Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Anti depressants

Yes, I was diagnosed a little bit crazy. Okay, not really, but nearly, anyway. It was during my placement year in industry. When the saying goes "bad things comes in three's", they were not wrong. Firstly, I was attacked (well, not quite attacked, but it was full on police case and it affected me real bad at that time), and then I received a news that my grandad died, they informed me 4 days after the funeral. Finally, my cat fish jumped out of the tank and when I found him, he was already dried up dead.
When I got the news about my grandad, I was still strong about it. Don't get me wrong, I loved him very much, but I was being an adult about it. People have to go sometime, so I cried, and got on with my life. I guess I was wrong about being "adult" and strong about it. 3 days after the news, I got home from work and found that my fish had committed suicide, I broke down and cried and if I remember correctly, I didn't stop crying for days...My then bf was getting worried, he and a few of my friends tried to cheer me up. My boss even gave me a week off to get myself settled. That week, I decided to see a psychologist. I was already throwing whatever food I eat back out- near enough bulemic. (or a hyperchondriac)
The first meeting was a drop by at the office (in the University I was still in). She asked me a few question about work, about my finals the next year etc, thought I could be stress. But her initial comments then was that I was fine. I seemed fine to her,just a little sad about my grandad and my fish.
So, she gave me a questionare to fill up, and was hoping that she wont have to schedule a weekly/daily time for me. Not that she was busy, infact she was, but she mentioned that if in th records shows that I'd have to see her on a weekly/daily basis, that means I would be in "that" (crazy- though she didnt use the exact word,but thats what came to my mind when she tried to explain it) category.

A few das after the filling in the questionare, I receive a call from the nurse asking me to come in for a doctor's appoinment. And when I saw the psychologist, she old me that I needed to see her on weekly basis, and that I needed to be on medications to calm me down. The whole process would last 6 months. The meds and the "therapy".

That was how I was frequently visiting Boots to get my monthly pack of Fluoxetine.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Frightening weekend...

So I was in London. I stayed over at Leez's place. She arranged for her then bf and his friends to go out to then most happening club in London called Hanover Grand. They were regulars there, but that didn't mean we didn't have to Que up to get it like if we wre back home. No one is treated "specially" here even if you flash your pound notes....
Anyway, after an hour or so freezing our a^&e off, we finally managed to get in. Leez and I went straight to the ladies room to obviously empty our bladder, the lads bought a couple of drinks and unfortunately, we didn't get a table, so we had to hang out at the bar.
Finally, we met some other people from home (our own country) and they agreed to let us join them. And the thing I could remember one girl said to me "hey, I remember Ive met you before today back home. But you were skinnier then"

wow. thanks for being the typical Malaysian who has to point out every single kilo's you've gained (or lost).

Anyway, about an hour later, I was trying to talk to Leez, she was stood at the bar, and the next minute, she was on the floor. She collapse and fainted.

Her bf then called for help, the bouncers came within 2 seconds, took her outside to get fresh air and rang the ambulance. The questions came gushing out towards me.

Was she taking anything? What drugs was she on? How old is she? Does she have any allergies..?

I was quite scared. Luckily, it was purely alcohol, it wasn't drugs. They made me unbutton her top, they wouldn't let her boyfriend near her (security reasons) and there was no lady present except me.
They then found her fake ID card (we had to be 21 to enter the club) obviously, she was only 18 then.
And that was when I thought it was the end of my world.

They told me off, they asked me for my ID, the said we could have been sent to the police lad di dah....

And then the ambulance came.

I got in the ambulance with her as they wouldn't let her boyfriend through for some reason. When we got to the hospital, she had to get her stomach pumped.

So why did she faint? Well, it was because she didn't eat before she consumed alcohol. and yes, I see that she was very skinny then, so I don't think she eats anything, not breakfast, lunch or dinner.


And guess what? we heard, starting from then on, NO MALAYSIANS were allowed to enter Hanover Grand unless they carry their passport, and not just the student ID.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009



Christmas back home is normally just a day off watching telly the whole day. Nothing really changes back home. Its just like any other Sunday’s except there are a lot of Christmassy movies with all this little “moral of the story is….” type of movie..
Anyway, the first Christmas in England was pretty much the same as back home. Except, it was with snow…My whole family came over to visit, and we had a hectic Shopping scene for Christmas. There was even a bomb scare in Marks and Spencer on Boxing day, and I will never forget the look on my mom’s face when we all walked out of the shopping arcade with our shopping baskets. Everyone else started to put their “shopping” in their handbags/ other shopping bags, but mom insisted we wait for the alarm to stop and the security to let us back in to pay for the shopping stuffs. I shall leave it at that…

