly molly.

Wish me luck people.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Auscultating : Ending DVM

Hello people, finally I'm back for good after a long hiatus in my clinical years.

Guess what? I'm finally done with vet school.

6 long years, ups and downs, but I have to admit I enjoyed every bits of it.
The great people, the high school drama, and definitely the chance to learn with my fellow animals.

People still think we only see companion animals, like cats and dogs; but really we see so much more including birds, horses, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, reptiles, and heck even fishes.
At this point I'm pretty much in a limbo, basically because I'm still waiting for a final call.

Nevertheless, I'm sure things will turn out fine. Until then, I should be honing my skills as a private practitioner in a companion animal clinic.
Where will I be? Well, that's for me to know and for you to find out! *if you were to be interested anyways*

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Auscultating : Final Lap

It has been a whole semester since I've last posted, and boy its my final semester in vet school!

Or rather, its actually my final week as a vet student; for I will be taking my professional exam for the next 2 weeks.

I will post about the course taken in my last semester after I'm done with my professional exam, and really, final semester was no joke.

Until then, here's a picture of my last rotation group mates:

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Auscultating : People through social applications

So I have been using social applications now and then to meet people.

To date I've met about 3 people through applications whom I have intimate contact with. Of course, everything did not go pass 1st base.

Up to last Tuesday, I was wondering was I two-timing the people I met because I was responding and meeting two different people.

Yet, we never really came to consensus that we are seeing each other actively, so it's more like dates over you know, official.

But they didn't end up well either. Usually after the intimacy everything else went to, well, nothingness.

And so few days back I met someone again. Sounded like a good catch until the other side expressed the fact that probably we wouldn't go pass being friends and the person actually was meeting another.

At this point it came back to me that, geez, why am I doing this to myself all over again.

What happened to the policy of getting wooed instead?

Hmm. Oh well. Sometimes I do dread relationships. Having cuddling intimacy with my patients spike more oxytocin and dopamines I'm sure.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Auscultating : Course Taken in Sem 11

Wow, I have not written for, man 4 freaking months.

That must have been a record since my STPM days.

Well, I really have to admit, 5th year is VERY tiring. No wonder the seniors back then had to stop blogging after stepping into clinical years.

Before I go for the drama I have, let's have a good recap on what we had this semester :

1- Problem based learning in veterinary problem solving:

This course basically allows us to put our knowledge into situational problems and try our best to get a good timeline of how things happened, why they happened, what are the mechanism involved, who are the ones will be involved, where the problem actually arose and what can we do about it as veterinarians. It was an interesting course, I had to say that it was even more because I was the course rep; we had a fair share of fun with the highlight of us even writing and putting up a play as a presentation with a little coaxing from our group facilitator. The play was on Melioidosis, a zoonotic disease (disease transmitted from animals to humans) usually exposed to farmers and veterinarians alike. Animals usually only experience abortion or certain neurological symptoms; but humans get more extensive problems like undulating fever, pneumonia, joint pains and etc.

2- Exotic and wildlife medicine:
As the name suggested, its medicine of the exotics and wildlife. I personally think that I've learned more practical medicine in raptor medicine as compared to other kind of species like reptiles, amphibians, rodents or rabbits. This most probably was due to the fact that the latter species involved little to none exposure or practice during our rotations for which we can not even begin to apply what we have learned, let alone to actually take interest. The past year papers did have subjects on primate, elephant and deer medicine which I'd actually have interest, but the lecturer is on his study leave, so yea it got anticlimactic over there. I would consider raptor medicine if I have the chance, because raptors are just so cool! PS: The dude above is a Jambut Fruit Dove, native to Malaysia and usually reside in tropical rain forest. It was confirmed a male because females are not usually so handsome, only in green feathers. Sexual dimorphism at its best by nature!

