Written by Manroshan Singh Bhatt. Roshan is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Accounting degree at the University of Malaya. He is an active contributor to the Niexter pullout of New Straits Times for six years and also the recipient of the of Best Story Award for his article, TV Junkie, at New Straits Times 3rd Young Writers Awards in 2012. You can follow him at his Facebook profile.
“Why me?”, “I deserve better than this!”, “Am I being punished?” These were the dismal thoughts running through my mind when I learnt that my pre-university education/fate would be sealed at Perlis Matriculation College. You see, as an 8A+ student in the SPM 2013 examination, when I was hunting around for scholarships, I was pretty confident of nailing one, given my arguably, impressive credentials. I was shortlisted and attended the interviews for Bank Negara Malaysia, Petronas, FELDA and JPA scholarships, all of which are highly prestigious and prominent scholarships. Much to my dismay, lady luck was not on my side and only God knows why I was not selected, as I had fared very well at all the interviews. This was certainly salt to the already inflicted wounds of having missed out on KPM Bursary by a single subject (I obtained only an A for Biology, I’m looking at you).
My dad, being a Dad, offered me an escape route, giving me the liberty and freedom to choose any pre-university programme at any private college I fancied. I was already busy making plans and looking forward to pursuing an education at a private college, and ultimately overseas. And lo, on the other end of the spectrum, was my mum, who never budged on her stand to send me to matriculation. My mum, being a Mum, was hell bent on it and dangled many carrots to persuade me into accepting matriculation offer. We went back and forth on this issue, and I knew I was fighting a losing battle. Eventually, I relented and since it was “Mother’s Choice”, I decided to give matriculation a shot (read that as a gunshot!) You see, I went from dreaming and envisioning myself studying at the likes of London School of Economics, Imperial College London and King’s College London to being resigned with the choices of University of Malaya, National University of Malaysia (UKM) and University of Science Malaysia (USM). They say everything can change in a day. All you need is just one day to change your fate and destiny and so it was what it was.
I vividly remember my first day of matriculation like it was only yesterday. In short, I was not a happy camper, as I was complaining about every minute detail, right from the not-too-fancy hostel room to the pretty gross bathrooms. But then, orientation week happened. Within the span of a week, I went from a disgruntled little prick to being a high-spirited and contented teen. That one week (seven days, to be precise) altered my entire perception and mindset towards Perlis Matriculation College, and the matriculation programme, as a whole. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Meeting like-minded friends and people of similar wavelength during orientation week bolstered my confidence and gave me the reassurance that I was heading in the right direction. Funny thing is, I was crying (without tears) on the first day I came here and was crying on the last day of orientation as well, albeit for very different reasons. Soon it became clear to me, matriculation isn’t as bad as how some sceptics portray it to be. I could even argue it is better than private colleges, for not less than ten reasons. Remember, though the grass may appear greener on the other side, it really isn’t once you move to the other end of the fence. And I am so glad I stood firmly on my side of the humble fence.
Life at matriculation has been memorable and exhilarating for reasons of sorts. At the forefront, it is the people who make this place so much fun – yes, the people I have met and the friends I share this journey with. It is not the buildings or the infrastructure which lend beauty or grandeur to this place, but rather, it is the many beautiful experiences with the humans who bring life to this otherwise, concrete “cul-de-sac”. My college mates, roommates and classmates are sheer amazing souls in their own unique ways, with admirable personal achievements and one-of-a-kind personality traits. The experience here has been remarkable and wonderful, owing to my peers and how their crazy and fun antics uplift the spirit, mood and atmosphere of this college. Blessed with a group of friends of similar interest, I have been able to connect with them on a personal note, hence establishing meaningful friendships. The bonding shared at matriculation is entirely different than the experience at school, as we get to spend time with our peers from dawn till dusk, and beyond midnight or bedtime, in class, out of class and at the hostel. We laugh together, we rejoice together, we celebrate together, we dream together, we drool together and we also sometimes, cry together. Experiences of the student generations before us are proof that college friends are indeed friends for life, something I am invariably in agreement with. Hence, life at matriculation has been an exciting and thrilling one, thanks to the wonderful people I crossed paths with here.
