Thursday, August 20, 2015

Of disappointments and bucking up


After sharing about the two interviews i attended in the previous post, i was asked to share about my disappointments and failures. Oh wow. That's a new request. But before that i'd like to say that everything i share is merely to brag, i'm only starting to embark a new chapter in my life. But i don't see the point of keeping your experience to yourself. Who knows, your story could be an inspiration for someone to do something for themselves?

Anyway, to mention failures and disappointments.. There's really so so much to even begin with. But i'm going to share a few that's close to us all. I always get remarks like, "your life is so perfect, cikgu. You have everything" and "Cikgu, i wonder what don't you have in this life?" and even "Cikgu, you're too good to be true"

Wow all of those are really flattering, but kids, i only show what i want you to see. Being an instructor, i must be professional. So you could say that when i'm with you, its just me in my professional mode. Really, i believe that i have more flaws than all those great things you say.

But its the matter of what i learnt from my past, that makes me who i am today; the professional me that you see today. I've made a number of mistakes, whether pertaining to teaching or not. But all of them taught me something, that shaped me and made me the Cikgu Aina you see today.

1. Academics - disappointing my parents

You see, my parents raised me up into taking my education very seriously and every exam matters. Be it an ujian bulanan or peperiksaan pertengahan tahun. Pendek kata, exam oriented. But that was what i saw when i was a kid. All i aimed for was a perfect 100 in my exams, nothing else. As i grow older, not to say that it didn't matter to me anymore, but entering a school that doesn't really have much competitions has made me less interested in my studies.

So i vented out my interest elsewhere; co-curricular activities. You name it, i entered almost everything back in SMK Sungai Ara. Debate, public speaking, bahas, pidato, forum, kawad kaki KRS, kadet polis, silat, hockey and even handball. I was unstoppable. And i even won most of them. But i had to slow down towards PMR Trials because it was actually an important exam.

Oh did i mention i flunked most of my exams? I barely studied for the exams, but still manage to get 1st in the batch with just 3A's. You get the idea of how not challenging the environment was for me?? By the time trials ended, i came to realize that i needed to find something or somewhere to go, or else i'll flunk my SPM as well. Plus, i was really tired of listening to my parents nagging to me about my studies everyday. All day, the same bloody thing. As much as i was tired of it, i figured that i must do something, or i'll forever live with being compared to my sisters.

Ah yes, being compared to. My two elder sisters scored 5A's in their UPSR while i only got 4A's and 1B. The comparing started there on, with me refusing to enter the same school they went to. Plus, they got 9A's in their PMR, so i'm so not getting compared to this time. I had to do something.

So i got more interested in boarding schools. At that time, i was really close with SM Sains Kepala Batas students because i had a pet sister there. I did my research, and found out that my uncles went to SM Sains Tun Syed Sheh Shahabudin (SOKSEK) and my aunt went to Tunku Kurshiah. Pendek cerita, my mum challenged me, if i get an offer to TKC, then she'll let me go to SBP.

But at the end of the day, it wasn't about my co-curricular activities or me getting distracted, or being afraid of getting compared to, it was about not disappointing my parents again. It was three years since UPSR and i haven't done one damn thing to make them proud. I flunk my exams, i played around, i took things very lightly -- irresponsible. I knew i had to change, i MUST make them proud this time. And that was what kept me going, until today. Alhamdulillah for what i've achieved so far. Everything i do today, is for them. To make them proud, here and hereafter.

To have the realization that enough is enough, and you really have to take responsibility for what you did before is a huge thing. But sometimes just realizing isn't enough. You gotta do something about it. Take charge of your life and make a change. Start with the smallest mistake, and move up to the big ones. Consistently improve yourself, because there's no such thing as a perfect person. Keep on improving yourself, to make yourself proud, but above all, to make them proud.

2. Attitude - disappointing myself

I'm not going to share exactly what i did, but it was really stupid and i believe that if the 8 year old me is here today, she'll slap me in the face and say, "how could you do this to yourself?!". Sigh.

