Dec 15, 2009

Program Knowing ASEAN+3, Tokyo-Yokohama 2009 (PART 1)

I was called to our Centre Chairman’s room a few months before to help the students finding funds for this project. The project, Knowing ASEAN, is a program where students travel to ASEAN countries to establish network and learn more about the country they visited. This year, they are extending it to Japan, so that is why it is called Knowing ASEAN+3 (+3 is Japan, Korea and Taiwan). And when it comes to Japan, there is none other in the centre but me ;).

This program was realized last week, after rigorous efforts made by the students (and me, lol). Finding fund was so difficult in this time of economic crisis, so besides cutting the itinerary short, I have asked Matsuzaka-san, one of my good friends in Fukuoka, to introduce me to someone in Hatobus (he worked in the company before). So he introduced me to Yoneda-san whom later I realized is one of the managing directors of the company. Yoneda-san really listened to our needs, and even gave us some discounts on the whole charges. Matsuzaka-san told me that Yoneda-san arranged everything on his own-which task he can always handover to his staff.

So, there we were, on a plane to Narita, on 6th Dec, 2009. For many of the students, it was their first trip overseas-and of course, their first flight. For me, it was a homecoming, although I only spent 3 months of my total stay in Japan in Tokyo.

We arrived at about 7.30am in Narita, but the immigration queue was so long we finally got out at about 8.30am. After buying Tokyo Metro Pass which is cheaper for Narita users (Yen710 --> Yen600) and rented Japan sim card for 105yen perday (which is much cheaper compared to roaming), we took off to Tokyo Keizai University(TKU) by Hatobus. We were very fortunate because the weather was very clear we could see Mt Fuji from afar.  We finally arrived at TKU at 11:20am due to the traffic jam. Prof. Tajima and his colleagues welcomed us with a speech and a lecture on SUICA-how it helps in retaining customers. Then we went on a campus tour and lunch with the Japanese students. There was an “ikemen” in the group and I saw how interested the girls were on him ;). Finally, we moved on the next destination, ASEAN-Japan Center. Like others, I was so tired but the topic presented during this visit was very interesting to me because it was quite related to my phd research proposal theme. Obviously, most questions during the session came from me. Oh, I just wished I had more time there. The session ended at about 5pm and as we went out of the building we saw Tokyo Tower standing proudly not far from us. Apalagi, keluarlah semua jenis kamera!
Finally (nilah baru final), we arrived at Ginza Capital Hotel for check-in. The room was small, as expected, but for me, ok aje. Sangat letih, but I wanted to wait for SMAPxSMAP at 10pm. Meanwhile, as usual, there was Hey3x and on that day it was ARASHI special. At 9, I could not bear it anymore so I thought of getting a nap for an hour before 10. Bangun-bangun aje dah 1am…Missed SMAPxSMAP..GERAM!!!   

Oct 22, 2009

Majlis Perjumpaan Maahad Muar OB/OG 2009- A lesson to learn

Kenapa Maahad Muar? Bukan takde kena-mengena ke?
Heheh..well, I was a Sharodzian & SMAPKian, but my husband was a Maahadian (mls nak tulis pjg2) before he became a SMAPKian.It happened that my sister-in-law and her husband were also former students of this school.

So, last weekend all of us + the kids went to this event held at the school. I have been here once before, on a debate competition.

Not many people came, because there was another gathering by one batch of ex-students yesterday. However, what I noticed was that those yang dulu nakal-nakal are now heading the committee. In spite of carrying a title of 'bekas pelajar sekolah agama', they were all gila-gila, and the meeting was alive, but they still buat this one tradition (xtau namanya) they usually do in Maahad.
And without them knowing, I quietly sit at the back of the hall, jotting down a few things & ideas brought forward by the committee & members of the floor.

Last week or so, Cikgu Shimah, my teacher in SMAPK asked me to revive our alumni. There are so many things I would like to contribute to the school, but it happened that after the initial meetings, nearly all of the committee members went overseas to further their studies. And next year, who knows I would not be here to help them?

