Monday, July 2, 2012

No Regrets



I’m currently in LA International Airport, waiting for the Malaysian Airlines counter to be open. My journey back to Malaysia started at 5am this morning, when I boarded my flight in Madison.

I’ve spent a few days packing, thinking about the things I should and should not bring home. The process seemed never ending. At the same time, it was painful to know that it would a very very long time before I actually get a chance to visit Madison again. It’s not like a can take a $200 flight to Madison. It was a one-time opportunity, a very priceless one. I knew I would handle leaving Madison pretty well, since I spent my time here to the fullest. But when I was lying on my bed, I didn’t sleep well. I could here everything happening in the living room—my friends playing games, trying to keep awake before they send me off. There was a moment when I almost panicked…I’m gonna miss everything so badly. And more importantly, what happens next? I wanted to run to my friends to tell them that I was worried, and that I couldn’t sleep. But somehow I couldn’t lift myself up from the bed—I couldn’t budge.


When the noise broke down, I knew it was time for me to wake up. I took a quick shower, hoping that the cold water would soothe the pain that my back was experiencing. I was nervous thinking about the lonely-2-day journey back home.

I quickly had the ayam goreng that my friends made during the sleepover. The chicken that was supposed to be delicious had no taste in my mouth (which is very unusual for someone like me who loves to eat). I think I was a little shocked that I was going home. I couldn’t wait to go home, but at the same time, I didn’t want to…


As I was saying goodbye to some of my friends, I realized how many I really have. I have more than I expected. Being myself, most of the time, I study alone, take classes alone…basically most of the time, I’m always alone. It can be pretty tough, especially when I need to struggle in my studies. That’s why sometimes among the million faces, I felt pretty lonely. So I had to look some way to survive. But I guess that’s the reason I have my Malaysian friends and my non-Malaysian friends. They’ve balanced my life in Madison.  And without their presence my life would not have been the same here.

Thinking back, I really enjoyed living in Madison. It may be more kampung compared to NYC or San Fransisco but who cares? I was able to gain a lot from my experiences there. I took 2 years of Arabic (which I never thought I would), and I worked for VIP and met a bunch of awesome people. I ate all types of food, I met the people—I really lived life to the fullest.

In the next post I'll specifically write about my experiences in Madison. Right now I'm really hungry :p

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Where to Buy Prof Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud's Books



Salam, everyone.

I know some of you are interested in reading some of his books.

www.wanmohdnorwandaud.blogspot.com

This is a new website that has been set up in order to promote not only his books, but his ideas as well.

For more information don't be afraid to contact me :)


Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Few Words of Appreciation


It's 2 weeks before graduation.

And honestly I have all of these mixed feelings about leaving.

I'm happy that I'll be done with papers etc but I'm nervous thinking about the real world. 


And also it's because half of me remains in NY. 

I'm very grateful for everyone who has helped me survive here and contributed to my individual development.


So that's a big thank you to of course, my parents, sisters, friends, housemates, VIP, my homies...

And you. 

Could not have done this without all of you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Dancing to My Own Music in the US" published in "Souvenirs".


A few weeks ago, I submitted my piece to "Souvenirs". This magazine is a student run magazine on campus. You can basically write about your experiences abroad. I've always wanted to write something and have had the hopes that it would somehow be published and I thought that since I always write about my experiences here, why not? And Alhamdulillah, it was accepted.

By the way, the title of my piece is "Dancing to My Own Music in the US".

Now I'm more confident that what I write actually do interest people HAHA.

After I read my piece at the Release Party, there was an old guy who came up to me and said, "I liked your piece. The words were simple but the philosophy behind it is very deep."

Although I submitted my piece to the journal, I still feel shy and a little embarrassed if people that I know read it. My writing comes from the heart so it's very honest. I write about what I really think so I think some people may not like it.

The next day, when I attended my Arabic class told me, "I read your piece. It's the sweetest thing."

Another said, "Awwww, that's so cute. You can't assimilate because you don't go to parties."

The first remark was fine. But the second one, I just felt like she just didn't get it.

She probably didn't mean anything bad by it but I felt uneasy. Insecure. For a moment, I felt that I was stupid for actually submitting that.

Oh well, you can't please everyone.

