Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What I learn from 'the walk: KLCC-Chulan Towers'

I walked. It was a rather long walk. I took the LRT from Wangsa Maju to KLCC and determined to find my way to Chulan Towers, by foot. Alhamdulillah, I found the seminar room in Nottingham University, KL Campus, the destination for the day, and alhamdulillah, I arrived on time.

I learned a few lessons during the walk:
  1. It's not near! I thought the walk would take around 10-15 minutes, but I actually walk, from KLCC LRT station, across Suria KLCC, heading to KL Convention Centre, across Jalan Pinang and using Pavillion and Royale Chulan Hotel as landmarks, I arrived at Chulan Towers after 25 minutes of brisk walking (with drenched and soaked blouse!). The lesson is, do wear good shoes which wouldn't kill your feet. And from my 'little' experience of shoe shopping, good shoes will usually cost more. So, invest in buying good shoes, and wear it. Those shoes which are expensive and comfortable are meant for wearing, not collecting dust on the shoe rack!
  2.  If it's a new route, PLEASE make sure that you have ample time for your 'experiment'. Please bear in mind that difficulties in finding the place and getting lost or hurting your feet or even out of breath might be some factors that could make you late (or verrry late). Thus make sure that you spare some minutes for those circumstances. 
  3. I learned that the guards working in KLCC do have good instructional discourse. If I didn't meet the first man who actually had given me a precise set of instructions on how to reach Pavillion, I might have changed my mind and took the cab during the peak-and-crazy traffic jam hours! But 'Latiff' (name on the shirt) and his other two mates that I met near Aquaria and another one, at KL Convention Centre lobby were very helpful in giving clear and concise directions. Well done. Plus, they helped me with genuine smiles on their face. Fab isn't it?
  4. Don't be shy to ask. Since GARMIN cannot help me in finding directions that morning, I asked, and asked (4 times) anyone sensible.
  5. On my way, I saw office workers in their working attire changed from high heels to sport shoes to jog and brisk walk at the beautiful KLCC Park. I applaud these ladies since they took an initiative to take care of their health, though they lead pretty hectic lives in KL. Bravo!
  6. That brought me to point number 6. I need a regular exercise regime to stay healthy and in shape! If they can do it, why can't I?
  7.  The other great thing that I learned from my walk that morning another healthy lifestyle of some city citizens. Two young ladies took out two Tupperware containers from their tote bags and gave it to the hawkers at the side of the road and said 'Macam biasa, ya Mak Cik. Terima kasih.' (The usual please, thank you). And the street hawkers packed her breakfast (or lunch) in the container and said 'RM2.50 please'. It was RM0.50 less since she uses her own container! I knew this because I was standing near the hawker, waiting patiently for the 'walking green man' so that I can cross Jalan Pinang safely, and the other friend said, 'Aisey, need to pay RM3 today, left my Tupperware at the pantry!'
I learned 7 things from my 25-minute walk. I enjoyed the walk!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

What I want to share for my Al Fateh's birthday..

Slowly slow my child - Zain Bhika.

Slowly slow my child
The world waits for you
And your window of time
Will come shining through
Slowly slow, don't rush you know
It'll all come easy
There's some things you can't take back
No regrets for what you wanna get
Needs some thinking down the line

Slowly slow my darling
I'm here for you
And every stumble, every fall
Breaks my heart in two
I only want the best for you
And every step makes up the mile
Even though it takes a while
And God will always smile on you my child

So have faith, have faith
Just like the bird who feels the sun
And sings before the dawn has come
Have faith, have faith

Slowly slow my boy
I see you're strong
And everybody wants to find
A place where they belong
But don't you find yourself someday
In a cold and dark and lonely place
And you wonder how you got there

I know it gets clouded in your mind
And you wanna move faster
It seems that you're running out of time
But I love you
Together we'll get through
Don't you know
Slowly slow

Slowly slow my son
You wanna be a man
And I guess those days are gone
When I used hold your hand
Cause this is the age of winks and smiles
And butterflies deep inside
But you'll always be the coolness of my eyes

Slowly slow my child
The world waits for you
And your window of time
Will come shining through
Slowly slow, don't rush you know
It'll all come easy

Our love, smooches, hugs, and most of all, our du'as;

Abi & Ummi.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What I learn from 'SIFE UMT' - iPresentation.

