Meet Yoshnee!

With the 2 Day workshop just days away, let’s get to know more about one rising senior who’s part of our team of friendly facis, Yoshnee!

Introduce yourself!

Hello folks, my name is Yoshnee and that is how I usually go by. For some odd reason, most people seem to pronounce my name as “Yaw”-shnee thus compelling me to tell them that it’s actually pronounced “Yo” like “yo-yo wassup”.  Other nicknames of mine include Yosh and Yoshi — yes I used to play Super Mario 64 when I was a kid and I know Yoshi is this green dinosaur character from there.

Born and brought up in KL. I attended SMK Assunta and then TCSH for my A-levels before heading to the US of A. I am currently a rising senior at UCLA. What do I enjoy doing during my free time? Other than the watching a movie, sleeping and surfing the net usuals, I also enjoy sitting down and talking about anything and everything with friends and family over some great food. Two of my favourite topics are politics and celebrities – yes a big contrast indeed! Lastly, you can’t say you know a tad bit about me if you don’t know that I am huge fan of The Vampire Diaries. Just understand that in this case, the synonyms of huge also include crazy, super and obsessed –so yea, you get the picture.

What did you do in high school?

I was a prefect all throughout secondary school, from the end of Form 1 to Form 5, so I was pretty disciplined, strict and autocratic (Yea right? This is probably the biggest joke ever). No, but yea I was also very much into badminton and I used to represent the Selangor State up until I was 17. I spent most of my after school hours attending centralized training, therefore I wasn’t very active with any ECA’s in school. I remember that in the whole month of March 2006, I only went to school for one week because I was away on tournaments most of the time that month.

Why did you choose to apply to the US?

To be honest, my story is quite complicated. To make this brief, lets start with the fact that my father did his Undergrad Degree in the US as well, so he had always been encouraging me to do the same from a very young age. When I was doing my A-levels, I was surrounded by classmates who were gearing up to go to the UK, which influenced me to think that that would be a better option. Despite that, I still kept my options opened and let’s just say that upon the request of my father, I randomly (keyword: randomly) applied to the UC schools. I initially intended to apply to more universities in the US, but with the workload and pressure from doing A-levels, I just didn’t have the time and capacity. Well, I’m here now, so it all worked out for the best – and I’m more than glad it did.

Why did you decide to be a part of USAPPS?

Because I know how it feels like to be clueless, to not know how to go about and to deal with what’s in store for you during the next few months; at the peak of the application process. I wish I knew about USAPPS during the time when I applied. It’s always nice to have someone who has “been there and done that” to guide you and answer your questions. The time has come for me to give back by sharing my journey, thoughts and experiences with all of you folks who aspire to study in the States. Just like Chan Leong wrote in his blog post, the reason is simple, and it’s – you!

Meet Elsheba!

All pumped up and ready for next weekend’s  USAPPS 2 Day workshop? Spend some time to learn more about one of the awesome facis we have helping out this year – Elsheba!

Introduce yourself!

Hey everyone! Elsheba K. Abraham here and I am a rising sophomore currently studying in Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In simpler terms, I’ve basically finished my first (freshman) year in college. I’m back in Malaysia for the wonderful three month summer break that we have before continuing my second year in Hopkins! I am currently considering a double major in Behavioral Biology and Anthropology with a minor in Italian. Yes, if it’s not apparent – I kind of like to study people haha.

What did you do in high school?

Friends at Hopkins Spring Fair

Before I ended up studying in the USA I was just a regular kid studying in SMK (P) Sri Aman in PJ. I was into lots of things in high school: track, tennis and being a prefect took up a large part of my secondary school life.  Outside of school, I developed other interests too – some of which I still keep at till today. I absolutely love dancing (hip-hop especially though I don’t discriminate against other styles) and will find any opportunity to either perform or watch other dance performances. Being the curious traveler that I am, I also make it a point to do as much traveling and exploring as I can – not only in other countries, but in my beloved Klang Valley too. I’m always up for an adventure, and finding hidden food treasures come at the top of my priorities as a traveler.

Why the US?

