My journey to Liverpool.

Step 1: Semester 5

Not gonna start from semester one.

Semester 5 was weird. It was pretty relaxed. And relax is not good. That’s also when i get to know most of them who are my good friends now. We created wonderful memories by working together, practicing osce together and succeeding together.

Step 2: IELTS

I hate IELTS. My friends were ‘tortured’ because of this supposedly english standard which totally doesn’t reflect their value as amazing medical students.

Step 3: Matching

So the matching process went smoothly and Alhamdulillah, I was matched to the uni I wanted. Please don’t ask why Liverpool because I do not have any definite answer. It was instinctual. I prayed so Allah would open my heart and lead me to choose the best. I was soo confused even after listing all the unis with their pros and cons to compare. On the morning we were supposed to submit the list, I sat down and trusted my instincts.

So Liverpool it is.

To my juniors, if you’re considering Liverpool, please contact me. I’ll tell you all I know in the most detailed way possible. I think I’ll tell what I would have wanted to know instead of waiting for your questions. Trust me, when I was in your shoes, yes I had questions but some of them, I never thought I should’ve known.

Step 4: Official Unconditional Offer Letter

Only after submitting our final’s results along with our A-level, SPM and a handful of other documents (scanned and emailed), will the university send us an offer letter. And we need the unconditional offer letter fast because that is needed for our sponsor (JPA) to process and send us a financial affidavit. What happened was the uni (UoL) stopped responding to me and I had no idea if they actually received my emails. And all this happened when I was attending my BTN camp. All needs to be done fast and being at BTN (means I can only use the internet on my phone) and the fact that they aren’t responding to my mails definitely makes things worrisome.

You know I sometimes get very antsy about things and need them to be perfectly perfect like, all the time? Yeah. So what happened made me worried sick.

I managed to contact them afterwards with my personal email (and of course, with the help of my friends).

Step 5: Visa

To apply for a visa (to the UK at least), you need to have your CAS statements and it will be sent to you by your university. We finished our finals in May (end of May) and have been waiting for our CAS statements for months! I can’t help but to pressure them regarding this thing. It would’ve been much easier to settle everything fast and then just relax and fly.

There were cases where students had problems with their visa and can’t transfer to overseas (to pursue their studies). Finally on the 2nd week of July, we received our CAS statements.

I don’t want to start about how tedious the online application was. I can’t even. Lucky we (me and my friends going to UoL) did the thing together (thank you WhatsApp) and we had a friend who’d done it before to help.

Please read the guide carefully before filling the online form. Pleaseee READ.

Since most universities start their courses around the same time (September), July is like the time when everyone starts applying for a visa. So we had to wait for 2 weeks for an appointment with the visa office. We were told that the time taken to process visa will be exactly 2 weeks. We were expected to be at Liverpool for our orientation on the 20th of August and JPA usually sends us one week (or less) earlier.

I was a bit too tired already to be worried. I’m like – whatever happens, happens.

When I thought the hardest part was over, another problem came knocking. Probably, if I tell you now, you might not be able to grasp the seriousness of it. But at the visa office, I think my heart was no longer beating in sinus rhythm. All because of the inai I wore – apparently because of it, the biometric scan wouldn’t be able to detect your fingerprints or something.

“I can’t let you in. Try to wash it off and come back before 1.30” It was 8.30am then.

I tried to be positive and think clearly what to do. I had to remove it. Okay, I have 5 hours.

You can’t possibly imagine what I went through the next 3 hours. My hands were sore but the inai was still there, un-faded. So I went back (still positive) and hoped they would just let me in and be done with it. But no. They were nice people (there was one man though who really don’t know the right thing to say to people with problems like me. Bad man) and the supervisor lady was kind so I managed to remain calm. Lucky me that I didn’t have to set another appointment but was told to just remove the inai and come back anytime.

In case I can’t remove it, what’ll happen? I emailed UoL and JPA. JPA said they can’t do anything and I’ll have to continue my studies locally. UoL said I can skip a few days of orientation (come a bit late) but if I skip it entirely, I might not be able to join the course. I was generally calm and still positive for some unknown reason.

I use these painful things on my poor fingers every other hour for 5 days:
1) Clorox (I’d recommend this if you’re having the same problem)
2) Soda bicarbonate
3) Lemon
4) Lime juice
5) Thinner
6) Nail polish remover
7) Colgate
8) Turpentine
9) Salt

On the third day of Eid (Raya), I troubled my uncle by making him drive all the way from Penang to KL (he insisted though) and settled this visa thing. Alhamdulillah. Really, alhamdulillah.

Things you need to submit to the visa office (if you’re a JPA scholar):
1) CAS statements
2) 1 UKvisa-sized photo (they ask two but only one was used)
3) Printed appointment slip
4) Printed visa form
5) TB test (and a photocopied one)
6) Financial Affidavit (and a photocopied one)
7) Current passport (and previous ones if you’ve been to UK with it)

Step 6: House

Finding a house can drive you real crazy. I don’t know. All this is really not good for my heart, seriously. Alhamdulillah, Izat (remember my housemate at IMU?) has a friend who’s already studying at Liverpool. So with her help (she was about to sit for her finals then), I explored all the possibilities. I had tonnes of questions and that blessed soul patiently answered them all. Allah bless her for her kindness and patience. Then when she decided to focus fully on her exams, another girl helped me. MasyaAllah this people. They are just so nice. I can’t repay their kindness and so to make myself feel better, I vowed to help my juniors when it’s their time. I promise to not be a selfish jerk there and to extend a helping hand for those in need.

Please, just ask.

There was a couple of times when we almost get a house and then, we had to cancel. It kills.

