How to brush your teeth when at Heathrow Airport.

* This post should ideally have been posted about 2 days ago, when I actually had to brush at Heathrow, but never mind here it is now*

My flight from India was an “Overnight” flight (No, no do not get me started about the idiotic time zone thing, I cannot for the world of it figure out how I start in the morning from India and land here at noon, see the flight is an 8 hour thing and so the confusion, never mind, I slept through it, woke up with a bad breath and so it had to be overnight)

STEPS TO SUCCESSFULLY BRUSHING YOUR TEETH (SPECIALLY FOR NON-WHITE PEOPLE)

1. Now when the day dawns bright, the airhostesses hand over a one-time use toothbrush and toothpaste tube to every passenger and they spray some fragrance in the flight to ensure that bad breath from one passenger does not kill the other (however, they are quite subtle about it, they say it is according to WHO regulations and stuff like that and rightly so, for I did not pay them to say that my bad breath is fatal)

2. So, ideally you should brush your teeth in the flight before you land in Her Majesty’s Land but usually there is a long line of people with small bladders waiting for a chance to meet the aircraft toilet. The scene is just like kids waiting in queue for Santa Claus, the one evident difference- people leave gifts for the aircraft toilet and not the other way around. So after one person deposits their gift there, you would rather let the toilet have some alone time with it than disturb it.

3.Right if you are an incoming visa holding fellow from another country like me, you will be interrogated by a strict fellow at the airport asking for reasons why you want to enter the country, see they do not have any faith in the fact that their land is worth a visit so one needs to have the right reasons and the right appearance to impress them. A brown skin with bad breath isn’t the right combo at all so make sure to brush your teeth in the toilet at the airport as soon as you land.

4. Now you are in the toilet, you shall find atleast 1 skinny girl/muscular boy, 1 middle aged person who feigns ignorance but yet scrutinises your every move and 1 old lady/man who trust me is the one who you have to work your way through. Now in my case I had a lady who was putting on makeup, she had white skin and yellow teeth while I had yellow skin and white teeth, but still I was the one getting the “look”. See the right order of colours is really important. Trust me, those people are really not going to like the fact that you are brushing your Asian teeth while Asian saliva flows through your mouth. So it is really important to follow the next step.

5.So there are 2 ways I have mastered over the years.

a. the “I-DON’T-CARE-A-BIT” THING- let the foam roll, do the brushing and leave the lump of toothpaste in the basin, you don’t care do you?

b. the Better way- how about closing the toothbrush in the mouth and turning towards the wall, never make eye contact with the other people, rinse your mouth as soon as the smell of last night’s dinner is out of the way and never think about packing the cute little bottle of toothpaste in your bag, even if there is another dose left in it for tomorrow, in Rome do as Rome does, make waste, throw waste.

6. So now finish the brushing, take your luggage and go right out. Never turn around and this is me telling you from experience, if you do, you are not going to like the “look”.
So now you have successfully brushed at Heathrow and you are ready to face your interrogator and even if you are deported back or at the least even if you face a grilling encounter, hold your head high, you have brushed at Heathrow and How!

A biology student facing an economic issue spells “S-H-I-T”…..

 A typical conversation I have with my parents when on a vacation in India.

Me: I really want to go the beach/forest/hillside, the resort is organizing a tour in the morning for families, about 100 rupees per person. Are you guys coming?

Mom: The beach/forest/hillside? Too many/much fish/insects/snow in there, book a package but I don’t think I will go, you two can go.

Dad: Actually we could go, they have wonderful snacks/snacks/snacks there. We could have some tea and snacks you know.

Me: Well, they charge an extra 100 per person for snacks and tea, you want me to book it as well?

Dad: I mean, we are going so far, we might as well have something to eat, right?

Mom: Do they have shops nearby? I could buy something while you people roam….

Dad: No they don’t, only the really cheap ones, I don’t think they are worth visiting.

Okay so now I am in the United Kingdom and below is the conversation I have  with my parents in Her Majesty’s land:

Dad: 1 pound = 100 rupees, say that atleast 5 times a day

Me:  I really want to go the beach/forest/hillside, the resort is organizing a tour in the morning for families, about 100 pounds  per person. Are you guys coming?

