Excitement. Apprehension. Fear. This concoction of emotions consumed me whole as we drove further and further away from home. I was using all of my energy to hold back my tears as I thought of how much I would miss my parents, nagging siblings, and the city I that had become home after only three short years. However, amidst the nervousness, was the incessant fear. Would I enjoy my time here? Would I understand my classes? And possibly my greatest fear of all; would I make any friends? Moving to a completely different country all on my own had never seemed more real as it did in that moment. I was suddenly doubting if I had made the right decision, if I would be able to adjust to life in Malaysia. Realizing that I sounded like a highly qualified pessimist, I attempted to hype myself up, trying to build up whatever ounce of courage and confidence I could muster. “Be optimistic” has since become my ritual mantra.
As the sunlight filtered through the clouds, I caught my first glance of what would be my home away from home. The greenery was a sight for sore eyes; suddenly my excitement overrode my anxiousness. My confidence skyrocketed, and my fear was long forgotten. The drive to Sunway Monash Residence felt incredibly stretched out; every time I spotted a tall building in the distance, I would think, “we’re finally here.” The driver would cruise right past it. False alarm. Arriving at SMR was first and foremost a relief; after a day of travelling, I was more than ready to have my feet firmly planted on the ground. As someone who prides hygiene above everything else, I was pleased to find my room clean and tidy. My worry that my room would not meet my sanitary requirements was erased. So far so good.
Stepping foot on Monash Malaysia’s campus, I was instantly hit by the music that seemed to resonate all over campus. Another good sign. I mean, who doesn’t like music? The first contact I had with a student was one that was not only helpful, but also reassuring. Reassuring, because I knew that at least there would be people who were willing to guide me through the process of adjusting to such a drastic change. I’m glad to say that all interactions I have had with senior students thus far have been pleasant, and everyone I have met so far is incredibly willing to be of assistance. “Treat people with kindness” is a motto I live by (where are my fellow Harry Styles fans at?), and as of today, I have received nothing but kindness from students and staff alike.
Initially, the homesickness was startlingly acute, especially after the Sun went down, and I’d find myself confined to my room, wishing I could just walk out the door and find myself back at home in the presence of my irksome, yet familiar siblings. I’m not a very patient person, and I tend to get myself worked up over the most minute of things. So, after being here for a mere couple of days, and still being friendless, I began to panic. All I could think was that I was going to spend my time at university isolated and miserable, especially when it seemed like everyone else around me was swamped by their growing friendship groups, and no one else appeared to be suffering from homesickness like I was. Making friends has been quite tough for me over the past few years, more so as an introverted extrovert, because around new people I tend to shrink into myself, only expressing my emotions and thoughts around those who I feel comfortable with. My friend-making skills are still a work in progress, but I am getting there, if I do say so myself.
As of today, I can say that I have definitely adjusted a lot better to life at Monash Malaysia. I am nowhere near an expert when it comes to Malaysia, but I’ve learned that some things take time, and I just need to be patient, worry less and most important of all, just breathe.