A cultural exploration of Malaysia


My GoAbroad experience was conceived in Edinburgh whilst enduring the winter of 2017. During the trials of ice covered pavements and dwindling daylights, I made a decision to seek out a fresh environment and contextualise my cultural heritage by travelling to Malaysia. Despite my mixed British and Malaysian background, I have spent relatively little time in the country. Further I sought to capture the cultural vibrancy and share it with the university community.

Petronas towers from public housing rooftop

In the months prior to my trip, I was apprehensive about the substantial cost of the trip. As a result, I made a vow to make maximum utilisation of the trip. I defined this as living and capturing my experience to the fullest. To this end, I set out to spend my time exploring the country and to indulge in as much Malaysia could uniquely offer.

Young boy from Kampung with pet cat

It was in late July that I embarked on my GoAbroad experience, armed with trusty camera in hand to revel in and share the rich cultural landscape. Upon arrival into Kuala Lumpur, I was struck with a modern metropolis, peppered with dazzling skyscrapers with the Petronas Towers completing the iconography. I found that the Petronas Towers set the tone of a city which maintains it’s South East Asian characteristics in a global wave of monolithic concrete jungles. 

Batu Caves with recently repainted stairs

To learn more about the country’s historical past, I headed north to Penang island. What makes Penang special is that stringent planning laws which have preserved much of the old streets. One of my favourite memories is walking through a traditional Kampung (village) with homes made of wood. Other parts of the town are akin to a living breathing museum, a town where ornate murals intertwine with colonial architecture. If that it isn’t enough, I discovered a true foodie’s paradise with street food influenced by the three main demographics of the country – Malay’s, Indians and Chinese.

Expansive Kuala Lumpur skyline

I found my time in Malaysia to be a profound experience. It is often said that “we are the product of our environment”. It was throughout this summer in Malaysia that I became convinced of it’s validity. I learnt that there is something wonderfully freeing about the warm weather that is hard to overstate. Further, I found the people to be overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming. I taught myself a few words of Malay before the trip and I found that I ingratiated myself speaking these. I discovered that the ability to be able to converse in the local language is an integral part of the acclimatising into a new country. As a result, I now have a desire to study Malay more thoroughly and comprehensively. Finally, I found that the time which I spent In Malaysia, alongside the activities I undertook, were able to shape me into significantly better version of myself. As one of my friends put it, I became “less uptight, more confident and more at ease with myself”. I left Malaysia with inspiring first-hand evidence of the human capacity for self-improvement.

Categories: Asia, Go Abroad Fund, Malaysia

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