Mom: Mom: The beach/forest/hillside? Too many/much fish/insects/snow in there, book a package but I don’t think I will go.

Dad: 1 pound= 100 rupees. Actually none of us are going. After all they charge extra for Snacks there. And like I said 1 pound= 100 rupees.

Me: They charge an extra 10 pound for snacks and tea, I could book it you know..

Dad: You don’t understand do you 1 pound= 100 rupees. After all have we come so far only to eat?

Mom: Do they have shops nearby? I could buy something while you people roam….

Dad: No they don’t, only the really costly  ones, I don’t think they are worth visiting after all 1 pound= 100 rupees.

So, yesterday I had to explore the city (where I have come for my interview) on my mortal legs, more than the exploration of the city, what I really explored was the limits of the pieces of flesh that I call “legs”.  Not there fault, after all when God created them, he didn’t know that 1 pound = 100 rupees. So, there I was dragging my wooden legs on the roads of a city which might reject me in one go. Ruining my chances of ever coming there again as an undergraduate. So with that bleak prospect looming above my head, did I enjoy my first ever stint at ” tourism on legs”? Not really!

There are two things I learnt from yesterday,

1. A biology student like me facing an economic crisis of the order of “1 pound= 100 rupees” does not fare well- To say that I thought about hiring a taxi or getting on a bus every 10 seconds, is but a huge understatement. Our ancestors made wheels, the least we can do for them is to use it.  Every tourist site is but a comma in the sentence of a tourist’s journey, pause there, gulp some water, have something to eat and start again. The message Darwin left behind for biologists was ” The fittest shall survive” ( actually Herbert Spencer said that, but I am sure he doesn’t mind),  but who actually is the fittest? not the one who drags wooden legs on the road for sure. As a good enough biologist trudging in the chilly cold weather, the only crisis I was thinking about was the fatal hypothermic shock I was bound to have thanks to the pound-rupee conversion ratio.

2. Industrialisation can be really mean- In my tour around the city, I encountered numerous eateries selling hot pizzas and soups. All of them blatantly advertising their rates in pounds, did anyone there know that 1 pound = 100 rupees or did they care enough to close their windows whilst the girl with the wooden leg dragged herself on the road? No, they didn’t. Trust me the one thing worst than passing a hotel with a hungry stomach is passing the hotel with a hungry stomach with the aroma of food wafting through your nose.I tell you the dogs in these first world countries are really hyped, imagine them galloping through the streets in cars while a two legged bitch with wooden legs drags herself on the road. 

No don’t get me wrong, this city is picturesque, the kind where things seem to be drowsy and slow and yet life paces swiftly ahead. To savour it is one good thing that could come out of this interview trip. The only problem with me is that I have the soul of an 80 year old monk, remotely connected to all things urban. Aah, my soul deserves another blog post but for now I think it suffices to say that the “gawk and walk” policy of holidaying is not meant for me and dear parents, if you are reading this let me tell you that 1 pound is not just 100 rupees but also 100 bruises and cramps.

 

Always happy to help ma’am………

Yeah, this wonderful post titled “Hello, excuse me?” got me thinking and I set out to write about how the person on the other side of the line would respond. I urge you to read the first post at http://iambeggingmymothernottoreadthisblog.com/2014/01/31/hello-excuse-me/ and then my response below…….

 

Hello Ma’am, thank you for calling;

I am glad to be of some help to you

your question though strange

is of great feedback value.

I understand you worry about the feelings that abound

and your nerves that coil and go all round

no ma’am don’t you worry, those feelings will never run out.

we will replace those worn with more passion, no doubt.

With an extra 10 pound, I could refer you to our departmental shrink

happy to help those with emotions to the brink

he has dealt with bloggers many a times,

especially those that commit word crimes.

