by Foong Jia Vei

I am writing this while travelling around in United Kingdom. Hopefully, I will have more fun doing
this like that than it already is. (:

Honestly, coming to United Kingdom for further studies was never my idea. The original plan was
to go to Australia one or two years after our beloved Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia. I argued well with my
parents, but I still gave in at the end. It was as if I suddenly I wanted to be away from all that I have,
to know how strong I can be, and foolishly chose to leave everything that I love. So, it wasn’t really
any strong passion or dream that drove me to this decision, but persuasion, advice and something
my mind randomly decided to do.

The first blast of cold, pricking winter wind was when the administrator from my school helped me
to push the trolley with my luggage, but at the same time forgetting about my winter coat that I left
on the handle. It was nothing much at first, but when I reached Northampton, where it is ALWAYS
colder than London Heathrow, I really wanted to stay indoor the whole day. That night when I was
trying to overcome my jetlag and fell asleep out of exhaustion, I thought I would die. I really didn’t
know how to stop shivering. Fortunately, it somehow did. But who would have imagined, not more
than two months later, I am picking up and throwing snow at others in a snow ball fight. Really, the
weather in United Kingdom is rather nasty. Sometimes, it is so warm that I really wondered how I
would survived back in Malaysia, sometimes it is so cold that I hoped for Malaysia’s sunshine. That
somehow, was quite inconvenient for foreigners like me, because I just decided to leave all my warm
clothes locked up in my boarding house and it is currently freezing out here ._.

Somehow, I still do feel like sleeping in front of the teachers, even when there are less than 10
students in each class and the teacher can always notice me. I have also been told that since we
are doing A-Level, we should not rely on teachers and textbooks but more on how hard you work
for it, and how you inquire about whatever that was unknown and not understood. For me, it was
kind of troublesome, because it meant that you should never slack. In small groups, teachers tend to
notice you more, so you can never run away with bad marks. For my college, the teachers each write
a report to our personal tutor who discusses the surfaced problem and also send the same report
back to your parents. Other than that, I know that the students who came here to study always
work harder than they used to, because they actually realise how much money and hope their own
parents had put in while sending their children to a faraway place. So even if they party hard, they
DO study hard. Oh and of course, the partying part is still a secret from parents.

I am a quiet person, and it was always hard for me to get accustom to new environment and make
new friends. It is actually a relief to me to have more Malaysians for our batch this term. I have to
say that it is hard for me to mix with students from other courses, especially the Europeans. In a
way, we live our own lives, walking on straight paths without interacting. Maybe, just a small smile

when we meet each other inside the boarding house. So far, a few of the Hong Kong AS students
(First year of A-Levels; those doing 18-month A-Level course are known as ASJ – AS January-intake)
are very kind to me as we always talk to each other in Cantonese, and they helped me a lot in my

When I first arrived at London Heathrow and Northampton, I was so tired that I never really paid
attention to the new environment. It occurs to me in a way that I don’t feel like I left anywhere or
already at a new place. Other than being colder than usual, having a different house to live in, mixing
with different group of friends, and studying in a different place, nothing seemed to have changed.
At some moment, I felt like I am still in Malaysia, going to go home anytime soon. It was until few
weeks ago, while I was waiting for my boarding house to open (It closes around 8.30am and opens
again at 4.00pm during weekdays), I Skype-d my friend, and showed him the surroundings of my
school and the big, spacious, breath-talking Racecourse (The large spread of greens with many hills
and playgrounds and basketball courts and able to fit many football fields, positioned in front of the
boarding house that provide us meals), I heard ‘Oh my God, your place looked so classical and yet
so beautiful, I really envy you!’ Then, I realised how the sky is actually has a nicer shade of blue than
what I used to see, how the blossoming flowers coloured the streets, how hot air balloons give the
Racecourse a bit of excitement, how the stars shine each night, and how I really love this place that.

Honestly, I don’t miss home, at least not until I have something I want to share with my mother
a lot, not until I meet up with problems I hoped to have someone to face it with me, not until…
(I got distracted, the view outside the train is too beautiful; houses like box matches with smoke
puffing out of the chimneys and broad, wavy roads) From what I see, most of the Malaysian Chinese
students got really homesick during Chinese New Year because it is such a big celebration for them.
One of my friends brought new dresses over to wear during Chinese New Year, just to have the feel
of it, and also loads of Chinese New Year snacks. Lucky for me, she brought too much so she could
never finish it on her own, and had to share them with me! We had a celebration together with the
rest of the ASJs and with some of the A2 seniors for ‘tuan yuan fan’. It was not something really
memorable, really. But at least, we had a little something, so as to not forget our origins. (There are
big flocks of clouds and sheep outside my window!)

United Kingdom is an awesome place; beautiful scenaries, shopping paradise, all kinds of nice food
and bar, convenient transportation and nice weather. Unfortunately, it is nowhere cleaner than
Malaysia. Rubbish that can be picked up will not be seen a lot, but those where you can’t, realised
that you will be stepping on them every day. Even when you have a large field with nice and green
grasses, noticed that every one brings their pet to their place, so you know what to expect.

To conclude all the random things that I have put in here, this place is a nice place for travelling
around or staying for period of time. The people here are mostly nice and helpful, even when their
difference in accent in every part of the country is quite obvious. Throughout my stay in the United

Kingdom, I have yet to experience all the specialties in this country. Even though I am still quite
determined to go back to Malaysia after all the studying and apprenticing has ended, I might want
to come here to stay for a short term once again. Well, who knows? Everyone and everything might
change in the future, so we shall see then.