Anyway, the consequent years, was not so similar. I started celebrating Christmas like any other Englishman (or women) would. (I actually meant: how any English students would celebrate Christmas) coz most of their mom’s would be in the kitchen cooking Christmas Roast. Anyway, I was invited to stay over at LD’s house, since I was his gf at that time, and his mom and dad really wanted him home for Christmas.
And Ive never received so many presents in my life. I woke up the next morning (I was sleeping in his sister’s room, she was on the bed, I was on the extra mattress) and there was 2 sacks- and it was huge, next to the door. It was as though Santa came and left a sack for each of us. I was quite confused; I mean why would I have so many presents? It must have been for LD instead, and they (his parents) accidentally put it in the room Im staying in instead.
But there was a card with my name on it.
I didn’t want to be rude, so I opened the card first. And it was for me. I let out a squeal, and I guess that woke Kerry up. She then screamed when she saw her sack of pressies. 
Anyway, before I share what my presents were for that year, let me go back one night before Christmas morning….
What they (the English) normally does is they would meet their friends in the pub for a few (not overly drunken stage) drinks. They would chit chat, be merry, talk about what they think they’d get from their parents etc and what they got for their parents, gf’s. bf’s etc. And when they get home, most of them will have a glass of wine with their families, to share the story of what they talked about in the pub.
Anyway, the next morning, after opening presents, after breakfast (a light one, ie cup of tea and a piece of toast) again, they would go to the pub, but this time with their dad’s/uncle’s etc. The mom’s would stay at home to complete Christmas roast.
(drinking in the pub at 11 am, can you imagine that?) Anyway, they would then head home for lunch, ie Christmas roast lunch- yummy!, drink wine (or sometimes champagne) and then watch some telly. And probably a visit to the pub, to discuss their pressies. Fun eigh? Oh, you have to wear the red Santa hat to the pub during Christmas eve and Christmas Day... :)
So what did I get that year? Socks, Gloves, Scarfs, tops, knickers, choclates, wallet, perfume and Im sure there was more, but I cant remember now…Basically, it was the complete Christmas gift one could ever asked for as presents.

Anyway, the year after that, I was no longer with LD, I was with CJ. And CJ’s parents were the sweetest Parents In Law (if they ended up as my inlaws that is) a girl could ever have. They didn’t give me expensive presents, nor did I to them, but they always gave me meaningful ones. And until today, I will always get his mom a present for her birthday, and some small gifts for them for Christmas.

Well, what was the best Christmas present I got when I was there? It would have to be perfumes. Every year, it was either, Moshino or JPG, or CK….And they always come with nice Christmas boxes and with extra gifts…. How lovely!

Where did I celebrate Christmas? London in 1996, Malvern (Worcestershire) in 1997, Liverpool in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trip to the family planning...

A letter from the NHS came through for me on my 19th birthday. It simply states:

please come for a free pep smear test. (I guess its free because its covered by the NHS)

I wasn't sure what it meant, as I have never done it before, though I have heard about it.

The letter immediately made me knock on Lucy's door. We had a "mother-daughter" chat. Once which I would not have gotten if I were to knock on my mum's door.

So the next Monday, I made an appointment to see a doctor at the family planning clinic. It was quite full- for a family planning clinic. Of course later on, I realised what "family planning" clinic actually means. Its not a place where people go to plan for a family. Its quite the opposite, really. Well, in another acceptable way of explaining it would be: a place (sponsored by the government to help young adults with any issues of family planning, safe and healthy sex, unwanted babies etc)

I had to fill in a form, as it was my first visit, which all the history of my mom's, dad's, grandma's, granddad's ec cetera have to be precise.
Anyway, after waiting (and waiting and waiting)- but I guess it wasn't as bad as it would be if it was in my own country (if they even had such place) I was finally called by. Just before I entered the room, I thought to myself "what if the doctor's a man? Would he think my knickers was a tad too much? I mean..it is new- which I bought just for the smear tests. Will he think I'm flirting with him, since its a bit too nice as its lacy pink and black with a matching bra?"
Before I had a chance to chicken out, the nurse got my weight, height and gave me a container to pee in. Right....this confused me a little... Anyway after a few minutes, the nicest lady doctor Ive ever met, walked in.

