In late January, I stumbled across a UVic Instagram reel documenting Faaiza’s experience as an intern at MSRI. I knew then I had to apply to the program and I am so grateful I did. Little did I know 4 months later I would be sitting across from her in a coffee shop in Kuala Lumpur writing this blog post. Its funny how things play out.

I have been living in KL for three weeks now. Moving across the world 12 000 km away from a life where I was comfortable was something that scared me. I felt nervous about experiencing homesickness, about working full time for 6 months, and all the unknowns. I couldn’t picture what a life here would look like. To my suprise despite the change in location, climate and culture the routines of life have remained the same with some small tweaks. I still struggle to get up when my first alarm goes off, and I still love to make an iced coffee in the morning. Rolling over in bed to open my laptop for my remote job is now an 8 minute walk to the office. My grocery shop at Walmart is now at Giant. My daily walks to the ocean are now a walk on the treadmill (it is way too hot to walk outside). And after a long day I still sit and talk with my roommates. Despite living in a busy city, I find I have a slower pace of life here. The last couple months in Victoria felt chaotic between balancing my co-op, two classes, and preparing for this internship. Here I feel I have more time to focus on the habits that make me feel good and I find comfort in these routines.

Work life has consisted of helping out with 1st term exams and a lot of downtime in the office. The students here are curious and have big hearts. On my first day substitute teaching grade 4 a student offered to share their snack with me. They have lots of question for us “where are you from?”, “how long will you be here?”, “what music do you like?”, and my favourite “are you married?” A lot of the students live in the same apartment building as us and often see us in passing and yell out “Hi Teacher!”. We will be starting some extracurricular clubs in the coming weeks and I am excited for the opportunity to get to know the students better.

This past weekend we attended a Charity Bazaar in Bangsar. We sold postcards, books, purses and jewelery to raise money for MSRI. During that time I got to meet people who worked for other NGOs in Malaysia. It was great to meet new people and hear about all the events they hoped to collaborate on with MSRI during our time here. MSRI seems to be a busy place, next week on top of regular school we have a HPV vaccination clinic and a Gaelic football event.

Faaiza doing henna at the Charity Bazaar

Here are some of the things I enjoy about KL:

  1. Thunderstorms: The busy city seems to quiet down when it rains. Almost every afternoon the clouds roll in and the air feels heavy and you just know the rain is coming.
  2. Fruit: The fruit here is so much better than anything I’ve had at home. Down the street from our apartment is a fruit stall that sells mangoes, dragonfruit, watermelon, bananas and more. Anna, Faaiza and I usually have a little fruit platter after work.
  3. Coffee shops: KL seems to have an endless abundance of aesthetic coffee shops. On the weekends I have been trying to explore the different cafes the city has to offer. So far I have learnt that Pucks coffee in Chinatown has the best strawberry matcha.
  4. Street Art: There are beautiful murals everywhere. Near MSRI there is a series of murals that illustrate the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

I can’t really predict what the next 5 months will hold. It’s hard to notice change when it’s happening but I imagine by the end of the 6 months a lot will have changed. I’m curious to see what this chapter of my life will hold.