positive gestures

It’s been two months since I’m home for good and I realized that being away for three years taught me some things I never noticed before this. This isn’t a post about being overseas is better than Malaysia. I truly love home to be honest and I know it for sure that we can go further with some improvement on our social culture and values. We don’t have to live abroad to be in an ideal environment, we can always create one for our society and future children.

It can be an act that is as simple as holding the door for the next person to come in after you. I used to just push the door open and walk off without looking back. Little did I know that it’s considered impolite in some countries. So I learned to hold the door and look back to give a brief smile to the person behind me. Also, to make sure that the door doesn’t slam into the person’s face. I actually had that before, the door slamming at my face because the person just walked off. A simple gesture such as that could definitely prevent someone from injuries and it shows that we could be caring even to strangers. Such polite manners are golden.

My personal favorite gesture is how amazing the customer service is when I’m abroad. People give simple greetings and smile cheerfully before attending to your needs is something I really appreciated. It can definitely make you feel better about your day when you go inside a cafe for your morning coffee fix, greeted by a cheerful barista asking about your day or just commenting about the weather or even how you look! It probably make you feel like you should grab few muffins on your way out simply because you;re off to a happy start.

And the simplest thing of it all, discarding rubbish at the place they should be instead of littering. We take it for granted here in Malaysia by throwing rubbish everywhere or doing it in an unhygienic manner. I’ve seen people throwing plastic bags of rubbish with liquid dripping from the plastic all the way. It gives off unpleasant odor and not to mention attract all kinds of insects. I think cleanliness reflects a lot about your values. How you keep yourself and your surrounding clean is important. It’s so easy to throw your rubbish in a proper manner at a designated space provided for rubbish. It also helps the people in charge of collecting rubbish to do it efficiently and without any problems. I know for sure that I would hate collecting rubbish that’s poorly discarded, I feel it’s only right that other people don’t have to do what I disliked.

Then, there’s also the part where people take those who work in public services with respect and adoration. I personally love thanking the bus driver because I know that working as a bus driver with all the hectic schedule and crazy traffic during peak hours can be stressful. Showing your gratitude, telling them a simple thank you would make them feel better about their job. Sometimes, we tend to forget that people can get tired of doing their work repetitively, especially if you’re stuck sitting doing work on your desk for hours non-stop. Before raising your voice to complain and make a scene, consider yourself to be in their shoes. Yes, you may address the problem but that doesn’t give you the right to verbally abuse them. It’s crucial that we learn to address mistakes in a proper manner. Mistakes does not give us the right to disrespect people and this is what we Malaysians should practice more.

I love the working culture abroad, I’m not saying that for all workplace. I’m sure there are bad working culture abroad too but mine was simply lovely. Of course, the workload, the stress and problems are part of working life but what I enjoy is how I converse with my colleagues. We would talk about the current issues, the five cat my colleague takes care, the general election, the weather, exciting weekend trips, many interesting ongoing things about our lives and what I realize is the lack of gossip, be it about people we know our celebrities gossips. It gave me a new perspective about conversation, like there’s a broad range of topics we can talk about during small talks instead of discussing who’s cheating on who this week. People are polite and they respect your privacy as well as your time.

There’s more than just this but this are some of the examples I could think of. I’m sure there are many Malaysians practicing good social values and even do more than the basics. But it’s also sad to see how some people are still being verbally abused and spoken to with much disrespect. It’s distasteful to see how people would stare with no shame at something humiliating instead of lending a hand.

I honestly think giving out positive vibes is something we Malaysians take for granted. It’s so easy and if we could practice it more often, I’m quite sure that we’ll be able to agree on many things and bring the country forward and prosper in more than one way.

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Remembering you.

I’ve been caught up with family matters for the past few months and I know the routine by heart already now. As I was doing my rounds to check everything is in order and the doors are locked, I walked pass by my parents  bedroom. With the room door slightly open, dark and empty the house suddenly felt so quiet. I feel so alone. Staring at this computer, I wanted to blog something here about what I feel but then it’s all messed up . I took some time to think of a suitable way to express my thoughts and realized that the best way is to remind myself of  the memories I share with my dad. I want to remember the memories, and all the feelings that came with it. I’ll visit every memory I have with him and walk through it one by one hoping that I’ll never lose it.

I don’t think I can recall the first few years of my life but I remembered the day I started kindergarten. As a child, it probably is frightening to be in a crowd of strangers. I guess despite the excitement, I was also afraid of being alone in a class surrounded by people I don’t know. I can’t remember how it happened but I knew my dad sent me to the class on my first day.  It was all good until he left. The moment I looked back and see that he is not outside of my classroom, I cried so bad all I wanted was to go home. The teachers had to call him back and when he came back, standing there it was all fine again. I felt safe. It went on for two weeks. I don’t remember exactly how many days but I knew he accompanied me every day and I would learn in class and look back every few minutes or so. Every time I looked back, he was there smiling and just standing there looking at what I was doing. Even when I think about it today, I can tell how I felt back then. I felt safe knowing that my dad was there looking after me and he’s just a few steps away.