Doctor: "hi Miss Wen"
Me: "Hi. I'm hear for the free smear test"
Doctor: laughed. "OK, before that, Ive got to ask you a few questions"

And the questions came....
Doctor: "When was your last period?"
Me: I answered my dates.
Doctor: "When was your last pep smear?"
Me: "Never done it before. This is my first time"
Doctor: "Oh? Okay. So, have you been pregnant before?"
Me: "No, I'm only 19"

She laughed.
Doctor: "Are you sexually active"
Doctor: "okay...hmmm, let me see.... we'll skip this one, and this one, and this one... ahhh. okay this one you can answer... Do you get cramps during your period?"
At this point I'm wondering...what if I said Yes to the question before? What would she have asked me? I'm curious now. Maybe next time I'll say yes to see what she'd ask...
Me:"Yes, sometimes unbearable"

and then she says "Okay, we'll do the smear now. It wont hurt...much anyway"

Oh My God...

Anyway, as she was doing the process of what I call the most painful thing Ive ever experienced, she smiled, and tried to calm me down. The nurse even held my hand and even said "bless you"
She needs more then to bless me- my god, the pain- which was soon forgotten.

Upon leaving, the nurse at the counter gave me a reminder card of when my next appointment would be and that they will send the results to my home address. Oh, also, they gave me a bag of free condoms. She said "this is a month's supply"

Now I understand why the clinic's always full...


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The office Pub

My then boyfriend was working in the local pub called "the office". One night, they had a huge function, and they needed extra staff. I volunteered as I have never worked in a pub before, and I knew I had a good "teacher" to guide me as he was working that night too.
They were skeptical at first, as I have NEVER pulled a pint let alone mixed any drinks before. But they were desperate.
So that evening, before the pub was open for serving, I was given a 1 hour training.
To be fair, I didn't work in the function area as that would have just been like putting me in a lion cage. They put me in the other room, where the locals drink instead. And since I was known as a "local" there (because every weekend I am there to hang out with L while he was working), the punters (local drinkers) were very nice (and patient) with me.
By the end of the night, I got myself a few quids in tips, and I could already pull a perfect pint. Well, sort off. I still needed to get the hang of how to pull the perfect pint ofstones. The fluff just gets to me!
Anyway, after a successful night Debs and Paul(the landlord) had everything under control. They offered me a part time job. I was to work there every Friday and Saturday from 8-11. They would pay me the current wage then, which was ₤3.50 per hour. The tips were all mine. Though initially we pulled our tips together, after realising I was the only one which was pleasant enough (or maybe the drunks just thought I was a cute Malaysian girl behind the bar), we decided whoever got tipped were able to keep their owns tips.
So, I was making about ₤15 per night, which is ₤30 per week including tips.

I was on a role! I was so good at pulling pints and calculating off my head (not needing the till to calculate), I ended up working there for 2 whole years. :) Even after Paul and Dave was asked to leave as landlords...

Stay tuned for the next episode of The Office pub- where we all ended up answering to the cops one night...It was MAD!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Working at Coffee.com

