Time to grow up 

Yknow how you never truly feel your age, until you’re 45 with a heart condition and you have to stop yourself from ordering McDonalds? Okay it’s not a common thing to think about. But when I was preparing for my UK exchange, I felt my age bar rising. 

It goes DING

21 ! 

21 ! 

21 ! 

21 ! 

21 ! 
Going to the bank by myself, having to explain what I need while they stared at me like I made no sense. Collecting all my documents – crying at the photocopy machine because no one was there to help me and I didn’t know what I was doing thinking if I mess up my visa it’s all my fault. 
GROW
I had to look for accommodations with the only advice from my parents were to stay within the budget. I would constantly have to google map the potential accommodations distance to the campus and nearest bus stop and even grocery store. I had to communicate with the landlord and the agency myself, and sign the contract – signing my name. MY OWN NAME. Not my parents nor any other guardian. 

GROW THE FUCK UP ALINA.  
I guess, it could be an Asian thing. Like when we watch TV shows about the western culture, kids move out at 16. Some start a family by then. It’s nothing new. By 21 they should be working earning their own money, living in a bachelor pad with their friends. However, in the Asian community – we’ve been fed with a silver spoon all our lives. Having our parents do everything for us. Maybe I can’t speak for everyone (I’m sure everyone grows at their own pace). My sister went to the UK when she was 19, all alone. Here I am about to fly with both my parents. Hey, I am the baby of the family ok. Don’t judge. 
It was really different compared to the time I registered for UNMC. My parents didn’t register me, but Amirul did. He helped me move in, he registered for me and also got my student card for me (all I did was smile for the picture). This time round, Amirul would be registering for himself at UEL and I’d be registering myself for UoN 2 hours apart by train. 
Time to rely on yourself Alina. You’re turning 21 – STFU and grow up. 

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DAY 3 – cooking/ baking (COMMUNITY SERVICE)

The kids at PDK are more familiar with us on day 3. The moment I came in they would say “hi kakak!” It’s pretty funny, that they call me kakak when most are older than me. They are 22 to 44 even, yet they call me kakak. It’s really respectful even when they know I’m younger.


We baked cookies and prepared all the food we were bout to feed them. There were a lot of kids, around 35 and we made extra for the teachers too. I had Azmir, one of the autistic student with me to help me, he listened to me very well and knew how to follow the given instructions. Though he repeated everything I said, every single time. He echoed EVERYTHING, even Okay. I asked him to have a bite of everything we were making and he tasted everything as we made them, and said all the food tasted delicious which was good to know. It was really sweet how excited he got when I gave him his plate of food.

After feeding everyone, I was pulled by Nazirah. She has Down syndrome and was very caring towards another child whose mother was late. She kept asking me to comfort the child, and to call his mother to pick him up. It really shows that, though they are limited in other areas, they definitely do not lack affection nor empathy. I also found out that she was a child of one of the teachers. So I had a talk with Nazirah’s Mom and she told me that Nazirah was all they have, though they tried to conceive another. You can really see how precious she is to her mother. Her mother did not treat her any differently, there was no sympathy in her eyes when she looks at Nazirah. But only love and truly she saw Nazirah for who she is – cheeky, sweet and playful.

My 3 days at PDK was definitely a humbling experience and also an eyeopener. Not only did the kids and teachers at PDK made me grateful for what I have been blessed with, they made me grateful for life itself. They are so content with life, and it’s not ignorance – I can tell you that. They really showed me that it’s up to you how you deal with your shortcomings. If you want to see the greatness of life, that’s what you’ll see despite the bitterest lemons you’re given.

This sums my 3 days spent at PDK Diary. If you’d like to know more about PDK Semenyih – their Facebook page is Pdk Semenyih.

Also, Im asking everyone to help PDK Semenyih, by spreading the word.

They are a non profit organisation, which means that they rely on people like us. You can buy the childrens’ art works, and also baked goods made with love.

Here is their bank account:
Agro Bank
No Acc: 100556100005060-1 (Anak Anak Istimewa PDK Semenyih)

Any contribution would be much appreciated.

