Awarded a scholarship by Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) gives a whole lot of difference to the life of Iqbal Firdaus, 23; from a perky kid struggling through High School Certificate to a young man struggling to get a scroll to be proudly called an Economics graduate from the University College of London, United Kingdom.
Negeri Sembilan born Iqbal who get straight As in Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR), Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and A-levels says that success never come easy, one has to work smart and work hard. Another advice he gave is to never missed your prayers, always think of your parents before doing something and always respect your parents for they are the reason why you are where you are today.
“There is no secret to success, only hard work.” Says Iqbal. If life is not challenging enough for him there, he even work 20 hours a week in a cafe 45 minutes away from where he live. He usually is in charge in the kitchen specifically in the sandwich preparation area but sometimes he is the cashier in charge.
“I’m doing a part time job here in London in the early morning. I leave home as early as 3.15am to catch the earliest bus to my workplace which is about 45 minutes away and I leave my workplace around 8 or 9am and get to my class after that.” Says Iqbal when asked to describe his daily life there.
“I usually finish my class around 3pm and I go straight back home to cook for dinner. I’ll do my study after dinner and I sleep around 9pm. I have to sleep early because I start my day as early as 3 in the morning. The routine is pretty much the same throughout weekdays. However, I don’t have any class and work during weekends so I always take the opportunity to either rest or catch up with my friends or just stay home doing my school stuff. ” Says Iqbal further.
Iqbal Firdaus bin Nor Afandi who is fluent in Mandarin uses the money he get from the part time job to pay for his travels. He has been to a few nice cities and countries in the Europe but his most recent out of country visit is Ibiza which is an island in Meditarranean Sea off east coast of Spain. Spain to him is a majestic and wonderful country that he deemed he always has to come back every year. Even if it is not the holiday season, Iqbal has always gone back and forth from London to Bath, Nottingham, Manchester or Leeds to catch up with his friends from college.
Sijil Penilaian Malaysia (SPM) top scorer Iqbal is not only good in studying, he is also good in sports. He starts to play basketball since 8 years old and since then he fell in love with it and he cannot imagine a day without playing it. His biggest achievement in that area is he was chosen to represent the states to compete in a competition along with a line of famous players from all over Malaysia and he was rewarded the Most Valuable Player in one of the games representing Kolej Yayasan UEM, Lembah Beringin.
He was offered a few top universities in the United Kingdom, namely University of Warwick, University College of London and Imperial College London but he choose University College of London (UCL) out of all because only UCL offered him the course that he wanted and most of all, UCL is located in the heart of London.
Although Iqbal never think that he is smart, but he always knew that Allah has given him an extra brain in calculation. He is especially good in the mathematical area, he is always the top scorer for mathematics and additional mathematics when he was in Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah, Putrajaya. He always helps his friends and even his siblings with math. One of his friends who always either fail or get a D in mathematics had gotten an A+ in his SPM, same goes to his siblings who get A+ for mathematics and additional mathematics in SPM.
Apart from studying and working hard, Iqbal says that one thing he believed has helped him a lot in his study is playing music. He plays the piano since he was four and it meditates him in a way he could not explain. It calms him down, it brings out the best in him and it helps to boost his confidence level. He was also a concert leader for rhythm section and he was in charge to harmonize every sound and music together which is the third most important role after conductor and concertmaster (the leader for string section) in an orchestra. He plays the piano for his school, for a few concerts and a few orchestras which is very impressive. Apart from playing piano, he also self-learned playing guitar and clarinet throughout the years.
The last word from Iqbal before he left is always believe in yourself and always believe the power of hard work. He will strive his best to be a successful person and to be able to serve back to the country.
By Emira Farahnaz binti Nor Afandi