And I’ve arrived. The months of planning have led up to this point of actually being on the opposite side of the world. I have to admit that despite my mental preparation and anticipation for the journey, the feeling as you’re 20 hours into a one way 30 hour journey knowing that you’re embarking on a two year commitment is nothing that can be prepared for. It is the first time it hit me that this my new life. It may have been the jet-lag, the complete vulnerability generated from sleep deprivation and lack of home base, but it hits you. I’m uprooting what I know and starting afresh. It felt intimidating.
But then you land, you get to your accommodations (long-term extended stay in my case) and you begin anew. I am staying at a very nice extended stay hotel located in the middle of the burgeoning Kuala Lumpur. The scale of construction around me is awe inspiring. Every few kilometers there is another massive structure under construction and when I got to the city center, all the construction around me is amidst a large number of other already constructed substantial structures. Since arrival, my life has been in constant motion. This has probably helped limit any pause for nostalgia of my own life but has also limited time for absorption of my new reality. Despite this exotic locale, there are many similarities to the States.
As I’ve gotten into my new reality, it is the small things that stand out to me. The people I work with are truly of an international breed. I’ve begun to establish a working relationship with the Turner locals which are predominately Malaysian Malays. It is an important distinction to make as Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of true Malaysians, Chinese, and Indians that have lived in this country for hundreds of years. Understanding the different cultures and status classifications so unlike our own is extremely interesting. There are literally hundreds of titles for addressing men and women based on social status that at first glance are very intimidating. But this is just one of the intricacies of learning a new culture. In meeting these Malays, I have found them to be reserved but also very genuine and proud of their country. Expressing an interest and a knowledge in their country and culture has proven to be a very strong basis for building a relationship. Beyond that, the expat community I work with consists of multiple nationalities. I am working with expats from England, Scotland, South Africa, Australian, American, and many other nationalities that provide constant reminder that I’m working in an entirely different region of the world. And for me, it is incredibly exciting.
An interesting phenomenon I’ve encountered in the few days I’ve been here is that working amongst different nationalities has begun to permeate my dreams. Even in dreaming I’m aside people from all different backgrounds and I have to say it’s really nice and only reiterates my place in a country far away from the one I know.
In KL, the Petronas Tower occupies a tremendous presence in the identity of the city. It’s architectural brilliance really shines in the evening as it’s illuminated from all sides. I have yet to truly explore the city, as I’ve been thrust into work quite directly, but this long weekend due to the Chinese New Year will hopefully give me a perfect opportunity to catch up on my jet lag and get a true feel for the city. Below is an image of my walk to work, which is really a short one, but hopefully by week’s end I will have many other photos to share of my experience of the city and the celebration of Chinese New Year’s.