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How This Med Student Completed 69 Online Courses During Quarantine

P.S. She only paid to get a certificate for one.
IMAGE Courtesy of Nadine Villaret

With normal routines being shaken up, many of us have probably struggled to stay productive. We don’t know for certain when the pandemic is going to die down so we’re left feeling anxious about our lack of control over things.

One medical student, Nadine Villaret, from Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health has an inspiring, albeit funny, story of dealing with uncertainty: She decided to take a whopping 69 online courses to stay productive. “The pandemic caused me so much anxiety, and I tried to combat it by staying productive,” Nadine shares in an interview over Facebook. “Many of us in medical school work so hard because we want to be good doctors for our future patients. However, I'd be lying if I said that we don’t get demotivated at times.”

“That's when online courses came along,” she continued. “The courses I took were about topics that I was interested in, so learning them was no problem. It was a good break from feeling like I had to stuff my brain every time I opened my books and transes, and after a while, it gave me a better appreciation of the impact of my future profession.”

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“The first course I enrolled in was Psychological First Aid from John Hopkins University,” Nadine shares. “[My thesis mate] just finished the course and invited us to try it out, especially since the subject was related to our thesis [which] was published in the International Journal of Culture and Mental Health. It is entitled The role of Filipino masculine ideology on the adaptive coping, psychological well-being, and vicarious trauma of first responders.” You can read more about their thesis here.

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On taking 69 online courses

After completing her first course, Nadine went on to take a couple more since there wasn’t any assurance that their exams would push through as scheduled. She ended up taking a total of 69 online courses. You might think that 69 is such a random number, but Nadine shares that there’s actually a funny story behind it. “The main and honest reason I went to accomplish this particular number of certificates is because my friends challenged me to do so,” she says. “One particular friend said, and I quote, ‘G hahaha para laughtrip headlines, ‘Babae, naka 69.’” 

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Jokes aside, Nadine’s got some serious passion for the courses she took. “The courses I enrolled in are in a variety of fields. Some are for understanding health systems and global health,” she shares. “I also enrolled in courses for personal development, psychology, and other fields that I'm either passionate about or fields that I have always been interested in learning such as sustainability, fashion, ecology, etc.”

In case you’re curious, here are all 69 courses Nadine took:

