Saturday, 16 November 2013

A Letter to Myself

Considering that my birthday is coming soon, *cough* , I am tempted to write a letter to myself. A letter from this immature girl. Let's see how it goes:

Hi MizaFirzana,

Happy birthday to you! Alhamdulillah, all thanks to Allah for giving you another second to breathe oxygen, another minute to pray, another hour to do good deeds and another day to make Him love you. Alhamdulillah.

You are now 19 years old. Can you believe it that you have been living in this planet for nearly two decades? You should never be too happy to live and never take your life for granted. Remember, we are all created for a reason (s). Allah created you, and has given you infinity blessings in your life since you were young. Yes, you might have many bad hair days where you just feel like giving up because you have screwed up. But if you remember your real purpose of living, it should make you feel better. Remember to pray at least five times a day; show that you are thankful to your Creator.

Ever felt like the whole world just doesn't make sense and is unfair? Because you have put much effort into something yet you are still far from achieving your dream? Rest assure that Allah has better plans for you. I truly understand that this is a saying that we all have heard many times in our lives, but in a way it's true. Faith is all about believing, dear. Once you stop believing, you are going to go astray.

Allah is Fair and Just. Always. Yes, you might think if Allah is fair and just, why are some people so poor albeit they work hard to improve their life? Why beautiful/good looks ain't for everyone? This question popped out in my head not so long ago, too. And I think I found the answer. 

God created all of us with the purpose to submit ourselves to Him, as we have agreed to when we were still in our mother' womb. What God is asking from us is simple: To worship Him as the Creator. If you really understand that God owns everything that you can see and those beyond the limitations of your thinking, you would not be questioning about your fate. 


See, Allah told us 1400+ years ago through the Quran that He will not burden us with anything we cannot bear. Now think of it again, if you flunk your test: Did it hurt you anywhere? Did you bleed? Did you die simply because you freaking fail the test? The answer is NO, you don't. Why is that so? Because failing a test is something you yourself can bear with. And one way to always remind yourself to be patient is to remember the real purpose of living: To worship Allah. He IS giving you tests -  to see where does He stand when your emotion becomes overwhelming. Will you still put Him beyond everything else or throw Him far away from your heart?

It is hard to describe this, but you should know, Miza. With every difficulty comes ease. 


You had a very rough year during middle school. Who would have thought someone could ever do something so bad to another person? But look how you have come so far. I am not asking you to brag about anything, but Allah is fair, right? Yes, you suffered... But look what He has given to you to replace your deep sadness? Allah gives you something even more meaningful! Alhamdulillah.

That's why you should never forget Him. Because He is always there for you all the time. Don't only cry to him when you have problems. Personally, do you like it when people only talk to you because they need your help? Do you feel like you are being used? If you hate that attitude, then you shouldn't do it too! Especially to The One who created you from nothing...

I know that you are not that religious, it's okay. It takes time to be one. But I would definitely feel sad if you forget about what you have practiced so far. Never throw your religion away. Never forget that wrap around your head if you are meeting guys who are your Ajnabi. And most important thing, I am never gonna be proud of you if you miss your prayers and forget to read Quran on purpose because you just don't feel like doing so anymore....

Take care, dear. If no one is there for you, know that Allah is FOREVER there. He never forgets you. It's the opposite - It's YOU who only finds Him when you are troubled and leaves Him when you get drowned in the sea of happiness.

If you ever feel down, read what the other person had replied to the question. It'd help:
A person asked a question :
What will I do now? I used to know He is with me. But now He is no longer here, he has left me alone. Everyone left me, I was okay with it. But now Allah(swt) too? I cannot bear it. I need to know He is with me, at all times, through everything, even if I have been bad. But now I feel he has finally left me and I don't know what to do. What if Allah(swt) hates me now? I am so afraid. I need to have Him in my life. Everyone can be against me, I will bear beacuse I wil know that Allah is with me and understands me and knows everything. But if Allah leaves me I won't be able to bear anything. He is the only one who knows me, knows everything about me, knows my heart, He is the all-knowing. 
I don't want Allah to leave me. Even if I have been bad. Because I know He knows my reasons and why I act like I do. He is the reason I keep going. Because I always think that it is what Allah thinks that matters and not others. Even if no one believes me, I persevere because I know that Allah watches and knows everything and He believes me. What am I to do without Him and his trust? What if Allah(swt) think me bad and stop believing in me and leave me?
And someone replied :

Assalamualaikum,Allah(SWT) never leaves you, Even if when it feels like you are alone, Allah(SWT) never ever leaves you-Even if you abandon him, When you go back he is still there for you, He never leaves you, There is a reason why you feel he has left you, He hasn't. He is there with you, In fact, Allah puts you through these things to test your faith and strength, So, please don't say he has left for Allah never leaves anyone, Wheather Christian,Jewish,Muslim, Allah/God/-is always there-no matter what, even when no one believes you or everyone walks out on you, He is there, just turn to Allah and pray. I know what you've been there. Always turn to Allah because you are never alone!

Bye Dear. Keep your faith strong, and strive hard to achieve success in this world too. Even if you don't succeed in getting what you have dreamed for, remember that Allah looks at the effort you put into it.

I love you :)

Regards,
MizaFirzana Basir



Monday, 4 November 2013

God, Can I Ask You A Question?

Me: God, can I ask You a question?

God: Sure

Me: Promise You won't get mad

God: I promise

Me: Why did You let so much stuff happen to me today?

God: What do u mean?