I think it is time to let the energetic youngsters to take over. We have been wasting a lot of time doing nothing while we are actually capable of helping not only our brothers and sisters in school- the alumni should also look after the kebajikan (tak terlintas pulak english wordnya) of the teachers. And I believe, each batch has their own strong connection - they must be meeting elsewhere, informally - well, at least through facebook.

I guess one good time to do a gathering, informal pun takpe, (potluck pun ok ape-kita datang bukan utk mkn), is during the university students' semester break after the final exams which is around the corner -definitely after SPM (around 16/12-20/12 ke). Yang penting, we get to know new friends and meet our old friends & teachers AND serah kuasa kepada yang muda.

As for the database I keep from the first meeting, it is still with me. Softcopy I am not sure where, tapi hardcopy ada lagi.


Oh ya, kawan2ku of Sharodz, this idea applies to all of us too. Selalu lalu kat tepi bukit dok tgk jela ke atas. Rindu pulak nak menjenguk masuk!

p/s We were served with nasi lemak before meeting and nasi beriyani after the meeting. Semua termasuk kuih-muihnya sangat sedap. Taukehnya warden Maahad sekarang and dia cerita nasi beriyani & kuih2 nya dapat tempahan dari Sultan Johor!

Sep 1, 2009

Prof Shutto and the gang at my house!

The most awaited day finally arrived.
Last Saturday, I received a visit by my supervisor when I was in QBS, Prof. Shutto to my parents house in Melaka. He came with 2 of my seniors from the same course, Nagano-san and Kashiwagi-san. They have been planning for this trip since a month ago.

I booked them straits view rooms at Holiday Inn Melaka and reserved a car with driver from my uncle's. It happened that my aunt who was the driver that day, but we didn't tell our guests about that because we wanted to keep it professional :p

They departed at 10am from Ritz Carlton KL to Melaka, as planned, and arrived at about 11:45am. My aunt brought them to a curry house for lunch and searched for stalls selling durians (upon their request) but could not find one. I went there at about 2pm and we quickly went on a short course around Banda Hilir.

Firstly, we went on a riverboat cruise along Sungai Melaka. Basically I would recommend a night cruise because it would be hot during the day, plus you won't be able to watch the beautiful illuminations only available at night. Anyway, kudos to the guide, Mr Bernard whose explanation on the historical buildings was very comprehensive and interesting.

Then we went to a nearby spa, which I recommended them to try fish spa. First time, so they were quite excited. Yang kelakarnya, the spa is surrounded by glass walls so people outside the spa can see us with our kaki dikerumuni oleh ikan-ikan tu..heheh.

Later we took a beca ride to A Famosa. Kesian pakcik yang kayuh beca Prof & Kashiwagi-san, dahle inclined road, pakcik tu tak larat terus turun and tolak beca tu.

After A Famosa, we went to the Independence Memorial Building. I told Prof that there was a painting that really touched my heart: people in UMNO general meeting giving away whatever they have-money, jewelleries they wear and put it on a big white cloth tied to the piles of the building- to support Tunku Abd Rahman expenses to London in his quest for the country's independence. We went in and searched for the painting while learning about other things/events leading to 31/8/1957. I was surprised to learn that these guys do not know about the duit daun pisang (or the Japanese notes in Malaya during occupation). Prof also revealed that he was in Indonesia, as an expatriate in 1970s and know very much about Soeharto and Sukarno.

5.30pm, I brought them to Pasar ramadan Telok Mas. Thought of Pasar Ramadan Taman Cempaka, but I am afraid if any one would get lost in the midst of the crowd, it would be hard to find them. It was quite an experience to them..Yang kelakarnya, everybody noticed that they are foreigners. Twice they got free kuih just by watching it being prepared..heheh. I met my class teacher, Puan Hamidah - which was a big surprise because we both are working in UKM but never stumble upon each other.
Nearly 7, we reached home. Finally Prof got to see Nani, but she didn't remember him! Then we buka puasa together with chicken rice (mak buat), some kuihs and fruits like durian, duku and langsat. I hope they enjoyed the meal.