In my final year, I was working at Coffee.com initially as a barista cum IT person. They had 3 pc’s to connect on Internet while having coffee and cake/sandwiches. It was the “in” thing at that point.
After 2 weeks, Gary (the boss) noticed that he wasn’t making much profit on the IT side of the business, so he took out all the PC’s and only left to do for me was make coffee and serve food. It was one of the most tiring jobs I’ve ever done. But don’t get me wrong, I loved knowing how to make a perfect Latte or a Cappuccino. And I loved the fact that I could tell the difference between a Panini bread and Ciabatta bread.
I also love the fact that after work, I could make myself a chicken pesto Panini or tuna and cheese on Panini for half price….yummy!
After about 2 months of working there, Gary sacked the manager (he was actually stealing money from the till) and made me (yes, a foreigner) a manager. I did get a pay rise, but at that point, I was so honored to be trusted to be a manager, ie one who closes down the shop (and checks the sales) everyday. I was also the one who was giving whom to do what. There were a few girls and one guy working under me at that time.
But Gary understood. He knew I was in my Final Year, so he did limit the hours he gave me. And some weeks, he would only give me an hour a day to close the shop, if I told him I have a few too many assignments to finish.
And because I was also quite desperate for money, I managed to handle work AND excel in my studies (thankfully)…
Anyway, one memory I had of the place was:
2 underage (16 yrs old) drunks came in at about 3 pm to get some coffee (I guess to sober up) before they went home. Anyway, Sara and I didn’t know they were drunk, we just thought they were high on drugs. One of the girls dropped her coins when she was paying, and couldn’t really pick it back up, and the other was falling over (without her coffee, thankfully) walking to their table.
They also ordered food. Anyway, Sarah went to the back to prepare their food, I was preparing their drinks. One girl stood up and ran (or tried to run) to the toilet. On the way, she puked all over the place.
The toilet was situated downstairs, and you have to go down a spiral stairs, so you could imagine the pain she had to go through, just to get to the loo…
Anyway, the minute she puked, the other customer’s made faces and moved away from their table. (it was quite obvious why). Sarah and I immediately opened the entrance door to get rid of the smell. The next thing was one I could never forget…ever! We had to clean the sick. (Brits call puke “sick”). It made me and Sarah both, nearly sick. Anyway, after about 30 minutes of mopping with water, floor cleaner and a bucket full of bleach, we had to ask the other customers to leave because it was getting quite unhealthy to eat and drink in a room smell of bleach.
We then asked the girl’s friend to check on her friend in the loo. It was getting abit too long for one to have to use the loo, even in such a drunken stage.
After another 20 minutes, no sight of both girls. One of the regular customers- who wanted to see the drama hence he didn’t leave when the rest did, offered to help take care of the upstairs as I and sarah went downstairs to the loo to check on the 2 girls.
When we got downstairs, both girls were sprawled on the floor, both with their eyes shut, one had her head in the toilet, literally.
We checked to see if they were breathing, I ran upstairs to call an ambulance, Sarah checked if they had a mobile phone on them so we could call their parents etc..
We found:
1) toilet rolls (they stole from the loo and the cabinet outside the loo)
2) soap (used) from the sink
3) 2 bottles (half left) each of what looked like Vodka
4) School uniform
5) 2 ID’s- 1 fake, 1 real…


Anyway, ambulance came almost immediately. One girl was already awake when they came. The other was still half dead.
The nurses had a difficult time carrying her up the spiral stairs, (it wasn’t only spiral, it was very narrow). They had to tie them to the carrier (the plank thing) and pulled her vertically upwards, I was so afraid they might dropped her. But then at that time, I actually wished they did! The trouble she caused us both!
My topshop trousers had bleach stains all over!

Anyway, after the ambulance took them, 2 cops came. Just to take our statements. Apparently, they were only 16 yrs old. They left school early to go pub hopping.

Anyway, a week later, Sarah and I both received flowers and Choclates from them to say “sorry” and “thank you”…

Sweet? Well, I can still smell the sick and I am still pissed off that because of that incident, the bleach destroyed my beloved topshop black flair trousers…..

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


In the first year, I was quite lucky I had Raymond. Raymond was the student from HK who was pursuing business degree, but is an excellent cook (he was thinking of becoming a chef, but his extremely rich parents wanted him to do business degree first before settling down with opening a dine in restaurant). Oh, and Raymond lives with Alex, and Alex is related to Barbara, who lives with me.
So anyway, Raymond had a soft spot for me (no he doesn't fancy me, he bets for the other team, so I was quite safe). So whenever he cooks, he will include me in. After two weeks of him asking me to join them, I insisted that I should be included in buying the groceries. Initially they were reluctant, as they say that I eat very little anyway, and I was providing them with the Instant Maggie mee (sometimes at 2 am, Raymond and Alex will come knocking asking me for my supply of Maggie Mee)...And at that time, Maggie Mee was priceless since you cant easily purchase it in Safeways. :)
Anyway, in the 2nd year, Raymond and Alex went back to Hong Kong, and I moved out of the student flat. So, it was cooking time for me.
And at that point, for at least 2 months, I was basically eating butter with Rice and Fried chicken. I couldn't cook anything else. And instant meals was a luxury - the economy back home wasn't doing too well, and I was working to pay my bills.
So I learned to cook to eat... I tried every single dish by making up my own recipe.(I didn't have any of Mom's recipes) And it was okay if it didn't turn out, because I was living with 3 British people who absolutely love everything (Except anchovies) I cook (they assume it was Asian food).
I survived cooking, and I am thankful that I could cook over there to survive, and it helped with my cooking now.

Banks were giving money???

Mostly everyone would research on which bank was convenient for money transactions etc. Especially for transactions from overseas. At that time, Malaysia only had Standard Chartered which you could do money transfer into the students overseas accounts. And even that, with not so many banks, a few least to say.
When the term starts, every banks in town would offer students with their best "gifts" so that the student will open an account with them.
The first bank I saw was Lloyds bank, it had a nice horse logo and lovely green and white color, I went in to open an account with them. (I did not do further research on banks at that time, I guess I was still "clueless"). Anyway, Lloyds bank was giving ₤500 overdraft for 1st year students, ₤750 for 2nd year and ₤1000 for final year. At this point I thought, wow! ₤500 given! How nice...and you get on the spot approval of Visa Credit card with ₤500 Credit limit(I don't even remember if I checked the interest rates!)

