ULMAA (University of Liverpool Malaysia Alumni Association)

The Pathway to Co-prosperity

Down the Memorable Penny Lane & Red Bricks Ashton Building

Down the Memorable Penny Lane & the red bricks Ashton Building

by Dr. Yan-Goh Ng

Before I decided to enroll at the University of Liverpool, it was a very difficult situation. I was already studying at the University of Malaya that started the term 5 months earlier. The last straw was when I found out the campus life at the University of Malaya was very fun but pressurizing. The seniors were everywhere to remind you that as an engineering undergraduate there would be no time for recreation and entertainment. This was confirmed by the large number of rooms in the residential colleges with the lights on even in the wee hours of the morning. The biggest challenge was to survive the knock-out system where a certain percentage of the undergraduates would not gain the grade to advance to the following year.

I had to make a choice amongst the universities I applied for in England. After a number of sleepless nights, I confirmed my place at the University of Liverpool. It was the industrial revolution, the great port city, as well as The Beatles that prompted me to ignore the other offers.

When I arrived at the Lime Street railway station, I was instantly being reminded that this was a historical city that had seen the better part of the world through the industrial revolution and the uncompromising labour unions. I managed to get a taxi to Rathbone Hall and got a room allocated. The interesting thing was that I was to live right across Penny Lane for my first year. The road sign somehow disappeared almost every weekend, for the very fact that the name of the road became famous because The Beatles sang about it. The Hall of Residence was well maintained and provided the home away from home setting for my university studies. It was very comforting that there were Malaysian and Hong Kong seniors and peers staying there as well, and they were almost always at the same dinner table.

On my first day to the University my senior was asking me whether I was going for First Class Honours degree, and without hesitation I confirmed my ambition because I had made the bold move to study away from home. He thought I was over confident or kind of a snob. Deep inside me I knew it was going to be challenging since I had no clue of what it would take to achieve a first class honours degree. However, that was a goal which provided me the motivation to work towards it.

During my first week at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, I was not too sure that was going to be my chosen career. I wondered to the Department of Engineering Science and Industrial Management at the red bricks Ashton Building to enquire if I was allowed to cross over and the head of department accepted my application. Being one of the pioneering students, it was a great learning experience for the department staff as well as the students being the first year of the programme.

My handicap was the communication skill in English although I can read and write pretty well. Being the only non-White, I knew that I had to work very hard on the conversational and communication skills. Since I was studying engineering management, we had to work in teams for various projects and that was good for me to improve my soft skills. I was also busy writing articles for the Malaysian Students’ Society to encourage the fellow country folks to socialize more, so as to become more rounded and balanced people.

I finished the first year as one of the top students in the continuous assessments as well as the examinations. As I gained confidence in the education system, I was able to balance my academic and social life well. After three long years, I managed to achieve the first class honours degree according to my initial goal. To a large extent, working towards the set goals is very important in life, because it allowed us to keep improving ourselves and learn from the mistakes along the way. Looking back I should conclude that the life at the University of Malaya was very examination-oriented and did not allow time for developing the social and soft skills freely. At the University of Liverpool, the lecturers played their part, but to become top students it was necessary to develop the passion for self learning and continuous improvement in order to excel.

The interesting thing was that when the results were published and I was walking along the famous Brownlow Hill, my friend was shouting across the road and asked whether I had failed my final year and staying on to repeat the course. I was proud to inform him the fact that I got my first class honours. The rest they said is history.

The best advice I can give to anyone striving for first class honours is to manage the time well for studies as well as social activities. It is necessary to synchronise mind, heart and soul to achieve optimum performance in life.



December 13, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment