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!
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.
What did you do in high school?
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).
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
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!
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:
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.
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.
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
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?)
Great question. The facilitators of USAPPS sure do work hard to ensure that you, the participants, get as much help as possible so that you can successfully navigate your way around the notorious application process. However, there are certain things that you can do that will allow you to gain more from your time at the workshop. Hit on this link to read more about the guide for workshop participants!
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.
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!
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.
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?
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
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.
11 more days to our Klang Valley Half Day workshop and we’ve talked to three core committee members who will be there on that day. Another dashing face to look out for is Pravin’s! A rising sophomore, he’s been integral in running the promotion efforts for the Klang Valley workshops. But enough from us; read more about him below!
It’s funny that a lot of people know me by my dad’s name rather than mine. But I’m thankful to my dad for having such a name- it’s almost Japanese, but it’s not. Well hello, I’m Pravin KAMACHEE(told ya), a rising sophomore in Texas A&M University. I’m a typical Malaysian trying to compete with all the over-achievers in the US. Good food, sarcasm, tech stuff, comedy and community service are all my cup of teh tarik. Besides, I enjoy politics a little too. College years are probably the most valuable times of our lives, so let’s do everything to make this experience an even better one. And USAPPS is a way to elevate this experience!
What did you do in high school?
I played football in the school hallway (or corridor), got caught and received penalty marks. This happened in Form 4. Not exactly proud, but it was a good game you know. Apart from that, I was the President of the Interact Club in my school, Exco Member of the Interact Coordinating Council (ICC) Klang, Discipline Head for the Prefects (LOL I don’t know how this happened) and also the Drama Team Captain! Interact Club experience was totally priceless, probably the best part of my high school life. Owh, I debated too (love this man).
Do you remember much from your college application experience? Tell us a little about it!
A whole lot actually. My application process was pretty different from the others. As I was doing SAM, my finals and the application deadlines were all around the same time. Writing essays about myself in the night, and mugging organic chemistry the next morning was not cool! However, things turned out to be alright; I made a pretty good grade in SAM, and also got into some good colleges!
Why did you choose to apply to the US?
The flexibility. Though I have deep interest in sciences and engineering, a part of me always wanted to explore different things. The fear of choosing a career at an age where you can’t even vote, good Lord. Though going to the UK was more conventional for my family, I was stern about this decision, and I think this has been the greatest decision of my life. It was
always hard for me to choose between my passion for engineering and arts. In high school, I was forced to choose one, but with an American education, I do not have to. I have enrolled in a an engineering program, with a flexibility of adding a minor in almost any field and also an option to switch to a whole new major. This way, I do not have to limit myself and think of the road not taken. Frankly, this is my American dream.
By now we’ve all learned more about Carmen and Charis (if you haven’t, take a look at their write ups in our previous blog posts!). You could be wondering – if there’s a core committee who’s overseeing the workshop preparations, who’s overseeing the core committee? Well, today’s your lucky day: the spotlight is now shining on the point person; the glue that sticks the core committee together.
Want to know more? Just continue below as we talk to to….Chan Leong!
“Keep the Georgian’s flag flying high,” said my teacher on the last day of standard 6. That has been one of my greatest motivation in everything I do. As you can already tell by now, I identify strongly with my school; a typical small La Sallian school. For all those who were thinking ahead, yes, I did spend 11 years in an all-boys school. My name is Teng Chan Leong, my friends in the States usually call me by CL, not to be mistaken with the popular Korean singer also known as CL. I am a Chemical Engineering student in Carnegie Mellon University with vast interest ranging from computer science, to economics so you can pretty much talk to me about anything. I am also the President of Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity and was so lucky to have been able to participate in various volunteering and service opportunities that aim to tackle issues like cancer awareness, women and children, food, hunger and poverty, youths, and many more.
What did you do in high school?
My high school story is filled with cliche and it would be appropriate to say that I go by “MoE’s guideline” of what a student should be. I was in a uniform unit, climbed through the ranks and ended up on the stage with the royalty for the King Scout Award. Lucky to have been gifted with an above average height, I played volleyball competitively and competed in national open debates. So, I do very typical activities and got lucky along the way. But typical ends here. The experiences, friends and knowledge I gained eventually decides what I enjoyed doing in the States.
Best thing about your college?
It is hard to decide what is best out of all the cool and exciting stuffs that happen in my school. I think I can sum them up to a common college quality in US and give specific examples from my school.
And that is the environment that appreciates you for who you are and gives you space to experiment and grow. CMU is known as a geeky school because of our computer science department. So we attract students who enjoys, let’s just say gaming on a different level. And I mean it literally, because where else in the world can you see a bunch of college kids playing video game, with a full screen TV, up and down the dorm ELEVATOR! Or a club that comes up with the brilliant idea of having a tea party, with a British style table and chair on a busy weekday morning, dress in a traditional British dress, in an ELEVATOR! Now that’s what I call, passion, escalated to the highest level. I could spend a whole day telling you all about the crazy stories that happened in CMU, but the point is, education doesn’t just start and end in the class. It is also the allowance to let you explore and develop yourself as a student and as a youngster that makes the college education special and priceless.
Why did you decide to become part of USAPPS?
