Post-Graduation Update

Jul 16, 2017 in 0 thoughts

Hello friends! Since graduating, I've been asked the same question many times: what's next? Well, I've got a little bit of time off before I start my next adventure, so I thought I'd share with you some of my plans for the next few weeks.

I've been thinking about sharing my story with more people - how I started 5 years ago as a homeschooler and ended up graduating from Cambridge, and the miracles that have happened in my life. The past two summers, I have shared in schools and churches, and this summer (and beyond), I hope to share this story in an even bigger way. If you know of any opportunities (speaking, publishing, motivational events, etc), please do get in touch. I might be interested in finally writing a book about my experiences...

At the same time, I am also refocussing Openquote Designs. If you don't know, this is a business that I started way back in 2012. I've been struggling with finding a direction for it for a while, as I wasn't sure who my target market was (or I erroneously thought I did). However, I recently realised that what I actually want to do with this is to help people achieve their goals by helping them improve their productivity, time management, and planning skills. It's a work in progress, but if you would like to follow along this journey, click here to see my website.

Openquote Designs banner - link to website

Malaysian Hospitality: Why I Continue to Fly Malaysia Airlines (MAS)

Jul 11, 2017 in , , , 0 thoughts

Since I started university in the UK 3 years ago, we have flown between KLIA and Heathrow on a yearly basis, and my dad makes the 13-hour flight three times a year. For all of these trips, we have used Malaysia Airlines (MAS), and today, I'd like to share why. (The one time I chose to try a different airline ended up in chaos and a destroyed wheelchair. Back to MAS we went.)

This choice has proven to be a good one, and I was touched when MAS (many thanks to the help of a family friend, Sook Yee, who put us in touch) upgraded my parents and I from Economy to Business Class. They had upgraded us for our first trip to the UK in 2014 when I started university, and an upgrade now at the end of my undergraduate degree was the perfect sweet ending. From check-in to check-out, we were well taken care of, and the flight was very comfortable, which was particularly important to me due to my medical condition. Aside from the flight itself, I was quite concerned about my wheelchairs - I brought back two this time - due to previous experiences, and I'm sure all wheelchair-users will understand my concern. However, I'm glad to say that MAS took great care of them, and both arrived in the same condition I left them in.

Perhaps what touched me most, however, was a letter from MAS CEO Peter Bellew congratulating me on having graduated. Beyond a much-appreciated personal touch, it also showed me that the MAS management prioritises passengers and is genuinely working to provide us with a good experience.

We met several lovely people along the way, and I would like to say a special thanks in particular to: Suzy, who took care of us from the moment we checked-in to when we boarded the plane in Heathrow, Yeoh and his wonderful team onboard the flight, and the lovely Maria, who ensured a smooth conclusion to our journey when we arrived in KLIA. I would also like to thank Sook Yee and Mr Thariq for making this possible.

MAS's generosity and extra care is why my parents and I continue to use the airline. Throughout this journey, they took excellent care of us, and we were very impressed by their wonderful service. They truly exhibited the Malaysian Hospitality that they proudly declare, and went beyond. Just as Mr Bellew sent his best wishes for the next chapter of my life, I wish MAS well in its endeavours and as it continues to provide the best service to its passengers.

PS. I will write about graduation and my time in Cambridge over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

3 Months of Summer

Oct 2, 2015 in , , , 0 thoughts

It's been three months back in Malaysia, and I'm getting ready to go back to Cambridge next week - back to lectures, supervisions, and never-ending reading lists and work.

Hazel is happily rolling about beside me while I try not to squeeze her.

These past few months have been rather busy, so I'll do a bit of a recap.

I got back in late June, and the first thing we did was to go to Penang to visit my grandparents for a few short days before coming back. The whole of July was spent on my internship in Bank Negara, which I had applied for a few months before. I did my internship in the Economics department, which was very interesting considering my background in Law. Most people who go there study Economics, so asking me why I was in that department became a very popular question... If you want to know why too, it's because of a few reasons. One is that I wanted to know more about what the Bank does, and this department is a really good place to do that; another is that someone very dear to me recommended it, and also very rightly said that the people there are lovely. My experience there was wonderful overall (even though I was sick at times), and I really enjoyed getting to do lots of research and meeting new, wonderful people who have so many ideas and are energised to move the nation forward into a brighter future.