Later, at about 9, we went to Tesco. It was quite crowded. Seemed like a new experience for them because shops in Japan close after dark. Did some shopping, we went to Secret Recipe for coffee. Prof ordered a durian cheese cake-not for him but for the other two to 'taste' for him because he was already full!.
At about 10, we sent them to the hotel and headed home.
Next day, we went to Holiday Inn again to say goodbye and pass some souvenirs for them. Prof promised me invitations to AdAsia09 ( -yess!!
Hopefully I would be able to visit them in Tokyo this December on a project with UKM students.
And I hope they would come to Malaysia again some time.

Aug 25, 2009

Ramadhan - my favorite month

It's Ramadhan again! I was a little anxious about how the fasting month in Malaysia would be after 3 years experiencing it in Japan. Would it be hot? Would I be eating more than I should?

The 4th day now, and alhamdulillah, the weather is not too hot, rainy at night, breezy during the day. I had a terrible sorethroat since the last few days so I didn't (couldn't!) eat much.

The first day was in Melaka, had an all-red (chilli-based) break-fast. Appetite was happy but the throat suffer. Second day, we break-fast in Muar and again..all hot and spicy. A painful headache started to develop on this day and it is a good sign, my body is fighting the toxic accumulations and perhaps trying to get rid of them.

Today I feel lighter and happier- no more headaches, relieved sorethroats..

Some quran readings at work also make things work out.

By the end of the month, I expect a healthier me (physically and spiritually) with a reduction of 2-3kgs of body weight.

Aug 14, 2009

To go or not to go..

An e-mail came from Japan yesterday saying,

"Dear md yusof shazlinda,
I will take you, md yusof shazlinda, as a Ph.D. candidate of Graduate School of Technology Management, XXXX University starting in the spring semester of 2010 with a condition that you will take the entrance examination held on Feb. 13, 2010 in Japan."

I am half-way through my PhD application!
It is unlikely that I would not pass the entrance exams if the prof has already agreed to accept me to be my supervisor -- well, that is what he said..

But, the question is, am I prepared to do a longer journey than my MBA away from my family-again?

Lubang sudah dikorek, nak masuk atau tidak aje...

Oh well, Istikharah is always the best way to solve. But for now, I do not have another choice yet to do that!

Time will tell, and for the time being, I want to enjoy a Japanese lunch today with Prof Miki Toshio from Sapporo Gakuin Univ who is in UKM on a sabbatical leave.

Nak pegi kemas-kemas kereta sikit...

Jul 25, 2009

Missing Japan...

My husband brought back a Toyota Wish from Japan last year. It happened that my workplace is outside Nilai, so he let me drive his car everyday except Fridays. The car is so comfortable for the driver and the passengers, but the radio can only catch frequencies of 90MHz and below. Meaning, I can only listen to, radio IKIM, and some minor stations while driving.

Whenever the programme is boring, I would switch on the CD. I don't have a lot of CD collections so I would turn to the self-made J-pop collection CD I have always listened to in this particular car when I was in Japan.

Every time the songs are heard, I felt as if I was driving the roads of Kitahara towards either Furukawa or Naruko. The winding roads and crystal clear rivers of Naruko, the paddy fields along the way, the bakery we have always visited during the weekends...everything comes out at each and everyone of the song I heard.

I can never forget the sereneness of country living in Japan. I am always thankful to my chemistry lecturer when I was in Japanese Matriculation Center (JMC), Mr. Fukunaga, who insisted my to choose Kyushu Univ.(Fukuoka) over Waseda Univ (Tokyo). His reason was that my personality fits 'kampung' life. And he was correct!

Tourists may aim big cities like Tokyo or Osaka but for me they mean less compared to the breathtaking sceneries of the countryside.

And I am really missing them, I do.

Jul 4, 2009

Maid or No Maid

The only free-and-easy life I had was the 6 months after graduating my MBA; that was when I moved to Kitahara to join my husband and the 6 months after returning from Japan. Now, I have a permanent job with 2 businesses and soon I will also be a student again.

No matter how busy I am/was, I have never hired a maid. And I will not, if Allah permits.

However, the risks are

1) We have to eat out when I do not have time to cook.
2) My house looks like a .... urgghhh..can never mention..
3) We have to rush home to fetch the kids and consequently bring work home.

