My Weekend: I find that playing the violin heals the mind and soul... well needed after a busy week

Megan Chan will be appearing as part of the Allora Quartet in the Young Musicians Series at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, which runs in Bantry from June 24 to July 3.
My Weekend: I find that playing the violin heals the mind and soul... well needed after a busy week

Megan Chan will be appearing as part of the Allora Quartet in the Young Musicians Series at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival.

TELL us a little bit about yourself:

I am 20 years old, born and bred in Cork. The people in my family are my mum, dad, my brother Bryan, and our puppy Alfie.

Bryan is finishing up his fifth year in secondary school. We get on very well, even though we have very different interests. Bryan is into computer games, chess, reading, and cycling, activities which I have little interest in (apart from the chess but we’ll get to that in a while).

We both started off with the same hobbies, such as playing musical instruments and chess, but it didn’t take long for him to realised that music was not his thing.

While I was focusing on music as my main hobby, Bryan is a skilled chess player. In our spare time, we would play one-minute blitz chess games, where we have a minute each to make our moves. These games are absolutely hilarious, especially when the chess pieces go flying everywhere!

Outside of the academics, music has been a very big part of my life, especially the violin. It all began when my parents signed me up for violin lessons at my primary school when I was four, using the Suzuki Method.

I continued my violin studies as a part-time student at MTU Cork School of Music, where I also took up piano lessons, musicianship classes, played in orchestras, sung in choir, and participated in speech and drama classes.

I am currently a member of the Cork Fleischmann Symphony Orchestra, conducted under Keith Pascoe.

Megan Chan will be appearing as part of the Allora Quartet in the Young Musicians Series at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival .
Megan Chan will be appearing as part of the Allora Quartet in the Young Musicians Series at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival .

I was public relations officer of the UCC Orchestral Society for the last two semesters and I am looking forward to being vice-chair next semester.

Playing the violin is a very different activity to what I am studying in college, so it’s great to have the variety, as it keeps me stimulated.

Even though I’m not currently a music major, music has always been a wonderful hobby for me, and I find that playing the violin is such a great way to relax.

Sometimes, it can be hard to find time to practice, as college can get extremely busy, but if you plan your time well and have a positive attitude, anything is possible.

I find that playing the violin heals the mind and soul, which is well needed after a busy week.

I have just finished studying my second year of biomedical science. It is a joint programme between University College Cork and Munster Technological University. Studying in two universities has been such an amazing experience. Biomedical science is one of those unique courses where you have access to double the facilities in both colleges: both libraries, and all the societies and resources available.

The course is quite busy, and can be challenging at times, but the content is very interesting, and I can imagine that the job itself is ultimately very rewarding. I really like the small class sizes in MTU and I’ve met such incredible people along the way.

The modules that we study are very diverse and focus on both the clinical laboratory and research settings. There are options to work in a hospital lab, the pharmaceutical industry, and research settings after graduating.

Once the four-year degree is completed, we have the option to complete our fifth-year placement in a hospital setting, which allows us to work as a medical scientist. Medical scientists analyse patient samples (blood, urine, faeces, and all that jazz) by performing medical tests, and they provide 70% of a patient’s diagnosis.

They are the ‘hidden health care heroes’, and I have so much admiration for all those who went on strike last week to not only improve the working conditions of medical scientists, but to ensure that the profession survives, and that patient care is optimised.

At the moment, I hope to become a medical scientist in the future, but I can be very spontaneous at times, so we’ll see what happens!

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

Of course, it would totally depend on the day and week I have had or how I am feeling during a particular moment. If I had a really busy week filled with lab reports and exams, my ideal Friday would be spent doing really therapeutic, calm activities, such as taking a hot bubble bath, reading a book while being surrounded by scented candles.

Self-care is so important to me and should always come first, especially after a hectic week. 

These activities help me to create a healthy and positive mindset and increases my productivity for the next day.

If I had a moderately quiet week, I’d love to catch-up with my friends to hang out, have deep chats, go shopping, or to eat up a storm! I would like to say I’m an introverted extrovert in that respect.

Lie-ins or up with the lark... which is it for you?

There is absolutely no doubt that I am an early bird, and this has never changed, even during the holidays or when I go to bed very early in the morning! It works out in my favour as I find myself being the most productive in the morning, but it varies for everyone. Also, I find if I leave a job too late in the day, it probably wouldn’t get done as I tend to procrastinate later on in the day. It’s satisfying to get jobs done earlier, have them done and dusted, and not having to worry about them.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

During term time, I wish it didn’t, but it does. I have a part-time job at the weekend, which is only a few hours a week, but works well with my schedule. 

