Being an Anatomist at King’s

So here we are. I spend my last day of term, thinking about what I definitely will treasure from this school year. First things first: I have to say the Anatomy dissection experience is definitely good.

The facts
There are only a few UK universities offering weekly dissection sessions for biomedical students, and we are very fortunate to have our own cadaver to work on. Each week we dissect a certain area according to the instructions from the booklet, which matche with the lectures we are having, e.g. upper limb region (anterior then posterior), thorax, lower limb etc. You might think it can be a bit too much doing the laborious work cutting, trimming off fats, separating layers; however, in our group of 8 students, we often divide ourself into 2 smaller groups – one doing hands on work and the other doing self-study/discussion.

My own thoughts
Models, samples and resources (skeletons, books, articles) are everywhere, so it is never boring there. Usually the hands-on people are those will go on to do surgery, laboratory research in advanced anatomy; nevertheless, the opportunity to hold and examine the real structures, to carefully investigae its 3D arrangement and relations to other structures is invaluable. More than often I find that the textbooks and even anatomy apps don’t completely represent the experience. After the preservation process the body undergoes changes so it doesn’t look and feel as expected; on the other hand, what you see in textbook is what has been interpreted, averaged, or even assumed by other people. I remember from a discussion between another student and a neuroanatomist writing his own neuroanatomy textbook, he explained that you may find mixed information from textbooks which are essentially different interpretations/opinions. My own experience is that the feel of organs especially the lung, the heart, the nerves, the brain is very unique with structures neatly arranged for maximal function. Truly unforgettable.

The fun bits/ Tips
– My mum jumped when I told her that I was going to dissect, as it is quite common in Asian countries to believe in after-life, ghosts and so on. However, every medical students in my country has to do some dissection too if they want to be a doctor! My tip is to have a ‘keep calm and carry on’ approach;-)
– I remember on the very first session I was too enthusiastic that my hanging hair was in contact with some bodily fluids! As a scientist it is very important to avoid contamination, and for girls with long hair, nails, accessories, heels etc.: definitely prepare beforehand.
– It is easy to feel lost on the first few sessions. Some books such as a dissection manual where it directs you how to cut and trim/separate in the most beneficial way and least damaging way. For example in the foot the layers of muscles, nerves are so interspersing and inter-connected that it is almost unavoidable to cut into some core structures (especially when they are not differentially coloured like in your textbook!). My next recommendation is to read the introduction chapter in anatomy books. I usually skip introduction chapter, but for anatomy it is utterly utterly important. Then you have big names such as Gross’s Anatomy, Moore’s Essential Clinial Anatomy etc. If you have a smartphone, do look out for apps. Finally, check out King’s own anatomy museum, Gordon’s Museum, whenever you need inspiration;-)

More inspiration:
1) Channel 4’s The Anatomists program.
2) Anatomy exhibition at Museum of London. Offers on tickets are available on sites like Groupon, Amazon Local deals, Wowcher.

Oxford, Cotswolds and Stratford-upon-Avon

This Chinese New Year I decided to celebrate slightly differently by a trip up north of England. This trip is organised from A to Z by International Student House teaming up with Anderson Tours, and they did a fairly good job. So here are a few take-home notes from the trip:

– I made friends with another Vietnamese girl – what a coincidence! Her travelling spirit certainly makes me feel more motivated to mobilise in this oh-so-British rainy-windy weather:)

“Don’t worry about going on trips on your own. Because 10 out of 10 you can always make friends when you really want to.”

– Travelling in a tour saves you time and effort, but you will definitely miss some very important experiences. But it serves well as a introduction to the city such that you can decide where is worthwhile to visit during the nicer periods of the year.

We’re walking in the rain….:)

– England, again, convincingly amazes me with its rich culture. My new friend prefers the French culture, but I have to say the true beauty is the subtle one that you have to discovered yourself. In short, Oxford is famous for its universities while Stratford is the birthplace of Shakespeare ancestry and Cotswolds is famous for its wool and picturesque, beautiful, villagey sceneries.