Me: Well, I woke up late

God: Yes

Me: My car took forever to start

God: Okay

Me: at lunch they made my sandwich wrong & I had to wait

God: Huummm

Me: On the way home, my phone went DEAD, just as I picked up a call

God: All right

Me: And on top of it all off, when I got home ~I just want to soak my feet in my new foot massager & relax. BUT it wouldn't work!!! Nothing went right today! Why did You do that?

God: Let me see, the death angel was at your bed this morning & I had to send one of My Angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that

Me (humbled): OH

GOD: I didn't let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that would have hit you if you were on the road.

Me: (ashamed)

God: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick & I didn't want you to catch what they have, I knew you couldn't afford to miss work.

Me (embarrassed):Okay

God: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give false witness about what you said on that call, I didn't even let you talk to them so you would be covered.

Me (softly): I see God

God: Oh and that foot massager, it had a shortage that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn't think you wanted to be in the dark.

Me: I'm Sorry God

God: Don't be sorry, just learn to Trust Me.... in All things , the Good & the bad.

Me: I will trust You.

God: And don't doubt that My plan for your day is Always Better than your plan.

Me: I won't God. And let me just tell you God, Thank You for Everything today.

God: You're welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I Love looking after My Children...

P/s: This is just some story created by someone (I dont know who he is) that teaches us to be patient and always be grateful to Him. 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Things You Should Know About Islam & Muslims

Although Islam in United States is rapidly expanding as day goes by, I guess not everyone knows much about Islam. 
Let's screen your knowledge about it by going through a few questions I have here.

1. Do you know what does it mean when people tell you, "I'm Muslim"? What's "Muslim"?

2. What is the difference between "Islam" and "Muslim"? You might know the word Islam, but not Muslim.

3. What is that thin little fabric some girls wrap around their head? 

She's so pretty. SubhanAllah.


4. Why do some Arabs always request for "Halal food" at the cafeteria?
*Just so because most of the Muslims you can find here in America are Arabs.

5. Why does whenever someone say he is a Muslim, he kinda knows Arabic (though not fluent in it)?

6. "Would you mind giving us five-minute break? I need to pray." 
What kind of prayer needs 5 minutes break? How many times do you have to pray?

I promise to make this as simple, short and concise as possible. I'll leave out all the jargon words so you wouldn't have to google for them. 
Note: Just bare in mind that I am not trying to convince anyone to convert to Islam. I realize that a lot of people I met at college do not know about Islam, so maybe you might want to know more. It's like getting to know something about your new friend. What he doesn't like, what he can't eat, what he must do and stuff. 

KEEP CALM AND SCROLL DOWN.

Islam is the name of the religion. It is originated from Arabic word, Salam, which simply means peace. On the other hand, Muslim means someone who believes and follows Islam in his life. This is a religion that strictly states that God exists, there is only one God and Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of God (An individual chosen by God to guide human beings in becoming good Muslims inside and outside too. We refer to God as Allah (which means God in Arabic). Same as Christianity and some other religions, Islam has a holy book too, which we called as Al-Quran/ Holy Quran/ Quran. This book is fully in standard Arabic and is undeniably beautiful in its structure of the sentences. No one can write as beautifully and grammatically correct as what are written in this book. So, the reason why Muslims, not necessarily the Arabs, have sufficiently good grasp of Arabic language is because we read the Quran in our daily life; in our prayers. Many countries where Muslims are the majority offer the opportunity for the citizens to learn Arabic since kindergarten. I personally learned Arabic since I was in kindergarten till I graduated high school at the age of 17. I might not be able to speak conversational Arabic as I never spoke it with my friends, but I do know a lot of words and understand the grammar rules. We, as Muslims, value Arabic language so much because we believe that is is the language of the Jannah (heaven). There are a lot of expressions in Arabic language that are widely used by Muslims such as MashaAllah (God's will; said when someone did a good job), SubhanAllah (God is Glorious), Astaghfirullah (God forgive me; when someone did something sinful), Allahuakbar (God is the Greatest), InshaAllah (If God wills it) and Alhamdulillah (thankful; being grateful for something).

You might not know a guy is a Muslim until he tells you so, but it is pretty much obvious to know what religion does a girl wearing a wrap around her head embraces. It's Islam. The wrap is pretty much known as a Hijab (also originally an Arabic word), but you might as well just call it a headscarf (Make more sense to you, ayte?). That's what I always refer it to whenever people start asking me about it. It basically represents modesty and identity of a Muslim. The correct way to wear the headscarf is to always cover your head, hair and your front chest. More explanation about Hijab. In general, women in Islam are to cover their WHOLE body, including their feet, except their face and two hands (from the wrist to nails).

The left one is how a Muslim woman
should dress up.

"What's up with covering your whole body? It's an oppression to the women!"
Heaven, NO. The reason why, in Islam, women are required to cover their body is to protect them from evil eyes of the men who have bad intentions towards the women. 
P/s: You should read about how women were treated in this world before Islam came. Women were treated like an object, who had no value at all. Who could be thrown away like a trash whenever they are not needed anymore. Who had no freedom of speech and such things. Islam actually helped to increase the status of women in a society. How can that be unfair, man?

Prayers. Muslims should pray FIVE times a day. We pray during morning (before sunrise), afternoon, evening (before sunset), evening (after sunset) and lastly, one prayer at night. We have many other prayers that we can perform at some specific times, but these five prayers I just mentioned are the compulsory ones. Our prayer involves some movements and recitations of the Quran (all in Arabic). Here is a video of how we pray, if you are interested to know:



Christians have churches and Hindus have temples. Do Muslims have one? A place where all Muslims gather and pray together is called a Mosque. Below are some of the beautiful Mosques from all around the world.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Turkey.



