Thursday, October 13, 2016

12 October

Today was routine. Had Operations Management from 9-11am. Dr. Smart is really an outstanding lecturer with industry experience. HRM tutorial was at 12 to 2. After that, went to meet Change Management tutor for some advice for the Essay, weighing 100% course assessment! A first in my life.

I then camped at the library desktop from about 3-ish till 5.30pm, when I headed to BJBS for my customary 2 hour part-time job. 
I've met some nice people along the way, and a fortunate to learn skills from them. I enhanced cutlery and dish collecting skills.  

Today also marks 1 month of me arriving here. It actually feels more than a month here. I think I made good progress. I think I'd spent my time really well.
Glasgow is a beautiful city. It's very green.

From Kelvingrove Park
View of the Main Building from Adam Smith Building
And the weather had been quite good since I arrived
Oh, I finally registered a French class. It's 207 pounds for 5 months, 2 hours per week. That's a reason for me to work part time. Time to learn something new.
Up next, 2 consecutive weekends in London.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Back to work

Back to work
Yesterday was a fun-filled day. Attended a musical-talk on James Maxwell, a famous scientist from Edinburgh about 120 years ago.
Before that, we had Chinese dinner at BJBS, and seeing the waiters speaking Cantonese, I asked whether there’s vacancy at the shop. Last night itself, I received a call to go work at 1pm the next day.
Pretty instant?
I later found out that I was chosen by lady-boss over other aspiring students. I suppose, if you are a good worker, people could feel it? I am glad that I am sincere and polite as a human.

It wasn’t the glamorous work as a Chinese-English interpreter for the China-British Business Council, which directly went into my LinkedIn profile.
The pay was as low as it could, and I worked for a mere 2 hours. The last time I worked as a waiter was after SPM. It was RM 3/hour, and it was like 11 years ago.
I recalled a few skills, and had a few glitches here and there. Since the shop mostly serves Chinese students, who are basically not-too-picky, everything was fine. The real challenge were 2 French speaking folks. You had to know when to call the mains up.
At the shop, I met Allen, who was really kind and helpful. He basically taught me quite a few skills, within the 2 hours of work. He stuffed me with food after work, which included a bowl of seaweed soup. He also got me another pack of takeaway. I hadn’t had this much of Chinese food since arriving in Glasgow. Meat, chicken, fish, potatoes, veges, 木耳, 玻璃生菜

I micro-waved the takeaway for dinner. It was the first time I ate something really Chinese, without hassle, with folk and spoon. It felt like home. I couldn’t finish the rice. It’ll be fried tomorrow. Need to thank Allen for being really kind to me.

I suddenly thought of the migrants of yesteryears, where hot food and rice were a luxury. Maybe my grandma’s generation? In fact, meat wasn’t a norm on the table during my parent’s time. They all had to fight and work really hard. Every penny was to be saved for better used. It’s how migrants survived, and succeed.

The spirit to move out of poverty drove people beyond their shores, away from home (in this sense mainland China?) and promising themselves a better future for their families.
While I am not a migrant, and I am financially sound (luckily I didn't chose London), a taste of eating hot rice in a foreign land sets a timely reminder of the hardships of life faced by others. In fact, I don’t even need to work. I work for the skills and insights of running businesses. Maybe for my Operations Management module?
I am a fortunate guy.

I should make sure I pass my studies convincingly.

Interesting times ahead
PS: My application to be a tele-fundraiser with the Uni didn't go thru. 300 applicants, and I was the 90 that was shortlisted for the group interview. I missed the cut of 40 for the job. I actually thought I did ok during the interview. The standards are really high here. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Long day

Yesterday was pretty much the longest day in Glasgow. Had lectures from 9 to 11 am, and then headed to the internship hub briefing after lunch. I am pretty much writing cover letters and updating my CV in a slim hope of securing an internship next summer-winter. I am spending more time looking for a job/internship then on my studies right now. 
But I should move into study mode pretty soon.
The MSc. here has got 2 hours lecture per subject. We are expected to self-learn and study. Some subjects are 100% assignment, whilst there is a subject with 100% final exam!!!
By fate, E and myself bumped into the only Malaysian supermarket at Cambridge street near Cowcadden Subway. The owner, Mr. L had invited me to be a spectator at their badminton game at the Scottish Badminton Academy. My perception is that, their skills are above average. (They all sounded so)
Had a pleasant introduction to Microsoft Project from 2.30 to 4pm. We were in the dark all these while at Tuas.
Took the Subway to at Hillhead.
I reached Cowcadden really early, and had my first western meal - chicken burger, at Oxford Restaurant. To dine in, it cost 4.70 pounds. To take away, it's 4 pounds. With the wind chill outside, and about an hour to spare, I chose the dine in. When I saw the portion, I was in remorse and regret. A plain burger, with lots of (fattening) fries. 
Never again. 
Should had went to Subway.
Arriving at 6, I was practically invited to go walk around until 6.45. At least my heavy bag of shoes was allowed to stay back in the shop.
I walked around Sauchiehall Road aimlessly. Well at least I found a 5 pound swimming trunk at SportsDirect. Didn't buy though, as I wasn't sure how many days I'd head to the pool.

Once I saw the group play, I knew, there wey below the Singapore Bukit Batok Wednesday group. Always under promise, and over deliver, as told by Dr. Smart during Operations Management this morning.
I had also a familiar advice - being told that I am distracting their play, as I was jogging around the hall. This apparently distract play. It's a similar told-off I had in Singapore, while hitting the shuttle against the wall. 

But the real surprise was on the way back. The game ended at 9, and a player gave me and Tommy a lift. Tommy is a Thai chef who stays near my uni. We were dropped at the edge of Byres Road, which was about 10 min walk to Tommy's.
It was 45 min walk to Winton Drive. I couldn't believe I walked 45 minutes home after badminton. I used to lament that I walk a lot in Singapore. After badminton, I had to take MRT, and walk 5 minutes to my place. Scotland beats that now. 45 minutes walk, carrying my bag, after a long day.
If I had a car, I would never let someone walk home, at night. The weather had mercy on me. If it's a yellow warning Scottish rain, I'd be going thru physical training.
Maybe the culture here is to be more independent. Or, it's just self-centered-ness. Or, maybe I am a guy.
Mr. L "officially" invited my to come next week, after the session. I shall consider.
The 2-hour badminton is manageable. The walking and risk of getting caught in a night storm is more of a concern. I could make do with the Drop-ins at Stevenson's.

By the way, the campus is magnificent 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Managing Change

As an engineer for the past decade, I had worked under numerous bosses.
They always say that good managers surround themselves with people smarter and better than them. But is this the reality? Do managers teach and share all they have with their subordinates? What about keeping their position and competitive edge against their peers.
In my short career in the field. I have met ultra-defensive folks who don’t even want to reply emails, in fear of becoming proof of record.
Today’s class of Managing Change was eventful. I caught Prof. Robbie after the lecture, and learned some great insights from me:
-          A manager should teach and share, and build a good team. If you have 2 engineers, the less skilled one will most probably be promoted, as no one wants to let your best engineer go. The solution, if you are caught in this position, is to LEAVE. (I couldn’t believe this term at first)
-          There are 2 ways around maintain your position as a manager. The first is to be really self-centered, sacrifice development of your guys, and keep all your knowledge. The second way around, is to employ people with skills you lack, as to complement your team. You all can grow together.
Change, is to create value.
What if you are a young engineer, being freezed out, and finding it hard to progress? The key is to identify the weak links and required skills in the organization, and develop it, so you could play a more prominent role. If you work in a power station, your basic job description is engineering, and you are rightly paid to do so. Being more resilient and hard working will not earn you an advancement, because that is what you are ’expected’ to do.
I think the professor just solved a puzzle in my head!