After studying in Sri Aman, I was given a scholarship by JPA to study in the US. So I was sent to INTEC, Shah Alam to do my ADFP for a year before finally flying over to the States. When I applied for a scholarship to the US, I didn’t even know what field of study I was interested at that time. All I knew was that whatever I studied, I wanted to study in the US. What caused my strong fascination for the US was their unique and wholesome approach to education. I appreciated the fact that students were given enough flexibility to explore their academic options before deciding on their major, and emphasis was placed on knowledge inside as well as outside the classroom. So that’s why it was such a relief to know my dreams were becoming reality when I received my acceptance letter to JHU. Although Hopkins was not my first choice, I’ve come to realize that I was meant to go here and have not looked back since.

What made you join USAPPS?

Sitting at the Hopkins sign

The only reason why I am able to sit here and write to you about my ongoing experience in the US is because I had guidance when I was applying for the US; the people around me helped to ensure I got a spot in the universities of my choice. That is why I am with the USAPPS 2013 team now – I can only hope to give back a little bit of what I got to everyone else thinking of applying to the States. It is a wonderful country with such an amazing range of people, environments and attitudes that you could only dream of. The US is the perfect place for someone to develop both in intellect and as a person in general, and I want to help prepare you for the best four years of your life.

Meet Si Ning!

We just covered Annabelle, a rising freshman at Mount Holyoke College (if you haven’t read it, it’s just over here). Now, let’s meet someone at the other end of the spectrum in terms of experience – a fresh graduate! Introducing…..Si Ning!

Introduce yourself!

Si Ning

Hi! My name’s Si Ning, and I’ve just graduated from Cornell University, that big beautiful university in the middle of nowhere. During my time in Cornell, I double majored in Economics and Government and double minored in Spanish and Southeast Asian Studies. If they had a PE minor, I would have totally gone for that too – one of my happiest achievements in Cornell is having fitted in six semesters of belly dancing, two semesters of swimming and massage each and a semester of rock climbing into my schedule there. Do feel free to discuss with me any and all of these subjects!

What did you do in high school?

I was pretty much the ultimate bookworm during my time in SMK Taman SEA – I still am, in fact, as I voraciously devour any novel which catches my eye. I took part in some Scrabble competitions (though if you were to ask me now, I’ve totally forgotten all those interesting Scrabble tactics and vocab) and was the sub-editor for our school’s editorial board. In short, I like reading, writing, word games and academic stuff. That hasn’t changed much over the years!

Favorite bands/music/books?

On the Cornell Arts Squad – see the clocktower!

Gothic symphonic metal is my one true love. Sometimes random songs from other genres will catch my fancy, but it is bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation and Lacuna Coil which I return to at the end of the day. One of the more enjoyable perks of being in the US was that I got to attend some of their live concerts; one less enjoyable experience was accidentally getting caught in a mosh pit in one such concert. I like not getting squished to a pancake by excited metal fans, thank you very much.

As for books, I can’t really pick a favorite – there’s just so many awesome ones! While I am certainly more partial to sci-fi/fantasy novels (Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and Piers Anthony have contributed quite a lot to my little library at home), I’m happy to lose myself in the occasional Dean Koontz suspense thriller or Georgette Heyer romance novel. Browsing through secondhand bookstores like Pay Less Books was my favorite weekend activity, as I could find so many great books by lesser-known authors that way.

What do you like to do for fun outside of USAPPS?

Learning. I love acquiring new knowledge, just for the sake of knowing more (classes don’t really count – I tend to end up learning for grades there). Currently, I’m taking shameless advantage of the free resources available online and learning German via duolingo.com, coding via codecademy.com, public speaking skills via coursera.org, etc.

Belly dance class

Meet Annabelle!

With our 2 Day workshop just around the corner, let’s meet some of the awesome facilitators who will be at the workshop ready to answer your questions! To start things off, let’s get to know more about Annabelle:

Introduce yourself!

Volunteering for SPARTFEST

Hello dreamers! I am Annabelle, a rising freshman at Mount Holyoke College. It seems that I have run out of creative introductions so I will just start by listing a few of the many things I love and see if they resonate with your interests : BBC period dramas (namely film adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels), Korean sageuks, sashimi, ice cream, weird conversations. One last random fact : I am really terrified of butterflies.

What did you do in high school?