Masjid Al-Haram, Makkah,
Saudi Arabia.


Food. Muslims are supposed to eat Halal food and are strictly not allowed to eat pork. By eating halal meat, it simple means that the animals need to be slaughtered by a Muslim. There are also a few other procedures that need to be followed such as using a well-sharpened knife to make a swift, deep incision that cuts the front of the throat, the carotid artery, windpipe, and jugular veins of the animal. The reason is so that the animal doesn't suffer for a long time before it dies. The  animals should also be slaughtered upon utterance of the Islamic prayer "in the name of God." That's why it must be slaughtered by a Muslim in this case. By the way, seafood is excluded from having to undergo slaughtering process. So, slaughtering is basically for most of the animals living on land.

A video of how the slaughtering process is done:




P/s: It starts at 10:00 on the second video.

Considering that it is already 1 oclock in the morning here, I need to stop writing now. I think this explanation would suffice as basic things you should know about Islam, but I might add more if I have time. If there are any mistakes, please let me know. I will correct them as soon as possible. Thanks!

Night! Sweet dream :)
Regards.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

How To Answer the Call of Prayer (Azan/ Athan)

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim and Hi everyone :)

Alhamdulillah, today Allah has opened my heart to relearn something that I have long forgotten -- how to answer to the Azan, or in simpler words, what we should say when we hear the call of prayer. Sure, I learned it in primary school, but the knowledge just disappeared because I had rarely practiced what I was thought. Honestly, this is what is going to happen if you learn something just for the sake of exam -- you tend to forget about it once you're done with the test. I'm guilty as charged, and I hold my hands up to that.

I was in the mosque, sitting and waiting to pray Isya' with the other brothers and sisters in Islam. I didn't read the Quran to kill the time while waiting because I arrived just in time before the azan was called out by the mu'azzin (someone who performs the azan). Then, it kind of struck me out of the blue, "How am I supposed to answer this?". I tried to remember what I had learnt from almost a decade ago (Damn, it was a freaking DECADE ago) but it seemed that there was a dysfunctional signalling between the neurons near the synapses in my brain. As I failed to answer the azan, I silently told myself that I must find the book and memorize the verses again. Malu Miza, Islam sejak lahir takkan benda simple macam ni pun hang tak tau.

So here is the Azan and the answer to each of the lines. The words highlighted in purple are the romanization of those Arabic sentences, in case you're not so sure on how to pronounce each and every one of them.

P/s: Because Azan for Subh prayer (Fajr) is slightly different from the rest of the prayer times, I have included the answer below. (Go to Number 6 and 7)

When The Mua’zzin Says…
You Reply By Saying…
1.

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar

1.
 

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar
2.

Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah. Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah.

2.

Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah. Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah.
3.

Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah.
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah.

3.

Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah. 
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah.
4.


Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah, hayya ‘ala-s-Salah.
4.

La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah. 

5.

Hayya ‘ala-l-falah, hayya ‘ala-l-falah.

5.
La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah. 
*****Only for the Fajr (Subh) Azan*****
*****Only for the Fajr (Subh) Azan*****
6.

As-Salatu khairun min an-naum. 

6.


La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah. 

7.


As-Salatu khairun min an-naum. 

7.

La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah. 


*************************************
*************************************
8.

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. 

8.

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.
9.

La ilaha illa-llah. 

9.


La ilaha illa-llah. 


And actually, we are encouraged to make du'a and ask Allah for His forgiveness right after the Azan finishes. This is the du'a, please memorize it :)

                        *****************************************************

                        
                        *****************************************************

It is very simple, right? You just gotta repeat after the words previously called out by the Mua'zzin. But apparently we are inclined to forget the easiest thing to do, MOST OF THE TIMES. I hope this will benefit you, as much as it has benefited me. May Allah bless us! Amin :)

Have you memorized it? Then test yourself! ;) The Mua'zzin is Hafiz Mustafa Özcan, from Turkey.





-By MizaFirzana Basir

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Visa Interview Experience at US Embassy Malaysia

Assalamualaikum and Hello people :D

Yesterday I went for my visa interview at US Embassy Malaysia, located in Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.

First thing first, what must you bring?
  1. Appointment Confirmation Letter 
  2. IC / Driving License (preferably IC)
  3. Passport
  4. I-20 Form
  5. DS160 Confirmation Page
  6. Visa Fee Receipt (that contains your Unique ID)
  7. SEVIS Fee Confirmation Page
  8. SEVIS Fee Receipt
  9. Financial Statement/ Affidavit
  10. Offer letter from the university
  11. One passport-sized photo (Bring two photos at least, just to be on the safe side).  

P/s: DO NOT staple all the forms together. Let the person in-charge at the counter check your documents one by one. You don't want to annoy him/ her right?

I actually had picked a wrong day for my interview. My dad turned out to have class on that morning (he's a lecturer), so he couldn't drive all the way to the embassy. And I, for a minute, had forgotten that my sister hadn't finished her EdExcel A-Level Exam yet, and my dad had to send her to college too. So, I had to take a cab (or train) to go there, but it didn't really matter because my mom was there to accompany me. My dad sent us off at KL Sentral and we took a cab from there to the embassy which cost us about 14 Ringgit. Oh for those who are travelling by car, keep in mind that no parking lots are provided by the embassy. Though there is a parking area nearby, you still need to walk because it's quite far. And I'm not fond of walking. So taxi is the best transportation medium. If you want to walk from nearby train station, it will take you about 10 minutes. Still one of the best options available, but just don't wear high heels. Haha.