DAY 2 Art Class (Community Service)

We did some arts and crafts with them for day 2 – Candle drawing and cling film art. These activities allowed them to use their senses morec also it could be calming and therapeutic for the students. They were all very creative in their own way, presenting pictures with dramatic colours and colour blocking. They stroke their brushes in their own way too, some really thick and strong while others really soft – each one unique to their own senses. 


On day 2, I started to know the students by names, rather than describing them by their conditions. Before this I would mention “a Down syndrome student” (inconsiderate I know. I learnt that) but now I would say Farisya or Diana. The relationship between the kids and I are getting more personal, there’s no barrier between us anymore. We became friends all in the matter of 2 days. I see them for who they are rather than their physical disabilities. With this experience, they definitely weren’t the only one gaining benefit from this community service. 

 

I bonded significantly with Diana a 44 year old student with Down Syndrome which was really focused on her painting. She was in the zone and wanted to paint every corner and edge of her paper. When Avery and I made a template for them to colour in with the cling film art, she was so happy with the results she kept clapping and asked to do more. It was so rewarding to have made her that happy and excited – felt like all the hard work was worth it.


People always get so uncomfortable when they are  surrounded by people of disability, or some even look at them with complete sympathy. When in fact they are happy (happier than us to be frank – fully limb functioning, right amount of chromosome somewhat healthy human being). Some even completely oblivious to their disability and only see themselves just like everyone else – aren’t they after all? They share the same core value as us, being taught always to be kind, speak softly never harshly. But why – just because they stutter, or have extra chromosomes we look at them like we’re not the same? When we are all made by God and all made with our own set of life challenges. It humbled me, to realise that how ignorant I was to think that I was more “blessed” for being born “healthy”? But it now occurred to me, aren’t they the blessed ones instead? 

Community service diary 

In Malaysia, the government requires every student to do community service before they graduate their tertiary education. I did mine over the summer, and this is a collection of my reflection journal for my 3 days spent at PDK, a non profit organisation centre for disabled children in Semenyih

DAY 1
On Monday, at PDK were the cerebral palsy kids. These kids struggle with their minor muscle movements and can’t walk, some can’t even sit. I was in awe to see all the children incapable of their own voluntary movement – I felt grateful for being born healthy with all 4 limbs attached and well- functioning.

When we came in, they were all on the floor surrounded by 2 ladies (one teacher, one nanny/caretaker) each child giving the kids massages. The massage softens their muscles and also, their joints because with cerebral palsy their joints tend to tense up. We then learnt how to massage the joints too with guidance by the caretakers. We also bought some whistles and some bubbles for them to exercise their minor muscle movement of blowing. They were all so excited when they saw the bubbles, and tried so hard to blow. Some failed while other succeed, but everyone including the caretakers were laughing and enjoying our simple act.


I spoke to one of the mother of the children  about an operation available for the cerebral palsy kids. I asked whether she was considering it, she simply shook her head and said “God gave me him for a reason, to love him and care for him. Not to fix what was already made perfect by God.” It truly touched me, and left me stunned for quite a while. That someone could actually have so much faith, and be so grateful and accepting towards life and what God gave them.

That was my lesson for day 1 – to simply be grateful. Be grateful for whatever life has given, in whatever condition God gave it. Everything happens for a reason I’d like to believe. Sometimes life gives you problems that you don’t even need to repair or fix, but just accept.

 

The theory of “Happiness Quota”

Amirul once spoke me about his theory of Happiness Quota. He told me, in life we only have a limited chunk of happiness that we’re allowed in a period of time. He theorised that Happiness acts like quota of data, where it starts full and gets lowered as more induced happiness events come around. Like great birthday party – 30%, long streak of good relationship with friends and family – 15% or a bit chunk would be something like marrying the love of your life 90% !

Lately, my happiness quota has reached its lowest ever and it’s taking a while to recharge. Sadness has been my common visitor and has stayed longer than anticipated. Sometimes sadness doesn’t even come with problems, it comes alone and unpacks Aunt Nostalgia, and all the uninvited guests.

