I've been learning about 'personal change' in one of my classes for the past two weeks. It's been emphasising on how an individual adjusts him/herself to a change in their lives. Let it be driving a brand new car or in my case, moving to a new country.
I personally think I've been adjusting well although admittedly, it took me some time.
One thing I still haven't gotten myself used to is socialising with the locals. They're great people and they're very nice and sweet and Malaysians have a lot to learn from them in terms of common courtesy but I honestly don't think we'd have loads to talk about.
I enjoy being in the company of people who I can just talk rojak English and Malay with and talk about how we miss nasi lemak.
So as much as I'd like to think the locals are being accommodating to the tons of international students here, not everyone can get on the same page. Nor do they want to.
So with that being said, I don't really like it when people say
"Why are Malaysians only hanging out with other Malaysians? We're in a different country, we should socialise with the locals!"
I don't think the people saying this know how hard it is for some others to 'socialise'. We're just simply not on the wave length, at least I know I'm not. I don't enjoy the idea of going clubbing with loud music and drinking and getting drunk. My idea of fun is being at a friend's house and playing Avalon with some pizza and Coke.
Of course although I don't get it, I don't get to judge anyone else's idea of fun. I know I wouldn't like it if people judged my ideal Friday night (consisting of binging out on both snacks and shows) (or a good ol' night out at the mamak with my friends).
One thing they don't tell you before you leave for university abroad is that you find that you often have very very little to talk to the locals about.
For me, to be completely honest, being abroad as an international student feels like the girl in class sitting way back in the corner who didn't really have any friends and had to awkwardly join any group who was short on members during a group assignment.
I don't know how else to put it but in all of my school years ('cept for when I was in Standard 1 and 2 when I was absolutely bullied by the teacher!!!! Ugh I still remember her name and I still really hate her!), I was always in the main social circle. I had lots of friends and even if one friend didn't come to school, I would have plenty more to hang with. I could seamlessly be friends with a lot of people.
I still remember once, there was a German girl, Sophie, who came to our school for a student exchange programme and she sat at the back in our class and often looked lost because everyone was speaking English so weirdly (our Malaysian English sound very incomprehensible to the Westerners) and she always looked out of place.
For the past 2 years in the UK, I feel like I'm her.
I'm thankful, though, that I have two friends who have been with me from Day 1 of classes 'til now so I'm ok, I think but still. I always feel like I'm Sophie.
So, why do I hang out with Malaysians?
Familiarity. I hang out with Malaysians because of familiarity. The same kind of generosity and the same kind of warmth the Malaysians radiate is unlike any. I'm able to be my most comfortable self when I'm amongst other Malaysian friends. I definitely think a lot of my classmates think I'm the most quiet person they've ever come across because I hardly make a peep in class and lectures. When I first got into class on my first day, you really should see how genuinely surprised they were when they heard me speak English. "How are you able to speak English so well? You sound better than Joe!" It's the 21st century and they still can't comprehend that countries far and away from them are able to converse in proper English. One even asked me, "Wait so your alphabet's like ours??".
I can't even.
And I find that I'm a lot more talkative and a lot more sociable with other Asians, not necessarily just Malaysians. I think I'm a lot more comfortable in the presence of other Asians, like I can talk to them easily and I'm way less intimidated to strike a friendly conversation with them than with a Westerner.
It could be just me or a lot of people could be agreeing with me and nodding along every sentence they've read thus far.
Regardless, I think it's quite unfair for people to ask why Malaysian students are only hanging out with other Malaysians just because they're out and about with their Westerner peers.
Not everyone can be on the same wave length and not everyone shares the same set of social skills. People function differently.
Ideal night in for me would be drinking green tea and blogging and Youtubing at the same time while listening to K-Pop.
But we all know that.