I arrived at exactly 6.59 am -- the sky was still dark blue and the traffics were still fine although more cars had started filling up the roads.

American Embassy from far.
Taken from Google Images.
American Embassy, Malaysia.

 And... I thought that I was the first one to arrive. To my surprise, many had already lined up, which were all Chinese.

So... "What's wrong with the Chinese?", some of you might ask.
There's nothing wrong lah, but what I want to imply here is that I always and definitely will see more Chinese wherever I go for things like this (meetings, formal events). Malay? None of them or perhaps one or two, so to speak. Seriously, early bird catches worms (this is my favorite quote actually. You'll see me using this sentence repeatedly in this blog). If you arrive early, you can settle down, check your documents, relax, get treated/ served early and finish real fast. There are absolutely no disadvantages of going early. By going early, I don't mean like, if your appointment is at 11 am you gotta arrive by 7 am. That's absurd. Just arrive 30-20 minutes before your appointment and you'll be fine.

Okay, back to business.
I quickly walked to those people and lined up at the back end of the line. I was the 10th, I think. Well, it wasn't really a straight line as no one stood up. We all just sat on the benches provided outside the embassy which were installed in one straight row, so it would still look like one straight line but with people sitting down instead of standing up. Around 7.20 am, the Indian male guard walked towards us and summoned those whom appointment time was 7.40 am to line up. My appointment time was 8.20 am, so I sat still. So, those whom had already booked 7.40 am appointment went to get their visitor pass to enter the building. Basically, you will need your IC and appointment confirmation letter to get your visitor pass. The person in-charge at the counter will keep your IC until you are done with the interview and return the pass to him. He will also check your name on the list and tick it off. The appointment sequences are 7.40 am, 8.20 am, 8.50 am and so on. Those who chose for 8.20 am appointment were called at around 7.40 am and I am so happy to be the first person for that slot :) Feels like my bangun-awal-pagi effort had paid off.

After getting our visitor pass, we were required to line up again, this time to enter the building. If you arrive late, you will notice that there are two lines. The lines are next to each other, but the outer one (close to the benches) is for registration and obtaining the visitor pass. The other line, lying next to the building entrance, is for those who have obtained the visitor pass and are waiting to enter the building.

We were lining up for the security check. The guards would let two persons each time to enter the building and undergo body scan and bag screening. I don't know if this is true or not, but some of the blogs that I read prior to attending the interview mentioned that if you happen to bring a water bottle, you need to drink it in front of the guard. Security procedure. All electronics items are to be left inside the locker. It is safe, insyaAllah :) Like for me, I left all electronics items (including my handbag) with my mother since she was waiting outside. I just carried along my purse and the file that contains all the documents required. The guard was looking for my bag and any electronics items, so I said I left it with my mother. And she said, "Oh, that's good". She was kind. Actually, everyone working there was pretty kind and friendly.

After that, I walked through another door and was stunned by the building. Hehe, serious cantik!

Taken from Google Images.
I couldn't see anything from the outside. After I finally entered the building, another guard told me to take a ticket number from the machine to my left. Press button A, as you are applying for Non-Immigrant Visa (F1 type). Actually, this one no need to tell also... Common sense what.

I was told to wait in the waiting room which was to my right. To my left, next to the machine, was where all the counters were located. Actually, seats are provided at the counter room too, but usually the seats are occupied and apparently, they (the embassy) don't like people to stand, that's why you need to go to the waiting room. But if you come early and there's an empty seat, go help yourself to the seat. Wait for your ticket number to be called. In the meantime, keep calm and take a deep breath. Muahaha.

Okay, I know this is getting boring. And I, too, am tired of typing. So, let's make it short and compact.

I was called three times to the counter. Well, everyone did.

1. Submission of the documents.
- It's either Counter 1 or Counter 2.
- He asked for my interview confirmation page and I-20 form. I took them out from the file.
- He asked me to sign and write my name at the bottom of the I-20 Form (There's a section for our signature).
- One question asked, "Have you been to the States before?". I was like, "Noooo, never". Very childish.
- Actually, I put all my documents in a file folder with clear protective sheets. Heck, I don't know how to describe the file. LOL. Umm, this kind of file? --->

Taken from Google Images.
He asked me, "May I have the passport, SEVIS Confirmation page, DS........".
Before he finished his sentence, I opened my file because I wanted to take the forms out.
So he said, "Oh. Everything's in there? Great. Just hand me the file".
I think it's because it's easier for him to select which ones of the documents are actually necessary and required by the embassy.
- The American guy took all the important ones, to check & key in the details, I suppose.
- Then, he asked me to wait till my number was called for the second time.

2. Fingers Scanning / Fingerprints Scanning.
- It was the counter next to counter 2, but they improved the counter by making it look like a small telephone booth, like a small guard house with a door.
- I was asked to scan all ten of my fingers. Two thumbs, four left-hand fingers and four right-hand fingers.
- Then, she asked me to wait for the third call.
- Finger scanning at Counter 3 or Counter 4.

