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Yang Safia On Monday, January 24, 2011

Seeing that I've been writing posts that involves a lot of tea lately, I think it's time for the second last installment of Yang's Guide to Studying Overseas! Just like the title suggests, I'm going to talk about flatting- the when's, how's, where's, etc.

Just like you, the pictures (like above) on university pamphlets make me excited about moving out and start living with new people and make new friends. While this is nice and everything, there are a few precautions that you need to consider first.

Look I'm not trying to sound pessimistic or to scare you off but flatting with strangers is not easy. Sometimes people who you think that you can live with might turn out to be the worse thing that could happen in your ever. I'm talking from my experience here because I lived with two other Malaysians and they turned out to be total nightmares. In fact, I got along better with the two other foreign flat mates. This goes to show that never judge a book by its cover.

Usually certain universities requires you to stay on campus during the first year. In my opinion, there's a good reason to this.

For freshies, the university life can be daunting and pretty much a whole different world. Especially for international students such as ourselves; seeing that we have to deal with the homesickness, language barrier, culture shock,etc. Living on residential colleges comes with many benefits such as:

a) Community Support
b) Safety
c) Chances to make friends (Colleges usually host parties to welcome their residents)
d) RCs usually host university tours for their residents
e) Counselling
f) Tutorials

My university (Otago Uni, can I get a woot woot?! Haha) doesn't have this rule, it's quite loose actually. As long as you're not underage, you can live off campus. I know a lot of Asian universities require their students to stay on campus though.

I opted for staying at Toroa International House because I believe it's a safe choice and despite my flat drama, I didn't regret it one bit.

Okay, so you're still not sold to the idea of staying on campus. That's alright.

Obviously by staying on campus means that you have to abide to some rules and you don't want that so it's totally cool. There are a few steps you have to take:

a) Find out the best time to flat hunt. Note: This can be quite a feat to do because you will be doing it long distance. There's a lot at stake but I've seen people do it. :)

b) ASK AS MANY QUESTIONS AS YOU WANT! The landlord and you need to be clear on the terms.

c) Before signing the bond, READ THE FINE PRINTS.

d) If you can, check other tenants' backgrounds. I might have taken this a bit too far but given my recent flat drama, it seems important.

Moving on to being actually in the flat. YOU'RE FLATTING NOW! YAY!

How to come up with flat rules: (If you and your flatmates are the adventurous type, you can skip this part.)

a) Get to know your flatmates.
b) Have a flat meeting.
c) Give a time frame. If certain rules aren't working out for you guys, have another meeting and discuss.
d) Know each other's pet peeves. Be clear during the meeting.

How to handle flat drama: I'm no expert because mine was just...terrible.

a) COMMUNICATE! Have a flat meeting and discuss what went wrong. If it involves two of the flat mates, ask the remainders to become judges to this "argument" that will go down at the meeting.
b) Flat Counselling. Seeing that I stayed at a residential college, they actually have this service. Sadly this doesn't work for me.
c) Be the bigger person. It pisses you off still but at least you'll be the classy one while your flatmate looks so annoyingly childish. It's okay. Some people are just like that. C'est la vie.

I wish you guys a BIG GOOD LUCK because if all goes well, you just met your new family. :)

Yang Safia On Sunday, January 23, 2011
My good friends from Dunedin (namely Adeline, Jie Ning and Alia) have been meaning to have a meet up in KL for the longest time. Only when Adeline returned from Turkey and was done with her sister's wedding, we finally decided on a date.

Mind you, it wasn't the best of ideas because it was set on a weekend where people are doing their CNY shopping. (=_=) Seriously bad timing. Especially for us four Dunedin girls who are not used to big crowds in a long time.

But it was fun while it lasted; we managed to catch up on each others lives over Korean and had many laughs and dramatic reactions. Sorry for the somewhat misleading blog title though, you guys must've expected pictures of the meeting between my Dunny friends and the homies but yeah...major fail on my part.

Got carried away with talking obviously.

After saying goodbye to my Dunny friends, I was about to rush home to help my sister do some last minute shopping for her dinner event that night but was dumped by said sister at the last minute. And so us four went to an A&W drive-thru for two large floats and later an evening tea at Empire.

The Vanilla Place - not that bad though it wasn't the place I wanted to go at first.

Alright, you know how blogs usually have all the pictures of food and they look oh-so-yummy but um...well, we were hungry apparently so...I only started taking pictures after we had the tea. (=_=;;)


Sara: "Oh, I'm so posh-like as I go for the crumbs."
Shira: "Um yeah, where do I put this cup?"