He will help you in dealing with those

that ask “what happened to her?” and other questions of that kind,

because no matter how frequent, you will always mind.

the one who made your nerves, has long since retired.

his speciality was tight knots, which was why he was hired.

aah, right to information is what you invoke.

to know about the meeting in which we made guns, booze and coke,

Ma’am, why waste your time in things you can’t help.

why not eat a donut, the one on your shelf.

Something’s come under human behaviour,

alas, we can’t alter.

but don’t you worry ma’am for our services never falter.

Thank you for calling ma’am, I hope you have a good day,

yes, you could like this post. Why ofcourse, you may…….

 

Why I want to be a doctor anyway?

 

I could simply say “ because I want to help people and I am interested in biology” but that would make this a lousy blog post (plus this answer, you can always get in the classic ISC interview book ), so let me elaborate on the real reason.

This tale starts almost 2 decades ago. When I was born my grandmother decided to take me under her wing as her “most ambitious project”.  She swore on my diapers to make me a really kind hearted soul, with empathy and love for all.  She took on this project with great zeal, most probably because her previous such endeavours with my father and uncles had failed miserably (Thank God, for blogger anonymity!)  All I can remember about the first 3 years of my life, is the great abundance of moral books and prayers around me. Every 10 minutes or so, she would ask a million dollar question to me “What are you going to become when you grow up?” and I, her well trained parrot would reply “ a good girl, nan.” So, that is why when the time came to take up a career, I was shell-struck. There in the real world was no such thing as being a good girl!

 Where I come from, there are 3 classes of children and 1 class of well “those children”.

  1. The “mathematics” type 1- The most respected and admired lot. The moment they decide to dedicate their lives to finding the value of x, our entire society applauds.  Since I am an  anonymous blogger, you might never find out who I am, yet I did not create this blog to say that I was pretty bad at maths, I was good enough.  The only problem was that I had far too many problems in life to solve, let alone solving problems for  x , y or z.

 

  1. The “biology” type2- Okay, you did not take up maths, you do biology. The face saver subject for people, who weren’t among the chosen few who had what it took to study mathematics. Imagine, you are a world renowned surgeon and your father’s friend is on the surgical table in front of you, I bet the moment he looks at you he is going to say, “Hey, you are Mr.X’s son/daughter, the one who couldn’t do maths? Right”.

 

  1. The “economics” type3-  These people could not even cram up names like “magnifera indica”, duramater and arachnoid membrane. They land even lower in the societal standing of students.  Parents do introduce these kids to their guest, but only for a moment or so. The rest of the hospitality is showered upon the Engineers and the doctors.

 

  1. The last tier of the caste system. The humanities type.  It is ironical that parents, at this point in their child’s life, do not want him/her to be associated with humanity.  If you ever meet such a fellow from my country (especially a girl), give her a salute. She has seen enough in life . It takes courage to become a “humanitarian”.

 

 

This background information was necessary because when you choose a career, I think more than “peer” pressure what affected me was the “near” and “dear” pressure. So, yes, in part being a doctor was what worked both for me and my family. 

 Why medicine worked for my family?

a.  I think they understand the importance of having a doctor in the family. Imagine if (by some miracle) I become a doctor, no more 911 calls, no more waiting lists and no more fee giving.

b. Well, I think they realize that it could have been worse. What if I insisted on becoming a lawyer? Who would want their own child to become a shark, plus what if I filed a legal suit against them the next time they call me a “good-for-nothing”.

c. My family brochure has professionals from all sectors of the society (except maybe an astronaut , but they knew I could not have been that, motion sickness you know), the one piece left in the jigsaw puzzle is that of  a doctor. So it kind of fits (pun always intended).

  1. Studying in med school would keep me busy for a really long time, out of sight out of mind.

So, almost 2 years back when I finally thought “doctor, bingo!” I was miles away from the entire application process. Now halfway through the process,  I sometimes ask myself if I would change my decision, if given another chance, considering that almost all uni’s have courses that pop up in clearing. But, strangely I don’t think that would happen. Because if there is anything that I have learnt from watching back-to-back episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy”, it is that when your application is in V-Fib (whatever the hell that is!) the only right thing to do would be to charge those paddles and give it a huge shock! Revive the application, as long as possible.

