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Things I've Learned in Malaysia by Brenna Leahy

posted Apr 13, 2015, 11:09 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Apr 15, 2015, 7:22 AM by Tamara Salisbury ]

From the Editor:

Our adviser recently received an interesting email from one of Conway Springs's students, Brenna Leahy. Leahy has been studying abroad in Malaysia for about eight months as a foreign exchange student. We would like to share this letter with you.

    I’ve been living in Malaysia, a lovely little country sandwiched between Thailand and Indonesia, for nearly eight months now. I have had a lot of interesting experiences and learned a lot of things while living here. I think my greatest accomplishment is being able to cuss fluently in four different languages. I mean, I think my greatest accomplishment is learning so much about the wonderful culture. Ahem. Malaysia is a very diverse place- the national language is Bahasa Melayu, but Tamil and several dialects of Chinese are widely spoken, which makes school a very interesting place. In any given conversation, up to four different languages are being spoken. Luckily for me, English is really popular to speak, mostly because my classmates are big fans of American movies and One Direction. That is not a joke. 5SOS and Justin Bieber are also really popular here.

I’ve lived near the capital and the biggest city in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, for the past couple of months, but before that I lived in a suburb quite a ways away from the city. That was where I learned the most Malay, because my classmates there didn’t speak a lot of English. It was kind of a crash course in how to communicate when you don’t have the luxury of using any more than basic English. I go to school with kids who are a year or two younger than me, so that has been an interesting experience. They say things like “What’s your favorite Justin Bieber song?” and I do things like walk briskly in the opposite direction. I’m kidding. Mostly. The kids in my school have actually been really friendly to me since day one. Since I’m the only exchange student in my school, I really stand out, but my classmates have been super nice to me. My classmates are basically completely normal teenagers who just happen to speak two to five languages.

I’ve had an extremely interesting exchange, and I’ve learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of, and I’ve learned a lot about Malaysia and the culture here. I’m so happy I came, but I will be so happy to be back, although I’m not extremely excited about going back for another year of high school. I would recommend going on an exchange program to anyone who is interested, and if you are interested, here are some links to scholarships:

Some of these are for a full year, but if you don’t want to commit that much time, there are a couple of scholarships that just last for the summer.

The author, Brenna Leahy, has been studying abroad in Malaysia for close to eight months. There, she speaks many different languages, wears traditional Malaysian garb, and participates in interesting traditions and events.