Saturday, 22 December 2012

Western Australia January 2013

I plan to return to Western Australia to visit a few friends and relatives, and my alma mater, the University of Western Australia (UWA). From my knowledge when I was a postgraduate student there, I was the only Malaysian Muslim female student doing research at PhD level from October 1986 to August 1989. I was probably the first Malaysian Malay to complete a PhD there too. Because I was the first PhD student for the Muslim community in Perth, it got everyone excited. The excitement didn't reach me then because I was up in the laboratories working long hours, both at the Nedlands campus in Crawley and at the biochemistry lab at Royal Perth Hospital. I was oblivious to the excitement in the Muslim community who knew of my status as the first PhD student at this prestigious university. Much later after I joined UWA, UWA was roped in under the "Circle of Eight", a group of Australia's elite universities where not everyone who applies gets to enter. The dropout rate was higher than acceptance rate. I didn't apply because I knew my application would not pass through the first sieve. But a miracle happened and I was invited to join UWA at PhD level by a professor who had just returned from Boston, USA. So that was how I got there - by chance and miracle, Alhamdulillah. I was there for less than 3 years and obtained my PhD in 1990, after I returned to Malaysia. I only needed to correct one page in my PhD thesis - a figure legend had to go beneath the diagram instead of hanging above the diagram; that was all. It scored the best PhD thesis in Physiology, Faculty of Medicine at UWA. I was informed by my PhD Supervisor that it was also the best PhD thesis in a long long time in the history of Physiology at UWA. I still think what made it a good thesis was I enjoyed doing my experiments and I also enjoyed working with the photographer to get good photographs for my thesis. I also enjoyed writing my PhD thesis - I used the first generation Macintosh that came to Western Australia, a great improvement over the Wang computers I was used to. I remember I wrote my PhD thesis in winter, in between breastfeeding my newborn second son! Well, you can really laugh at this. LOL

UWA is very special. It feels like the Tower of London plunged into a Mediterranean setting. If you have been to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, then UWA is like that too, except on a smaller scale, of course. The campus is by Matilda Bay. It is rare that university campuses are set by the lake or sea. So being by the bay makes UWA a romantic and scenic campus. You don't have to travel to Alhambra in Granada, Spain to get that lovely feeling. On Sundays, there are weddings everywhere on UWA campus. Malaysian campuses don't give sufficient attention to landscapes and gardens and therefore we cannot make our campuses into "enterprising gardens". I think even Carcosa Sri Negara in Kuala Lumpur is more beautiful than Malaysian campuses. Everywhere you walk in UWA campus, you will be amazed at the facades of the old and new buildings, the pavements, the rose gardens, the sunken garden, the bushes, etc. The campus is picturesque. When my parents visited UWA towards the end of my research at UWA, they were amazed I was studying at such a lovely place.

Twenty-two years on after graduation, my family still thinks UWA is a lovely place. My husband wants me to bring my books to UWA because it is one place that I love. We plan to visit UWA some time in February 2013, after my first lecture for 2013, insyaAllah.

UWA is also a sponsor of the Australian Book Review (ABR). I had written an earlier post on ABR.

UWA also produces its own magazine, the UniView.

Winthrop Hall, pond and rose garden, UWA October 2012
Department of Physiology and sundial, UWA October 2012


YouTube - Undercurrent - UWA - UWA

Facebook - The University of Western Australia Alumni

Development and Alumni Relations
Contact us:

UWA Library