Once again I must woefully admit that I haven’t updated this blog for an embarrassingly long time (5 months). But I truly intend to write more regularly – this time I’m serious!!! It’s not that I don’t write – I do, but my writings are scattered all over the place (Insta Stories, Insta posts, Linkedin posts, tweets…).
But Alhamdulillah, I am grateful to have recently graduated with an MSc Marketing (Distinction) from the University of Edinburgh! And more importantly, I successfully landed a full-time digital marketing role in higher education after completing my internship. Officially a “Malaysian working abroad” now.
I was two weeks into the role when I was walking on Princes Street, on my way to watch the Beauty and the Beast musical (my first theatre experience since COVID and it was truly spectacular!) when a female solo traveller from India asked if I could take her photo. I did, of course, and very happily talked to her to some must-see landmarks. Then we had an exchange that I’ll always remember, since it was my first time introducing myself to a stranger as a working professional in this city.
Her: Are you studying here in Edinburgh?
Me: Oh no, I work here.
Me (internally): !!!!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, that conversation was exciting. Less exciting is being denied student discounts that I used to get. And most crucially, having to pay awfully expensive council tax since I no longer get student exemption 😦
Remember when I said I’d try to update my blog every week in 2021? Well that’s embarrassing, because I haven’t updated for two months. But I will write something, just for the sake of documenting my recent updates.
Firstly, spring had sprung! Spring is absolutely gorgeous in Edinburgh, and I particularly loved the abundance of cherry blossoms / sakura, my favourite flower. It’s almost over though, and summer is coming. Although by the state of the weather you’d think it’s late September, honestly. Scotland truly is something else.
I’m also officially done with Semester 2 of my masters degree where I took subjects I genuinely enjoyed such as Marketing in a Digital World, Understanding Brands, Marketing Communications and Marketing Applications. Some of my assignments included: an analysis of functional and symbolic branding (I chose Adobe Photoshop and Disney respectively), a creative brief for a campaign targeting the French market to visit Scotland, a viral video concept for the charity Age UK, and a marketing plan for the Edinburgh Science Festival. We sometimes got to work with real clients this semester and it was challenging but also rewarding. Now, I’m beginning to work on my research dissertation. Wow, I really decided to do a masters degree, as if my undergraduate dissertation wasn’t torturous enough! 😛 Today marks the first anniversary of me submitting my research investigating social media engagements with Avengers: Endgame – read about it here.
Next, I …kind of… got my first promotion ever. I’ve been working part-time in digital marketing since October, 7 hours a week. Unfortunately someone in my team is leaving. But now my hours are being increased to 17.5 hours a week! Alhamdulillah, for everything. I have more time to work now since I don’t have classes anymore, just my dissertation. So I’ll have to practice effective time management. I also hope to spend some time traveling around the UK where I can.
So, you’re dreaming of studying abroad like Teme Abdullah or Cupcake Aisyah. Or maybe you just read too many Hlovate novels as a teen. But you don’t know where to start.
I regularly get questions about studying abroad from fellow Malaysians, so after 2 and a half years of great demand, I have tried my best to summarize things I’m usually asked about into a single blog post.
First of all, here’s a very brief history about my tertiary education:
I’m Arifah. I did a Diploma in Media and Communication at UiTM. I got a nice CGPA and extracurriculars, and although it wasn’t easy, managed to secure a convertible scholarship to do a BA Media, Communication and Cultural Studies at Newcastle University, UK. I am now doing a MSc Marketing a the University of Edinburgh, UK, also on a convertible scholarship.
What this blog post covers:
A) Useful resources for those wanting to study abroad
B) Scholarship listings / alternative ways to get funding
C) FAQ about university / scholarship applications
D) FAQ about life as a student in the UK
Disclaimer: This blog post is not really intended for post-SPM students, although some resources may be of use. My intended audience is more to students who have finished Pre-U/diploma/matriculation/STPM, OR aspiring postgraduate students. If you’re looking for post-SPM tips I suggest these resources: (1) (2)
But before that, I believe that doors will open much more easily for you to study abroad you if you have good intentions. Ask yourself, why do you want to fly overseas?
pursue knowledge with a sincere heart
contribute to the society and the world
make your parents and family proud
if you are a Muslim, to increase your faith by seeing the world
For the past two years I joined the exciting countdown with the crowds by the Newcastle Quayside before watching blazing, colourful fireworks soar up into the air to celebrate fresh beginnings. For 2021, I just video called Nini from my bed (hi if you are reading this!).
I had plans with friends for the next morning but unfortunately they got cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances. But the sky was blue and I wasn’t going to waste a blue sky day. So I spontaneously decided to venture alone to the Salisbury Crags, a series of cliffs next to Arthur’s Seat (an extinct volcano) – the general area is called Holyrood Park. I had never been to the Holyrood Park – surprisingly it was less than 30 minutes away from my flat. What I didn’t know is that is was SO. MAGNIFICENTLY. BEAUTIFUL. Subhanallah indeed. I mean, I’ve seen pictures of people climbing Arthur’s Seat and stuff but they mostly showed pictures at the top of the hill looking down below (and views never look that nice in pictures). I did a solo hike up the Crags and enjoyed it immensely. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
It’s sad that I only ever think of this blog during long holidays. I just went through some old blog posts written by my Mum and I from 2005-2007. The internet was so simple and wholesome back then, not fast-paced and cluttered like it is today. I aim to attempt to keep the art of long-form writing alive, in this modern age where short, flashy and snappy content tends to thrive. Right… from now on I aim to post at least once a week! Hopefully this statement will age well and I won’t end up becoming a clown.
I moved to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, more than two months ago. I live in a comfortable and cosy two-bedroom flat with another Malaysian Master’s student. I decided this within less than a month of living here, but Edinburgh is definitely my favourite city in the UK. It’s full of history and culture, and the city is so photogenic. There’s so much to do even during a pandemic – so many vast spaces and nature-based attractions. I can imagine living here long-term for years to come, if Allah wills. I think I’ve familiarized myself quite well with the city at this point! I used to think that this city was wonderful, but too cold. Now? As Elsa says, the cold never bothered me anyway.
It’s officially been 2 years since I first flew off to the UK! What a time it’s been. Studying in the UK has been a journey of ups and downs but definitely a valuable experience nonetheless.
I’ve been quite silent about my next phase of life. I’ve been posting a lot of “Bye Newcastle / Bye England” sentiment, making many people assume I’m going back to Malaysia. I usually just play along with it without explicitly saying I’m coming home. I haven’t gone back to Malaysia in exactly one year… aaaand I probably won’t be back anytime soon!
Today, I’m revealing the truth.
I’m going to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Can’t wait to play Quidditch!
Okay, okay. I’m inshaAllah pursuing an MSc in Marketing at the University of Edinburgh! Close enough, I guess – after all, Hogwarts IS in Scotland, and Edinburgh is a city with MAJOR Harry Potter vibes. On top of that, Sumrah gave me a Hogwarts letter for my birthday. AND I’m travelling there by train, too!