But really, self realization is really crucial in fixing yourself. Once you've disappointed yourself, its like you've fallen into this really deep hole that is so small you can barely breathe. But then again there's no problem you can't fix. First thing's first, sit back and breathe. Relax and think it through.

Ask yourself, how much longer do i really want to disappoint myself? Where do i see myself in 20 years? Do i want to be in the exact same position, blaming people and pitying myself for something i did, or do i want to be this amazing person that is full of positive vibes and brings this aura that makes people want to be with you?

But remember that no matter how bad you disappointed yourself, no matter how in deep shit you're in, no matter how much damage you've done, no matter how bad you think the situation is, there's no problem that cant be solved. God promised us in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 286, "Allah does not charge a soul except thats within its capacity" so just believe in His promise.

There's always a way out. First thing's first, return back to Him. I swear i got alot calmer when i first cried my eyes out in my prayers, asking for forgiveness, and asking for guidance.

Just remember that nothing is impossible, just have faith, always have the urge to improve ourselves, insyaAllah you'll be fine. Not to say that i'm now a perfect human being, but i'm saying that i'm not the person i was before. Not the same person i was once disappointed with, not the same self centered asshole anymore.

However i'm still the narcissist i was before, that can't be changed no matter what tho. Tak Aina la kalau tak syok sendiri. I stand by the motto, "siapa nak puji diri kita kalau bukan diri sendiri, siapa nak sayang kita kalau bukan diri sendiri?" so love ourselves before loving others. Cey.


***


I know this post isn't much, but i hope its something to think about. Afterall, i've only lived for 19 years. I still have alot more to face, and more experience to share in the days to come, insyaAllah. I will keep being an instructor, and a part-time physics teacher. I will keep trying to inspire, i will keep on trying to improve myself, insyaAllah.

May Allah bless :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Of interviews and its preparations


A few hours ago some of my students texted me for tips for their mock interview tomorrow. One thing i respect about MRSM is that they treat their students fairly well with the respectfully amount of adult-like treatment they should be receiving. The system itself prepares the kids before they enter their university life, and that is what all schools should be doing to prepare their students.

Honestly i don't know kind of pointers you kids are looking for as i'm not sure myself what kind of interview the whole program is about. I've never been through any mock interviews, only real ones so far. Haha. So here are a few tips that i picked up from my experience, and from my dad.

1. PREPARING BEFOREHAND

Prepare yourself mentally and physically for the interview. Prepare your mind with the possible questions the panels might be asking you. For example, if it is an interview to pursue your studies, be sure that you know the field of study you're venturing in inside and out. Be sure to look ahead, and not just some typical questions people ask.

Other than that, make sure you've prepared all the documents, certificates, or even CV's if necessary in a clear file folder. Arrange them in order, eg; CV, SPM certs, sijil berhenti sekolah, sijil koko, etc etc. Make the file presentable. If you have a hard cover file from your former school, use that. Make sure that it is presentable so that you wont make a fool out of yourself.

Lay out your outfit the night before. Don't even try to go and iron your outfit at the very last minute. Either you'll end up burning your shirt or having a bad tudung day (been there, done that). Make sure to pick out the best outfit you have. Make sure that whatever you wear makes you feel confident and comfortable of yourself. What you wear is the number one impression the panels will have on you. Either you wear something dull or colorful, whether your tie matches your shirt, or your tudung matches your skirt. Wear comfortable shoes. If you're not comfortable in wearing high heels, don't try. For the boys, bring a briefcase/any bag that seems professional. And for the girls, do not bring in your purse. If you have a handbag, bring that instead. You don't want to be having too many things in your hands at the same time. Oh and do not over do your make up. Keep it simple.

2. BEFORE ENTERING THE ROOM

If it is an individual interview, be sure to do anything to keep yourself calm. If talking to yourself helps, so be it. During the time given to prepare/quarantined/wait, just breathe and dont freak out. No matter how nervous you are, don't show that you are panicking. Keep the impression that you are a very professional individual, here to rock the panels' socks out. Be confident and keep it cool.

