I left a subtle hint on my last post at the Puma Malaysia HQ.
It was meant to leave you with some wonder but I didn’t expect to receive a flood of messages. Thank you for your concern! I’m here to clear up and hopefully answer all of your open questions.
If you’re not into reading lengthy wordy stuff, the gist of it is: I am leaving to Australia for 2 years to pursue my Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics.
This was not a sudden decision.
If you want to know the FULL STORY, READ ON!
Some Background Info
I have always wanted to take up nutrition/sports science, or a related field of study for my undergrad. Courses in this field at private institutes were very limited in Malaysia and it was too costly to go overseas (for a basic degree). Because of this, I did Medical Bioscience. It was my gateway to a Masters in the course that I intended to pursue. Plus, I obtained a scholarship from Monash University, so staying back was the best option.
After graduating, I worked for 2 years alongside one of the best plastic surgeons in town. He was intelligent, articulate and above all, extremely passionate about his work. He combined his passion for aesthetics with his skilled hands, a mountain of knowledge and experience, and last but not least, a big heart for his patients.
A few people thought that I should not have wasted time and that I should have gone straight for my Masters. I had no regrets coming out to work for 3 years. In fact, I would recommend coming out to work after your undergrad before furthering your studies. Working has opened up my eyes and I have gained quite a bit of experience, experience that you can never get from textbooks.
*Come to think of it: If I had gone sooner, I would not have had 2 wonderful years of running in Malaysia. No PNRC, no races, no running friends, no Marathon, no Half Marathons……* It all worked out for the best!*
Working also gave me some time to “grow up”, decide where to go (to pursue my Masters) and what to do (my future). I kept my options opened. My parents encouraged me to apply for Ivy League schools in the USA. And that was what I did.
After doing some (extensive) research, I narrowed it down to Columbia University.
They offered exactly what I wanted – Masters in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. The next step was to apply. As it is an Ivy League school, the application process was tedious, not to mention costly.
If you are wondering, the term “Ivy League” is a group of eight Universities in the US including Harvard, Priceton, Yale, Penn, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia and Brown, with a reputation of high scholastic achievements and social prestige.
The Hiccups along the Way
The application process to Columbia University:
– Sit for the MCAT test (Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Mathematics). I took 2 months (self-study) to prepare for the exams. I had to make sure I passed with flying colours because retaking would have incurred unnecessary cost!
-Write countless essays
Cost: Blood, sweat and tears
-Get 5 recommendation letters
Cost: My face grew a few inches thicker as I was always pestering mentors/lecturers for the letters! It took 2 months to compile everything.
-Send in my resume
Cost: My time
-Show proof of voluntary work
Cost: Not much
-Convert my Australian degree scores to the American equivalent
-Mail/virtually send documents over to Columbia University
Cost: RM 300++
-Application fee: 85USD
The whole process took ONE year from the time I started the application (May 2014) to the time I finally received the offer letter in April 2015.
I would have gone in September 2014 but there was a delay in my MCAT scores.
I would have gone in January 2015 but they did not receive the necessary documents in time and rolled my application to September 2015.
I would have gone in September 2015 but there was a prerequisite that I needed to fulfil.
Prerequisite: Human Nutrition at Monash University Malaysia
Cost: RM 5125++
Deposit to Columbia University to accept my offer
Deposit for accommodation
With the exchange rate at 4.4 ish now, YOU DO THE MATH!
And I have yet to set ONE foot into Columbia University.
A Blessing in Disguise
As you can see, it was a very draggy process (and it is STILL on-going!).
I nearly gave up. Who wouldn’t?!
There were SO many road blocks along the way. It was almost as if God had closed that door. But I know that God has mapped out an ultimate plan for me. Everything was part of His master plan, including the road blocks.
When I started to apply for Columbia University, the exchange rate was still sitting at 3.0. By the time I received the offer letter and was scheduled to leave by Sept 2015, the exchange rate had climbed to 4.3.
Indeed, it was a blessing in disguise.
If I had gone, I probably would have to come back! I received a partial scholarship from Columbia, but even then, it was not enough!
You can Google the cost of study there. Try not to fall off your chair. 😉
Australia was Plan B. It was a rather rash decision because I had less than a month to prepare all my documents to start an application.
The application process was a lot less tiresome compared to Columbia. It was smooth, too smooth.
I am still holding on to my place at Columbia University.
Cost: Another 200USD
If I somehow manage to secure a scholarship, I’d be off to the USA! But for now, Australia it is.
Although I have spent so much time, effort and money (where do you think all my prize money went?! 😉 ), I thank God for the many roadblocks along the way. It could have been a lot worse!
To New Adventures!
I am leaving Malaysia with a heavy heart. I will miss my family, my friends, church friends, my room, my dog, my kakak to clean up after me (HAHA!), home cooked food, the Tom, Dick and Harry runners, the Puma Night Running Club, Tsquare, my clients…… I will also miss all the fun activities and races here.
Life is like running a marathon. Bitter sweet. Learn to enjoy the journey, even when the going gets tough!
But at the same time, I am supercalifragilisticexpialidocious excited about what is ahead!
I don’t know what is coming, but I am ready to take on new experiences and challenges.
I’ll still be here, virtually. 😉
*I’ve discontinued my Puma contract.
I am open to new sponsors, anyone? HAHA! #shameless*