Homesick. 

I’m way overdue for this post, and a lot has been happening. I am physically and emotionally drained. Through out this process I realise I underestimate myself a lot. This seeds from being underestimated my whole life. My parents never think I’m capable of being alone, especially not surviving alone across the world without them or anyone else to rely on. I don’t blame them, I’ve also never had the chance to be alone. I guess they trust Amirul, they always have. But Amirul and I are 2 hours apart. It’s not like I burn my finger and call him to kiss my booboo. I mean I can, but it’ll be healed by the time he gets here. 
I’ve gotten comfortable being alone. I always have been okay with being physically alone, I mean I loved eating alone and being in my room alone before this. But now it’s a whole new level of alone. I don’t have anyone else to rely on other than myself. It’s a bit lonely sometimes. Everyone’s a stranger, the whole city is a foreign place but I find comfort in knowing that everyone else in my shoes are also feeling the same. In that case, I’m not the only one, am I?
Sophia made me meet up with someone she knew from KL, in her words “it’ll be nice if you meet him, you’ll have that homey connection”. And I did. It was exactly that. René and I bonded over missing Nasi Lemak Village Park, and maggi goreng. Planning for Asian night, and also pizza night. We only had each other anyways. Until, Nina came to the equation. I texted her randomly to go to a spoken word workshop that I didn’t want to go alone to. Though we didn’t find the room the workshop was in, we did however continue to call each other up everyday since then. Nina + René + me = Skwa. (A typo René made in saying squad but that’s what we call ourselves now) 


Other than them, my housemates (Mary, Amber and Alex) as Amirul says “absolute angels”. They are ! They taught me how to use the dishwasher, sent me to the train station and also would pick me up at the tram stop when I get to scared to walk in the dark by myself. I am blessed to have them as my housemates, they’re so warm and welcoming. Burrito night, just dance and also charades. I can’t ask for better housemates. They’re as good as it gets. 
I realise, throughout this experience Home is without question where the heart is. I feel at home when I’m in London, I feel at home when I’m with Nina and René looking for desserts at 12am. I feel at home when I Skype Aimin and Nate, Sophia and Sabreena, and ofcourse Amirul. However, I feel like I left my heart across the world at home when I Skype my family. 
Home is where the heart is. 

Advertisements

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. 

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.

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. 

Q & A #1

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 ?

  1. What’s your philosophy in life?
    You are not truly living unless you’ve changed other lives.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Would you ever take back someone who cheated?
    No
  7. 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. 
  8. Who is that one person you can talk to about just anything?
    Amirul
  9. 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.
  10. Are you confrontational?
    I’m confrontational if i believe that’s the best way to handle the situation.
  11. Do you believe in second chances?
    Hopeless romantic in me – yes. Realist in me – no
  12. What did your past relationship teach you?
    Don’t be blind. You’re worth much more than that. He ain’t all that.
  13. 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