I like presents

Gosh.  I’ve become one of those things I really hate. A bad, inconsistent blogger.  You know things have gotten bad when people take to your facebook asking for blog updates!  Sadly, I’ve been a bit sick with the flu, although I appear to be on my way to recovery.  Recently, I dragged myself out of my sick bed to catch up with some of my very good friends.  One was recently returned from a vacation abroad, and another had a new boy to introduce to the group.   Travel stories and new boys were enough to lure me from home and I trekked off to a very lovely afternoon of wine, beer and gourmet burgers.

A lovely afternoon made that much more special by the congratulatory speech and gift I was unexpectedly presented with on this occasion.  My friends have been with me through my several failed attempts, and were hesitant about my applying again this year. Only because they knew how devastated I had been upon each failed attempt, and didn’t want it to happen again.  Yet they supported my decision, and have eagerly awaited news at each step in the process.  They were there with me through GAMSAT results, GEMSAS applications, the wait for interview offers, and then place offers.

At each step of the way providing support, encouragement and distraction when needed. There may have even been a few 5am wake up calls to ensure I was up, exercised and ready for a big day of study in the lead up to GAMSAT.  I am and always will be so grateful for this, and their presence in my life.  As I am with all of the encouragement, support and advice I’ve found from everyone else on this roller-coaster of a ride that has led me to accept my place as a medical student.  I don’t think I would be here right now without them and all of you.

So anyway, want to see what reduced me to almost tears (well the speech did that before I even got to the gift)?

Presents? For Me?

So this is what I was presented with after a lovely speech about how proud and excited they all were for me when they heard the news, how they would have no hesitation in my treatment of family members (from a friend who is a doctor) and the to be expected jokes about free medical advice and scripts as befitting those close to you. It really made my night. So What did I find inside?

How awesome is this card? I love it, and it has taken pride of place upon my noticeboard above my desk.  Inside the blue bag, I found a present wrapped in gold paper.  Upon painstakingly unwrapping the box, this is what greeted me nestled all snugly in it’s box:

Wow. A Pandora bracelet with charm for me 🙂

Let’s take a closer look shall we?

So shiny.

Now, some of you may be aware that I’m not the biggest fan of the whole Pandora fad, or the completely over charmed bracelets and the common addiction of getting the next charm. And the one after that.  However, I have always liked the sentiment often proclaimed in their marketing campaigns.  The one about special and memorable moments.  And this was most definitely a special and memorable moment, and a gift given with a lot of meaning behind it.  For that reason, I have acquiesced or perhaps suspended my dislike of the trend and very much love this bracelet.

The one charm is enough for me, and has plenty of meaning behind it making this a gift I will always cherish. Although probably not wear too often.  I suspect this group of friends will celebrate milestones with the addition of charms, and I’m ok with that, and even look forward to it. I just have no plans to add to the collection myself (well, except maybe the addition of the bracelet clasp opener – that thing is impossible to open).  I trust in their taste implicitly, and don’t expect to end up with anything over the top.  I will remember that moment always.  More so I think, than my actual acceptance.  Definitely worth dragging myself out of my sick bed for!

You’ve got Mail

Today I received in the mail my first physical piece of evidence that I am finally going to be a medical student next year:

Yep, it’s my vaccination card.  Sometime next week I shall take it to my GP (who I know will be ecstatic to see it) and get started on the jabs.  I’m pretty sure I’ve had most of them though.  Hopefully my serology shows it, and I don’t have to get too many jabs.  Any extra dollars I can save before next year will be welcome.  I’m already cringing at the cost of moving interstate plus all the random bits and pieces I’ll need to organise.  Luckily for me I have a current first aid certificate and I completed my CPR refresher through my workplace just yesterday so that’s one less thing to worry about.  Interesting side note – do you know how difficult it is to perform CPR on a mannequin on a tabletop? I much prefer the floor, and not trying to stand on tip toes in steel capped boots!

It has taken a while to set in, but I’m finally starting to realise that it is real.  I am going to be studying next year and I’m beginning to get excited at the prospect.  I’m also humbled by the absolute support and genuine excitement on my behalf that I have received.  No one has reacted negatively, and only two of the people I’ve told about medical school have responded somewhat ambivalently.  One is my former boss who really wanted me to pursue the management track with my current company and the other is a somewhat moody colleague whose only interest appeared to be whether or not I’d be pursuing aforementioned management track – while I’d love to, I think it’s a little beyond my capabilities.