 

But on a more serious note, I think Medicine was the one thing that really seemed to fit. All through my work experience at local hospitals and GP clinics, I was really excited by the prospect of so much patient contact.  I am interested in Gynaecology and have attended seminars and workshops on related topics, all this only re-enforced my interest in this field. Plus, if you meet me you will find out how incredibly boring I am and Medical journals could be the true friends I had been longing for.

 

Dear Brain, ever notice how fast you speak?

Dear Brain,

  I am writing this letter to bring to your notice the sheer lack of commas and full stops in your work. As you must be knowing, I have just received an extensive feedback from the mock interview that I had given a few days before. The feedback was not too bad, considering how in your previous letter you had indicated that you were gradually  moving towards size zero and that your new diet had helped in significantly reducing the grey matter. I have been pretty understanding of your needs and demands and all through my gap year I have tried to give you atleast 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep. But we really must do something about this. WHY IS IT THAT WHEN I SPEAK, THERE IS A BLATANT LACK OF PAUSES?

Oh! I know that in my last letter, I had thanked you for overtaxing yourself at the Oxbridge interview and being really prompt with the answers. After all, you hadn’t given me one moment of “ummm” and “aahs”. So quick and all. But times change and now I want you to fake some commas and semi colons when you make a speech for me. Interview invites from med schools are really hard to get. I am standing at the moment, between one rejection and one invite, now it is upto you to decide if you would like to ace the interview and start afresh at med school, with real people and real cadavers or you would rather be stuck here , writing blog posts to yourself. The choice from where I stand doesn’t seem too hard.

So what makes you want to speak uninterrupted. Is it the understanding that the moment you pause, the person in front is going to run away? Now, don’t say you have too much to talk about, swear on the brain stem, we both know how badly boring we are. I have coined a few novel ways for you to slow down the train of thoughts, have a look…

a. The moment you enter in the interview, fix your gaze on the interviewer’s nose or perhaps the mole on his cheek and try to think about it before you give any answer. For instance, if he/she asks “Why do you want to study at our Uni?” how about thinking ” Geez, such a great example of Problem based learning, the interviewer’s nose is the perfect case study for Rhinoplasty gone wrong. If this is the first day, how good would the 5 year span be?”. Don’t worry, there are not  going to give you a spotless, radiant interviewer and both of us know that they are going to find truckloads of flaws in you during the interview, how hard would it be to find one in them?.

b. Okay maybe the first point wasn’t too ethical, so how about  this. Before you answer any question think of how few your blogpost readers are, that will definitely take away the excess enthusiasm from you and you can focus on one word at a time.

c. Remember, how I begged you to learn to power sleep. The kind where you can sleep for snatches of 5 minutes with your eyes open. Oh, how badly I had wanted you to do that whilst in Organic chem classes, now repent. Don’t you dare try this there, the worst we can do is to sleep through the 1 interview we have.

d. Always remember that your parents have been secretly looking for ways to slow you down. I have the weird feeling that they have even found a novel surgical procedure in which they put a staple in your brain like as in Gastric Bypass surgery, I am sure they believe this will improve your speaking skills. Can you blame them? no buddy, we know how bad it is to live with us.

e. Now let me remind you of some dire consequences. What’s the worst that could happen? No med school this year. Okay, now imagine having to give the UKCAT, BMAT again. How about writing another personal statement. Now you get it. That’s why I am begging you to slow down.

 Think about it, dear brain. I am definitely not your enemy, not the one you should be afraid of atleast. Try probing in your anatomy, morphology, physiology. Get me a way of speaking slowly. You know how badly we need it.

  I understand that this is going to be hard for you, but trust me, if you don’t help me I could make it worse. How about enrolling in some mathematics course? How about staying awake the whole night, with cup after cup of caffeine? How about stopping all the food that keeps you fresh, no almonds, no walnut.. …

  I believe you must have already found some cure for this problem of ours. Send me a detailed letter. Looking forward to it.

Yours,

Winky Spider.

P.s- Don’t worry, my brain does not reply through this blog. You are safe no more ranting communications.

