Yo. I’M IN MALAYSIA.
The past six days were a whirlwind. I traveled for 40+ hours through four airports and three countries, and since then have spent days in orientation and nights eating my way through Kuala Lumpur or sleeping off jet lag in the swanky hotel room.
And it is AWESOME. I’m not even homesick yet! I’m sure that will come later.
One of the best things about this experience so far has been meeting and bonding with the rest of my cohort. So many unique, thoughtful, intelligent, and fun people! I have been especially lucky to have been placed with a wonderful roommate, Rachel, for the next two weeks in KL. Nothing brings you closer than being thrown into strange new situations together. Some highlights:
- Splitting a durian with seven friends. Smells like garbage, tastes like creamy, garlicky bananas. Kind of.
- Finding a western-style bar with live music and an outdoor patio (and not-so-delicious beer).
- Sprinting and sweating down the street to be the first team to finish the scavenger hunt (we lost) and being greeted with Indian food at MACEE headquarters.
- Watching Marcy (a coordinator) expertly haggle the price of our cell phones down from RM 325 to RM 200 (which is about $50).
- Ordering black pepper yakisoba from a restaurant called “Vegetarian” only to find chicken among the tofu and veggies. Ate it anyway.
- Going to a lovely Lebanese restaurant on the 7th floor of a GIGANTIC mall and drinking lemon nana.
- Riding the monorail through KL and seeing ornate mosques and green trees and ugly construction sites.
- Seeing two cats so far!
- Ordering the spicy soup option and enjoying it immensely.
- Watching rap music videos and Star Wars skits that former ETAs made with their students.
- ALL THE FRUITS (yes, I know half of these are about food).
- Finally learning which state I’ll be living in!
The last one was huge news for me! Until yesterday I have no idea where the heck I’ll be living for the remainder of my grant. Now, I know that I, along with 11 other ETAs will be living in the state of Kedah!
Kedah is on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia and borders Thailand. It’s mostly flat, with lots of rice paddies, beaches, and rain forests. The Langkawi islands are the main tourist attractions, and will be make a nice weekend getaway for swimming and sunbathing (in an actual bikini! the conservative standards are relaxed here because of all the European tourists). People in Kedah are primarily Muslim, with smaller Buddhist and Hindu populations.
I still don’t know which town I’ll be placed in, but Monday is the big reveal! Orientation has been surprisingly useful and engaging as far as orientations usually go. The MACEE coordinators are mostly former ETAs with big personalities who are so willing to help us and tell it like it is. I feel much more at ease now than I did before I left.
That’s all I’ll write for now. Looking forward to experiencing more KL nightlife later and visiting the national mosque and Islamic art museum tomorrow!