I was the secretary of the librarian board (geeks unite!). On weekends, I practiced yoga alongside people at least 30 years my senior and traveled to Sentul to volunteer in a weekly reading program for socially-disadvantaged kids. I played the classical guitar ( <3 Andy McKee!). I doodled pointlessly. I wrote extensively on my blog (oh, the good old teen-angsty period.). I also took a gap year after completing A-Levels in TCSJ in June 2012. I spent half of my gap year working in the randomest of places : a printing company where I had to learn to use Adobe Photoshop to design name cards, Kumon (‘nuff said.), an advertising  company where I spent days convincing people to sign up for Unifi in front of a Maybank branch and a real-estate diploma school. As for the remaining months of my gap year, I joined a research internship in the Brain Research Institute of Monash Sunway, learned to cook Asian food at home (while trying to NOT

Interning in the Brain Research Institute of Monash Sunway

burn down my kitchen), volunteered in occasional events like SPARTFEST, etc.

Do you remember much about your college application experience? Tell us a little about it!

The most memorable part of my college applications is probably the (really unexpected) free trips I was bestowed with. One of the liberal arts colleges I applied, Rollins College, shortlisted me as a finalist for its full merit scholarship and flew me all the way to Florida (all expenses paid!) over a weekend in February. Over that weekend, I had the hugest culture shock ever when I noticed how different a class was conducted in the States, in comparison to that of in Malaysia. In stark contrast, every student practically jumped at the opportunity to express their opinions rather than frantically taking down notes. In the same month, I was also shortlisted as one of the final candidates for admission for NYU Abu Dhabi. NYUAD flew me to its Abu Dhabi campus for its Candidate’s Weekend (all expenses paid as well!) and that was when I realized climbing up a sand dune is MUCH harder than it seems.

From the top of a sand dune in Abu Dhabi

In early April, I was admitted to NYU Shanghai and got flown to Shanghai (I guess, at this point, it goes without saying that it is, too, an all-expense-paid trip.) for its admitted students’ weekend. To call these trips life-changing isn’t an exaggeration at all – I was no longer this sheltered kid who has never been anywhere outside the Southeast Asia; I formed life-long friendships with truly exceptional people from Nepal, Hungary and the States; I started doing things outside my comfort zone like talking to random people in the airports and being blunter than usual in my admissions interviews; and the list goes on.

Why did you choose to apply to the US?

Because (a) it’s the only awesome country that has a liberal arts and sciences education system which allows me to major in academically-disparate combinations, like neuroscience and economics, and (b) the generous financial aid policy enables me to study in the States while paying what my parents would have paid had I studied in a private local institution.

Dorm in Rollins College

Why did you decide to be a part of USAPPS?

I learnt about terms like ED and CSS PROFILE when I attended my first USAPPS workshop in TCSJ in 2009 when I was 16 and clueless. I applied to American universities twice in a row (after failing to secure financial aid the first time) and I believe I couldn’t have done it without the support of one of the USAPPS facilitators. USAPPS has played a crucial role in my application(s) to the US and I hope, by volunteering as a facilitator, USAPPS continues to be of help to any prospective Malaysian applicants. Any financial aid applicants who have questions about minimizing your application costs, feel free to talk to me!

Meet Pavithran!

Thanks to all those who showed up for our Half Day workshop last Saturday! If you were there, you would have met some of the core committee members we have introduced over the past few weeks in person. For the benefit of those who weren’t able to turn up, let us introduce another core committee member – Pavithran! Keeping the sessions in check and making sure they run smoothly, he’s been working hard behind the scenes to ensure the workshop sessions meet your expectations.

Ready to find out more? Let’s see what he has to say:

Introduce yourself!

Look what I found on the streets of Los Angeles!

*Cue Budweiser commercial*

Whaaaaaaaaazaaaaaaaaappp/aaaaaaaaap/eeeeeeeeep/eeeeeeeeh/uuuuuuuuuuuh.

What’s good? I go by the name of Pavithran Nair but I have a ridiculous amount of nicknames. My friends call me everything from Puff, Pavster, Paviths, Peeves, Puffer, Puffy to Powerpuff girls. The only people who call me by my full name, usually on a high note and loud voice, are my parents, and most of the time, it’s foretelling of something bad that’s about to happen to me, if you know what I mean 😉 HAHAHAH.

I was born in Pahang, lived in Negeri Sembilan for a couple of years before moving to Kuala Lumpur by the age of 7. I have attended two pre-schools, primary schools, high schools and college-prep schools respectively. What is it about the number two? I don’t know but it is creeping me out as I write this autobiography. Today, I am a rising sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University.