Among the many people who are happy for me is one particular colleague whose response was “finally, you’re absolutely wasted on this place” which of course worked wonders on my ego.  Particularly when another colleague asked me about it, because the lady in question was quite happily telling everyone what she told me.  I’m still a bit stunned by the reactions I’ve received actually, especially the encouragement and excitement on my behalf.  I kind of expected some congratulations and whatnot, just not the overwhelmingly positive experience I’ve had. I can’t deny it’s been nice, and I certainly appreciate it.  However a part of me questions it all, and the expectations they have of me – I just hope I don’t let them down!   I suppose we’ll see soon enough.  Bring on the next four years, I’m more than ready for you medical school.

Ah, technology how I love thee…

Hello blogging world! I apologise for not posting in a while – I have been busy working 50 hour weeks, often in front of a computer.  So as you can imagine, the very last thing I want to do when I get home is spend even more time with my laptop in front of me.  But it’s Thursday night, and I have been chastised quite thoroughly for my absence so I thought I’d update you all while I await the arrival of my pizza (and while I decide which colour I should paint my nails next).

Currently, I am browsing the web for information on the soon-to-be-released iPhone 5.  From my research there does not seem to be a huge difference between the 5 and the 4S.  Most obviously there is a new design, and updated power connection which is annoying for people with accessories that dock but since that’s not me it doesn’t bother me too much.  Well actually, it’s annoying that my 3m hot pink charging cable will no longer be compatible but a. I paid $7 for two of them inc. postage via eBay and b. I can now recycle it for use with my iPad.

The screen is bigger – 4 inches across the diagonal as opposed to 3.5 inches of the 4/4S and fits an extra row of apps.  The only upgrade to the rear camera is panoramic views – it’s the same 8mp as the 4S although the front facing camera is improved with a HD mode.  An A6 chip makes it faster, and it apparently has a better battery life  despite the increased screen size.  It will also be compatible with the 4G network in Australia with faster wireless connections also.  And that’s about it from the look of things.

So will I be upgrading when it’s released in Australia next Friday?  Absolutely.  I’ve long been a fan of apple products, there simplicity and the way they talk to each other easily.  I’ve become accustomed to the operating system and I am honestly confused when attempting to navigate friends android / windows phones.  The main reason I’m upgrading though is my current phone has had it.  For months now, the home button has been pretty dodgy working only intermittently.  From googling the problem, it appears to be quite a common issue as the connectors don’t touch and seem to fall out of alignment pretty easily (there are far better descriptions out there than mine btw).

I have been giving my phone the old “hard knock” treatment to get the button working again which isn’t the best solution – especially when you have nothing to knock the phone against handy! The screen also has a crack in it from one of the multitude of times it fell out of my pocket and under my car as I attempted to leave my vehicle.  I’ve been holding out, waiting, putting up with both of these issues because I knew a new iPhone was imminent and now that it’s hear I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  I’m thinking the white/ silver version will be coming home with me in a couple of weeks.

After the iPhone, I’ll have one other big technology purchase for the year.  I have plans for the new iMac to become mine (an updated version should hit the stores before the end of the year I’m told) so I’m holding out for that.  Also, I’m having trouble choosing between the screen sizes so a few more months of waiting won’t be the end of the world, and in fact will be quite beneficial.  Of my technology purchases for the year, the iPad I wanted, the iPhone I kind of need, and the iMac is my celebratory present to myself and is also fits into the “needs” category.  Although my trusty old macbook pro is still powering along like a true champion.

What am I celebrating with a computer I need?  I got IN! To medical school.  I’m still in shock to be honest, and I’m sure they’ve made a mistake and will revoke my firm offer at any time.  But for now I’m running with it.  I haven’t really had a chance to celebrate (due to the aforementioned long work weeks) but am looking forward to letting my hair down soon in celebration.  All of the people that I’ve told have been so happy for me and incredibly supportive.  One lady I work with said it was about time, and that I was wasted in my current workplace which was lovely.  My boss chastised me and then gave me a big hug.  The chastisement was because I covered off on all work related updates before I said anything.

You see, I’ve had problems telling people I got in, even though I knew they’d be supportive once I did.  No matter how hard I try, I just can’t work it into conversation, and it really feels like I’m dropping a bomb out into the middle of space.  I’ve tried the casual, “blah blah blah yeah so I got in to medical school”.  And the excited “I got IN” as soon as I caught up with others.  I’ve texted, emailed and tweeted but I am yet to find the happy medium.  The perfect way of letting people know, subtly and without fanfare.  I wonder if the perfect method exists? I guess I’ll have to practice some more…

FAQs about GEMSAS that may have led you here…

Randomly I decided today to have a bit of a look at my recent stats out of curiosity and have noticed that a lot of people are finding my blog at the moment due to questions about the whole GEMSAS process and the imminent release of interview offers.  This post may come a little late to help those people out, but hopefully will provide a little clarity to any who may come across this post in the future.

