StoriesBack to Stories

Back to School


By Stephanie M., YES Abroad 2017-18, Malaysia

Before departing the U.S., I was apprehensive about attending a host school. At home in the U.S., I have been in the same school and had the same friends for many years. I didn’t know what to expect at my school in Malaysia, where I didn’t know anyone. 

On my first day of school, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my previous assumptions and expectations of myself and my classmates were absolutely inaccurate. After the morning prayer had finished, my classmates rushed over to my seat and began to chat with me. They asked the basic "get to know you" questions, and I in awe at how genuinely interested they were in me! As the days went on, they started to learn a lot about me, and I learned a lot about them. 

Students at school would come up to me just to say "hi" or to ask if I was doing okay here in Malaysia. I wondered if I would have shown the same genuine interest towards newcomer to my high school back in the U.S. It made me aware of my own perspectives and the different mindsets between Malaysians and Americans in high school. Even though this is a relatively minor detail, it still was very interesting for me to notice, and helped me realize that I am able to make friends in a new community halfway around the world! 

It is almost two months that I have been here, and I have already made friends and socialized with so many different people. I am excited for more fun times with my friends, and to meet even more new people. I have realized that it is everyday personal interactions that show common ground between myself and my new school peers.