I first started this blog four years ago, on the night I touchdown in Manchester. It was my first journey overseas, although flying from Miri to KL was technically “over (the) seas”. Get the pun?
Jokes aside, when I first came to UK, I had absolutely no clue what to expect. Even with several lengthy emails with an acquaintance on the weather and lifestyle, it was all new to me. Don’t you agree that reading about things and experiencing is totally different? I had no bucket list to check or travel destination to meet. At that time, I was simply an excited 18-year-old going on an adventure (picture on right shows how I looked on my first day in Manchester)
I was one of the many lucky ones to have both parents accompany me on this journey. They stayed for less than a week to make sure I got the basic things right – setting up a bank account, paying my tuition fees, settling into my university accommodation, etc. I had never been away from home for more than a day, and being daddy’s little princess, I had been pampered a lot by all my family members. For the first time, I was going away for 9 months straight and was excited to see what I was made of – if i could stand on my own two (not-so) little feet, or if i just bend and break.
Everyone was skeptical when I said I never cried after my parents left. To be honest, I didn’t understand why. Sure, I was sad when they went back to Malaysia, but what I learnt from young was that you don’t have to cry show that you’re sad. And… there was a whole new world to discover! It was a good two months before I actually shed my first tear in UK – that’s a story for another day.
In my first year, I blogged about everything down to the most mundane events like university events, which eventually made it to the blog trash. I was probably still getting used to the exchange rates and the responsibilities of buying groceries, cooking food and doing laundry. By the end of the forth and final year, I have felt, seen and done so many things that never crossed my mind. And for that I am always thankful for the opportunity given to study abroad.
“Sometimes we don’t know what we want, until someone shows us the possibility.”
Changes: I am definitely more expressive then before. Gone was the shy, quiet and the pushover. Gone was the girl who texted far too much. Here came the new and improved TY 2.0. Haha. I started defining myself – after all, who knows you more than yourself? I noticed a lot of changes within myself, some good and some needed a little improvement… The most interesting part was learning about social cues; I now converse more comfortably with people, especially strangers.
I am still obsessed with the shades of purple, which is probably the reason why I love lavender so much. Did you know that lavender blooms in late summer? I went to two different lavender farms in my final year, and both times I was feeling a little blue. And seeing a whole field of these pretty little things brought an inevitable smile to my face.
I enjoy photography a lot more. It started with snapping pictures outside my room for my parents to see. After all, pictures speak louder than words. Then I realised how much I love capturing the moments, including pictures of food, sceneries and other random shots. It then became a regular habit to bring a camera everywhere I went out even within Manchester, and finally the little camera was nicknamed the dot-com (pictured right).
On a more sensitive topic, I waited until I was 20 before I started drinking and went to clubs. And I disliked both, no surprise. In clubs, I only enjoyed the blasting loud music; dancing, not so much (i still can’t dance haha). I hated skin contact with strangers, and always ended up at the table after a couple of hours. As for drinks, my first alcoholic drink was a tequila shot from the bar and followed by a lot of random mixers in house parties. In my opinion, social drinking is acceptable as long as one does not go over the limit and start being an embarrassment.
Four Seasons: I experienced four seasons for four years. First came autumn; the falling twigs and changing leaves signified the start of term year. In winter, the trees were bare and I waited for snow; I awaited the sight of fluffy white ‘cotton’ that covers the city. I remembered being so excited on seeing the first snow sprinkles of my life that I actually ran out of the student accommodation with my sleep wear (it was near midnight I think). Flower started to bloom by spring (although some were conveniently planted). It was a beautiful sight, especially when I went to visit a botanical garden in Birmingham. And finally, summer – the few short months of warmth before the cycle began all over again.
Favourite season? Probably winter. Despite the cold, I always waited for snow, and when it happens, I take a moment to enjoy the beauty of nature… before i whisked out my camera and snapped a couple of pictures.
Travel: I’ve travelled to several places in UK and Europe. I travelled down to London more than 10 times in 4 years. Thank you for YeeChing and ShyuFei for always letting me crash at their place, otherwise accommodation in London would fork out a huge chunk of my expenditure. Manchester and London excluded, I’ve seen a bit of UK through Nottingham, Leeds, Arnside, Lancaster, Birmingham, Bolton, Blackpool, Peak District, Stonehenge, Birmingham, Oxford, Cotswold, Warwick, Bath, Newcastle and several little towns.
My first trip to Europe was to Germany. I was not an avid traveller, so I was usually the tag alongs for all trips. The only trip I was properly involved in is the Italy trip in winter2012. Much to my surprise, I have checked several countries off the Europe list – Munich and Berlin in Germany, Oslo and Bergen in Norway, Amsterdam, Scotland, Poland, Budapest, Paris in France, Venice Rome Pisa and Florence in Italy, and finally ended with Zadar, Plitvice and Dubronik in Croatia. The most exciting place I had been to is Paris Disneyland. At 22, I was equally as excited as any 6-year-old in the park that day.
I was also fortunate enough to be involved in London 2012. This is probably the best spur-of-the-moment decision I made in the four years. I went to all the training sessions in London without being sure if I would volunteer for the event. After all, the penultimate summer was always the best time to go for an internship and get a head start of my future career. I went in the end – and in all honesty one of the main reasons I went was the poppy purple uniform!
Graduation: This marked the end of the four-year journey. I attended and missed a couple of my friends graduation. I was extremely fortunate to have both my family and friends share this wonderful occasion. Even with painful feet, all of us were smiling widely. We took single and group photographs, made conversations and bid our goodbyes to people we would rarely see in the future.
A handful of experience ..
a lifetime of friends.