Another time when I was in kindergarten as well, there was this concert and I had to dance chinese dance. I was dolled up in my cheongsam and red lipstick. Although I can’t remember the dance or who my partner was, I remembered looking at the audience finding my parents. The moment I saw them, standing by the door because there wasn’t any places left and it was so crowded but they were still there, I smiled happily. During the closing ceremony, we played Christina Aguilera’s song ‘I turn to you’ and it still got me all teary up til today because I remembered how they were being squeezed by other audience just to be there for my performance.

I remember the days when we would go to Lake Garden cycling and have picnics after. I was still using the tricycle and dad would be cycling by my side making sure that I don’t fall. Oh, there’s this one trip we went together which I think was one of the few outings I did only with my dad; a visit to the National Museum. I recalled seeing this huge crocodile and I asked my dad if it was real because it looked so real I thought the crocodile was alive! It was also the first time I learned about our culture and the ‘kampung’ life. I can’t recall any activities similar to this one, it’s probably the only museum I’ve ever visited with my dad. Dad was a strict person. He gets annoyed easily if things are not as how it expects it to be. The family would often argue because of the differences but he always wanted the best for us. I know he shows his love in ways that sometimes nobody understands. He gets protective to the point that it’s frustrating but only because he loves his children. We used to watch TV shows after dinner together and I often fall asleep halfway because I get sleepy so easily. Dad would usually carry me upstairs then and put me to sleep. Sometimes I was half awake but I let him carry and tuck me in anyway before dozing off.

Between all the memories, one thing I’ll always remember is how dad accompanied me to the sea every single time we visited the beach. I love the beach although I can’t swim. I like being in water and just watch the waves. I wasn’t afraid of drowning, probably because every time the tide pulled me, I would find my dad’s hands and hold onto them. Even when the tide pulled me and I lost my balance, dad’s hands would magically pull me back up. We had so much fun when we were younger, my siblings and I especially when we’re at the beach.

So much memories, so much feelings attached to it as well. There were also a lot of fights and tears. I was a difficult child. I wanted freedom, but my dad was always worried of my safety. He is so used of protecting his only daughter that even when I’m old, he would do his best to take care of me. He’s the one person that I could be in the same space and not talk for a long time but never gets awkward, just a comfortable sort of silence. I never really understood his way of loving but as I grow older, I learned to read between the lines or in his case, his attitude. He never knew how to raise a daughter so he kept me as sheltered as possible. He made sure that I had everything I needed, including discipline and manners. He tried his best to make sure that I don’t have to go any hardships while I was growing up . He made lots of mistakes as a father, but I know that being a father doesn’t come with a manual. He got me angry, sad, happy and all kinds of feelings before and despite not being a perfect father, he was the father I needed. He loved in his own ways and did his best to be part of the children’s lives.

I tweeted not long ago about how I felt hopeless and yet still very hopeful. I feel hopeless in a way that I cannot help him be better but I am hopeful, hopeful to God for him to be safe and return back to being healthy. I wish that my kids would one day have the chance to meet dad and have the privilege of being loved by him just as how he loves me. He taught me that as a child, we don’t choose our parents and we learn how to adapt to their ways. He also taught me that a father is also human who does mistakes and have flaws of their own. And for that, I would forgive him for his unintentional mistakes and love him always in my own way too.

the kind of love

Malaysia have been all kinds of excited for the past few weeks with daily SEA Games tournaments, royal wedding bells, the one sports where my Instagram feed was full of Brunei prince photos, loud cheer of our fellow citizens in stadiums, celebrating our 60th Independence Day, closing the vibrant excitement with public holidays and Eid Adha celebration. And yes, this week we won’t be having our usual Monday blues post because we declared a public holiday for the outstanding amount of gold medals we won from the SEA Games this year!

As for me, it’s not my usual quiet stay at home kind of Eid celebration this time because my aunties and uncles came for a visit. It’s always nice to have them around  but I rarely see them as they live in Singapore. They came down on Thursday with delicious home made food such as pulut kuning, sambal sotong, sambal goreng pengantin and a few other traditional dishes. We had a feast on eve of Eid with all these home made dishes combined with mom’s lovely cooking. But what really made me smile is how noisy the house was. There were laughter, voices chattering away and everyone just gather to catch up on each others’ lives. On Eid Adha, I brought my aunties to the mosque for Eid Adha prayers and I had tears while I was making my du’as because I couldn’t go to the mosque for Eid this year with mom and this was the next best feeling, to be there with people I cherish. These past four days was such a lovely time with my family, especially having my aunties to help in the kitchen, learning new recipes from them, listening to their random stories about everything and life advice on family and relationships. I’ve always loved a house that’s full of lives. Coming from a small family and us siblings went our own path while I was still young, I always find it lonely to be home and not able to do things I want to with my siblings because when I was just about to have enough guts to take the roller coasters, my siblings were already over that phase, making serious decisions that life demanded from them. So, times like this are ones I truly treasure and this visit made me reflect on a few things I’d like to share with you, not only about families but with relationships and friendships.