BUT.. I can never tolerate our privacy with a convenience of having a stay-in helper at home.

I am extra tired - like today, getting up at 2am and still awake at 6am with a 4-rounds of laundry, cleaning up the kitchen and ironing the clothes - (but still have time to update the blog!)

Later today I will have to go to Melaka, to attend the students and appointments with clients. Visiting my in-law who is admitted to the hospital in Batu Pahat is also something I have in mind of doing (just wish there is more than 24hrs in a day!)

Having heard of so many uncomfortable stories about maids these days, I am already a maid-phobia even before hiring one. So much so that I am willing to sacrifice my 9-5 job if I cannot take this load anymore!

Business is Jihad

I always admire 2 figures in Malaysian business circle; Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhari and Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim. I've read a lot about TSSMAB but have never seen him speaking in media. He has always keep himself low (which I really like about him).

Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim, on the other hand, is now actively giving talks - his first I saw on TV attracted so much of my attention I realized he is a person with an exceptional aura. And his words - business is jihad - is something I can't agree more.

Owning a business now, I am feeling and tasting the "business is all about a jihad to the community and not all about money" statement. Many people might think jihad is when you are in a field of war, but fighting to survive a business is a battle itself. A good business practice is when you give back to the community and this will only take place when you have well-founded principles.

I was a practising engineer so, I felt the need to practice what I gained from my MBA. Everyday is exciting because every step I would make in maneuvering this business will connect me to the related bits I have learnt from the classroom and my work experience. It is like なるほど。。all the time. Oh needless to say, life in Japan had taught me a lot about managing an ideal business in the eyes of the customers.

I definitely do not know what will happen in the future but I hope as long as this thing is running, I will try to do everything in my power to contribute by providing the best service at an affordable rate. It is an open innovation; I always ask my clients what I can do to help them. And as this business takes off, I will execute the thing I have in mind to return to the community, insya-Allah. Business is jihad, anyway.

More on business jihad, go to

Jun 27, 2009

MJ's gone

A lot of people are talking about the news now, I believe- even my husband yang xdengar muzik tu..

I was shocked when I heard the news on MHI. I remembered the first time I saw MJ on TV was when I was in Grade 2, masa belajar kat SRK Convent Infant Jesus(1) Melaka. Masa tu kalau xsilap xde kelas or cikgu xdatang or something, so kami dibawa ke bilik tv, and tgk MTV ranking. Terpegun tgk MJ singing Beat It and Billy Jean.

Later I bought his album yang ada lagu Man in the Mirror. I would read the lyrics all over again, sing along over and over again..and I think that contributed to my English (yg tak seberapa ni).

Every now and then I would follow his updates, tapi sedih juga rasanya bila his life ended like this.

I guess legendaries end this way most of the time...

Takpelah, life goes on..kita ni pulak macam mana agaknya...

Jun 5, 2009

Here, knowledge is free

What I like the most about working here in UKM, apart from the flexibility, is the availability of knowledge for free.

I can ask publishers to send books to me at no cost as long as they are in line with my field/interest, and attend trainings arranged in-house or outside as I wish (and this happens almost all the time)

I have recently registered for a training on repairing printers. I have one unused printer at home because something went wrong but I don't know how to fix it. When I saw the ad in UKM's website, I thought it would be great if I can do it myself-what's more-its FOC!
A training on e-learning which I attended 2 weeks ago was also very helpful, not only for the class I am going to teach inside UKM, but also for those outside. If I have time, I can develop e-content for online learning-utilizing what I have learnt from the training.

As an educator, we also have the priviledge to request for readings not available in univ's library. Just ask online and they will get it for you.

So everyday, quietly in my room, I would devote myself to the ritual of reading--of course playing around with the internet when I get bored--and I can't tell you how fulfilling it is.

Nevertheless, I still hate deadlines but considering all the other 'blessings', it is absolutely fine for me.

It is not the money. It is when the knowledge is free, I am happy.

Somebody is watching me

There is an awkward feeling about writing this blog.
I feel like somebody is watching me, secretly. Somebody I know.
Blogging means exposing myself to the world, and that is well-understood.
But when it comes to --how come you suddenly know ah?- thing, my curiosity antenna grows longer.

