In the UK I can sit in the middle of a park alone, listening to chill music while reading a book. I can go for a hike alone on the small hill near my house. I can take a long walk by the beach alone. And nobody would bat an eye. I can do things alone without worrying that people will think I’m weird.
In Malaysia, I still think there’s a huge stigma against enjoying your own “me time”. When sitting at a cafe / restaurant alone there’s still that fear of being judged or pitied sometimes. Some people have major anxiety even walking on their university campus alone, for fear that they will seem weird or that they don’t have any friends. Solo travel is definitely not a huge thing for Malaysians – especially not within the country itself. I sincerely hope this will change.
Growing up as a female, I notice that a lot of people look up to white men from the West as role models, particularly within business. As a marketer and media practitioner I #ChooseToChallenge the norm by advocating for better representation of women within various fields, highlighting and celebrating the achievements of women – particularly those who even more marginalized by being women of colour, differently abled, from “developing” countries, wearing religious / cultural garments, etc.
I’m happy to have played a small part in two #InternationalWomensDay campaigns for this year – one for the University of Edinburgh Online Learning and the other for National Aspiration & Leadership Summit (NALS Malaysia)!
When you’re a young adult it’s really easy to get caught up in other people’s definitions of happiness, when you see what other people are doing in their lives.
As a marketer, I’ve learnt so much about how businesses sell you insecurity, telling you that you NEED to have X and Y and Z to feel complete. That’s how they make money.
If you’re satisfied freelancing doing what you love instead of getting a higher salary in a Fortune 500 company, carry on.
If you want to be the first in your small hometown to get into an Ivy League university even though everyone discourages you, go chase your dreams.
If your life ambition is to get married early and have 8 kids you will love unconditionally, go for it lol.
If you’re delightfully living your best life single travelling the world with good friends, ignore the peer pressure to find love.
If you’re happy driving an Axia or using an Android or renting a house when everyone else is telling you that you’re missing out by not owning a BMW or an iPhone or buying a house, you do you.
You are being told every day that This and This and This is important… stand your ground and say, “No, THIS is what’s important”. Remind yourself constantly to define happiness by your own terms (as long as you’re a responsible and decent human being of course), not by other people’s definitions of it.
I used to look down on Canva and deem it to be for amateurs. Thought that no self-respecting designer would use such a program. Now I realize how “sombong lagi angkuh” (arrogant) I was being.
Now, I rely on it so much. After all, I’m more of a marketer than a designer – I’m a masters student juggling a part-time digital marketing job at the University of Edinburgh Information Services Group. I need to create visually stunning designs quickly and efficiently.
Over the past few years Canva has added so many beautiful designs, made the interface super intuitive and user-friendly, and are constantly innovating to keep up with current trends (animations, GIFs, etc)!
So, you’re dreaming of studying abroad like Teme Abdullah or Cupcake Aisyah. Or maybe you just read too many Hlovate novels as a teen. But you don’t know where to start.
I regularly get questions about studying abroad from fellow Malaysians, so after 2 and a half years of great demand, I have tried my best to summarize things I’m usually asked about into a single blog post.
First of all, here’s a very brief history about my tertiary education:
I’m Arifah. I did a Diploma in Media and Communication at UiTM. I got a nice CGPA and extracurriculars, and although it wasn’t easy, managed to secure a convertible scholarship to do a BA Media, Communication and Cultural Studies at Newcastle University, UK. I am now doing a MSc Marketing a the University of Edinburgh, UK, also on a convertible scholarship.
What this blog post covers:
A) Useful resources for those wanting to study abroad
B) Scholarship listings / alternative ways to get funding
C) FAQ about university / scholarship applications
D) FAQ about life as a student in the UK
Disclaimer: This blog post is not really intended for post-SPM students, although some resources may be of use. My intended audience is more to students who have finished Pre-U/diploma/matriculation/STPM, OR aspiring postgraduate students. If you’re looking for post-SPM tips I suggest these resources: (1) (2)
But before that, I believe that doors will open much more easily for you to study abroad you if you have good intentions. Ask yourself, why do you want to fly overseas?
pursue knowledge with a sincere heart
contribute to the society and the world
make your parents and family proud
if you are a Muslim, to increase your faith by seeing the world
TikTok is always associated with dancing videos, humour and overplayed songs – but did you know you can tailor your feed to your interests? It has a really clever algorithm that quickly learns what kind of things you like and creates a personalized “For You” page. From my experience, their algorithm is way more accurate and addictive than other social media platforms. So if you’re into quick recipes or cleaning or resin art or Islamic reminders… TikTok has it all!
