April 3, 2013

Journey to Penang

Before I went on exchange to Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang Malaysia, I had to a lot of preparations to do. The university application required a health declaration which included an X-ray, and blood test for a list of diseases like STD’s and other then that also drug use. I still don’t exactly understand why they needed all those results, even my doctor laughed about the list she checked and signed for me.

Next to the officially required preparations I had to prepare mentally as well. I decided to go to Malaysia because I wanted to learn more about my roots and to find more peace of mind while discovering about my culture and my religion, Islam. I saw this exchange as an opportunity to develop myself. I was always eager to learn more about the theological views on life and now I had to chance to mingle with people who could actually teach me more about it. I decided I wanted to start wearing the headscarf (hijab) when I went to Malaysia. So during my transfer in Dubai I went to the ladies room and took the scarf from around my neck and put it over my head to cover my hair. For me the time felt right and it was a safe place for me to experience this for the first time without judgmental opinions from 3rd parties. This was the first step to my internal and external changes I experienced during my exchange.

I arrived at Penang at 7 PM local time, which differs about 6 hour from where I came from. But the temperature difference was about 40 degrees, from the freezing -10 to 30degrees Celsius in the evening! It’s still very clear outside, didn’t really look like it’s evening already. But in less than an hour, it’s already dark. The weather is quite warm in the evening, but it’s quite windy, so it’s quite cool, but not so much that it gets cold.
Two USM International Buddies, Tiqah and Chen, picked me up that day. Besidesme, they also picked up some other exchange students from Finland, Mexico, Indonesia, Canada, and Korea. Most of the exchange students that I met that day stayed at Sunnyville and E-Park (the apartments within walking distance of USM). But thankfully, the Indonesian and Korean student, whom I knew as Oki and Bada, stayed at USM dorm.

Each dorm room was built for two students, so there were two beds, two desks, and two closets to keep our clothes. The rooms had no air conditioning, but the windy Penang and the electric fan on each room keep it cool and comfortable to sleep in. Every four rooms had two showers and two toilets, so we don’t have to wait too long if we want to take a bath or go to the toilet. In each dorm, they also provide Laundry Room and Ironing Room where we can wash and iron our clothes in. With these kinds of facilities at the dorm, I can see why there are many exchange students each year at USM: because it’s neat and easy to adapt in. Well, for a half- Malay student like me, it doesn’t take a long time to adapt at Penang, because it’s not that different to when I have lived in Malaysia before.


  1. Hi there! Interesting story! (and what about that fiancee of yours from the previous post? ) Please post a picture too next time so we can see Malaysia from your eyes! And how is it wearing the hijab? Do you like it?

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