On 8 November 2023, I had a really weird dream.
In my dream, my hospital organised an exchange programme for House Officers. Selected House Officers would be sent to work at hospitals in various locations all over the world, while trainee doctors from those countries would come to Malaysia and work at our hospital.
I was one of the House Officers selected for the exchange programme. I saw the name list which stated that I would be sent to London, UK. I was so excited and I quickly agreed to join the programme. The flight tickets were funded and arranged by the government, all I had to do was to board the plane with my personal belongings.
On the plane, I looked through the name list for the exchange programme once again. I was shocked to find out that I had made a terrible oversight earlier. It's my colleague, not me, that would be sent to London, UK. Instead, I would actually be sent to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia! I didn't even realise that I boarded the flight to Ulaanbaatar.
That made me feel quite scared. Mongolia has a very different living environment and culture compared to Malaysia, and I have never been to Mongolia before. Mongolia also doesn't have a developed healthcare system, so working as a doctor there would surely be challenging. Unfortunately, there was no turning back for me at that point.
After landing in Ulaanbaatar, a car came to fetch me from the airport. Travelling through Ulaanbaatar, I could see a lot of forests and villages which looked quite similar to those in Malaysia. Surprisingly, I didn't see any deserts or yurts (round tents) which Mongolia is famous for. I wondered, is that really Ulaanbaatar?
At one point of the journey, the main road ahead was closed for construction works. To bypass that, the driver made a turn into a smaller road and drove through a few villages. The rural scenes looked quite nice and were reminiscent of those in Kluang. I thought, perhaps being sent to Ulaanbaatar isn't that bad after all.
After some time, we emerged back onto the main road and continued our journey. The driver told me that Ulaanbaatar was fast developing and that's why there's a lot of road constructions. He also said he was sure I would like the place after staying there for some time.
Then, I arrived at the townhood where the hospital was located. There was a sharp change in the surrounding environment. There was no more forests, as that was a desert area. Still, I didn't see any yurts. There were a few concrete buildings, with their signboards written in Mongolian Cyrillic.
I began feeling uncomfortable about being in a desert area. After the driver dropped me off at the hospital residences, the first thing in my mind was to get some food, as I was feeling hungry. I didn't even bother taking a look around the residences or the hospital. There was only one restaurant in that area, so I went there straight away.
As it turned out, the staffs at that restaurant could only speak Mongolian, not English or Chinese. I don't know Mongolian at all and I couldn't communicate with them no matter how I tried. They then refused to entertain me further. In the end, I left the restaurant without getting to eat anything. There was nowhere else I could get food, and I was so hungry.
I felt really jealous of my colleague who got sent to London, UK. This question kept going through my mind "Why did they send me to Mongolia instead of UK?" I then decided that I should leave the exchange programme and return to Malaysia as soon as possible.
I wanted to immediately send a message to my hospital to tell them to bring me back to Malaysia. I knew I had to provide a good reason for that, so I thought hard to come up with one. Then, I suddenly woke up from my dream. I was so glad that it's just a dream.
In reality, November 2023 is the penultimate month of my housemanship at Kluang hospital. This dream may reflect the uncertainty regarding my future after completing housemanship. In the dream, I had no control over whether I would get selected for the exchange programme, where I would be sent to for the exchange programme, and whether I could quit the programme.
Being sent to Mongolia and feeling so scared about it in the dream could be a representation of my fear of being allocated to a district hospital in a rural area as a Medical Officer. Several of my friends from NUMed are currently working in UK and they are enjoying it a lot, which might be why I got jealous of my colleague who got sent to UK in the dream.
Lately, I have been going around exploring Kluang, especially the rural areas. That was probably the reason I dreamt about travelling through the rural areas in Ulaanbaatar and reminiscing about Kluang. I was feeling really hungry in the dream probably because working as a doctor often requires me to work long hours without having lunch.