I most definitely owe an ode to my lecturers too, who have guided and nudged me to reach my true potential. Without their support and help throughout these months, college life would have been a lot more arduous and less fun. My lecturers handed me the golden key and opened the doors of the pathway for me to explore my interest and true potential; I actively took part in English-based competitions such as essay writing competition (which I won), debating competitions and srabble competitions. Apart from that, I also experimented other trades and crafts too, like the Independence Day-themed blog creating competition and college-level volleyball competition, to name but a few of the long list of fun-filled activities here. Among the leadership positions I held was Vice Chairman of Traditional Games Club, Class Monitor, as well as a member of the JPP Welfare Bureau. In return of the golden key mandated to me, I did my lecturers and the college proud by obtaining a Band 6 in the MUET, a truly momentous achievement of my matriculation experience.
To add on, life at matriculation has taught me a plethora of life lessons that I can hold on to for a lifetime. The most significant would be the importance of advocating for yourself. If I want to get anything done, I will have to advocate for myself, be it handling my chores, my diet, my study schedule or my errands. Getting hold of someone is tough. Sometimes, they will not call or reply your email or text messages. I learned to be persistent for it is the only way to get things accomplished. At first, it was frustrating to have to constantly chase down people but if you need to get stuff done, you need to take it into your own hands. It’s important to learn to speak up and advocate for what you need and want, lest nothing will happen and you will be left watching the flow of tide before you.
Next, I have learnt to live and study in tough spaces. College is a time of freedom but let’s face it, unfettered space isn’t really an option. So, why is living in a dorm a good thing for your post-school life? Why should you leave the comforts of your abode, your familiar surroundings and the little perks and luxuries of daily life (and I mean glorious heavenly food!), yet, compromise for a life in the 8-bedded sweltering and musty dorm? Well, dorms are crowded, often messy places and force us to do the daily little things that are important to complete in regular life, without much fuss. They help us adapt to new environments where interaction with difficult personalities, with idiosyncratic behaviours in tight quarters, is a given. Essentially, proper dorm etiquette and the meagre meals (with rostered menu) at the cafeterias here have prepared me for the real world looming before me. It has made me into a tolerant, patient and adaptable being, a holistic being, in its truest sense. I know now I can survive anywhere as I have put my threshold to test. Metaphorically speaking, the glitter of gold is not seen until and unless it goes through the meandering at the furnace. Thus, I am no longer a typically pampered and whining teen, or a spoilt brat, if you like, but am proud to announce that I am a thoroughbred individual who has seen it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. Yes, I have arrived!
In essence, I would definitely say that matriculation life has been one of the best things that I have experienced by far. At first, saying this would seem absurd and ludicrous, but through the months, I have come to realise that college life anywhere is not easy, and it is up to the individual to make the most out of it. You can make it or you can break it. The choice is in your hands. You are the master craftsman and architect to design your life. Take it all in your stride and embrace the good, drop the bad, but let it not hamper and wear you down. Life at matriculation is an extremely short one, 11 months to be exact, but one that will leave lifelong imprints in my memory. I am grateful for deciding to pursue my pre-university education at a matriculation college (and for this, I must thank my mum) as I have been able to discover my true self, my potential, my limitations, my fears, my aspirations and my life pursuits. The education process here has given me a clear focus and sense of vision and mission to strive harder to attain my life goals. College life has inspired me to think differently, like no other time in my life. It is a truly mesmerising chapter in my life, academically, spiritually, socially and emotionally. Thank you, Perlis Matriculation College! Hail KMP!
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Written by Manroshan Singh Bhatt. Roshan is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Accounting degree at the University of Malaya. He is an active contributor to the Niexter pullout of New Straits Times for six years and also the recipient of the of Best Story Award for his article, TV Junkie, at New Straits Times 3rd Young Writers Awards in 2012. You can follow him via his Facebook profile.
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