When work and life were really, really challenging in Malaysia two and some years ago, my mum told me not to let it get the better of me. She told me not to let external circumstances take away my usual cheerfulness and joie de vivre. For a while, I did and it was terrible. I’m trying really hard not to do that again.
To keep myself focused on the present rather than worrying (too much) about the future, I started taking pictures of everything I see that makes me smile. Not only has this helped me remember what smiling is, but it has also provided a physical representation of what it means to feel happy. I’ve only been at it for four days, but I notice that I’m looking around a lot more curiously because I want things to smile about. It just feels better.
Someone, or several someones, left chalk messages along Avenue A, around and south of 10th. The actual quote, which I really like, reads, “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream by night.” Regardless, it was a good reminder to keep dreaming, even when dreaming stems from and results in pain.
I usually attempt to read the graffiti that I pass, but it wasn’t until I’d walked a few more feet that my brain processed what this wall said. I laughed and backtracked to take a picture because it precisely echoes everything I feel like saying to everyone.
I admit, there are a lot of things I didn’t know before moving here all of two and a half days ago. There are infinite things I still don’t know, of course, but I have learned quite a bit over the last couple days. Teacher training this week includes talks on the culture and history of Malaysia, so I’m really excited to start that tomorrow.
But here are some things that I’ve learned:
1. Before leaving the US, I wondered if people ride mopeds and motorcycles here like people do in Europe. Yes, they do.
2. Before leaving the US, I didn’t know whether it would be difficult to find supermarkets or food that I was used to eating. I really can’t wait to move into an apartment with a kitchen because not only are there supermarkets, but they have everything.
This particular supermarket chain, called Giant for a good reason, also has hardware supplies and a useful beer selection. Mitch was pleased about that. Unfortunately, there are some weird ingredients in foods (like ammonium bicarbonate in cookies) so I’ll have to be really careful with what I buy.
3. I definitely didn’t know people drive Lamborghinis in Malaysia, but they do!
My brother Adam, who is all of 17, has always wanted a Lamborghini. I wonder if it would be more or less expensive for him to buy one here or in the US? Does it matter if they all come from the same manufacturer anyway? I love cars, but I don’t know a ton anything about their cost in different parts of the world.
4. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, in addition to dairy, Malaysia has ice cream! This is especially notable because there are so many frozen yogurt places in the US now that it can be a project to find real ice cream, at least in downtown Rochester.
Mitch’s tiramisu ice cream didn’t exactly taste like tiramisu, but that’s not too surprising as there aren’t many Italians here. My mint chocolate chip in a cone, however, was excellent.
5. While living in the good ole US of A, I totally took our engineers for granted. Who knew it was so hard to make a fountain that manages to contain all of its water?
6. Before leaving the US, I didn’t realize that it would be difficult to find cooked food as opposed to fresh, raw, delicious fruits and vegetables. Pretty much all Asian food in the US is cooked and soaked in sauce, so I was surprised to see so many fresh salads on restaurant menus. Today we went out for lunch to a steamboat restaurant and that solved the need-for-fresh-veggies-but-can’t-eat-them-yet-because-we’re-still-getting-used-to-the-water problem. I am so excited to be able to eat fresh produce! Give it a few weeks, they say. Whoever they are. Steamboat is called hot pot in China, where it originates.
We ordered some sort of vegetable balls (don’t take that the wrong way . . . I didn’t name them and they looked sort of like mini matzah balls), broccoli, spinach, noodles, baby corn, shimeji mushrooms, an egg, and brown rice. I didn’t take any pictures of the raw food because I was rather hungry and excited to get cooking in the vegetable broth.
It took us four batches to cook all of our food. We also ate almost all of the broth, which was really tasty. It felt so good to eat vegetables, too! Definitely my favorite meal so far. Oh, and it was all that food and two bottles of water for about $9 in US currency.
I’ve definitely had an education about Malaysia over the past couple days. Looking forward to learning more!
Photos, travels, musings, and ideas on education by a twenty-something teacher trying to make the world a better and more peaceful place