I know you want to be rational and wise, but trust me to a certain extent it is important to live your life with no regrets in relationships. When I sent them off today it really hit me that in a few years time, they might just leave one day and there won’t be anymore aunties visiting, bringing them shopping until I can barely walk. It also got me thinking about how my dad is unwell and nothing is clear with his condition. It only made me want to hold on to those who are dear to me more than ever now. Growing up, I used to argue for time with others. I would cry and get angry if they want me to spend time at home instead of going on a camping trip. I often keep my feelings to myself, but open up to the rest of the world because at one point I felt like family don’t understand me. But as time passed by, slowly time with family became so precious to me, especially since I left home for college and not seeing them on daily basis made me closer to them in a way. My family, we’re not used to expressing our love in words to each other. It’s also one of the reasons why I’m not really good at expressing my emotions in words but more in my actions. I’ve never really said the word I love you to them but we understood each other, in a way that only we can. We would hug briefly when one of us leaves and when we’re not caught up with work, we would just sit and talk about our thoughts or anything at all. The kind of love we share is the kind that is in our actions rather than words.  We may think that our family don’t love us enough, but the truth is it’s all in their actions. It’s how they wake up early in the morning everyday and prepare our breakfast. It’s love when they get worried about us, but they say it in ways that we might get annoyed or frustrated because we want to go out. Their love for us is in their prayers when they pray to Allah to bless and protect us even when they won’t be here to guide us anymore.

And as for relationships and friendships, treat them as sincerely as possible. Be brutally honest but in a nice way. Avoid useless arguments and fights on things that is not significant. If it’s harmful, let it go. We got to accept the fact that not everyone would love us the way we want them to and not everyone would even like us for who we are. It’s perfectly fine to have a small circle of friends, but what matters is how they make you feel. And yes, not all relationships find happy endings. But work on your relationships together anyway and try your hardest because you can’t just give up without trying. Believe in happy endings, they exist. Only it might not be a bed of roses but rather, an adventure.

I was told to find love that makes you feel loved through actions, not words or romantic gestures. Some love are not spoken loudly for the world to know, but only to be felt and understood by yourself. And that kind of love is enough, trust me. That kind of love and happiness will make you content with what little time you have in this world. I know now I don’t want to live tomorrow if I have to let go of something precious without even having the chance to love them.

Green.

I can’t say for everyone but I do believe that there is a time in our lives that when we read articles about environmental efforts, we wonder if it’ll actually make a real impact. I know I always ask myself that. In fact, the disturbing thought will always be there when environmental discussions come up. It’s because with one effort we campaign, there are a thousand more that’s contributing to environmental problems. There’s also the dilemma of wanting to help, but can’t help contributing to the environmental issues because of various reasons. This dilemma is a personal struggle I fight every single day and I have no solution yet for it.

Last weekend, there was an event called the Cooler Lumpur Festival; a fest with forums, discussions, workshops and many more on shaping the future of our beloved capital city, Kuala Lumpur. It is my first time attending this sort of event in Malaysia and I must say that I am impressed with everything. They had good programmes going on for the weekend, not leaving out activities for kids and also small entreprises/home businesses. I attended 2 of the sessions, one on sustainability and discussion towards a greener future while the other was about writing across differences. While it is amazing to see Malaysian citizens coming together to tackle environmental issues, it is without any doubt that more needs to be done. And perhaps, even our focus ? The discussion on sustainability was attended by 5 experienced individuals; the person who initiated zero waste campaign in Malaysia which has over 4000 members in her zero waste community today, Aurora Tin, Angelia Chin who is actively involved in the Lost Food Project where they collect commercially rejected food and put them to good use, Danni Rais, a youth politician whose focus is on national empowerment, Tun Jeanne, wife to our fifth Prime Minister that encourages planting of trees movement and lastly, the famous Malaysian eco-activist, policy change-maker and a true eco warrior Gurmit Singh. Each of them had a lot to talk about on sustainability and their efforts in helping the environment, be it planting more trees, tackling food and waste management, nation empowerment and even policies.

Throughout the discussion, I realized that if I never attended the session in person I’ll never know the existence of these campaigns or efforts. For example, the Lost Food Project collected over 140 000 tonnes of food that is perfectly edible but rejected due to the appearance in the last 18 months. This is collection of food at certain state or areas, not even our whole country. To be honest, I was also taught to pick food before buying them especially fruits and vegetables. It did not occur to me that those fruits that weren’t pick by consumers would be thrown away instead of consumed. This project is amazing in the sense that it helps with the redistribution of food to those who needs it like orphanages, our food for homeless movements and many more. The zero waste campaign on the other hand, was impossible to believe at first but after the talk it got me thinking about how it could be done, what part of our lifestyle we can change to reduce our waste such as the choices of our snacks, the wrapping paper to our favourite chocolates and many more.

