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.
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.
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.
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.
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.