First off I want to say that the information I will provide here has been from my own research, experience over the years and becoming involved on the forums over at Paging Dr.  If you haven’t already checked them out, I highly recommend you do so, stat.  By joining the community (and following the rules set out for you on the home page) you will be privy to an endless amount of information about the GAMSAT, GEMSAS and all things related to graduate entry medical school related in Australia.

You’ll meet other candidates in your position who know only too well the anxiety this whole process brings on, and get to interact with others who’ve walked your path before – both successfully and unsuccessfully.  You may even encounter a few of the admissions officers from the various schools, along with ACER representatives.  Really, you’ll never know who you’ll encounter along the way! It really is a fabulous resource and fantastic community.

So now onto the stuff that you’re probably here for:

Q. Who or what is GEMSAS?
A. The Graduate Entry Medical School Admissions System (GEMSAS)  is essentially a computer matching system for medical school applicants to interview places and then placement offers in Australia, and is overseen by Queensland Tertiary Admissions System (QTAC). Which you probably already knew.

Why QTAC? The GAMSAT consortium (all of the universities who use GEMSAS – so every graduate entry medical school except the university of Sydney) asked for any interested parties capable of designing and running a suitable system to put forth a bid and QTAC won.

And now for the real point of this question – it is the Universities involved and NOT GEMSAS who have all the real power.  GEMSAS (like ACER before them) are simply contracted by the consortium of Universities to perform a function.  Essentially matching people to places (interview and then offers).  The reason I mention this, is that I have previously noticed that some people are under the illusion that GEMSAS (and ACER who previously oversaw the process) are all powerful and do whatever the hell they want.  This is not actually the case.

Q. When do GEMSAS release interview offers?
A. This year, GEMSAS have give the date for the release of interview offers as the 29th of August 2012 (i.e. tomorrow).  This would not be a date that GEMSAS has set, but one that the Consortium of Universities have agreed upon.  While I have every hope that the offers will be out tomorrow, I’m not counting on it 100%. Why? Because of how the match actually works.

Q. How does the Match work?
A. In the lead up to the release of offers, several test matches of candidates are run by GEMSAS.  After a match is run, the list of generated candidates is reviewed by the universities who then tweak the algorithm which sets out the conditions of the match as necessary.  This test process is run multiple times until all universities are happy with their match algorithm.  And that’s about as technical as I can get, algorithms and computer matches are sadly not my speciality.  So further to the above, if one or more of the schools is not happy with the match results, the process could take longer than anticipated.

Q. How do GEMSAS release offers?
First off, GEMSAS doesn’t release the interview / place offers – the individual universities do. Further to the above, once all universities are happy with the computer match they are responsible for informing the candidates they will be offering an interview to.  GEMSAS on the other hand has the not so pleasant task of informing those not successful.

So how does this information come out? Unfortunately it is not a “one size fits all” approach.  Each university releases differently.  In the past, most have sent out emails (some with additional snail mail) to the successful candidates, while some have sent only snail mail (I’m looking at you UNDS/ UNDF).  A notable exception to this process has been Flinders, who have previously sent an email to all candidates they have considered to log onto a specific website to find out if they have an interview or not.

I mentioned GEMSAS had the task of informing those candidates not successful in gaining an interview. Last year was the first for the GEMSAS consortium, and I can say from first hand experience that they send out a “letter of death” through good old snail mail.  I know many would prefer email so that you know straight away, but unfortunately this was not the case last year.  The LOD did list the cut offs for all the schools you applied to though for your information which I thought was a great touch.

Q. What time does GEMSAS release offers? 
From the answers above you can see that unfortunately there is no set time for the release of offers.  Since each school is responsible for informing their candidates, and use a variety of formats for the release of such information, the offers have been staggered in the past with no set time.  This is where the Paging Dr community comes in handy, as people post their interview offers as they get them, and those left waiting can agonise together. It’s win-win really. 😉

And that, I think is a wrap, with all questions answered that have led people to my blog.  If you have further questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.  In addition, if you haven’t already I also recommend you have a read of the GEMSAS site as it is full of useful info, FAQs about the process etc. and since it is the official website, you know all the information supplied is correct and not second hand info which is always nice to know.  Plus, there are some pretty pictures which is something I don’t have in this post. 😉

And finally I want to wish all those waiting with me tomorrow this:

Edited to add:  For those who may stumble across this post next year, GEMSAS universities did not release on the specified date, but began releasing the day after as the universities could not agree on the computer matches.  It took 22 simulations before all universities where happy with the match.  All universities released electronically with emails, and GEMSAS sent out an email of death (EOD) this year instead of a letter like last year.  GEMSAS released these EODs on the first day of interview offer releases, before quite a few of the universities sent out interview offers.  And that I think covers the important points. 

