Maybank Scholarship selection, stage 2

“The impossibility of something impossible happening is so possible that the impossible is literally impossible.” — Dreaming Human

From Fullmetal Alchemist:  Brotherhood, the character Greed has said that “Nothing is impossible.” As if in response to my immediate, obstinate ridicule, later on in the show Alphonse Elric reiterates this as well.

Alphonse Elric: “If there’s one thing I learnt, it’s that NOTHING’s impossible.” I suppose being a soul-boy bound to a 7-foot armor can influence your belief in the impossible somewhat.

In a admittedly not-so-rare case of anime reflecting real life, I just had my proof of the impossibility of impossibility (tee-hee, see what I did there? Turned this philosophy on its head, didn’t I?) on the 20th of April,Saturday, when Maybank called me up for the second stage of its scholarship selection.

“Wait, wait, isn’t this post a little outdated then?”  you say? Well, it is, but my busiest week ever was always destined to morph into my busiest month ever, and I think you’ll soon find the truth of that statement if the tight schedule doesn’t make quick work of me — 0r my blogging inclination (which honestly is more likely to fall prey to self-proclaimed exhaustion than I am) — first.

On that note, let’s return back to our regularly scheduled programming/blogging, shall we?

Before I so ingeniously interrupted myself, I was relating the incident in which what I thought was impossible actually happened, thus proving the FMA creators right and putting me (and most parents who consider anime a blasphemy) to shame.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the call I got from Maybank to undergo its second stage scholarship interview, of course.

There I was, enjoying the cool breezy wind outside my house when my twin far outdid  my mere contemplation of going out for a walk by barreling out of the door with the phone in her hand and the words “Maybank Scholarship” blazing on her handphone screen. My jaw dropped; I held my breath and definitely did not eavesdrop. Neither did I urge Shamine to ask about me, nor arrange that we’d be at least interviewed on the same day so that we twins could make the 45-minute trip to KL on the same day. Nope, I definitely did not do all that. ..Denial can be such a revealing mindset, don’t you think? Anyhow, after the date was set (for the next Tuesday..didn’t I say it was going to be a busy month?), my twinsister put the phone down, leaving us to do nothing but look at each other, right before we did something truly profound: We burst into giggles.

I suppose psychologists would term that phenomenon as “hysterics”. Laymen would probably call it “temporary loss of sanity.”I call it “giddy relief”, and before I continue to imitate a walking, talking (writing?)  thesaurus, let’s review some key facts to find out why yours truly is so relieved / hysterical / insane / all of the above at getting THE call from Maybank:

  1. I sent in the application form in February. Which, incidentally, was before this blog was even created.
  2. The call for Stage 1 of the scholarship selection process came somewhere in March. To future aspiring Maybank scholars reading this blog for tips (who’d better be newly-converted snarkees aspiring to follow this blog too, or shame on you for trying to get tips while giving nothing in return — “only joking!” to any cyber-police out there), Stage 1 of the Maybank scholarship is an online test that’s pretty simple in concept, in that it consists of two parts: the first a verbal reasoning test, the second a numerical reasoning test. Of course, it’s ‘simple’ in concept because it’s an absolute hell in questions, as these psychometric tests are meant to stress you out with the short time frame and mid-to-high level of complexity. Don’t get it yet? Making it simple: Little time + long-winded questions = you’re gonna feel like an idiot. Invariably, any NORMAL human being will find the test easy in some parts, hard in some parts..like I did (not that I was ever arrogant enough to claim myself normal, which strangely enough is normal thing for the other 6 billion people on this planet to claim NOT to be).There’s only two strategies for such tests: aim to answer as many as you can, or as correctly as you can. Every other scholar I’ve met have had to make such a decision, and if you know someone who didn’t and actually found the test easy, it’s probably because they’re a true-blue genius destined to be the next Einstein, in which case salutations to them, and by the way how do they plan to change the world? Personally, I went for accuracy over speed, since I dislike being proven wrong more than I dislike being proven that I’m a snail. (It has to be said that there’s something inherently wrong about the human race that we’d rather be inhuman than be incorrect, but that’s neither here nor there, I suppose.)
  3. Since then, it has been one week. Plus another three. Yes, it’s been a 4 weeks / ONE MONTH since I completed the aforementioned online assessment a.k.a Stage 1 of the Maybank scholarship selection process, and bearing in mind that some people in the forums of Lowyat and Recom have reported getting calls for the next stage (some early birds have even gotten on to the 3rd stage at this point, much to this disheartened snarker’s surprise), I had given up on procuring the scholarship. The weeks passed, I begun to get really busy and started contemplating the possibility that I was a deluded student of mediocre intelligence who hallucinated her possible brilliancy (note that at this point there was no one, or indeed no Dreaming Human available to tell me that it’s normal for the test to present a little bit of a challenge, so I was dragging my feet thinking everyone else found it easy. Which they didn’t right? Right?? Maybank scholars, past and present, answer me!!) In other words, I thought that it was impossible I’d have a further chance at the scholarship, since I appeared to not have passed the first stage even.If I did, I would have been called, and since I didn’t, well, let’s just say I thought it was impossible…and. Then.
  4. On a nice, windy day in April, the call for the second stage came. And impossible was once again proven impossible.