Here's the edited version of my piece:

***********



Before studying in the United States, the images I had of America and its people were strictly based on what the media presented to the world. I read a lot of novels, watched a lot of movies and of course—reality tv. Let’s not forget that another important medium is international news.

You could probably imagine what I initially thought about America. Being a Muslim Malaysian girl who not only practices her faith but also wears the headscarf, I was very nervous thinking about whether or not I could ever feel safe or even happy in America. Thanks to the news, after the September 11th  attacks, I was worried that people would equate Muslims to terrorists.

But to my own amazement, when I arrived in Madison, the experiences I have had are very different-- far different from what I had anticipated.

The first time I walked down State Street, I was expecting people to look at me as if I had a second nose or a third eye, but to my surprise things turned out to be normal. Actually, normal isn’t the right word to describe Madison. I noticed that the people here are extremely nice. They are warm, friendly and very accepting—something which the international news did not emphasize.

I’m not trying to say that my experience in Madison has been smooth sailing—that’s totally far from the truth. Growing up in Kuala Lumpur, I was exposed to life that is rich with diversity. I may be a practicing Muslim but that does not mean I do not hang out with people of different faiths. But I have to admit, it took me some time to get used to America.

Culture shock comes in many shapes and sizes. Most people think that an example of culture shock is feeling depressed and unmotivated because they miss home too much. I thought it was nearly impossible for me to experience culture shock. Little did I know, feeling overwhelmed due to the workload is one of the many forms of culture shock. Coming from a background where homework was to figure out mathematical and scientific equations, I felt as though I had a big rock pressed against my chest when I had to complete three papers in one week. In Malaysia, we did not do much writing, so it explains the reason I had a difficult time adjusting. I remember I used to cry a lot, not because I missed home, but because I could not deal with the stress that I was experiencing.

Putting aside academics, like everyone else, I wanted to fit into American culture. I never lived in the residence halls because I felt it would be easier to live among Malaysians. Since I have been separated from family members, it’s better to live with people who understand where I’m coming from, people who most likely will end up being my backbone while I’m here. Unfortunately I was not able to assimilate into the culture as easily as I thought. Currently I have made good American friends and I am very confident that the friendships will be long lasting. However, I did notice that certain people took the time to appreciate diversity. Sometimes I tried to make conversations with the people next to me, but from their facial expression, you knew they weren’t really interested. It took me awhile to know that if an international student wanted to make friends, they had to go through the right channels. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not blaming Americans, but the issue was probably also coming from me. I see myself as a pretty outgoing person but I will never be accustomed to certain things like parties. I enjoy concerts, music, food, and good company, but going to a place where the room is crowded with people just makes me a little dizzy.

Regardless of how I longed to find a connection, I never felt pressured to enjoy myself the way others did. I somehow knew that there was a place for everyone in Madison, it was just a matter of time.

As time passed I had befriended many people from the most unexpected places. I’ve grown close to my friends that I’ve met through classes. At times I think that we may be totally different people, but our shared interests create a strong bond.  Ironically, the struggle that my friends and I in Arabic class experience together consist of fun and laughter. We’re so diverse in ethnicity, age and ideas that the diversity creates a very interesting environment to be in.

********

(They took out my conclusion and about my experiences working for VIP). I guess it was too long.  


Here's the original version: http://bebmentoot.blogspot.com/2012/02/dancing-to-my-own-music.html

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seizing Opportunities


( I took this while I was jogging by the lake )

Currently, I've been spending my days with mom. Going shopping, walking around the lake and just enjoying my free time in Madison. Almost during every break, I spend my time outside of Madison. So it's really actually nice to actually enjoy Madison when I'm not busy.

I enjoy my family members being here in Madison. It's been a while since I've had people accompany me doing the things that I enjoy. Most of the time, I spend doing things alone. Unlike many people, somehow they are able to find people to share it with. But I think I have different interests compared to most people.

I am really enjoying my life here in Madison. I know nothing can compare to home, because that is where my heart truly is. But I have been given the opportunity to study abroad and so I'm seizing every opportunity ahead of me. Some people don't even have an education abroad, therefore I am so thankful that I was able to get a scholarship to pay all my expenses here.

