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.
I went to teach refugee kids last week Saturday, and it was such a life changing experience. I went in there, with no teaching experience other than memories of teaching my cousins and friends during Alevels. Thanks to Hari, who nudged me with a “go on – teach” and nothing much else – I did. I stood up infront of all 9 kids with a marker in my trembling hands and introduced myself after they all stood up to greet us “Good Morning Teacher”.
They all just stared at me after that. Each beady eyes, blinked right at me after every few seconds. Waiting for a direction, waiting for a command. I realised being a teacher requires a lot of thinking at the top of your toes moment. I stood there with Khadijah (we were in it together), began with a long “Sooooo……. we’re studying English today”. Slight lift in tone stretching the end syllable, questioning my own command. One of the students gave us the book they use, and we flipped by a random page and thought okay this seems simple let’s start with this. That was my teaching plan. #litteacher. Get it ??? Lit – literature but lit??? I bet they would’ve laughed..
After skipping pages and teaching 3 chapters of English and fractions for maths, the kids kept asking if they’ll see me next week. I WAS SO TOUCHED. They wanted to see me again. Or maybe the just wanted to know what week to skip.. Nonetheless, it was so satisfying when they said “I got it.” Especially when they started with arched eyebrows, scratching their head with their pencil. I tried to apply as much psychology as I could – Vygotsky’s Scalfolding methods. Methods of teaching ADHD kids (even though they weren’t, it’s just to keep their focus on me) and operant conditioning (Skinner).
I’ve always found it selfish to not share your knowledge. It was an honor to be able to teach these children, and share the slight percentage of knowledge that I have. Generally, I’m a blabber mouth, to the point that if I learnt something new I would tell the first person I see after that and pass on the knowledge. Not necessarily teaching, but I always have this need to tell – OTHER PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THIS TOO! Kinda feeling. Trust me, after 33 months of my blabber to Amirul, he can graduate with a Psychology Degree too once I’m done.
These children’s age varies from 12 to 14 years old, mostly from Myanmar. And they’re learning primary 3 up to primary 6 work. It’s upsetting, they have so much potential just not equal opportunity as others. Everyone deserves the right to education. Being brought up in a family where education plays a huge role – (my dad working for the higher education sector in the government). My dad has always taught me the importance of knowledge. It’s the only thing you have that no one else can take away from you. And for others to not have the same opportunity to acquire knowledge as I have ? Makes me grateful for my upbringing and the opportunities I’ve been handed on a silver platter. These kids, they pay RM 20 ringgit per month, for this education and which frankly should be free. Education should be free and to all. But for this foundation called Blue Skies, to gather volunteers every Saturday – our efforts are just a stepping stone.
My dad has been working for decades in the higher education, and day by day I hear and see people complain about the Malaysian Education System – the local universities standards not being of quality. The lack in facilities, and complaints about lecturers being boring. The main aim of the government is to provide opportunities for all the children in Malaysia to be able to attend higher education. Education for all, no matter the social status, and opportunity. Everything else is secondary.
Let’s leave with a note my dad once advised my brother when he first got Mi’qael – the most important thing you have to provide for your children, is their education. It’s an investment for their future. Start up the bank account, the moment the child is born and you won’t regret it.
Broga Hill – last minute trip ! Not prepared at all, but found an awesome Uber driver who picked us up at 4.30 AM and willingly guided us through the hill as he called it his playground. It was so risky, trusting an uber driver at such hour. Alhamdulillah it turned out well, he’s even a photographer who shot Malaysia’s Astronaut guy’s wedding. Crazy right? So he took the pictures of us as a group. Thank you Randy!
Monopoly deal – card games were what we played to kill time. Courtesy of Mali. (I still don’t know how to play)
My best friend’s birthday ! Aimin Omar Ali – We celebrated midnight by going to TREC the night before his birthday for the Nottingham’s charity event of Lock and Key (where all the girls get a lock, and boys gets a key and you’re meant to find your match). Pretty cute way to meet if you were single. But oh god the innuendos !!!
Picture of first day of sem 2. S02E01
Mahlstrom gear launch party – I was Amirul’s +1 for this event. The room was filled with tetesterone that night, Mel and I hovered just next to the buffet table eating away nibblets trying not to be awkward. The collection of the sportswear were of great quality, (as I am told by Amirul and Mateen). You can get more info – @mahlstromgear on instagram.
Valentine’s Night – First time celebrating Valentine’s Day with Amirul. And I got to say, never doing it again. Everywhere was packed ! I didn’t know Malaysia took Valentine’s Day so seriously. It was crowded everywhere, but we did manage to get a nice dinner in the end. I got flowers from him, after a long time of me saying I didn’t want any more flowers. And I gave him his favourite donut, a card (YODA BEST) and a luggage tag with a picture of Yoda on it. Since that week he was trying to convince me to watch Star Wars… Atlas now I actually know who Yoda is. Good enough right?
Highrollers – how did I go through a whole sem without half of yall ?
I have a friend, Alia Soraya, an aspiring living the dream fashion journalists who would pop up out of nowhere in the group chat and bombard us with random questions. I thought, I would publish this one. Make it a Q & A series, interesting no ?
- What’s your philosophy in life?
You are not truly living unless you’ve changed other lives.
- What was the best phase in your life?
My gap year phase. The search for myself phase. 2016- the whole year was a phase. Discovering my style, my individuality, my self confidence, my skills, myself.
