Sunday, 27 January 2013
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At times, I find myself highly separated from the goings-on at home. Sometimes I find myself reading up on Australian and other news that when I want to browse through the Malaysian news, it becomes stale (too many political stories) or I just don't have the time.

And considering how distant I am from the Malaysian community here (I rarely participate in 'Malaysian' events) I do not really interact with many Malaysians except my friends. And even then, more often than not we are in the company of non-Malaysians, and topics of conversation would not always be about home, so I do not really have many channels in which I keep myself updated about what's the latest craze back home.

But that's what I love about my work with Global Voices- since I'm writing about issues on Malaysia I get to research and read up on certain issues beforehand so that I have some context and can form my own opinion of the issue first. Of course, Twitter and Facebook helps, but I am sometimes too lazy to Google lame references to a hot topic back home.

One example I can remember is the whole 'listen' thing. Suddenly everyone on Facebook seem to be making fun of the word and I had no idea why. Honestly, I still don't- I only know that some lady said it quite a lot and the conversation was recorded. But I suppose if I force myself to write about it, then I'll have to read up on it and perhaps hear the conversation myself.

I guess it's just how anyone who goes overseas can label ourselves as. We have the type who sticks with their fellow countrymen and who does not integrate or adapt into the local culture and still basically lives in a bubble, and those who completely cut themselves off and mix well with the locals. Pretty soon you can't even tell that they are a foreigner. Then you have the in-betweens, which is the group I guess I identify with. With these things I guess I just need a reason to participate- with Malaysian food festivals if there are friends going I would go for the food, but I also wouldn't go alone because that would just be depressing. And political rallies do not interest me because I don't see how it would affect anything back home.

There are so many other things that I can list down right now, but I am simply not in the mood to- I guess I can just say that we live in an extremely complex society don't we?
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Sunday, 20 January 2013
Mount Wellington, Tasmania

I knew that Tasmania was going to be colder than the weather in Melbourne, which was full on its summer swing. Several people had cautioned me about this, but in the end all I brought with me was a jumper and a cardigan.

Throughout my time there, it felt fine- I was never too cold that I needed both layers at once. Until Mount Wellington. I'm not sure if this is accurate but I believe Mount Wellington is the highest peak in Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania.

Temperature-wise, it was alright, and I could definitely have survived with my jumper, but the biggest thing that was bothering me (as well as everyone there) was the wind. Here's me struggling to keep myself warm while posing for a picture.

But it was there that I was reminded again of what I love about travel. It's about seeing things that you don't normally get to see. It's about seeing a different place. Meeting people of different walks of life. I started my Tasmania trip not really being in my 'travel mode' yet, as I still felt very much in Australia. But slowly as I lost my routines I got into it.

The good thing about Mount Wellington was, you didn't have to hike or walk to get to the peak- you just had to drive. Now, hiking might be good too but for everyday people this might not have worked out as it really was freezing outside. So thankfully, we could just drive up there and walked out to enjoy the view, which was breathtaking.

Just look at that! You rarely get to see such stunning sights. But in the end, the cold got to me and I dashed back to the warmth of the car.

Hope you enjoyed this short post, see you all soon!

(Mount Wellington is a 30-45 minutes drive from Hobart)
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Wednesday, 16 January 2013
Protests and Whatnot

So most of you probably would have heard of the KL112 rally that happened over the weekend. I doubt that you'll need a refresher of what happened, but I thought I should give my two cents' worth anyway since I've not written anything more opinion based rather than just an update of my life.

I personally thought the rally was overrated and had no purpose other than to bring together people who had no idea what they're doing, but that it's something that goes against the government and therefore worth their time. I find it highly frustrating whenever people bring up the topic of how bad the government is. Hey, I'm not pro-government or pro-BN in any way, but I just find it dumbfounding that people can go around saying 'the government is corrupt' or 'official documents gone missing... only in Malaysia'. FYI, it's not. It happens everywhere else.

I find many Malaysians like that- ashamed of their identity, always critical of the establishment and spewing out tales that they swear are facts when they haven't done any background research on. And yet, this rally became so popular- why? I think it was a smart move on the Opposition's side. Clearly, they need to play into all this resentment of the government and that's how you have a rally that serves no real purpose except for propaganda and campaigning (note: if it was the government doing such a thing, Malaysians would be talking instead about how the government is brainwashing citizens... interesting thought).

On the Government's side, I think it was great that they allowed this rally to happen without much violence. I think it was a very smart move- now they can talk about how they are open to new ideas and that they are willing to change too, and that with restrictions we can have discussions and come to agreements without having to resort to violence (I can never forget how my History teacher used to harp on proudly that we achieved independence without bloodshed). It's a great political manoeuvre. But perhaps it's too little, too late. I don't know.