If it is a group interview, be nice. Smile and talk to everyone. If nobody is talking, either break the silence or keep it to yourself. This also depends, if the time given to wait before entering the room is where you aren't supposed to talk, then dont. Follow every instructions given. If you are supposed to talk, talk. If you're not, shut it. Remember, as long as you stay confident, you are coming out as a very daring tiger. But if you stay passive and scared, you are coming out as a half dead duck. I'm serious.

3. DURING THE INTERVIEW

Knock, and give salam as you enter the room. Smile. Don't forget to smile. Engage with every panel there is, with eye contact of course. Be sure that each and every panel acknowledge your presence. Smile and take your seat. If it is not assigned, just sit anywhere you can. If it is, be sure to follow the instructions.

Wait for the panels to talk and ask. Do not cut them in the middle of whatever they are saying. Take about 15 seconds max to really analyze and sink in whatever the panels ask you. For example, if they ask you to tell them about yourself, be sure to not answer it with the typical "my name, i'm from, i scored..." that's honestly boring and they can read that in your profile. Tell them what is not in the profile. Whatever you're good at, whatever you think the panels should know, etc etc. But if they specifically ask you to tell them, "your name, where were you from, what did you study" etc etc, answer exactly what they ask for and DO NOT DRAG.

If it is a group interview, be the first one to answer. Raise your hand and smile. Remember that you aren't the only one that wants to talk. There is a time limit for each session. So make sure whatever that comes out from your mouth is what the panels want to hear instead of blabbering and dragging the session. Respect your group mates when they are answering. Do not cut in.

If it is an individual interview, be sure to smile and answer it with confidence. Do not show any signs of nervousness or even doubt. Just be confident with whatever you say. The panels will know whether you're making it up or you're really telling the truth. So if it is a lie, be sure to be confident with that lie. Hiks.

4. AFTER THE INTERVIEW

As soon as they say that we're done for the day, smile and thank each and every one of the panels. Smile. Eye contact. Smile. Shake hands if they are within your reach. If not, be sure to smile and nod before you leave the room. Be brave enough to make remarks such as, "i hope to be in your class this September" (example)

After leaving the room, be sure to take your belongings with you and don't be an asshole and freak your friends out that are still waiting for their turns. Be professional and wish them goodluck.

---

The duration of waiting for the results is the most hardest and nerve wrecking part, i know. I've been in both group and individual interviews. And alhamdulillah both went pretty well for someone that lacks of experience.

The individual interview i went to was the Yayasan Tenaga Nasional Scholarship interview at UNITEN Kajang last year. I went with literally no preparations, just my suitcase and my sister's high heels. The panels were really nice, and i still keep in touch with the program coordinator, En Atrash. He was still bummed that i rejected the offer, but hey look at me now En Atrash. Hihi. Needless to say, the interview was pretty smooth. They asked me to introduce myself, tell them who was my biggest inspiration, what my parents do for a living, etc. Just basic questions to get to know me and to know whether i could talk or not. Really, interviews are about knowing whether are you as good as you are on paper or not. Whether you can answer questions on the spot or would it take you awhile to sink it in.

The interview went personally well because i believe that what i answered was what they wasn't expecting. Mind you, i was the first candidate of the day. If i'm not mistaken, the question was something about telling them the hardest challenge i've faced in high school. I cant remember exactly what i answered, but i sure remember telling them about having my parents as my backbone and as my number one supporter. I told them some pretty touching things that made two of the panels smile. Not just any ordinary smile. That smile you see when you know you've made someone proud. (cey)

The group interview on the other hand was the degree intake for Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia at Alor Setar last May. This interview, i came very well prepared. ((picture above was taken after the interview)) Having no idea what to anticipate, i studied everything i learnt in asasi, i went through some current issues and i also did some exercises with my dad. I ended up going into the room with five other matriculation and STPM candidates. None of them with law basics, so the questions were pretty straight forward. One of the questions got my attention, it was, "tell us why we SHOULDNT take you as our student" and right at that moment i knew, it was a trap question. Its the matter of how you answer it. There are no rights and wrongs in an interview. There are just confidence and the matter of how you sell yourself to the panels.

