Assalamu’alaikum! Happy Sunday afternoon!
Apparently there was a draft post here since June 2011, something about “comparing” life in Malaysia vs. the UK, but I never touched it since then. Here is my attempt at finishing it. Disclaimer: No intent on causing any negativeness or offence of any kind, points do not only apply to the UK, but since it was where I stayed for three years to study, it will be where my observations come from.
Despite my many complaints (mostly on Facebook) of the heat/humidity, mosquitoes, life in general… there are many things that are better in Malaysia. Really. For one thing — and this just occurred to me yesterday
I am quite slow sometimes — here I do not need to put on body lotion at all (especially if I am lazy). In the UK, miss one morning lotion session and you’ll come back home with angry red streaks on your legs (from the dryness). And they get itchy! Hands, arms, face, all consume litres of lotion/moisturiser. And lip balm. I still wear lip balm sometimes but I suppose that is out of habit. I never enjoyed the effort of having to slap on lotion daily.
Another issue related to the weather, and this is in general: in the UK it is more difficult to recover from a fever/cough/flu/runny nose/the usual little sicknesses we get. What would take a couple of days in warmer weather, would take weeks over there. Of course this just may be due to our biological differences, for us who grew up in a place that allows us to sweat while simply sitting indoors; the chilling winds and dry air do not help much. It has also been said that the medicine there does not work as well on us.
If you would remember, the winter also brought a different kind of problem for me: swelling fingers and eczema. Both were pretty bad, I felt. The swelling right hand, after many blood tests (and there was supposed to be one chest X-ray but I couldn’t be bothered to go to the hospital again ), was concluded to be caused by blood circulation issues. (Something along the lines of Raynaud’s syndrome or chillblains, but not DVT because that was what they tested my blood for: it came back negative.) Like my blood vessels just seize up in the cold or something. So there was no cure except to bundle up all the time; gloves mittens whatever. The problem remained though, for as long as the cold weather did. The main annoyance was the itchiness from the stretched skin. When the swelling ceased, the skin sort of died a bit and became dark. To this day, I see that my right fingers are still slightly different from my left ones.
And of course this problem does not occur in Malaysia. The only cause of any kind of itching in my fingers are the freaking mosquitoes.
The eczema was just plain creepy and sudden and possibly caused by hard water. *shrug*
On the flip side, in Malaysia you have to take at least two showers a day, wash your hair and face very often, oh and your clothes too. And personally my Malaysian life is so very physically idle. I need to drive a car to go anywhere, sports are limited to badminton in the front yard, hardly any outings that require copious amounts of walking/running/hiking/climbing. Walking in air-conditioned shopping malls so do not count.
I think most Malaysians would think the above phrase applies to life in this country, and it does… in the sense of Muslims finding something to eat and somewhere to pray, and when you live at home with your family (ie. someone to cook for you and handle the cleaning, laundry — convenience that comes with the fact that you permanently belong somewhere).
But I feel like my student life overseas had so many things that were within reach. Need to go out and buy milk? Head out on foot from class or your house, or use your bus pass to go to town. Places to go on weekends? Again, bus/coach, trains, even flights seem cheaper and easier than back home. And the places! Gosh, I haven’t even managed to cover my own county (sort of like the state/negeri) in three years, let alone Europe. (Case in point: never been to Paris even though it’s a 2-hour train ride away. ) This is all very relative and subjective though, for example… to make cheesecake or tiramisu, the ingredients are far more common and far cheaper over there, than in Malaysia, obviously. Likewise, things like kicap cap kipas udang (soy sauce ) or Maggi (instant noodles) are more than doubled in price. I kinda like shopping better in the UK too, I don’t know why. Food (ASDA omg ), clothes, online shopping… things seem to suit me more. I don’t seem to spend as much money for “shoppy things” in Malaysia, probably because I’m poorer here (eheh), but maybe also as a matter of taste.
Perhaps I do not need to mention the fact that being a student is just plain easier than being anything else. Despite the exams, lectures, tutorials, day-before-tutorials-when-you-do-not-have-anything-to-show, stress, not knowing what to cook tonight, having to handle bills and rent on your own, society/club responsibilities, friendships and drama… when you put everything in perspective, all of the above still remains in that small small bubble that is your university life. The “outside world”, is … way bigger and more real. Then again, I am not the one to talk about the outside world, me, a 22-year-old fresh graduate. But just the taste and glimpses so far — I bet I am not the only one whining to go back to being a student.
It is a fact, it is why people like to travel. You see things, views, that you have not seen before. What is common to them is not common to you. I have almost nothing to photograph in my normal life here (except for skies, because they are the only weather-related thing that changes constantly; and cats, because there were not too many cats around me in the UK). Over there, in a four-season climate… everything is gorgeous. And even more so when you travel further. The architecture, the culture, the history, and mostly nature: they are all very different.
Alllll of this, all the things we have seen and experienced, I think mean nothing if you do not gain anything from it. Learn, analyse, seek, and take from, for the betterment of ourselves, our family, our people, and inshaAllah our country. There have been many cases of friends who came back more knowledgable, not only in their faith and principles, their cooking skills , their self-confidence and personality; but in various other aspects that have to do with living their lives. Share what you’ve learned too, whether through conversations, talks, writings, photos, art … and through everything you do every day. (Examples: the “it” guys, the vloggers who have taken the world of Malaysian youths by storm; I would like to think that their experience abroad has given them, or added to, their special perspectives. This is not to say that others who are locally educated can not be brilliant, of course. ) Admittedly, me and others like me, who are provided with the opportunity (read: money ) to go overseas for a few years, are incredibly blessed. Despite all the political mayhem and controversies that will forever be synonymous with Malaysia, I think it is healthy, it is important, that we are given the chance to go out and see how things are done on the other sides of the world. We will learn and realise things that we couldn’t have discovered any other way.
(Yay for awkward endings. )