I have had a unique upbringing that exposed me to some of the amazing experiences you can have while traveling around the world. That being said, I was perfectly happy to stay in my home university throughout the duration of my course. I mean, New Zealand is pretty incredible (not to brag at all… ). Still, I found myself attending the exchange program introduction lecture in my second year. I expressed my doubts of leaving the university for an exchange, at which point all of my friends turned to me dumbfounded that I, of all people, wasn’t jumping at this opportunity. So after that brief moment of embarrassment, I started thinking. Then I started researching, and budgeting, and the idea became more possible in my head. I knew that there was no way I couldn’t go! I set out to find a school suitable to fit my university’s strict course requirements, yet located somewhere extreme and exciting enough to push the boundaries!
Since I was a young kid, I have been brought up immersed in the outdoors and many sports involving it, so I had big aspirations for something exciting and new! This is when I settled on the country of Malaysia. Famous for its rainforests and wildlife, I knew there would be adventures to be had. Soon after deciding to pursue a semester exchange in Malaysia, I acquired some volunteer design work for a wildlife foundation in Sumatra, Indonesia (a neighboring island). My boss had so many cool stories to tell and with her genuine and inspiring nature, I knew that I would love to try and live in this area of the world! (There is also a possibility of me working with the wildlife foundation over the mid-semester break, stay tuned!)
After the first stage of the application process was complete and the visa and health paperwork began, the summer passed by far too quickly. Before I knew it I was on my way to the airport to start a whole new life in Malaysia for five months. This was then delayed when New Zealand’s weather decided to have the mother of all storms that day, and so a dramatic pause was added to my exciting new journey. I didn’t board my flight that day… But no matter, things took flight the next day.
Imagine the wind blowing through your hair as you are thrown straight into a whole new world. Names, landscapes, traditions, pass you by faster than you can catch them. You feel as though you are soaring as you learn so much incredible stuff in such a condensed amount of time. Sure there are stormy patches that throw you off path as you adjust to the culture, but all you have to do is ride the current and behold the new path it takes you on.
As me and my fellow ISEP students do exactly that, we have been able to see and learn so many amazing things in the first few weeks. From strolling through the night markets in Melaka, to hiking through the mountains of Kuba Bharu. Or setting our mouths on fire with the incredibly spicy local cuisine, to melting with delight as we try their amazing Malay Satay Kajah. It has been a whirlwind already, and there is still so much more to explore!
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