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Malaysia: Did You Know?

Mas15 16 Group Rtnphoto

Photo of author, second from left, and her class of YES Abroad Malaysia 2014-2015, upon their return to the U.S.

Brenna L., YES Abroad Malaysia alumna, lists some reasons why she loves her former host country in an article published at The Odyssey Online.

6 Reasons Everyone Should Travel To Malaysia At Least Once In Their Life

I studied abroad for nearly a year in Malaysia and here's why I think you should visit!

Walking down the street on any given day, you can see so many different cultures and ways of life. Many of the things I loved about Malaysia could be partly because they were new and different to me, a girl who grew up in a small town in Kansas with no diversity at all, so I don’t know if this will apply to anyone from a city who is already ~cultured~, but Malaysia has a smorgasbord of different cultures which make any trip anywhere an adventure. Just going to the grocery store with my host family I would see women wearing intricate saris, colorful hijabs, or more typically western clothing, depending on where we went. Here are reasons why everyone should travel to Malaysia! 

1. There are so many beautiful landmarks and temples to see in Malaysia.
Batu Caves is a personal favorite of mine. I spent a wonderful day visiting this Hindu temple (which is open to the public), walking up the 272 steps to the beautiful cave, and having several monkeys follow me down the stairs. One of the monkeys then went on to steal some of my jackfruit, which was rude but also very funny.

2. The food is next level delicious.
The fact that Malaysia has so many different cultures has given rise to a fantastic variety of food. You can go to mamak shops if you’re a fan of Indian food, or just walk down a street and find a stall that sells coconut water straight from the coconut or Nasi Lemak. And if all else fails, you can go to the mall and find a Subway or a McDonalds. Because corporations are taking over the world.There are also so many delicious fresh fruits you can find in Malaysia. Jackfruit tastes sweet and is so cheap to buy, mangosteen is fun to peel, and rambutan looks like the natural version of a Koosh Ball. Durian is not a delicious fresh fruit, but it is famous for its pungent smell and… unique taste.

3. Malaysia has beautiful beaches and mountains.
If you travel for adventure, Malaysia has you covered. Sabah and Sarawak, which are Malaysian states on the island of Borneo, are famous for their beautiful beaches and hiking opportunities. Since I was a broke student when I was in Malaysia, I only went to one beach, but that one beach was absolutely fantastic. If enjoying nature isn’t your thing, Malaysia has some very glamorous shopping malls, especially in Kuala Lumpur, the capital.

4. The weather is always warm (or hot).
This could be a bit of a mixed bag, but if you're are looking at an article about Malaysia I'm assuming you like tropical weather. The weather is definitely very tropical. It’s incredibly humid, so when you step foot outside of the beautiful air conditioning, you will immediately be completely drenched in sweat.

5. Nearly everyone you meet will be fantastically friendly.
It is part of the national culture to be extremely welcoming to tourists and house guests. Sometimes the attention was overwhelming, but I knew that it was meant as a nice gesture. For anyone who actually reads this posts and decides to go to Malaysia, and is not my mother, be warned: you will be fed to within an inch of your life! It is considered rude to not finish your food, but if you do finish your food, you will be offered more food. It’s a vicious cycle.

6. While Malay is the official language, nearly everyone who lives there is bilingual.
The school I attended while in Malaysia was taught in a mixture of English and Bahasa Malaysia, but there are also private schools taught in Mandarin Chinese, schools where Tamil is used, international schools taught in English, and even more that I don’t know about! It is such a wonderful experience to listen to the mixture of languages that surround you at any given time.