  1. Big History: Connecting Knowledge by Macquarie University
  2. Collaborative Working in a Remote Team by University of Leeds and Institute of Coding
  3. Communication and Interpersonal Skills at Work by University of Leeds and Institute of Coding
  4. Conflict Analysis by United States Institute of Peace
  5. Converting Challenges into Opportunities by University of California San Diego
  6. COVID-19 Contact Tracing by John Hopkins University
  7. COVID-19: Effective Nursing in Times of Crisis by John Hopkins University, JHPIEGO, and John Hopkins School of Nursing
  8. COVID-19: Helping Young People Manage Low Mood and Depression by University of Reading
  9. COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus by London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and UK Public Health Rapid Support Team
  10. Create a Professional Online Presence by University of Leeds and Institute of Coding
  11. Create a Social Media Marketing Campaign by University of Leeds and Institute of Coding
  12. Decision Making: How to Choose the Right Problem to Solve by University of Leeds and Institute of Coding
  13. Designing Community-Based Dialogue by United States Institute of Peace
  14. Design, Monitoring and Evaluation for Programming in Fragile Environments by United States Institute of Peace
  15. Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology by University of Alberta
  16. Disease Screening in Public Health by University of Geneva, University of Lausanne
  17. Ecology: Ecosystem Dynamics and Conservation by American Museum of Natural History and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  18. Epidemics, Pandemics and Outbreaks by University of Pittsburgh
  19. Epidemiology: The Basic Science of Public Health by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  20. Essentials of Global Health by Yale University
  21. Evidence and Data Collection for Problem Solving by University of Leeds and Institute of Coding
  22. Fashion as Design by The Museum of Modern Art
  23. Future-Proofing the Health Workforce by Griffith University
  24. Gender Inclusivity in Peacebuilding by United States Institute of Peace
  25. Global Biosecurity for One Health by Murdoch University
  26. Global Health: An Interdisciplinary Overview by University of Geneva
  27. Governance by United States Institute of Peace
  28. Healthy Futures: How can we Create the Most Effective Healthcare System? by Murdoch University
  29. How To Write A Resume (Project-Centered Course) by The State University of New York
  30. How to Create Great Online Content by University of Leeds and Institute of Coding
  31. Ideas for a Better World: Leading Change Through Policymaking by British Council
  32. Infection Prevention in Nursing Homes by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  33. Introduction to Nursing: The Role of Nurses around the World by King's College London
  34. Introduction to Peacebuilding by United States Institute of Peace
  35. Introduction to Personal Branding by University of Virginia
  36. Introduction to Psychology: Biological Psychology by Monash University
  37. Introduction to Psychology: The History and Science of Psychology by Monash University
  38. Introduction to Psychology: The Psychology of Learning by Monash University
  39. Introduction to Sustainability and Development by Deakin University
  40. Leading Culturally Diverse Teams in the Workplace by Deakin University and Deakin Business School
  41. Leading Strategic Innovation: How to Lead With Purpose by Deakin University and Coventry University
  42. Lessons From Ebola: Preventing the Next Pandemic by Harvard University
  43. Managing Mental Health and Stress by Coventry University
  44. Media and the Arts for Peace by United States Institute of Peace
  45. Mediation by United States Institute of Peace
  46. Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential by McMaster University (completed with Honors)
  47. Negotiation by United States Institute of Peace
  48. Nonviolent Action by United States Institute of Peace
  49. Plagues, Pestilence and Pandemics: Are You Ready? by Griffith University
  50. Positive Psychology: Martin E. P. Seligman’s Visionary Science by University of Pennsylvania
  51. Poverty & Population: How Demographics Shape Policy by Columbia University
  52. Preparing for Peacebuilding by United States Institute of Peace
  53. Presenting your Work with Impact by University of Leeds and Institute of Coding
  54. Professional Resilience: Building Skills to Thrive at Work by Deakin University
  55. Psychological First Aid by John Hopkins University
  56. Religion and Peacebuilding by United States Institute of Peace
  57. Sit Less, Get Active by University of Edinburgh
  58. Sleep Deprivation: Habits, Solutions and Strategies Teach-Out by University of Michigan
  59. Social Psychology by Wesleyan University (completed with Honors)
  60. Social Services for Families, Seniors and Those with Disabilities by Columbia University
  61. Successful Career Development by University System of Georgia
  62. Supporting Adolescent Learners: Social and Emotional Wellbeing by Griffith University
  63. The Challenges of Global Health by Duke University
  64. The Power of Podcasting for Storytelling by University of Wollongong
  65. The Science of Success: What Researchers Know that You Should Know by University of Michigan
  66. Think Again I: How to Understand Arguments by Duke University
  67. US Social Services Compared by Columbia University
  68. US Social Services: Where did they come from? by Columbia University
  69. What is Leadership? by Deakin University

Where she learned about online courses

You might think that it sounds a bit ~expensive~ to take sooo many online courses, but Nadine shares that almost all these were *free*. “The only course I had to pay for to get a certificate was the course, Lessons From Ebola: Preventing the Next Pandemic by Harvard University,” Nadine says.

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Thankfully, Nadine was kind enough to share the links where she learned about these online courses, in case anyone else wants to enroll. “I want everyone to be able to take advantage of this opportunity that's on limited time. We shouldn't gatekeep learning because it should never be a privilege, but it is a right.” You may check here, here, and here for a list of free online courses!

On balancing online courses with her actual school work 

It’s a bit intimidating to think of accomplishing so many online courses while you’re studying for exams, in med school, no less. Here, Nadine shares the habits she practiced that allowed her to accomplish her online courses while in med school.

