Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Myriad of cultures and learning experiences at #Hult

I have always had a keen interest in travelling, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures, languages and of many other interests - food cultures.  My main driving forces in choosing my postgraduate school it has to offer all the above. I first heard of Hult International Business School in Taipei when I attended the Harvard Model United Nations (WorldMUN) in 2010. I received a booklet of which courses were offered and my first impressions of HULT were how the 5 global campus in Shanghai, Dubai, Boston, San Francisco, and of course London, rotations and international business aspect of the school were beyond what I could imagine. I knew just in that moment that I would want to attend one of the world's most international business school.

Here I am today, experiencing everything I could only imagine a few years ago. Pursuing my Masters in International Marketing in London campus, will be rotating to Dubai campus and San Francisco campus all in one academic year! I am most certainly happy to be a Malaysian here amongst the 140 nationalities here in London campus. I have always enjoyed learning from other people, therefore the opportunities here are learning hands on team work projects, other than the classes were all the activities out of campus. 

With different cultural backgrounds, experiences and classmates from different parts of the world. Truly makes it a unique experience. And how our cultures are unique in its own way, how to deal with different cultures, understanding our differences yet embracing our common goal, being globally connected in one Hult network. 

Being in one of the world's international city- London. This city surprises me every time how international it can be that different nationalities are all in this cultural hub, there's always something new, and so many sights to visit, theatres, museums and green spaces. Of which we have had different encounters and opportunities to experience our myriad of cultures, amongst the many Hult campus speaker, society, and multicultural events. From the Diwali night, Winter Ball, Paintball, Hult Visionary Speaker by Unilever CEO, and our own cohort activities -travelling together, spending an afternoon at the Hyde Park with some football and picnic, indulging in different food cultures where we would occasionally have a lunch or dinner outside of school from Chinese, Venezuelan, Russian, Columbian, Lebanese and many others. Which makes my understanding of my fellow classmates better and respecting the differences as they would for mine.

In the last 6 months here in London were one of the best learning experiences and have made me even motivated to continue pursuing my life aspirations of meeting more people and learn all the different cultures in the future from the Hult network I have made here. Which will be beneficial in my international business encounters that have made everything even more valuable, especially from all their energy, motivations and the friendships I have gathered here! 

To many more learning experiences! 6 months till graduations ~

your one and only msorangelisa

Thursday, 23 January 2014

My Hijab Journey since 2009

I had constantly received questions 'why do you wear the hijab?', 'don't you feel warm with the hijab on?', 'were you forced to wear the hijab? 

Each time I get to answer these questions I feel liberated and gives me strength that I am able to give a chance for others to understand my religion, culture and who I am. Before giving an opportunity for any stereotype, fear and judgements upon me and the hijab. An opportunity to explain that it is not an oppression on me or that it was forced. An opportunity to explain that it is not a symbol or sign that gives anyone the opportunity to fear me donning it and to call me a terrorist. 

I for one particularly understood why Islamophobia - a neologism that I often hear that conforms prejudice, hatred against Muslims and ethnic groups who are Muslims even existed. I studied International Law for 3 years in University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia. Where I realise that in 2009, this term was widely used in newspapers, public spaces and online media often to relate news regarding terrorists acts. I constantly had to discuss issues regarding 9/11 and terrorism was a topic that was discussed for weeks if not mentioned in class and acts of Al Qaeda would relate to muslim, and Islamist terrorist. 

I still remember vividly the word Islamist terrorist were used 26 times in just a page of 3 pages journal to prove the point that the terrorist was muslim and they were a group that should be feared. And naturally I constantly felt a little defensive once it is mentioned or discussed in the lecture. I would say I was also a little emotional that my religion was discussed in such a way that was linked to these sort of acts and were oriented in such a way that these acts were permissible by a few verses in the Holy Quran. That to me were misinterpreted and were taken entirely out of context at that point of time. Not that I was justifying or condoning the acts of the terrorists. It was just unfair to categorise a muslim and Islam in the same context. Whereas Muslim is the individual and Islam is the religion and one of peace. When an individual Muslim commit his/her sins or doings it is upon his choosing not the religion that I believe teaches forgiveness and compassion on others.

There was a YouTube video I watched of Queen Rania speaking on this topic >the link here > Arab = Terrorist = Islam = War. She explains why this equation is entirely wrong and she tackled this issue consistently since. Truly she is my personal hero for giving me some strength to continue my responses regarding terrorism, Arab-Israeli conflict and Muslim women empowerment. (This topic calls for another post. I shall focus on the main topic regarding my hijab journey).  