3. Interview session
- Don't expect the interview session to be a nice, usual kind of interview lah. Haha. You are only going to stand through out the interview. Plus, it's only a short interview. About two to three minutes.
- Interview session at Counter 5 or Counter 6.
- Questions asked by the man to me:
  • Which university are you going to?
  • How long are you gonna be there?
  • Who's going to pay for your tuition fees? He then asked for the financial affidavit from my sponsor.
  • Do you have any bond with your sponsor to work with them later?
- Then, he said, "Okay. You're doing fine. You visa will be approved". I quickly said, "Oh thank you so much! Have a nice day". I smiled.
- He will return back everything (I-20 form, etc) that the person in-charge at Counter 1 or 2 took from you before, except confirmation pages for both SEVIS registration and DS160 form.

By 8.30 am, I was done! Yahoo, Alhamdulillah. I went out, returned the visitor pass and claimed my IC back. And there were nearly 100 people lining up outside to attend the visa interview. Everyone was standing :( It was so hot.. And so tiring.. So choose for earlier slot and make sure to arrive there 20 minutes earlier!

Here's the map to the US Embassy in case you needed one :)

Taken from Google Images.

I met Wan Ling, Syn Yee, Nirmessh at the embassy.
And met Amirah at KL Sentral. And saw Ryan at KTM Subang Jaya. Haha, what a day!
***************************************************************

P/s: I realize that I often write a long, dull blog post. Don't blame me, my writing is bad, I know. 
Actually, I often describe things in details because I like to observe things that happen around me -- and fortunate enough, I always remember what I have seen. Another reason is to avoid you guys from asking me the same questions repeatedly. Haha :P

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask if you have any inquiries :)
In the middle of applying to US university? Click here for the complete checklist of what to do, what to bring and whatnots! :P

Regards,
MizaFirzana Basir

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Fatih Seferagic in Malaysia : Events and The Details

Assalamualaikum.

Many people search about Fatih Seferagic before. You can read my post here : Who Is Fatih Seferagic.
So I thought perhaps you guys have heard that he's coming to Malaysia.

He's heading off to Malaysia next week, insyaAllah to share his experiences and give Islamic talks. I am so upset that I can't attend any of the Islamic events because I am going for Outward Bound School (OBS) from 23-29 June, and BTN (Biro Tatanegara) from July 1st until July 5th. :/ So sad...
Ahhh, why does everything have to be in those two weeks! I can't attend Konvensyen Bidadari Sedunia, Twins of Faith and many more~~ Sobss

Anyway, let me share with you his latest events and the details. Dapat lah sikit pahala sebarkan events ilmiah :)

Fatih Seferagic in Malaysia

Because the details of the venues are not written down in the poster, here it is:

1. Aqsa Syarif, 24 June 2013: I don't know. I tried to google it, but nothing came out. 

2. Mesiniaga, 25 June 2013: Same as above.


3. Mercy mission - BEING ME, 29 June 2013: Venue


4. One Heart Solution, 29 June 2013: Auditorium Utama, UIAM, Gombak, KL

P/s: For more info, visit here: Konvensyen Aku Cinta Allah & Rasul (I Love Allah & Prophets Convention)

5. Teen Ace - Langit Ilahi, 29 June 2013: Venue


6. YMP (Young Muslim Project) Workshop, 30 June 2013: 

Venue
Dewan Syarahan,  
Masjid Saidina Abu Bakar As Siddiq Bangsar,  
Jalan Ara, Bangsar,  
59100 Kuala Lumpur

 P/s: More details can be found here: YMP Workshop. The title of the talk is 'The Hitchhikers' guide to Quran' with Bro Fatih as the speaker.

7. MPF (Muslim Professionals Forum)- Quran & Ramadhan, 4 July 2013: Sorry, I couldn't find any information of the venue.

8. MPF Ramadhan Workshop, 6 and 7 July 2013: Refer to the poster below.


I hope you guys will enjoy it :) Take as much knowledge as you can, and make sure that you try to apply it in your everyday life!

Regards,
MizaFirzana Basir

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Applying US Universities and Visa: A Checklist for ADFP/ACTP Students

Assalamualaikum and Hello everyone! :)

As I have promised, here's a post I dedicate specially to those who are applying for universities in USA. Feel free to share it with your friends.

1) First phase: Enrolling in the American Degree Programme (ADP)
 - Some of colleges offering ADP that I know -- Taylor's University Lakeside Campus, International Education College (INTEC) Shah Alam and INTI College, Nilai. (Not sure about KDU though)
- I don't think this point needs any further explanation.

2) Second phase: Getting ready for SAT Test (And SAT Subject Test)
- First question crossing your mind might be -- what the heck is this test?
Basically, SAT is an entrance exam required to enter the universities in US. To apply for a university, you will need SAT test with a certain score in all sections. Each university has its own standard scores requirements, which means the possibilities of you getting accepted into the university is higher if you score your SAT above the scores that they have asked for.
- Second -- How is the score calculated?
I am only going to explain about general SAT Test. It has 3 sections which are Reading, Mathematics and Writing. Total score would be 2400 marks with each section carries 800 marks (800 + 800 + 800= 2400). Do 800 marks equal to 800 questions? Heaven NO... Each section would have about 30 questions and the exam board has provided a certain range for each section depending on the score you receive. Further information can be obtained from this website : SAT @ College Board   
- Bare in mind that SAT Test and SAT Subject Test are two different tests with SAT being a general test involving English and Mathematics whereas SAT Subject Test is a test offered for many specific subjects (eg. Math Level 1, Math Level 2, Mandarin, Chemistry, History, American Government and such)
- SAT Test is compulsory or strongly recommended for many universities, whereas SAT Subject Tests are recommendable. Usually universities would like people to sit for Math Level 2 and Chemistry (or Physics). One mathematics subject and one science subject.
- There are a lot of bombastic words that you have never even found on newspapers and books. So you need to memorize these words and familiarize yourself on the usages of each and every words in a sentence. I tell you, the Reading section can be pretty difficult and very tricky -- and the each passage are two to three pages long.
- You can send your SAT score to FOUR universities for FREE. Unlike TOEFL, SAT allows you to change/add your university choices until 7 days after the test. But if you miss it, you need to pay up to a few bucks per university requested. Thus to play safe, please make sure you have selected at least four universities latest by the day before your exam.
- Start early, you need at least two months to get prepared.
- Your score is valid for two years.