Though I was a minuscule figure in SIFE UMT, I felt their sorrow and distress after losing in the National SIFE Competition recently. Reasons of loss ranges from the political issues and secret agendas behind certain parties to our slight weakness in presenting our strong, powerful cases. The word slight is purposefully chosen because to other judges who are first speakers of English, they did not see any flaw in SIFE UMT presentations.

However, what I learn in life is never point fingers to blame and reprimand anyone, but to see and criticise my own weaknesses to improve and trade my failure to become a huge success in the future. I always believe that Allah didn't give what we want, but He always give us what we NEED

But, there is the issue of RIGHTS. Do we have the right to win if another team actually fibbed their projects? In Islam, we need to fight for our right, using the right paths and procedures. 

Coming back to the issue of self-improvement. One of the critical agenda during SIFE Competition is the presentation of our laughter and smile, sweat and tears in less than 25 minutes. What do we need to do to achieve that brilliantly? 

The need to polish the presentation skills.

I watched Nur Kasih on TV3 because I believed in their scenes. I take time to watch Leverage on AXN because I believe those con artiste. The key word here is BELIEVE.

Presentations need to be believable, it has to be presented with passion and own deep, very deep interest. Presentations are not script memorising and regurgitating process. Well, it can be the first step of it, but we need to move further than the first step. It needs to come from the heart, as if you believe and are passionate towards the Cambodian children, the loneliness of the Single Moms, the impoverish fishermen etc.

Wanie, Zoofar, Ieja, A-an, Yudha and Fuzah: The 'believers' presenting.

I watched Nur Kasih because the story line was meaningful and engaging. Why? I do have friends who were similar to the devilish Adam in Australia. I could relate to Nur.

Presentations need to be meaningful, engaging and related to the audience. How do we do it? We need to include the audience in the emotional dramas that we have been through. This is when the video clippings play its essential role. For instance, using the high impact visuals that can move emotions of the crowd.

Engaging and relating to the audience also mean interacting with the crowd during presentation. Audience awareness is an essential skill in any presentation. By smiling, keeping eye contact as well as appropriate body gesture, these will help the audience, if not all, at least the judges, to stay focus on the presentation.

Tone awareness and speaking pace are also issues to take note. But I believe that we have scored 5 stars on these. Well done!

One of my idols in smart presentations is the Apple man - iSteve Jobs. In his presentations during the numerous launches of Apple products, he keeps his sentences very simple. Minimal amount of word used in a sentence. This has the effect of the audience to want to know more and more about the product (or projects). 

When visual aids were used, he use graphics or short phrases per slide - which highlights the key point of our speech. Be selective and precise. In addition, iSteve Jobs always use black/dark blue background and white font. Simple but effective. I want to be presenting as iAzza one day, insha Allah.

All in all, despite our defeat, I still believe that Allah knows best. I totally agree with Ustazah Faizah when she mentioned that Allah didn't give what we want, but He always give us what we NEED. And I second Ustaz Riswadi's point saying that we left the competition with dignity, and stand tall with the other respected team. 

 A chunk of SIFE UMT Team with team Advisor, Ust Riswadi.

So guys, we have learned tonnes from the SIFE experience itself. Wanie's statement in the SIFE UMT's FB page was eloquently put, 'helping people meant a whole lot then just winning... our self satisfaction, our emotion, are being greatly impacted. losing is not he end of us... '.

Never give up because the rainbow will appear after the rain, insha Allah. I believe in you, SIFE UMT!

What I learn from 'APAC LSP Conference 2010' - Core Competencies.

