Saturday, 14 May 2016

Studying abroad: Expectations Vs Reality, Pros & Cons

So, as the final semester of my course is closing in, I guess it's time for me to sum up my experience of studying abroad. I myself have always wondered what it was like, until I got experienced it first hand.

So... time for a #throwback post!

So, March 2015! I finally graduated from Raffles Kuala Lumpur!
I took Advanced Diploma in Fashion Design and the course spanned two years and three months.

It was an extravagantly joyful day for me and I came home with so many bouquets
Thanks to friends and family to came to support me!
Shoutout to Rachel, Xuan, Vinnie, Edward, Mei Yen for the flowers! So touched!

I thought I was like "done" and "graduated" but boy was I wrong.

HAHAHA.. Four months later, after a period of holidaying in the sun, my dad popped the question. 
I just got back from Krabi and it was in July. YES I spent four months in holiday lolol.
He was like "So when are you going to apply for uni in UK?"

And I was like. "Hah?" HAHAHHAAH
Like wut. I didn't know it was in the charts for me.

So after considering if I wanted to study abroad, I decided to take the plunge.
Mainly because my dad presented me with the opportunity and I know if I want to do it I better do it at this age. There's no better time than now. I guess I was also curious to experience what it's like since I've never been apart from my family let alone in another continent? My friends did it, my brother did it when he was 17 (in the states) so I thought it was quite the norm.

Honestly I am quite a homebody and I didn't know it until I went to study abroad.

HAHAH. I know some people don't really miss home at all when they study abroad, but I do.
I feel displaced, the feeling like you're supposed to go back I guess.
I really related to movies like "The Martian" and "Interstellar".

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration because they're stucked in another planet and I'm just in another country. Like 10500 kilometers away.

Most of the time. I just missed my family and my dog and Edward.
And my friends. And the food. And the weather.

HAHAHAHHAHA who am I kidding.

During the first couple of months, the air of optimism and excitement lingers prominently.
It's like a fresh start and everything is new.

Then it fades and you realize you're in it for the long haul and you're like "Oh".


But the biggest thing that studying abroad taught me, I guess, was being independent.

Before studying abroad, I was more cocooned and I knew my family was always there. 
I've never taken an airplane flight alone before. I'm rubbish with directions, too.

But now I plan my own trips abroad and find my ways with transport. Largely thanks to Google Map. HAHAHA. I also recommend for travelling. So last minute right.

I also became more thrifty. Southampton is quite cheap actually compared to London and Bristol. You can easily eat out for 5 pounds here, whereas in Bristol it would be 10 pounds and above. Ai Lynn also influenced me to be more cheapskate because she's really good with saving money. Lol. She's the type where the money in the bank can last for ages. 

I go to places like Lidl for groceries and Primark for clothes. Like, total broke student budget. Travelling also motivated me to save money because I know if I go back to Malaysia the prices would be crazy if I wanted to visit any European country.

I also learnt how to cook. Every year, my new year's resolution would have "Learn how to cook". 
And every year, it never happened. Until now! HAHA. In Malaysia, food was always around. In UK, if I don't plan out my meals I'm going to starve so I was forced to learn.

The first two weeks I had the Midas touch, 
except everything I touched burnt instead of turning into gold.
I burned a pizza in the oven because I didn't know the timer wasn't working.
I burned rice in the microwave rice cooker because I set the temperature too high and even the plastic melted. I burned my egg when frying it on a stainless steel saucepan.

I was really a total retard and a trainwreck in the kitchen. I didn't even know how to fry an egg. 
The fire on the stove always made me shout back in Malaysia and there was one time my previous maid almost burnt down the whole house because something went wrong with the gas. 

Luckily, the stove in my student accommodation was an induction cooking stove. 
So, no crazy fire. HAHHAA. 

I had a lot of free time and a lot of it was spent learning to cook.

Pineapple Fried Rice

I actually cut a fresh pineapple for this lol.

Kimchi Fried Rice after discovering Asian supermarkets.

Stuff like kimchi, tom yam, oyster sauce and hello panda and wang wang biscuits are really hard to find in normal supermarkets.

Stir fried noodles


My favourite ingredient is egg! There's just so many ways to cook them.
My favourite is sunny side up because I'm vanila like that.