I love good food, interesting people and great conversations! I have had an amazing first year at CMU and some of the things that I have had the opportunity of doing is meeting fantastic people, being a co-founder of a social fraternity called Phi Delta Theta, learning ballroom dancing, becoming semi-pro at video games (okay who am I kidding, not really) and learning how to become a DJ. I have recently been elected as the President of Budaya, the Malaysian society of CMU and I can’t wait to start throwing events!

What did you do in high school?

The high school that I spent the longest time in was Methodist Boys’ Secondary School KL. I had a blast. My friends and I used to monkey around in class and it was so much better for me because I was a prefect! We’d be a zoo in class when there were no teachers, but by the time a teacher stepped foot in our classroom, we’d be angels. Besides being a prefect, I was also Captain and Vice-President of the debate club that my friends and I founded. I made unlikely friends with three other people who had strikingly different personalities but shared the same passion of debate. We trained 7 hours a day after school and managed to become national

Beyond excited at Times Square, New York!

champions in year 2010. I also enjoyed public speaking, badminton and chess among other things. I also learned how to manage website content through a website design competition in MBSSKL and that encouraged my interest in website design and programming. MBSSKL was located near the city and I was always inspired by the diverse students that MBSSKL’s century old history attracted. I will never forget the smells, sights and brief moments of passing through Petaling Street with friends after school, a nearby tourist attraction which in retrospect really did capture the essence of Kuala Lumpur.

What is your favorite thing? Food? Music?

I love food and music. I love anything hip-hop and indie. Right now, I am into Ben Haggerty but I am also an avid fan of Sean Carter. In case you didn’t know, Haggerty is Macklemore and Carter is Jay-Z. I am hooked to the songs “The Town” by Macklemore and “Holy Grail” by Jay. I am also into Citizen Cope and a little bit of Progressive House Music. Fun fact : I enjoy covering rap artists during my free time(mostly in the shower!). Food? Anything that’ll make me cry from spiciness is my cup of tea, wait, spice. 😛

Why US?

Flexibility and individuality. I love the flexibility that an American education provides because it allows me to explore my interests and choose my subject of study. Just in my first year, I have taken classes ranging from the philosophy to programming to business. Oddly enough, this has allowed me to develop my individuality and become my own person while trying to figure out my interests and I believe this is what every education system in the world should aspire to become.

Dinner at a Thai Restaurant with friends on Hollywood Boulevard

Tell us a bit about your experience during the application period.

The college application process was overwhelming. Too many things to fill in, so little time. I had a tough time figuring out my personal statement because it was a challenge to represent my life in one page. Admittedly, my biggest help were the support from my friends and the USAPPS Klang-Valley 2-Day Workshop that helped me understand what I needed to represent on paper. I will be there this year and I look forward to seeing you there as well!

Meet Farhan!

3 more days and counting to our Klang Valley Half Day workshop! If you have yet to register, do it now by clicking here. Now, if you’ve already registered, then you are in for a treat! We have  a great line up of speakers and facilitators who are excited to meet with and talk to you. But don’t take our word for it – here’s another member of the core committee of USAPPS 2013 to introduce himself – Farhan Lokman!

Introduce yourself!

Hi, my name is Farhan Lokman. People call Farhan, Pa’an, Han, Uncle and etc. I don’t have any preference so feel free to call me anything. I was born and raised in Wangsa Melawati (near Zoo Negara) and was born in A HOUSE! (MY OWN HOUSE). I’m currently studying at UC Berkeley *Go BEARS!* and loving it.

The B&B (Berkeley and the Bay Area) hike.

What did you do in high school?

Sunset in Lake Tahoe

I was pretty much involved a little bit here and there in high school but for the most part, I played rugby and represented my school, state (a few times) and country (maybe once?). I don’t have a big figure despite playing rugby. Heh. I was also involved in Robotics but that was basically about it. Oh yeah, Penolong Ketua Pengawas as well.

What is your favourite country? Food? Book?

My favourite country is definitely SWEDEN! You guys should visit Stockholm. There are a lot of HOT GIRLS. Jk. No, but seriously they do. The city is also nice. Not too packed and feels just right. I LOVE ALL MALAYSIAN FOOD because we Malaysians are like that. Okay, probably just me and most other people. FUN FACT: I’ve only FINISHED READING LESS THAN 15 BOOKS my entire life before I went to college (Besides textbooks of course).

Why US?

