Thursday, December 31, 2015

Deco : BollyNite

I was tasked to lead the deco (construction) team for our office's annual dinner. I  contributed a few ideas for the Bollywood theme (since I have involved in a BollyNite before) and the larger team came out with the final proposals. What I need to do is to turn them into reality.
I gather a few people with artistic flair whom I knew could deliver a quality work. We discussed on the resources, work delegation and timeline in 10 minutes, then we started to do whatever we need to do.
Love working with creative people. You dont have to monitor them closely or teach them how to do anything. THEY JUST KNOW HOW TO DO IT AND THEY DELIVER ON TIME. Thanks Ena, Aziz and Ayie.

My main tasks are to construct a replica of a film reel, an arch for the entrance and a movie clapper. These are only 20% of the whole deco elements. I only did the film reel. The rest, and another 70%, were taken care by Ena and Ayie. Gila terer mereka ini, bolehla saya pencen buat kerja2 begini lepas ni. I do have a lot of works and meetings in between preparing for this event.

I only focused on this from day one.
These creative duo did a good job constructing the arch. I just gave them the dimensions. It finished the next day. They didn't talk much while doing the work. That's how serious and professional they are! See my reel in progress there? ;)
Ena did the clapper 
Special thanks to Syazwan and Ikram who brought this huge film reel to the venue, on motorcycle! The giant reel doesnt fit in the MPV or a van or our bus. We've tried it all.
We laughed really hard looking at this. And I laughed harder when I arrived at the venue - when they informed that it fell off the motorcycle due to the strong wind, broken and I have to put it together again on the stage. I didn't mind at all. I came prepared because I need to set the reel on the stage and add in the 'film'.  
The film reel was designed as a continuity from the backdrop. It goes in from one side and came out from the other side. I am not good in explaining but this is how it looks like at the other end.
 The photobooths 
There were gazebo, umbrellas, red carpet area with papparazi and other deco elements, but I didn't have the photos. I didn't attend the event. I took a day off because my dad was scheduled to have eye procedure that day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I have exhausted the list

...for HLP. I hope it will benefit anyone who plan to apply for HLP in the future. Just make sure you have ample time to prepare for the proposal, statement of purpose, IELTS and universities' online registrations.
After tomorrow's entry on Bollywood Night deco, there will be no more auto-published entry until 20ish Jan next year. I need time to work on my final essays, 10500 words all together. Then, I need to prepare for my final exam.
I will auto-publish our preparation for Manchester (Road to Manchester) before I start posting about our life here. Believe me, I have sooooo many things to put in here. I will set three auto-published posts per day after my exam :)
Stay tune.
Right now, Storm Frank is building up somewhere in the North/West (cant recall), but we can feel the impact here in Manchester. Our storm windows rattled like crazy in the strong wind. This is the sixth storm we have experienced since we arrived in the UK three months ago.

Iftar 2015 : My family

(old draft)
My dad said he wanted to break his fast at our house. yay. My parent and my nephew arrived a few minutes before the azan. My brother and my SIL, Ani arrived shortly after.

I prepared everything, the main dish - Nasi kerabu with ayam percik Kelantan, daging bakar and ikan celup tepung. Desserts - Fruit cocktail, apple strudel and chocolate brownies with almond and butterscotch chips.
Air sirap for iftar. You can choose to have it with a lemon or biji selasih.

HLP2015 : BTN Part 2

These are some of the content of the pink book, from our group assignment.

My group (2). Guess who wrote that..

I love this group. We have a good mix of people - musician, academician - we have one young lady doing post-doctorate, reporter who covered a lot of big events before, frog scientist, timber scientist and many more.

We discussed a lot on Dawn Raid and the history of Malay archipelago during the colonisation period. These are some of the valuable histories that every Malaysian should know! 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

HLP2015 : Biro Tatanegara (BTN)

BTN stands for Biro Tatanegara. This was my third time attending BTN.
I look forward for BTN because it was the last hurdle in the formal process. The duration was only 5 days. FIVE INTENSIVE DAYS because my day started at 5.00am and ends at midnight. I usually was the first lady to reach the surau at 5.30am because I didn’t want to queue for the bathroom in the morning. I woke up really early, take a bath and walk to the surau. We had congregational prayers except for Zuhur and Asar, every day.
I enjoyed the programme very much.
The first day was quite a struggle because I have developed a problem with nerves system around my eyes a couple of weeks back during QA course. I can’t keep my eyes open, whether they blink excessively or close by themselves. Sometimes it was only left eyes, sometimes only the right one.
There were many sub-specialist candidates joined this session. I was blessed to have them when I need the most. I have a long chat with a neurologist and ophthalmologist about my worsening eyes condition. I also grabbed a seat with a dietitian at every meal time to get free advise on *duh* balanced diet. For the rest of the day in the hall, I sat with dentists. Being surrounded by doctors for five days would *psychologically* make you feel healthier ;p

Our days revolves around this pink book and other patriotic matters. There was an open book test on the last day. It is easier if you remember the content by heart.

