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.