Get­ting out of a com­fort zone

New Straits Times - - Higher Ed -

I al­ways looked for­ward to the dance prac­tice ses­sions as they are my well-de­served break af­ter study­ing the whole day.

These ses­sions strength­ened the team mem­bers’ bond, as we huffed and puffed to get the dance moves cor­rect.

Apart from Malaysian So­ci­ety events, I joined the Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity Is­lamic So­ci­ety. Most of the mem­bers are Bri­tish-born Pak­ista­nis and Bangladeshis, and meet­ing other Mus­lims in was heart­felt.

I learnt to per­form prayers without a pray on the street and along a clean cor­ri­dor with a prayer mat and started the habit of read­ing the Qu­ran ev­ery day, which was some­thing that I sel­dom re­mem­ber to do in the com­fort of my home.

I was also exposed to Charity Week or­gan­ised by Is­lamic Re­lief. As one of the fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, Cam­bridge and Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity Is­lamic So­ci­eties de­cided to or­gan­ise a climb at Mount Snow­don, Wales.

It was a chal­lenge to climb a moun­tain in the UK for the first time as there was a hail­storm at the sum­mit and the gusts of wind chilled me to the bone.

By the time we de­scended the moun­tain, we were soaked to the skin. Although I would not want to climb Mount Snow­don again any­time soon, I have to ad­mit that it was a mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence.

In ad­di­tion to the so­ci­eties, I at­tend Cam­bridge Col­lege for­mals to en­gage with peo­ple. All 31 of the col­leges have for­mals on cer­tain days of the week.

Now, what is a for­mal, you may ask?

Imag­ine a hall sim­i­lar to that in the movies, with four long ta­bles dec­o­rated with lit can­dles and the walls fur­nished with tapestries of fa­mous alumni as­so­ci­a­tions. En­try to the hall is by in­vi­ta­tion of a mem­ber of a col­lege, and you have to wear a gown (sim­i­lar to a grad­u­a­tion gown) for a three-course din­ner of an ap­pe­tiser, main course and dessert. So far, I have been to for­mals at five col­leges, and I in­tend to com­plete the Cam­bridge For­mal Chal­lenge (at­tend for­mals at 31 col­leges) by my fi­nal year!

Some of my days at Cam­bridge are good but some days are not, es­pe­cially when as­sign­ments and re­ports are due.

I may sit in my room, typ­ing to my heart’s con­tent when sud­denly a flurry of the melan­cholic blues come over me. At that mo­ment, I feel like just fly­ing home to the com­fort of my family and friends.

But then I see the sky, with a perfect blend of pink and or­ange hues, and I am re­minded of how lucky I am. Grate­ful that I have the chance to study in one of the most pres­ti­gious univer­si­ties in the world. Grate­ful that I was born in a peace­ful Mus­lim coun­try with amaz­ing fin­ger-lick­ing food, and above all, grate­ful that I have the chance to be out of my com­fort zone be­cause it will make me a stronger per­son and bring me closer to Al­lah.

So when you feel down, take a step back and re­flect on the bless­ings that you have been be­stowed.

Take a deep breath, hold your head up, smile to your­self and keep on striv­ing for­ward!

The writer is a first-year chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing student at St John‘s Col­lege, Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge, UK. A Yayasan Khaz­anah scholar, she was a for­mer student of Kolej Yayasan UEM and Seko­lah Seri Pu­teri, Cy­ber­jaya. Email her at ed­u­ca­

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