Monday, January 6, 2014

You Know You're in Malaysia When:

*This is another blog draft that I wrote but never published abroad. When I found and read this I laughed and found it very entertaining so I decided to publish it here.

You Know You're in Malaysia When:

-When talking about someone the first question asked is, “What race are they” ie Indian, Malay, or Chinese. Unfortunately despite "Satu Malaysia" efforts racial stereotyping is very prominent, although it isn’t polite to say so.

- Walking through the night market the vendors switch from yelling in Malay to yelling in English once they see a white person.

-You are fluent in broken English, finding it much more easy than proper English.

-You have caught the “lah virus” and add in lah, leh, loh to spice up your conversations.

-Begin to think all white people look the same.

-Don’t blink an eye when your host mom drives the wrong direction down a one way street.

-Must park under shade only lah.

-Forget how to use a knife. Find eating with fork/spoon, hands or chopsticks much easier.

-Don’t find it offensive when someone calls another person fat or point out that they have pimples.

-Have gotten used to only spending a few ringgit for a full meal or public transport. Are shocked at how expensive everything is when visiting Singapore, even though it is still less expensive than America.

- Are used to going to shopping malls at least three times weekly.

-Are shocked if you don’t take rice at least once a day.

-Hang out in the mall for free air-conditioning.

-Can de-bone a fish with chopsticks only (one of my most proud accomplishments)

-Have a shock when you see your American friends fighting with their parents on Skype. The thought of disrespecting an elder makes you cringe. (I'm sure my American parents wished I still thought this way lol)

-Reaction to everything is either “Aiyo!”,  “Cannot be lah!”,  “Wah!” or “Serious??”

-Are used to aunties criticizing e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.  Very loudly.

-Random strangers want to know your siblings names and why they aren’t married yet.

-If too lazy to explain something just say “Never-mind lah”

-Haven’t felt the feeling of hunger since you entered the country.

-One of your favorite things to do is to have supper late at night at a mamak with your friends.
-Must drink tea before bed or whenever you are stressed.

-Respond to “Girl” as if it’s your name (might as well be.)

-Will drive an hour away just for dinner

-Eat out at least once a day, sometimes three times a day. This is common since cooking at home is considered more expensive than eating out. Also the restaurants and food stalls are so good and so plentiful it is worth it.

-The thought of eating chicken feet makes your mouth water!

In Review and Conclusion

As of writing this post I have only two weeks left in Malaysia.
I have been in Malaysia for 308 days now.
Simply put, this has been the best year of my life.

I can't fathom the fact that in a little over two weeks my life will be completely different (again.)
I think what I will miss most is walking downstairs to have a cup of tea and listen to my host moms Chinese drama shows or hear about her day. I'll miss how simple, liberating and carefree my life is here.

Once I return to America I have the hefty tasks of making up several classes over the summer, SAT tutoring,  trying to lose the weight I've gained on exchange, re-adjusting to western culture and I'm sure much more I'm unaware of at this point.
While I have changed quite a bit during my exchange the biggest opportunity I have to change is once I return home. My host family has always stressed the importance to me that I show my family in America that I am a changed person, for the better. And I really do hope to prove to my family that I am more responsible, stronger, more mature and less self-centered since I last left a year ago.

*This, obviously, is a draft of a blog post I wrote but didn't publish before my departure from Malaysia. 

I've been back in America for almost 7 months now. I have to admit re-adjusting to my life here was much more difficult than adjusting to life abroad ever was. The bitterness of not knowing when I'll get to see my host family and friends I grew to love abroad again weighed heavily on my heart for quite some time.
I'm happy to say now that I do have plans to visit Malaysia again, sometime during my gap year starting this summer.
From June-September I will be an au pair (sort of like the nanny version of an exchange student) to a lovely family with two young girls in Istanbul, Turkey. Following this new adventure I hope to return to Malaysia, spend some time with my host family, travel and volunteer. I have not yet forgotten the lessons I learned during my exchange, and welcome the promise of new experiences and lessons I will surely endure during my gap year.

As for my current American life- it's rather boring. My focus is on SAT preparation, school, online classes (still) and saving money for my future travels! I'm very excited to graduate high school this May and promptly leave for Istanbul (precisely 2 weeks after graduation- I'm not sticking around!) I may-or may not- keep this blog active to update my travels next year. Until then, all the best and Jumpa Lagi :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

CNY, Indonesia, Borneo- February & March


This was one of the most hectic months of my life! On February 10th Chinese New Year began. To celebrate I invited fellow YES abroad student Hannah Foster to stay with my family. In addition to her several AISEC students from Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Hungary, New Zealand, and Czech Republic ended up at our house. We celebrated with firecrackers, lots of food, a wishing lantern, and a midnight trip to the temple to receive our blessings for the year. The next morning I received a blessing and red packet from my host parents and spent the following days traveling to Singapore and a small Chinese village exchanging oranges and collecting MONEY!

Cutting the festivities short me and the AFS Perak chapter jetted off to Jogjakarta, Indonesia. There we explored ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples, got hot stone massages and even got a chance to met up with two of the YES Abroad Indonesia exchange students. I love the beautiful architecture and street art that is famous in Jogjakarta, and the local people were extremely friendly. It was interesting to see the differences between Indonesia and Malaysia and get a glance of what life what might have been like if I had gone on exchange to Indonesia. 

Shortly after our return to Kuala Lumpur we shortly jetted off AGAIN to East  Malaysia, also known as Borneo. Our destination was Mabul Island, Sabah. After a bumpy stormy boat ride to the island we arrived and were amazed by the natural beauty and clear blue waters. While most of my pictures of the island are from the resort side, we in fact had the opportunity to stay on the village side of the island. This gave us the chance to witness the local culture, sea gypsies, and the influence of their neighbor The Philippines. 

March was a pretty normal month for me consisting of school, volunteering and eating- a lot. 
- Attended my first Malay wedding/first Muslim wedding.
- Met with a local food blogger to learn more about Johor food, as well as share some of my favorites with him. Blog post can be found here:

Monday, February 4, 2013

January in Malaysia!

This month has been a challenging but rewarding month beginning with saying good-bye to my host brother as he ventured off to Switzerland to study abroad for a year. It was strange watching someone leave for exchange just like my family and friends watched me leave but I was excited for him to get the chance to experience the adventure of studying abroad! 
The rest of the month I spent getting to know new international volunteers from China, Denmark, and Indonesia, visiting small Chinese villages, preparing with my family for Chinese New Year, attending an embassy event for the YES inbound and English Teaching Assistants, learning how to tie a hijab the proper way, and experiencing the Hindu festival of Thaipusam. Thaipusam was definitely one of the most sensory overwhelming experiences in my life thus far. Being surrounded by people in a courtyard of a temple with drums and chanting coming from every direction, incense and smoke burning in the air, elaborate kavadis and costumes, people of all ages carrying heavy milk pots on their heads, piercing and hooking themselves with all sorts of things, and most of all a man going into a trance or "being possessed" right in front of my eyes! It was interesting experience I'll never forget which definitely made me grow in respect for how intensely devoted Hindus truly are.
 I'm extremely excited for the upcoming month to celebrate Chinese New Year with my family, something I've been looking forward to all year! 
Gong xi fa cai!