The session left me with a lot of questions and thoughts on how to change our lifestyles to eco living. Gurmit passed a remark to the audience about how those in the session knows the importance of saving environment but still, probably drove to Publika (where the event took place). It got me thinking if there was a way to go there by public transport but I had no clue whatsoever on any public transport that pass by that area. It then strike me that there’s a few problems in this thought itself. First of all, I can say that I was partly ignorant of the whole situation. Because I was carpooling with my friend, I took the easy way out and settled for the car, instead of googling the route using public transportation. In our daily lives, this is probably the case for most of us. We take the easy route because we own a car and it’s really more convenient going places with cars as you don’t have to walk under the extreme weather or share a space with people while travelling. We might know the fact the vehicles are highly related to global warming due to the contribution of carbon emission but because we don’t see with our naked eyes that it emits carbon dioxide we assume it’s okay. It is one thing feeling the rise in temperature but it is another to constantly notice and be aware of what causes it. Second, if I did took the public transport to the place of event on that day which is a combination of LRT and bus or commuter from where I am, I have to allocate about an hour or two for the commute while driving takes only 20 minutes or so. Now looking from the point of opportunity cost, not many of us would be willing to leave two hours before for the commute when we could be there in less than half an hour by car. Perhaps we are willing too but we may not have that much time to spare as we have other engagements to attend to. Even if I did take the public transport, there’s no way of knowing that I will arrive on time or if there’s a delay unless I’m at the station itself. So does this mean that driving is justifiable in this circumstances? For whatever our reasons are, one thing’s for sure that the moment we drive our cars it emits carbon dioxide. So even if we are fully aware of the situation, we may not be able to opt for public transportation due to various pressing reasons. For those who are well aware and are concern about the environment, they might do what they can to reduce environmental issues, but what about the general public? If you give a person these two options as means of travelling what will motivate them to choose one over the other? Some may argue that the role of a car is to take you to respective destination in a more convenient manner and at a faster speed too. So why opt for a less convenient method? Some may not even have the luxury of opting to commute because they need to be in few places in a certain period of time. Of course, I am sure that there are many people too willing to commute instead of opting for convenience at the expense of our environment but there’s always two sides of looking things the way they are.

Which then made me realize, that yes a car’s role is definitely to make our lives more convenient. What’s the point of owning a car if you need to commute for hours right? But then, using the public transport is also more convenient in the sense that you don’t have to worry about traffic or vehicle accident, though of course there are then other concerns relating to public transportation. My point is that, perhaps instead of focusing only on reducing the usage of cars, we should start thinking of how to develop green vehicles. I know some brands have their own hybrid cars but it may not be affordable for everyone and maintenance is probably costly too because the demand is not as huge as the normal vehicles we purchase. Also, since it’s a new technology there are still so much improvement to be made to bring down the cost and providing consumers with better quality. But this is definitely a technology we should focus on especially on making it affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. Even when we commute using the public transportation, we may still take the taxi or Uber or Grab to go to certain places. For example, you commute to go to your workplace and it’s fine if you’re all sweaty because your office have shower facilities but what about when you go to a meeting? Are you planning to ride a bicycle to a meeting in this weather? Chances are, you probably opt for taxi or Uber or Grab if there is no direct public transportation services to the meeting area. But that’s still contributing to the emission of carbon dioxide. If we instead have a taxi service that provide green vehicles maybe that will be a win win situation for both the environment and ourselves. Let’s not forget that we also use vehicles to transport goods. How are we planning to change that? We most likely can’t transport all types of goods using public transportation. So there has to be a real change on the supplier side too. I know it’s a long way to go when talking about innovation and green technology but we have to continuously encourage people to focus on tackling environmental issues from the perspective of suppliers and make them aware that this is also one of the methods we can approach to help the environment. As a consumer we can put pressure by stop using the products, but as a producer we can change people’s lifestyle through our production. It has to be the effort of both sides. Only then, consumers will not be in a dilemma whether to choose convenience over our beloved environment. But anyhow, I am amazed and truly humbled by the level of dedication some people put to help conserve the environment. Such efforts should be appreciated and in a way we do not want all these efforts go to waste. So, start today by thinking what’s your role in the society and how you can help in your current position. It always starts with yourself and what you can do.

(to be continued on dilemma on public transportation – user friendly ? a personal experience)

A Paper Affair.

This is a post about my recent research on paper making and how it affects our Earth. We all know that it’s good to reduce paper usage and if you do, make sure you shred it and voila your duty is done. But this post will be more than just these two simple steps. It all started when I had to use papers during my internship. Back then I was doing a lot of company credit rating research so I had to read pages and pages of companies’ annual reports for my credit rating reports. It’s all finance stuff so if you’re not into finance, let’s just say that I had to read and research a lot. It gets tiring sometimes to continuously read reports on your laptop and makes it slightly difficult to discuss with your colleagues when you don’t have the printed copy. So, torn between wanting to reduce paper usage and getting the job done, I decided to print. Not all , though. The feeling still bugged me about reducing paper usage. Then I proceeded to the shredding machine where I make sure all my papers get shredded and not thrown into the rubbish bins. But it occurred to me, what happens then after I shred the paper? Will it help with the environment and where does all this shredded paper go?