Honestly, I chose to apply to the US because of my brother. He gave me some bro talks and ultimately managed to convince me to apply. Well, I’m glad I did. I love the atmosphere there and it’s really a different feel compared to Malaysia. I get to meet different people from different background everyday (I’m in a public school) although it’s pretty overwhelming at first.

Tell us a bit about your experience during the application period.

I have to say that the waiting for the application results was excruciating. The pain of getting rejected by 9 schools was like an arrow to the heart. *sigh* Well, at least I got into 3 schools. It was the best feeling ever especially when I got admitted to UC Berkeley. Never expected

Yo-its-Semite! WEEEE

it though. That’s why I love the US education system because when they admit you, you’ll be asking yourself why and how? So good luck for your application and may the odds ever be in your favor!

Meet Dayah!

New York City. The Big Apple. The City that Never Sleeps. Ever wondered what’s it like to study there? If you do, you’re in luck! With just less than a week to go to our Klang Valley Half Day workshop (register here now!), you’ll get the change to hear what’s life like as a student in New York from Dayah, one of our awesome core committee members! Find out more about her experiences below:

Introduce yourself!

My solo pic!

Hello there! In the land of Uncle Sam and among my family members, I am known as Nurul. In Malaysia, friends usually call me Hidayah. Mostly, Dayah. Sweet and Simple. And easy to yell out when you see me across the street. I currently study in one of the undeniably greatest cities in the world; New York. I study Economics (major), Psychology and Business Studies at New York University. I spent my freshman year in London to do my Associate’s Degree under NYU’s Study Abroad Program. This Fall, I will begin the final year of my four-year undergraduate studies.

Ever since I discovered the beauty of traveling, it also brought me my love of photography and cinematography; with Youtube as my teacher. I am also into crime thriller books, currently in David Baldacci frenzy, and an avid Time reader. Just like any other normal person, I also enjoy singing in the shower. It has always fascinated me that bathrooms tend to have great acoustics.  Also, I just discovered my passion for dancing (though I must say that talent-wise, I’m still so far faaar away) after I got addicted to the Just Dance video game. But hey! Life’s about dancing like no one else is watching you, right? One more thing! If you want to talk about European or contemporary architecture, I’m all ears.

What did you do in high school?

I went to Sekolah Sains Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah in Pekan, Pahang. I was known as this loud, boisterous girl who loves English. So, seeing my talent in being talkative and argumentative (sometimes), my English teacher, Mr. Amin, began to train me to become a debater ever since I was in Form Two. Initially, I didn’t like it because debating can quite intimidating. But under Mr. Amin’s guidance, I did eventually flourish in critical thinking because debate makes you question everything to come up with a great argument.

Me with my Indonesian friends at the Islamic Center NYU

Another part of my high school left was spent on playing basketball. This was one activity that allowed me to lash out all my teenage angst and frustrations in a very healthy way. The relationship that I had with the basketball court then was brought to another level when my coach chose me to join my school’s basketball team. During the final two years of high school, I became the Vice Captain of Slytherine. Erm. I mean, Hamdan; the green sports house at my school. Being the Vice Captain certainly has its own challenges, but what I remembered most out of that role is that I got to work with amazing talents and made memorable experiences with my friends towards making our team a better one. The best part? In retrospect, all these experiences emboldened me to try even more new things  as I got into college.

Why the US?

One of my aunts on my mother’s side once asked me the same question. She looked at me with a hint of mischief twinkle in her eyes and asked me to convince her on the reasons I wanted to go there. “Kenapa nak pergi belajar jauh-jauh kat US tu? Kat Malaysia ni takde good universities ke? (Why do you want to study so far away, in the US? Don’t you have any good universities in Malaysia?” Even my parents had the same inquisitive looks when I announced to them that I wanted to study in the States. It is understandable that they didn’t want to spend so much money just on application fees. In their eyes, I would be better off studying somewhere safe.

Malaysian Winter Market in Manhattan.

Honestly, I don’t know why. In retrospect, I can share with you some of my insights on what made me choose the US. At the time, I was completely undecided with what I wanted to study in college. You know how important our degree decision is to our parents, yes? That was one pressure. Another would be on me wanting to be different. As cliché as it may sound, I just want to be different. I am aware of the education systems in UK, Australia, Egypt, Russia, Germany and many other countries that Malaysian students go to; none of which really suited my undecided nature at the time.