In August, my relatives came for about a week, and we spent it relaxing and eating. It was a lot of fun, haha. Hazel definitely enjoyed it since she got more food and went for walks more often...

Later in August, I flew to Manila for the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations Asia Conference, which lasted for about a week. That was a really wonderful experience, as I got to meet people from all over the world and 46 countries who had so many different ideas. I applied for the Human Rights panel, which was what I focused on mainly, and there were also opportunities for us to explore a little bit. One of the things I enjoyed was the Democracy seminar, which focused on Southeast Asia, and felt a little bit like studying history again, with law and politics mixed into it. The speaker did a really good job, as he allowed for us to engage and ask questions throughout. Then there were the entrepreneurship sessions, which excited me a bit - someone from eBay came and spoke to us about some of the interesting things that they have worked on, and another speaker shared broader knowledge about little case studies about different companies.

By the time I got back from Manila, it was almost September - only one more month!

Throughout this month, I have been sharing in schools and churches, talking to people about how much God has worked in my life. So far, I have had seven speaking engagements in five places, with one last one to go before I head back to Cambridge. It's been really fulfilling, getting to meet Malaysians from different walks of life and hopefully inspire them. I hope that I can continue to share with more people in the future! Pastor Rose was instrumental in putting me in touch with many of these people, and she deserves a round of applause! She has been so supportive and has shown so much faith in me, and is just a really lovely, God-fearing person. And of course, thank you so much to all of the lovely people who gave me their time and the opportunity to speak to them and hopefully leave some inspiration with them moving forward.

During the whole summer, there were also a few more things that I have done, from going to CUMaS (Cambridge University Malaysia Society) events and meeting alumni and the incoming freshers, to being part of the organising committee for the Malaysia Public Policy Competition and writing the welcome speech for the first ceremony.

These few months, I have been working on my business, Openquote Designs, trying to grow and expand it. It's been going well so far - I have gotten to work with really sweet, talented people, and worked on exciting new things. In mid-July, I posted my first picture to the @openquotedesigns Instagram account, and as of right now, I am approaching 1,000 followers at 959. Numbers aren't everything, but this also means that my designs are getting out to more and more people, which makes me really happy. The planner community is such an uplifting and beautiful place, and I am really glad I found it. If you would like to see what I do, you can hop on over to my Etsy shop! I am always working on exciting new things, and if you want to join me journey, you can do so over on Instagram.

Now we're in October, which means that I have just a few days left here... I'm a little nervous and excited about going back to Cambridge. I love the idea of the new year and starting all over again and meeting new people, and at the same time I'm wondering whether I will be able to handle the workload. It'll be more fun this year in the sense that I get to pick three of my subjects! I have more or less decided on what I'm going to do, and I'm pretty excited for all of them, haha.

I need to go hug Hazel now, so until next time! :)

Hello From Amsterdam

Jun 13, 2015 in , , , 0 thoughts

Hello. It has been quite a while since my last post, and for good reason. I managed to survive Tripos - barely - and have been rolling around in bed since then while singing Rolling In The Deep. Okay, I have been doing other things as well, but let's just leave it at that.

I am now blogging from the Hague, visiting some lovely friends. We arrived at the airport three hours early for the shortest flight in Stansted, went into an interesting machine, and got a tour of Schipol Airport through the airfield. Ahh, the things you see when there are long flights of stairs in the airport itself... I must say I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the planes up close.

Right now, we are just resting in our friend's house for the morning. The weather looks fair - a bit less sun than Cambridge. I thought the UK would be gloomy, but it's actually not too bad. Spring has been quite lovely. Summer is now approaching, and it's starting to get hot. Yes, anything above 15 degrees now feels quite warm... Not sure what's going to happen when I get back to nice sunny Malaysia!

Heading out now, so I shall pop in again when I can. Tot de volgende keer.

Happy Chinese New Year From Cambridge!