Oh, anyway, as long as it is not detrimental, what a heck. Dozo, bacalah! ;)

May 13, 2009

A taxing week

I have been terribly busy for the past 2 weeks.
Pergi balik Melaka, making calls, business meetings...
Inilah rasanya bila nak set up business..

For all these while, sedar tak sedar I have actually underwent portions of my life with big events (to me laa..)
Zaman kanak2 dulu tu malas nak cerita, starting from 20~24 years of age, my first experience in Japan, went backpacking to several countries in Europe. 25~30, working in a Japanese company -- where I learnt the practical things as an engineer and administrator. 30~ 35 (I guess), masters & phd and setting up a company for my family.

I see all these sebagai satu cabaran yang perlu dihadapi.
I remembered when I was at the lowest point masa buat masters dulu.
I thought to myself that that point will pass..and there will always be a silver lining..
So it did...alhamdulillah.

This business thingy, is really taxing, financial and energy wise.
Sampai dah 4 hari rasa xberapa sihat.

Anyway, I will try my best to finally see that silver lining.

Apr 8, 2009

I am now "officially" at work

Today marks my 1st week being a UKM staff.
Owning an individual room, more flexible working hours are 2 new experiences for me...or should I say the first 2 culture shocks in my history of
Since I entered in the middle of the semester, I won't be teaching any subject.
What I have to do is get prepared for my PhD; complete the basic requirements -SLAB course & BTN and get a place + scholarship to study.

Luckily my ex-classmate in Sharodz is here so I'm always accompanied during lunch time. Oh, there are another 2 who reported on the same day, so we keep one another informed of what to do and what not.

I am going to miss doing trainings..had to decline 2 offers this month-just hoping that I won't regret it.

Feb 27, 2009

Establishing Asia-Pacific Children Convention (APCC) Bridge Club Malaysia

In 1998, when I was studying for my degree course in Kyushu Univ 3rd year, I decided to participate as a volunteer in Asia-Pacific Children Convention in Fukuoka during the summer holidays. This huge event is organized since 1988 by an NGO in Fukuoka, now known as APCC to promote peace and international ties between Japan and participating countries.

Every year APCC invites children all over Asia-Pacific countries to Fukuoka. During their 2-week stay, they will experience homestay at typical Japanese homes, and participate in various activities arranged for them. Usually there will be 10 participants from each country, 8 selected school children, 1 PA (Peace Ambassador) and 1 chaperon. That makes up about 400 participants in total. As this international event requires a lot of communication in English/ various languages, anybody can join as a volunteer in documentation, and on field. That was where I came in. I participated in this event as a volunteer to help Malaysian delegates communicate, along with a junior student from Malaysia, Adie, who was assigned to help children from Tuvalu.

You can check the details of this event at

This was one of the most precious experiences I had in Fukuoka. I got to know people from various countries, esp from those we rarely hear about like Tuvalu and Bhutan. I got Matsuoka's (a top Japanese tennis player at the time) sign my yellow "We are the bridge" t-shirt which kept until last year (that was 10 years). The delegates, homestay families and volunteers were so cheerful and friendly which made saying goodbye to them was so painful to me.

And all those memories come back to life when one of the boys contacted me through facebook recently. Man, they still remember me? Unbelievable! They were 11 years old when I first met them, sekarang dah besar panjang! Syahmi, Zahirah, Sharifah were those I met at the meeting.

That brought me to the meeting between APCC representative from Fukuoka, former APCC participants with officers at Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia and later with Embassy of Japan. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss matters pertaining APCC like sponsorship etc, but most importantly about the establishment of Bridge Club Malaysia. Bridge Club is an alumni for those participated in APCC, and their job is to promote APCC by making activities and social work in their country. Sri Lanka,Indonesia and Thai BCs are already active but Malaysia has yet to start any.

Now it is time for these kids to make their first move, and I think it is my responsibility to help them in any way I can. The establishment of Malaysia's BC will help promote the ties between 2 countries thus realize the motto of APCC, "We are the Bridge".


Feb 26, 2009

Hey guys, I'm through!