Let's be honest, studying here isn't really easy. I mean, anyone can get good grades. But the harder thing about studying here is assimilating within the new culture. You need to know who you are before you go abroad. You need to know what makes you comfortable. You need to know who your real friends are. You need to be patient. Challenges come in different forms and each one needs to be handled with patience. There's this English idiom/saying about travelers that I've learned in Arabic class:

يحب أن يكون له عينا سقر ليري كل  كل شيء، وأن يكون له أذنا حمار ليسمع كل شيء، وأن يكون له ظهر جمل لتحمل أي 
شيء، وساقا معزة لا تتعبان من المشي، وحقيبتان إحداحما امتلأت بالمال والأخرى بالصبر.

(It is necessary to have eyes like an eagle to see everything and to have ears like a donkey to hear everything, and to have the back like a camel to bear anything, and the legs of a goat so you won't be tired form walking, and 2 bags-- one filled with money and the other with perseverance.)


Nice kan? Although I find the choice of animals a little weird....anyway....

Some may not enjoy their stay abroad but I think that's really sad. Studying abroad can be enriching in so many ways. The experiences that you have is something that you can't learn from books. They're pretty priceless if you ask me :)

We shouldn't complain about what's wrong with our stay in the US. I know our days can be lonely and sometimes our expectations may have been to high, but we should focus on the bigger picture.

Not many people have been given this rezeki :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Baked Fish Fillet


Today is the first Saturday of Spring Break (my last Spring Break...)

And my mom told me to cook something easy. Initially she wanted me to cook Fish Florentine, a recipe by Betty Crocker. 

But then since today I didn't have one of the ingredients, I decided that I had to change the recipe. So I did with what I cooked. And surprisingly, it tasted pretty great too, Alhamdulillah :)

The recipe is pretty simple. I took it from Myrecipes.com but I had to change it a little bit.

So here's the recipe:

5 fillets cut into three
1 small tangerine (the original recipe required lemon but I didn't have that)
4 tbl spoons of mayo
8 x 1/4 teaspoons of pepper
salt
butter
1/4 of onion
2 cloves of garlic
 A LOT OF BREAD CRUMBS

Sorry for the not-so-precise measurements. I had to change it and I kinda forgot how much things were used. 

So, I mixed the tangerine juice (crushed it with my hands), mayo, pepper, salt, onions and garlic. Then I slathered that onto the fish. Then I dipped that in breadcrumbs. GENEROUSLY, IN A BAG. After that is done, I placed the fish on my pyrex ( which has already been smeared with oil haha). Once that was done, I drizzled oil onto the fish. Finally, I put the whole thing in an oven as hot as 425 F for like 20 mins. And Wallaaaaa! Out came the dish :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Food in Madison

I am going to the food here. Although Malaysian food is always best, but I still love the food here.

Let's get started...



Fish Florentine:  Cooked it btw :)


Steak


Lamb and rice: Mediterranean Food


Chicken Dolmasi from HUSNU'S


Fruits! Yoghurt! Yummmmm from SAMBA


Deep fried seafood at FUGU


Birthday present at Husnu's: bakhlava and ice cream!


Bagels! From Einstein's


Nachos from I can't remember....


Quesadillas from QDOBA

There you go :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Syria: The People Awake - Programmes - Al Jazeera English

Syria: The People Awake - Programmes - Al Jazeera English

Everyone should watch this.

Regardless of our political beliefs, we should realize certain things. For what it's worth, at least we have security, for the most part.

Sometimes I get annoyed when I hear complaints about Malaysia.

We're not perfect but we're not broken either.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dancing to My Own Music


Before studying in the United States, the images I had of America and its people were strictly based on what the media presented to the world. I read a lot of novels, watched a lot of movies and of course—reality tv. Let’s not forget that another important medium is international news.

So you could probably imagine what I initially thought about America. Being a Muslim Malaysian girl who not only practices her faith but also wears the headscarf, I was very nervous thinking about whether or not I could ever feel safe or even happy in America. Thanks to the news, after the September 11 attacks, I was worried that people would equate Muslims as terrorists.

But to my own amazement, when I arrived in Madison the experiences I am having is very different-- far different from what I had anticipated.