At that time, it was just a thought which I forgot about later on. Then earlier this year, I had my final examinations and I printed some of my slides. I usually just use my tablet to learn but realized that I end up writing everything back while studying (not so efficient and very time consuming and I waste paper as well). So while printing them, the same thought occurred to me and I got a little distracted and frustrated with the amount of papers I used. I came home and with all the free time I had, I started reading up on the paper industry. I did my research and to be honest, it took me awhile before I came up with this post because I wasn’t sure about so many things with the industry. And this is what I found out from all the readings I did. It may not be complete with all the information about pulp and paper industry and this is a summarized/simplified version based on my understanding so if you are interested on this topic, you can definitely do a further reading.

papermaking

http://www.brdisolutions.com/what-is-the-paper-converting-industry

The diagram above is a clear process of how paper industry works and what is done when you recycle your paper. Starting with the collection of wood, following the brown arrow that leads to paper making which then is distributed out before going back to the industry as a recycled product. It’s pretty much straight forward and looks sustainable with very little environmental problems. That was what I thought when I first did my research. But if you look again at the process, these are some of the issues concerning the paper industry:

Cutting down of trees; the consequences of it. When you cut down trees, not just one of two trees but hundreds of them for paper production you not only disrupt the natural habitat for wildlife but also may cause soil erosion and contribute towards global warming. It may seem like a simple problem where you can solve by planting new trees to replace the ones you cut but it’s not. That’s the thing about natural resources and environmental problems, they’re all interconnected and you have to look at the bigger picture to connect the dots. The disruption of ecosystem can cause permanent effect to the wildlife and also may lead to extinction of some species. It’s not like as if a forest can be built within two weeks so should we be cutting down trees without waiting for trees to grow first ? The dilemma is always there. In fact, 40% of industrial wood is traded globally and this means that its not just a one country’s affair. People trade wood for production of paper, among other usage of wood. We cannot replenish the forest before cutting them down again at the rate we are consuming it. The question is, how do you shift the wildlife to a new habitat before cutting down the trees ? How do you counter back the issue with soil erosion ? At the rate we’re going, we’ll probably clear out all the forest and left with no more trees to harvest.

This is where the recycling part comes in. In today’s paper industry, there are two types of pulp used; virgin and recycled fibre. Recycled fibre is used in the paper production so that we can reduce the intake of virgin fibre which is a product made from the trees we cut down. So if you’re wondering what’s the purpose of shredding your paper, this is it. The shredded paper will go through a few process before turning back into pulp that is then used again for paper making.

sustainability-mobile-map stora enso paper

http://printingandreading.storaenso.com/sustainability

Chemicals and water pollution. The process of paper making, whether using virgin fibre or recycled fibre uses chemical and other materials. Transforming the wood to pulp usually involves cooking the wood chips in a chemical solution. Chemicals used, from what I read are often sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide. After that, fillers are added such as chalk, clay, starch or titanium oxide. The materials vary based on the type of product produced and the company’s methods. Even with recycling paper, you have to remove the ink which involves bleaches or dyes then convert them back into pulps that can be rolled to papers or other products. This will lead to water pollution, no doubt. It is not easy to separate chemical solutions from the water again and it’ll eventually flow into the ocean, disrupting the aquatic ecosystem and also affecting the soil. In fact, based on research done, pulp and paper industry is one of the largest consumer of water used in industrial activities. There was an article by WWF about this industry and how it’s affecting the environment in more than just one way. It also said that paper mills discharge pollutants and this will lead to aquatic problems as well as health issues. Let’s not forget that we humans consume water too on daily basis and with all the pollution, the water needs to be treated first before it’s safe for us to consume. This adds to the social cost and consumer will have to bear the additional costs.

Apart from the obvious environmental issues I stated above, there are other concerns too such as illegal harvesting, regulations, irresponsible practices in the industry etc etc. There have also been development on producing paper using other resources as many people are becoming more aware of the issues in this industry. I found this while doing my research and it’s a really good website, do check it out !

zero-waste-cycle the poo project

http://thepooproject.ourproject.org/index.php?slab=about

The development of creating a sustainable environment is a continuous effort and requires lots of researches. But even the little things, if we are able to do it we should. Here are some suggestions on how to help:

  • Shred them papers ! If you don’t own a shredder, recycle them at the recycling centre. You can google the nearest recycling centre, I’m sure there’s one in each area. Don’t forget to remove paper clips or other non-paper materials before you recycle.
  • If you can avoid using paper, why not? Save you some pocket money too!
  • Responsible sourcing and trade of paper products. Know the brands you choose and choose a responsible one.
  • Ask for transparency in the sector, exercise your rights as a consumer! If you have questions about the brands you use, why not drop them an email for clarification?

Let’s not forget that wood is used for more than just paper. It’s also used to create furniture, construction of buildings and many other products. If we cannot avoid using those products, the least we could do is use it wisely and not practice irresponsible consumption. Remember, when you buy something, the company will have to produce more to replenish their stock. This means higher demand for wood and therefore, more trees being cut down. Not all products from wood can be recycled and reused as raw ingredient. If you buy just to realize later on that you have no use for it and end up throwing it away, that too can contribute to various environmental problems. Let’s together be a responsible consumer 🙂

It’s the little things that matters, the little effort that will bring changes to the world.

