Leah is one of our Arts Global Scholars, a scholarship program available for Bachelor of Global Studies students. Leah went on Intercampus Exchange to Malayisa and shares some of the highlights of this experience.
For me, Malaysia was a collision of food, history, people and experiences. There were so many parts of South East Asian society simmering together to create this marvellously diverse country. Even today, after 4 full months living there, I could hardly describe exactly what Malaysian culture actually is.
One of the most memorable aspects of my exchange in Malaysia was the explosive culinary experiences I had on a daily, sometimes twice daily, basis. It’s difficult to convey just what a huge influence food had on my day; the choices were innumerable and so different to the options available in everyday Australia. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to eat out virtually every single midday and evening due to how cheap the food was and the prime positioning of Monash University Malaysia. The options were incredible – we quickly became regulars at the Arabian Corner, the Roti Canai man, the Thai stall, the Fat Cat Char Kuoy Teow noodles, the Indian style wraps, and the Japanese place. These were all within mere minutes of our Monash accommodation, although perhaps a longer walk would have been beneficial given the amount of food we ate!
Little did I know that in a short 6 months this exchange would provide me with the most incredible travel opportunities
I think the cuisine in Malaysia is very reflective of Malaysian society; a jumbled mix of food and people from the surrounding South East Asian countries, interacting with one another but also maintaining their respective traditions and culture. This made the cultural events we experienced in Malaysia numerous, exciting and diverse. I had the opportunity to witness the absolutely huge Diwali festival (Indian light festival), National Day, and several other respective religious holidays. Not only did this provide us with plenty of public holidays (an exchange student’s dream), but it also allowed us to experience and celebrate the diversity of Malaysian society. If you add in a mixture of more modern and topical events such as the International Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival, you will find that exchange in Malaysia truly provides a window into the culture, politics and issues of South East Asia.
Exchange to Malaysia was an unexpected adventure that I stumbled across in the Arts Department one inauspicious day in Clayton. Little did I know that in a short 6 months this exchange would provide me with the most incredible travel opportunities (from weekend trips to Thailand to insane hikes through monsoonal rain storms in the Cameron Highlands); several extra kilos of weight (due primarily to inadvisable amounts of roti canai); and a fascinating view of the sometimes turbulent politics of Malaysia and its neighbours. Ultimately an exchange to Malaysia is not just an exchange to one country but an unforgettable introduction to many South East Asian countries.