Feb 19, 2015 in , , , , 0 thoughts

This year is the first time celebrating away from home, and it's actually not too bad. My dad flew here, so I'm with my family to celebrate, and that's the most important part. :) We had lunch (British/Mexican food... quite nice, actually - I'm not craving Chinese food yet), and managed to watch the CCTV celebrations! My dad brought goodies from home too, so my tummy is nice and happy (also getting fatter, but hey...). :)

It's strange being away from home largely because the atmosphere isn't there - there are no decorations, no music, no red everywhere (and no ang pau either, heh). And of course, I'm not with my relatives, who make the celebrations that much more fun (and noisy).

The one thing I'm not missing though, is the weather! My fingers go numb whenever I go out, but I'd rather have numb fingers than sweat the whole day, haha.

Since I'm blogging, I should probably update you on what is going on.

First, I am now in Week 5 (I think - I just remember when my supervision days are...). Two essays due this week, and work isn't too bad right now because I did some work early over the Christmas holidays and one of my supervisions got switched over... My essays have been improving, which is nice, but I have a way to go before I get to where I want to be.

Over the last weekend, we went to Oxford! We rented a car and my dad drove. Amazingly enough, we didn't get lost. Once we were there, a friend kindly spared us his time and took us around. Oxford is quite pretty, and those who like London would probably prefer it. There are parts of it that reminded me of Beijing... It feels much more commercialized than Cambridge. The architecture is, of course, very beautiful, and in some ways more distinct than Cambridge. Overall though, I must say that I still love Cambridge. There is much more green here, and the majority of colleges have sprawling gardens. The general pace of Cambridge itself feels much more calm (the academic side is a different monster altogether though), and it just feels right. Still, I definitely wouldn't mind visiting Oxford again - it was quite a lovely trip. I went down the alley by the church CS Lewis used to go to, and saw the doorway and the lamppost. Definitely a fangirl moment, before I was struck with awe. There are so many beautiful bits and pieces here with really wonderful and interesting history.

These past few weeks, I have also been working on my shop, Openquote Designs, again! I have a new range of products: printable planners! I think they are a great way to keep organized, and they're fun for me to design as well. So far, I have a few kits, including a financial planner, full wedding planner, and wedding budget planner (as a mini-kit branched off from the full suite), along with individual planners, such as daily planners, Get Stuff Done lists, expense trackersmenu planners, and quite a number of others. Sales have been positive, and I'm praying that this will take off! I am currently working on an Etsy kit just for Etsy sellers, which I'm aiming to develop into a small business kit soon, while looking into a possibility of launching a website for Openquote Designs. If you want to get organized and be more productive, be sure to check out my printable planners! I'll try to do some freebies soon too.

That's it from me for now - I have to finish an essay for Civil and read for a supervision. Til next time!

End of First Term, Last Page of 2014

Jan 1, 2015 in , , , 0 thoughts

It's been a long and yet very short first term (and part of my holidays). Since my last update, I finally turned legal (and so did Hazel, as she got a proper dog tag around the same time), and my friends were awesome enough to come over and surprise me with a celebration and two cakes. <3 I was really touched by that (and a little bit *_*).

It has only grown colder since I arrived, as expected. What I didn't expect was for my fingers to grow used to being numb whenever I go outside, but they happily have, though that does no favors  for my bloodstream (and it takes a really long time to defrost). The beautiful golden leaves that adorned the whole wall near my place have since fallen off, with most of them flying off due to a very gusty win on a particular day when those on bicycles had a hard time cycling in a straight line.

Looking back, I suppose the main thing I have learned is that I need to improve my time management skills. This term has been filled with some fun times, but also plenty of late nights. I somehow never went too far in the AM during my college days, but very nearly pulled an all-nighter during my first term here.

A lot of my first term has just been getting into the swing of things - figuring out a routine, pondering about my subjects, and trying to finish all of my reading on time (and attempt to squeeze in a little bit of studying at the same time).

One of the most fun things I did this term was join ICMS. During Induction Week, I got to work with a fabulous team of people and we had lots of fun working on our project, and finally meet in London.

Holidays started a few weeks ago, but I'll make a separate post later about my first break! In the meantime, my annual summary:

January. I started the year off with something of a cold, but it meant that the year could only go up from there! During the early days of the month, I got the email I had been waiting for - my Cambridge acceptance letter, and started freaking out about meeting my offer. AS results coming out made that a little bit easier, since I got more than what I expected.