And don't get me wrong, I'm all for political campaigning and fighting for democracy, freedom of speech and other causes that one believes in, and that if a government doesn't deliver, then citizens have the right to demand for more. But I just don't think that blindly participating in rallies is the answer. If the Opposition continues to conduct rallies like that, pretty soon they will lose participants and one day it won't get publicity. Look at Egypt. The protests became huge news because it appeared out of nowhere, and it's not normal. Look at Thailand- coups every other year, and so nobody cares anymore unless their travel plans are disrupted.

Picture making the rounds in Facebook
For some reason I've yet to decipher, people seem to think of me as apolitical. I was approached last year to register as an overseas voter. I didn't do it for one very simple reason: Form tampering. I did not know who that form is going to go to (since it was given by a friend) and I really did not want my details to be given to the wrong hands. But of course, I looked like someone who just wasn't interested. Which definitely isn't the case at all because I am interested. I want to see my country achieve more, be recognised worldwide. I want a better future, I'm just not talking about changing governments for a better future. I'm talking about change for a better future. Things like our education system. Our mentality. Our culture.

Maybe it's my fickle-mindedness or neutrality. I often see things from two perspectives. I see the government as a victim of politics that currently goes against it. I see the Opposition as people who are greedy but yet smart enough to piggyback on these negative sentiments. Basically, they're opportunistic. I just don't see them as glorified or idealised like how others make them out to be. Come on, they're not freedom fighters. Anwar himself admitted that this is his last chance at 'wresting control'. Pay attention to his words used- he's chasing the glory and power, too, just like everyone else.

Many Malaysians want a change of government. But I really do think that we're fooling ourselves. Fundamentally, we have too many things to overcome. A simple government change isn't going to make much of a difference. But I try to remain optimistic- and that's why I wrote this!
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Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Why I'm Not Continuing With My Studies

I'm not sure if it's still the case, but many Malaysians (okay, this happens in many other places) are constantly harping about the saturation of undergraduate degrees and that you should need a minimum of a Master's to get a decent job these days.

So when I graduated, one of the considerations was to continue studying. But I've always known, since  sometime last year, that when I graduate I would not be heading back to uni for awhile. Of course, postgrad studies isn't limited to Masters alone, there are Honours programs available here (it's an additional year and you only get accepted if you have good grades). There are quite a lot of options, and of course with a postgraduate degree many more doors are open for you.

Life-sized chess set in Hobart, Tasmania
So with all that stacked up, I would say it is a good argument to go back to uni and continue life as a student. So why did I decide against it (and why I think you should too)?

1. Student life has gone stale
I've been a student for the past 15 years. Having more life experience now in other areas, I am really ready for a change in my life. Despite liking my comfort zone, I also know that I am very often a person who needs constant change in my life to keep things interesting. So I really am just looking forward to leading a different lifestyle and doing something different in my life.

So glad I've graduated! 
It would most probably be working since most of the things that I want in life requires money. But, if something else comes along, I'd definitely be open to that- maybe travelling? Maybe getting paid to travel?

2. Being financially independent
It must be because the friends I hang out with are all financially independent, but I'm actually looking forward to being able to pay for my own living expenses and for things that I want. I would also be able to save up money for travelling, which is a definite plus considering I've always wanted to travel. And the thought of paying for something with your own money also evokes a feeling of satisfaction for me.

Love travelling!

3. Experience is more valuable
This is a sentiment that I believe most companies here in Australia adopts- whatever job you apply for, they normally just want a basic qualification, i.e a degree for most professional jobs. But they would also need experience. They want people who have worked in the field before, who knows what to expect. And so, I think getting practical experience is always better.

And it's not just in the field that you are interested in, too- from the books I've read and people I've met, I've come to realise that getting different types of skills always helps- you never know when they may come in handy!

Wouldn't mind being able to afford good food!

4. It's personal! 

For me, a Masters degree has always been for someone who has worked a few years in the industry and wants to get some relevant qualification to get a pay rise. So I've always imagined that I would only go back into university after a couple of years working (or travelling, who knows). Maybe I won't ever go back to uni, I don't know- I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I know that for now, this isn't for me.

The financial independence factor comes in, too- what's the point of having a Masters degree if you couldn't even pay for it yourself?
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Thursday, 3 January 2013
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So I've not mentioned this before since it was quite recent, but a friend and I are now co-authors of a blog for writers! Basically, our vision is that one day, we'll gather our friends who also enjoy writing and we can all take turns updating it with whatever it is that we want to write- stories, opinion pieces, etc.

But since we aren't so sure how that'll work out yet, we decided to just try it between the both of us.

For my first post I decided to write an uber-short story. I don't make public a lot of my writing, so this was definitely a huge step for me. But anyway, check Five Years On out and stay tuned!
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