It is what it is!

November 2, 2012 | Elizabeth, DVM, AFS, Malaysia, Science of Life Studies 24/7

The saying ‘Time flies when having fun’ has never rung more true than as of lately. I have already been here for two month. Where has the time gone??? I look back at my first blog and think wow, who was that?!! It’s a strange feeling, like being lost in a time continuum where I’m being pulled along at speeds I can’t control, but equally enjoying every moment of every second like it will never be enough. I look around me and see so much that I still need to explore, understand and experience. But then I also realize that my body temperature has finally adjusted, my knowledge of the city’s layout is well developed and my overall sense of ease as a resident in Kuala Lumpur is complete. Even my new found grasp of understanding and speaking Bahasa Malay and Malay-English has progressed. I guess this means I should really be asking who am I now?

Looking back to my first few weeks in Malaysia I distinctly remember those feelings of apprehension, excitement and naiveté. My journey here was to be my first outside of Canada, one I have been preparing for the last four years. I had expectations, I had hopes and I had a determination that kept me going even during the hard times. Today, while writing my thoughts down for the online population to read, I can say that I’m not the least bit disappointed. I’m not saying that I haven’t had frustrations with my internship position, moreover that I can now look at those issues with an understanding beyond anything I could have anticipated. I am constantly evaluating my own decisions and choices, ensuring that I make the most of them and reassuring myself that all will work out in the end. As my roommate and I like to say ‘It is what it is’; you just have to make the most of whatever you get.

It’s strange but I found it very easy to adjust to life in Kuala Lumpur. Maybe because I believed myself well prepared, there were few things that surprised me. That, and probably because KL is a major metropolitan; a big city with many western influences. The skyscrapers are immense, the traffic is horrible and there is a McDonald in almost every shopping complex. Even the people I work and live with come from various industrialized societies from around the world. All this to say that the idea of living a ‘Malaysian lifestyle’ is not that different from living a ‘Canadian’ one. I can’t therefore be disappointed with my immersion in cultural experiences because the style of living would not have changed anymore than how I’m currently living. If anything I’m getting more because I have Malaysian neighbours as well as international ones.

My work as an intern is another story however. Having completed a few internships within Canada I thought by coming to SOLS 24/7 I would be treated in a similar way; a temporary paper pusher. This has been an interesting alternative. I still maintain that temporary status because I’m only here for a short term but I definitely feel like I’m more than a paper pusher. Having spent my first two weeks doing almost nothing, I have since broadened my array of tasks by involving myself in different projects. I came here being used to taking direct orders and assignments from a supervisor, but soon found out this was not how SOLS 24/7 operates. It was more a close your eyes and jump kind of leap, landing in different projects that needed help. Rather than working solely in Research and Development I have since joined the Communications team, the Educational team as well as maintained occasional Research development assignments. Each new change is always subtle as the teams interact with one another, having one action affecting others in several ways but always promoting a sense of accomplishment. I don’t technically get to work directly with the students, but I do get to interact with them. I don’t do the field work I hoped to taste abroad, but I set up and prepare others for achieving those details. Although there are many aspects of my internship I had hoped for, nothing yet has led me to feel disappointed.

Salamat Pegi!

I suppose taking all this into consideration I am still the same person who wrote you last, but I have changed in many ways. I have grown, I have answered my own questions, and I have a large array of experiences that I could never have dreamed about. Although most of them differ from those I had originally anticipated everyone of them has influenced me and my understanding of not just life in Malaysia, but life in general. I’m not a new person, just a different one and I look forward to seeing what kind of person I will be when I come home.

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