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Sunday 1 July 2018

My experience of doing the SSC 3 in UK

The 2nd semester of my 4th year of MBBS at NUMed consists of three Student Selected Components (SSC) and two Electives. The SSC 3, Elective 1 and Elective 2 can be done either in Malaysia or in UK. I chose to do the SSC 3 in UK, but not the Electives. The SSC 3 lasted from 16 April 2018 to 25 April 2018. Here, I would like to share my experience when I was in UK for my SSC 3.

Background information:

- In the past, I had always been hesitant about going to UK for the SSC 3 and Electives. This was because I had never studied overseas before and I felt that it would be difficult for me to adapt to the environment overseas which is quite different from that in Malaysia. However in September 2017, I made the decision to do my SSC 3 in UK.
- Despite living away from my family for more than 3 years since I started studying MBBS at NUMed, I still do not know how to cook, although I am able to prepare instant noodles and operate microwaves and ovens. As such, I had expected that this would be a challenge for me in UK.
- A Short-term Study Visa (STSV) was required in order to do the SSC 3 in UK. I applied for the STSV online on 4 February 2018. Subsequently on 23 February 2018, I went in person to VFS Global at Wisma MCA, Kuala Lumpur to submit my passport and the supporting documents. My passport together with the STSV was then mailed to me on 7 March 2018.
- I originally intended to travel to UK with my friends. However, vast majority of them planned to fly on 30 March 2018, which in my opinion was too rushed, considering that there was an exam just 2 days before that. They also planned to have a tour around Europe before the start of SSC 3, but I had no interest in travelling to anywhere in Europe outside of UK. In the end, I chose to travel to UK with my parents on 13 April 2018.
- For my SSC 3, I chose to do Cardiothoracic Anaesthesia and Intensive Care at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough. James Cook University Hospital was the only hospital in UK where university-managed accommodation was available, thus avoiding the need to arrange private accommodation.

My diary while in UK:

12 April 2018 (Thursday):
- Checked in my luggage at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

13 April 2018 (Friday):
- Had breakfast at Plaza Premium Lounge, Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
- Boarded flight MH 4 to London. It was a really nice A350 plane.
- Had nasi lemak with chicken rendang as 1st meal.
- Watched All the Money in the World.
- Had chicken sandwich for snack.
- Had chicken satay with rice as 2nd meal.
- Landed at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 4.
- Bought a Three SIM card.
- Took a taxi to Ibis Hotel. Stayed a night there.

14 April 2018 (Saturday):
- Had English breakfast at Ibis Hotel.
- Took a taxi to London King's Cross Station.
- Took a train to Eaglescliffe station.
- Took a taxi to Holiday Inn Express, Middlesbrough.
- Had fish and chips for lunch at Orchard Cafe.
- Took a taxi to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.
- Moved into Corby House, the university-managed accommodation.
- Met my friends who were also staying there.
- Bought groceries at Tesco Express and bought my dinner at Peking Chef.

15 April 2018 (Sunday):
- Travelled to Middlesbrough town centre with my friend. Met another friend with his landlady who offered us a ride.
- Went shopping at Cleveland.
- Had lunch at Banana Leaf Restaurant.

16 April 2018 (Monday):
- Registered at James Cook University Hospital for the start of SSC 3.
- Attended my 1st occupational health appointment. Underwent blood test for tuberculosis.

17 April 2018 (Tuesday):
- First day of session for SSC 3. My SSC 3 supervisor was away on that day so I met his colleague.
- Observed a case of coronary artery bypass surgery.

18 April 2018 (Wednesday):
- Results of the SSC 1 Oral Presentation, SSC 2 Poster & Abstract and WriSkE were released. Passed all of them successfully.
- Attended a lecture on Cardiothoracic Anaesthesia and Intensive Care. The lecture was largely about postgraduate topics.

19 April 2018 (Thursday):
- Went to the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit.

20 April 2018 (Friday):
- Had chicken soup for dinner with my friend.
- False trigger of the fire alarm at Corby House due to excessive smoke from cooking.

22 April 2018 (Sunday):
- Had butter chicken for dinner with my friend.

23 April 2018 (Monday):
- Observed cases of thoracic surgeries.
- The really long surgery made me feel very exhausted. I no longer enjoyed my SSC 3 very much.
- Received warning letter from James Cook University Hospital due to the fire alarm incident.