Musings from the plane home

I’m currently using my iPad in flight mode (got to love technological advances) on the plane ride home and thought I’d take the opportunity to document some of my thoughts on today’s proceedings. I cant say too much as there was a confidentiality agreement covering interview content. I had a vague idea of what today would entail, but some of the questions were complete doozies. As such, I really have no idea how I went. And really, a lot depends on how everyone else went as well.

I’m confident with my answers to two of the stations, one was absolutely awful (ironically enough it was my last one) and the other two I’d say my responses were fairly mediocre. As such, I’m not really expecting an offer from the University of Sydney but would be delighted to receive one none the less.

Its interesting to note the guy who seemed to be in charge of today’s proceedings mentioned that the interview ratio last year was 1.6 (I.e. 1.6 people interviewed for every place) and he seemed to think it was less this year so perhaps all is not lost. Now comes the fun bit – the waiting.

On a more positive note, I’m now more confident about receiving a GEMSAS interview offer and am more relaxed about the imminent release of said offers. In all honestly, there are a few GEMSAS schools I would prefer to USyd, however if I were offered Sydney and nothing else I would accept a place in a heartbeat.

I went into today’s interview with minimal preparation and I’m not sure any such preparation would have assisted me much anyway. I also met some lovely people, had a bit of fun, and the interviewers were all lovely. So all in all not a bad day, and excellent practice for if I’m lucky enough to receive a GEMSAS offer.

To those still waiting to hear from GEMSAS I wish you all the best, and hopefully interview offers will be released on August 29 (which is the date GEMSAS have stipulated for interview offers to come out) although things do happen and they may not come out when expected. Good luck to all waiting!

By the time this is published I will be home, in my PJs with a cup of hot chocolate – I can’t wait!

Killing Time

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Right now I’m sitting in the cutest little bakery in Newtown where the food is delicious and the coffee just the way I like it – strong and delicious. Problem is, I’m too nervous to enjoy it. I’m eating because I haven’t today not because I’m hungry. I’m forcing every bite down knowing I need to eat something. My stomach is in all sorts of knots an keeps performing random circus acts. Perhaps I should have made the coffee, tea.

What’s causing my anxiety you may ask? Well, it’s simply a little thing known as a multiple mini interview for entry to the University of Sydney’s medical school is all. And I am honestly terrified. I never really thought I’d get here and its been four years since my last interview for anything. And the one before that was twelve years ago and hardly constituted an interview. I hear the “thank god you’re here” style to these type of interviews is quite fun, although I’m a bit dubious of this claim.

I suppose I’ll see for myself in a couple of hours. So I’m killing time in Newtown. The shopping looks awesome, however since I have nowhere to store any purchases (and somehow i don’t think rocking up to an interview with a handful of shopping bags is the best look) I am restraining myself. I did pass a nail bar and am considering heading back there for a mani – I do so like pampering! Hopefully it may just relax me somewhat. I can use any form of relaxation I can get right about now!

Eeeeeeek!

What’s that? More Shopping? More Food?

Wow, I can’t believe how quickly the weekend flew by once again.  I’m completely not ready to head into work tomorrow.  Particularly as last week was such an awful week, and I’m not quite ready to see the people who made it so.  Suffice to say, there was a lot of conflict and minor pettiness from one of my colleagues in particular.  I’ve come to see just how much of a manipulative bastard he is, and in all honesty I would be very glad to never have to see him again.  Unfortunately I shall have to deal with him tomorrow and to say I’m not looking forward to the pleasure is more than an understatement.

Friday was a particularly heinous day and I was so glad to be able to leave early afternoon to begin the weekend early.  I was even more pleased to arrive home to find a few packages awaiting my arrival, one earlier than expected and the other I had completely forgotten about which turned out to be a nice surprise.  Do you want to see what I came home to? Well I’m going to show you anyway.