Join me?

Degree done and dusted, now what ?

Time to read more ! (read as: sleep). On a serious note, I’ve been reading and researching on environment management in Malaysia since I came back and found lots of interesting changes that’s happening in our beloved country.

From where I live, which is quite near to the capital city I’ve seen many changes regarding environmental awareness compared to when I was young. More shops and malls are adopting the no plastic bag regulation and a fee is charged for plastic bags to discourage customers from using plastic bags. We are also slowly moving towards renewable energy, in particular installing solar panels at homes and in buildings. I’ve had the opportunity recently to watch a video of our nation’s energy supplier, TNB on their vision and future direction. I must say that the direction our energy industry is moving towards do seem to be promising in regards to our efforts in practicing sustainable development. Putting aside corporate businesses, I’ve also seen changes among our citizens. With the new and upgraded public transportation system, more and more of our citizens are using the public transport and utilizing the facilities available instead of using their own transport. I have no doubts that the public transportation system have a lot to do still especially in terms of making it accessible for people living far away from the train stations. I believe the bus routes and system too has to be upgraded to make this possible. Nonetheless, it is good to see that we are developing in the right direction to encourage energy conservation and reduction in pollution. Being in the capital, I am accustomed to our famous daily traffic jams that can usually go on for hours. This, again calls for efforts to reduce the usage of cars as mean of transportation in the city. I would love to make bicycle as an option but to be honest, I will probably think twice (or maybe more) about riding a bicycle to go for meeting at 3 in the afternoon. The sun here in Malaysia is unbelievable! It’s summer all year long and if it isn’t shinning bright, it’ll be raining so heavily. Therefore, although I love the concept of bicycle as a mode of transportation similar to the practice of other countries, I must say that we must be realistic. I doubt I want to arrive for a meeting looking all sweaty and extra shiny face with melted make ups, might scare people away instead. But with the new strategy brought in by Uber and Grabcar, we are an app away from having a car at our disposal. The problem with our usual taxis is that it did have issues with accessibility. Not all areas have taxis waiting around for us, especially in the housing area. Then we also have the issue of taxi with metres and without which creates a negative impression on the taxi provider. If these issues could be solved and the level of efficiency is up to the standards set by Uber and Grabcar, then I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be just as good. The only worry is that in terms of regulation especially safety and insurance coverage, Uber and Grabcar in Malaysia still need to work on that to eliminate the loopholes. This way, we can promote carpooling, reduce the amount of cars entering the city, pay unbelievable parking tickets, save more energy and create jobs for people!

There are so much positive changes in Malaysia and I am happy to see our country moving towards a green and sustainable direction. Having said that, there is still a lot that has to be done too. From the different articles I’ve read, I came to an understanding that:

Development also equal to greater environment problems 

This means that we will face issues such as deforestation, increase in pollution, lost of habitat for our nature and if we are not careful contributing in extinction of exotic species. The amount of carbon emission, water and air pollution that is caused by development can affect in ways that will bring harm to people’s health. Mentioned above are only part of the negative impact of development towards our environment. While there are methods to reduce issues as stated above, implementation and awareness is necessary to ensure that all parties are highly aware of the possible consequences of their actions. This does not mean that I am against developing the country, as I am well aware that we need to boost our economy more now than ever. We also can’t run away from being the cause of environmental issues because we live based on the resources we have in our country and on the land that we step. However, I do believe that modernization and development has to be done right with more weight on ensuring sustainability of resources rather than just concentrating on profit making for the economy. We need to start thinking for the long term effects and stop making short term profit at others’ expense. To do that, more work has to be done on the regulation and law as well as the proper steps for implementation. Above all this, education which I continuously mention in most of my post is so important to tackle this problem. Because it is an issue that deals with lifestyle, it can only be changed with a change in our lifestyle. This might mean changing certain things that we are so used to, probably even practices we were brought up with. But change is necessary and is a must. It’s not easy as I admit that I’m also trying to find ways to reduce my contribution towards pollution but we have to put in the effort.

We know that education is crucial in this matter. So what do we do now ? We educate ourselves. Which is why I came across this idea and I would love to work with as many people as possible on these ideas:

  • Create animated videos about different topics on environment and eco-friendly development, sustainability, eco changes in lifestyle etc etc
  • Illustrative short comic strips, short stories that can be downloaded and accessed by everyone digitally

They are just rough ideas at the moment and still need to be further developed. I know I am not well educated in all aspects of this issue especially providing information and facts therefore I would love to hear from people with different education background and skills. To make this idea happen, I also believe I do need some guidance by people who have knowledge in animated video making and animation drawing. Not exactly a talented artist you see. Let me know what you think about it and please please I do value your feedback so don’t be shy wherever you are especially to my fellow Malaysians! Let’s make these little things that we can do to bring change.

3 years in a post.