The first time I walked down State Street, I was expecting people to look at me as if I have a second nose or a third eye, but to my surprise things turned out to be normal. Actually, normal isn’t the right word to describe about Madison. I noticed that the people here are extremely nice. They are warm, friendly and very accepting—something which the international news did not emphasize.

I’m not trying to say that my experience in Madison has been smooth sailing—that’s totally far from the truth. Growing up in Kuala Lumpur, I was exposed to life that is rich with diversity. I may be a practicing Muslim but that does not mean I do not hang out with people of different faiths. But I have to admit; it took me some time to get used to America.

Culture shock comes in many shapes and sizes. Most people think that an example of culture shock is feeling depressed and unmotivated because they miss home too much. I thought it was nearly impossible for me to experience culture shock. Little did I know, feeling overwhelmed due to the workload is one of the many forms of culture shock. Coming from a background where homework was to figure out mathematical and scientific equations, I felt as though I had a big rock pressed against my chest when I had to complete three papers in one week. In Malaysia, we did not do much writing so it explains the reason I had a difficult time adjusting. I remember I used to cry a lot not because I missed home but because I could not deal with the stress that I was experiencing.

Putting aside academics, like everyone else, I wanted to fit into American culture. I never lived in the residence halls because I felt it would be easier to live among Malaysians. Since I have been separated from family members, it’s better to live with people who understand where I’m coming from, people who most probably will end up being my backbone while I’m here. Unfortunately I was not able to assimilate into the culture as easily as I thought. Currently I have made good American friends and I am very confident that the friendship will be long lasting. However, I did notice that it is certain people who took the time to appreciate diversity. Sometimes I tried to make conversations with the people next to me, but from their facial expression you knew they weren’t really interested. It took me awhile to know that if an international student wanted to make friends, they had to go through the right channels. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not blaming Americans but the issue was probably also coming from me. I see myself as a pretty outgoing person but I will never be accustomed to certain things like parties. I enjoy concerts, music, food and good company but going to a place where the room is crowded with people just makes me a little dizzy.

Regardless of how I longed to find a connection, I never felt pressured to enjoy myself the way others did. I somehow knew that there is a place for everyone in Madison, it was just a matter of time.

As time passed I had befriended many people from the most unexpected places. I’ve grown close to my friends that I’ve met through classes. At times I think that we may be totally different people but our shared interests create a strong bond. Ironically, the struggle that my friends and I in Arabic class experience together consist of fun and laughter. We’re so diverse in ethnicity, age and ideas that the diversity creates a very interesting environment to be in.

I’ve also enjoyed the experience I gained from working for Visitors and Information Programs. My employers and colleagues have taught me priceless knowledge that I hope to bring back home. I have never met a bunch of people who try very hard to keep everyone happy. If I could choose a working environment for my future, I would want something similar to this.

My heart feels heavy having to leave the United States in July because I know that it will be long before I see my friends again. Even though I have not experienced things the way others did, I still have no regrets so far. People tend to think that when you go to the US, you might lose your cultural background. Interestingly, I think I’ve become wiser because I’ve learned so much from the people around me and I hope these fulfilling experiences will continue—no matter where I may be.

I truly believe that I’ve explored everything United States has to offer. During my three-year-stay here, I have seen many places from New York to California and even to Tennessee. My college life in the US has been more than living away from home; it has been a life journey that I can’t really describe. Some people say that you need to live life as if you’re a traveler and I believe that I’m doing just that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Modern Writers



It's 9.55 p.m. and I'm spending my time alone in a coffee house on State Street, trying to do my readings.

After almost two hours of reading, I'm tired.

Today was a tiring day.

Had two classes in the morning. Right after that I headed towards the gym for a workout. Then I had my lunch and then I worked for two hours at the Welcome Center.

As soon as I got back I made dinner.

After my dinner, I headed straight here. To study. And now I'm getting sick. Again.

Anyway, that isn't really my point.

For my lit class, I'm doing readings about modern literature. African literature, to be exact. We are focusing mainly on Egypt.



I was hoping to be studying works of Rumi etc but unfortunately I don't think this is the class. Instead, we are focusing on works of writers such as Naguib Mahfouz and Tawfik al-Hakim. In my opinion, these writers have a more Western framework with regards to how their States should function. Many often criticize the traditional way of life, saying that the people and the system have been corrupted etc.