Upon checking my email afterwards, I found this:

"Never fear! The call for a scholarship is here!" Deluded saviors are enchanting.

“Never fear! The call for a scholarship is here!”
Deluded saviors are enchanting.

When you have the computer open and an email such as the above (the getting-called-for-an-interview part, I mean, not the deluded-hero-theme-cry part) arrives in your inbox, there’s only one thing to do: you search up “Maybank second stage scholarship”, obviously, since we kids these days are ever so cunning and technologically savvy.

And there you would find — wait for it — absolutely nothing. No accounts. No blog posts. A few users on the forums claiming they’ve gone through the second stage, but there’s nothing concrete or useful.

First-impulse move: Bang your head, repeatedly chanting “why”.

Next move: spend time getting scared and freaking out before the interview (Yeah, like you won’t be freaking out during and after it, is that right?)

WAIT.Why do you think I’m here?? Other than to dream and snark and write about that utterly random, nonsensical thing called life of course.

Next move if you’re Dreaming Human: spend time getting scared and freaking out before the interview, going for the interview and getting freaked out during and after it for good measure, then going home and writing a blog post about it. So yes, I’m writing this to fill you aspiring future Maybank scholars cum to-be snarkees / curious little cats with too much time on their hands and nothing better to do / loyal beloved followers of the DreamingHuman blog (pick whichever is relevant to you, dear reader) on the progression of the stage 2, also known as the interview stage.

And there’s really no other way to say it: It.Is. An. Interview. As I’m sure you can see from the picture of the email with the superhero complex above, my interview session began at 3 in the afternoon, which curiously coincided nicely with my twin’s. Since my morning was occupied, I came early, and sat at the seats provided (no really, Dreaming? What did everyone else do, stand at the seats provided?). Almost immediately, we were given 15 minutes to write an essay of about 250 words.

250 words? In 15 minutes? How do I not over-write? And before you think this is bragging, the topics are pretty easy. In fact, they’re probably the same, year in, year out, and this is not me calling the scholarship selection process unimaginative. Or indeed, un-innovative. After all, they’d better not change the selection process lest this post becomes irrelevant to the group of readers who are aspiring scholars, right?

So, 15 minutes and overarching the 250 words later, I sat down again and in an admirably calm manner promptly proceeded to freak myself out. I couldn’t be blamed either: there seemed to be two or three rooms in use for the interview sessions, and I looked set to go in the Jasper room — which happened to house the two interviewers (one male, one female) and a kid who must have been a really good comedian, judging from the way he was making them laugh so hard and so loud. I could hear them from where I was sitting, and the doors to all the room were closed. And when the kid came out, he strode straight to the counter and looked at his watch, then announced to the clerks,”Wow, I took one whole hour!”