So, I’ve made a list on recharging my happiness quota or maybe even it could be a list of  how to cope with sadness around.

  1. Simply, do not do shit you don’t want to do. Be it, seeing certain people or finishing the chicken breast part of rather than the skin of fried chicken.
  2. Leave the things/ people/ situation that makes sadness linger.
  3. Take time for yourself, and all the things you want to do that may charge your happiness. Activities can range from taking a walk, or shopping. A day at the park with ice cream is the perfect charge for my happiness.
  4. Be grateful. Take the time to acknowledge all the blessings and good people in your life.
  5. Don’t keep Sadness locked up at your home, bring sadness out and introduce him to others. Maybe sharing your personal sadness with others can ease the burden. Everyone just wants to be heard.
  6. Charge others’ Happiness Quota – while you do this, yours might charge too.

 

Here’s a video by one of my favourite youtubers Anna Akana on How to talk to people with depression. 

 

Summer 2k17

I’ve always waited for inspiration to kick in before I start writing. BUT BLANK. My mind has been blank. Thus, no update since the last post in April. IT’S JUNE ALINA. But I’ve been meaning to write about my few final days before the summer holidays. So here is the post, that will commemorate my Summer 2k17

 

To start off, it’s difficult being friends with international students. Once it’s summer, they’re all gone. Each and everyone boarding on a different plane going back to places they each call home. Be it Singapore, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Dubai or even Jordan. Spread across the world, all we had was our shared final night in Nottingham. It was my final night at the place where I spent the first few weeks crying and struggling to find comfort in a home away from home, only to find myself surprisingly… dreading to leave.

 

It’s surprising what a foreign place can turn into when you put the right people in it. A room is only a room, but with the right people it’s a home. I discovered my love for my first year of degree reaching it’s peak during the final weeks of exams season. This is where we bond most I guess, while everyone face their own struggles. We tend to depend on each other more for emotional support. The Core Crew (lame I know), but we literally spent everyday with each other – breakfast, lunch, dinner. With piles of books, and empty packets of snacks on the table. Sharing movies in-between revision breaks with 12am quizzes, and 2am naps. Stress was instantaneously paired with laughter.

 

 

Other than my friends, I did fall in love with the place too. I found comfort in Nasi Kukus in front of Tesco, RM4 uber rides to McDonalds, RK Fatima Roti Telur for 3pm breakfast and all-day fluffy Pancakes at Breakfast Club. Although, I hated how far away UNMC was from the city, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned this numerous of times previously. But being in the middle of nowhere do have its perks. One major one as the visible starry sky. The stars that would accompany me during my pitch black walk back to my room from the Core, made me want to study longer into the night. Because the later the night, the darker the sky – hence, more stars. It would scatter all around, and sometimes cluster at one side. At the UNMC bridge, I would stand there for hours feeling so small comparing myself to the universe.

 

 

 

On my last night in UNMC, we did exactly that. But rather than standing on the bridge, we sat at the rooftop. Lied on the metallic roof, with the sounds of sniffling mice and stepping into the unseen puddles on the floor. We stayed there for the whole night. Only left to eat right before dawn. We lied flat on the roof, and tilted our head up to look above and noticed how infinite the universe is – realising the sphere shape of the world. Contemplating the existence of other creatures of God and how lonely it would be if we were the only living thing in the entire universe. Whenever, a bird would fly across we would be startled and, if we were quiet enough we could hear every plane that flew above us.

 

 

 
However, it was Aimin’s Penis shaped constellation, Izran’s philosophy class and Mali’s laughter echoing across the night – that made it an incomparable night. The comfortable silence, of nothing but our heavy breathing accompanied with Coldplay’s music. I also finally found the sole purpose of it, it’s to be played for moments like this. To feel nostalgic for something that hasn’t passed yet, but we know will. We were harmonising to Yellow, and whispered all together “I want something just like this.”   And in that moment, while we stared into “forever” and celebrated each shooting star we didn’t miss – I felt both immortal and mortal all at once.