On this day, last week, just after I finished the interview session at MDeC, I've got the awaited call from UKM.

And..I am through! Alhamdulillah. They are offering me a lecturer position at the Faculty of Economics & Business. It is actually a breakthrough because never have they selected someone from engineering background for this position.

The unofficial letter of offer from the faculty arrived last Saturday. Until this day, I am still holding from replying the letter. I am waiting the response from MDeC, which environment I have started to fall for from my observation during the last 2 interviews.

We'll see what happens.

Feb 9, 2009

Me returning to Japan soon ?

I don't want to talk about it, actually, but many on facebook who know me already knew so it is not a secret anymore.

I went to UKM (英名:National University of Malaysia) last week for a lecturer position interview. This position is at Faculty of Economics and Business and there were 5 applicants including me.

I was the third person into the interview room. The first two spent half an hour in the room but me...1 hour! Both of them were told to be prepared to be sent to the US for Phd.

The first thing the panels asked me was.."How to say 'good morning' in Japanese?"..
Then one of them asked me to speak some Japanese about myself.

Then the topic moved on to the economics situation in Japan and my personal opinion about it.
When I said that it is unlikely that Japan's economic will recover very soon because of the weakness in the leadership which resulted to lack of trust in politics, they kept on asking me more and more about it.

Then they say that if I am offered this position, I will be sent to Japan for a 3-year doctorate course.
Now, how fast can I go and to which university?
Man..that's a tough question...I just came back and my children are still trying to adjust themselves to the new environment.. but I am desperate to get this position.

Definitely they will not send me to Kyushu Univ. where I graduated my first and master degree. So I said," I don't mind any place but just don't send me to Hokkaido." :)

The first half of the interview gave the impression that they liked me and I am likely to get the position. However, the second part went sour because one of the panels questioned my credibility in teaching because I am from an engineering background. I tried my best to convince them that I have the hands-on experience and that I can share my expertise about Japanese business culture so I hope at least the dean believes in me.

In the end, they asked me to convert my undergrad results to CGPA because in Japan we are graded in A, B, C (A:80%~100%, B=70%~79%,C=60%~69%) and send to them to check if I am eligible for SLAB ( a postgrad scholarship scheme to upgrade bumiputra lecturers in gov. universities).

I left the interview room sceptical about the results I will receive in 2 weeks time.
If I get the position, I will have to return to Japan as soon as mid of this year.
Cepat betul!

So, till the week after next, I won't be having a peaceful sleep.

Jan 21, 2009

To Japan Again-Putting All Hopes on AirAsia X

Tomorrow my husband will be going to Japan to sit for Ginou Kentei Shiken. It is a national examination to test engineers on the field they specialize in. That means my husband will be returning to Kitahara, in Furukawa where we lived before. I really wanted to join him but the skyrocketing Japanese yen value has made me keep that to myself.

Perhap it is too early for me to return to Japan.

Last week, I read on the newspaper that AirAsia X is flying to Japan by end of this year after the relaxation of visa requirement to enter Japan for Malaysians. To 3 places-Hokkaido, Osaka and Fukuoka. Actually AirAsia X has been eyeing to penetrate Japan market since 2 years ago, when I was still in Japan.

Since their main target was to bring Malaysians to Japan and not really vice versa, the strict visa requirement has made the plan postponed.

Now that Tokyo has relaxed the requirement, thanks to the strong negotiation by AirAsia X, I really hope they can start flying soon, because I will be the person taking the first flight to Fukuoka!

To my husband, good luck on bringing the durians to its fans in Furukawa and of course...the exam!

Jan 3, 2009

Sayonara Nishimura-san

23rd of Dec, 2008 was the day Nishimura-san, my ex-boss had to leave Malaysia and return to Japan for good.

I felt sad because he has been very nice to me, motivated me and even wrote a recommendation letter for me when I wanted to pursue my master's degree in Japan-which means I had to quit the job.

Having lived in Malaysia for about 8 years, he told me KL is his second home, and will come back to retire in Malaysia if condition permits.

Hopefully we will see you again, Nishimura-san. Remember us everytime you see the Royal Selangor vase.

And thank you very much for your kindness and guidance all these while.