I still remember when I went to Malaysia in 2006, having grown up in China for all my 19 years; and this totally different and new country brought a great culture shock.
The weather was different. In Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), there are not four seasons, rather it's all summer. The humidity and hot weather kind of made me not want to leave my living apartment.
All I wore for those 3 years were short sleeve t-shirts and shorts, except the presentation time for the lectures which I needed to wear long trousers. As a contrast, my hometown Chongqing has four seasons. In the summer time, the temperature can reach 38 degrees in the midday while the winter time is only 3 degrees as the sun comes up.
All that this meant was that I needed to adjust myself to get used to the weather in Malaysia.
The food was different. Before moving to Malaysia, I was told the Chinese food there is great. So I tried the local Chinese food the first thing after I arrived. Most of the local Chinese food is based on southern Chinese food, such as Guangdong and Fujian province. It doesn't have a strong flavour in the dishes or it is not oily, but the taste is just the opposite of Sichuan food, which is spicy, rich of oil and strong flavour.
To be honest, I did not enjoy the food there for the first few months. Sometimes I needed to get super-expensive imported instant noodles from a supermarket in another town.
As I met all these difficulties in Malaysia, I started to doubt as to why I choose to go there for studies? Fortunately, my dear friends in Malaysia gave me courage and support to help me settle in that beautiful country.
In the campus were international students from all over the world, they brought their culture and food with. Each time we had a gathering, it just like a small United Nations. Malaysian friends would prepare their Nasi Goreng Ayam (Fried rice with chicken); Bangladeshi friends would prepare their curry; Korean friends would prepare their Korean style BBQ; while Chinese friends would prepare their dumplings.
After this awesome food, we would share our culture by telling the stories, singing songs with our mother language. As we were all a long way from our home towns and meeting together in another country, this commonality we shared provided us more understanding of each other.
All this leads me to tell you a story. Last Sunday one of my best friends from high school back in China came to Sydney and he visited me.
It was good to catch up and maintain our friendship, and I definitely showered him with my warmly hospitality. When he returns from a visit to the Great Barrier Reef we'll do this again. I look forward to it.
The Pastor from the City Harvest Church, Kuala Lumpur, once spoke to the congregation: that when we have re-located to a new place, it is good to get to know new local friends. This doesn't mean we need to forget old friends back in the old places.
The more friends we have, the road to our success will then be wider. In other words, we don't forget our old friends as we build new friendships. But always remember, he the pastor taught us, that Jesus is our best friend. He will never forget us even though at times it seems as though we have tried to do just this.
Oscar Duan is from China, he has an accountancy degree from University of Hertfordshire (UH) International campus in Malaysia, and has undertaken further accountancy studies in Australia for accreditation here. He is married to Heyley.
Oscar Duan's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/oscar-duan.html