Monday, December 28, 2015

HLP2015 : Quantitative Analysis (QA) course

Last time it was a six week course. But this time, it was a ten days course. Just imagine the intensity of the course- six weeks cramped into 10 days.

We were given a long list of key readings to be completed throughout the course and online courses in EPSA to be completed before we attend the course. This is a blended learning approach by INTAN to make sure all officers have similar level of understanding on the subject matter before they attended the course.
I was so stressed out. I had lung infection just one week before the course. I was on medical leave for two weeks. Luckily I managed to talk to the course convener and she put me in the list for the next session.
Contrary to what other people said, the QA course was not that bad – no statistics or any form of calculation involved - just a series of lectures, interactive learning at the library and group presentations/debate. On the 7th day, I got an eye infection and was on medical leave for two days *sigh*

HLP2015 : The offers, finally!

I had posted it last time (here).
I received offers by both The University of Manchester and King's College London.
I accepted the offer by The University of Manchester. Then I waited until the last day to decline KCL's. The moment I accepted the offer, everything seems so real that I feel like I have to go home and started to pack the luggage for our family of six!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Raya 2015 : In-laws in the house!

Rojak mi, homemade apple strudels and watermelon. Light snack for tea time with the in-laws. Then we went to two houses in Bangsar and Sungai Buloh for Raya after Maghrib.

(it is truly an eyesore having two photos of different sizes and orientation in the same entry)

Raya 2015 : Nabil's friends

(it was in the draft folder for quite some times)

This was the first time Nabil had friends over for Raya. He seems so happy.
Since the food is aplenty (rojak mi, brownies, quesadilla), I also invited my cousins and they finishes 15 quesadillas in a blink! I love having people over.

Deco: Raya @ My Office

(a while ago...)
I was tasked to lead and come out with Raya deco proposals in a few hours (long story short - I was preparing for my study leave so I do not want to involve in any adhoc project in between completing my outstanding  works in the office. BUT, the person in-charge stepped down and no one wants to take up the challenge. The Senior Director called me and requested me to lead the team).
So I said YES. I came out with a proposal in three hours. The theme is orange. I went to the office the next day to obtain the Senior Director's approval, then presented it to the Project Manager. And lastly, to our Datin President, for approval. They said YES. And I started to buy the materials the day after. All these happened during my three days leave. 
Not to mentioned, a lot of Alice mode in between.
So, these are the simple decorations that I did with the team for our Raya:

Lantern-like welcoming element for the ceiling and tents.
Thank you Mas Ayu for printing these and get the team to hang these around the venue :)
Then I overheard someone said, I may not be able to beat last year's IG frame for photo booth. Well, sir, I didnt like to beat anyone's design, fyi. Everyone is good in their own way. But I do made this. I know how young people likes to take photos in a huge frame nowadays. It has real fabric curtain, btw. It is so heavy that we need to hang it using a steel chain.
My signature block letters.
I made it from scratch. I got help from Ain, my colleague with a limited vision and a few others, but Ain was with me until the end. She's a very good companion. 
Although she knew cant see that much, she did asked me whether she could help me a bit to paint the block letters. Are you kidding?? OF COURSE YES!! I told her she have to paint all the blocks herself because I have other things to complete. She was extremely happy because she was never been given a chance to paint anything before and now I trusted her to complete the most important and largest deco element! I can see the joy of a five years old radiates out from her eyes and smile when she started to dip the brush into the paint... right until she completed the last block. 
I completed the look with a thick orange paper on the black block letters.
I plan to construct 'RAYA @ MITI' but then I received a directive to add in the word 'NETWORKING'. So I rushed to get a thick styrofoam board and a foam cutter. I wanted the word 'networking' to be in a cursive form, as a contrast to the rigid 'RAYA @ MITI'. Constructing 'networking' in a block form would be realllllly time consuming.