So, I know I’ve blogged about graduation but that was an emotional, rushed post using my phone , typing away in a hotel when I had a short break in between my duty as a tourist guide for my brother in London the other day. Now I’m back home in Malaysia, I’m probably going to be home for good unless I decide to work elsewhere in a few years. Nothing though beats the feeling of being back home, a place where you belong and welcomed anytime. Thankful that I have a home to come back to, can only imagine how lonely that there are some out there who are less fortunate. Anyway, got reunited with my laptop and desk so I’ll be continuing my previous post about university and a reflection of what these 3 years taught me.

For me, university life was a turning point where I learned so much, being alone far away from home and all that. I went to the UK with minimal fear as I had a partner and it’s always less scary when you’re leaving your comfort zone knowing that you’ve got somebody with you. During my first year, I was staying in an accommodation that was thirty minutes away from the campus and the area was still undergoing development so buses were not frequent. I walked almost every day and missed probably most of my 9 am lectures trying to adjust to the late bus timing and fast walking pace. Because I was far from my other Malaysian friends, I wanted more activities to be done among the Malaysian society. It was the beginning of my involvement with the Malaysian society and how I discovered my passion for fundraising. The accommodation I stayed was called The Maltings and I lived in block D, level 5 room 5 along with 5 other international housemates. We not only shared a kitchen but also shared memories together. I would usually take bus no. 61 as that is the only bus that pass through the accommodation and occassionally will buy doner kebab from the shop nearby called Albany Gardens Kebab Fish n Chips. I never liked lamb meat, it always tasted off to me but when I was in the UK, I learned how to eat it and most of the time it’ll be with rice dipped with lots of garlic mayo to kill the meat taste. It was my first year in university that I learned how to write a manifesto. Thanks to the vice president at that time who also became cultural convener and VP International later on, I got the fundraising position as part of the Malaysian society team. She taught me a lot about taking up opportunities available and even create them if it isn’t already available. Many friends have inspired me to do better in life and I’m not one that compares success but I get motivated in pursuing my own passion when I see others being passionate about theirs. So in my first year, I applied for my first job with the Students Union Finance Team as a finance assistant but got turned down because I did not fully prepared myself for the interview. I told myself that it was a good interview experience and that I shouldn’t be too bumped by it as it happens all the time in life. So I focused on whatever that was lacking, got feedback and advices on how I can improve myself during interview sessions and took notes during the Big Essex Award workshops. In spring term I then came across a frontrunner placement with the International Office. I decided to go for it and submitted my application form. The frontrunner scheme not only gave me a UK working experience but I was constantly learning new things as attending workshops was part of the placement programme. I started the frontrunner scheme when I was in my second year, throughout autumn and spring term. It was my first official job in the university and I was so pumped up about it. I also applied for the student ambassador role which I thankfully got in my second year.

Second year was a bit more organized for me. I settled in my new home which is the Tawney North Towers. Its relatively cheaper than Maltings and I could save so much from the rent. In my first year, rent was quite high and since I travelled to a few places – Cardiff, Snowdonia, Edinburgh, Glasgow, ZipWorld, Sardinia I almost had no savings left by the end of the term. So when the university offered me an accommodation with cheaper rent, I took it up without any hesitation. It was an accommodation with 11 other people in a flat and we all shared the kitchen. The plus point was that every week, my flat was the hub for fundraising preparation. Malaysians would gather to prepare food early in the morning and sometimes the night before which was really nice although tiring. Between 8 am to 3 pm on Wednesdays I would be busy running around with the team, making sure food was okay, sales done properly and everyone got their food orders. It was so funny to see random Malaysians coming down the stairs looking so basics ( me especially, in my pyjamas and sweater ) to refill hot food at the stall in Square 3. But everytime we managed to sell our food, it was the best feeling ever. It adds a smile when the locals tell us that they’ve been waiting for our food since morning or that they want the recipe because it tasted amazing. But the best feeling from our fundraising activities? It was seeing Malaysians meeting each other when they buy our food and hang out. Its when they come together and help prepare the food despite having lectures until late afternoon. You don’t always spend time with your Malaysian community because everyone has their own crowd and this was the time where we just catch up with everyone and ask if they’re doing okay. I had troubles waking up for 9 am classes but on Wednesdays, I didn’t mind at all having to wake up earlier and sleeping late the night before just so I could feel again the feeling of home in university. Of course I had to really plan my time because with 2 jobs on my plate and the fundraising position as well as my studies, I can’t really afford to be lazy. So I learned to prioritise. I spent less time exploring and streaming videos on weekends because I needed to catch up on the tutorials and sometimes even on weekends I would be working as student ambassador. The pay wasn’t too bad for both of my jobs and I enjoyed my work very much. It helped me pay for my Iceland expenses as well as my addiction to Japanese food (they’re so expensive in the UK! ). My Iceland trip was magical to be honest. I loved the atmosphere, the adventure and how calming everything was. I also went to Croatia and part of Bosnia for my spring trip in second year. Both places were just as beautiful. I enjoy travelling and going on adventures especially exploring the nature. My time in Grenoble was all about climbing mountains and walk pass scary bridges that swings when there is wind. Because of my packed schedule, I miss quite a lot of events in the UK but I never missed going to Nottingham Games, partly because a dear friend studied there. But I never really focused on anything else except what I already was focusing on. I also joined the SU pop up scheme, opened a Batik shop for 6 weeks as part of introducing Malaysian culture to the university. Then I came back during the summer and thought that it was time to do an internship. So I interned with Khazanah for 3 months, made friends throughout that short journey and learned quite a lot for an intern. The pay was also quite good. I enjoyed Friday mornings where the department will have breakfast together potluck style. It was also during that time, a few weeks after my birthday that I was not feeling the best. But putting that aside, things got better slowly with the adjustments I did. Friends were really helpful and them being there for me was all the support I needed.

