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.
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.

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.



Lit teacher 

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. 

Alevels 101 for SPM Graduates

What you should think about in choosing your Pre U course

  1. What are you interested in? Law? Mass Com?
  2. Where do you want to go? Do you want to study abroad?
  3. Do you prefer coursework or exams?

I’m only familiar with the international pre-u courses such as Alevels, SAM, IB, and CPU. But here i’m gonna talk about Alevels, (based on my own personal experience) and hope it helps.

Why I chose Alevels?

I didn’t know what course to take. I didn’t want to tie myself down to only learning 1 subject, but instead to explore different interests of mine. With Alevels I can take up to 4 subjects. So I took, Law, Psychology and Literature in English. With these 3 subjects, I had an open road for my degree. I could go with either one of these subjects. But kid you not, just because Alevels have 3 subjects doesn’t mean its easy.

“Eleeeh, 3 subject je dia belajar. Senang la, SPM 8 subject.” I hear this a lot. It’s also a common reason why people took Alevels. Please, 3 subjects doesn’t mean its easy. Nearly half of the students in my class dropped out after the first Sem. The 3/4 subjects you take, will teach you in depth the introduction. For example, in Law, I learnt the English Legal System, Contract Law and Tort Law. I learnt to analyse 6 books for my Literature in English, from Shakespeare to Chaucer. For Psychology, I learnt different studies, and also went deep into Psychology and Abnormality, and Psychology and Education. ALL IN 18 MONTHS.

Alevels is exam based. There’s no course work, no presentations, none of that. It’s 100% exam. 50% AS, and 50% A2 – these are the level. There’s fast track, which is 18 months. Which is what most colleges offer. There is also, the normal duration of 2 years. In which you learn your AS for a year, and A2 for the other. Even though only your final exams count, doesn’t mean you can slack off and study last minute. Well, not if you want really impressive results.

With a certificate of Alevels, you can go anywhere in the world. ANYWHERE. It is recognised everywhere, from UK to US. This was also another reason I chose Alevels, I love the option. The wide road of opportunities. Most people who do Alevels wants to go to UK, but there are the few who wants to go to the prestigious universities in US with Alevels. It’s easier they say?? I don’t know about that. You can also continue locally, to Universities that are from the UK or you can try apply to the local universities like UM, or UiTM. Though, the chances are slim because they skim through foundation, diploma, metric, and all first before Alevels. Unless your results are tremendous.

My experience with Alevels. HELL. Once you do alevels, you abandon your social life. Well, a part of it. HAHA, I don’t really know how I survived. The reason I didn’t quit was because I didn’t want to waste my parents’ money. But also, I was really determined going in. My father said “you can only go to UK, if you get into the top Universities.” So I googled the rankings of universities and their entry requirements, and aimed for AAB for the course in Philosophy and Psychology, at University of Warwick. IM- POSS- SI- BLE. Was all I thought about. But I studied in my own way, and got out of Alevels alive, even made my parents proud. Which was my main aim.


I got 3As and an offer to Warwick University for Philosophy and Psychology. But I decided to stay here and go to Nottingham University for Psychology, just to be closer to home. And ease my way there.

Some Tips in choosing your pre u course.

  1. ALWAYS follow your interest. Don’t just do something your parents want you to do, it’s always going to be a struggle when your passion is not there. That passion is what motivates you at 3am doing your revisions.
  2. Keep in mind your next step. If you don’t want to study abroad, taking alevels isn’t necessary. You should take diploma, or foundation.
  3. Study at your own pace, and if you feel like it. When you have the mood to study you can study up to 2am, but when you don’t. That 20 mins read won’t even go in your head.
  4. Pre U is kinda important. Don’t fuck it up, you’ll regret it if you’re stuck in a shitty university for your degree because you didn’t take pre u seriously. This is a huge chunk of how your future looks like.
  5. This is the time you find your people. Because its where you are put together with people of the same interest. So explore.
  6. This is the time your find yourself. As much as education is important, take this opportunity to learn yourself too.