Friday, August 21, 2015

Fashionista's University Review: INCEIF, Malaysia

This is my first university review.

And (I hope), there'll be many more to come. Inshaa Allah.

I've always wanted to do my PhD and I think that this has to do with the fact that both my parents are PhD holders (in an age without google, science direct, elsevier, emerald insight *gasp*) and when I first made the decision to study at INCEIF, I wasn't able to gain more information on the university except for the university's website, official twitter and official Facebook page. So, I hope this post will help future students of INCEIF gain insight on how it feels like to study at INCEIF.

Firstly, what is INCEIF?

INCEIF is a university that offers programs exclusively in the field of Islamic finance (and nothing else) so it is basically a meeting point that brings together a group of scholars (professors, associate professors, lecturers, tutors etc) and students who are involved (or would like to be involved in) the field of Islamic finance. The name, INCEIF is actually a short form for International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance.
There's not that many programs in INCEIF (because of its specialised nature) and all programs are postgraduate programs (i.e. they offer masters and PhD programs only). This is good (in my opinion) because the students basically already have done their undergraduate somewhere else (so they're not green out of high school), the classrooms are small and cosy (the maximum number of students in a class is about 40, but that would be rare, usually depending on the subject, there'd be around 6 to 20 students in a class), and due to the small setting, the relationship among the students and their professors are more intimate (in a sense its easier for you to develop a close relationship among your classmates and get to know each other well, and also it's easier for you to approach your professors because there's only a small group of students in the class and it's also easier for him or her to address any questions in and out of the classroom).
The university itself is located right next to Universiti Malaya at Lorong Universiti A (right off Jalan Universiti, the small road where KFC is located) so if you're a travelling student (like I was in the first semester), to get to the university you can take a cab for RM7 from University Station or wait for the shuttle (INCEIF provides free shuttle service at scheduled hours) at Taman Jaya Station.
There's only three buildings, one is the academic building (where the library, classes and academicians are located) and the other two building are for administration, bursary, and ISRA researchers.

Secondly, why INCEIF?

I chose INCEIF simply because it offers only Islamic finance programs which is the area of research that I would like to specialise in (there're other universities that offer PhD in Islamic finance such as IIUM, UNITAR and UiTM which you can check out if you like) and also because I knew that because of it's specialised nature, I'd be mingling with people who already are (and are hoping to be) involved in the area of Islamic finance. Thus I would be learning about Islamic finance and also be able to network and hear on what is actually happening in the field from those who are working in the industry.
Another reason for me to select INCEIF is because the PhD research program is coupled with courses (i.e. I'd have to pass the courses and also a comprehensive exam before undertaking my PhD research), I feel that the courses would help me to enhance my understanding in the different aspects that are related to Islamic finance such as Islamic capital markets, Islamic accounting, Islamic economics, risk management, etc and this would provide me with a broader view of Islamic finance compared to if my PhD is involved strictly in research.

What have I experienced so far?

What I genuinely like about the university is the atmosphere. I love the fact that the students are always so helpful with each other and there's a certain brotherhood (or sisterhood) feeling that you get with each other.

Here are some photos of my experience at INCEIF:

New students' registration are usually accompanied by orientation day and this was my orientation day. This is Daud Vicary Abdullah, the President and CEO of INCEIF.

A typical classroom at INCEIF. This photo was taken during our Tajweed session with brother Ziyaad Muhammad. 

Fiqh Muamalat class with Assoc. Prof. Ahcene Lahsasna.

A typical class discussion between students and their Professor. This one was taken during Islamic Economics class where brother Alam Asadov was discussing on gold dinar with Prof. Zubair Hasan.

Sometimes we have Professorial Lectures. So this one was taken off Prof. Abbas Mirakhor's discussion of the book by Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century.

Sometimes we also have visiting Professors giving talks to us, this one is Sheikh Prof Dr Ali Muhyi Al-Din Ali Al-Quradaghi. It was in Arabic so Assoc. Prof. Ahcene became his interpreter.

We also have bankers coming to share on what's happening in the industry. This is Dato' Mohd Redza  Shah Abdul Wahid explaining to us on what's in the pipeline for investment accounts (post IFSA 2013).

We also have Fire Drills...

And visits from other universities. These are my students from UiTM and I am glad to say that one of these students will be joining INCEIF to do his masters next semester =).

PhD Colloquiums are also held once every few months.

And dedicated syndicate rooms for group discussions 

For more information on INCEIF, feel free to check out their website [here], Facebook page [here] and twitter [here].

