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"Malaysia is Home"

Alexa Z., YES Abroad Malaysia 2011-2012

In the month of December, I had the most opportunities that furthered my love of Malaysia. In the first few days of the month, my family and I went “balik kampung,” or back to their home village. In Johor, I fished for prawns in a muddy riverbed, picked snails right off of a tree, swam in the sea between Malaysia and Singapore, attended a traditional Malay wedding, and officially became a “kampong” girl. And according to my host mother, all of my cousins, aunts and uncles thought that I wouldn’t last very long out in the village, but I am proud to say I adapted so well that the grandmother didn’t want to let me go back home with my family. She wanted me to stay there in Kampung Sungai Melayu with her, learning how to cook, gathering rubber from the rubber trees, picking fruit, and weaving baskets, and other traditional village activities.

After returning home to Seremban, I found I had little time to actually enjoy my hosting city: within a day or so, I was on another adventure! This one happened to be Mid-Year Camp.  Though I strongly desired to get home and hang out with my beloved classmates and friends, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of camp. From water games to informative sessions, I’ll never forget how quickly we exchange students bonded. I’m truly grateful for having such wonderful brothers and sisters from all over the world.

Despite all the fun with my European, Asian, and Latin American kin, it was nice to reach home after being gone for so long. The thought of ‘Ahh...it’s so nice to come home and be with the family’ brought about the realization that after six months, Malaysia is home. My host family is no longer my host family, they are my family. My Malaysian friends have simply become my friends, and as for the locals in the community, they’ve become familiar acquaintances.  

December has been a month of some beautiful self-realizations while continuing to make magnificent memories that I’ll be able to recall in the years to come.