At school I had something of a split decision to make. I liked maths, I was good at it, and on top of that both of my parents were quantity surveyors; so it seemed like the natural route to take. Problem was, I also loved art. After a lot of back and forth I discovered architecture.
At the time the closest foundation course to architecture that I could find in Malaysia was an art and design course. It wasn’t the ideal start, but I figured that learning skills like hand drawing and model making would come in handy down the road. Besides, aesthetics is so important to contemporary architecture – how a building looks and feels – and so indulging my artist side couldn’t hurt.
The mix of art and maths, the creative and the practical, was a perfect match for me.
Despite being from Malaysia, studying in the UK is something of a tradition in my family. Both my parents went to university here and my sisters were already studying at University of Portsmouth. I remember the Summer after their first year, they came home and were full of stories about the city. And after seeing how respected the university’s architecture course was, I was ready to pack my bags.
When I first arrived I was so jet lagged, I remember feeling quite bewildered. Thankfully that feeling didn’t last long as the university arranged orientation events where I got to meet loads of students who were in the same boat as me. Soon I made friends and started to settle in.
Studying a proper architecture course has helped me realise my own aesthetic. I like buildings with curves, that feel natural and organic, and while that’s not the easiest style to adopt, it feels good when lecturers recognise your hard work. Of course there have been some challenges along the way too.
After three years in Portsmouth, I graduated and was very fortunate to be offered a job in the UK. I am so glad I challenged myself and came here. I am now living my dream of working internationally. I am actually looking at returning to Portsmouth to study for my Master’s. If there’s something you want to achieve then getting out of your comfort zone is inevitable – you should embrace it. One day you’ll look back and see how much you achieved, even if you never saw it at the time.