Wanna know what i answered? Hihi not telling. Ask me personally and i might consider to tell you. Not to boast, but it was pretty out of the box answer. My dad had experience interviewing candidates to job posts and he said that it is the kind of answer panels are looking for. Imagine having to pick out only 100 out of 5000 candidates they call out for the interview? Do you think a typical answer would suffice?

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I hope this post helps. Sorry for posting it at 4:30AM, but i hope you have the time to read it before your interview later today. Hihi goodluck!!


P/S: My little brother is sitting for his PT3 trials today. Do pray for him! :)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Reminiscing school years


So for the past few months, i've been actively involved with school kids, specifically, the form fives, regardless of which school they're from. For a while i was involved with my alma mater, followed by the schools i'm coaching, and my mum's school. It was a very interesting experience, and they all had one thing in common; they wanted to ask, but they didn't know how to put it into words. I know exactly what they feel, and i know exactly the answers to their unspoken questions.

Well kids, i hope you're reading this, cause i'm gonna try my best to answer those questions you guys cant even ask me. And this post is also regarding the repeated questions you boys and girls keep asking me, so i might as well put it in a post where you can re-read them whenever you forget the answer. Huhuhuhu~

Note that i've been conducting tutor classes to those that needs them, regardless of the subject. And i've also been giving random motivations to random form five students i come across. I don't really know why i'm doing this, maybe its because i just like doing this, or maybe i know how it feels like to still be feeling lost even when u only have a few months before a major exam, or maybe i'm just being creepily friendly. Be it any of the above, i'm more than glad to help!!

(Note that these answers are based on my experience, and based on the things my dad told me. If you've attended my talks, these are the exact same thing i talked about. And the exact same questions that was given to me during the Q&A session)

1. HOW DO YOU START???

Well firstly, you really have to get your head straight. Think about your goals, your plans, what do you want to achieve in life. Think about your parents, think about yourself. Jot everything down into your journal, if you dont have one, get one. Write. Read your goals everyday. Sort your goals into long term ones and short term ones. Think ahead. Don't get people's words into your head so much, think about yourself. Be selfish in this particular part.

Next, reset your intentions. If you're a muslim, be sure that you're only doing this for Allah. Be sincere. My addmaths teacher always said that make sure that everything you do is sincere, and God will surely make it easy for you. In everything you do, insyaAllah. Sincerity in the number one key in learning. Now i know this sounds utterly ridiculous and pretty bogus, but trust me. Just trust me in this.

So to answer the first question, be goddamn sincere. In everything you do. Be it studying, helping your teacher, eating, praying, going to assembly, waking your friends up for subuh, etc etc etc. Be sincere.

2. WHAT DID YOU DO DURING THE LAST FEW MONTHS OF YOUR FINAL YEAR? (question by a student from MRSM Transkrian)

To be frank with you, i wasn't the brightest star in my batch back in form five. And to be frank with you, i still failed my subjects during the sbp trial. Not something i'm proud of, of course. But honestly, the last minute realization and the number of people underestimating me pulled me back up. But you lads definitely don't want to work like that during the last month before spm. Too much pressure will kill you. But i'm different. I work best under pressure hehe (dont follow what i did, please).

But anyway, just to share what i did.. SBP Trials was right after Raya Aidilfitri, and as i recalled, it was back in September. So i screwed that exam, and i bucked up, studied my ass off for the gerak gempur. It wasnt an official exam, but it was sort of like a second trial exam. My physics teacher couldn't believe what she saw when she marked my paper. My grades went from a C+ to an A-, but that wasn't enough for her, and i took it as a challenge.