3) Third phase: Getting ready for English test : TOEFL (equivalent to IELTS test)
- Internet-based are recommended over paper-based.
- Unlike IELTS, TOEFL test apparently doesn't like you to communicate with people. Hahaha. You will deal with computer for four hours -- you read passages and answer questions based on them on the computer, you listen to conversations on computer, you record yourself speaking in English on computer, and finally, you write English essays also on computer. It's a four-hour stress.
- Full mark is 120, with each section contributes 30 marks. There are four section which are Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.
- You can send your TOEFL score to FOUR universities for FREE. Please make sure you select at least four universities before 10 am of the day before your exam. If you miss it, you need to pay up to $18.00 per university requested which is a waste of money. Consider the exchange of currency and no. of universities you apply to, let say, 4 univs. 4 X RM 3.1x $18 = RM 223.2. You have just wasted 200 bucks for something that is supposed to be free of charge! Membazir itu saudara syaitan.
- Your score is valid for two years.
- I wrote my experience attending TOEFL test here : My TOEFL Test Experience

4) Fourth phase: Applying universities
- This is the most annoying phase, I tell you.
- Check out the websites of universities you are interested in. Go to "Undergraduate Admission" and make a note of everything that they require from you ie high school transcripts, financial statement etc
- Don't forget to check for the application deadline!
- Make sure whether the universities require you to apply using Common Application (commonapps) or simply apply on their website.
Commonapps is a website that provide online admission application for undergraduate programs to many universities in US. It actually helps making application easier because instead of you applying to each separate university, you can actually use the very same application for all universities you want to apply to. Thus, you don't have to fill in your personal information and education background over again. I think all ivy leagues use Commonapps.
- High school transcripts - read what the school wants. Sometimes they want your transcripts for five consecutive years, so you need transcripts from Form 1 to Form 5! Transcripts must be in English. If your high school produced bilingual transcripts (English + Malay, English + Tamil or English + Chinese), then there's nothing to be concerned about. Just use those transcripts. Please request the transcripts from your school at least ONE MONTH earlier prior to sending your applications. You don't want to make your teacher get pissed off, right? Each university requires original transcripts, which means NO PHOTOCOPY. Please ask your teacher to print out at least, I don't know, four to five copies of each exam transcript? Depending on number of universities you want to apply to.
- Financial statement, ah for this one, I recommend you to ask your University Placement Counselor. For scholars, request the Financial Statement/ Financial Affidavit from your sponsors. Make sure the financial statement includes the name of the university, your intended major and amount of money that they will sponsor you through out the years of your study (Coz different universities have different rates of tuition fees).
- Essays -- Usually, universities that use commonapps as a medium of admission application require several essays which are compulsory. Ask few people that are trustworthy to comment on your essays. START EARLY!

5) Fifth phase: Injections and health-related issues.
- In case you don't know, 'jabs' is a synonym for injections/vaccinations.
- Some universities require a heaven lot of injections, some don't. So again, please check the university's website okay? :)
- Among injections that are compulsory/strongly recommended/recommended are:
  • Full Medical Check-up (with Blood Test and X-ray)
  • Tuberculosis (TB) Screening Test
  • Hepatitis A
  • Meningitis/ Meningococcal Vaccines
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) Vaccine
  • Hepatitis B (strongly recommended)*
* - Hepatitis B vaccine is a series of three shots of injections administered over a period of approximately 4-6 months. The second shot is due 2 months after the first shot. The third shot is due 5 months after the first one (which means another 2 months after the second shot). So you need to plan early. If you are flying off to the states on August, that means you need to start doing the first shot by January or February. Take note.

6) Sixth phase: Admitted to a university.
- Congratulations for your acceptance into any university!! You nailed it! :)
- At some point, some of you might be having more than one admission offer. Think thoroughly, rest assured that you got enough time to make up your mind on which university you want to enroll yourself in. Don't forget the deadline where you need to confirm your enrollment by paying the Enrollment Deposit and Housing&Dining deposit. Usually, they make it compulsory for those who are flying off as first-year student (Freshmen) to take one of the meal plans provided by them and also, to stay in the on-campus hostel for the very first academic year. That's how they make extra money. But actually it's good to stay on-campus for the first year as you are not yet familiar with the place and stuff.
- They will communicate with you through emails and mails. Check your inbox frequently!
- You need to make your own checklist of things needed to be done. Most of the forms (and letters) have their own deadlines so it's safe to settle everything off before it's due.
- This is where applying passport (for those who do not own one yet), visa and paying SEVIS Fee comes.
- If you have any seniors there, do contact them. I'm sure there are several Facebook groups created for this purpose.
- Usually the university would want your final exam transcript (ADP final exam), so it's up to you either you want to request for official copies from the ADP office and mail to the university yourselves, or you want the university to directly send the transcripts on your behalf (which makes things much easier, isn't it?). The latter was what I did recently, but unfortunately the university I'm heading off to told me this morning that they haven't received my transcripts yet. I'm quite worried because I've requested it for nearly a month. So what happened?? Anyway, make sure to call your ADP office and ask them for the progress of sending your transcripts. Give them two weeks before you make a call, okay.
- Choosing your hostel and meal plan are something you're going to do online. You can even choose your roommate/(s). Not going to explain this further.

