July 24, 2013, by Jon Sheldon

Selamat Datang ke (Welcome to) Malaysia!

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel only read a page”  Saint Augustine

Hi there, I’m Jon and I’ve just returned to the UK from my first year at Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus (UNMC).  I’m studying Mechanical Engineering and I’ll clear this up now.  Yes you did read the first sentence correctly.  No I’m not an exchange student, on a mobility scheme or whatever you like to call it.  The whole duration of my degree is based out in Malaysia.

Whilst living amongst a different community and culture I have experienced many new things.  I couldn’t possibly recall them all but here are just a few.

New Tastes:

Malaysia is made up of three main cultures, the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians.  With each representing themselves in terms of language, religion and cuisine even after spending so long in the country there is often something new to try in terms of food.  My two favourites are roti chanai (an Indian influenced flat bread) and kuey teow (flat rice noodles served fried or in a soup).  Food is such a huge part of life here I really shouldn’t talk too much about it as this is just meant to be brief and I’ll find it hard to stop.  If I’m going to about talk food in Malaysia at any length I’ll go all out, do it properly and give it its own post.  In case you haven’t visited the country – yes, it’s true, the food really is that good!

New Smells:

The durian.  You can’t walk the streets of South East Asia and miss it.  Not only is it an unmissable giant spikey fruit with such a peculiar taste and texture, it’s the smell which will ultimately hit you first.  While some will cringe as they’re hit by its potent stench, others will draw in deep breaths of its rich sweet fragrance.

Personally?  I would have durian stented air fresheners if I could however unpopular that would make me.

Fortunately for the durian haters out there the fruit is often banned on public transport and hotels.

The mighty durian in its native habitat

The mighty durian in its native habitat

I realise they do look like fuzzy tennis balls from this photo but seriously now, DO NOT stand under one of these trees.  They are pretty big and if one falls on someone it could kill them.

New Friends:

One of my favourite things about UNMC is the people.  At the campus there is a rich variety of backgrounds, nationalities and cultures.  Hosting a community of 40% international students, studying at the Malaysia Campus is a great way to meet people from across the globe, learn about their cultures and teach people about your own.

New Horizons:

For those in Britain there was once a time when attaining a degree would be enough to comfort the idea of seeking employment after graduating.  Nowadays however, with more and more people going to university having a degree is seen more as a minimum requirement for many jobs due to the number of graduates.  In order to fight off the competition something extra is required.  Something different.  Something special.

For me that something is having the international experience I’ve gained whilst at UNMC, the independence this has given me and the confidence I’ve grown in the meantime.

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