Dear applicant, what are your strengths?

This is one question, I am pretty sure will come after ” Why Medicine?” in all med school interviews. Rightly so, for in the short span of 20-30 minutes, this is one question which helps the interviewer in figuring out what you think about yourself, not that it matters too much for they already know what they think about you but yeah, it tells them what you think you are worth.

So, 2 minutes and 17 years of life. How do you sum up what you think brought you so far? What would you say to this? Would you give the same answer every other applicant gives, would you say that you are competent, caring and calm with an inherent prowess for holding the scalpel. Trying to sound unique is even harder than being unique.
I have compiled a list of adjectives which I think can and should be used to answer this question and others of the same vein:-

1. Compassionate- a pretty strong attribute to have considering that medicine thrives on human to human contact. This may sound like a pretty clichéd term to use but I believe that the world can never have enough of compassionate people.

2. Perseverant- In the race to medical school finish line, I think this is one trait that gives one an edge. What is it like to be perseverant?Is it the tendency to not give up and persist against all odds. For me, the confidence to apply to a UK medical school among loads of home applicants and the ability to fight for the small number of seats offered to international applicants is in itself an example of perseverance. Maybe not the best example to give in an interview but the perfect one for a ranting blog.

3. Practicality- The virtue of being clear enough to separate logic from emotions and feelings from reality. How important would this trait be in a situation where the plug is to be pulled on a chronically ill patient or when the rationing of resources needs an objective mind.

4. Emotional- Although in striking contrast to #3, this would be of ample use in the world of medicine, a world where objectivity is fast replacing the humanitarian touch of mankind.

5.Enthusiastic- Yes, maybe all the 15 applicants for the interview are enthusiastic, but then can the university ever accept an applicant, who has the lack of zeal? Yes, you have an important lecture at 6 in the morning, who do you think will attend it, the enthusiastic applicant or the one with the clear lack of it.

6.Initiative- It takes a hell lot of initiative to make a blog on topics related to the journey of a novice through the webs of healthcare. I did it because I wanted to. Most importantly, I know it took you a whole lot of initiative to read this post, but you did it because you wanted to. See, when we can devote so much time and energy onto a mere blog, what would we do as doctors?

7. Ethical- I am tremendously impressed by the scope of medical ethics. I treat it as an amalgamation of science and art. I try to stay well versed with the Abortion act, the ideals of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the ethics of eugenics and stem cell therapy but for you it might just be the morality of everyday life. It does not matter, what does however is the fact that it plays a crucial role in our dealing with people.

8. Scientific- Medicine at first look ,looks like a boring collection of facts, journals and theories applied to ailing people. Trust me, no matter what they tell you, it is just that. The importance of having a scientific bent of mind can never be underestimated.

9. Effective communication skills- The ability to navigate through the maze of questions posed in an interview, this itself requires immense communication skills. I would like to include- effective speaking, listening and writing as a subset of this trait.

10. Independence- No man/woman can function alone, but as a healthcare professional, you may have to. The gist of this trait is that by this I would like to emphasize upon the self-reliant nature of mine.

These are 10 traits, I can think of at the moment. There are numerous other adjectives which could successfully be used to elaborate on oneself. The more the merrier……….

UKCAT: the worst cat ever….

Yes, I am a wannabe medic, I fantasize about the white coats and the stethoscope! This is the “Dreamy Phase” of my life, the time when you see everything in rose tinted shades. And even a rectal examination seems like a major call of duty.

I have loved Grey’s Anatomy from day one, and even though the show is miles away from reality, I love the hospital setting that they show.

What I cannot believe however is that McDreamy or for that matter Dark and Twisty Meredith have ever given the UKCAT! ( I bet one cannot have such good hair, while doing the quantitative reasoning test.)
P.S: I am referring to mortal humans like me, no offense to you awesome people!
So yes, UKCAT has screwed up my brain enormously!!!!

1. After struggling with the aptitude test for like 3 months, my test was scheduled for the 1st of September, and needless to say I was not looking forward to it. In retrospect however, I don’t think I should have worried so much. But then Hindsight is a beautiful thing.