Conferences are part and parcel of life as researchers. It's a stage for one to meet others in the same field, to create or build a network, a platform for one to showcase to the world of the new or improved 'discoveries' one has done. Alhamdulillah, APAC LSP Conference 2010 was spectacular. It generated new ideas and I learn a lot more, research wise as well as basic and core competencies as human beings. 

Firstly, what I learn from the conference, I need to be genuinely interested in everyone I meet: always appreciate, acknowledge and never be judgmental when you meet a person. The 'ranks' of status in a plenary hall would consist of tremendously well-known professors (and pitifully, I was the only one who didn't recognise them, though I cited them in my EndNote) to the secretariat staff or even waitresses serving coffee and tea! 

So, whenever I meet someone, I always need to find something good about them to compliment, i.e. their presentations, their latest book, their current research, the institutions they work with, their fantastic preparation for the conference, I can even compliment the waitress on the wonderfully hot thick coffee, etc.. This will help in building positive rapport with them in the future, insha Allah. As Prof Dr Muhaya Mohamad suggested in one of the interviews with MHI, "Make others like themselves a little bit more and they will like us forever'. I believe her.

Hence, I need to treat others better than I want to be treated, and that's my second lesson of the conference. I need to train my brain to be more skillful in remembering names. I am so thankful for name tags! I love it when others can come by and say 'Hello, Azza!' and not, 'Hi, ermm.. Ika, right?' It's a gift that I hope Allah can grant me, a better long- and short-term memories. I'm lacking of those, sadly. I learn that when I remember others' names and address them appropriately, it shows that they are genuinely respected. I want to apply this all the time, insha Allah, even to my students (and it'll be struggle to me, but I want them to feel appreciated). 

Treat others better than I want to be treated - like the Queen! Hahah..

Thirdly, it is wise to be an interactive listener. Let others' talk about themselves and keep things about myself to myself until being asked.

Fourthly, do carry yourself confidently with a smile. Though attending a big conference alone might be a bit intimidating, always walk and sit with poise with a touch of smile, and trust me, the world will smile back at you!

Another point worth jotting is always find something good to comment and suggest after any presentations. It's important to train myself to be a good finder, not a fault finder.

Wallahu 'alam.

What I learn from 'APAC LSP Conference 2010' feat. Zee Avi.

I soaked a lot of fabulous experiences, fresh thoughts and wonderfully bright ideas during Asia Pasific Rim - Language for Specific Purposes & Professional Communication Conference in PJ Hilton last week (15-17th July). One of the most interesting and eye-opening presentation was from Andrew Moody (PhD) from Macau University. His presentation was on 'English and Language Mixing in Asian Pop Culture'.

At the beginning, I was not so sure whether to attend his talk, or to choose other research presentations, but his art of opening of presentation was super! There was Steve Job's aura in the air, so I stayed.

Andrew Moody presented me with a case of 'leaking languages', whereby multilingual language use in professional context. When English and Malay are used in the same sentence in meetings, institution emails, business phone calls etc.. Some called it 'Manglish'.

I question myself, 'How healthy is it? How healthy is language mixing and 'purposeful' code-switching?

A sample used by Andrew Moody was 'Kantoi' by Zee Avi, a well-known Malaysian artiste who is currently based in the US.

Question 1: Why do we mix and alternate languages (i.e. Bahasa Malaysia and English)?
  1. It's trendy and cool.
  2. There's not enough vocabulary of either language in the mind.
  3. People nowadays have lazy brains to dig the embedded lexis and vocab.
  4. A tool to clarify clearly in order to achieve accuracy in sending message.
  5. To show creativity.
I choose numbers 2, 3 and 4 for the use 'Manglish' among educated Malaysians. But Zee Avi has actually alternated the languages for the purpose of numbers 1 and 4. Fascinating to see how different minds work! As Trudgill (1983) asserted, alternating languages represent generation groups. And I have to agree with him, there are generation gaps in the case of alternating languages.