This was when USAPPS helped me out. One of the facilitators during one of the workshops introduced himself and said that he was still undecided on his major. At the time, I couldn’t even fathom the idea that it’s okay to not knowing what you want to study. But his answer intrigued me. The US has a very flexible education system. Score one. Next, he went on to talk about all these amazing college activities that I thought only exist on TV through American teenage dramas. Score two. He further explained on how the American universities and colleges encourage and provide supportive environment for students to become holistic individuals. By the end of the workshop, I knew that US is where I belong.

If there is one thing that I will never regret, it is my decision to study in the US.

What is your favorite application essay?

My favorite application essay is the Haiku that I submitted as a supplementary essay for my NYU application. Unfortunately, the haiku is no longer with me, but I remembered writing something about the Sun and how I have a sunny smile or something like that. I can assure you that it’s much more poetic than that, but the haiku is my favorite because it’s the shortest, probably the most accurate, written self-introduction that I’ve ever, spontaneously, made so far.

Best thing about my college?

It’s in Manhattan, where it’s a living breathing pulsating melting pot of all kinds of diversity that you can think of! And we don’t really have the traditional gated campus that many other schools have. NYU basically wants us to feel like we ARE the city and that adds to some real-life experiences to our college experience! Wall Street is practically

View from one of NYU’s buildings, overlooking the Washington Square Park.

next door, so that means if you’re a business major, you can easily find programs that can make you experience what it’s like in the Wall Street world. And the fact that we can easily bump into celebrities in the city really doesn’t hurt. (I know it’s not important, and students who go to schools in LA can brag sooo much more about meeting celebrities at their schools, but still, who can easily say that you bumped into Dakota Fanning as both of you are rushing to your morning classes, right?)

“US education…The liberty in making choices based on your interests, passion and principles, with just guidance and advice instead of pressure from those around you.”

Shanggar is currently a rising senior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, Florida. He is pursuing a major in Aerospace Engineering specialized in Aeronautics and also minoring in Math, Psychology and International Relations. Shanggar just completed an internship with Gartner and is now part of the Teach for Malaysia Support Corp. He also recently started nation building projects such as Project 2063, and a joint collaboration effort between top 50 Malaysian corporate companies known as “The Harimau Project”.

Chelsea fans out there, behold! Shanggar is a die hard Chelsea fan in which he flew to London just to watch them play in their stadium, Stamford Bridge. He also aspires to be a filmmaker someday, has written a script to titled “Black December” about 4 years ago and hopes that it would someday make it to the silver screen!

Here’s what Shanggar has to say about his experience in the US:

Why did you choose to study in the US and why should students consider the option of studying in the US?

For me, it was simple enough because I had chosen the course I wish to pursue and I knew that US would be the best place for that studies. Let’s just say that everyone who wishes to major in Aerospace Engineering will first come across Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, since it’s arguably the biggest school for that studies not only in the States, but also in the world.

I believe that students should consider studying in US, simply for the experience. It’s like a whole different world there, with so many distinctive cultures all around the country. The people that you meet throughout your years in university will give you the realization of how big and diverse this world really is, and the experience would certainly widen your perspective and leave you with a different way of thinking for the rest of your lives.

College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle

What about your US education do you value most?

The liberty in making choices based on your interests, passion and principles, with just guidance and advice instead of pressure from those around you.

List some of the crazy and exciting things you have done in college or in general in the US:

I skydived! This is certainly something I would have never gotten an approval from my parents had I wanted to do it in Malaysia. But I went for it over there, and only told my family about it afterwards! Besides that, I cycled around the entire city throughout the night along with a couple of friends, and we even crossed the ghetto area which is reported to have had drug dealing business. A couple of days later, we read the news that the mafia gang there were involved in a shootout with the cops and some of them died on the scene. We were gob smacked!

Shanggar Skydiving!

A piece of advice you would give to someone looking to further his/her studies abroad…

Be open and just embrace the different cultures that you come across. Keep the friends you’re comfortable with close to you, but just ensure that you don’t limit yourself to that. Be proactive and take the trouble to make new friends from different parts of the world, and also be open to learn their language and culture while you’re at it.  If things don’t go too well, don’t stress yourself. At the end of the day, what really matters is the experience you gain. It’ll certainly be nice if you have amazing stories to share with others back home, and maybe even to your kids someday. The key is to just enjoy and live your life to the fullest, and hopefully someday you can inspire others. 

