In 2017

 

I learnt a lot about gratitude this year. To be grateful, is to look at what you have instead of what you do not. I’ve been really grateful for a lot of things in my life, from the simplest thing of having all 4 limbs attached to having the opportunity to move to the UK for my studies. I’m grateful. In Islam, Allah said be grateful and I will give you more. I believe I was drowned in blessings this year. Although it was still a challenging year. I had a lot of things stripped away from me, mainly my home and my comfort. However, that was the catalyst that taught me to be grateful. That’s what taught me to look at all the things I have instead of all the things I did not have. So this final blogpost of the year is a list of things I’m grateful for.

 

I’m grateful for …

 

1. My skin clearing up from acne. Having a full face of acne was really challenging. It ruined my self confidence and really affected how I saw myself. It made me focus on who I was inside instead of how I look like. Although I’m grateful for clear skin, I’m also grateful that I experienced acne, it really emphasised the saying that beauty comes from within for me.

 

2. My family, my parents first and foremost. For sending me off to the UK and settling me in too. For spending their money just for me to experience studying abroad. Be real, they get nothing out of this! They could’ve spent that money on a vacation or anything else that’s more worth while. It demonstrated to me that the love parents have for their children is not only selfless, but full of sacrifices. And not to forget my sister, who has been the nicest to me ever in life – for giving me pep talk through my breakdowns and pushing me to venture out and grow.

 

3. The challenges I faced this year. I’m thankful for all the shit that came my way that forced me to grow. Without being pushed, excused me..SHOVED ( to be exact ) out my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have grown as much as I have this year.

 

4. My health. My community service experience during summer holidays truly taught me to be grateful for what I was born with. For the things I’ve always taken for granted and never thanked god for having. You never know when they can be taken from you, yknow? So I’m thankful for having these blessings for as long as I have.

 

5. The Boys and the leechers of Beeston. I’ve never spoken bout the boys (and Nina) in Nottingham that has taken care of me and reminded me of home while I’ve been here. They made nasi lemak to cure my homesick and more importantly they opened their home to me. Made me feel like I have a family here. To Mario, Hamzah, Haziq, Jack, Mag and Alif (not to forget Nina). Thank you for being family and making me feel like I’m at home.

 

6. The people at home. For never losing touch, and always being there for me no matter the timezone. The late night calls, 5 am FaceTime. Sometimes the accompanying me to walk back home at night calls. The good news and bad news call. Thank you for using technology in the most beneficial way.

 

7. Amirul. To have grown with me, and to continue to grow with me in the future. I can’t thank God enough for giving me you.

 

I want to end 2017, with a massive final Alhamdulillah for every little blessing and unspoken prayers answered.

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Bravery 

I grew up watching Disney movies and Harry Potter and without a doubt most of the time, the main characters were brave (Except for Ron Weasley obviously). Growing up with all these characters, I could never relate. C’mon I did the quiz which Harry Potter house are you, I was put in Hufflepuff !!! Even watching Jennifer Lawrence shoot at arrow right at that Apple, made me shriek. I have no drop of bravery in me. I blame my parents. It’s just not in my blood. My parents have always taught me to avoid the situations, be careful rather than be brave. Fair enough, they want me to survive long enough to be brave one day, right? That’s what I think anyways. It’s not like I have a dragon to fight anytime soon in my life, or compete in the hunger games to survive.

I’m trying this bravery thing out and a movie quote keeps ringing in my ear. All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it. One of my favourite movies – We Bought A Zoo.


I had a period of time where I’d say yes to everything, and gave everything a shot. Then something really bad happened !

 


After that, I learnt that maybe saying yes to everything and giving everything “a shoot” wasn’t the best thing to do. My phobia for snakes got even worse, I can’t see a picture of one without having nightmares about them. I don’t take that much risks anymore – saying yes to them when they asked me to stand on stage was a risk okay! I didn’t know what was going to happen. What were they going to do to me ? What animal was going to be handed to me ? I remember thinking it would be a bird for some reason. But the hell not! It wasn’t. IT WAS A MASSIVE BLOODY SNAKE. It was quite hard after that – to say yes blindly.
Though my life doesn’t require dragon slaying or saving the country for the pride of my family. Life does require a bit a bravery. Even the littlest things, because sometimes the things on the other side can bring you so much joy and is probably worth the risk – like getting to take a picture of the llama first. So inhale courage and exhale fear.

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.

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.