For the Manglish case, I don't think I belong in this group. And if people labeled me as 'archaic' and 'old-fashioned' for this, I wouldn't mind a bit!

Question 2: When don't we 'leak' the languages?

From my observation, most of us will write in full-Bahasa Malaysia or English when we write official letters, whether being addressed to the government officials or head of the company. Formal emails to VCs, Deans, and CEOs. That's it? Is that it?

Do you think it's enough to be an articulated and eloquent English or Malay speakers and writers if we only use the 'proper' language during those times, only?

Question 3: What I learn (indistinctly) when we mix our languages?
  1. By mixing languages when we speak and write, we are actually projecting and portraying our image to the respondent. People do judge us from time to time, if not all the time; and choosing how to speak and write will determine who you are in the eyes of others.  
  2. The damage to the languages when we mix them is horrific. I believe, one of the reasons why people are lacking in fluency in either of the languages is caused by language mixing.
  3. How tolerant can I be as a language educator/mother when my students/children mix their language purposely? This is not a code-switching issue. For me, it's the lazy brain syndrome. I'll leave this as a question.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What I learn from 'the the kids play time with neighbours'.

I enjoy telling the kids and their cousins stories of my childhood. They are always mesmerised with the simple and uncomplicated childhood that my husband and I had.

I told them stories of Aunty Jules (Juliana Isma) who I grew up with in Shahbandar before her family moved to Bukit Chedang, Seremban. How athletic she was when she jumped over the fence several times daily. And hello!!.. the fence was not low!!  I told them how we queued up when Atok came home from work and he would dukung us one by one and swayed us mid-air! Jules and I played and danced in the rain, climbed rambutan trees, played hide and seek until our bodies were full with mosquito bites; we played tags, fell down and scraped our knees. But we didn't cry, (we might, a bit) but I believe that this made us grew up to be creative and high-spirited us. We had good friends and playmates when we were very young. 

And I want my children to have this kind of experience, too!

 Cheeky Jules and her son Omar (Photo from Jules FB)

Another friend that's always constant in my growing up years would be Ila who's just a year older than me. Fresh in my mind, I remember those days when we cooked rice, pucuk ubi leaves and eggs in the aluminum condensed milk cans under the rambutan tree. We used matches and small sticks +  dried eaves from the rambutan tree pretending to be Oshins of Malaysia. We sew our own batu seremban and took the cloth from Ila's Nenek's crib. Our make-believe sessions were not only being Oshin or the volleyball player in the Moero Attack, we were also Rashid Sidek and Foo Kok Keong during the badminton fever of Thomas Cup in the 90s'. Role playing played a big role in our younger years. We loved playing outdoors than indoors. Our parents allowed us to be whatever we wanted to be.

Creative Ila and her son, Harris (photo from Fazila Shaharuzaman's FB)

I believe role play made our imagination goes wild and creative. With Ila, we planned, organised and executed our activities in a fun way. Creativity and innovation took place almost every play time. And look how creative Ila becomes with her Swirl of Colours projects! I'm proud of you, babe!

Those experiences could not be possible if a child plays on her own. It could be, but the aspect of sharing thoughts, communicating with peers, overcoming problems, sharing joy: all these affective, psychomotor and cognitive aspects of learning would be pretty hard to gain without playmates.

That's why I never restrict the kids when they called out for our neighbours' children to come and play at our house. I want them to have the opportunity that I had with Jules and Ila. (And I want them to learn and understand Terengganu lingo, too! They'll be my hopeful translators!)

The kids were playing musical chair. Alwani just went round and round, following whatever kakak did. Al Fateh computed the rules and hows of the game after the second round. Fantastic observation skills, Al Fateh!

Please note where Alwani sat! She didn't get it! hahahah. As long that she could grab a seat, it's fine with her! Oh Alwani.

I hope that we can always have good neighbours because they'll help us mold our children to be better people. That's what I learn and believe.