OXFORD
When set foot on Oxford, immediately I was drawn to its quiet, tranquil feel which is so much different from London. Along the street you only get to see about a few passengers at most, possibly because it is Sunday morning, and the city is awakening. We walked past a number of colleges, but majorities of them are close or open later on Sunday. So advisedly Sunday morning is not an ideal option, as you will miss top sights such as Magdalene college (one of the most magnificent), Christ College (Harry Potter movie was filmed here), Trinity. It is quite a different feel to King’s, but to be honest I would not trade it for London :)

As we only had two hours at this city we didn’t walk very far. Me and my new friend spent some time at the “Covered market” (a little bit like Old Spitalsfield Market) to satisfy our eyes with the little beautiful shops there. Authentic homely England (yay!<3), ended with a cranberry, turkey baguette (unexpectedly reminds me of “do chua” or crunchy pickled vegetables in Vietnamese baguettes!!).

 

 

COTSWOLDS
Very unfortunately, we were not given much time to explore the city. Here are some photos of the street we walked; the information centre shows that it is wayyyy better on the outskirt of the city centre. Very sad indeed – look what we missed (image courtesy of…)

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON
Here is where my brain, in addition to my eyes, worked vigorously to absorb a lot of heritage information. Although I am not familiar with the Ehglish literature in general and Shakespeare specifically, there are still a lot of interestingness.

Look at that 16th-18th century house of Anna Hathaway. It is a perfect reminder of how convenient life is in the 21st century! The dedicated staff lady there sparkled our imagination with her in-depth knowledge of the place. That cottage with thatch is typical of old village house style, and it amazed me with how bad the “building blocks” of these houses are with time. The wood/metal sticks are laid criss-cross in the wall and mud will be I didn’t quite know then, that England used to live solely on bread as there was no potatoes which later were imported once Christopher discovered the America. And so is black dye, such a difficult colour to make, and so if you want to show your prosperity what would you do? Choose specifically black-dyed thread for your embroidery. Just intricate.

All year around Christmas shop! Whoohoo

Little shops like this – can just lift you up on a rainy day.

 

A Welcome Message from me

Hi friends!

Tah-dah!!! So this blog is now officially born! On here you will find me writing about my experiences here as a Vietnamese student, and with my highly active personality you will be reading about all sorts of things from my Anatomy Class to my part-time jobs and social lives. Hopefully I will make you think, laugh, and love England in general and King’s College London specifically:)

As a little ice-breaker, I have compiled my very own list of what you can’t miss while in London, based on what I think is unique about England compared to general Asian countries and some personal favourites. Below is a little taster – ask me for MORE!.

1)      See: National Gallery (beautiful in many ways), British Museum (massive, massive place with its hugggee collection), London Eye, Royal buildings etc., City Hall (already nice design, modern) and climb to the top to view Tower of London then go to the Tower Hamlets (remnants of a castle or something, historic). Near this area there is Tate Modern which I think is a strange place (weird abstract art (sorry!), but the British loves it so you can check out how different British art taste is). Then areas like Covent Garden, Camden Town is ok. I prefer Covent Garden but Camden Town has a really nice ice cream shop – can’t afford to miss (see below).

N.B: Read more about them on Tripadvisor – the traveller’s Bible I would say.

2)      Eat Ice cream at Chin Chin’s laboratories – Ice cream made with nitrogen gas freezing method so there is no frost. But the cool thing about them is new flavour each week – some of them are so cool, like Harry Potter’s random jelly beans! Check out their facebook

– Buy/Eat sweet treats (Britons have much sweeter tooth than Asians) at places like the Sweet Shop, Valentino Passerie…

If you like restaurants, London is Gordon Ramsay‘s territory. Try if you likeJ Look up Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus for a formal dining experience.

 

———————————(to be continued)————————————————–