An English major at a top UK university in Malaysia*

The transition from student life to the world of work can be a bumpy road. Despite being freshly equipped with a degree and revelling in the new-found freedom from studying and exams, the big question of ‘what comes next’ undoubtedly looms over fresh graduates.

This is not the case for 20-year-old Evelyn Ramli. While pursuing her lifelong passion of excelling in English, she managed to gather a wealth of other experiences that have helped her kickstart her post-graduation journey on the path to success. This is her story:

A passion for the English language

In 5th grade, Evelyn’s natural talent for writing was highlighted by one of her teachers. Driven by her inclination towards reading and writing, she was further motivated by this comment from her respected mentor and became determined to study English when she grew up. 

English student at a local university - Evelyn
Image credit: @evelyn.ramli via Instagram

When it came to choosing a university where she would pursue her passion for English, Evelyn was always set on furthering her studies overseas. Born in Indonesia and having lived in Malaysia for over 10 years, she longed to see and experience different things beyond the familiar region of Southeast Asia. 

She was met with several setbacks, however. The main hitch in her plans was the Covid-19 lockdowns in Malaysia and around the world, which had put a pause on safe travels.

English Student at a local university - nature environment
Image credit: @uonmalaysia via Instagram 

It was Evelyn’s father who encouraged her to look into the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) as an alternative to going abroad for study. While on a campus visit, she met with some of the school’s faculty, whom she found to be very knowledgeable and helpful towards her enquiries. She also took note of the beautifully lush, verdant surroundings on campus. 

So while she had a keen eye on studying abroad, in the end, she was convinced the school would be a good choice for her and she enrolled.

“The feeling on campus was a bit like being overseas, while still being in Malaysia. The school’s location was so far away from the cities and the campus was so large – and you’re surrounded by greenery in every direction. It’s like you’re transported to another world – and a somewhat magical one”, she recalled of her first impression of UNM. 

Aligning her love for English with newfound passions

As they say, when one door closes, another one opens. 

Opting to remain in Malaysia for her higher education, Evelyn was still able to explore her love for English, while discovering other passions through various clubs she joined at UNM.

We dug a little deeper to find out more about the ones she enjoyed the most – there are over 80 student-led clubs and societies established at the university. While she bonded with her peers in the community-driven Literature and Drama society and supportive Indonesian cultural club, she was more active in the university-led #WhyNott Squad. 

The squad connected like-minded students with a similar goal: to create content for social media, featuring the campus’ wide range of facilities and vibrant student life.

English student at a local university - event
Image credit: Evelyn Ramli

During her time with the #WhyNott Squad, Evelyn created a number of videos for the university, including a notable “Recap” video that summed up her final year at UNM. Working on this video and several others pushed her to try new things and elevate her own video production skills. 

It had such a profound impact on her that she would go on to apply the knowledge she gained from this project, on other campaigns she would later work on as a content creator.

She currently runs a TikTok account with over 40,000 followers, working with brands primarily on this platform. Her Instagram account, which she started 2-3 months before embarking on her undergraduate degree, currently has more than 14,000 followers. 

On both channels, she shares content revolving around fashion and beauty.

English student at a local university - workshops
Image credit: Evelyn Ramli

Evelyn also had the opportunity to attend and host workshops and events around the campus during her long stint with Particle – the biannual literary and arts magazine published by the university – from being a designer and intern editor, to becoming the head of the publication.

While already personally influenced by the works of Madeline Miller and Toni Morrison, she was able to discover new authors from the magazine club and also through her lecturers who were acquainted with local writers. 

An unforgettable high point for her was hosting a workshop with iconic local cartoonist Datuk Lat – an event which she considers “one of the most iconic experiences” she’d ever had.

Discovering her values through her studies

Evelyn managed to balance her newfound passions in club activities while working on her English dissertation: a linguistics paper titled “Post-Feminist Discourses In Victoria’s Secret’s ‘Undefinable’ Campaign: A Multimodal Discourse Analysis”.