Anyway, after putting my money into LLoyds, I then realised, there are MANY other banks which was offering even better! Midlands was giving ₤750(!) for first year and so on.. But at this point, it was too late to open another account, as all the system is on line, so they can use my passport number and see that Ive already received an overdraft with Lloyds. Though, I could still open a savings account with Midlands if I wanted too, but why would I, right? (You can only receive an overdraft from one bank, at that time, if i remember correctly)
Anyway, ₤500 pounds was enough for me (I saw it as "free" money at that point, obviously we have to pay it back, with interest after 3 years. But it was interest free the whole 3 years that you are st dying)- Aren't the banks very nice over there? :)

Anyway, i signed up with other different banks for the "student" credit cards, just to get the inflatable chair, a water bottle and one bank gave a bag pack.... So anyway, with my inflatable chair, bag pack and water bottle, I got into more debt in the first year one could ever imagined. Luckily it was easy to get a part time job over there.... :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

My first job....

In my second year in England, the economy back home was deteriorating. We were going through recession. And due to this, many scholarship students were called back. I asked my dad if I could stay, if they can afford for me to continue with paying for my fees. I made an "agreement" with them. They pay for my University fees and rent, I will sort out my food, bills ec cetera on my own.
My monthly money was therefore slashed quite a bit. I wasn't complaining as times were bad, back home. Luckily, the University also helped, with giving a bursary to the students who excelled, and even helped with giving a bi-weekly money to ASEAN countries students who were not under any scholarships. We were getting ₤75 for 2 weeks. Which can easily cover the food, gas and electric. (I was already living in a house with 3 others in my second year).
It was different in the first year, since we were living in a student flat, the payments were already made to the university, I basically didn't have to pay for anything except food. But ofcoure the rent which we paid were much higher then the ₤45 per week living in a house.

Anyway, since I needed to "survive", I managed to get a job with Ant Marketing. I didn't have a National Insurance number (yet), which is quite difficult to get a job at places like Safeways or Tesco's. (Telemarketing was not fun to do, but I didn't want to starve instead)
Anyway, I was getting paid something like ₤3 an hour compared to the normal rate of ₤3.80 per hour. The good news is, we were not taxed, but we were not allowed to work more then 20 hours a week. And if you manage to get 10-15 people who would agree to receive the free mags, you will get ₤3.20 per hour, and more then 16-24, you get ₤3.50 and if more then 24, you get a bonus of ₤10 for the hour.(which is HARDLY)

I don't really have much memories of the job, because it was not a nice job for me, to be ring people up to ask if they wanted to receive free magazines, sometimes to make sure the guest who says they will attend the party will in fact attend the party and there was once we had to make a VIP list for this unknown dates party- we had to speak to their PA's PA. But one thing that I remember was meeting Prince's sister.

When I was first informed that she was Prince's sister, I was like...which Prince? So if she was a princess, why does she need to work?
they all laughed at me.

And then they explained that Prince Naseem was at that point one of the best boxers, and he came from Sheffield.

*picture was googled.

Anyway, Sa'aba, I think, that was his sister's name, if I'm not mistaken. She was funny, loud, and very nice.

Working at Ant Marketing was interesting, coz I met many foreign students, and Local (Sheffield) people who wanted to earn quick cash and for people who didn't want to be standing alot.

I also remember that I learned if you speak with a smile on the phone, things will go much smoother. People seem to be nicer when I was smiling down the telephone.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

19th birthday celebration

My birthday fell on a Friday. One of my other classmate's birthday was the week before, so just to celebrate, the whole class (about 20 of us) was going club/pub hopping. This seem to be one of their (Brits) other favourite past time after Football. (watching football, playing football, betting on football, discussing football)
I have never club hopped let alone pub hopped. To be honest, I have never set foot in a pub before then.

We (Georgia, Costas and myself) got to the first pub (I forgot the name of the pub, but the bus stops right in front of the pub) at 8pm. The rest were already there since 7pm (yeah, they start clubbing early!). And at about 8.45, the place got really crowded. And then, at 9pm,(i remember the time, ambiance very clearly) I saw my secondary school mate, who is also my distant cousin. I thought I had a few too many of hoochs, because I didn't think anyone I knew would end up in Sheffield.
And she waved, all I could say was "Lids? Is that you?"
I was so happy I jumped up and hugged her, and we didn't let go for about 5 whole minutes! And obviously the guys were enjoying this sudden "treat", I didn't know what was going on in their heads, and I didn't want to know....hahahaha
After a quick catch up, Lids said bye to hr friends, and ended up club/pub hopping with me and my friends instead.

