Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Me, a rubber band?

Me and MrNordin were reminiscing in bed the other night about our early years in the UK. Different years, of course… Him: 1980-87, Me: 1988-91. He was in London, I was in Kent.

What triggered the conversation was my eldest stepdaughter’s first-week’s experience in college (UiTM), how she’s adjusting to the new surroundings and friends. She came home last weekend, worrying about her classes, her room mates, her schedules, the long distance between her room and class, the bus rides, money ~ the list is endless. MrNordin said, she’s a worry wart.

I can understand why she’s feeling that way. Campus life is different from school life or her 1-year Matrics in Gopeng. In school, everything is provided for ~ transport to school, money, food, don’t have to worry about basuh baju or kemas rumah. All she needs to do is study. In Matrics, she slowly had to take on more responsibilities like washing her own clothes, make up her own bed, buy her own food, make her own arrangement to go for outings or come home for the holidays. But she need not take the bus to go to her class as it is still within walking distance.

Now, in UiTM, she has to wake up really early and beat the morning crowd to get a seat on the bus that will take them to their respective classes. It’s a 5 mins drive, but still far to walk. The time table is different too, a lot of waiting, she said. The friends are different. Next year, if she’s unlucky, she may have to stay off campus, meaning she has to rent a room outside. Now she worries about paying rent, electricity bill, cooking her own meal, bla, bla, bla, bla… See? Now you know why MrNordin calls her a worry wart.

I told her, in life we have to make a lot of adjustments. How well you adapt to your new surroundings will determine how resilient you are as a person. Take things a day at a time, enjoy the new experience as a university student, don’t fuss over the unknown… these are our advice to her. Hopefully she listens.

Looking back, I've gone through a lot of these in my lifetime. First, going to a boarding school far away from home when I was 12. Imagine, at that age, I was sent away to live on my own, make up my own bed, wash my own clothes, no friend, had to make new friends... I think that was more difficult than what my eldest step daughter is going through right now.

I still remember, the first few months I was there, asyik nangis je teringat my mother. Berendam airmata, kata orang. Bila bangun pagi (we had to wake up at 5 am), nampak jalanraya from my dorm with the street lights still on and cars passing by in the wee hour of the morning, I nangis. How I wish I was home at that time…. and how I missed my mother… Tuhan saja yang tahu. Sakit perut ni everytime bangun pagi sebab rasa macam sedih sangat and tak tau macamana nak get through the day without my mother. I felt so lost! Duduk je atas katil tu nangis until I managed to pull myself up and go to the toilet. Hee.. torture, I tell you.

And that time, mana ada handphone. Nak call home pun, seminggu sekali je. Itu pun kena beratur kat public phone. Now, anytime of the day boleh call parents. In less than an hour, boleh sampai rumah kalau nak balik rumah. Dulu, kena tunggu cuti penggal baru boleh balik. Itu pun kena naik train, satu hari satu malam. Horror! But after a while, bila dah dapat kawan, things got better. Tak nak balik rumah pun ada bila cuti sekolah, takut miss the friends.

After A-Levels, I went to the UK to further my studies. This one was not so bad, although it was further away from home, because I wanted to go. I wanted to see the Cathedral in Canterbury, that's why I chose Kent.

Adjusting to life in the UK was not that difficult, but it wasn't that easy either. Again, I was all alone in the batch that flew off on the same day with me, but I made friends with them. As JPA sponsored students, we were provided with good students' accommodation at the university, with ample heating and hot water all year round. Unlike my daughter's room, which is tiny and is shared with 3 other students, I was sharing a whole house with 4 other students ~ 2 British, 1 American and another M'sian girl ~ one room each. Good, eh?

Unfortunately for MrNordin, he had a tougher time adjusting because that was his first time ever being away from his family. Also, he was staying at MARA hostel and from what he told me, heating was always a problem. He was very miserable during winter because it was so cold. On top of that, he had to take the tube to class everyday. So, ".. naik bas pegi class like what Nabila is complaining about now is nothing, ok, compared to what I had to go through last time...", he said.

I guess, for Nabila, this is a new experience for her. Trading the comfort zone of her own home for something measly like her small room in UiTM maybe shocking for her, but she'll toughen up and learn to be more independent as a result. Life is not a bed of roses after all, right? I want my children to understand that in life, there are many paths that we have to cross to reach our destinations. It's not easy, but with sheer determination, one will get through it with excellent results.

Also, people are different. Not everyone live in the same big house like we do and not everyone lead the same lifestyles. Ada orang susah, ada orang senang. But never pass judgement at them just because they are different from you. Always be humble and be nice to people. If you treat them nicely, they'll treat you nicely too, and vice versa.

Lying in bed side by side with MrNordin that night, reminiscing about the past, made me realise that I have gone through quite a lot over the last 40 years of my life. And a lot of it involved making adjustments to suit the new situations. Boarding schools, universities, jobs, friends, break-ups, betrayal, married life, stepchildren, gosh... so many! Nevertheless, I think I adapted quite well to all these changes and this is confirmed by my fortune teller, who said, " are like a rubber band...".