7) Seventh phase: Transferring Credits
- Read the overview of ADP here : American Degree Program (ADP)
- If you are applying as a transfer student, you don't have to worry about this.
- This is for freshmen. Apparently, going as a freshman means that you need to start from zero -- learn all the basic subjects again (Calculus 1, Chemistry 1, English 1 etc) like any other freshmen do. The reason why someone would apply under the category of freshman instead of as a transfer student is because he/she intends to fly off one year early (in another words, do his/her ADP for only one year). Kindly note that most of transfer students, but not all of them, do their ADP for at least two years. Why is that so? This is because all universities have set certain requirements to classify someone as a transfer student.
For example, 'a transfer student must have at least 33 credit hours'. If he is not up to the challenge of taking more than one heavy subjects every semester (coz heavy subject has higher credit hours), he might need four to five semesters to reach that 33 credit hours. Well, I'm just making this up. Refer to the website for correct numbers! But, you get the idea, don't you?
- You will be asked to mail your course descriptions for every subject you took together with your exam papers, quizzes, lab reports, assignments and exercises. This thing has its deadline. If you don't want to keep your exam papers anymore, then feel free to just mail them to your university. However, unlike some people, I prefer to keep the original exam papers with me, so I made photocopies of all my exam papers and sent them those instead. Why did I do that? Well, firstly, I admit I am a hoarder. I can't resist the temptation to keep, umm, things with me. Secondly, if I were to give the original exam papers, what is left with me? What if something happens to the document on the way it is being delivered? What if it went missing? Then, I won't have any proofs for my marks, my projects and such. I don't want to risk it. You've got to prepare for the worst, friend. But I am taking it to the States with me later, you know, in case they insist to see the original ones.

8) Eight phase: Passport - Apply/ Renew
- In case you haven't renewed your passport/ own a passport, please do so quickly. You're gonna need it to pay for Visa Application Fee and to fill in the DS160 Online Form. Your passport needs to be valid for at least until six months after you go for the States. My former passport was actually valid until early 2014, which was good enough as it exceeded six months. However, I don't want to have the trouble of renewing it later in the States, so I decided to renew my passport so that it will be valid until the month I'll be graduating. Saves me the troubles.

9) Ninth Phase: Receiving Your I-20 Form and Paying for SEVIS Fee
- You'll get your I-20 form and instruction to pay the SEVIS Fee from your university. They will mail it to you as soon as you're done with paying the enrollment deposit.
- I-20 form is required when you are going for visa interview. Keep it safely. The university won't produce it twice.
- You can pay for SEVIS Fee here.
- SEVIS Fee is compulsory to all students intending to study in USA. It's about $200.00. Additional of $35.00 if you want them to send the receipt of your payment within a week, which they called as 'expedited delivery'. It is an online payment, with the link to the website written on the instruction paper. You need to pay SEVIS Fee first before you can apply for Visa. This is because you will need the code number from SEVIS form (eg. N000xxxxxxxx) to finally submit your DS160 online form later.
- After you have submitted the online payment, you will be instructed to print out your confirmation form (contains your personal details, your code number etc).
- You need to bring BOTH SEVIS Fee confirmation form and SEVIS Fee receipt to the visa interview.

10) Tenth Phase:  Visa Application (Visa Application Fee, DS160 Online Form and Visa Interview).
- For full instructions on how to apply for US visa, click here. The steps are pretty easy to follow.

a) Visa Application Fee
- The amount varies with the rate of currency exchange. It's $160.00 which for the time being is equivalent to RM 496.00.
Payment can only be made at Standard Chartered Bank (any branch would do, just google for nearest branch).
- Don't forget to print your bank deposit slip first and carry it with you to the bank. It's like a general statement stating that you are paying for visa application with the exact amount written on it (eg RM 496). The bank deposit slip can be printed from here, choose 'Deposit Slip - $160 MRV Fee'. There's a due date for using the slip. If you failed to pay your fee by the due date, then you need to print the new bank slip, which has a different amount. Keep the receipt safely. You're going to need your receipt number to fill in DS160 online form. The number on your receipt that you need is only the "Unique ID" number. DON'T INCLUDE YOUR PASSPORT NO.

b) DS160 Online Form
- Fill in your DS160 form here. Read the instructions here.
- Background for your passport-sized photo must be of white color (It used to be blue, remember?). Visit here for the photo requirements.
- Print out the form confirmation page. You'll need it for your visa interview.
- After filling out the DS160 form, you can schedule an interview with the US embassy in Malaysia.

c) Visa Interview
- Set your appointment online here. Pick the earliest slot lah. Haha. Honestly, if the 7.40 am slot were still available, I would go for it. Unfortunately, I had to go for the second slot at 8.20 am, which is still considered early but umm, I hate waiting. And tak suka lambat- lambat. Haha. Early bird catches worms, remember? :)
- Your visa will be approved within two- three days if you passed the interview.
- If you failed, then you need to start all over again. (Pay visa fee, fill in DS160 form...)
- If you want to know about my interview experience at US Embassy, click here.

Thanks for reading. Hope it's going to benefit you guys, insyaAllah.

May Allah (God) bless.

Regards,
MizaFirzana B. 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

PETRONAS Young Stars Day 2013 + Scholars Sports Day Part 1

Salam and hello people!