Just my luck. Haven’t even started my interview, and already I was upstaged by a boy I knew nothing of. It would have been interesting to at least get to talk to him and find out what made the boy tick so strongly that he shone, or otherwise how he bluffed his shine, (remember who the Dreaming Human is as a human) but alas! It was not to be, because it was my turn next. And here, any attempt at Shakespeare’s sophistication will have to be abandoned in order to accurately portray what I was thinking at the time:

–eek eek eek eek ihopeidothiswell eek eek —

Curious fact #1: You never hear that the above is a good mindset for an interview, but you always hear that it’s in everyone’s mind before any interview.

And then, the two interviewers (whoops, their names escape me now) flipped through my original certificates, then asked the first question: “Tell us something about you that this file doesn’t tell us about you.”

Curious fact #2: When you’re at the initial stage of application for any scholarships, all they want to know is your achievements; any extras such as personal letters are discarded as trash (not that I’d know anything about that). When you’re at the next stage and you’re being interviewed, all they want to know is you, and your achievements are just a redundant aside for all they care.

Such are fickle human beings, I suppose. And yes, I know it can seem like the people interviewing you aren’t human beings but man-eating monsters / high-nosed aristocrats / whatever you find most intimidating, but they’re not, really —

— unless they’re trying to be. And that’s what happened during my interview: the two Maybank-ers questioning me affected an air of boredom right off from the start, as if they had used up their daily quota of laughter on the boy before me and had not an iota of it left. The man (Mr. Drawling, I call him, because he had a drawling voice) even answered the phone while I was talking, while the woman (Shifty Eyes) looked everywhere but at me for the first few minutes of my interview, which left me feeling awkward and made me wonder if there wasn’t an imaginary friend I couldn’t see standing in the room, or if I wasn’t one myself and didn’t know it.

Sounds disastrous? Imagine being the candidate sitting there, having to go through all that. The thing is, after the disaster that was my UEM interview, I was wiser to the methods of these strange, strange people we call interviewers, and I figured that maybe they were trying to test my mettle, so I kept my cool and answered the questions as best as I could. To aspiring scholars, I really think that what they ask you or indeed how they treat you will depend on as varying a factor as Luck, their mood or even what personality they decided to play that day, so really, all you can do is to not get rattled and keep your cool.

Not enough for you? Seriously, the interview epitomizes a conversation you might have with someone older — for example, mine’s resembled the conversation I might have with a particularly condescending aunt / uncle, or even heaven forbid a parent. In fact, Mr Drawling even mentioned that I was like his daughter at one point, the moment being when I was rattling off on the reason why I chose my course and what I plan to do with my life.(The first thing I wanted to say in reply: I have no idea; that’s why I’m off to university first. No, not really, and don’t follow this, kids.)

One question they asked me which I think any aspiring scholar applying to any scholarships would be asked at some point (or if nor by scholarship providers, by your university, your country or possibly your mom) is:

“How can you contribute to us?”

And no, saying the first thing that came to my mind (in an incredulous tone): “I’m gonna work for you, isn’t that enough?” is not a good idea.

Lo and behold, the strange world of scholarship selection. You’re required to be yourself, which you’ll often find isn’t the first thing you hide about yourself but seem to be (e.g. a smart-mouthed snarker).

One interesting thing to note that I think proved that the interviewers aren’t exactly who they portray themselves to be (that is, bored / mean / irritating / all) either: During her interview, my twin also had to deal with interviewers who were acting bored, who also picked up the phone in the middle of her answering a question. Keeping in mind this happened in a different room with different people at about the same time, it could be a genuine strategy of theirs to unnerve the applicants.

…Or it could be that they really were bored, and we both just performed well. For, a week or so later, the same day 4 corporate scholarships collided with my life, both my twin and I received a call inviting us to Stage 3 of the Maybank interview!!!

(insert trumpets and much fanfare)

Conclusion: The Maybank scholarship selection stage 1 is a verbal and numerical reasoning test. Stage 2 is an interview. Stage 3 — we’ve yet to find out, and for good reason.

No, not that, you sly, overfocused possible future Maybank scholars.

Rewritten conclusion: Alphonse Elric was right Never lose hope and think something’s impossible, because the impossible never is.

