Malaysians, this is what it Actually feels like to live away from Home

Every time I return home (as in, where I was born and raised), a truckload of people say that I am not just lucky, but privileged, and more often than not, there is one person who would conveniently pass me a remark that I am ‘one of those people’ who are living it up overseas while people back home are only capable of making ends meet.

Before someone else repeats that statement, this is what I have to say:


In a completely new environment, you start from scratch.

The idea of being in a foreign country is initially very exciting, but that statement might not be the same when reality finally sets in.

New place, new friends, new job, new laws, new policies, new traffic rules, new food, new EVERYTHING. With new social norms, you have to interact differently; people don’t understand your Manglish, you can’t end sentences with ‘Lah’ and what you think could pass as an innocent joke could end up being a dreadful insult to someone else. 

It takes awhile for you to adapt in a completely new environment and more often than not, you learn through making minor (and major) mistakes before feeling like you finally belong, somewhat.

Wherever you are in the world, we all have the same struggles.

Just like you, I have bills to pay, exams to study for, a career to build and money to earn for necessities and unpredictable rainy days.

I also have a house chores, dirty clothes to pick off the floor, laundry to wash/dry/iron (because mom is an 11-hour flight away), a car to regularly service (no male family member you could conveniently ask), meals to prep for lunch the next day (read previous point about absence of mom), and make sure that I wake myself up every morning to be on time for work.

Your daily responsibilities does not magically go away when you live in a different country.

Move aside Muesli and Eggs Benedict, give me my Roti Bakar and Milo Ais!

I dare you to disagree on this. I dare you.

There is only YOU to help YOURSELF in a foreign country.

In almost all aspects, in times of need, you are it.

You are your first person to go to, your own handyman, your lifesaver; everything is you. It is difficult at times but on the bright side, you acquire independence faster because the absence of your next-of-kin leaves you not much of a choice but do to everything on your own.

The feeling of being Homesick is REAL.

It’s hard to believe, but it gets harder with every goodbye.

There are mostly good days, but on the occasional bad days, you just wish to curl up amidst the familiarity of home. The amount of milestones you miss out at home while ‘living the life overseas’ can be quite depressing, just so you know.

The fact that we have better salary is both true AND false!

I admit that wages for certain career paths are definitely more than substantial, but just because our foreign currency has a conversion rate that is stronger than the Ringgit, it doesn’t mean that we can spend on everything and anything just because ‘it is cheaper once you convert la’. Period.

Don’t get me started on the amount of taxes we have to pay.

Being overseas makes you have more appreciation for where you come from.

Politics aside, it’s the little things that makes you realise just how much your country has to offer. It’s always a pleasure of mine to answer the questions that people ask; to elaborate on the good and also straighten out the bad ones that might have been construed by the media, especially in recent times.

And lastly,

There is nothing quite like Home.

People from different racial and cultural backgrounds. The use of multi-languages in a single sentence. Existence of actual late-night entertainment if you’re bored/hungry. Accessible beaches and dive spots. Mountains and rainforests or whatever that’s left of it, if you get my drift. The mamak; Oh, the mamak. The putu mayam uncle that honks his horn as he passes the neighbourhood. RM5.00 Chap fan…

As much as you are adamant about the perception you have for people who live overseas, there are times when the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.

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