So! I'm really glad I learnt how to cook. 

I also learnt to clean. Before this, it was really bad. I didn't pick up after myself because I know my housekeeper would do it the next morning. 

But after coming here, I learnt how to vacuum, do laundry, do the dishes, scrub the toilet bowl.
Occasionally, I also get down on all fours and scrub my toilet floor. And there's actually a sense of satisfaction found in cleaning. It wasn't so hard too, because it was only picking up after myself.

The friends you meet

Well well! Making friends when studying abroad is different from the ones you make at home.
Basically everyone is going through the same thing, so it's like.. we're it in together I guess?
Sleepovers are also common. HAHHA. Because there's no like any curfew set.

Studying abroad also lets you meet people from different culture/countries.
I think seeing other people's culture really broadens up the mind. Suddenly, you realize that the world is so big and varied and different. From Norway, from UK, from Singapore, from Iraq, from Taiwan. 

Friendship without borders, I guess?!


I've been into London more than my hands could count lol.


Italy with Abby and Jasmine in.. December!

Florence Duomo

Cinque Terra


This was during my impromptu flight back to Malaysia.
The infamous one where I bought flight tickets that afternoon, and went to the airport the next day.
Like seriously I amaze myself with my impulsiveness.

It was during Christmas Eve and my dad was like "oh you have a long holiday why don't you come home?". AND IM LIKE. Before that you told me not to come home! HHAHAHA

This nasi lemak from Village Park is so good seriously I am drooling.

This was in March! Paris with Mum

Outside the Louvre where I spent like eight hours in there because the museum was so huge and there was so much to see.

Eiffel Tower! This was the Sienna River Cruise.

Edward came to UK to study too, along the way.
HAHHA. There were a lot of uncertainties regarding whether or not he would come,
and it was kind of like an emotional rollercoaster.

The long distance relationship period felt long but it was only for like four months actually.
HAHA. So dramatic now that I think about it. I guess it felt worse during that time because everything seem so futile. I didn't know I was going to impromptu-ly go back to Malaysia and I didn't know he would really make it to the UK.

Studying abroad also taught me a thing or two about long distance relationship, I guess.
Actually, secretly, I was kind of wondering how we would do in LDR because we were quite attached to each other back in Malaysia. Like seeing each other everyday that type of annoying couple. HAHAHAHHAHAHA.

Ya. I guess a relationship is something that is always growing and evolving. So studying abroad taught me how to be in a relationship but also be my own person. You know how sometimes you become too attached and you kind of lose yourself?

Studying abroad taught me it's okay to be attached, but also that you have to be confident in your relationship even when you can't see each other face to face.

We made a very very impromptu trip to Budapest which we booked through
How apt is that?! This was in.. March. 

Mmm. I'm really grateful for being able to travel and experience other people's cultures. 

I used to only go anywhere abroad with my family until 2015. 
Studying abroad is something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, too.
Just like when you transition from high school to college, etc.

These periods push you and stretch your limit and by doing so you can really learn a lot.
Because, if you are so safe and cocooned all the time, you're only experiencing what you're comfortable with.

I do admire those people who use their savings to start a business, or contrarily leave everything and start backpacking around the world. I admire people who have the guts to chase what they want. 

I admire my dad too, for always being so persistent and hardworking.
My dad did not come from a very well-educated background and he had to work really hard for everything he had. He used to work two jobs to have enough money to buy milk for my brother when he was a baby. It amazes me how far my dad has come given the circumstances he had.

He told me back when he was in his youth, rollerskating was really popular.
He tried to save up, but by the time he had enough money... it was too late.
Rollerskating wasn't trendy anymore. 

And then he told me he used to have like 30 cents for breakfast and lunch, so he either has enough for breakfast or lunch. And he used to pick flowers to eat!!

I think for my generation, we were raised my parents who had gone through a lot of hardship, so our parents try very hard for us not to have the same childhood they had. So we end up being a little spoilt and sheltered.

Growing up, I never ever felt like I didn't have enough. Whatever I needed or wanted, my dad would always provide. That was just that. He would provide without complaints, without reservations. So for that, I am really grateful to have the best daddy in the world.

And for me. Lol. I better giddy my ass up and think about my future. 

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