Despite all that, though, let’s see whether the above stands true when I finally try for the seemingly impossible challenge that takes the form of passing my JPJ driver’s test

The prelude to hell, a.k.a the start of the busiest week in my life

“..challenges give meaning to a life full of pursuit. ” — somewhere online

The week leading up to SPM is going to be the worst in your life, they said. You’ll be so unimaginably busy, SO very much stressed, they said.

Well, whoever said that can start eating their words with a fat helping of sauce, because I just finished lining up what will be the busiest week of my life–or at least one would hope it should be, for the sake of sparing everyone the terrible fate of losing their heads upon seeing it due to sheer incredulity.

Let’s take a look at my most recent schedule for the upcoming week, shall we?

…starting from today, Saturday…

Saturday, 13th April : My twin‘s Petronas Youngstar’s Day 2013 scholarship interview. Notice it’s my twin’s interview day, not mine, per se — since obviously, it would be too hard to interview a pair of twins on the same day to save the time and cost it would take their parents to attend the interview. Right, Petronas Sponsorship Unit?Right? 

If it’s my twin’s interview, why is it in my calendar, then, you ask? Elementary, my dear snarkees, the right answers would be either  a) I wanted some experience and possibly tips,  or b) I wanted to ask some questions anyway or ..

…oh, who am I kidding? The answer is of course, c): If I stayed behind I’d start climbing walls in a first-class exhibition of crumbling control and (not) staved-off anxiety.

Sunday, 14th April : My interview day with Petronas for its 2013 pre-u and undergraduate scholarship. Nothing said, you can read all about my experience here.  That means you aspiring Petronas scholars from the future, too, you little tip-scroungers. I’m winking, don’t worry — once (as in right now) I’m in your position, I know how you feel — I was(am?) desperate for hints too. So long as we’re all trying our best in the right way and for the right reasons…and yes, I did just call you desperate.

Monday, 15th April : Give a speech at my old high school about how I achieved excellent results in SPM. After taking ten subjects and receiving 9A+ 1A , I suppose I should have expected the call from my school’s deputy that requested I do this. And I was perfectly willing, perfectly ready to do it, till everything else came rolling around. Read on.

An interesting aside, though — last year my seniors, those who were the best students of their time, came and gave a series of talks not unlike the speech I’m supposed to be giving on this day. It truly inspired me, not because they were good speakers  (they were, by the way, but this is  a little taster of what it takes to truly impress on me what an exceptional orator you are) but because they were real, living proof that with enough hard work  — or apparently, just plain luck, which some seeming layabout never fails to claim was how they achieved success — you could reach what seemed impossible to me at the time.

Well, note to my past self, and all of you readers (HI MY DEAR SNARKEES) out there who was like lil’ old me, especially to those students aspiring for strings of A’s: it IS possible to achieve your dreams — possible, but not promised, and I guess therein lies the problem — so believe in it. Try your best, and NO this does not necessarily mean your hardest, go out there and do it, then after all is done sit back and pray, take a step away and hope. If you’re successful, be happy. Celebrate! Then look forward to the next great part of life. If you’re not, remember this: Dreams are never everything. Especially not when they’re in the past. Because yes, they are in the past now that you know whether you achieved them or not, and right now you’re free to find a new dream and chase it, discover a new meaning for you to make your life out of it. And if you think “Easy for Dreaming to talk, she got what she wanted” and “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,”  I DO happen to know what I’m talking about, and NO, I happen to not have gotten what I wanted. I wanted a perfect 10A+, now I have only 9 of them, and one A.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking (“It’s just one measly A+ off the mark!” and “That dream is insignificant”) and YES, I purposely utilized my sharp wit in a manner different from my usual snarks just to make this point clear to you, ESPECIALLY you readers with broken dreams who completely understandably aren’t moving on so well from your disappointment. I understand, I really do, because that dream meant a lot to me too, and it was broken, not completely, but still broken. And to even the best, most empathetic of you, I know that you’ll be feeling that in the end it’s irrelevant, in the end I’m still the same as I would be even if I had fulfilled my dreams properly, I’m still chasing after scholarships and thinking about how I want to contribute myself and the rest of my life to the world.

In the end, life still goes on. Life, and what you choose to make of it.