A candid picture of Shira as she was about to say something not nice to me. :(

Miss Kuning (Yellow)


"I'm so bored. Amuse me."

Afterwards, we rushed home and the three of us insisted that Shira drives us. And she did while Sara and I camwhored.

Shaza working the front seat

I will probably upload a random video here but for now...just the pictures. The internet is too slow. :(

Yang Safia On Friday, January 21, 2011
I got my first feature on regarding my previous post! Thank you, thank you!

Cheers to many more features in the future! (That rhymes! Double yay!)

Check out the article here.

Yang Safia On
Last Monday, the girls and I had an impromptu tea together at my house. Like any other Mondays at Casa Mior; I had my arms flailing, hair flying, body throwing everywhere because I was busy doing errands. Yes I'm pretty much a housewife (sans husband and kids) when I'm back home.

The idea came from Shira (during this previous post) who wanted to have the four of us be together at one table. It's been awhile you see since the last time the four of us are together was during the Melaka trip. She suggested that all of us should make something and have tea. (This was proposed after our jog =_=)

And so I quickly said I'm going to make Kek Batik. For those who think I'm cheating, shut up :P

Supposedly we're going to have a mini tea party thingy for Sara's 21st but we kept on postponing it until Shira was dead on having it on a Monday after everyone's done with their work (or in Sara's case, after she wakes up). (^_~)

Even on the day itself I wasn't sure whether we're having it for reals because everything's so hectic! So I called Shira to reconfirm and kept telling her that it's only tea.

"We're just going to eat desserts and tea. That's it!"

While waiting, I tried to make a little effort.

Okay, I get it. I totally screwed the table setting protocols but this is a big step for me! Usually I don't even get the saucers out because that means more dishes!

Superwoman Shira who went straight to work on her dessert right after her class

Excuse the hair. Clearly self-camwhoring is not my best trait.

Called the sisters and asked what they were bringing and the only reply I got was silence. Their stomachs was what I concluded.

A bit of immature doodling ensued

The sisters finally came and my friends all decided that "TEA" wasn't just enough. Here they were at the family's dining table, eating all the lunch I cooked. They pretty much bulldozed every grain of rice on the table. Wahhh, look at me! Sedap kutuk orang! Haha!

So we ate tons right? (My sister kept on telling people how we moved from one table to the other, to eat summore.) The most ironic topic of conversation of the day was to lose weight. It's so freaking unbelievable that I can't even comprehend the incredulity of the whole situation! (Yang please. Stop with the dramatic commentary!)

The Kek Batik I made

Sara Nina

Shaza Lina


Me trying Sara's ring. Been dying to get my hands on this gorgeous aquamarine ring I saw the other day. Been hinting it to Mum but no such luck.

I must say that my milk tea is about to reach my Mum's standards.

Yang Safia On Saturday, January 15, 2011

I did my online registration for classes this year ages ago and that's why I forgot what courses I'm taking. So a few weeks back, I checked and apparently I'm doing this paper called Studies of Literary Approaches (I think that's what its called) and this coming semester, we will be doing Jane Eyre as our primary reading material.

I've heard of Jane Eyre, I'm sure everyone has heard of it--it's one of those RM10 books by Penguin that you'll see at MPH, Boarders, etc-- but no one picks it up. Unless you're a literature buff unlike me. Thing is, I LOVE BOOKS and I ADORE literature but I just don't read it. Which later makes me regret of not doing so because now my degree proves to be difficult because of my lack of knowledge regarding them.

I had this preconception about Bronte that her writing is going to be quite similar to Austen's and I dreaded it. I hated doing Austen in my first year and I've always known I'm more of a Shakespeare person.

I wanted to be ahead of class (besides, knowing my coursemates they've probably did Jane Eyre in high school or something) so I bought the book and am now at Chapter 10.

All I have to say is...WOW, I ENJOYED IT! I've never been into the literature kind of romance (I HATE AUSTEN!) but Bronte's Jane Eyre is surprisingly contemporary. From the narration of the novel and how Jane thinks is amazingly likeable. I feel I can relate to her and for once, I can actually enjoy a good piece of literature without feeling like it's homework.

Bronte really reminds me of Meg Cabot (I've grown out of my Cabots by the way D: ) of her time and right now, I just can't wait for Jane to meet the brooding Mr Rochester. At this point, I refuse to dissect the book just yet but to just enjoy what it has to offer. I notice a couple of things but I'll just keep it under wraps till then.

Also, I'm so tempted to look for the BBC version of Jane Eyre after seeing this picture. But I know that's cheating until I've finished reading the book.

