Sunday, November 29, 2009


It was until today, 29th of November, that the realisation of leaving my friends behind finally hit home. Tonight, after church, I had to say "Goodbye" to a couple of friends, who are going away from Townsville permanently, and who I won't probably see them again, giving that I'll depart from Australia in a few months. It is not that I could stop over in Brisbane or Melbourne in a year's time, and get to see them again. The blue Pacific will indeed be a constant reminder of the physical separation between us.

Yet, as Christians, we are one body in Christ, and there is a special bond between each individual and the other bunch of individuals that form the Church. Even when geographical distance and time differences may indicate a true separation, we are not separated at all in the Lord.

Having said that, my heart grieves at the thought of leaving my friends in Townsville behind, since they have become my family in Australia. But sometimes "Goodbye" is the only way to go, and I know that God allows it for a reason.

And thanks to God there are things like Facebook and Skype! :)

To those who leave Townsville before me: may God be with you where you go, and I'm incredibly thankful for the memories and the time spent together. I hope to keep in touch with you all :).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Study Tips

This is that time of the year when Uni students are fighting a battle against ignorance, using their textbooks as shields and their lecture notes as swords, in order to conquer the enemy and pass their exams. Out of my experience (and I am feeling old as I write this), let me share with you some study tips I've learned through the years, if that helps you in any way.

  1. ATTITUDE is extremely important, and many students do forget this. If you think you are going to fail, you most probably will. Why? Well, learning is hard because you have to convince your brain that the stuff you are learning is useful. If you have already decided that you don't wan't to study the material you have to study, it does not matter how hard you try, you will not learn it. So keep a positive attitude: convince yourself that whatever you are studying is important and relevant, and your brain will find it easier to concentrate, learn and actually have fun studying.
  2. INTEGRATION is the key for satisfactory learning - and this advice goes especially for Medical students, but it also applies to students in other fields. Don't learn things in isolation - rather, try to think in "big pictures", i.e. 'How does this fit with the information I know so far?' 'How does this subject help me understand that other subject?', etc. Once you have worked that out, keep connecting new information with old one. That's why in Medicine, although you learn each organ system and pathology in isolation, you have to integrate each little piece in order to learn and understand both the normal and pathological functioning of the Human Body. For example, to understand Pharmacology, you will need to connect that info with Biochemistry, Physiology and Pathophysiology. But even in subjects that have nothing to do with each other, find creative ways to integrate that information. Connect, integrate, build the big picture, multiply your brain pathways and make them stronger - and you will have fun.
  3. UNDERSTAND RATHER THAN MEMORISE. For the most part, don't learn things by memory just by themselves. Rather, try to understand the processes behind them, their use, their purpose and their function. If you need to memorise something, make sure you understood it before you do. Believe me when I tell you that if you understood the core component of your subject, then it does not matter in what form the question comes in the exam, you will be ready to articulate or select a good answer. Because of that, don't memorise the answers of previous papers - rather, be ready in the case the lecturers pose the question in a different way.
  4. STUDY FOR LIFE, NOT JUST FOR THE EXAM. Everything you learn in your University degree will later help you, regardless of how stupid it may seem at the time. When you study, make it your goal to study for your future profession (and life!), not just for the exam. Cramming things the day before the exam will probably make you pass that subject, but you will certainly struggle the following semester while you try to catch up on the things you ought to have already learned by that stage.
  5. HAVE A GOOD REST BEFORE THE EXAM. It is rather pointless to do an all-nighter before your exam. Study in such a way that you finish your preparation the afternoon before the exam, and then take the night off. Read a book, listen to music, relax. Attentiveness and analytical skills tend to drop abruptly if you don't rest, regardless of how much coffee you have had during the night before the exam.
  6. PRAY! If you are a Christian, why not pray that God may help you not to stress too much, be diligent and study in a way that pleases Him?
  7. HAVE FUN! Who said that learning can't be fun? I have certainly enjoyed the pain of being a Uni student :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I Love My India

One of the most interesting experiences I have had in Australia is that 8 out of 10 people that meet me think I am from India or Sri-Lanka. I had the chance to meet a lady from my country the other day, and she actually asked me if I had Indian/Sri-Lankan heritage. Quite amazing.

During my second year of Uni, an Indian Uni student approached me and asked me whereabouts from India I came from. After I explained him I sadly had no cultural or racial ties to India, we chatted for a while and became good friends. That same year, during the Cultural Festival in Townsville, I went to the "Bollywood" Dance night at The Strand. This song, "I Love My India", I heard it on such "Bollywood" Dance night for the first time and just captivated me from the start. The original event was a portrayal of Indian dancing, performed by the Indian community in Townsville. This, however, was the last song they sang and danced, and towards the end they invited the public to join in their dancing. My friends and I ended up on stage, with some other people from the public, enjoying the novel cultural experience. What I enjoyed the most is that I blended in so well with the other Indians there, (because of my looks) hehehe.

Because of all these, I started to become more and more interested in this exotic country of India, with its contrasts, its rich culture, its thousand languages, its amazing cuisine and its beautiful music. One of the firstfruits of that was my blog entry on the cultural and identity differences between India and Latin America, which I wrote in Spanish here, since Latin America has a lot to learn from India.

I really would like to experience the real India some day - travel its streets, its villages, taste its home-made cuisine, listen to their beautiful music, learn their languages, blend in and get lost in its cultural richness.

Yeh mera India!
Watan mera India, sajan mera India!