24 April 2018 (Tuesday):
- Met the undergraduate medical education manager due to the fire alarm incident. I and my friends at Corby House had to pay a fine of £12.50 each.
- Attended my 2nd occupational health appointment. Received MMR vaccine.

25 April 2018 (Wednesday):
- Met my SSC 3 supervisor.
- Observed a case of valve replacement surgery.

26 April 2018 (Thursday):
- Took photos with my friend at the operation theatre.

28 April 2018 (Saturday):
- Travelled to Whitby by train with my friends. Met many other friends who were also going to Whitby.
- Visited Whitby Abbey.
- Had fish and chips for lunch at Silver Street Fisheries.
- Visited Whitby beach, Whitby Harbour, casinos, Cinder Track, Pannett Park and Whitby Museum.
- Watched the Whitby swing bridge opening and closing.
- Had a light meal at Humble Pie and Mash.
- Went shopping at Co-op.
- Returned to Middlesbrough by train.

29 April 2018 (Sunday):
- Had pizza for dinner with my friend.
- Watched I, Tonya online.

1 May 2018 (Tuesday):
- Had naan for dinner with my friend.

2 May 2018 (Wednesday):
- Played frisbee with my friends.

5 May 2018 (Saturday):
- Volunteered to be a simulated patient for the Mock MOSLER assessment at James Cook University Hospital.
- Watched Black Panther online.

6 May 2018 (Sunday):
- Watched Avengers: Infinity War at Cineworld, Middlesbrough with my friend.
- Had dinner at Toby Carvery with my friend.

7 May 2018 (Monday):
- Bank holiday in UK.
- Watched Microsoft Build 2018 online.

8 May 2018 (Tuesday):
- Watched Google I/O 2018 online. Android P was announced.

9 May 2018 (Wednesday):
- Took group photos with most NUMed students at James Cook University Hospital.
- Played frisbee with my friends.
- Had pizza for dinner with my friend.
- Followed the 14th Malaysian General Election online. Pakatan Harapan won the election.

12 May 2018 (Saturday):
- Travelled to Durham by train with my friends.
- Visited Durham Cathedral, St Chad’s College and Market Hall.
- Had fish and chips for lunch at Bells.
- Visited Durham Castle, Durham University, Wharton Park and Clayport Library.
- Went shopping in Durham.
- Returned to Middlesbrough by train. Changed trains at Darlington during the journey.

13 May 2018 (Sunday):
- Desserts potluck with NUMed students and a Foundation doctor at Durham House.

14 May 2018 (Monday):
- Pizza and fried chicken party with most NUMed students at Corby House.

16 May 2018 (Wednesday) and 17 May 2018 (Thursday):
- Performed intravenous cannulation on patients at operation theatre.

18 May 2018 (Friday):
- Watched Deadpool 2 at Cineworld, Middlesbrough with my friend.
- Met a man dressed in Deadpool's costume and took photos with him.
- Had dinner at Akbar’s.

19 May 2018 (Saturday):
- Travelled to York by train with my friends.
- Visited Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens, York Minster and Dean’s Park.
- Joined a tour around York. Visited King’s Manor, York Art Gallery, Bootham Bar, York city wall, Shambles, Merchant Adventurers’ Hall and Clifford’s Tower.
- Had lunch at Wok & Go.
- Visited York's Chocolate Story, Shambles Market and National Railway Museum.
- Returned to Middlesbrough by train.
- Had dinner at Corby House with my friends.

20 May 2018 (Sunday):
- Started feeling unwell. I was very weak and had diarrhoea.

21 May 2018 (Monday):
- Took a day off due to my sickness.

23 May 2018 (Wednesday):
- Completed the SSC 3 ePortfolio.

24 May 2018 (Thursday):
- Recovered from my illness.
- Last day at operation theatre.

25 May 2018 (Friday):
- Went to the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit.
- Sign-off of SSC 3 ePortfolio, in-course assessment form and logbook by my supervisor. Official end of SSC 3.
- Took photos with my SSC 3 supervisor and teammate.
- Watched Solo: A Star Wars Story at Cineworld, Middlesbrough with my friend.
- Had dinner at Manjaros.
- Travelled to London by bus with my friend.