Again, Ain was there to get the projector running in the hall and helped me to trace the letters onto the board. Freehand would not work this time because we are running out of time. I need to have a consistent lettering (stroke, height, thickness) and have them cut by the end of the day. I need them to be painted the next day.
I get PUSPANITA ladies to help me with the paint work. It was Ain's idea to paint it in orange at the sides and leave the front part white (well, I asked them to paint it white anyway to cover the bubbly Styrofoam surface). It turned out great!
One day before the event, I was asked what is my plan for the lobby? I was like.. I have no plan for that +_+ It was not in my initial (agreed) proposal. "Please create something for the lobby to greet all the Excellencies and honourable guests" .

Okay... (put on thinking hat now)

I remember a pair of exhibition panels in the preparation room. I asked Mas Ayu to get his friend, a guy who happened to have a mak andam sister, to see me. I need to borrow A LOT OF FLOWERS from him, I didnt care if the flowers are not orange. I just need FLOWERS. I manage to rent these precious flowers for free of charge.
Meanwhile, I started to alter the official event backdrop into a smaller version (A2) for the panels. A few people came to put together the posters, flower and the lampu lip lap. The last minute project completed. We have two of these at both side of the lobby.
I try not to let anyone down because this is the important event for the office. Last minute 'networking'? you got that. Need something at the lobby? You got that too. As long as I have a huge group of dedicated people to help me, I will deliver the work on time :) 

We do have some small-scale deco works to ensure the consistency of the theme throughout the event. Since all tables will be equipped with festive cookies and various snacks containers, I have designed a Raya tag for them and tie it with orange and black ribbons.
We also have orange chewable candies that we just poured on the tables. Personally, I didn't like hard candies because it took a long time to dissolve. I prefer chewable candies. They can eat it while waiting for the event to start or after the meal to get rid of the after taste. Or just simply take it home :) Unfortunately I didn't manage to take a photo of the candies.

These are the deco for our last Raya event in this building.
Thank you for the opportunity and trust given to me and my team. And thank you PUSPANITA team for your hard work and dedication! 
I received a few requests to construct the block letters for wedding planners/mak andam, after the event. Unfortunately I have to decline. I need time to prepare for my study leave. Sorry all. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

HLP2015 : HLP Briefing

By attending this event means that you are a step closer to be a student. JPA officers delivered briefing on various aspect of HLP – the service, allowance, responsibilities and others. The information received was overwhelming.
At the end, we received the letter from the sponsor (JPA) to be submitted to the universities, online. The last box to tick.
I spent around one month to gather all documents and fill in information very carefully for the online applications.

In March 2015, I submitted my online application to the University of Manchester and Kings College of London. These are the only universities with industrial development-related course with no requirement on economic degree. Another waiting game.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

HLP2015 : The application to the universities

After the proposal preparation, IELTS and choosing the university, this was another intimidating task. The application to the universities. I NEED TO BE ACCEPTED. Somewhere.

The idea of having to compete with people from all over the world with, of course, excellent undergraduate result and outstanding co-curricular activities was truly daunting.
The preparation of the statements of purpose was quite a breeze because I already have necessary information in my proposal. I just need to do some background reading to support my statement.
HOWEVER, recommendation letters from my superiors (current and previous superiors) was the tricky part. Finding the right bosses (I have worked with a lot of superiors before) and get them to write good stuff about you is a challenge; when they asked me to list down my good qualities, read, masuk ke dalam bakul serta cuba mengangkatnya, was actually the most embarrassing part. 

Luckily they agreed to prepare the letters themselves, without my intervention.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

HLP2015 : The interview result

Again, I was literally shaking when I received the notification via SMS. This time, I was in my office. I have went this far, so I am a bit afraid of failure (and of course, embarrassment haha).

Keputusan temuduga : Berjaya.
Then, the worst thought started to come – where am I supposed to get RM50k for everything in 8 months??? – visas, NHS, medical check-ups, TB test, passports, flight ticket for Nazmi, etc. Yes, JPA will give allowance BEFORE WE DEPART – that means we need to spend our money first!
The quest for money begins.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

HLP2015 : The interview

Since my proposal was on industrial development, I equipped myself with the historical and latest figure of our country’s GDP and relevant aspects of industrial development in Malaysia.