Meet Jing Min…again!

As our Half Day workshop approaches (just under 2 weeks! Head over here to learn more), we will be introducing more and more of our awesome facilitators! Or, in this case, we are re-introducing one of them…Jing Min!

We had a post about her last year (if  you have not read it, here’s the link to it) and now, let’s find out she has been up to for the past 12 months!

Disappearing into a tree stump in Hyde Park, London. Credit to Liyun Tan.

Introduce yourself!

Hello! I’m Jeamme/Jing Min/JM, one of the few resident Penangnites in USAPPS! I graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in May 2013, which probably makes me one of the “oldies”. I’ve been a facilitator since 2010 and decided to take the next step and help with the core committee planning – from 10, 000 +++ km away! In college I technically concentrated in Economics, but did the equivalent of a minor in French and Human Geography.

What has been the most memorable thing you’ve done/experienced over the past year and why?

Can I pick two? The first would be my College giving graduating seniors the opportunity to meet our Board of Trustees. I was assigned a mentor (and gained another along the way!) who helped me through my job search and final semester. It was a great experience because you have one-on-one interactions with people who are highly successful in their field, and who are invested in your professional development. I think it’s one of the perks of going to a small liberal arts college. The entire experience made me feel more connected to the development of the college, as well as motivated me to donate more after graduation! =P

The second is something more physically challenging – Parkour. I joined a Parkour gym in Brooklyn, and learnt to roll, leap, scale walls, and the like. It doesn’t sound impressive until you watch this video to really see what you can do with those skills! I felt invigorated because the sessions challenge my sense of comfort, my assessment of risks, and took down a lot of my fears about failure. What better way to fight fear than have you scale a 10 feet wall?

What is it about USAPPS that makes you come back?

USAPPS 2012 facilitators in New York, Winter 2013! Credit to Jeamme Chia

Hands down: the camaraderie among facilitators and participants. Facilitators commit so much of their time to explain, elucidate and guide participants during and after the workshops; Participants come eager to learn. There’s something magical about watching new participants to the workshop finding their perfect essay outline, or a new facilitator returning to explain to others how they’ve achieved their dreams and how they want to give back. Being at USAPPS gives one a sense that the future for Malaysia is a little brighter than we think.

I also consider myself extremely lucky that I got to attend university in the U.S. And as such, I want to tell everybody about it, and help them learn about how they too can receive a comprehensive education.

Would you mind sharing some new college stories/experiences?

Sarah Lawrence hosted its very first TEDx conference this year! And as one of the finalists for the Hult Prize, my team and I presented what we considered was the future of urban agriculture – aquaponics. It was an amazing experience, but the best presentation was one

Chinese New Year 2013 with Sarah Lawrence Southeast Asians! Credit to Jeamme Chia

about humility in medicine and the importance of remembering that you cannot know everything. This year was also the time of my most intense classroom experience – a 6 (or was it 7?) hour long public policy seminar, which saw 20 minute presentations and interrogations of key policy issues (we covered pretty much everything from energy to agriculture to population). It was a simulation of a public policy hearing, without the allotted toilet breaks. Perhaps we were all a little bit masochistic, but it was a fantastic seminar and I felt really challenged, physically and mentally. Another fun experience was attending Pride 2013 – It was my first parade (usually the other parades are held during the school year, so I never attend those) and it was a blast! The parade was extra special given the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act (Section 3), paving the way for greater marriage equality in the U.S. Everything was so colorful, the parade lasted for several hours, and you get to experience New York City in all its crazy glory.

What do you like to do for fun/outside USAPPS?

Eat. I stay true to my Penang roots and love roaming the streets of a city searching for the best, most interesting food. I live to eat.

Favorite country? Favorite Malaysian food? Favorite book?

Not many cities can beat the diversity of New York City. Seen from the Brooklyn Bridge, you’re faced with a momentary calm before realising what you’re looking at is the pulsing life of 12 million people. Credit to Jeamme Chia

Dish? Burma Road duck egg Char Koay Teow. Country? Toss-up between England and U.S. – New York. Book? Another toss-up between Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’ and Andrew Ross Sorkin’s ‘Too Big To Fail’.

Study abroad… and experience the landscape that inspired Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre”. Credit to Jeamme Chia

Email me at jeamme418 at gmail dot com if you have any questions about life in the U.S. Or life in general. Or Penang food.