Well, rubber band or not, I did it my way and I'm happy to announce that I survived it all and came out a better person. And that's what matters most...


Madam Tai Tai said...

Hi Ms. Rubber Band :)

I totally support and share your values that our kids have to be aware that their lives aren't always beds of roses.

As parents, we despair when our children have to go thru the trials of life. But sooner of later we have to let them loose and experience real hardships in their lives - hardships that are not limited to just getting good results in their exams.

I'm sure later Nabila will look back and find that those Uni years are the best in her life. They were definitely great for me!

Btw, are you also as flexible and able to contort your body mcm rubber band ke? I'm sure MrN would love that! Wink..wink..

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MrsNordin said...


How I wish I could bend like that! As I'm nearing 40, I must admit that it's getting harder to even turn in bed! What more to sommersault, huh? Rasa nak patah pinggang!

IBU said...

Adapting to changes is never easy, but much easier when we were younger kan? Now dah join the 4-carat club, hmmmm....not so elastic any more lah....

p/s Masa kat skolah dulu, I was only 5 "miles" away from home - tu pun nangis sakan!!! Like you said, sat by the window, tengok street lights... sedih... rasa nak lari balik rumah. Hahahaha.....

MrsNordin said...


Didn't know you missed home too eventho' your house was just nearby. Kesian kan kita masa tu... but I guess we were made of some tough stuff. That's why we survived. And the friends, too.. of course.

Kak Teh said...

mrs N, I was quite reluctant to leave home and wanted to be permanently tied to my mother's apron strings. But once I left - dah sampai ke sini. And now, I am doing the same to my children. I just cannot let go.
But children are more independant now. My daughter has just booked her tickets to backpack in Bangkok...and I know I will be losing a lot of sleep until she returns.

wanshana said...

And a VERY flexible one at that, too! ;) Kudos to you, dear.

Oh yeah... Our JB years, and the train rides balik kampung every time cuti sekolah. My JB-Taiping journey took about 18 hours (including the 3-4 hours transit in KL). By the time sampai Taiping, dah jadi macam kain buruk...

And I remember being VERY Moody (EVERYTIME without fail!) towards the last few days of our school holidays - dreading to go back to JB... Sigh...

Anonymous said...

Mrs N,

What you said is so true, about life not being a bed of roses. When we were teenagers, semua benda rasa seronok je. Looking back, I've gone through so much in my 41 years...I think everybody has. Being parents, it's natural to try and protect our children from life turbulances.

So would you send you son to a boarding school? I'm also from a boarding school, sure I have made close friends but sometimes I feel that I missed the closeness to the family during the growing up years.


Anonymous said...

Hi BJ,

I'm already planning to visit Khadijah overseas even though she is still in Form 2... ha ha ha..

Don't know whether she would'nt cope or mom yang gabra.


Waterlily said...

Hi BJ!!

Dah lama i tak menjenguk kat blog u ni...lotsa interesting stuff.

My eldest, Syafiq is now 11, and going to 12. Still a long way to go before his Uni years...but I miss the younger him already. He has a mind of his own, does not necessarily concur with us, his parents anymore...sometimes, I feel sad though i know this is all part of growing up.

About that rubber band thing...heh heh...I am also a rubber band la kalo camtu...paling banyak "rubber" at the waist and below...hahahahaha...

MrsNordin said...

Kak Teh,

I wouldn't know how I'd feel if it's my own child. With stepchildren pun sedih nak let go, what more anak sendiri!

But if it's for their own good, let them go. They have to experience life for themselves.

Wish I'd thought of going on a road trip to Bangkok when I was younger last time! :)

MrsNordin said...


Those train rides JB-Ipoh-Taiping, torture, kan? Bila sampai Ipoh, baju kurung hijau tu dah habis hitam! Hee.. hee.. kena asap keretapi!


I still haven't got the answer about sending my kids to boarding schools. On one hand, I know it's good for them, but on the other hand, I don't know if I could bear being away from them for too long. But in the end, if it's a good deal for them, yeah... I will let go.

MrsNordin said...


Awalnya dah berangan nak visit KD overseas! But I'm sure not the UK, kan? :)


That's what you call "love handle"... so it's ok.

Eta My said...

Bj...the circle goes round...the baton get passes by....Mungkin mak dan ayah tu lah rasanya...

Tapi one thing for sure...kita ade banyak pengalaman..apetah lagi berdiri di atas kaki sendiri..walupun payah...

For eg: masa tak dak air kat hostel..kita belajar berusaha untuk mencari air...simpan air.berebut...bangun kalau sekarang tak dak air..kita tau ape nak buat...itu contoh la...

Tak pe lah Bj...di sini doakan Nabila u...boleh sesuaikan diri...dimudahkan segalaNya..

p/s:..Rasanya..anak u yang paling besar kot amongst us....if not zaza..jadi lagi capat bule makan nasi minyak maa....tata!

And Ibu...tidak kusangka...dirimu melalak juga...