I cant really recall how many pubs we went to. But in the end, we went to Republic, te club that invented Gate Crasher....

I know we lost a few of the guys towards the end. I later learned that the students have another past time which is not common back home, which is ending up on other people's beds. I don't judge a person who does that, whatever they do in their past time is non of my business, as long as it doesn't effect me, Im okay....

Anyway, back to clubbing, Republic ended up being Lid's and my favourite clubs. We ended up there almost every other week. (if not every week!) hehehehe

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Meeting the other Malaysians

I met Zam (a 2nd year student) through Costas. He was Costa's housemate. Zam told me that there was a Malaysian Singaporean Welcoming night at the Student's Union on Wednesday night. It was £5 to get in and you get free drinks all night. I was not really bothered about the free drinks, as I didnt drink alcohol anyway.
So I agreed to go with Zam.

We got there quite early, so there was no que thankfully. I was still trying to get used to the cold...I didn't really "dress up" like how I would if I was to go clubbing back home. But I would say I looked okay, at least nice enough to impress the other Malaysians.

Chee called us over to the table. I then found out that Chee and Zam were course mates. Most in the group were 2nd year students. I also met some Mara students. Melissa, a Mara scholar, who has the nicest hair Ive ever seen, smiled and tapped the seat next to her. I was glad they were all very warm and friendly... After about 20 minutes of introduction and mingling, Chee and Zam proceeded over to the bar to get the free drinks. The music was blasting, I gave my ticket to Zam, and he just said "Coke?" I nodded and off they went.

After about 20 minutes of talking at the top of our lungs(as the music was really loud), Zam and Chee came back to the table with a handful of drinks.
I took a sip of my coke, and noticed that the taste was very different. But nice.

The host (head of Malaysian Singaporean student group) made a welcoming speech. He later gave out numbers to call, embassy, head of this and that, emergency etc.
And then the music came back on and everyone proceeded to the dance floor. Zam and Chee was busy going back and forth to the bar, I could tell that most of them could really drink. Maybe because it was free... I don't know how anyone can drink so much coke in an hour!
When Chee saw that my glass was empty, he asked if I wanted another. I told them that the coke is really nice, and wondered how the other drinks would taste like. Melissa gave the "ooops" expression. And Zam slowly sat down next to me and said "ermmm you don't drink, do u?"
I said "No, why?"
He said "I'm REALLLLLY sorry, I thought u said JD and Coke"

I said "Oh? that was JD and coke? Not coke?"
They all started hitting him on the head...

Don't get me wrong here, it wasn't his intention at all to get me drinking then. He genuinely assumed I drank alcohol. Since mostly everyone that goes clubbing back home drinks.
I also know it wasn't his intention to get me drunk, because he already has a girlfriend, Sarah, who was also in England, but a different University. (I met her later that year).

So anyway, we all had a good night, I met some really nice people at that party, and again, I knew that living in England would not be bad at all....And it was only my 5th day in England...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

First day in college

1996. That was the year I would call "freedom". Except, I later learned, there's more to life then being away from home. And being away from home is not really "freedom".

I have great housemates. 2 were Hongkies (Hong Kong) and the other 2 were British (Lucy and I ended up being good friends, we even moved in together in the 2nd year). There was 6 rooms in our "flat" but only 5 of us, so we had one spare room, unfortunately, since its not a house house, we didn't have the key to that room, so we couldn't convert it to a tv room etc....

Anyway, Monday, my first day in university, I was informed that in actual fact, I have to travel to Loxely College, which was nearby, because my course is thought there, and not in the university. Since I was enrolled to do the Extended Engineering degree (its probably because my Alevels results was not very good, in fact, it was terrible(!) and they wanted to see if we (those who are asked to do this extended programme) can really define why y = mx + c, or why v = u + at. Or probably because they wanted to make a bit more money from the not so clever international student...kekekeke
Anyway, Charles then assigned a second year Malaysian student to take me (on the bus) to Loxley College.

So off we went...

And it took forever!

It was waaaay out of town. It was nearly out in the farms (again). And Chee (the 2nd yr Malaysian student, and not his real name) must have thought I was such a spoiled brat because I was cursing and complaining the whole way through. (It was far, and I was scared to travel on the bus on my own everyday).

