So, are you thinking of pursuing Master's?

So one of my life goals before turning 30 is finally becoming a reality (well, in the process.. I hope I don't jinx it).

I'm finally enrolling for a MSc program!

Sounds so simple, doing a Master's degree. Well, when you have a kid and a husband and a career and a household to run, it ain't that simple. (most of friends my age are having this same situation, too) I've always wanted to further my studies after graduating with a Bachelor's degree in chemical engineering back in 2011, but after 6 years of foundation + engineering school, I realized that..I cannot tahan.

So, MSc had to wait. Got a decent job, got busy working, got busy getting married, got pregnant, got a chubby little human being who demands my attention every single minute of the day..let's just say MSc had to take not the backseat, but the boot of my car.

And suddenly, this year, I feel the urge to do it. A lot of my colleagues are doing it, slowly but surely; and I was amazed at how they could juggle all things at once. Well, why not me then? I looked for opportunities - part-time, local universities (not really looking forward to be apart from my small family), anywhere that could take my research interest forward, provide the scholarship/sponsorship and anywhere close enough that I don't have to part from my family.

Then, the offer came.

Part of my research scope at the moment (working in a research field do have its perks) demanded for a scope to do in collaboration with Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Perak. And this year, the project (aka my project) finally kicked off - with a certain icing on the cake - a MSc program scope is included in the project!

Sounds like a dream come true. I finally understood God's plan - it was the perfect timing, the perfect chance - and it's all in God's hands. If I were to enroll last year, it would've been in the wrong place, wrong time (Rayyan was barely 1 year old) and I'd have to fork out my own money for the application or look for scholarships.

Speaking of scholarships, just wanted to share with you a bit on my background.

Foundation and Degree

After SPM, I applied for government fund scholarship under JPA (Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam) and PETRONAS scholarship. During my time, both are very well known among the high school leavers and the competition was very high - especially for those coming from SBP. PETRONAS takes students in two stages; the first stage, those who did very well in their SPM trial will get the offer letter to pursue a foundation course at UTP even before the actual SPM result was out. A few from my high school got the offer and they get to start their course immediately - which I envied.

I was not one of the selected ones -_-

Patiently, I waited for the result of my application for JPA. I applied for overseas intake, so I knew the competition was even stiffer and there was high chance that a lot of other straight As students applied for overseas, too. At the same time, I applied for UPU matriculation program just in case (because Mom won't leave me alone about it).

The offer for matriculation program came. Then, just a week before I was due to report for the matriculation, a call from JPA officer came. I received a scholarship to pursue my study in engineering by doing a foundation course at Universiti Malaya for 2 years, before pursuing my engineering degree in Japan for 4 years.

I know, right. WHY JAPAN? It's still a question left unanswered, for me. But I took the offer.

Started my new life at Ambang Asuhan Jepun, Universiti Malaya. Met great friends, made lifelong friendships with them, had a shitty time remembering hiragana and kanji, non-stop kanji test and at the same time, having physics, maths and chemistry classes (same classes the matriculation students attended). It was truly the hardest time for me.

3 weeks into the foundation, a call from PETRONAS came. My application for the second intake was successful; I received an offer to do a 1-year foundation at Kolej Mara Banting and 3-year degree in the United States.

Only that, they offered me a Geology course, instead of engineering.

Truth is, I could have accepted the offer if I wanted to. Geology is science, and I knew I'd be willing to learn as long as I could apply my science background. But the only thing keeping me from accepting the offer is because I couldn't quit what I've started. The offer came a little bit too late; I've started classes in UM, I've made great friends, I've grown accustomed to learning Japanese, I felt like engineering is what I'm meant to do. I learned that despite the tough tests, speaking Japanese is quite fun.

So I chose to reject the offer.

Endured 2 years of foundation in UM, took the Monbukagakusho exam (Japanese universities entrance exam, the same exam all students in Japan took to enroll in the university), passed and pursued my degree in chemical engineering in Hiroshima University. Got my degree scroll after 4 years, Alhamdulillah!

Met the love of my life there, too.

Point is, I certainly did not know how I managed to score those two scholarships; and I know time has changed from the last 10 years. But I've learned quite a thing or two; having straight As result isn't enough. Having a long list of co-curriculum activities isn't enough.

Interviews. That's where people could truly see you and whether or not you're suitable to be their scholar - you are, afterall, their ambassador to the world where you'd be representing them.

So, a friend of mine did this informative write-up on how to ace your interview. She recently received a Chevening scholarship to pursue her MSc in the UK; which I hate. Haha. But she's given talks about this, so go read her article here. You'd be thankful!


  1. Salam Nurul,
    Such nice words, I don't know what to say! Haha.
    But thank you, people like you make me realize why I've been blogging all these years. Please pray that I'd get my Master's scroll in time hehe.
    Hope you're doing well :) Take care too!

  2. Memang betul lah. God is the best planner. Kalau Zatil rushing nak ambil Master program last year, mesti ada banyak benda kena sacrifice. Yang datang ni memang just nice kena dengan situasi Zatil sekarang. Lebih stable. Alhamdulillah. Congrats Zatil. :)

    1. Alhamdulillah :) Don't congrats yet, I haven't officially enrolled! Hehe.
      Thank you Anon :)

  3. how could i miss this news?? haha! lama x baca blog la nih.. anyway, congratsss atil!! all the best with your Msc! i'm soo proud of u! :*

  4. Zatil,

    can you dedicate a blog post on how you manage your time (work,taking care of family, your daily routine). I really want to know how you manage your time juggling between work and family and still able to strive on both :)

  5. And despite that, look at where u are working now. Petronas!! Even after rejecting their scholarship..

    God knows best..



my brain dump.