Readers with no broken dreams or at least no bitter feelings of failure, bear with me a paragraph longer; readers with, keep reading this properly, because damn I did not type this just so that you can simply skim through and not let it help you in some way to feel better about yourself and happier about your life. If you think my basically telling you that even though your dreams were relevant once, before they weren’t broken, they aren’t anymore and is insignificant now, realize that I told myself this. Realize that you would have been telling me this if my blog entry had been about my one missed A+ and how much I failed to reach it. Reread the above most recent paragraphs and note exactly where you’d be telling me hey, cool down, it doesn’t matter any more, you still did a great job, now move on, don’t fixate on this, don’t let it ruin your life for you, it’s not worth being miserable about life for.

Now be strong and do the brave thing; do what I did, and tell this to yourself. Tell this to yourself in regards to your broken dreams. And I’m not going to  ask if you can do it, because that wasn’t the purpose of this wildly off-topic venture — I wasn’t trying to get back at you for belittling (yes: ‘belittling’, because I know that’s what you fell I’m doing towards your hurt feelings and your broken dreams, and I’m trying to show you NO AND I UNDERSTAND.) my dreams, as you no doubt did when I revealed the above. I’m truly, seriously asking you to not be so hard on yourself, to view yourself the way you did me, to allow yourself to admit you aren’t a failure and move..on. You’ll soon see it does not matter now, even when it mattered before and again I repeat, you’re free to chase another dream, free to get another “great” in a different, better way than you thought. Don’t you feel liberated? I did.

And hey, later I realized that even if I failed to achieve my goals, I’m not a failure. There’s something I won, no wait, not won, something that I taught myself — and if you did as I asked above, you taught it to yourself too, which you never could have before. It’s resilience, what you taught yourself, that’s what it is.

And as I mentioned above, I’m still the same as I would have been if my dreams were fully fulfilled, still just as good. Still chasing after scholarships, still living my holidays and trying to sort out packed schedules, still chasing after an even greater dream..you get the idea. And this thing I taught myself, this resilience, will help me through it all.

That makes it more valuable, doesn’t it? Come on, say it doesn’t and my inner snarker’s leveling a sword of made of sharp words in your direction for lying.It doesn’t make up for my broken dreams. Merely.. replaces it, shall we say? And I hope, for your sake, for your happiness, for all the great things you’ll ever be, it’ll be the same for you.

…wow. What great block of self-help text did I unwittingly conjure? I guess I know at least half of what I’ll talk about in my speech scheduled for Monday. What on earth am I talking about, you ask? Well, snarkees (there’s no need for distinctions between you readers now, as that bit of motivational text is now firmly wrapped up), if you’ll recall, I was talking about (re)scheduling the busiest week of my life. Yeah, I got carried away too. And all I wrote isn’t even going to help with that Monday speech, because in lieu of scheduling the next few days, I decided to be a cunning old snake and eliminate the word ” Monday” from “speech”, or  “speech” from “Monday” now, it would seem. What I meant was that I decided to not give the speech on Monday, for fear of screwing up and/or overloading myself with all the other events I have to prepare for.

This is also the day I have to reclaim my Niexter Young Writer’s Award for Best Poem, but you can read about how I dealt with the insane strain it would have put on my schedule by getting the services of a courier here.

Tuesday, 16th April 2013 : my MARA 2013 scholarship interview day. An event I had considered as one of the more important ones in my life, except that it wasn’t an interview, and who knows, it might end up as less important than I thought, whichever way you looked at it. I explain more in my entry concerning  MARA stage 1 interview experience.

Wednesday, 17th April 2013 : go through one last driving lesson before the driving testThe last bit of preparation I’ll ever have before the JPJ test. In case you’re a cross-boundary reader, or are ignorant of the Malaysian driving education system, the JPJ test is the final test for you take, the passing of which gives you the right to your driver’s license. As retaking it means forking out another RM150, I’d much prefer to pass, thanks.

Thursday, 18th April 2013 : do the JPJ test. If you’ve forgotten what this is, reread the above. If you haven’t, let’s all pop the big question to me later, since I know you’re all wondering it: did I pass the test and get the driver’s  license, or did I fail abysmally, cry, fork out another RM150 and do it all over again?