When I got there, luckily Chee was nice enough to help me through. He got me enrolled (again) and the head of the Extended Engineering program showed me 3 of the classes which I could choose from. (they're all the same subjects, with same teachers, but different students). There was a girl in each classes except one. Chee told me to go for the last one, which didn't have any girls in, so that it would make the 3 classes even. But when the head told me that there are 2 people who lives on the student village in the second class we saw, I immediately choose that class, so that I can travel with them by bus everyday. (changing 2 buses to college alone was a scary thought for me...then...)

So anyway, I became real good friends with Georgia and Costas (from Greece). I thanked Chee and he told me that I can call him anytime if I needed any help. And with that said, I knew once again,everything will be okay....


All alone

After about an hour's journey, we arrived my "flat". They (the Brits) call any apartments -flat, but I prefer to call it by its name. Norfolk park student village sounds much nicer the flats. Maybe, where I come from, flats are houses with hanging clothes and underpants outside the window. And you can see each floor has a few flats with windows full of the washing.

Anyway, Bob helped me with the introductions at the reception. I guess it was only because I looked totally lost. The whole student village looked empty. Most of the students were still on holidays. They don't come back till maybe the week after when the classes starts.
After getting my keys and thanking Bob for all his help, I walked to 114 (the "flat" number), and proceeded to my room. I got the 2nd floor. After settling myself in, (which only took 20 minutes as I don't have my clothes luggage with me, therefore, I only had to put the food in the designated cupboard) I checked all the rooms. Most were empty, one was locked. Which means there is someone already in, but was either out for the weekend or out for the day. I hope is the latter. I hate being alone.

I sat on the bed, procrastinated whether I should light up a cigarette, decided against it as I saw the "no smoking" in the hallway sign. I went downstairs to make a hot drink, and while the kettle was boiling, I made a collect call home. And for the first time in years, I cried. I was home sick.
I was alone and I was home sick. And Ive only just arrived..

Mom and Dad was trying to calm me, asked me to see if there are anyone else around to go for a walk with. After drying up my tears, I went to the reception to ask who already signed into my flat. A girl from Hong Kong, apparently. Oh, I hope she's nice...
And then I went to the flat opposite mine, where the head of international student was living in. She was from Spain. A very nice (and pretty) girl. She was a final year student, and her mom was with her. They were shocked to see a first year student, all alone, and 12 hours flight away from home came alone.(this was when I silently cursed my parents for letting me fly all alone) I later realised, it helped with building up my confidence...

Anyway, her mom decided we should and have a look around in town, see whether there are a few shops that are open for me to get some stuffs till my luggage arrives. (I told them about my missing luggage).

Unfortunately, most shops are already closed by the time we got into town as it was already 5 pm, on a Sunday.
My first time out in town, I saw group of girls wearing next to nothing, in the cold, walking into a club called Roxy's. At 7 pm.... (!)

We got back to the flat at around 8ish, and when I walked into the flat, I could smell food and heard laughter in the kitchen. From then on, I knew I will be okay. As long as I didn't have to sleep alone in the empty flat on the first day in England...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Snake Past

My driver introduced himself, had a tattoo on his right arm and facial piercing which got me thinking…Was he really the driver that was supposed to pick me up?
Like reading my mind, he then informed me that Charles (the international student’s dean) told him if I had any doubts, to give him a call before getting into the car. He immediately rang Charles and passed the phone to me. I felt better after speaking to Charles. A familiar voice in far away land. (I met Charles when he came over to KL for the University Introduction).
So my journey began….

My driver, lets call him Bob, since I forgot his name, pulled my food bag while I carried my hand luggage. Bob was such a gentlemen, he held the door open for me. (Maybe all British guys are like that…hmmm)
Anyway, 10 minutes into the journey, we exchanged little information about our lives, the weather, the course we were enrolled in, which football club he supports (which I later learned that is a favorite topic in England). And then Bob said “we will be heading towards the snake past soon luv”.
“LOVE”? Why did he call me love? Was he flirting? Did he fancy me? I got slightly worried…
I was wondering what he meant when he said Snake Past until we hit the windiest road I could imagine, but with a beautiful scenery with sheeps and farm houses. I enjoyed the drive for the next 10 minutes, when it suddenly hit me, if he were to murder me and burry me here, no one will ever know…Well, except for Charles. But what if Charles was in it too? (ok too many James Patterson books)
I mean, the university prospectus certainly didn’t show any sheeps or farms or even hills around the university. Im sure there were lots of buildings and it did say that its 3 minutes to the train station…