As Muslims, we can probably differentiate between corrupted people and the true faith/ the real things that should be implemented but how about others? How do they see Islam through the lens of these writers?

Islamic nations today are facing difficulties, yes that is true. But I feel like bashing every aspect of the state in a novel my influence readers to think of Islam worse than what they already think.

If I write a book one day, I hope it would benefit the society.

InsyaAllah.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Friends



graduation is fast approaching and i don't know where i'm gonna go from here.



all i know is that i'm really enjoying myself now. and i love my friends.



i love the classes i've taken, the experiences i've had.



and also the lessons learned.



although we're pretty different but i think we make each other happy in different ways.

:)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Turning 23

I know it has been a while since I've written anything.

I can't believe I'll be turning 23 tomorrow.

It makes me nervous thinking that I don't have a path laid out for me. I mean, it scary to think I don't have any solid plans after graduation.

When I was younger I always told my dad that I didn't know what I wan't to be.

"The most important thing is that you know WHO you want to be."

Maybe to some, that might be the same thing.

To many people,careers may define who they are. And that is probably true, to a certain extent.

But in the efforts to gain material wealth people sometimes forget to reach for spiritual fulfillment.

I think I've kind of known what kind of person what I want to be, what I want to have.

Life often turns out differently from what we expect. I never believed to be in a position or have the life that I have now.

I'm very happy with everything I have. And I hope I will always remain this way, if not better.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Final New Year in the USA

It has been too long since I've written a post and since then, a lot has happened...

Finals for Fall 2011 passed by and Alhamdulillah, I did well. Far better than I expected.

Then it was time for my winter break.

And this time...guess where we headed?

Rock City-Orlando-Bahamas-Miami-New Orleans-Memphis-St Louis

Yup, that's right. The twelve of us took 2 vans and drove from Madison all the way, all through those places.

And it was wonderful, Alhamdulillah. I've never felt so blessed. Of course, my life is blessed in so many ways and this is just one of them.

It was an awesome adventure. I went with a good group of people. And amazingly, nothing went wrong this time. The chemistry between all of us was really good and everything went as planned except...

When we were driving through Alabama, we were pulled over.By cops, of course.

When they opened the door, the officer said asked one of my friends, "What school do you go to?"

"SUNNY at Buffalo, NY".

"I've never heard of that university before. Where is that?"

At that moment I was like, "Stupid cop." Of course, that was only in my head.

Then, we were harassed with so many questions....

"What country are you from?"

"What's the capital?"

"What's the national bird?"

"We don't have a national bird, we have a national flower", I answered, trying hard to hide my agitation.

One my friends who was the co-driver had just woken up and so he was naturally groggy.

The other office said, "What's wrong? You can't speak?"

They continued on with their questions etc. They didn't give us a ticket (Thank God!) but by the end of the interrogation, he tried to butter the situation by shaking our hands and ending the 'conversation' with a smile.

What an a**

When I told this to my employer, she said "Aaah, I was worried when you mentioned that you passed by the South. It's a different world down there".

Oh yeah it freakin is.

She apologized for their behavior. Everyone's (my American friends and co-workers) faced changed when I told them about that experience. When I told my sisters, they laughed.

Why was their such a different response?

Probably because Muslims expect that that would happen. I mean so far, I have not received such racist remarks. But then again I knew that this was bound to happen. I think my American friends were probably very ashamed of their behavior and thus, their angered expression. When I told my Muslim friends they say, "Well at least you didn't get a ticket."

The different privilege that people have influence their way of adapting situations like that.

After reading how cartoonists can draw discriminating and disrespectful things of the Prophet SAW and how they can justify that burning the Quran is freedom of speech, getting pulled over by cops and being harassed to me, seems to be the least troubling thing.

Funny how the world works.

Well, aside from that HAHAHAHHAHAHA i had an awesome time.

HERE ARE THE PICTURES FOR YOU TO SEEEE:



(Georgia--credits to Aiman)



(In front of Hogwarts)



(Always wanted to be a princess_credits to Aiman)



(Miami_credits to Adam)



(New Orleans_credits to Adam)



(Graceland, Elvis)



(Cigar Shop in Miami)