2. What’s different! I have given so many exams now, all through my life,its been just one exam after another then why is the UKCAT such a pain in the ass???

3. ZAP, Your Results are here-Okay, I agree that the wait for results is frustrating….
After the exams- confidence level is on a peak
3 days after the exam- I have the firm belief that I can make it through without sinking.
week after the exams-I start preparing for the retest.

so, getting the results immediately after the test is good in that way but what do you tell people waiting right outside your test centre? There is no freaking way you can hide the ominous fact!

4. If you care- I had been preparing using the following material:-
a. 600 UKCAT book (pretty difficult)
b. Kaplan UKCAT online course.
c. Emedica
d. AceMedicine (one of the worst packages I purchased)

In a nut shell, I had spent a lot of my daddy’s “hard earned” money on this test and all this after I read on the official UKCAT Site that “you can absolutely not prepare for this test”!

So more the money spent, more the “great expectations”,more the sleepless nights ( or in my case more drowsy days)

5. Abstract Reasoning- I somehow had begun to understand it, days before the test (Some miracle that was, for at the very beginning I was failing dramatically at it) Every time I saw a pattern would I start counting- no of sides,no of intersections, colours,shapes etc

6. THE SITUATIONAL JUDGEMENTAL TEST- this was the major issue. I think I am probably the only person who had a problem with this. It came as a major shock cos I am a pretty ethical person (or so I like to believe)but yet I screw up about one third of the questions.

Actually in real life, stuff is either good or bad, it can screw you or inflate you,but in UKCAT it is :-
a. Very Appropriate
b. Appropriate but not ideal
c. Inappropriate but not awful
d Very inappropriate.

7. Freaking Forums- To top it all, I had been stalking TSR,New media medicine and all other student forums I could find and wherever I went, I found awesome-blossom people who had an average of 700 or above, and boy was I pissed?

I always wish well for the fellow contenders, its just that I could not understand why they all wanted to apply in 2013???

8. Timing is always the crucial factor- The average time for one question in the test is about 30-35 seconds and this has been one of the most damned things about it. Initially, I used to read the question in 60 seconds and now I do the question in about 35-40 seconds, its still not perfect but hey! even UKCAT is not perfect… so do not judge me!

9. Get it done with- Despite all this I decided to go ahead with the test in September itself, even though I had initially decided on the 1st of October, some of the notable reasons are:-

a. I had been working on it long enough, and I was starting to feel a teeny bit bored!!!

b. With the scores in hand, I could then decide the universities I wanted to apply to, find out the ones which would not trouble me too much.

c. Prepare the final draft for the personal statement, prepare for the BMAT.

UKCAT in a nutshell, would be a test of how well, you could persevere in the face of adversities and more so when pressed for time. I still remember how 20 minutes into the test, I felt that I had ruined all my chances of getting a place but then what was important was to cast all the negativity aside and try to grab as much of what was left. Surprisingly, my score came above 750, which by 2013 standards was pretty good. I still don’t know if I will going to a med school this year, but what I definitely know is that I somehow aced the UKCAT, maybe not the worst cat ever……

I love you…..

I love you without rhyme without reason,

sometimes against time,

sometimes against season

oft alone yet never alone,

Sometimes with dusk,

sometimes with dawn

part a trepid, part a fawn,

I love you against rhyme against reason.

Against joy against harm,

sometimes too cold

sometimes warm

Oft alone yet never alone

sometimes like a bird soaring high,

sometimes like a sigh

I love you against rhyme against reason

Sometimes too far,

sometimes nigh,

Sometimes a devil, sometimes too shy

I love you against rhyme against reason

Against souls,against life

against all wrath,against all strife

Against all miseries,

against all hope

Against all troubles

against all dope

Oft alone,yet never alone

I love you for rhyme for reason…….

Oxbridge: what the winky spider did there and more…….