  • Set your goals daily and figure out when you’re most productive. “Every day I would set a daily goal of what I wanted to accomplish,” Nadine shares. “I tried to wake up early (emphasis on tried), but mostly I just worked until late into the night because I'm more productive during those times.”
  • Have something to look forward to as a “prize.” Nadine says it’s helpful to do something you actually enjoy after your tasks so you’ll have something to anticipate at the end of your activities. “I'd watch episodes from an anime or K-drama, or I'd have a movie night with my sisters,” she says. “Sometimes I'll play a video game with my friends. I was psyching myself into having something to look forward to as a sort of prize for finishing my daily goal.”
  • Don’t expect yourself to give the same results every day, and that’s okay. “I'd like to say that I didn't always finish my daily goals. Some days I'd barely touch a page of the readings from both my online courses and med school, while some days I tunneled right through and did more than I ever set for myself.”
  • Lastly, don’t forget to have rest days! 

***

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I was, but I am not. Desperately, I am trying to reach you – my hope. I am in this particular space in my own constructed world where doubts and frustrations recur. Emphasizing how scared I am being here, I never explored this area before. I was always in those places filled with benevolence, hope shining like the light the sun and the moon possess. And I didn’t have any plans to visit a ‘dark’ place, as how I described it then. But, as funny as how my world suddenly flipped, I am now here, completely lost with monsters persuading me to go insane.

How did I end up here? I can’t logically tell you the answer for that, but I guess, I know when. It started when I had to consider what college course do I want to pursue. Well, if you want to ask what ambition had occurred in my mind when I was young – which is usually the case in terms of life when you were like 7-year-old young - it was definitely being a doctor. I’d thought about wearing a medical coat with a stethoscope around my neck, ready to cure people from their illnesses. It was actually stuck in my mind for so long I almost thought that I was sure of it, yet, as a particular song yields, almost was never really enough and still, it is and will never be.

When I realized that such a perspective was slowly draining me, I tried my best to stand tough. I convinced myself that this was just temporary, that I could think of a way out of this. “There’s still plenty of time,” I once convinced myself. However, my environment demonstrated the contrary: I felt like I was completely out of time.

I was there when my classmates were happily talking about that ‘dream course’ they wish to take in their ‘dream university.’ I was there when my family was suggesting the thought of using my ‘suitable’ speaking voice for broadcasting and voice acting purposes. I was there when my teacher was convincing me that Education suited me the best. That ‘Stand tough!’ aura I used to own back then, suddenly transformed into ‘I give up!’ state, slowly destroying my being. And now, I am here in this space where doubts and frustrations are filling my former enthusiastic self. I need help.

I know, at this point, some of you may never consider me ‘fatal’ because, as you’re reading this, you may judge that I still have the ability to transform my thoughts into words that can be read, so that ‘automatically’ falls into the aspect of complete sanity. No, because I will never tell everything to you in the first place if I still have the urge to stand like I used to, relative to my belief that speaking up through writing is the best way to attract help.

When you look at the photo of mine above, you may say that I was okay. That I was successful. That I was never losing myself. Yes, I was. But, think about what happened days after that was taken and the message of this passage you started reading minutes before, do you think I am still the same girl smiling in the photo? I hope I will be or better yet, improve if the world will permit me. But, now I’m sure – I’m not the same.

LIFE ADVICE YOU NEED TO HEAR WHILE YOURE STILL YOUNG

This blog is dedicated to all teens out there struggling in determining what they really want in their life or if you simply want a glow up. And since were still facing a pandemic, I think this is also a season where everyone is re-thinking about their lives. So, I hope these advices might help you.

Tip #1. TAKE RISK - since most of you are still young, I advice you to take your biggest risk. Whether it may be taking the course you want, a skill you want to acquire or just simply taking the risk to throw away your emotional baggage from your childhood. While you're still young, you have very little to lose. You dont have that much commitments and responsibilities. Because the older you get, the more responsibilities and obligations came. So when they are still not piling up, take the risk! As for me, the biggest risk I took when I was still a teenager is to CUT OFF TOXIC FAMILY TIES.