Nice to see you all have so much confidence in my driving skills. It’s fair, I suppose, I myself never did anyway. Regardless, you can read how my JPJ driver’s test went.

Friday, 19th April 2013: my UEM scholarship interview day. Holy — three interviews for three different scholarships in one week??? And all of them spread out at “convenient” venues that means it’s too near for me to book a hotel room to stay over the night before, but is too far to contemplate getting up at any time after the crack of dawn? That’s getting to be a little too much, even for the workaholic that I’m just suspecting I might possibly be. Sadly, beggars can’t be choosers, so I’ll have to bear with the interview days, and try to reschedule the other things planned for this week– which led to the Monday speech being shifted, as I’d mentioned.

I then thought, as I penned this latest appointment in my journal the day before my twin’s interview on Saturday (re: see above), that this was surely it…

..NOT. Really, I fancied myself genre-savvy enough to know that when you think something’s settled, it rarely ever is.

Saturday, 20th April 2013 :  attend the Hari Anugerah Cemerlang at school and receive trophy and ovation. Translated literally, ‘hari anugerah cemerlang’ is Day of Awards for Excellence. It’s like the Cambridge Excellence Awards Day, I guess, where they give students of all forms prizes in the form of trophies and certificates (as well as honor. Never forget the honorfor being first, second, third in their year, for getting the highest mark in a subject, and for getting straight A’s, but since last year the number of award recipients at school has swelled so much that the HAC is for everything purely academic. My high school has a different ovation day for those excellent in extra-curricular fields now. SMKBJ deserves a tip of the hat, I say!

Actually, the trophies I’d gotten from attending these HACs over the years have been gathering dust in a black plastic bag, as I didn’t know what to do with them. I remember last year pondering whether the time it took to attend it last year should have been used on studying for my then-upcoming mid-years…but I’m a permanent holiday from high school this year, now that I’ve finished form 5, and besides, this awards ceremony is different for the mere fact that it recognizes me and my peers as ex-students who have all achieved excellent results and are now returning as the glorious faces of the school’s past success, ready to inspire the rest of our juniors — or something like that. You get the sentiment; it’s not everyday you graduate high school and get hailed for that — employers these days are asking for at least a degree, I hear. Note that no offense is meant to any party out there who might be offended, I’m just stating the news.

Update: this might also be the day I go ice-skating with some hopefully lifelong friends (some attending the same ceremony!) at Sunway Pyramid. No promises made, but plans are being construed. If it happens, there Will Be An Entry, but if not, you’ll hear about it.

And that’s it, for now. (breathes a sigh of relief) I’m sure you all must be tired just hearing about my week. Now imagine living it. Ah well, it’s my life, I’ll live it. Can’t very well go and live yours, can I. So long as there’s no other plans, I’ll surv—

–wait, wait. I am more genre savvy than that, I am not going to fall for that same fate-authored gun on the wall again.

Why do I get the bad feeling that I’m going to end up updating this with a new appointment scheduled in somewhere?

Update: ‘cos I did. See above.

So what do my dear snarkees think about the week that’s been inadvertently planned for me? Thoughts about the distinct benefits an awards ceremony that might be held to encourage other students to imitate their high-achieving peers? Or how about the little bit of self-help inserted in between Monday and Tuesday, in a manner of speaking — how it made you feel, any experiences of broken dreams you’d like (or should I say be willing) to share, or simply telling this dreamer whether it helped you in any way? It takes a lot of work to shut the inner snarker up, so obviously the topic means a lot to me; don’t fear ridicule.Do say something, even if it’s just to say that Dreaming you dolt, shut up, I’ve moved on already. As for those aspiring high achievers who want to know the latest study tips, interview experiences, etc, look around this blog and especially this entry for the rest of the helpful (blog-promoting?) links or failing that, you can contact me through the various social media and/or email links I’ve left lying around.

Uh-oh, my phone is ringing.. I only ever get important appointments scheduled that way, or through email. Excuse me — and don’t forget to comment!–while I see what’s cropped up now…