When does a medical applicant apply to Oxbridge? Is it when confidence overcomes reality and  when you really think for a moment that you are the chosen one who can study for 6 years in the Hogwarts like atmosphere of Oxbridge. Nah, I applied because I was out of choices and I also did not want to regret on my deathbed that I could have studied at Oxbridge, and found the cure for the disease that brought me to the deathbed in the first place. After all what did I have to lose? On the contrary, lets sum up the motivation I had for applying to Oxbridge.

1. I have spent half of my childhood, wearing capes and scaring off make-believe dementors, muttering J.K Rowling created magic spells and believing that Hogwarts would be where my muggle parents would send me to become a full blown witch. And, when you have a look at Oxford/Cambridge, you can for a moment actually feel the magic in it. This was one half of the reason why I chose it.

 P.s Truth be told, I only got to know later on that Harry Potter was actually shot in Durham, Damn the heartbreak!

2. Winning the Nobel Prize- I have actually seen myself winning the nobel prize for medicine, and Oxbridge seemed to be the right place for kick starting my career, the league tables all played a crucial role, why are they so biased towards Oxbridge people? Always first or second……

3. If you submit the UCAS application in November like I did, you are looking forward to almost 5 months of waiting and interviewing before the results. Oxbridge comprises the only university to interview you in December and send results out in January, for gap year people like me, this keeps you busy for atleast 2 months.

4. BMAT- I did the blunder of looking at section 2 of the BMAT and feeling that it was a piece of cake, after the UKCAT, the prospect of having a pen and paper test with no timers running in the background seemed a bliss. But then came Section 1, which fucked my brain immensely.

5. To think that I could actually study at Oxbridge, brought a kind of respect for me from my family. For a person experiencing that kind of reverence for the first time, the mere probability of getting an offer seems something to leap for.

6. Being an international applicant, my choices were pretty limited. Some places did not find my qualification acceptable, for the others I did not find theirs acceptable…….

6 points are enough, aren’t they? well they were for me then and I spent almost a month waiting for the BMAT results and then an interview call. My BMAT score was definitely above average and section 2 and 3 were real good. More about my Bmat experience later on but I think for now it suffices to say that I was called for an interview. Now let me emphasize how hard it is for international applicants to get even an interview invite. Whilst packing for my trip to Oxbridge, I often felt that since I had crossed the first difficult part to interview, I was definitely going to get an offer. Screw modesty, I really think I had good enough communication skills. Aah, the investments I did for the interview, shining black suits, a new haircut, expensive spa treatment to get that Grey’s Anatomy glow on my face and air tickets ( beware around Christmas, tickets are harder to find than Santa himself and costlier than all the gifts in his bag) .

Hmm, in retrospect the interview went really good, the kind where you come out feeling really high and happy. But then there is the gut-wrenching wait through Christmas New year and a week after that before you hear from them. Now this was the moment, I had been waiting for all my life (atleast all my medical aspiration life), imagine a young person, fresh out of school, back from Oxbridge, with the memory of a good enough interview and looking forward to classes in September. Yup, you imagined that right, now imagine a dejected applicant, heartbroken and unable to believe on humanity. Yes, that was me after the results, I had been rejected.

 Really all that waiting had reached a saturation point, I wouldn’t say that it did not feel bad, cos it did and more so because I could not for a moment figure out what had gone wrong. Well, truth be told I cannot figure out even now…..

So, how was life after the results? It was slow, like a long drawn drama and with no other med school interviews at the moment, the dejection lingered on for quite some time. And then I got an invite from another med school in London, that felt good, but what Oxbridge did for me was that it kind of stole the area of my brain which told me that I was really good at doing interviews. All through school and beyond, I don’t remember even thinking about my communication skills but now freshly rejected from Oxbridge, there was this dread of not being good enough……

So I still have an interview to give next month, this is going to be my ever first encounter with an interviewer after Oxbridge and like a heartbroken person, I sometimes have the feeling that I might not be too good at the game, but as my mother rightly says I need to just hang in there……..