I may sound rude here but, yeah. I decided to throw away my emotional baggage from my traumatic childhood and cut off some of my family ties and it is completely okay! You dont have to be bothered by whatever they will say. Because at your age, you are already investing on your growth as a person. If you really want to grow, THERE IS NO PERFECT TIME FOR YOU TO TAKE RISK BUT NOW. Because in taking risk you are actually giving yourself a reward of getting something amazing or beyond what you expect you can have. As they say, the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Keep in mind that the bigger the risk, the bigger possibility of FAILURE. But that is completely OKAY. Because just like what I said earlier, you are still young. You dont have so much to lose so, dont be afraid to take the risk and then fail. But after failing, learn from it and the more courage you have to take risk the greater the learning, reward or happiness. Ito na nga, how to take risk nga ba? And what are the risk that would actually help me to grow? #

2: VOICE LESSON - dont get me wrong, hindi ito vocalization para sa pagkanta. What I mean is, learn to listen to that VOICE INSIDE YOU. Listen to your heart, to your intuition and to your visions because it will be your GUIDE. Because I realize that as you go along your journey of your life and if you really want to be YOURSELF and be successful in achieving your goals, the only GUIDE that you should follow is your OWN VOICE.

It is okay to take and consider other people's advices but at the end of the day,you should never forget to listen to your own voice. Because that voice is what tells you what you truly want. How would you know that if it is your 'own' voice? Your own voice always comes from your HEART. The voice where YOU and GOD'S voice are one. Because I firmly believe that God knows your heart and that is where he reside. I like journaling because whenever I journal my thought every night and every morning, I feel a dual voice inside my head. Like, it contradicts what the other voice is telling. For example: If we have dreams or goals that puts us so much weight and pressure to the point that it makes you exhausted, STOP. Because it might be a dream or goal of someone else. I believe that your own dreams and goals may be frustrating most of the time, but that frustration has fueling feeling that will always tell you that 'This is the hard way to better so keep going'. Frustration in your own dreams will not make you feel exhausted because achieving a dream itself is a fulfilling feeling.

#3. TAKE ACTION - if you really want something to happen, take action. Dont just sit there and wait things to come your way. Make action or decisions that will take you to where you want to go in your life. Just like what I said in one of my novels that I am writing in wattpad, "There is no such thing as destiny or fate. Because YOU make your OWN life choices." For example, I cannot expect to be a published author if I dont write any novels right? The bottomline here is, if you are not moving forward you are actually moving backward. And it is a sad thing. Life is full of situations where you will be put in the line whether you take courage or just stay where you are. Because GROWING needs consistency in moving forward. So if you dont have to enough courage to take action, your life will always stay the same or worse you will continuously shrink down.

#4. EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS - this means stretching your comfort zone. I watched an anime entitled "Black Clover" there is a captain there where he always tell his subordinates to surpass their limits right, here right now. Going out of our comfort zones are surely scary and uncomfortable. But you have to accept the fact that you cannot stay on the coast forever. You have to change, because the only thing that is constant in this world is change right? Go out of your comfort zones because LIMITS are just in the MIND. There are disabled people who are successful in their own careers. Because the lesson here is, if you hold back there will be no growth. Because GROWTH blooms in DISCOMFORT.

Last, #5. INVEST IN YOURSELF - especially now that you are still young, you should focus on investing on yourself more. Time is your bestfriend at this point of your life. You have so much time to discover things about yourself. I never regret buying and reading books that I never knew will help me later on in dealing life's challenges. You can use that time to read books, gain wisdom, or pick a new skill, improve your talent and learn from your experiences. Keep learning outside your home or your school. Because the real battlefield is OUTSIDE. What you learn in school will only help you in your career but your wisdom and experiences will help you in life or as a person. People who doesnt embrace growth will never succeed in their life. (This is a reflection blog from my 21st birthday last week. I hope you can feature this on your page and I hope it can help others as well. )

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