PS: After watching this trailer, I am DYING to see this movie.

I say Oscar for Firth! :D
Yang Safia On
It's starting to become a routine for us three to go jogging/walking/breeze-walking/striding/crawling every Saturday just to get our sweat on. Seeing that Shaza is now dating a footballer, a healthfreak at that, and I am sort of in love with an active guy and Shira loves buff girls need to step up yo.

We took a couple of pictures of me trying out this sit up thingy device that we have at the park and turned out it made me look like a BIG WHALE. I LOOK LIKE A FREAKING WHALE IT'S NOT EVEN FUNNY! I didn't know I look so FAT lying flat on my back. (O__O);;

Oh, this is depressing. SO depressing that I don't even plan to put it up on my blog because a) my constantly depleting pride will go out of the window and b) my mom would be too embarrassed to call me her daughter. And I just ate a slice of Chocolate Indulgence for dinner, thank you.

Shut up, it was for my brother's birthday ok.

Instead I decided to put up a picture of Shira on the monkey bar. With the help of Shaza of course.

Ugh, I need to lose weight. Seriously, this would look hotter if I'm back to my figure in 2008/09. 2011's Goal: Be a size 12 by the end of the year!

Shaza, the skinny minah (girl) who lost so much weight during the last Ramadhan.

My attempt to fly without wings on the beam balance. Oh look at the fats!
(At least I'm honest about being fat unlike those people who are obviously skinny and kept calling themselves fat. Don't you just hate people like that? Seriously I would smash their heads just to get them appreciate their bodies. My sister is one of them. Yes, Aya YOU!)

Shira trying to pole dance. I think she needs more practice la. (=_=)

SO yeah, us girls are going to have a ladies evening tea get-together at Shaza's house tomorrow. *pats tummy*
Yang Safia On Thursday, January 13, 2011
Last Sunday my dad was invited to give a talk at (i'm guessing its annual)'s staff meeting. Curious, I decided to follow him and pretty much spent my whole Sunday at this mosque in Titiwangsa. Thing is, my dad owns this motivational program and a couple of corporate management programs and since it's going to become my family's business, I feel that I should learn the trade while I'm still here.

We were waiting for the guys who were going to help us set up and since we were early...we camwhored. In a mosque. (There are more pictures of us, it's just that due to my recent deactivation of FB my source of picture ripping is limited.)

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>V My fail moment as the photographer.

My not-so-holy head shot

Pretty much my role on that day was to snap a couple of pictures (which are not even that great) and as an observer. I admit, I learned a lot.

My dad is freakin serious when it comes to his work. He drives me crazy most of the time when it comes to this but that day, I learned to appreciate his work.

Mon papa in action is headed by this amazingly inspirational guy named Imran. And damn, he's only 23-years old. By the end of the day, he left me in awe and green with envy. And I thought I'm the most ambitious person I will ever know. His vision for is somewhat of a wishful thinking for me because I can never imagine contributing something so major to the muslim community. Now I'm not the most religious person ever, in fact I'm quite aloof about it (>_<) but Imran and made me realize that I should start thinking on how to become a better muslim. The process is going to be slow but with time and effort (Ya Allah, I need your strength for this!) I'm sure I'm going to make it. Insyallah.

Anyways, I'm excited just to be in the same room with all of these enthusiastic young people who just want to do good for the world. I may not be interested to become a volunteer yet but I will surely be observing and see it blossom into a global media of choice.

Imran (guy holding paper) and one of's staff discussing about their goals in 2011.

I remembered Imran said something about making more appealing (and somewhat cool) to the public and I can't help but think, "Oh damn, that's not going to work. There's no way it's going to happen!" but after listening to his plans and the enthusiasm among the staff and volunteers, I just hope they'll prove me wrong.

Whatever it is, it was an inspirational Sunday for me. Good luck to and I'll be watching. :)
Yang Safia On Friday, January 7, 2011
Depression, one of the symptoms of homesickness

Homesickness. A common phase that you are bound to go through when studying overseas. Face it, YOU WILL HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS! But that's the thing though, everyone feels, handles and experiences it differently. Some will have it so intense while some will have it not as much. And some will go through it at a different time than others.

Why does it happen?

It happens because you are taken out of your comfort zone. Now, I'm no psychologist or expert on this but I'm just stating what I feel on the matter. Your mind and body are trying to adapt to the new environment you're in. This is the time when you will have to learn how to react to the new environment and respond to the way of how things are done. Note that the things that you are used to, like paying your bills, will be done differently in the new country.

For example, in Malaysia you can pay your bills at the post office but in Japan, you can pay them at convenient stores (konbini).