February. Long story short: lots of studying, though I did have a very nice Chinese New Year with my family.

March. Scholarship interview.

April. Trial exams, which drove me quite nuts. I got the scholarship!

May. I got the call that I got two awards for AS. Continued freaking out about A2.

June. A2 finally finished, and I got a nice long break! I also went for the BNM pre-departure program, which was quite fun, and started reading from my new reading list (that they sent even before exams finished...).

July. Just enjoyed time in Malaysia and visited a few nice places.

August. KDU farewell ceremony. Went on a trip to Penang, during which A2 results came out (during lunch). I breathed a huge sigh of relief (and really started to think about what to pack, hm).

September. Generally, more of trying to enjoy my last days home for a while, and lots of squeezing Hazel.

October. First days in Cambridge!

November. More attempts to get into the Cambridge life. I also turned 18! My dad and uncle went for my A2 award ceremony (I got Top In The World for History).

December. Spent Christmas in Hamburg with my parents and best friend (who also visited me with her parents in Cambridge!), and visited London too.

A rather long post was also made here about the first half of the year.

This year has been an incredible year for me, and I am so grateful for all that God has blessed me with. As we step into the new year, I can only continue to pray that He will continue to help me. <3

First Days In Cambridge

Nov 5, 2014 in , , 0 thoughts

Hello again. I am finally writing from Cambridge. I have been here for just over a month (though it will be the end of my third week tomorrow...), and it's been amazing so far. The picture above is taken from my College, Peterhouse - that's our crest and flag. Then there's the College itself...

Well, that's one small part of it anyway. Peterhouse is the smallest, but not that small... It is also the oldest, which makes for a very interesting place as a whole. The people there are queuing up for dinner.

In the first few days, I had some freshers' events to go to, and my parents and I went around a bit. We didn't do too many tourist-y things, but my parents did go punting!

Sometime in between this, I had my matriculation, which basically formally accepts us as a Member of our College. The ceremony was very ceremonious (yes, very descriptive of me), with lots of tradition. The morning part was in our dining hall (one of only two in the University that is lit solely by candles - no, we do not have electric lights there), and since it was raining and there was a taxi mishap, so I rushed there in the rain... in my gown. It wasn't very pleasant, but I found it really funny. The main part of the ceremony was later in the afternoon though, and the special part was when we went into the Combination Room individually and signed our names onto a very large, thick, old book with all the names of the members, and were welcomed into the College and congratulated by the Master. In that moment, it really hit me, that wow, after all this time of waiting, wishing, hoping, and praying, I was finally a Petrean (also, as our Dean reminded us, it is a wonderfully gender-neutral term). It was the college I applied to, and I'm wonderfully blessed to finally be a part of it.

Then, of course, were the matriculation pictures. It was raining the whole day, but God wonderfully stopped the rain long enough for the pictures!

We had our individual pictures too, but I only have a hard copy (for once). Wearing the gown is both awesome and terrible. It's really troublesome on one hand, but on the other, the flappy sleeves are fun, and it just feels nice and traditional and cool (even though mine fits horribly on me). My College mum did warn me... Sigh.

Lectures have been fine so far. The lecture halls are quite large, and the Faculty of Law is a very modern building. It's basically all glass from the outside. The acoustics are generally good, though for some reason no one knows, when one person coughs, another five will follow suit. That doesn't help much.

In my first year, I have four subjects, which have been okay so far. My supervisions have been interesting, and I had a really nice one today. Lots of questions, lots of discussion.

The weather has been cold - sunny sometimes, but cold. I measure the temperature by the numbness in my fingers... Been okay so far though. There isn't usually heavy rain here - it's generally just light drizzle and droplets.

That's it from me for now. I'll leave you with a few pictures.

Special bonus: one of my mom's first few selfies. Isn't she beautiful? <3

Almost There

Sep 29, 2014 in , , , 0 thoughts

The hours I have left here are ticking away, but more importantly, so are the minutes until I begin a new adventure.

It's so strange, exciting, and scary at the same time. This isn't the first time I've moved to a new place and country, but it feels like it. The first time happened so quickly that I didn't really have time to realize what was going on. Now I'm supposed to be more prepared, but I'm also a bit more overwhelmed.