The Chanel biography was a pre-order from the book depository and the item I had completely forgotten about.  Although I’m excited to read it, as it promises to be a very interesting book.  The rest is my order from Kiss and Make Up NY a US website specialising in a few cosmetics brands (among other things) that ships to Australia for very reasonable rates.  They currently ship worldwide for $9.95 which is fantastic, albeit bad for my purse! I get very excited that I can purchase at American prices as opposed to Australian prices.  Example – that NARS blush I purchased cost me US $28.  The price to buy the very same thing in Mecca Cosmetica one of the Australian NARS retailers? AU $45.

Before I purchased, I googled reviews of Kiss and Make Up NY and as expected it was pretty much a mixed bag.  I can only speak of my own experience though which was a positive one.  I received a shipping notification within a couple of days of placing my order, and the items arrived just under two weeks later.  And the packaging to prevent damage to the items is the best I have ever seen.  To be honest, I have never seen so much bubble wrap in one parcel in my life! The postage satchel itself was also padded, meaning my items arrived in pristine condition.  And as you can see, I ordered a few nail polishes as well and I always worry they will smash in the mail!  I may already be planning my next order with them!

But I digress.  As you can see my order contained a number of items. For a long time now, I have wanted to try the NARS blushers as I have heard fantastic things about them.  After much consideration, I decided to go with the shade entitled “deep throat” which is a beautiful shimmery peachy colour.

I was also wanting to try the Laura Mercier silk creme foundation for days when my tinted moisturiser just doesn’t cut it.  Both of these led me to the aforementioned website, and while I was there I decided I may as well make the best use of the postage costs and decided to try my first Deborah Lippmann polish in the delightfully pretty shade sweet dreams, and the NARS Kuroko mini polish collection caught my eye as well (among other items that will be in my next order for sure).

I’ve had a play with most of these products this weekend, but am looking forward to seeing how well they perform in my regular rotation.  I must confess that playing with my new toys kept me occupied for most of the night, which turned out to be a fairly early one. Partly as I wasn’t feeling the best, but also so that I would be ready for my breakfast catch up in the morning.

One of the lovely forum members from Paging Dr  happened to be visiting my humble little city for a number of family engagements over the course of the weekend.  We took the opportunity to catch up for breakfast and I got to eat at one of my absolute favourite cafes of all time.  I absolutely love their brunches.  As did my dining companions.  Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t have photos of food to tease you with!

Poached eggs on sour dough, with avocado, grilled haloumi, caramelised onion and tomato bernaise added up to one delicious and incredibly satisfying brunch.  I must confess to not eating for the rest of the day as I was so stuffed from brunch!  And the dinner I had was a light meal as I still wasn’t up to anything to filling.  The freshly squeezed OJ I had came out in the cutest little bottle – alas I didn’t think to capture its image.  The brioche french toast with passionfruit cream that the lovely PD forum member got looked amazing – I’ll definitely have to try that one next time.

I whiled away the rest of the day, and then today I decided to stop all thoughts of potential GEMSAS interviews (for some crazy reason it seems to be all I can think about at the moment) wich a trip to the local shopping center.  I walked into David Jones wondering if the new O.P.I. Germany collection had hit our shores yet, and indeed it had.

I couldn’t help but pick up a few colours – a bottle of “Every Month is Oktoberfest” and the Ger-mini mini set.  There are still a couple of colours I’d like to pick up from this collection next time I head into DJs. As I type this I am sporting “Every month is Oktoberfest” and it is incredibly beautiful.  I shall try to get a sunlight photo tomorrow to show you.  I also managed to get a free O.P.I. 3-in-1 base, top coat, and nail strengthener since I spent over $39.90 on O.P.I. products.  I do so love free stuff, particularly when I was planning on buying what I did anyway.  While in DJs I also picked up my favourite polish remover – the pink Sally Hansen one.  For some reason, I cannot find it in any supermarket, priceline etc which meant I had to buy it from DJs.  Luckily for me, it was pretty averagely priced which was a surprise.

After DJs I just wandered for a while until I saw a Portmans store and decided to head in and check out their dresses. And fell in love with a gorgeous black dress (it has pockets!) that would be perfect if I am lucky enough to get a GEMSAS interview this year.  And since I was feeling pretty lucky, and it was on sale and all, and they had my size it would be completely wrong for me not to purchase this perfect dress.  And so I did.  Now I just need a cute little cap sleeve top and some new shoes and I’ll be set for interview season.  Huzzah! No freaking out about what to wear, since it’s all sorted.

Now, it’s back to the waiting for GEMSAS.  It’s like watching paint dry.  Any suggestions on how I can keep myself busy and out of mischief while waiting?