Basically every day since gerak gempur, i wake up, mandi, solat, go to breakfast, go to the physics lab, assembly, class, lunch, prep, exercise, dinner, solat, prep, solat, stay up. With the amount of awareness i had back then, i find myself more focused in class, i stayed awake in most of them (a pretty big achievement for me weh I SWEAR), and i cut off most of my lagha times with my friends. Meaning that i didn't laugh too much back then (now here's what i did wrong. I'm supposed to be spending time with them, instead of cutting them off. I kinda regret that, but it helped in my focus. So.. yea)

During the first few days of spm, most of my friends fell sick. This, i can never forget. Some shivered all the way into the exam hall, and some were even quarantined. I had a viral fever with a pretty o-kay temperature, but alhamdulillah it didnt affect much. I did fell asleep during my english paper though (hehe sorry Ms Fiffy).

I'm not telling you to do what i did, but i'm telling you to take whats positive and improvise it into your own daily routine. But the key point is to focus. Never lose focus, cause honestly, spm is the hardest exam you'll ever take in your life. College onwards is a different chapter altogether.

3. WHAT WAS THE ONE THING THAT CONSTANTLY PUSHED YOU TO STUDY? (question by a student from SMK Sungai Nibong)

Honestly, it was the thought of not letting my parents down. And it was imagining myself holding my results slip next March. I cant imagine myself holding a slip, with grades other than A+'s and A's. Not to say that i'll be a total failure if i get B's and C's, but it is to say that i wasted two years away from home, for nothing. This was my personal realization, just to share. To think that my parents invested so much time and money to send me to a boarding school so far away from home, and to repay them with bad grades in spm? Gamak ke?

I couldn't imagine the look on their face if i disappoint them again. And i definitely can't imagine how would i redeem myself if i fail again. In college? A scholarship? Or maybe a decent job? God knows. So with sincerity, my goals in life, and the thought of making my parents proud, i worked hard. And thats my fuel of motivation that never runs out.

4. DID YOU ENCOUNTER CHALLENGES DURING YOUR FINAL YEAR AND DURING SPM? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT? (question by a student from SMK Sungai Ara)

Yes, i did. Lots of them. But in fact, most of the problematic and dreadful ones were caused by myself, and to be more specific, by lust. I'm not going to go detailed on that one but lets just say that i overcame it when its too late (way past spm).

Oh during spm.. Gosh. Ah i always love telling people about my physics teacher. You see, our physics class doesnt go from 2pm-4pm, but it goes from 8am-6pm and it can go non stop, whether you like it or not. And i guess its true, the things you hate could be the things you need the most. Not to say that i hated my physics classes, but it was so ungodly, i cant remember how i survived the classes.

Needless to say, i've had some pretty ugly history during her classes which involved falling asleep repeatedly that pisses her off, but i managed to put those aside and scored her subject anyway (teehee). But anyway, my point is.. our physics class usually last all day instead of just a normal 2pm-4pm session, u get me? So the day before our physics paper, she held an intensive class as a preparation for tomorrow. I guess God wanted to test me, my menstrual cycle started on the same day. My menstrual cramps aren't really normal so i couldn't even last 10 minutes in the class. So i had to miss the class all day, and i didn't study at all. We had to go to the clinic to get an injection to reduce the pain. I woke up the next day, my uniform already ironed and my things already packed, ready to sit for the paper.

I cried my eyes out thinking that i'm so so dead. I didn't prepare anything, and the only thing i could think of was having to accept the devastation of failing my physics paper. I could barely walk to the exam hall, but i forced myself anyway. The teachers were asking whether i wanted to be quarantined or not, but i thought that it wont be necessary, i'm gonna fail the paper anyway.

With a very heavy heart, i answered all papers with whatever knowledge i have after two years learning physics. I prayed for God to help me, and He did. Alhamdulillah, an A+.

Nothing's impossible, kids.

5. HOW DID YOU STUDY? (question by the kid i'm personally tutoring)

Well at first i had a study schedule. But i couldn't stick to it during the first few days. But really, you need one. You can't just pick a subject you feel like doing that day, and it could be the only subject you feel like doing for the whole week. Not saying that its not the right way, this is subjective, but its pretty imbalanced if you ask me. So make yourself a study schedule, and stick to it. One subject for each prep session. I remember making a specific schedule to cover specific subtopics, and alhamdulillah it worked.

