Tuesday, October 11, 2016

College Abroad

Well, I can't believe it's already time to do this post. I planned to a couple months ago mainly to sort of reflect on the past months and to keep this little post handy in my virtual memory box. 8 months went by a lot quicker than I expected. I still remember how doubtful and nervous I was about doing college abroad and taking the foundation programme. It didn't fit in with my post-highschool plan. I was meant to do college for a year at home with the SAMs programme and then apply for a university in Australia. Exactly what my sister did. A safe, secure plan.
Except, my mum heard about St Andrew's foundation programme and asked me to apply. Thinking I'd never get in but I'll just do it for the sake of pleasing her, I sent out my application. Surprisingly enough....I got in. I still remember receiving the call while we were on a weekend vacation in Penang Island. Basically, my reaction was "well shit".
Don't get me wrong, I was super excited about this opportunity for the entire 5 minutes it took the elevator to get to my room floor from the lobby. But when the enthusiasm wore off, all I could feel was my carefully thought out life plan crumbling around me. And my dad's as well. He's great, always prepared for the future and I was suddenly ruining his plan.
Fast-forward weeks of deliberation, confusion and frustration, I (and my family) finally gave myself the green light. I'm always pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone and now that I have a chance, I suddenly want to turn back? It's an opportunity for something new, so why shy away now. AKA, "Shameta, stop being a wimp and do it."
So I did and here we are now. The whole thing went by so fast but I think that's just this year in general. It had its ups and downs obviously, but what's life without a few curveballs thrown at you once in a while. I think the best part was that I had to grow up immediately. I didn't live a completely sheltered life but my parents were always too good to us. However, you have to learn to fend for yourself when you move away, especially if it's to a different country. Sorting out your bank details, hospital registrations, course requirements, all of these incredibly boring but essential part of being out in the "real world". It was a great wash of reality and sort of hint into the adult life. For the most part, I liked being able to take charge of my life and sort everything out for myself. I felt proud cooking myself my own meals, nursing myself back to health when I was ill and honestly, even doing laundry felt like I was doing a good job looking after myself. Independence was definitely something you gain whether you aimed to or not.
I used to be the most antisocial creature in my younger years. Hand me a book and some biscuits and I'll be out of your hair for hours. I'd just hide away in my room or our patio and happily get lost in a good read. And well I had changed a bit over high school and became a little bit more outgoing, I was still nervous that that part of me was going to make it difficult finding friends. I was leaving all my friends and family behind and heading somewhere where I knew no one. In all fairness, when I got here it wasn't too hard making friends, but at the time it seemed like the most difficult task in the world. Not to delve too much into science but as humans, we're naturally social creatures and seeking out friendships is something everyone else will be trying for. I forgot that there were going to be others like me, who were completely new to this as well. I found lovely people to be friends with, some who were even Malaysians. It's even better when you get to navigate new experiences with some company.
Speaking about experiences, I'd never have been able to do so many amazing things this year if I had decided not to come. St Andrews never ceased to amaze me with how beautiful it is. Just by taking a new route to my classes I would stumble upon a beautiful view and all I can think is "Has this been here the entire time?". And experiencing the Scottish culture has been something else. I'm still not over how kilts is a norm here and randomly hearing chimes of bagpipes being carried along by the wind (and also being played in front of Pret). It's such a gorgeous place. Not to mention, I visited a friend from home and went on a quick trip to London. Watched two of my favourite artists perform live. Visited beautiful Spain over the summer break. Met and got close to an old college friend of my mum who happens to live right over in the next town. I'd love the weekends when I'd go over to get a break from college life and we'd bake cookies (well they're pre-made M&S cookies but still), wrap ourselves up in cosy blankets on the couch and put on some Shrek. Afternoons, like those made me miss home a little less, cause I had someone next to me that reminded me of home.
Homesickness is a thing. Even for me, someone who can happily go without social contact for a few days. Missing your family and friends is going to happen. There's no way around it. Instead of avoiding it, you should embrace it in a way. I'd call up my close friend and she'd update me on everything going on back home. We'd chat for hours, laugh and sometimes cry a little. It's honestly so good to just let out those feelings. Snapchat was brilliant too. I genuinely don't think I went a day without seeing my friend's faces. They'd send me snaps when they were together and send stories of things going on in their own lives. To them, I'd grumble about the 100+ second snap rants they put me through, but inside, I loved that they were still including me and that I knew what was going on with them. I'd have weekly calls with my mum too. Even when I'm 100 of miles away, I'm still her counsellor. She'd complain to me about work or share about my brother's latest hilarious antics or even just update me on what's on for dinner that night. And of course, the feeling of coming home after so long never felt better.
Overall, I loved the entire experience. I wouldn't change a thing about it. I'm continuing university here now and I'm 5 weeks into my first year. This post is incredibly overdue but I'm procrastinating writing up a lab report I have due tomorrow so I figured why not. It's also October, which is my favourite month. Hello Autumn, my birthday and spooky vibes.

Talk soon xx

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