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Spectacular Experience, My Sojourn in Malaysia

In life, sometimes mediocre or trivial stuffs matters most and may impressively occupy one's mnd than expected. It may happen and often it does that friends can remember a smile, or a single word compliment than things like ring, outing for lunch or dinner, or gift of any material substance. In the party one can explain being turned on by one kind of a meal, drink, or just meeting people than the entire purpose of the function. It happens because our memories want that to happen. May be, we too want that to happen. No matter it is intersting or disgusting, whether funny or inane insignificant to toehrs. It is in our memories; it shapes our life, and undeniably is a part of our experiences.

Upon coming to Malaysia, I have been residing in Serdang, few kilometers from my university (Universiti Putra Malaysia) where I experienced different things. One among the things that interest me most is making connections and seeks opportunities whenever I get the chance to. I have taken many roles in my life that have helped me seeing things clearly and how they are related. During my time within UPM, I met people from different countries;interestingly, most of them speaking different languages and who did not know or kenw very little about one another's country and or culture. There are people from different parts of the world, different culture, language, race, faith, and ethnicity. Howerver, despite the fact we are diverse bunch of population, we are unified by one language; English, from which we got along with one another, fillingin us a sense of love and belongingness as members of UPM family in Malaysia.

My first few months experices as a student in Malaysia was full of drama. For that I was stuck by a sequence of culture shocks. Despite having succumbed to communication problems predominantl; making gaffes in one occasion after another, from conversation to conversation and even in presentations; I have other two noticeable cases in points about cultrue shock echoing into my mind and sometimes I even make fun of myself.

The first; In Malaysia people smile whenever they see someone they know and sometimes anonymous. This kind of humor suprised my in two ways: one, in my culture people ofthen smile to people they know and rarely anonymous; unless they would like to have known one another, and seek or offer help. Second, the way Malaysia people smile is surprising. They smile just in a single or two seconds (flash smile) and they keep going without greetings.  So in my first few days I felt so uncomfortable and likely embarrassed; to be honest, with the flash sile as it came to me that someone smiling at me knows me or sometimes; taking ti negatively personal, that someone is making fun of me and is being rude. On the positive side, I then tried to adapt with this kind of jumor but unbelievably, in my life, I have learned to chuckle, giggle, and even burst into laughter but not yet learned how to smile particularly the way Malaysians do (the flash smile).

Second; in my sojourn as a student in Malaysai here in UPM, food has also been one of my memorable culture shock. One day my friend took me for dinner in a fancy Malaysia restaurant. My friend picked up the menu and pointed the food she wanted to place an order. After a while, I found some roasted potatoes that looked similar  to the kind of food we have in Zanzibar. I was so excited to have it. When I received my order and started eating, I almost cried with a disbelief. The taste was completely different to what I am used to. The potatoes were roasted with losts of chilies and sugar. In Zanzibar where I grw up, my taste buds were coniditioned "anything with chili has to be with salt not sugar". I felt like my taste buds were confused initially, but as the days went by, I have adjusted.

My studies at UPM have been a lesson by itself. Though hectic the classes are, I learn a lot than I thought I knew. I learn from my compassionate academic advisor how to improve my study skills, maintaining time, organizing my studyies and how to face challenges in UPM and life in profundity.I also learn from my fellow students, who have been a centre of reflection for me; who always showed their interests and readiness to learn basic vocabularies of my language (Swahili) and culture and made my mind fully engaged on how I can best keep them intersted and eager to know more. In my sojourn in UPM, I also visited a school to see and learn how schools in Malaysia are organized, and how students leran. I again found it different. Students in Malaysia are confident, inquisitive, and prepared to learn from other cultures. However, they are very limited informed (or misinformed) about Africa and African people. Though I found teaching in Malaysia somehow different from my country in terms of teaching technologies, methods, teacher-students relationship, and assessment and evaluation of teaching. From this experience, I am determinde to take all good I saw in Malaysia communities, schools, University and colleges and share with my people back home.

Apart from my studies, I attended copious social functions and events; meeting people, participating in some functions, sharing experience and having fun through UPM International Students Association (UPMISA). I also audited classes that helped me to broaden my knowledge, skills and preparing me for further studies and professional excellence. Outside the audit classes, I learned to understand language insrutstions. I assess myself and find that my being a UPM student was a comprehensive refinement knowledge of my personal, academic, and professional life apposite for realizing my dream of getting onto the auspicious future. Pursuant to my experience as a student in UPM occupied by drama and success in Malaysia, I go back home with my heart full of compassion, my sould full of love and progressive hopes, my mind full on constructive thoughts of change and progress, and my body full of vigours and strong senses of courage to share my experience in Malaysia back home; a pack of precious gifts to my people for the betterment of my country; Zanzibar-Tanzania.

UMAYRA MOHAMMED SAID EL-NABAHANY
Masters of Education: Instructional Technology.
Faculty of Education
Zanzibar-Tanzania

Tarikh Input: 31/07/2019 | Kemaskini: 31/07/2019 | azimin

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