Work for me consists of mostly college work, whether it’s lab reports or last-minute cramming on a Sunday for a Monday exam. 

I try to get everything done throughout the week so I can have a proper rest and have my weekends free, but that would be rare. On a very good day, I would work on a violin piece for fun or if there is a rehearsal or concert in the diary coming up, college work would be put on hold. Occasionally, I would attempt to play the piano again, which is lovely. It really doesn’t feel like work when you enjoy it so much.

If money was no object, where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

I would love to go to Sydney. I would prefer to go in a group, I’d go with my college friends. Always have been obsessed with the TV series My Kitchen Rules Australia, I would like to go over when they are filming an episode to be part of the public to try all the dishes made by the contesters. I mainly just watch it for the drama, but the food, scenery, beaches, and the lifestyle there looks incredible.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

The Marina. The air is fresh, there are loads of big trees around and the scenery is gorgeous. It is the perfect place to go for a stroll, or for a coffee, or if I needed to clear my head. 

During the summer, occasionally there is a refreshing smell of wild garlic and flowers, which I find very soothing. The Atlantic Pond is by the Marina, and it is very nice to be able to see the baby cygnets develop into swans’ overtime.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

Yes, I love to catch-up with family and friends at weekends. Sometimes, especially with those who live very far away, it might not happen very often, but when we do meet up, it can be very special. 

Even though I am quite a busy person, family and friends always come first for me. 

We are all such foodies so we will always catch-up over Sunday lunch or a coffee. If the weather is dry, we would go walking by the Marina or Blackrock Castle Walkway, which are such scenic routes. Great food, great company, what more can you ask for?

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

I like to play boardgames, such as monopoly and backgammon, in my spare time. My brother and I were chess players. My dad taught when we were very small. The inspiration came about when my parents bought a really funky chess set with brass and silver Simpson character pieces.

We joined the Douglas Chess Club, our primary school chess team and local summer chess camps where we both participated in many tournaments, and they were a huge success. We also competed nationally, and we both won the Munster Junior Chess Championships in the different age categories that we have entered. Bryan, dad, and I were about the same level for several years, but Bryan overtook us all. He improved a lot and participated in competitions, and he was a prize-winner at the Majors tournament in the Cork Congress. Although I’m proud of him, I prefer playing ‘friendly games’.

Playing at a competitive level has taught me valuable life skills such resilience, good decision making, and critical thinking, (as well as being a good looser!). 

I hope to be able to play more this summer, I suppose it is good for the brains which could balance my other side which is filled with music! As a spectator, watching ourselves play the chaotic blitzes!

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

Ah there is just too many to choose from. I absolutely adore the food culture in Cork, it gives me such good vibes. My favourite place to go for coffee is Bean and Leaf in the city, I absolutely adore the chai lattes. Myself and my best friend order the same thing every single time, two large chai lattes, extra hot and extra spicy, but I get mine with marshmallows on top. My friend thinks it’s such a weird combination, especially with all the cinnamon and spices, but it adds a touch of sweetness, and creaminess which I find delicious. Even without the marshmallows, I highly recommend the chai lattes from there.

For lunch, occasionally I would go have brunch in Liberty Grill. But mostly I would order a burrito bowl from Boojum, they both have such wholesome food.

For a special meal, Thali Nepal Restaurant. I have discovered it recently when we went there for my friend’s birthday, and the food was so delicious. Best chicken Korma and momos I have ever tasted!

Sunday night comes around too fast. how do you normally spend it?

During term time, most of my bullet journaling is done on a Sunday. I find it very handy to plan my week, brainstorm, and set goals, especially during term time when the calendar is filled up and time is limited. It has really increased my productivity throughout the week. 

I am currently on my summer holidays, so I have more time on my hands than usual, so I spend my Sunday nights relaxing at home.

I don’t normally have a lot of time to read during term time, but I am currently reading House Rules by Jodi Picoult. Such a fascinating, eye-opening read so far! I find most of the books by Jodi Picoult have court cases in them, which I find very interesting.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

I don’t actually need to set an alarm anymore, because my puppy wakes me up early in the morning. Of course, to be able to make the 9am lecture on time during term time, there’s no excuses whatsoever in my case! I suppose it is hard to change my body clock’s fixed schedule.

What else are you up to right now?

At the moment, I am relaxing and recovering from a very busy semester. Meeting up with extended family, friends, and creating more memories, as we missed out on so much over the past two years. 

Rehearsing with my string quartet, the Allora Quartet, which has always been great fun. We are currently working on quartets by Haydn, Dvorak, and a modern work by Lindsey Vincent, as we were invited to perform at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, which takes place between June 24 and July 3. See 

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