Thanks Jules, Ila, Nina, Ikhwan, Sheema, Nadia, Ayip, Geena & Shima (my lovely cousins) because you had shaped the small me to be the big me now!

Monday, July 12, 2010

What I learn from 'Tashiru'.

Tashiru is a new found R&B Nasyeed boy band that my husband discovered and he recommended them to me since he knew the genre I enjoyed listening to. And, Masha Allah, I do!

The faces of Tashiru.

What I learn from Tashiru is the need to improve and be innovative in our professions. What I see today, in the classrooms, some of the teaching styles are not tailored to match the evolving students' profiles. It is sad to see bored faces in the classroom since the students cannot engage with their teachers or lecturers. They'll come out of the lecture theaters not learning anything.

A song from Tashiru Maaf 'tuk Berpisah (I'm sorry to leave you for the sake of Allah) is an example of their 'teaching methods' that they use to educate young (and old) Muslims in regards to keeping a relationship pure and untainted. Sadly, it's not a common practice in Malaysia for the teens or young adults to get to know each other according to the Prophet's ways. 

I'm grateful to Allah that I was protected from this 'phenomena', because I know that some of my friends and relatives do feel 'trapped' in it and it's hard to 'let go'. But, trust me, if your love is for the sake of Allah, and you can't perform your akad soon for whatever reasons, just keep your distance (physically and emotionally). Please don't make the devils happy. Please don't stain our parents 'books' just because you love him/her. Discuss and communicate to one another to meet again on your akad nikah event. 
It's not impossible. We've done it, so can you!

Another point that I learn from Tashiru is that, as a parent, I have to cater the needs of my lil' munchkins as children of nowadays, not olden days. I have to be updated with all the technologies of teaching and finding interesting materials to make learning a fab experience for them. 'Chalk and talk' method is  not useful for young learners who have short attention span and a preference for learning that involves exploration and discovery (Verzat, Byrne and Fayolle, 2009). We need and are responsible to seek ways to make learning a 'cool' thing. 

And I think Tashiru is 'cool!

Tashiru has a big similarity with my research. Both are finding better ways to connect and engage with our audiences. We are searching for tools to improve our ways to impart knowledge. The difference is, Tashiru has already found their ways to capture their audiences - they have their findings and solutions, I haven't and still (re)searching. With that, May Allah eases my PhD journey and yours, too, aamin.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What I learn from 'the World Cup, 2010' - 90'+

Spain and Netherlands will have a limited time tonight to prove to the world that they are the Champion of the World. They will just have 90 minutes and a few extra to spare, that's it. The unlucky team will have to wait another 4 years for another chance, if they're lucky enough, if they're still alive. 

The same goes for us. We have a limited time in the world to be the best we can be. To be the best daughter, wife, mother, friend, student, employer, supervisor; the best of everything and truly, the best follower of Prophet Muhammad and ultimately, the best servant of Allah.

Back to Vicente del Bosque and Bert van Marwijk's teams who are fighting for glory tonight. I am sure by this time, these coaches have been working hard on strategies and tactics, vigorously making sure that the players understand them and more importantly, will implement them tonight. Making sure that they'll score early to keep the spirit high. From my observations, most teams who scored early in the game would ended up winning the match. There were a few comebacks, though, but I must say that the teams who were behind would have to struggle to catch-up.

What I learn from this is firstly in life, you need strategies and tactics to help you win. You need a plan to win, a plan to succeed. Yes, the 'master plan' is written by Him, but you can always change your destiny with own efforts and du'as.