26 May 2018 (Saturday):
- Arrived Victoria Coach Station. Had breakfast at McDonald’s.
- Visited Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, London Eye and King’s College London.
- Visited Borough Market. Had chocolate doughnut, Ethiopian marinated chicken, duck confit and vanilla ice-cream for lunch.
- Visited London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Chinatown.
- Had dinner at Ruyi Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown.
- Stayed a night at London Backpackers Hostel.

27 May 2018 (Sunday):
- Travelled to Cambridge by train with my friend. Met two other friends on the train.
- Visited Cambridge International Examinations, Emmanuel College and King’s College.
- Joined Cambridge punting tour.
- Had lunch at The Copper Kettle.
- Visited Garret Hostel, King’s College, Clare College, Trinity College and Market Hill.
- Returned to London by train.
- Visited Earl’s Court. Had dinner at Masala Indian Restaurant.
- Took a bus back to Middlesbrough.

28 May 2018 (Monday):
- Arrived Middlesbrough.

29 May 2018 (Tuesday):
- Had lunch at Peri Peri Original Middlesbrough.
- Had dinner at Toby Carvery with my friend.

30 May 2018 (Wednesday):
- Travelled to Newcastle by train with my friends.
- Followed my friends to store their luggage at Safestore.
- Visited Life science centre, Chinatown and Eldon Square.
- Had lunch at KFC.
- Separated with my friends at Eldon Square bus station. They would be travelling to Amsterdam, Netherlands.
- Visited Newcastle University, Newcastle Medical School and Royal Victoria Infirmary myself.
- Took photos of Tyne Bridge.
- Returned to Middlesbrough by train.
- Took selfies at James Cook University Hospital and Roseberry Park Hospital.

31 May 2018 (Thursday):
- Had lunch at McDonald’s, Middlesbrough.

1 June 2018 (Friday):
- Had lunch at Peri Peri Original Middlesbrough.
- A few persons who were not NUMed students moved into Corby House.
- Packed my luggage.
- Had dinner at Akbar’s.

2 June 2018 (Saturday):
- Moved out of Corby House.
- Had English breakfast at James Cook University Hospital.
- Took a train to London King’s Cross Station.
- Took the tube to London Heathrow Airport Terminal 4.
- Had lunch at Oriel restaurant.
- Boarded flight MH 1 back to Kuala Lumpur.
- Had beef kerutup with rice as 1st meal.

3 June 2018 (Sunday):
- Slept for several hours on the flight.
- Had nasi lemak with onion sambal as 2nd meal.
- Landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

- I did not truly enjoy my SSC 3. Although I chose to do Cardiothoracic Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, my time throughout the SSC was largely spent on surgery instead of anaesthesia. During a surgery, nothing would be going on in the anaesthetic room, so I could only observe the surgery. As I do not like surgery, I found this rather boring. Worse still, I usually had to be at the operation theatre for long hours every day, which made me feel very tired.
- Despite that, my time in UK had been really enjoyable in overall. I had plenty of opportunities to be together with my friends, and we had a lot of interesting events. I spent time with not just a particular group of friends, but with multiple groups. This was definitely able to make up for the shortcomings of my SSC 3. This also brought me closer to my friends, making me value them even more.
- Adapting to life in UK turned out to be much easier than what I had expected previously. Within walking distance from Corby House, there were 4 restaurants which were open daily. Microwave food and oven food were also readily available at the grocery stores nearby. Therefore, food wasn't a problem for me. I also had no problems getting used to the environment in UK.
- There are certain things that I really like about UK. In particular, most services in UK are very efficient, due to the fact that the workers are truly committed to their jobs. The public transport system is good and reliable. Credit and debit cards are accepted at many places in UK. High-speed, free WiFi is also readily available.
- Of course, there are negative aspects about UK as well. I met some teenagers with terrible behaviour, and alcoholism is a real problem in UK.
- I can say for sure that I made a really good decision by choosing to do the SSC 3 in UK. I feel really regret for not choosing to also do the Elective 1 in UK, as most of my friends continued their Elective 1 in UK and I had to separate with them by returning to Malaysia after SSC 3. I cannot imagine how much more I would regret if I did not do the SSC 3 in UK.

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