This is one of the posts that I have kept as drafts for quite a long time. I just didn't feel like writing for quite some time. Hmm.

Around end of March this year, Petronas officer sent us an email asking if any of us would like to volunteer for the Young Stars Day, which would be held at my university, Taylor's University for two days on 13-14 April 2013. Actually, we had had heard about the rumor that the venue for Petronas scholarship interview was changed from Universiti Teknology Petronas, Tronoh (UTP) to Taylor's University since December last year, but everything was unsure and ambiguous. Now that the venue was definite, I jumped happily because I simply knew how much fun it would be! :")

A lot of people thought it was very unusual for Petronas to organize the interview in Taylor's Uni since UTP is a subsidiary of Petronas company. So why would they use any other university instead of their own? We kinda discussed it among us and came up with a few OPINIONS:
- UTP is very far for people living in the southern region (eg. Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka) while Taylor's Uni is in the central region (Selangor state) which is much easier for people coming from East Malaysia too since public transportation is widely available here.
- Cheaper, maybe they wanted to cut their budget as the selection process held in Taylor's was only a one-day program. Thus, they didn't have to provide accommodation and extra meals to the candidates, like they used to do back at UTP.

I gave it a thought for a second and figured out that I wouldn't have anything better to do on that day. So I quickly clicked "reply" tab and informed him that I would be free on those days and would be more than happy to lend a hand to help them. But, after a few days, Safura, one of my totally awesome housemates, reminded me to go practice my kicking skills for futsal competition as the Scholars Sports Day was just around the corner. I still remember the ugly expression (haha) I gave her when she told me that the Sports Day was on 12-13 April and my futsal tournament would be on the April 12th! Exactly that night, at 8 o'clock, I was to attend a briefing meeting organized by Petronas as they were going to explain our roles and responsibilities, what we were supposed to do and stuff. But then I decided to go for futsal and asked Manju to inform them about my clash schedule. 

Wearing jeans instead of tracksuit to play futsal on Thursday.
Lika a boss yawww.
This was the time I got that blister.

I didn't actually play much during the actual futsal match, I was having a freaking big blister directly under the ball of my right foot - my dominant foot! Ouch. At first, I thought there were small rocks inside my shoes 'coz it felt so disturbing. It was actually that irritating sensation you get when a patch of your skin is peeled off. So, during the match, I didn't kick good enough because it hurt so much. Not sure if I was being to childish or what, but the last thing I would do is to hurt myself even more. And I love my feet so much, it's an asset (LOL!) and I perfectly knew that wounds on my skin would take a very looongg time to heal [maybe because I don't eat veggies at all so I'm lacking all the vitamins and minerals needed to help fasten up the healing process]. Basically, I got this blister when I was practicing futsal with my fellow teammates at my university's futsal court the day before the competition. It sucks, I tell you. 
This picture comes quite close to my actual blister, I googled this on internet though. 
P/s: Sorry if it makes you lose your appetite. Ahahah! :P

Credits: Blister
So futsal was quite fun. Scholars from all different programs currently studying in Taylor's Uni gathered together, cheering for our own programs [and our friends]. Just for the records, there were scholars from American Degree Programme (ADP), South Australia Matriculation (SAM/AUSMAT), Canadian Pre-U (CPU), Cambridge A-Level (CAL), Foundation in Science (FIS) and Undergraduate (UG).
Our first match was against CPU, and we won it!
Second match was against CAL, and we won it too! Alhamdulillah. Err, I'm not sure if we had played against FIS or not. Well, I think we did.. 
So, we basically were qualified to enter the semi-final as we had won the matches against the teams in GROUP A. We took photos, did our funny cheers (ADP official cheers was about POJOK, how funny was that? Will tell about POJOK soon.)

Banner for the Sports Day,
and that's a friend of mine doing A-Level now, Hidayah.

My lovely roommate back in Casa Subang, Kak Mahfuzah.
Another cool housemate!

We were playing against CPU.
Yep, we won!
That's me (two from right), ready to kick. LOL!

The Undergraduate (UG) Family.
I think it's the second biggest family after the A-Level.

As our next match wouldn't be around until tomorrow's afternoon, I rushed to the Grand Hall to attend the briefing meeting. By the time I reached the Grand Hall, it was already empty. Lights had been switched off, needless to say, the door had been locked too. I called Manju and she said that they were now doing a tour around the campus, specifically at Block E just to get Petronas staffs and volunteers from other colleges familiarized with the buildings which have four blocks joined together by short bridges on the seventh floor. Again, I had to run all the way from Grand Hall to Block E. How I wished I had a geared wheelchair at that time! I think I was there just for the sake of courtesy and showing up, for I had agreed to give my full commitment. I mean, I already know the place - I know which stairs to take, where's the ladies toilet, which lift not to take (because it is as slow as a snail's pace, I tell you) and whatnot.

We finished the tour around 11.10 pm, we didn't bring our bags and clothes because Petronas initially only provided hotel rooms for volunteers from other colleges (Sunway College, KYUEM, KTJ and others). So, we didn't bother to bring our bags with us on Friday. After all, buses to Casa Subang (our hostel) at 11 pm were provided for scholars involved with the Sports Day. It turned out that Petronas had already booked the hotel room for us. Sob sob sob. That was when we felt like screaming. Hahaha. We wanted to stay at the hotel!! :P

End of the first day story!

ADP and FIS teams!
We support each other!

I'mma stop now knowing that this is already a lengthy post. So, the story will be continued in Part II!
*****************************************************************************
Cheers,
Miza.