3- Ruminant medicine:

For those who do not know what ruminants are; they are the animals with 4 stomach chambers. Does that ring any bells? Yea, the cattle(cows if you don't know), goats, sheep, camelids, and some times even deer. But we focused a lot on cattle and goat because they are more common as compared to their other counterparts. We focused a lot on infectious and management diseases because the traumatic or anatomical related diseases were covered in surgery. I always thought I would actually pay a lot of attention on this subject, because I loved them since I stepped into vet school. To my horror I had little to no will to pay attention in class, for which most of the time I was struggling to pay attention. In the back of my mind I seriously think that our curriculum and rotation probably have created some form of aversion of me towards the ruminant industry, but I really do try to keep my head in the game in learning about how the diseases come about, their pathogenesis, ways to know that its the disease for sure as well as the treatment and prevention methods. It's basically the same as other medicine subjects, but really, I thought I would love it more though.

3- Aquatic medicine

It was literally all about fishes and prawns. Like literally. I would say this is the subject everyone struggled, apart from those who had immense interest in aquatic medicine. I wouldn't say I struggled, because I actually do enjoy the classes, and only dozed off because I was too tired from night duties in rotation. Basically we learn about the anatomy and physiology of fishes and prawns, their management, the basic diseases we faced in Malaysia and how to overcome them, as well as some anaesthesia about aquatic lifeforms. We did not have marine mammals in this picture, probably because marine mammals are probably, not in the class of fishes to begin with. I actually digg this subject, but I wouldn't say I love it to the max. I'd actually enjoy most of the lectures when they made sense; probably about 20% didn't.

4- Veterinary Business

Despite everyone loathing about this subject, I would say the exposure to economical terms actually made sense. The whole subject went underrated because we had to make classes from 5 to 8pm ridiculously to make time for those who wish to have electives where lecturers are of high priority. Talk about monarchy? Anyways, this course is pretty damn underrated as well because I feel like the disease economy simply wasn't taught. I mean, when disease outbreak occurs I wouldn't know how to calculate the compensatory sum to the farmers involved! We are supposed to know this but the course doesn't provide the knowledge to; probably I should go to the lecturer and learn about it. On top of everything else, the lecturer who is coordinating the course is just too new to the curriculum, or rather our curriculum to make adjustments to the academical and practical needs from the course. I know everyone disliked the lecturer, but I would say she tried her best. What did I learn most from this course? Well, the most practical one would be the Marginal Physical Product. Which I need to get back in studying ASAP.

5- Clinical Rotations 3.0

Finally we are seniors in the rotations with juniors! Man I love it when I can get juniors to do the dirty work for me while I work on the medicine! That aside, 13 weeks of rotations were no joke. The rotations literally squeezed every little bit of our brain and body in getting out the reports, the patients, the files, the medications and man, the rounds. We had rotations for small animal surgery, small animal medicine, ruminant rotation 1 and 2, equine rotation, avian and exotics, pathology, clinical pathology, bacteriology, small animal clinics, radiology, theriogeniology, and last but never the least, swine. I thoroughly enjoyed all rotations because they all required us to put our learned veterinary knowledge into use for our patients, its just that we only put them into use in discussions because the veterinary officers are usually the ones prescribing and deciding what to do for the patients; apart from a visit to a farm with the lecturer who had no qualms in allowing us to make treatment decisions because he treated us as interns instead of students. Talk about cool.

So basically the first semester in year 5 went by really quickly, with a lot of things went on in between like clinical conference presentations and hosting,

class presentations, assignments, rotation reports and rounds,

secret santa, course night,

and my little trip to Japan for 10 hefty days.

Now you know why I didn't post.

On the side note, I don't think I would be able to post until my comprehensive examinations are over in July 2017 simple because I will be facing my Final Year Project beginning next Saturday, then continued by my FYP presentation, the thesis, then my second clinical conference, ongoing rotations, and then my CE.

It's going to be crazy, but I foresee it going to be fast as well.

2017 resolution? Ain't got nobody have time for that.

Maybe trying to get fitter and looking good in my own graduation.