Just to be on the safe side, I took out my electric organizer (I didn’t have a mobile phone with me) and pretended to look for reception to ring my parents. (as if they could do anything being million miles away). I even pretended to speak to them in Bahasa (so he wouldn’t understand). I smiled, laughed and continued “talking” for 5 minutes on my “mobile phone” until I saw the ‘City Center’ sign…
I must have had the extremely-worried-cum-jetlagged look, as Bob then said, in about 5 mins, we will arrive your flat.
I thought I was going to live in a student Village? At least that was what I registered myself to live in…Oh gosh, what have I got myself into???

Missing Luggage

Upon arriving in Manchester, while waiting for my luggage, Arun (I think that was his name, I cant remember for sure) was kind enough to wait with me. He even helped me with my first bag. And then I realised he was actually waiting for his bag too.
Anyway, he was also heading to Sheffield University. I guessed we would be on the same bus/van since I was told there were a few others that would be arriving with me.
After about 30 minutes of waiting, the luggage belt stopped. We realised there was not many bags left on the belt, and only about a dozen of us waiting. Arun also confirmed his bag was not on the belt, we both decided to go to the BA counter to enquire about our bags.
We were told (calmly may I add), that our bags could still be in London.

I then (calmly) pointed out that I only have my food bag. Those days, students would equipped ourselves with Brahim's rendang, serunding (dried chicken or beef floss), Boxes of Maggie Mee noodles, tea bags (!!!) basically, things which we thought we cant get in Safeways.... (Obviously I later learned that Tea in England is much nicer) The lady then (calmly) added she hoped that I had my hand luggage with me since thats the first thing you do when you get on the plane, equipped yourself with backups, and added that they will definitely do something about our bags.

Luckily I listened to dad to bring extra knickers, bra, tshirt and sweater for the plane. And luckily, those days, we received a toiletry bag from the airlines.

So Arun and I walked out to meet with our "driver" when we realised that both our names were on different cards. He was with 4 others, I was alone... There are 2 Sheffield Universities..One is Sheffield Hallam, which I was headed to, and Arun and the others were going to another uni which was 10 minutes away from mine, apparently....

There goes the first friendly Malaysian face I "trusted".

(i was only 18 them, it was my first time being away (very far away from home) alone...of course I'd end up hoping I find someone I can rely on... And it was also his first time in England. And he was alone. And like me, he too needed a friendly "trusted" Malaysian mate)

We didn't even have numbers to exchange. We exchanged email addresses. But deep down we both knew we would probably not be crossing paths, because we were in different universities...

So, I was on my own...again...(except with my "trusted" driver now)..

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Flight to Freedom...

It takes about 15 mins to get to the airport from my parents house...(the old airport, that is...) My flight was due to take off at 12.50am. Or so I thought. Luckily, my uncle checked my ticket, and it was leaving 2 hours earlier, ie 10.50 pm. I saw the timing wrongly!
Since mostly all my mom's sister's and one of my dad's brother (with their whole family) and some of my close friends was at my parents, I think about 5 cars came to the airport to see me off.
Luckily, I managed to check in on time, had about 20 minutes to say my "good-bye's", take photographs (I swear, at that time, it was the "in" thing to send people off, pose for photographs, as you or your friend is going off to study abroad. Be it 1 year or 5 years...
I ended up staying in England for 5 years.

The flight took 12 hours. I was too excited to sleep. I was also very scared, as I was travelling alone. It was my first time flying to England (actually, first time flying alone to a country which has different seasons, for that matter). My parents always thought I was very independent. I guess I was...

The flight was KL-Singapore-London-Manchester.

When we arrived London, I didn't know where to go. There was no announcement as which gate we should transit at. Or maybe there was, but I was too excited to listen.

So what did I do? I followed the crowd (there were some Malaysian students on the flight). I asked one girl if she was flying to Manchester, and she said yes, walking really quickly, so I followed her and her other Mara-scholarship friends.

Anyway, I arrived Manchester safely. I did not make any new Mara Scholarship friends, I guess they don't make friends when they already have a group of friends (I wouldn't use "their own kind, that's just too rude).
But I managed to wait for my luggage with this Indian (Malaysian) guy who was kind enough to help me carry my bag onto my trolley and waited for my other bag to arrive. And then I realise, he too, was waiting for his other bag. Which we then realise, did not arrive Manchester at all...

*to be cont...