So, would I apply to Oxbridge again if given a chance? Yes, definitely, because like everything else in life, even in loss this has taught me an important lesson. The lesson of patience and perseverance. Yeah, maybe next time I will  talk to my parents and make sure that they understand that getting an interview is not what gets you an offer, there are a number of other things which matter. Maybe, I will rejoice in the fact that I had an interview and feel blessed that I could atleast go so far.

So now finally, the post rejection take on my reasons for choosing Oxbridge

1. Hogwarts is just fictitious and like I said Durham was where it was all shot and afterall Harry Potter is so old school!!!

2. Winning a Nobel Prize does not mean that you have to be an Oxbridge graduate. It just means you are really good at what you do no matter where you come from.

3. November, December, January, February. Days are meant to fly and they shall. Trust me for I have experience, one does not need Oxbridge to while away time.

4. UKCAT has really been kind to me. I somehow came in the top 10% of UKCAT scores. BMAT take that!!!!

5. League tables- I am going to start my very own Winky Spider University ranking table and no guesses where Oxbridge is going to figure

Aah, that was my Oxbridge journey, loved and cherished……

How UCAS medical school application is turning out to be a life changing experience for me…

Medical School applications in UK are submitted via the UCAS portal. For all Harry Potter fans, UCAS is like your very own Hedwig, bringing messages to and from universities. When I decided to apply, it took me almost 2 months of preparation to finally muster enough courage to click “SUBMIT”. In the short spread of a few pages, UCAS gets you to fill in your complete life story, not only so far but also what you anticipate in the coming years.

For me the entire process of filling in the Personal Statement, getting a reference, submitting your grades and finally choosing med schools to apply turned out to be far more time-consuming than I had thought.
After almost a month when the time came to cross-check the application before hitting send, I had reviewed every column almost 10 times. Trying to make each and everything speak volumes. Trying to look like the perfect candidate for their school. Trying to become the “Chosen one”. Aah! I can even remember trying to fit in “Meredith Grey” in my name to sound like a real pro.

UCAS like so many things in life, will not tell you if clicking send is worth it. It will have the same boring color no matter how good or bad your application is. The one thing/person/organization in your application journey that/who will not judge you on your lack of academic prowess/internship work and your grammatical errors. The only thing it indicates is “Keep calm and watch”

And then you click send. The application is bundled off, 4 universities (plus 1 insurance one) send you acknowledgement letters. The first step which you receive so happily! I still remember getting the letters and looking forward to my offers. The letters are so warm and exuberant, that you would almost want to go and buy stuff for it. But trust me, 5 months later, when you are still waiting for a reply from them (even a season’s greeting) that letter will drive you nuts. You will look at it and scream “Hypocrites”. And that is when you will realize the value of UCAS. The Stability of the portal, which has not changed over the past 5 months. You learn to respect it for its never-changing nature.

Right so now, 5 months and 15 days on, you spend every moment of your life checking Uni1’s portal, Uni2’s portal,Uni3’s portal, Uni4’s Portal and finally you come onto UCAS. The one stop for your university needs. The integrating factor in your application. The one thing that joins you to so many other buffoons who have applied to med school. Your love, Your UCAS.

And then suddenly UCAS speaks up,sends a notification “Your application is in premature labor” and like a harried father you rush to the portal, and there right in front is the outcome of the entire process, its either a REJECTION or an ACCEPTANCE, but trust me most of the time, the gestation period of your application seems so long that you heave a sigh of relief even if it is a rejection. See, this is how UCAS lessens your grief, by making it so stretched that you cry with joy when the process finishes.

Okay, at the moment I have an offer for Biomedical Sciences from a world class uni in London, but like so many applicants I would give anything to replace it with an offer of place for medicine from maybe a lesser known University, such is the desperation to be a medic. But through all this what has become really close is UCAS, we have even come to nickname terms, he has given me a 10 digit Personal Id number and I call him “%^%#$#” but nevertheless, he has taught me how life is a collection of decision letters, some rejections and some acceptances but most importantly it is the desire and the patience to wait for another golden day……

LOVE YOU UCAS, NOW GIVE ME AN OFFER ALREADY!!!

P.s: I have not received any commissions from the UCAS people, trust me they do not even pick up their phone calls…..