I went in with another candidate, who planned to further her study at the local university. In front of us were three panels with different background and expertise, and the questions were…. quite provocative. The only female panel keep asking on who will take care of my child, whether I will attend the class should one of my sons fell sick, how my husband will keep up with four kids and why can’t I just study at the local university. I also tried hard to justify why and how my undergraduate degrees in architecture (yup, two degrees) could help in my Master in industrial development. There's a will, there's a way.
Two of them really pushed me to pursue my Master at local university because I have four kids (or they were just provoking) while one was very keen of me going abroad – yes, you, Dr. Fuad!. They said they will give me conditional approval – I have to get accepted to an outstanding university – or else just pursue my study in Malaysia. I don’t know whether it is a yes or a no, but I started working hard on my statement of purpose afterwards.

Monday, December 21, 2015

HLP2015 : The application result

It was really a torture to wait for the result and counting days until I feel like losing hope. I started to doubt the content of my proposal, I read it over and over again for a few days until I reached a point to which I agreed that the proposal was rubbish. Begitu paranoid. Then I started to get busy with the preparation of my attachment in Delhi, then 11th Malaysia Plan until I have no time to think about it.

Until I received an SMS - while driving back from the office - saying that the result has been published online in eSila. Without any delay, ok that was overly dramatic, AFTER TWO traffic lights, I pull over from the main road and started to hyperventilate. I was literally shaking and my hands were cold. I tried to type in the username and password. Guess what? I failed miserably. I cant even remember my username.
I opened my inbox to retrieve the information. Then I managed to log in. The font was so small. I tried to make it bigger but somehow I accidentally log myself out. HOW IRRITATING WAS THAT?
I logged in second time. And there it was – Permohonan : Berjaya (Luar Negara). A step closer to the academic world!
I was extremely happy…until I scrolled down and read about the interview....

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Nazran's kurma plant

Nazran plant the kurma (date) seed a few months before we left for Manchester.
Nothing happened. He watered it everyday until he gave up.

I keep checking the vase and continue watering the pot everyday until I saw the bright green tip surfaced from the black soil, a few weeks before we came here.
I hope the kurma plant survive at our house for one year so Nazran could see you grow later!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Graphic Note 101 : The talk

(Saturday - random stuff day)

I was requested to deliver a talk on Graphic Note - that's what I call my work - before I left for Manchester. I didnt only do mind map, but I combine my day-to-day note-taking with sketchnote. It is the hybrid and I call it Graphic Note.
I didnt expect many people would turn up since I posted the ad at the last minutes. I emailed the HR Training Unit to borrow some markers and some post-its notes for my talk. To my surprise, they didnt only agreed to supply everything that I need for the session, the HR officers were also interested to come and find out what my notion of Graphic Note is all about! I was speechless!

The session went well. I have the best participants! I love to see my boss enjoyed the session very much. Everybody has tried their best, pushed their limits during the practical sessions and in the end, we laughed at each others' drawings! That was the best way to end the day.

I glad to share the knowledge and skills with the rest. I hope it will benefit them as much as it benefited me.

Friday, December 18, 2015

HLP2015 : Psychometric Test

I need to sit for an online psychometric test.

It requires me to answer around 300 psychology questions in 1 or 2 hours (?). Sorry guys, I keep forgetting the details! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

HLP2015 : Application – IELTS

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System.

From IELTS' website - IELTS is accepted as evidence of English language proficiency by over 9,000 organisations worldwide. IELTS is recognised as a secure, valid and reliable indicator of true-to-life ability to communicate in English for education, immigration and professional accreditation.

I was pretty occupied in October 2014 preparing for a huge-scale event for my office. I tried my best to prepare everything in advance because I will be sitting for my test on THE same day as the event. I need a couple of days to do a last minutes revision.

I spent around RM750 to register for the test and reading materials for the test. There are four modules - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. In Malaysia, you could sit for the exam conducted either by British Council or IDPYou can register for the preparatory course and test, online or at the counter. Choose the date that is convenient for you (they have it quite regular), attend the tests and the result will be out in 2 weeks (if I am not mistaken). You can check the result online and collect it later.

Three modules - Reading (read long passages and answer tricky questions), Writing (two essays if I am not mistaken) and Listening (to three different conversation with different accents and answer the questions on the spot) were conducted on Saturday. While speaking module was conducted on the following Friday. 
The Speaking Module was conducted by the native speaker from the UK. His accent was really thick. Doing some reading (especially on the differences between UK English & US English - i.e. rubber/eraser, jumper/sweater) and listening exercise would help you better in speaking module. 