While working on the paper, her eyes were opened to the significance of the topic she was tackling – it became clear to her that the very issues she was writing about could crop up in the content she was posting on her social media channels.

“It became clear to me that the things I say and do in my videos can count as post-feminist messaging – what I put out has the power to impact how women see themselves. And I didn’t want to be part of that cycle”, she admitted.

English Student at a local university - studying
Image credit: @evelyn.ramli via Instagram

This realisation led her to sit down with herself, and take the time to think about how she could avoid unconsciously sharing negative messaging through her social media channels. 

Though the topic was a challenging one, she has no regrets about choosing it for her dissertation, as it helped shape her views and values over content creation as a whole.

Evelyn also admitted that linguistics was never her cup of tea – she’d always much favoured literature over it. It was her personal tutor and dissertation supervisor at UNM, Dr Melissa, who inspired her to delve into the subject and work harder on it. 

“Dr Melissa is very organised and sweet. I used to worry I would disappoint her because my work was lacking. But she always reassured us students to work hard, and reminded us that our results are not as important as the journey we go through”, she shared.

Staying motivated with the help of lecturers & study-friendly spaces

It’s only normal for every education journey to have its ups and downs. 

Evelyn had several struggles of her own, just like any other student. Regardless of what she was going through, she always felt like she had the support of friends and lecturers who constantly encouraged her and pushed her to do better.

English student at a local university - teacher
Image credit: Evelyn Ramli

There was local author Dr Shivani, whom Evelyn worked closely with on Particle. They would talk about everything – from how to get students to participate in class discussions, to writing and literature that would leave her thinking, “Wow, I can’t wait to learn more”. 

She also treasures her conservations with Dr Malachi, the head of UNM’s School of English – her chats with him often circled around literature and was laced with humour.

University of Nottingham Malaysia
Image credit: University of Nottingham Malaysia

Evelyn also found tackling her studies and various university tasks easy and convenient, with the numerous facilities and study spaces at UNM. When she needed a distraction-free spot, she found the perfect location in the university’s library, which had silent rooms for focused study. 

Alternatively, there was The Core, a lively space furnished with comfy bean bags, where she would head to with friends to have class-related discussions.

Out of all the campus’s learning facilities, Evelyn singled out Vetro as her favourite. Just a stone’s throw from the main campus building, this spot was less frequented by students and had open views of the surrounding greenery.

And if she needed to fuel up between classes or assignments, there was a study-friendly ZUS Coffee outlet and 18 Grams, a student-run coffee shop.

Lessons learnt as a student & content creator

Many fresh graduates will tell you that they feel the pressure of the world, with the question, “How can I contribute to society at large?” on loop in their heads.

But the recently-graduated Evelyn offers some sage advice to counter this. She shares, “I think what’s important is to try everything you want to try, whether it’s a new club or sport, and to just go for it”.

University of Nottingham Malaysia
Image credit: University of Nottingham Malaysia

So while it might be nerve-racking to think about kickstarting your university life and setting those stepping stones towards pursuing your passion, check out University of Nottingham Malaysia. The top UK university in Malaysia offers competitive foundation, undergraduate, and postgraduate courses – in everything from English to Engineering – at its bustling and vibrant campus in Semenyih. 

Having earned a spot among the Top 100 universities globally by the QS World University Rankings 2024, they have a team of dedicated and diverse faculty who will motivate you to learn and guide you on your career path.

University of Nottingham Malaysia
Image credit: University of Nottingham Malaysia

And as we all know, choosing a university and course is no easy decision. But don’t let the stress get to you and start on your research now. To take your first step to beginning your academic journey at UNM, visit their website and social media channels, or get in touch with their team. 

Find out more about University of Nottingham here


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This post was brought to you by the University of Nottingham Malaysia.

Cover image adapted from: Wikimedia Commons, Evelyn Ramli

Some quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity.

*Based on the highest number of students @ Profile Book IPTS (MOHE) 2021.

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