Secondly, the need to score early. It is still fresh in my mind when late Gillies Haughton, my student advisor in the University of Edinburgh, urged me to do well in all papers, beginning from Term One of my Bachelor of Education (Hons) Teaching English for Speaker of Other Languages (TESOL). 
'It counts in your overall grade, and don't take simple things for granted'. And I trusted him. And I'm thankful to him because I did well in my undergraduate years, even though there were hiccups at the end of my degree when my scholarship was denied, I did not need to suffer academically since I had accumulated good grades from the very beginning.  And in the end, alhamdulillah, I received an award from Edinburgh University for my patience and hard-work. (And I pray and hope that Allah will grant me an 'award' and reward me too, for 'the' experience.)
Three things learned here. 1) You don't know what 'tests' that Allah will offer you in the future, (2) So, start preparing early, and (3) Learn from and listen to the experienced.
Another beauty of scoring early is that you can recover or improve from your mistakes. If you are just starting to attack during the second-half period, you have wasted much of your precious time. But at least, you have learned from your mistakes, rather than just giving up and surrender.

Last but not least, what I learn from this is that I need to mold my children as early as I can. I need to accentuate their strengths and reduce their weaknesses (by not highlighting them). It is not an easy task, so Ya Allah, please ease my journey to educate my children. Aamin Ya Sami' Ya Basir.

Through the World Cup 2010, the kids are interested with the countries of the world. So, we use books and encyclopedias to introduce them to maps, flags and how the children look like at the other parts of the world.
Though I know that I have limited time, I do slack-off and do not optimise my potentials @ gifts from Him. Astaghfirullah-al 'Azim. I'm sorry Ya Rabb.

What I learn from 'the World Cup, 2010' - Jabulani

Jabulani was put on a spotlight since the beginning of the World Cup. It has been scrutinized and criticised by many goalkeepers and defenders. Many who scored own goals blamed the ball for bouncing all over the place. Many goalies held Jabulani responsible for the exit of their countries from the World Cup because of its erratic moves. 

 Al Fateh once asked, Jabulani bin apa?

However, for me, being an NFE (non-football enthusiast), a ball is a ball. It bounces because it has pressurised air. It moves erratically because it's round. Please don't blame the ball to cover your weaknesses. It's only a Jabulani!

What I learn from Jabulani is, don't make excuses. If the ball is hard for the goalie to save, ensure that the defenders avoid getting the erratic moving ball near the goal area. Ask your attacker to score it on the other side of the field. I'm sure that if your team member kick it properly, it'll be tricky for the opposing goalie to save it, wouldn't you think? So, ask for help and work together to overcome the hardships in your life.

I must agree with Haxi Hernandez, Spain's midfield maestro, who asserted that Jabulani is a ball that can easily be controlled and utilized effectively with practice. And guess who is going to the finals? A team who did not find excuses but adapting oneself with the situation. Bravo Spaniard. 

I believe the winning team of World Cup this year will be the team that has taken positive actions to overcome it's failure or weaknesses. Focusing on strength will be the key to win Jabulani's 'heart'.

Who do you think will win?

Friday, July 9, 2010

What I learn from 'the Champions League 2005'

I viewed more than a few matches in World Cup 2010. Some of the matches reminded me of my first football match I watched with my husband.

Joondanna, May 25th 2005.

My husband, a Reds fan, set up the alarm to watch the Champions League final match, Liverpool vs AC Milan. I woke up half an hour later than my husband, hearing him whining and frowning, deep in my mind, I was pretty sure that Liverpool was at the brink of defeat. I quietly asked my husband to just go back to bed since Liverpool was behind with 3 goals. 
'It's never going to happen,' said an NFE (non-football enthusiast). 
But my husband answered, 'You'll never walk alone!' 
Please be reminded that the NFE, being a NFE, AND had just woken up at the wee hours in the morning replied,  'Huhh?!?!'
'Please Google it tomorrow,' said a grim looking Kop's supporter.
So I stayed with him and luckily, he did not listen to my advise.
Subhanallah, I was chosen to witness the greatest comeback in history!

 Gerrard, with a 'halal' Liverpool jersey.