Step 7: Books.

For those continuing with third year like I am, my seniors suggested that I buy some books they usually use here. But well, due to time constrain and stuff, I didn’t buy any before coming to Liverpool.

Step 8: Clothes

So we were told that it’s okay to not bring any winter clothing since we’ll be going there late summer-early autumn. But once I touched down at Liverpool, I went – “Oh god.. this is not good”.

We were told that baju kurung are not considered as formal wear (I only know this 1 week before departure). I’ve been planning to wear baju kurung all week long (that was my formal attire at IMU and INTEC). So yeah, rushingly I bought around 3 formal shirts, hoping to continue my wardrobe shopping here at Liverpool. Well, I’m gonna go out and find stuff tomorrow :)

Step 9: Pre-departure.

You get money from JPA (it’s a lot – I’m definitely going back to Malaysia to serve) and the dress code is white shirt and tudung, black/dark blue blazer and black slacks and shoes.

Step 10: Things to bring.

I can’t really tell you what to bring/not to bring at this stage – I’m just one day here. So let me tell first what I brought and we’ll see if it’s relevant in the next post. :)

1) I brought very few clothes. One thick sweater and two blazers. A couple of formal shirts. 2 slacks. Pyjamas. Towel. Tracksuits (I love these, can’t leave them behind). A couple of baju kurung and one jubah. A few inners.

2) Food. I brought a lot of spices and herbs. My neighbour gave some sambal tempoyak – had to bring that too. 1 packet of instant noodles.

3) Toiletries and undergarments of course. The only problem is bringing toiletries in your hand luggage. At KLIA, they allowed up to 1L but at Heathrow, it’s only 100ml. But well, I brought more and nothing was confiscated. Be friendly and talk, they’d like you.

4) Your electronic devices. Don’t forget your charger/power bank, in case they want to check and the battery runs out – it might get confiscated.

5) In Malaysia they’ll threaten you with the importance of bringing not more than 30kg in your luggage and not more than 7kg for your hand luggage. I can only speak for myself – my bag was 32kg and I was prepared to pay. But probably because I went early and it was a group check-in, the MAS personnel allowed the extra kg and I didn’t have to pay anything (I was supposed to pay RM180). Alhamdulillah.  For your hand luggage – they WILL NOT weigh it. So do not worry and bring as much as you want in it. You can bring two bags – one to be placed in the overhead compartment and another, under your seat. The latter should be your computer bag – put your toiletries and electronic devices in it too(should you wanna use them in flight).

Step 11: Departure.

Ours was crazy and super fast. We gathered at the airport at 6pm for the 11.40pm flight. Once I reached there, we went to weigh our bags. My luggage was 31.6kg and the hand luggage was near 10kg. I was prepared to pay. When we went to the bag-strapping area – my friend was advised to remove some of the things in her bag (it was 33kg) for fear they might ask her to remove it anyway after covering the bag. That was a stressful moment there.

After the luggage check in, we were asked to gather at some place for a short briefing at 8.30pm. So while waiting (it was 7 already by then), we took some pictures and get to know our friends’ parents. I liked that part. Then we went for prayers and by the time we wanted to have dinner, it was already near 8.30 – so no dinner. I didn’t feel like eating anyway – I was super hungry though. We were told that we’ll have to get in for boarding at 9pm and it was already 8.40pm. Most of us didn’t cry because we were rushing like crazy and we hadn’t had time to think that we’re actually leaving our family behind for at least one good year. I felt weird in the stomach though. I have to be strong – ’cause I’m the eldest, Big Kakak okays.

We waited for around I don’t know, one hour (?) inside there and boarded the flight at 11.20 or something. I don’t know if you can change seats (I didn’t, though I wish I did). Once you’ve settled at your seat, it’s troublesome to change seats. So maybe we should’ve simply went to those seats right from the beginning. I didn’t even went to the toilet throughout that 13 hours – the times I felt like going, the two people next to me were sleeping so soundly. I watched a few movies, made lots of doa, write, drew, watched the clouds, slept and ate. The food was good but I couldn’t finish my breakfast (despite being very hungry) because I was sobbing so hard watching The Lady.

Step 12: Transit at LHR (London Heathrow airport)

So we arrived around 6am and alhamdulillah, we felt good. The sad part was that because our friends to Dublin had to go to a different terminal than ours, so technically we parted once we landed at London. I hated that. Tak sempat feeling pun. =.=

I went to the toilet to bathe actually and just realised that they don’t have pipes or anything. Just tissues. I spent a few minutes staring at the toilet bowl, thinking if I really wanted to do this.

We waited till 11 something before boarding the plane to Manchester. I won’t tell you my culture shock experiences though.

Step 13: Manchester to Liverpool.

When we landed (after a rough ride – I wonder if it’s normally like that or it’s just this pilot), my friend wasn’t feeling so good and I was really exhausted and sleepy. We took a train and I slept throughout despite being told not to. Well, I can’t help it.

Step 14: Liverpool.

This place is soo cold (and it’s not even winter yet!) and windy and the people have a weird different kinda English accent (scouse – I’m glad I knew about it beforehand). I hope to be able to speak like them soon enough :)

The bomb was our house. *insert forced smile*

I was shocked, honestly. The OCD side of me was screaming already. It was very dirty and in some way, creepy too. But our neighbours are amazing people and it made everything so much better than it would have been.

Probably it just needs some serious cleaning and makeover.

So we’re not sure what will happen tomorrow (ehh.. today. I woke fresh at 3am! jet lag..zzz..), but we’ll be fine insyaAllah. This is nothing, aye? :)


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