Whatever it is though, I am infinitely blessed to have this opportunity, and also parents who are so supportive. They've made so much of this possible with their love. <3

There are so many things I'm prepared and unprepared for. Some important things really should have been done already, but are not, and for some reason I'm fine with that and not particularly worried. I suppose this is called going by faith. Some things do concern me, but it's also nice to know that God has planned everything out already, just as He always has. Still, as humans, we can't help but worry, but that's just part of the whole process.

Freshers' week is going to be crazy - my calendar is packed already, and I'm still trying to figure out which events to go to for... and I just realized that "squash" does not always refer to the sport there... and there may be cows very near me. I wonder if I can pet them. Yesterday, I got my new UK number, yay. It's relatively easy to remember, and it's a little similar to my current one, so that's good.

Some of my friends are there already, haha. Some have been traveling around the UK and just got into Cambridge, whilst some just arrived in the country.

Hazel is going on an adventure of her own too. She'll be staying with my aunt and uncle, and while my heart breaks that I can't have her with me for now, I'm glad that she will be with them. My uncle is going to get a bike with a basket and put her in it and cycle around... oh dear. That will be the ride of her life.

Perhaps what is making this a little (or a lot) harder is that I don't know when I will be back. No matter what, this is still where I was born and grew up. I really want to come back for part of summer next year, but everyone has been telling me not to. Go travel, they say... I seriously want to do that, but summer is also 4 months long! I could visit all the popular spots in Europe (though I'd rather go for some quainter ones too), and still have time to come back. And if I do stay there the whole time, I have no idea where I'm actually going to stay...

Oddly enough, I'm rather excited to see my desk and set it up. I actually had a conversation with my College about it, hm. I also have this thing about stationery, and I am disproportionately excited about using my highlighters again. I got my favorite ones and a pack of new ones too, haha.

Well, I have to sign off now. The next time I blog will probably be from there, so see you guys soon!


Sep 23, 2014 in , , , 0 thoughts

Just over a week until I head to the UK. The countdown (and packing frenzy) begins...

I've been having fun these past few weeks. There was a CUMaS Freshers' Camp and Dinner, where I met some of my seniors and the freshers who will be going with me. There aren't a lot of freshers for Law, haha. I have a nice number of Engineering friends though! My whole CUMaS family is comprised of Engineering students except me, haha.

A few weeks ago, I also met Ms Sathya and Ms Hema again, and I enjoyed getting to know them better. :)

Also been doing stuff for CollegeLAH. We had an interview last week (and one tomorrow), and an Oxbridge workshop in Taylor's Subang Jaya.

It's so strange to think how, in a very short period of time, I won't be here anymore. I'll be in a faraway place I have never visited meeting new people, and some old friends too. It's a really strange feeling, perhaps because for the longest time, I wasn't sure if this day would ever really come, or if it was all some unfounded dream. But here I am, trying to fit everything into my luggage. I just discovered the baggage limit is different from what I previously thought, oh dear. My friend asked if I have never flown before, sigh. Yes, but not for this long!

I finished the last law book on my reading list (my own, not Cambridge's - I couldn't find most of the books on that one) yesterday, is now I'm on to The Adventures of Huckleberry Hinn. I've been journaling too. My old one finished, so I have a new one now. New journal for new adventures...

Last night, my parents and I went to KL for steamboat because the weather was good, and it was lovely...

These few weeks, I received letters from my College parents too! They seem like really nice people, so I'm excited to meet them too. :) One of the letters came with the largest stamp I have ever seen...

Well, that's it from me for tonight. I'll update again soon!

Sample IELTS Academic Essays - Writing Component

Sep 1, 2014 in , , 0 thoughts

Hey all. Here are two of my IELTS essays for the writing component of the academic version of the test, as promised. There is one sample for Part 1, and one for Part 2. They were graded 8.5 out of 9.0 by a person who doesn't give 9.0. No mistakes that are apparent.

Just sharing as some of my friends have been asking for samples, and I hope they help! You can download these essays as PDFs HERE (the preview below shows one of them).

For the writing component, just be straightforward, and remember the word count. Have good structure, and logical points. They don't have to be brilliant, but they must make sense. Proper grammar is a must, of course, and make sure you answer the question (not what you wish they had asked).