My third year, I had an initial plan to simply focus on studies and life. But then I figured I had quite a lot of free time and I didn’t like having nothing to do. So I joined Kalsom as their fundraising officer, focused on my position in the Societies Guild as their charity and fundraising officer representative and applied for more jobs ! I think at one point I was addicted to work so I had to find a job. I ended up working with a start up company as their Outreach and Recruitment Officer which deals with a mixture of research and marketing. Together with another colleague, that was the first time I learned how to design a prospectus from scratch. It was a long process, from finding ideas what kind of information we want to put in the book to assembling it together with the design so that it fits the theme nicely and ensuring that its a book compact enough to fit all relevant information. My contract for that job was 12 weeks but I got offered to extend the contract. But knowing that I’ll be home in a few months and I needed the time to focus on my studies, I had to turn down the offer. I was also still working as a student ambassador but less frequent as I was focusing more on my voluntary positions. Third year was really nice in a way that I made new friends, visited friends during various events and learned about the many inspiring things that our fellow students around the world are working on. I also learned how to live on my own and care for myself (which I failed miserably at first but it got better) and it made me appreciate my alone time more than ever. I liked the feeling of coming home to my room, everything looks neat and waiting for me. Lighting up my candles after a long day of studying and work, catching up with dramas. I loved how busy life was but at the same time it was all mine as I had nothing else to worry when I was there except for myself. I didnt have to care for another or made sure that I left enough food before leaving the house to work. There were days that I was lonely and needed to talk to someone and thankfully my friends were there to listen to my emotional rants. I shared my happy moments and small success with my parents more often although they barely understand because they were not physically there with me. I tried doing new things, travelled to visit friends and enjoy the little moments where things were perfect. My room at Thomas Hopper Houses flat 3 room 4 was amazing. It was the perfect size for me, not too big and just right. I don’t really favor big spaces so the size was just perfect. I enjoyed going around the university and take random photos, knowing that I’ll be leaving soon. Sometimes I just stare at the people in the square, memorizing the atmosphere and feelings. The last few months of my final year, I studied really hard. I was afraid that I didnt have enough marks to pass but I did, thankfully. My study place to go would usually be my room where I’ll be holed up for more than 2 days before seeing the day again, the SU bar (just because I get my mocha and black coffee from the starbucks there) and sometimes the library as well as Orangery. I loved eating breakfast at the Canteen, they serve english breakfast and that’s where I learned how to eat baked beans. When I want food to go I would stop by at The Kitchen for my tuna melt panini, absolute favourite and on Thursdays I usually get pastries and cakes from the Thursday market. I loved the lamb kofta at Fusion and the chicken wrap in Frangos, absolutelt delicious especially with cheese and mushrooms as extras. I dont really fancy the burgers in Happy Days but I go there for the waffles.

Most of the time when I’m not having my alone time, working, studying or travelling I would be at Keynes North Towers penthouse where 2 of my lovely friends lived. The four of us would hang out in the living hall, do our own thing and rant at each other in between breaks. I usually have my meals there too because I hardly cook. Then sometimes I would invite my other friend who’s a walking inspiration over a meal when I feel like cooking proper food. Cooking with housemate and best friend was done sometimes when we have free time. After exams was over, it was time for Ramadhan and this was the first year I welcomed Ramadhan away from home. I had my first tarawih with the important people in my life and couldnt have done it any differently. There were a few sad news this year but I am ever grateful for all the little things in life. I came back over the sunmer and went back for a week to attend my graduation. Alhamdulillah your girl got a first class honours in her degree and she was so thankful that she managed to pull through her degree life. This year taught me a lot and several events in life got me leaning closer and closer towards the Almighty. I cried and asked for help from the One that could make the impossible possible. I didn’t cry anymore having no anchor in my life because I now know that the anchor I was desperately looking for lies in His answers.

Degree life taught me so much but it is not the end of me learning as we all continuously learn in life. I can’t tell what the future holds but at least I know now that I won’t back down easily anymore. I came out stronger and wiser ( insyaAllah ) and I hope that with the knowledge and lessons I’ve gained during my degree years, it’ll help me be wiser in facing my future aspirations.

So this is it, my super long post ( probably the longest ) about my degree. You can’t rewind your degree life so the best you can do is to remember every memory , every detail and this is what I’m doing by typing it here.