Getting out of a comfort zone
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 email@example.com