1 reason – YOU. Had it not been a senior who spoke to me about the US education, I wouldn’t have gone to look for scholarships to the US. And if it’s not for the same senior, I wouldn’t have had the scholarship that I have. In many ways, I’m lucky to have someone told me what my options are after SPM. But YOU are the reason WHY I am here. I want you to have the same opportunities that I have, hear the same advice that I had and hopefully end up somewhere you actually belong. Somewhere that appreciates you as a person and not just a student, who sees you for more than just your academic grades, who cherish you for the passion you have, who strive to ensure that you have a safe and conducive environment to grow and most importantly equip you with the flexibility that you need to adapt in the fast-changing world that we live in today. I guess if I can add another line, I’d say that USAPPS taught me an important lesson – that I should be aware my options and make an informed decision when it comes to my education.
Are you ready? Let’s go and learn a little bit more about….Charis!
Hello, I’m Charis, and I attended Brown University, which is located in the smallest American state with the longest name. I applied Early Decision to Brown because its Open Curriculum meant that I would only be taking
classes I chose to take, alongside people who were equally excited about the class – much better for learning! It’s also located next to Rhode Island School of Design; students from both schools can take classes at either institution. So while I completed a biochemistry concentration, I spent a significant amount of time exploring and working with visuals (illustration, animation, design) and storytelling (literature, history, teaching).
What did you do in high school?
At SMK King George V in Seremban, I wrote stories, made websites, and was involved with the Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development initiative, where I met two MIT students at a robotics workshop and was thoroughly impressed by what US college students seemed to be doing and how well-rounded they were.
Tell us about your favourite college class?
I’ve enjoyed so many classes for different reasons that it’s a disservice to pick one. Here’s a short list: medieval history seminar with six students and nine professors, where I learnt to read and write critically as a freshman;
science fiction and fantasy illustration at RISD where I met a professor I would later do an independent study with; four semesters of German language, opening up a new world of possibilities including a study trip to the country; two (demanding) semesters of computer animation, because I learnt various parts of the animation pipeline and am now able to make my own 3D animation; African dance class because of the emphasis on coming together as a community through performance as well as a physical style of learning rather than the theory-based one found in academia.
Tell us about your favourite college application essay?
It was my Common App essay – I’d spent months preparing mine, having seniors check it, and turning it into something I thought would sound good to admissions officers.
The night before it was due, I threw it away.
It wasn’t me. I went to bed, started writing a new one at 11am, had my brother check it for typos at 11.50am, and submitted it a little after it was due at noon (don’t do this!). Because I didn’t have time to censor and edit myself, the new essay was more honest and raw, and, I think, better.
Best thing about your college?
Two things, the first being trust. It’s everywhere, right down to the educational philosophy of not having a core curriculum – students are trusted to be responsible and brave enough to choose the classes they think they need. It’s there when you can simply walk into a professor’s office as a freshman and ask if you can help with their research.
Perhaps most tellingly, it’s there when you say “I have an idea!” and the first response is “How can I help?”. And the second thing is the people – faculty, peers, staff, alumni. They really are a crucial part of any college, and at Brown they helped me grow tremendously in 4 years.
Did you submit an arts supplement/ sports etc.?
I submitted an arts supplement (files of my art, on a CD) and had my art teacher from one of my high schools write a short letter to go with it.
For those of you who were at our Penang Half Day workshop this past weekend, you would have definitely seen this bubbly person out and about! To reboot our Connecting with Facis section, we will be introducing the core committee members first and there is nobody else better to start with than Carmen!
Ready? Let’s get to know Carmen better!
Hey there! At five feet tall with a chronic sweet tooth, I’m a rising sophomore freshman at Carnegie Mellon University pursuing a major in Statistics and most likely an additional major in French. The first year of my undergraduate studies has reinforced my sense of independence and perseverance, has elucidated the importance of making the best of
what you have and has taught me never to underestimate and underrate an aromatic and delicious glass of piping hot teh tarik.
What did you do in high school?
I was president of the school orchestra in which I played the cello, sub-editor of the Editorial Board, vice president of the Board of Peer Counsellors and vice president of the Career Club. During my high school days, I spent most of my time reading and writing. Looking back, I did much more during high school than I did now (or so it seems) and I still had more free time then that I ever do now!
Why did you choose to apply to the US?
I first found out about the liberal arts education system from the USAPPS 2010 Penang workshop held in INTI International College Penang. From then on, the American education system has always intrigued me in its focus of breadth and depth. While this may be nothing new, it has always been an important reason that many of us are in love with the American education system. I mean, where else can you learn about Voltaire and Newton while pursuing a degree that has nothing to do with either of them?
What is your favorite college class so far?
Having experienced only two semesters of college doesn’t make it any easier to choose a favorite class, but I guess I would go with a French class I took, The Francophone World. I’m geographically-challenged, and I (still) cannot place Mauritius and Egypt on the world map even if my life depended upon it. This class exposed my ignorance of the world I am living in, and it has taught me so much, particularly with regard to language, politics and culture of the Francophone countries. It is one of those classes whereby I wished lectures were much longer than 50 minutes each!
We know we know. If you’ve been a loyal follower of our blog, you would have noticed that we have been committing the biggest sin of blogging – not updating our blog at all! We truly are sorry. Finals week was tough and we spent so much time preparing for the workshops that something had to give (besides our sleep). But brace yourselves, we are launching a new surge of content. You think we’ve dried up the content well? More things are coming. Like, for instance, we are now introducing our own frequently-asked questions (FAQ) page right HERE!
Introduced by popular demand, we will now curate questions about us and what we do during our workshops in that page right there so that you won’t have to email us in case you have questions! Not that we don’t want you to stop contacting us but now you can find answers to some general questions that you might have even quicker and save that email for other questions! 😀