To life-long learning

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thank You to the Medical Staff at Sarawak General Hospital

Last Saturday, my mother-in-law suffered a heart attack. She had suffered a few complications a few months earlier arising from various factors such as a weak heart and diabetes and this caused her to be on medication and regular check-ups with the hospital. 

My view whenever I am with her. 
Am extremely thankful to all the medical staff of Sarawak General Hospital.

She has yet to recover from the heart attack and the past week have seen me flying back to Kuching and helping out the family with taking care for her at the hospital. Usually our shift would entail us (me and hubs) to take over the graveyard shift as hubs has to work during the day and he's only able to be at the hospital after office hours. During my stay with her, I have seen the staff of the Sarawak General Hospital doing their work with the highest level of efficiency and courtesy. Despite working until wee hours in the morning (usually I'd be awake from 9 or 10 pm until 3 - 4 am in the morning to make way for hubs to sleep so that he'd be able to work the next day) and even then the medical staff have been very attentive and professional in conducting their work. Despite my mom-in-law being unconscious, they always greeted her before doing their work on her (from changing the sheets to checking up on her vitals and feeding her). They would always tell her before hand what they will be doing to her and warning her beforehand that it might hurt a little (this is especially true when they are changing her tubes, taking blood sample for tests etc). 

So this is our thanks to the doctors and medical staff at Level 8, Ladies Ward, Sarawak General Hospital. Thank you for being so attentive to our mom, thank you for your proficiency, efficiency and all the help that you have provided and may Allah repay your deeds with the best of rewards. 

My mom in law still has a long way to go in terms of recovery but thank you for making her recovery as comfortable as you can. May Allah grant her the best in this dunya and the hereafter. Ameen. 

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fashionista's Travels: Sepanggar Island, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Photoblog alert!

Hey ya peeps!

I know I haven't been updating as regularly as I should and I've been going to some very beautiful places lately, so I feel this would be a great opportunity to share the photos of the places that I've been visiting. 

First up, Sepanggar Island, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. 

I went to Kota Kinabalu just two months ago for a conference and felt that a much needed island getaway is perfect for this trip. The island is located just 20 - 25 minutes boat ride off Jesselton Point (Kota Kinabalu). I booked the accommodation via Agoda (the link to the resort is [here]) and communicated with the resort via email afterwards. 

It was cloudy when we arrived in Kota Kinabalu. 

You have to register with the resort office at Jesselton Point prior to leaving the jetty. The payment that we made with Agoda includes accommodation, food (breakfast, lunch and dinner), snorkelling gear rental and unlimited beach snorkelling. We need to pay RM47.60 more per person for jetty fees and return boat transfer. 

Our boat was waiting for us at the jetty (and nope it's not the big one to the left, that one leaves for Labuan, it's the small one to the right). We had beautiful sunny weather on both days while we were at the island.

Our kind and extremely helpful guide (I am so sorry but your name seemed to have slipped my mind, unfortunately).

Beautiful blue sea and bright skies. What more can a girl want?

We've arrived! Can you see how clear the waters are?

The jetty at the island.

Clear waters *drool*.

The view is similarly breathtaking no matter if I looked to the left or the right of the jetty. 

Love, love, love this view =).

It was just after Kaamatan when we arrived so there was a small Kaamatan welcome for us. 

We stayed there for two days and one night and this was the view that greeted me the morning after. Subhanallah!

Our clean and simple room. 


The view from the balcony. 

All we did was just laze on the beach and swim all day. Definitely got myself a healthy tan those two days. 

Sepanggar island, I will be back =). 

Just a bit of info on the island, it's a private resort therefore Sepanggar Island is not under the Tunku Abdul Rahman park (which are managed by Sabah Parks) group of islands. It's managed separately and because of this, there's less people at the resort (which is perfect for me), and the only mode of accommodation and food is provided by the resort. Good news is that your food is included in the accommodation package, and the food is delicious to boot!

The chalet where we stayed at. Simple, minimalistic design. Consisting of just a small bedroom, toilet/ shower and balcony. No air-conditioning, just a simple fan. 

The view during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Major love!

Since it's a small resort, just remember to bring your sunscreen and mosquito repellent (I don't think they sell any at the resort). The mosquitos are very, very aggressive. For more info on the island and it's operator, you can visit their website [here].

Will share more beach/ island photos soon! I have one more trip to share, this time it's to Perhentian Island, Terengganu. 

Note: We left Kota Kinabalu just a day before the earthquake happened in Ranau, Sabah and our deepest condolences goes out to the friends and family of those who were affected by the earthquake. 

xoxo Mrs Fashionista