Honestly, I didn’t have proper time to study. Sometimes I tried to do the online test while everyone was asleep or after office hours, read, when I was tired the most. That was the only time I have. Alhamdulillah, I got a band higher than most of the universities’  minimum requirement.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

HLP2015 : The day it travels to Putrajaya

After I submitted the application forms, it was screened at a Ministry-level. I need to pass that one first before my proposal is sent to Putrajaya. I really hope I got the buy-ins from the top management on my proposal. I was told, among 20+ submitted, the Office will only send 11 (I can’t remember the exact number) for JPA’s consideration.
I was on my way to my office and I met the HR staff in the elevator. He carried a box with a huge H L P letters, I assumed he just came out from the screening session. I asked him whether he is going to Putrajaya (without any intention to know further). He said Yes, and he told me my proposal is IN THE BOX.

Alhamdulillah. I didn’t tell anyone. There’s a hope.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

HLP2015 : Application – The university

Choosing the university. Oh my. 

There were nearly 200 universities (both local and abroad) in the list to choose from. I chose to study aboard, so it left me with around….well, nearly 200 universities. I keep my option open. I didn’t have any particular university in mind that time. I spent three days to go through EVERY UNIVERSITY WEBSITES to find the suitable school for me - in the US, UK, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Austria, NZ, Japan, you name it. 

It was EXTREMELY HARDDDD to explain the STRUGGGGGLEEE that time. My eyes hurt. Unfriendly and hard to navigate websites add to the pressure. I was not only looking for suitable school, I also have to scrutinise the admission criteria. Some school only look for economics graduates, some require prerequisites in statistical analysis or econometrics. There were a few with application period that has comes to end.
To my surprise, I only found one (The University of Manchester) that suit my plan and does not require undergraduate degree in economics. I exchanged a few emails with the course conveners and they assured me that this course is right for me. 

Then I just add in another two (on international trade), for the sake of filling the form.

I fill in the forms and submitted it to the HR Department one day before the deadline. I pray for the best and I leave everything to Allah.

Friday, December 11, 2015

HLP2015 : Application – Proposal

HLP stands for Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan. It is a hadiah by the Federal Government of Malaysia to deserving public officers to further their studies at Master or PhD level, in local universities or universities abroad. In turn, they will able to contribute more to the country’s development.

Alhamdulillah, I am among the selected officers for 2015. And I have promised my friends to put up my journey here. Well, even if they didn’t requested, I will put it up here anyway ;p
I keep postponing furthering my study before.
We wait until Nabil grow a bit, I told my husband in 2005.
Then we had Nazreen in 2007. Ok, we shall wait for Nazreen to be like 3 or 4 years old… (the reason being is it is easier to travel/live in new environment with toddler that has stop breastfeeding and diaper-free)
Then I got pregnant with Nazran in 2008. OK, we wait a bit for Nazran to reach 3 or 4 years old.   
… And it became 5 years. Then I got pregnant with Nazmi.
OK, I am definitely going to do my proposal! I told my husband after I safely delivered baby Nazmi.
I didn’t manage to meet the deadline for 2014 session (in 2013) because I was in confinement. Preparing proposal during confinement is the last thing I wanted to do.
Allah has the best plan.
I send my first ever proposal (in 2014) for 2015 session. And I am selected. We are selected.
The most painstaking stage for me is preparing the proposal, then look for the suitable university that suits the proposal. And, oh, preparing for IELTS in between.
I decided to further my study on Industrial Development. I took a day off because I found it really hard to shift my focus, to write a proposal during lunch time, or between meetings, or even after office hour. I need a pleasant environment so I could properly think and write. I need to be at home.
However, there were different challenges at home. Lol. Nazmi will always negotiate his spot between me and the keyboard. And he found it really vital to scribble or munch all documents and books on the table between changing diaper and breastfeeding. I constantly find myself changing Nazmi’s position on my lap after typing every sentence and shifting from Microsoft Words to videos on nursery rhymes and back to Words, then video, all night. At that stage, I really hope Allah will ease my journey to complete the proposal and excel in my IELTS.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The last thing.. don't want to happen when you are settling in a new country is your mobile phone went kaput.

There goes my contact lists, my WhatsApp conversations and some photos. Now I am using my husband's FlintStone-age mobile phone. I cant access most of photos in my Dropbox, meaning I cant use them in my blog entries.

I will KIV my old drafts and proceed with the HLP with minimal photos.