To summarise the eventful match: Liverpool was 3 goals down to Milan in the first-half. Steven Gerrard struck shortly after half-time and two minutes later substitute Smicer reduced the deficit to a single goal. Then, Gerrard was upended in the box and up stepped Xabi Alonso. Although his penalty was saved, he rammed home the rebound to draw Liverpool level. All this happened within 6 minutes! They must have chanted a special mantra during half-time! Anyway, extra-time came and went with no further goals, meaning an astonishing match would be settled with penalty kicks. Some unimportant and truly embarrassed Italian players all missed for Milan as the Reds ran out 3-2 winners to become champions of Europe for a fifth time.

Whew, not a bad commentating for an NFE, eh?

Anyhow, what I learn from watching the Champions League 2005 final was the word comeback. Liverpool taught me not to give up and panic, though you are down in one of the episodes in your life, don't give up or lose hope! Strive harder to overcome your obstacles and WIN
 "What's gonna work? Teamwork!"

The Reds kept on going until the final whistle. They did. And what happened? They won the Champions League after 15 years wait in Istanbul. Yes, they were not in Anfield, their home ground, but they still worked hard, extra hard, together, even they were not in their comfort zone. 

And what I learn from my husband is, support one till the end, even when they looked like they were nearly defeated, why must we leave him/her alone? If one is ill and nearly at the end of their road, will we just leave him/her to die? Loyalty. Faithfulness. Devotion.That's what I learn.

You'll Never Walk Alone (and I know what it means now, after Google-ing it!)

**I dedicate this piece to Kak Mala, Kak Azna and Ayu, cancer fighters and survivors. Keep on going, my dears. You'll never walk alone.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What I learn from 'House Renting in OZ'.

My landlady (who stays next door) asked me this morning, "Azza dan Fadzil tak cadang nak pindah kan?" I was a bit taken aback by that question. Does she: 1) want us to pack up and leave, 2) trying to convey a message of rent increment, 3) feel unhappy on the state of our home?
To be continued...

Flashback... (with the blurry effect like in Hallmark channel)

My husband was accepted as a PhD candidate in April 2005 in University of Western Australia (UWA). Alhamdulillah, we were so happy to begin our life, a baby was due in 3 months. It took my husband a while to find a place for us to call home in Perth. I stayed in Seremban for a couple of months, waiting for him to find a place for us, and busy completing my MEd, before flying to Perth.

Our first unit (a 2 bedroom apartment and 1 bathroom) was situated in Banksia St, Joondanna, WA. A super place place for a young family like ours. After a year, Al Fateh, being an active boy, needed a bigger place to channel his energy. At the same time, I was working as a school teacher in Mannington, about 45minutes journey from Joondanna. Thus, the adventure of finding a house with a suitable location and budget began.

A happy kid who needed more space to play!
Location: Dealy Close, Cannington.

The processes involved in finding a rental house in Perth were tedious, yet systematic. All of these were taken care by the housing agent, not the landlord. Lots of forms needed to be filled, with two referees (who must be locals). We could call the agent to look around the house, or we could just drop in during viewing days. If we like it, forms were to be returned to the agents to be assessed by the landlord. Usually, there would be 3 or more interested tenants; some tenants did bid to pay extra $20-$50/week to ensure the place was theirs, but we did not. Paying $180-200 per WEEK was more than enough!

I enjoyed house viewing! Some houses were new, some were old but ALL were taken care well. This is what I learn from my vast house viewing in Perth. All of the houses for rent were spick and span! From the garage to the kitchen, it was spotless! It's like the old adage, cleanliness is next to godliness. Allah asks us to be clean, Rasullullah showed marvelous examples in regards to cleaning.
Breakfast with our visitors in our backyard at Dealy Close.

By the way, we got a house, after the 5th attempt, in Dealy Close, Cannington (which took around 6 weeks!). How did they accept us? The agent called our previous agent and ask us on our quarterly inspection reports as well as payment. Yes, you read well. We had inspections every 3-4months. The agent would post to us a letter to announce their arrival (we hated these letters!), usually 2 weeks in advance. This letter imposes us to scrub and scrape all the dirt in every corner of the house AND the compound, too! How cool, eh? Nevertheless, what I learn from this is that we need to take care of the property that we live in, whether it's ours, rented or borrowed. You need a shelter, so take care of it!

back to present time (and tense...)