Expect to face a bit of difficulty when going about your daily life as it will require you to learn to do these normal things.

I remember when I first arrived in New Zealand and found out that there's a problem with my laptop. Back in Malaysia, you can always just pop in at a local computer store and have them fix the problem there and then. But in NZ, the way they do things are waaaaaaaay different. I had to send my laptop to the HP centre (which is not even in Dunedin) and filled so many forms. And it costs so much! :(


a) Depression
b) Loneliness
c) Euphoria
d) Mixed Feelings
e) Confusion
f) Loss of Appetite
g) Fatigue

That's about much that I can list down for you guys. I'm sure there are a lot more. It's possible that you could have all of the above.

How to Handle?

a) Familiarize yourself with the new place. Go take a walk. Part of homesickness is the fear of not knowing.

b) Take things one at a time. This coupled with patience is key to surviving this phase of your life. When you're in a new country, expect ordinary things to not go your way sometimes. And mundane things can be quite hard to do. I remember back when I first arrived in Dunedin, I needed to find an Ethernet cable but since I don't know where to find it, I made a day dedicated to buy that thing. Sounds crazy yes, but when you're away from home; you just have to be patient with things. Seriously...TAKE ONE THING AT A TIME!

c) Exercise. Your body will need time to get used to the new environment so work out to stay in top shape. Also exercise lets you sweat out the extra nerves and keep your head clear and in perspective.

d) Continue your daily routine. Doing this will put you back into the usual system you have back home. Back in Malaysia, every morning I will visit all my favorite blogs and I still do this when I'm in NZ. It helps by making me feel that I'm still the normal Yang. Experiencing a slight identity crisis is normal when you're at a new place.

e) Have the understanding that everything is temporary. What you're feeling and going through is not permanent and things will get better.

f) Contact your loved ones. I find this extremely therapeutic. I'm sure there will always be counselors on hand to help you get through this phase but I feel more comfortable talking about my personal feelings with the people I love. So SKYPE,PHONE and EMAIL them!! (It's okay to contact them as much as possible, that doesn't make you a loser or anything. Understand that you're vulnerable at this time and soon this phase will pass)

g) Bring objects that remind you of home. I talked about this in the previous Guide post but make sure not to get overboard like me. Bring a favorite CD or framed pictures of your family and friends.

Culture Shock

Even the most experienced traveler will experience Culture Shock. The cause is similar to homesickness; when experiencing a new lifestyle/values/rules at your new place, it's only normal that you're...well...shocked. But keep in mind that what ever comes your way during this phase, not everything is bad. I believe that the common preconception about CS is that it will change you and everything will go downhill from there. Now the question is, is change bad?

Not always.

I've always been a firm believer in extracting the good values of a culture and practice it. You have to admit that your own culture has it's bad points so why not use this opportunity to adopt the good values of that new culture you're experiencing.

Most common attitudes that I've seen among international students is that they tend to stick to their own ethnic groups most of the time (I am somewhat in this category too) and at the end, they disregard the chance to explore the new country and its culture. I think it's okay to hang out with your own people at one point of time because I know it's comfortable but please, PLEASE don't forget why you're there in the first place. You have been given a chance that most people are unable to have so utilize it why you still can. Get to know the locals and possibly pick up the lingo while you're at it. :)

I know that some people fear that they will lose their identity by mixing with the locals or something but this all comes down to awareness. If you're aware of things that will change you in a bad way, stop doing it. There will be certain aspects of that new culture that will clash with your old one so learn to draw the line on the things you do. If your new friends love to drink but drinking is against your culture and beliefs, then you'll need to be clear and explain why you can't join them. Sounds fairly simple but many people lose themselves because of these kind of situations. Also keep in mind that if your new friends refuse to accommodate to your beliefs then they're not worth it.

So remember that everyone goes through this and you will make it through! Be aware that this period that you're going through will only make you stronger and a better person. Good Luck!
Yang Safia On Saturday, January 1, 2011
I stayed up until 4am just to finish editing my Melaka roadtrip videos. While this may not be all of the footage but it pretty much sums up what happened during our Melaka roadtrip. In fact, it shows how we act around each other and what an awesome roadtrip it was. Even though most of the time was spent on figuring out where to go (a reminder to all travelers out there that planning is key!) but we managed to do it. In my opinion it was too short of a trip but oh well, there's always next summer. :D

Also, you guys can finally meet my girlfriends. Friends since we were all 12/13. And still going strong in our 20s.

Cheers to many more girl time and crazy road trips!

Happy New Year guys!