Julia Geuth

Belgian expatriate hopes her tourism studies will help her achieve her dreams of making music.

“Indo Mee Goreng satu, tak mau sayur,” laughs Brunhilde Marie Julia Geuth, as she shows off her limited Malay vocabulary. This is a big surprise given that Julia (as she is known to her friends) had won third place in the PALMA singing competition, held at Angkasapuri recently. In this competition which was broadcast live on TV2, international students were judged on their ability to sing and perform a local song. And Julia wowed the judges with her rendition of Elyana’s ‘Kalis Rindu’.

Julia explains that she has been singing that song for many years given that she had moved here with her family from Bastogne, Belgium almost six years ago. “My parents had been here on holiday and loved the weather and the laidback lifestyle, so we all moved here,” she explains. “I was enrolled in a Diploma in Sound and Music technology programme at another college as music is my passion. I got to meet other aspiring musicians and was privileged enough to jam with them. That is a song I am very familiar with."

She says that music has always been a passion as she has been singing since she was eight and has been actively singing in various bands and producing demos. "So when I told my parents that this is what I wanted to pursue, they were okay with it and let me choose a music-oriented program." However, the 22-year-old lass is mature enough to realize that the music industry is full of pitfalls and there are many obstacles to having a successful career. So when her mother requested that she do another diploma programme as a back-up, Julia had no hesitation in accepting the mother's choice. "She chose the Diploma in Tourism at Nilai University and I am happy to study this program as it is knowledge that is applicable anywhere in the world. She was cool enough to let me follow my dream of doing music, so the least I could do is listen to her on this."

Julia admits that she has been bitten by the travel bug and says she envisions travelling to destinations where her music career can take off. "Having a Diploma in Tourism will allow me to work in the hospitality industry while I try to get my music career started," she smiles.

Describing her music as electronica, Julia says she shifted towards this genre as she could do everything herself on computers. "I have been in bands before and musicians are not the most reliable people," she says arching her eyebrows, "so I wanted to be able to do something on my own."

At the moment she is enjoying her classes at Nilai University (Nilai U) and has her younger sister for company who is also embroiled in the same programme. "The great thing about Nilai U are the lecturers, in particular those from the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism. They are very friendly and take great concern over their students' welfare. I believe at a place of education, it is the teachers who are the most important factor, not whether the facilities are the best and most modern," she stresses. “Machines and equipment don't teach you anything. People do." As for her singing exploits, Julia got a cheque for RM6,000 for finishing third in the competition. "I was totally shocked when the announcer called my name, I really didn't expect it," she says. But that wasn't the biggest surprise as there was a large contingent of Nilai U students and staff at the auditorium supporting her. "I am a very shy person. I come to class, do my work and go home. I hardly socialize. To see so many people cheering me on was really a wonderful surprise. It made me feel part of the Nilai U family."

Now that she has proven her vocal prowess in a televised competition, Julia is more confident of her abilities and also knows the value of good time management. "I had to juggle my coursework while competing. I wasn't going to let it affect my studies and disappoint my parents. If anything, I want to show my parents I can do well in both fields," she proclaims.

Looking at the steely determination in her eyes, one would not bet against her accomplishing her dreams.

Nilai U was established in 1997 and is located in the picturesque suburb of Putra Nilai, just 35-minutes south of Kuala Lumpur City Centre. All of its diploma, degree and Master's degree programs are approved by the Ministry of Education and accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. For more information, please go to www.nilai.edu.my or search for 'Nilai University' on Facebook. To speak to a counsellor, please call 06-8502308 / 03-79603089 / 07-2262336.