As nerdy as it sounds, I have carefully tailored my TikTok feed so that it is full of study motivation, productivity tips, marketing hacks, and business advice.
I’m not an model student who just wakes up every day with a burning desire to go to Zoom class and study… I need motivation. Before the pandemic, I did watch motivational YouTube videos occasionally, but I could also get motivated from socializing with my course mates and seeing people study in the library. Now, Scotland’s under lockdown… so… yeah…………..
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been rather obsessed lately with this one K-drama called Start-Up. I have never bought K-drama merch before, but now I have a Team Ji-Pyeong sticker on my laptop. The drama is about young millennials trying to succeed in the fast-paced business world through a start-up incubator called Sandbox – competing to become the next Apple or Amazon or Google.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead]
I wouldn’t say it’s the best K-drama ever, especially as I wasn’t too happy with the direction of the plot during the second half, especially as they focused too much on a messy love triangle (petition for a spin-off about Ji-Pyeong!!!). However, I have never been more emotionally invested in a K-drama and enjoyed theorizing with the rest of the fandom.
From the business side of things, there is definitely so much to learn. Watching this drama motivates me WAY more to succeed in the business world than reading academic journals, haha.
You’re not Malaysian if you don’t know who Khairul Aming is. Known for his 1-minute Instagram video recipes especially during the fasting month, he is one of the most legendary content creators of our time. His recipes are appealing because of a) the entertaining narration, b) beautiful cinematography, c) not being less than 1 minute long, and d) because he uses ingredients and tools that most people have in their kitchen. He spent 4 years consistently building his niche fanbase of 2.7 million followers, the same amount a famous artist would have. Honestly, I owe a LOT of my basic cooking skills today to him. All his content is completely free.
He recently released the first batch of his first product Sambal Nyet (chilli paste), sold out within just 54 minutes – resulting in RM139,000 in sales (RM13.9 x 10,000 bottles). THAT is the result of YEARS of perseverance in personal branding content creation. He’s finally enjoying the fruit of his hard work. Shows that you should be patient and not demand immediate results.
For the past two years I joined the exciting countdown with the crowds by the Newcastle Quayside before watching blazing, colourful fireworks soar up into the air to celebrate fresh beginnings. For 2021, I just video called Nini from my bed (hi if you are reading this!).
I had plans with friends for the next morning but unfortunately they got cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances. But the sky was blue and I wasn’t going to waste a blue sky day. So I spontaneously decided to venture alone to the Salisbury Crags, a series of cliffs next to Arthur’s Seat (an extinct volcano) – the general area is called Holyrood Park. I had never been to the Holyrood Park – surprisingly it was less than 30 minutes away from my flat. What I didn’t know is that is was SO. MAGNIFICENTLY. BEAUTIFUL. Subhanallah indeed. I mean, I’ve seen pictures of people climbing Arthur’s Seat and stuff but they mostly showed pictures at the top of the hill looking down below (and views never look that nice in pictures). I did a solo hike up the Crags and enjoyed it immensely. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
I spent the last day of 2020 watching Pixar’s latest film, Soul. I feel like I wasn’t as deeply moved by it as other people. The reviews were so good and people were talking about how they were weeping and contemplating their life decisions, that at the end of the movie I was thinking, “Is that it?”. I prefer 3 Idiots instead, which is one of my favourite movies of all time, if not my absolute favourite. But I was impressed at the amount of representation of people of colour, in normal everyday spaces like classrooms and grocery stores – something severely lacking in Western films.
However, I do appreciate it’s central message very much – about how you shouldn’t rigidly limit your life to one single purpose, but you have to appreciate the beauty of just living. Joe Gardner is a struggling middle-aged music school teacher desperately waiting for his big break. He eats, breathes, and lives jazz – he makes sure everyone he meets knows that he was born to play jazz. But thanks to an unborn soul called 22, by the end of the movie, he realizes that jazz shouldn’t be his sole purpose in life. He now appreciates the beauty in everyday mundane things, like walking and sky-watching.
It’s an incredible lesson to be conveyed, especially to people like me who are obsessed with their passion or calling.