Became an interpreter for China-Britain Business Council's (CBBC) SME Forum yesterday at Celtic Park. It was a nice experience translating between Chinese and English, but challenging, especially on technical terms. Luckily, my past work experience did use quite some technical Chinese.

I think I made the right decision to venture out into the unknown

Ps: Before even starting revision, I am busy refining my CV and Cover Letter, in search for an internship in the UK next summer. And it's really not easy competing with the rest out there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Days in Glasgow

So it's true. No, this is not a dream. I am sure that I felt my stomach grumble after I ate the tuna cheese sandwich I prepared for lunch.
Drinking tap water long term may not be something sustainable?
My streaming of FlyFm, for the first time isn't stable for some reasons. Switched to Singapore's Yes 93.3, the songs are fitting for 4am at +8 GMT. All the emotional and love songs.
Maybe in 2 hours, I may hear Majulah Singapura?


I spent an eventful week at home after coming back from Sydney.
Last Saturday, mom and dad both woke up early to send me off at Changi. We reached Changi at around 7.00am, leaving my house to my sister's waving smile at 5.15am.

Outside departure gate at T2
It was the first time I flew Emirates. Besides the slow service of drinks, everything was over my expectations.

Transit in Dubai
Live EPL in-flight - Glad that Man City beat Man Utd
Landed for sunset in Glasgow

I took no time to settle in. Maybe it's because I was here backpacking aimlessly 3 years ago. I am glad I fully utilised my 40kg luggage by Emirates. Made many new friends too.

Shopping spree
Pretty much settled in
A life saver
Thank goodness for the ikan bilis, chilly (sambal) paste, and packets of teh tarik/milo. I am pretty much equipped as a Malaysian. My friends who flew BA only had 23kg. The physical workout from the bus stop to the room was worth every strained muscle.
My place for the next 12 months - 24 Winton Drive

So, today was the first day of class. Actually, only 2 hours of lecture.
This semester, I will spend my days at Adam Smith Business School, taking management modules. From January 2017, I will be taking electrical power subjects (can't wait for it!!!).

And today's weather was marvelous 
And it feels like Harry Potter is nearby

No, never in my dreams I would be getting a Tier 4 Student Visa, and being sponsored to study in the UK. UK was too far away. Most students here have to pay (or rather their parents have to pay) every penny for everything. A full set of laundry costs GBP 3.50. The students in London pay even more. The hostel in London is twice the price outside London, which is crazy. I thank dad, who told us that he would only support our studies in Malaysia, and that if we want to go further, we will have to work it out. I never forget this.

Many people asked me how did I get the Chevening Scholarship. Only 5% of total applicants got it. The truth is, I didn't expect to get it. I was happily working in Singapore, earning the superior Singaporean dollars and spending it in Malaysia.

I admit that I always wanted go abroad, be it student exchange, or even to an extent, work and travel.
But I never had the chance. Post-graduation, I served my 5-year bond with Genting Sanyen. After that, I moved to Singapore for a year. And, I was going to be 30 pretty soon. How many years could I still dream of going on an adventure abroad?

Chevening was basically going to be the last (of many) scholarships I applied. I remember seeing the newsletter from www, while I was still working in KL in August 2015.

For this scholarship, I did my homework. I looked thru the database of past recipients, the subjects they studied, the university they went. I got the most prominent people I know (or rather, who know me) to be my referee.

All these while, I did what I thought was meaningful to society, for a better world. I was not contented to work day-in day-out in a power plant. I was always interested to learn new things and meet new people. I took part time studies, which inevitable broaden my world view, and knowledge. My involvement with The IET was vital. In fact, one week before the interview at the High Commission, I was in London for a meeting. How many people could stay with an organization for a decade? In retrospect, the panel could tell that my voluntary work with The IET was sincere, and that I am genuinely passionate with science, engineering and technology.

My cause of interest was renewable energy and energy efficiency.

It was then, that I realised the power of voluntarism. Prof. Dr. Vigna was right. Becoming Chairman of YPS Malaysia was something valuable.

I think I have been really fortunate in meeting the people that I've met throughout my life.

All the way.