It goes something like;

Sunday (13/10/2013)
8.30am-9.30am : house meeting
9.30am-11.30am : addmaths : differentiation
11.30am-12.30pm : rest
12.30pm-2.30pm : sejarah : pembinaan negara dan bangsa yang merdeka
2.30pm-4.00pm : rest
4.00pm-5.00pm : nap
5.00pm-6.30pm : exercise, washing, kemas locker
6.30pm-8.00pm : dinner, maghrib
8.00pm-10.00pm : biology : coordination
10.00pm-11.00pm : settle down
11.00pm-1.00am : addmaths : log and indices

This was my actual schedule after gerak gempur. I managed to squeeze in every subtopic there is in the syllabus into everyday with double slots for addmaths up until two weeks before spm. My schedule during the weekdays varies according to the classes. Sometimes i had to carry the slots forward and replace them some other time or i just have to take away one of the addmaths slots. I improvised here and there, according to the events.

Managing your time is a critical part in preparing for a major exam like spm. Its crucial that you realize that the time you're wasting, is the time you will never get back. By the time you're holding your result slip next March, its that particular moment that you wished you didnt waste, and you wished you're doing your log exercises instead.

6. HOW DID YOU GET AN A+ IN ADDMATHS? (question by all of them)

As you can see in my schedule, i purposely squeezed in two slots for addmaths everyday. One in the morning, and one before i sleep. I regularize doing these exercises so that i dont feel awkward having to encounter weird numbers and symbols by the time i'm sitting for the paper.

During each slots, i purposely choose the hardest question there is, according to the topics. Mind you, sometimes one question took up the whole slot (yes, i spent two hours trying to settle one addmaths question). That was why i try to make it a habit of solving addmaths questions everyday, so i wont take up the whole 2hr 30mins of the time given to solve one question.

By this time of the year, most of you should already own a past year question book, be it topical or not. The last few weeks before spm, i only had to revise the questions i've done in the PYQ book and sometimes redo it so that i can refresh how i get to solve it in the first place, and in some cases, i find easier and shorter solutions to the question (which is pretty rare and when i do, i feel like a geniuz!!)

But behind the 'glory' of an A+ in addmaths, there are definitely the pain and struggles. I didn't think it was possible in the first place. The night before the paper, i was revising some paper 2 questions with a few of my friends. Out of nowhere, i suddenly went blank and i couldnt think. Everything my friends were talking about sounded off and i couldnt digest whatever they were discussing about. I broke down and cried. I called my dad, i told him i cant do it. I apologized about a thousand times in advance to him, saying that i'm gonna disappoint him, so i might as well apologize now (LOL).

By the time the results were announced, he laughed his ass off telling everyone how i sobbed and apologized to him because i thought that i was going to fail addmaths -_-"

This 'technique' implies to all subjects as well. Its only the matter of how often you do your exercises, and in some subjects like biology and sejarah, its the matter of how much you've read and you much you can rewrite whatever you remember about the particular topic. Thats why last minute studying is never a healthy way to get good grades. Sometimes you're lucky, last minute studying works. Sometimes luck laughs at you and you fail. So why take the risk? Start early so that you can feel that your hard work of two years pays off.

--

Well for now that's about it, the most repeated questions i've received so far. I'll update this post if i receive any more questions eh. But yeah, the most crucial thing students need to realize is that this is that phase in life that you're going to remember forever. Be it sweet or dreadful, its a part of your high school life that you'll never get to relive again.

Embrace the moment, make every second count. Balance your time with your friends, and with your studies. Concentrate and never lose focus. Prioritize and purify your intentions, remember why you're doing this in the first place.

First day coming back to school, 29th December 2012

All the best!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Selamat Hari Raya!


SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI, MAAF ZAHIR DAN BATIN

:)