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Nadiah Zainul-Abdin

NadiahI grew up in Malaysia where many young girls are made to believe that it is almost impossible to study in the UK, let alone at Cambridge. Having both parents graduating from British universities, I was fortunate enough that I was encouraged from the start to pursue my dream - coming to Cambridge. A full scholarship from Petronas, the national petroleum company, to do a chemical engineering degree in the UK removed the financial constraint and the next thing I knew, I was all geared up to realize my dream.

I enrolled to study Natural Sciences in the first year, having been attracted by the fundamental sciences, and this included the opportunity to learn about 'Mother Earth' and go on an exciting field course in the Geology option. Halfway through, I found the course too theoretical and was looking forward to the switch to Chemical Engineering in the second year for the taste of real-life practical applications.

Since the first day I stepped into the Chemical Engineering Department, I knew I'd made the right choice. The course is demanding, but there is always someone to help students get through, from lecturers to ever-friendly supervisors to fellow colleagues. Once in a while, a major company such as ExxonMobil, Shell or P&G will pop in to handle workshops and career talks, keeping us in touch with the real world. The small size of the department provides a friendly atmosphere. I met good friends, not only people who I hang out and go to parties with, but friends who stand by me through thick and thin.

I left with not only a good education but with even greater life experience. For a person who spoke only her mother tongue for the first 20 years of her life and had never been out of her country, I've done fantastic stuff, things I'd never imagined doing before. I've fulfilled my childhood dream of travelling throughout Europe during my four years here, including going on solo backpacking trips. After graduation this summer, I plan to seek more travel adventures before returning home to fulfill my contract bond with Petronas. I am ready for more challenges in the working environment and am confident that the skills I obtained in Cambridge will be beneficial.

College: Magdalene
Route: Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences
A-Levels: Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics