I started my EVS on the 1st of June in Petaling Jaya near the capital Kuala Lumpur and arrived on the 29th of May. On my first day in office I was introduced to basic facts of Malaysia and my Room in a shared Apartment near the office. Some of my colleagues took me out for shopping the basic necessities, others showed me around during the first weekend and they also collected basic necessities for me so I only had to buy a few things new.
In the first two weeks two other Germans were in the office as volunteers of a AFS Program but mostly on leave as they still wanted to travel as much as possible before heading back to their home country after eleven months. I didn’t mind it at all as we would have worked in different departments anyways and I feel comfortable in the big office with the 13 Malaysians. You could feel the change of energy inside the office once the fasting was over. Everybody eating and a lot of my colleagues love singing while wearing their headphones. So sometimes I even put on my headphones just to be able to focus as I am not used to a shared office of this size and this energy yet. Actually I enjoy experiencing the different working style and to me the singing is a sign of enjoying the work they do. Only the AC in the office confuses me from time to time. Sometimes I feel like sitting in a fridge and my colleagues even put on gloves while working instead of setting the temperature higher.
My EVS work in this office includes the preparation of the PEACE Camp at the end of November in Kuala Lumpur, supporting colleagues with other duties and the communication with the participating students of PEACE. Working on the student manual as well as the camp and the volunteer manual is interesting and challenging. Following tasks for PEACE will involve social media engagement, the logistics of the final camp and the finalization of materials during the camp.
I struggle a bit with the “Manglish” as it is totally different from the Indian English I already understand perfectly. If a message is underlined by the speaker they always put a LA at the end of the sentence and a lot of words may just be said half and you have to guess how it might end and what word it could be. Officially I am able to take Malay classes but it turns out finding one is quite hard as I would really like to have it in a group and with a certificate instead of one private person teaching me alone and spending the budget within nine lessons. I still hope we will find a class or group as I had bad experience with one to one teaching during my intercultural year in India.
The most important sentences always include the topic food (“makan”= eating) as it is the most important topic here and OMG the food is amazing here. All the dominant cultures in Malaysia (Malay, Chinese, Indian) created a cultural melting pot and it is the most obvious at the restaurants. All the food is awesome and I hope my colleagues will memorize now that I really don’t care in what kind of restaurant we eat as I always find some delicious food. Anyways the 2 nd question people meeting me for the first time ask is always: “how do you like the Malaysian food?”. Compared to other Asian countries Malaysia is not very cheap and I am really happy I receive money during my EVS as things can add up fast if you’re not living in a host family. The amazing beauty of this country is stunning. I already witnessed a free public Iftar (eating after the prayer in the evening time during Ramadan) in Kuala Lumpur on a long blocked street with an amazing atmosphere upon the Muslims.
Also I have already been to a Taoist temple and asked for my fortune as well as climbing up the giant staircase to the Hinduist temple in the Batu Caves. A little travelling was possible already during the first holidays I was here and I am already excited to see even more during free weekends. So far I didn’t have any cultural shocks only a broader understanding of how religious beliefs can differ within one religion in different countries.