I started donning the hijab permanently since Ramadan (fasting month) of 2009. It was the first year I arrived Sydney and I was only 18 years old then. Many have also asked, how did I come to the decision to start in Sydney not since I was back in Malaysia. My simple answer - I realise that it was time for me to change myself. Obviously, it was more than just that. It was a time when I start looking at the world in a different perspective, I realise how humble my life would be if I had only thought about myself and be modest in my thinking, my words, my actions and what were the purpose of life. 

It was a year of self discovery, as I had also lost a few close family members to me in the same year. It was a year of questioning my identity and who I am as a human being and why do I call myself a Muslim when yet with much embarrassment ( I did not pray 5 times a day it was sometimes only 3 or 4, I did not know why we eat Halal food, I did not know why we can't drink alcohol). Not until I was asked these questions when I lived in Sydney and rediscovered my religion and my love for my life as a Muslim. Sadly it was all taken for granted before. I was told what to do, go to religious classes and failed to understand it by heart when I thought I did and finally in 2009 where I had embraced this beautiful religion whole heartedly. I had a solstice moment for myself. 

It was not an easy journey in the last 7 years - I was once called a terrorist as I walked on the streets of Taipei yet I had only hoped for some directions around the city, I was looked upon with fear as I entered in the stores, I was yet again called a terrorist as I walked out from a shopping mall in Sydney as a few young boys did, and was also once thrown bad eggs towards my direction at a Kingsford bus stop in Ramadan 2011 (luckily I was with a friend standing behind the bus stop stand and only a little splash on my shoulder). Yet again, I held it on strong as it was truly my decision to show my identity as a Muslim lady in these places that I believed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was not shaken by these acts but it strengthened my beliefs even more. 

What came to my surprise most of the time I have received much respect and recognition for being a Muslim and my hijab as my identity to that belief. When I go to restaurants they know I am looking for halal food, no alcoholic cakes / beverages. And that it is not a question when I ask for a small space to pray in the corner of the restaurant. Or in fitting rooms. My beliefs were to some becoming a little familiar in cities where people understood Islam and with no judgements just respect. Syukur alhamdulillah. 

Yet in my own country,there are still issues regarding women and hijab. There were also news that some women were not able to get a part time/full time job at retailers and offices because they were donning the hijab. This prejudice made me realise that it is time that more women with hijab on should share their stories and prove how valuable they are. Even with the hijab on it does affect any ability, skills or knowledge of a person. (Obviously this is an issue I have to write another post for). 

I was also called to write on this post due to a Telegraph UK newspaper article that there are talks about  Banning Muslim Women from wearing veils in School and Public places. This got to me with a shock and in this country UK that embraces multiculturalism and most certainly obvious in the city that I live in now, London. I have not received any prejudice or fear upon anyone in the public space or had I also instigated any fear upon the public. Had I gone outside for a run to the London Bridge and walked to school near Chancery Lane minding my own business with my hijab on. Honestly, what part of choosing to hide away parts of the body is deemed inappropriate. I may need to seek answers on this.

I hope that this post this not instigate any fear or prejudice upon me as I had only intended to share a piece of my humble thoughts onto my writing space. I have also not intended to hurt anyone's feelings. If I did, apologies for it. I may not be the best Muslim women or a role model with hijab. However, I am constantly trying to be a better Muslim, daughter, sister, friend, human in our human race. Here is a movement of #WorldHijabDay of a Muslim sister I am truly proud of. She is sharing the knowledge and spreading love, compassion of what Islam truly encompasses with the World Hijab Day

In summary, with the hijab it did not only hid my hair and parts of my body, it also changed me as a person and wanting to be better each day with positive thoughts and helping to inspire others. Looking at life in a bigger picture, while it did not made me feel constrain or limited yet inspired me to achieve more in life. Had it not made me feel warmer with the hijab especially Malaysia is a tropical country with 32 celcius. It made me feel cooler since the direct sun was not directly upon my body. It had not only changed my inner thoughts but it surely did give me more meaning and purpose of life. 

That is it for now. Till the next post!

Muchos love and salam,

Khalisa your one and only Msorangelisa

Here are also a few Muslim headscarves illustration worn differently and explained :

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Mini Malaysian Night

Salam 1 Malaysia - this is how we usually greet in official government functions and events back home. It is a concept, national campaign introduced by Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib Razak to enhance national unity and harmony.

Of Malaysian food and culture - nothing less of a country filled with rich Asian culture, Malay, Chinese, Indian, Baba Nyonya, and multi ethnicities. I am proud of my country and what it has to offer the warmth, people, beaches, culture and especially- FOOD! Some signature dishes in each states and our 'Mamak' (where I usually hang out to get Indian -  Roti Canai and Teh Tarik).  My other usual favourites are nasi lemak, and sambal udang / sotong ( chilli paste cooked with garlic and prawns or squid).