Shana...tetapi..trip jb-taiping...itu...luas 'mata' memandang..kan..kan..

Nabz_89 said...

hi MrsNordin

i thank u with all my heart for that wonderful blog.. it really open my eyes about the complaints i always make. And most importantly it told me that i'm not alone in this world in facing this many life changes... THANK U

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Kmar said...

BJ, Shana,

About the train-trip tu.. baju kurung hijau muda boleh jadi ´hijau tua´... Itu tak masuk lagi kalau keretapi rosak tengah jalan. Hantu pun takut tengok kita!! Eija, you ´main tipu´ aaaa...

I think my inner-strength comes from my mom. Kalau home-sick aje, dia akan cerita pasal her Chinese students yang abroad. Two phrases yang I TAK PERNAH LUPA ...

¨Money doesn´t grow on trees¨ &
¨Kalau budak Cina tu boleh survive, why can´t you?"....

Agaknya sebab dia lama sangat ajar sekolah Cina, 11 years.. mentaliti Chinese. That was why I did my travel on my own backpack for months sebab dia yang push me to the limit!! She did the same to my sister but not to my brother because she knew our abilities of handling hardship.

I am not sure I can do the same to my kids. Kena pikir dua tiga kali!! Banyak sangat crime laaa ni.

Superwomanwannabe said...

Kesian jugak I baca ...its toughening, yes, but still tough to get through. My adjustment came at age 18- maybe I was older , it was not so bad. Also I was actually itching for independence!

MrsNordin said...


The train ride tu memanglah "meluaskan pemandangan"... but it was horrible, wasn't it? Selalu kena berhimpit or duduk atas lantai sebab tak ada seats. Malam pulak tu, mana nak tidur??

Ishh.. I hate to think about that. Kalau sekarang ni, rasanya memang tak kuasa nak go through all that!

MrsNordin said...

Hi Nabz,

I'm glad you took it positively. All of us here have gone through what you're going through right now and we survived. I'm sure you will too!

I was talking to Nadira the other day and she said, between the two of you, you are tougher in facing difficult situations like these, and you adapt better to new surroundings.

I tend to agree with her. I think you're stronger in that sense. Only you slow sikit to warm up to people, unlike Nadira. But once people get to know you, they'll love you forever!

Come to think of it, kalau Nadira, I'm sure she'll be calling home on the second day already and wail, "BABA! I WANT TO GO HOME!!!!" Hee.. hee... :)

MrsNordin said...


What your mum said is true (mothers are always correct, kan?). Money doesn't grow on trees..

You backpacked for months? Wow... I envy you! I should have done the same. Tapi masa tu tak terfikir pulak nak travel the world sebab asyik fikir nak cepat dapat kerja and earn my own money. Now I regret it..

MrsNordin said...


Kesian juga bila ingat kan dia, but she'll be ok lah.

Anonymous said...


U know what, my first experience in boarding school I cried but I was only 10 then. Masuk boarding school kat UK. But i lasted for only 1 year then. Then at 12, I went to a local boarding school, I was like all ready to go. Hardly called home cos I was able to go home every weekend.

Then with all the years away I guess by the time I went to UK, and never called my parents until I was into my 3rd month there really gave my mum extra grey hairs hehehehehe I hope my kids do not do that to me ehhehehehhe but my mum tells me tht my daughter is "just like her mummy", so I won't be surprised if it does.

When in the UK my parents told me that if most of everyone can survive on the 200 pounds, so can I. I guess that made me open my eyes to life. So yes, we must expose our kids to what REAL life is. It builds character.

Aida - I hope to give my kids the same expereinces my parents gave me and even more.

MrsNordin said...


Wow... didn't know you went to a boarding school in the UK at 10 y.o! Why? You were so young then... You must be miserable. Or, were you?

Kmar said...


It was in 1992. I bought an open return flight ticket once I submitted my thesis (UUM). My dad told me that I should be back after 3 weeks tapi my mom mencelah. "Let her see the world and be back after 3 months!!!"

Masa tu mana ada internet, hp, credit card.. those advance technology. Bawa travellers cheque dgn US cash aje. Budget utk 3 weeks tapi I managed to squeeze it to 3 months!! Punya laa ikat perut.

According to my mom, my dad opened the WORLD ATLAS everyday and PUT A NOTE everytime I called home... just to track my move.

It was a trip of my life!!!

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Nordin,

I always enjoy reading your blog! In my case JPA sent me to the USA. Sampai LA, miss connecting flight to New York. Tak tau nak buat cakap English lintang pukang ngan black Californian....sama macam iklan NST tu le.... cume that black tak le cakap "jangan belok belok". Sampai college, tak de tempat tinggal. Pi ngadu kat students center, counselor hooked us up with senior short memang main lepas je...tak de plan apa apa pun..alhamdulillah selamat..

Anonymous said...


it was ages ago... there were some fond and not so fond memories during my school year there.

But I think I had always been a rebel, so being away from my family helped keep my parents sane ehhehehe NOW however, nothing they do could keep me away from them, esp. when my kids are involved.