- What was the worst phase in your life?
The cringe worthy year of 2011. When I was 15? Thinking I’m an adult when I truly was not. Obviously. Wearing clothes that didn’t fit me, trying to conform to a group that I myself didn’t understand. The year I was running away from who I truly was.
- Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up?
Getting a tertiary degree was never a question, having education be the most important aspect of life was what I was taught. But at this age, 21 this year.. my younger self would’ve expected something far greater than just studying. Like Justin Bieber was famous at what .. 16? Malala won a nobel prize at 17? What have I achieved? I just wanted something greater to do.. well I saw myself doing something much greater than this.
- What makes you feel accomplished?
The feeling of not knowing the time and realising it’s time to go home to head to bed after a long tiring day.
- Would you ever take back someone who cheated?
- When do you think a person is ready for marriage?
Once they’ve truly fallen in love with themselves and is willing to share that love with someone else.
- Who is that one person you can talk to about just anything?
- Do you judge a book by its cover?
Yeap, literally – I like minimal book covers if not artistic ones. Or old looking ones. People – I start judging once they start talking. It’s like judging the blurb.
- Are you confrontational?
I’m confrontational if i believe that’s the best way to handle the situation.
- Do you believe in second chances?
Hopeless romantic in me – yes. Realist in me – no
- What did your past relationship teach you?
Don’t be blind. You’re worth much more than that. He ain’t all that.
- What do you think about when you’re by yourself?
Why am I alive… why is my soul put into this body… why this body… why can’t I stop eating
In 2017, I begin my year prepping for my Semester exams. Great start huh? Sitting around, writing notes, talking to myself trying to understand everything while biting my pen. I’ve spent 90% of the time spent with Aimin and Nate. 2 lost souls that have made my time in Notts the best of days. It’s amazing how we got real close, real quick. In the span of A WEEK !!! Group chat named Little ho ho ho.
They’re the life of me in Notts. Waking up at 3pm, and meeting up for breakfast, studying psychology – discussing on how to change courses when we hit a bump in Cognitive that’s impossible to understand. We just instantly click. Lying in Nate’s room, sleeping on the inflatable bed while terribly singing songs while Nate plays the guitar. Drinking tea at midnight. They make me excited to go there which is the feeling I’ve craved for.
Being in Uni is hard. Half of my things are at home, the other half in my dorm room. Closet split in half, the other things.. well, I buy two of everything just to make life easier. I’ve felt half hearted, not completely feeling at home wherever I am. The moment I get comfortable at home, I have to go back to uni. The struggle is more emotional than physical really. But yeah, I’ve found things to be excited for both at home and at uni.
What else happened in Jan..
Debbie left 😦 She went back to Aussieland. I might not see her till next year?? (Remember its 2017 now) She’s not coming back for next christmas or mid year. So that’s gonna be hard. It’s hard having your best friends living in another country, so far away from you. It was so nice having her here, someone I have to talk to about anything. Not having to fill them up about the past to explain the present things, or not having the need to explain who I am as a person for them to understand. That was Debbie. Known me from 2011? But with internet what is distance right? I still have Mimi though, so it’s good. He’s not going anywhere.
But Mimi, started uni. Even though his uni is close by to mine, we only meet up on weekends. So far, we’ve met up every weekend catching up with stories and life update. We’re really close, it’s kinda funny. Mind you, I met this boy at tuition (after school classes). We had no mutual friends, not in the same school, nothing. Would just meet after school at night, for classes that lasts 1-2 hours. Yet, he’s the closest thing I have other than Amirul right now. Coming over at night, catching up with not only me but my family. So comfortable, lying on the floor talking about his crush of the week finishing up the ribena at home. Not knowing when to leave, until it’s just the two of us outside while he smokes and I listen.
I guess all this reminiscing is just my lesson of the month, the importance of friendship, great friendships to be exact. The friends you would live in an empty room with. The ones who would make the best out of nothing, but just of each other. How important it is to have friends to make an empty space a home just by filling it up with laughter. I’m thankful for these friends of mine.
This is probably the time for me to reminisce memories made during 2016, and make new years goal for 2017 right?
IF 2016 WAS A MOVIE…
It’ll flash to the moment where..
- I finished A Levels and got my results
- Got Accepted into amazing uni’s but rejected (this should be the downfall/big mistake part of the movie -self conflict)
MONTAGE – Gap Year Activity
- Going to Australia alone
- Working at CLEO
- Lying in bed watching nothing but Sex and The City for MONTHS AND MONTHS routing and crying over Carrie and Big’s love
- Using my allowance for nothing else but eat good food and shopping.
- Revamping my style/closet
- Redecorated my room – painted/bought new furnitures
- Brought Ninnah around Malaysia
- Started on the 70s Show, New Girl, Elementary, This is Us, Empire.
- Went into University of Nottingham
- Moved out of home
- DIE trying to figure out how to cope with uni
- DIE trying to figure out how to live alone
- Plagiarism phobia
*Zooms out video of Amirul making me laugh in the car with loud music and wind in my hair*
END 2016 MOVIE
2017 goals ? Nothing. I’m not setting any new year’s resolution this year. I did fulfill last year’s new year resolution though. I did give more last year and was definitely more generous – i think I’ll keep it as an everyday thing now. Not just for 2016.
Bid farewell to 2016.