It's a shame when we go for our late afternoon drives, we can actually differentiate between owned/rented properties (most of the time). It disgusts me to see some can live in a filthy environment, and that's only the exterior of the house. Astaghfirullah. But I really hope that the interior is way better. By all means, I'm not a super clean freak, do ask my husband for confirmation, but at least, your home, where you pray, eat, rest, play with your kids and sleep, it should be clean-ish! (Amy of FPE, I know you are nodding frantically! I feel sorry for you and your filthy yet expensive rental house experience).

Al Fateh learns to use paint, pencils, crayons and markers only on papers
because of the renting system in Australia.

All in all, I learn alot from our house renting experiences in Perth:
  • we need to take care of others' property, as if we are borrowing a thing from a good friend, we are obliged to return it in near perfect condition.
  • we dont take care of our house to satisfy the landlord/landlady, but we do it for the sake of Allah.
  • if we are so used to live in a dirty and messy condition most of our renting lives, will we actually make a paradigm shift when we move to our own home?
  • I pity the landlords out there. Full stop.
  • I should start teaching my kids about responsibility of using others' belongings. Take care of your things as if it's your own. Even the see-saw and the swings at the park.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What I learn from 'Adik, the Freshman'.

I remembered the first time embarking into MH1 flight to London Heathrow alone, without my parents. 15 years has passed, I was turning 18 at that time, leaving the comfortable place called home and jumped into a new adventure of life. It was FANTASTIC!

Those days I learn to be independent, to save money for trips, learn how to interact with others, cook, shop, keep in touch with my family members by letters and phone, learn independently, know my rights, the list is endless.

(UniSZA Registration Day July, 2010)

This morning, as I drove towards my home from the market, I passed two universities: Universiti Malaysia Terengganu and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin - looking at the amount of cars and people sending new freshmen to new varsity lives, I remembered my Abah told me during the car ride to KLIA, 15 years ago: "Go and come back, not just with a degree in hand, but with KNOWLEDGE and priceless EXPERIENCES in your heart and mind."

I believe that advice is priceless.

For me, university life is not just about books and exams, it's a place where you should learn to build your character and interest - it's a pit stop before you enter adulthood. It's not a place to waste your time and buy a new phone as the PTPTN scholarship is banked in. No! Save your money! Put aside a sum of money as savings, let it be a habit for your future. Know your rights and don't let anyone step on your head.

Keep in touch with your parents. Tell them you love them and thank them for educating you and loving you, even when you have messed up. Communicate openly while you still have the chance.

(Adik and Kak Nor, as they say 'Goodbye' in Losong, KT)

A uni is a place where you should learn to study others' characters. Whether one is a person you can trust; a person you can joke openly with; a person who can offer you a shoulder to cry on; a person you can lend your money/things to (and will get it back!); a person you who can motivate you; a person that you need to keep your distance, for he/she can influence you negatively and the list can go on and on. It's a fantastic time to observe and know people's characters, and try to absorb and the good things from others, in order to make you a better servant of Allah. One should learn to choose a good and trustworthy group of friends.

Alhamdulillah. Be thankful to Allah. Not everyone is blessed with university life.

All in all, it's the beginning of a new semester. For the teachers and lecturers in the universities, it's back to their core job, teaching and feeding the students with knowledge, hoping that they will be better person upon graduation. I pray that Allah eases the workload for these lecturers and teachers, aamin. May the students in the universities will enjoy their undergraduate lives and may the knowledge and experience that they gain will be a gateway for a better future of Islam, aamin.

All the best, Adik! Thanks for sharing today with me.

Adik aka Ayman Shahim, Diploma Al-Quran & Sunnah, UniSZA and I.
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