Since I started school in London a month ago, I have been thinking of home and my favourite dishes especially the Nasi lemak whenever I am hungry (it'd be so good to get some food)! My classmates are multi cultural and we all come from different backgrounds. I am sure we all have a keen interest in learning each other's culture - hence why I chose HULT International Business School.  It would be a great opportunity to start hosting a cultural dinner.

Therefore last Wednesday, I have invited my classmates to dinner at Malaysian restaurant -Pak Awie London in Paddington. I wanted to introduce my Malaysian food  (since they were asking when we could get some rendang and roti canai which some knew of or had before). Some 20 awesome friends came to experience this Malaysian mini night I hosted.

Here's what we had for the night~

 They tasted the cucur udang (fried prawn fitters), chicken satay (skewer grilled meat with peanut sauce) & fried wantan in the starter platter. 

Hungry people waiting for their main dishes - I offered them the Nasi Lemak / Laksa Johor with teh tarik ( pulled tea with condensed milk)

 My classmate Giulia from Milan trying her Laksa Johor (a speciality dish from state of Johor) it is yellow mee with fresh salted fish, seafood, coconut, chillies, ginger, galangal, some other herbs cooked gravy with condiments of (red onion, cucumber, bean sprouts)

 Happy faces getting ready before eating! :)
They were trying the roti canai (paratha bread with curry lentil) that would usually look like this ....

Roti canai with curries, lentil (OMG so hungry by looking at this pic!)

 A picture while Marco (at the end of this table) my Italian friend is saying 'is this all I am eating, I need more food" hahah no I am just exaggerating but he did say he wanted to eat more to me later since Italians do eat a lot and the Laksa Johor wasn't enough he ordered fried rice and chicken. 

 Benedetta and Salvatore my Italians trying the Laksa Johor

  Silja from Germany trying the Laksa Johor

 This is the Nasi Lemak (coconut rice, beef rendang, sambal prawns (chilli paste cooked), fried chicken, fried anchovies, half boiled eggs and cucumber, peanuts.

 While Salvatore trying the "Sago Gula Melaka" the (sago pudding with palm sugar syrup). He said it tastes funny because of the starch and its gooey but he liked the syrup! haha

 This is one of my personal favourite dessert - the ketayap! Its desicated coconut filling and crepe like (green is because of the pandan leaf colouring/flavouring)

 Lama and Chrine my lebanese ladies likes the banana fritters! 

All of us with Malaysian flag infront of Pak Awie (although can't see the flag clearly but I was really proud still and always)

My own experience from introducing my food and culture is that I managed to learn the words in English and experience across cultures how we are different but still remain respectful of each other. It was my experience to introduce how to eat rice with hands, and how some cultures would eat with forks for their rice or wouldn't eat spicy food. I am so proud of them they truly kept an open mind and immersed themselves with the culture. Had so many questions about how it is cooked, what it is made of. I also enjoyed explaining bits of history here and there. Also, the picture of the His Majesty King (Yang Di Pertuan Agong) and Queen on the wall of the restaurants entrance and explained a little bit of the constitutional Monarchy system in the country (glad I knew that! Phew). 

Last but not least, It was my learning experience too and most importantly I am proud that this truly shows that in Malaysia - it is what we are known as the 'truly Asia' country and its values are just multicultural. Hope that I could host another mini night for other classmates (since there are 75 of us in class and other cohorts) and glad to be in the Multicultural Club at HULT that would help to promote and have other cultural dinners hosted by others. That's all for this post folks! Till the next post - on my Spain getaway weekend to Malaga and Granada. Woop woop!

xx your one and only 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

23 and getting younger.

Hello again blog world and everyone else reading this! :) 

I have had so many chances to start over or continue to blog again. Finally, I have decided - blogging time is back!
I started blogging in 2008 then moved to Facebook notes in 2010. Then, I had a few hiatus years from 2010 till today. So many life events happened since. I just have one very important update today. Syukur alhamdulillah

On last Saturday I turned 23 in one lovely city I call home now, London. Well at least for the next 7 months from this date. I am still young (the title of this post only shows that I am in denial haha), filled with ambitions and most importantly I am a Masters of International Marketing student at HULT International Business School. Where it is ranked #1 for International Experience and 5th for International Business by the Financial Times, and is among the Top 30 business schools in the world and Top 20 in the U.S. by the Economist. More posts about my school and the classes soon.

A proud HULTian I am. 

My Birthday wish this year is just to get some English breakfast and spend some time with good friends exploring the London City and its beauty  - checked !

Hope that I can find some time amidst the classes, assignments and many more exciting days here to update this blog from time to time..

Can't wait for my birthday getaway to Spain this weekend! Will be updated with more photos and beautiful sceneries of the Andalusian coast. Can guess which city I am off to? :) 

xx your one and only Msorangelisa